Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Diego

Also see Bill's review of The Madness of George III

(Clockwise, from top left): Karson St. John, Heather Paton, Tom Zohar and Tony Houck
Is it a conflict of interest to review a show for when is in the show?  WTF, let's do it anyway!

San Diego's Diversionary Theatre is celebrating the opening of its 25th season by presenting the West Coast premiere of

Director James Vasquez has figured out that

Mr. Vasquez has cast five talented individuals (well, one, Tim McKnight, is actually the musical director, but he has a character name and a few lines), and convinced them that the way to make this piece play is to get the audience to believe they have all fallen madly in love with each other.  It works: Tom Zohar (as Jeff) does his best work since his leading turn in Diversionary's production of Yank!, Karson St. John (as Susan) demonstrates that awards for her role in Diversionary's The Little Dog Laughed were no fluke, Tony Houck bounces off walls (but not too much) as Hunter, and Heather Paton has the best "belt" of the group as Heidi.  As an ensemble, these actors look as though they're having so much fun that it's infectious.

What they're playing, though, is something of a mess, though much of it a very funny mess.  While the concept of writing a show about the process of writing a show is a clever one, it can also lead to too much material that is off-the-wall for the sake of being off-the-wall.  Some of it is overly precious and "meta"; some of it (taking a risk here) is "so gay" (must Susan, for example, come across so strongly as a "fag hag?").  And, while great to-do is made of creating an original show, much of the early material that got the show into the New York Musical Theatre Festival seems to be based on the threads of Talkin' Broadway's All That Chat.  There's much discussion of favorite failed musicals, concerns about which celebrities were spotted attending which shows, and even a bit about fantasy casting for the lead in Mame.  ATC (writing for TB, I can certainly be familiar here) even makes it into the script, in the form of one of many posts about the quality (or, in this case, lack thereof) of

What saves

Things worked out fine for Hunter and Jeff (who are developing a TV series), as well as for Susan and Heidi (who are both working actresses in New York).  With regional companies lining up to produce

And, if there's one thing that characterizes the Diversionary production, it's fun.

Diversionary Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of

With Tony Houck (Hunter), Tom Zohar (Jeff), Karson St. John (Susan), Heather Paton (Heidi), and Tim McKnight (Larry).

Photo: Ken Jacques    

See the current season schedule for the San Diego area.

- Bill Eadie

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