Jean Lowerison

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THEATER REVIEW: “Moonlight And Magnolias” at Scripps Ranch Theatre

The making of the film version of “Gone With The Wind” is a story almost as wild as the plot itself. Here are just a few factoids:

Producer David O. Selznick had to wait two years to get Clark Gable (after being unable to get his first choice – Gary Cooper); it took him 1,400 auditions to find his Scarlett; director George Cukor was replaced in mid-shoot. He went through several screenwriters.

That’s where “Moonlight And Magnolias” comes in, Ron Hutchinson’s farce about the vagaries of Hollywood moguls and the risks filmmakers take.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Shakespeare’s R&J” at the Cygnet

When I read Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” in school, I thought it an impossibly wonderful romantic story of love, loss and death.

I guess I was lucky, because these days the play (featuring teen sex and suicide) is almost as likely to be banned as assigned. This may have inspired the four boys in Joe Calarco’s “Shakespeare’s R&J” – pupils in 1964 in a Catholic boys’ school identified as Student 1, Student 2, etc. – to squirrel away a forbidden copy.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Seascape” at New Village Arts Theatre

Cast your mind back to the mid-1970s, when the American women’s movement was just picking up steam, and consider Edward Albee’s 1975 Pulitzer Prize-winning “Seascape.”

Long-married Nancy (Dana Case) and Charlie (Jack Missett) lounge on an unspecified beach. Charlie is happy just lying there with his hat over his face, but Nancy thinks if one beach is good, visiting two or three or 25 must be better. She suggests they spend their retirement having adventures – say, beach-hopping around the world.

Charlie wants none of it. “You’ve had a good life,” he says. “We’ve earned a rest.”

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THEATER REVIEW: ion’s “Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo”

“When I get hungry, I get stupid,” says the titular Tiger (Ron Choularton), by way of explanation for his death.

Death itself, the senselessness destruction of war and the meaning of “tigerness” are among the topics explored by the Tiger’s ghost, who will spend the rest of the evening as narrator and resident philosopher in Rajiv Joseph’s extraordinary play “Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo,” on the boards through June 1 at ion theatre. I advise you to get your tickets now.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Be A Good Little Widow” at The Old Globe | VIDEO

The fear of flying inspired playwright Bekah Brunstetter’s “Be A Good Little Widow,” but the topics that propel this strange and oddly uninvolving one-act dramedy are grief, loss and getting on with life.

“Widow” is in its West Coast premiere through June 9 at The Old Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre. Hal Brooks directs.

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THEATER REVIEW: “The Sound Of Music”

It’s old, long, even a little sappy – and it gets me every time.

I’m talking about Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound Of Music,” now getting a splendid revival from San Diego Musical Theatre. Directed and choreographed by Todd Nielsen, the 1960 winner of five Tonys plays through May 26 at Birch North Park Theatre.

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THEATER REVIEW: “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”

I was (and am) a pretty good speller, but I never won any spelling bees. Neither will most of the contestants in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” the musical that pokes gentle fun at that great old grammar-school institution.

“Spelling Bee,” running through June 8 at OnStage Playhouse, is a paean to being different, full of recognizable types. The kids who couldn’t spell would call them “losers” because, let’s face it, they are not like the others.

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THEATER REVIEW: The Old Globe’s “Other Desert Cities” | VIDEO

“Telling the truth is a very expensive hobby,” notes Silda Grauman (Robin Pearson Rose) late in the second act of Jon Robin Baitz’s “Other Desert Cities,”
now in its San Diego premiere at The Old Globe.

Silda, the garrulous sister of Polly Wyeth (Kandis Chappell), is a recovering alcoholic recently released from rehab and taken in by Polly and her husband Lyman (Robert Foxworth), against Polly’s better judgment.

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THEATER REVIEW: “Billy Elliot” at San Diego Civic Theatre

Billy Elliot just wants to dance.

Billy is the 11-year-old son of coal miner Jackie (Rich Hebert) and brother of Tony (Cullen R. Titmas), another miner. Mum (Molly Garner) has died, though she turns up from time to time in fantasy sequences, but Billy’s spunky Grandma (Patti Perkins) is still around, and has one of the best songs.

The place is Durham County; the time, 1984, the year British prime minister Margaret Thatcher decided to break the union much the way her friend Ronald Reagan had broken the U.S. air traffic controllers’ union three years earlier.

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THEATER REVIEW: Chance Theater’s “The Laramie Project” plays

People do not like to change long-held opinions, no matter how much new information or how many facts can be marshaled against them. I don’t have the stats, but I’d hazard a guess that the likelihood of changing someone’s opinion is inversely related to the length of time it’s been held.