Curtains @ The Avo

I had the privilege of attending The Musical Comedy Whodunit Curtains at the Avo Playhouse in Vista on Halloween. I have never attended anything like it before. I have always loved mysteries and someday hope to have the opportunity to attend a mystery dinner theatre. This was the closest I have come so far. It was funny, entertaining and kept you guessing the whole time as to who was the murderer.

This comedy is set inside a theatre where the leading lady in the up and coming broadway musical flop Robin Hood is murdered after giving a horrible performance. She faints after giving her final bow and it is discovered that she was murdered by poison. The police send in Lt. Cioffi to investigate and discover who murdered the leading lady. The entire cast, crew and producers are all possible suspects and nobody is confessing up to the crime, so Lt. Cioffi places them all under “theatre” arrest until the case is resolved.  Lt. Cioffi has his favorite actress that he takes into his confidence and is determined to solve the crime. Everyone has their suspicions, but things heat up when the producer is found hung backstage. Now there are two murders and no murderer to be found. Everyone is fearing for their life and suspicion of some individuals is increasing. Lt. Cioffi uncovers a secret and starts questioning certain members of the cast as to why they are a part of the production. In the end the mystery is solved and Robin Hood becomes the hit Broadway musical that it was intended to be. As a courtesy to others I will not reveal the murderer. If you want to know who did it, go see curtains.

Not only was it a funny and entertaining show, but the acting was phenomenal. The main character Georgia, who took over the murdered leading ladies role in Robin Hood had an amazing voice. It was thrilling to watch her sing. The cast as a whole did a great job singing and portraying their characters. Overall it was a delightful afternoon full of laughter and mystery. I was totally surprised at the end when the murderer was revealed. I had my suspicions, but like any good mystery goes it wasn’t anyone I suspected.


November 4, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.

Beauty & The Beast on Broadway San Diego

 I had the privilege of attending Disney’s Beauty and the Beast downtown on Broadway San Diego at the Civic Theatre this past Tuesday night. I have been to several musicals during my lifetime and many of them at the Civic Theatre, but nothing I have seen can compare to this performance. It was by far the most amazing, beautiful and breathtaking performance I have ever seen. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a sensational time. It is appropriate for audiences of all ages. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite Disney movies, but that was not why I loved the performance so much. The characters were well casted, the costumes creative and exquisite, and the setting was creative and breathtaking. It was very apparent that a lot of talent and creative genius went into creating this musical.

In regards to the characters and their costumes I would have to say that my favorite costumes were those created for the enchanted furnishings in the Beast’s castle. That would included Lumiere the candelabra, Cogsworth the mantle clock, Babette the duster, and especially Madame de la Grande Bouche the dresser who even pulled outfits out of her drawers. The rest of the costumes were fabulous including Gaston, the Beast and Belle’s many dresses, especially the yellow one she wore to dinner with the Beast.

Each of the actors played their characters perfectly. I had the most fun watching Gaston carry on about how wonderful he is while Lafou followed him around doing his bidding. Each characters personalities came alive and brought a lot of excitement and humor to the show. In regards to the setting, I loved the beautiful stage floor that was intricately painted with blue and gold vines. The set that framed the stage was painted to match the same pattern as the floor and before the show started and during intermission there was this beautiful glowing rose that could be seen through a line dark scrim. The scrim was used on many occasions to create a certain effect. It was used during the two scenes when the wolves attacked, so that we could see what was going on, but with fewer details.

My favorite scene of the whole performance was the Be Our Guest musical number. They did a phenomenal job recreating this classic celebration piece from the timeless movie. They had dancing spoons, dancing plates, a whole entourage of enchanted objects and even confetti streamers that shot out over the audience. It truly was a celebration and you could feel the excitement in the room. There wasn’t a thing that I didn’t like or that disappointed me, instead my expectations were exceeded on every level. If you haven’t seen this show, you should go and see it. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

October 29, 2010. Art Events. 1 comment.

Viva La Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape

  Today I visited the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown San Diego with my classmate Rocio Hernandez. We began our journey inside the Jacobs building which featured the indoor portion of the exhibit Viva La Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape. As soon as we entered I knew this would be a very interesting exhibit because we heard music coming from one of the rooms and saw this big massive display right in the front. This big massive sculptured piece of artwork (pictured below) was made of cardboard boxes, sand and blackened loaves of bread. There was a lot of writing covering the cardboard boxes, but since it was in spanish and wrapped around the boxes Rocio and I could not read what it said.

Next we followed the sound of music coming from the next room to discover the most bizarre, yet cool thing I have ever seen, a singing trash can. The trash can wasn’t actually singing, but it was creating a beat as the pieces of trash moved inside the can. I have never seen anything like it in my life. I thought to myself, this is an excellent use for people’s discarded trash. I think that this was among my favorite pieces featured in the exhibit just because the idea behind it was so fresh and original.

The next room that we entered featured a couple of vehicles, my favorite being the one created entirely out of old boom boxes and cassette tape players. The artist who designed this had quite an imagination. I particularly was partial to the purple upholstery, my favorite color. The  other vehicle reminded me of an old-fashioned horse buggy without the horses. It wasn’t made out of unique parts like the other one, so I didn’t like it as much.

The room that contained these vehicles also had some amazing paintings on the wall. I call them amazing because they were so colorful and pleasing to look at. There were three of these pieces that looked like the artist had just painted layer over layer of color and designs using stencils. There were three different pieces, the first of these being a large square canvas that was totally covered in this unique burst of colors and design. At first glance it is easy to see the explosion of colors, but you have to look closer at the piece to notice that the colors are a collage of different shapes stenciled on top of each other. The next piece in this collection was also square, but had a design in the middle that was framed by swirls of colors. It almost looks like a fire rising up in the middle. What I liked most about this particular piece was the swirling colors that framed it, this feature made it unique from the other two pieces featured in the room. The final piece in this collection was a circular canvas similar to the other two but smaller. This particular piece contained the most variety of interesting shapes, which included everything from skulls, to seahorses, to spirals, etc. Needless to say the harder and closer you examined this piece the more shapes you began to untangle from the jungle of color and shapes. I would have liked to watch these paintings being created, because I am still unsure of how the artist was able to accomplish these breathtaking works of art. I am pretty sure that the artist must have used stencils of some kind to get such a variety of precise shapes.

Next we moved on to the final room inside the museum which feature several different pieces. I thought the person in the shape of a an upside down musical instruments was quite creative and unique. My favorite piece in this room was a face etched out of a brick wall. I liked this one because I could tell that a lot of work went into creating it and it looked so realistic. I love portraits because that is what I like to paint and I think that they speak volumes to the viewers. I know how hard it is to paint a portrait let alone carve one out of a brick wall. This artist has got talent.

There were many more pieces featured in the indoor exhibit, but there is not enough space or time to feature them all here. The rest of the exhibit was featured outside on the walls of the city. I do have to say that the outside pieces were hard to find and not easily accessible unless you wanted to walk around downtown for at least 90 minutes. The museum curators informed us that a few of the outside exhibits were right down the street so we decided to walk and visit those pieces. The two pieces that we visited on foot are featured below. We also drove by three other pieces in the city on our way home. We saw Barry Mcgee’s graffiti words, Os Gemeos people stacked on top of each other and an ape wearing underwear. I would have to say that I did not care much for the outside exhibit and some parts of the museum collection. Much of it was to weird and gruesome for my taste. I did enjoy many of the creative inside exhibits and am glad that I had the opportunity to visit the exhibit.

October 17, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.

Shakespeare’s As You Like It @ The Moonlight

I had the privilege this weekend of attending William Shakespeare’s comedy As You like It at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. This production was put on in collaboration between the Moonlight Cultural Foundation and New Village Arts Theatre. This was the first time a Shakespeare play has been performed at the Moonlight and  it was a great success. As You Like It is not your typical Shakespeare that many are familiar with in plays like Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, and other tragedies. This play was a comedy performed with a more modern flare and I enjoyed it very much. Going into the performance I knew nothing about this particular play and found that I had to pay careful attention to the actors and their dialogue in order to follow along. Shakespearian language is not something you can easily decipher, it requires extensive thought to translate in your head.

As You Like It is the story of poor Rosalind and Orlando who meet, fall in love at first sight and then are both banished from the kingdom for separate reasons at different times. Orlando runs away to the forest of Arden to escape his older brother who has a bounty on his head. Rosalind’s father a duke, has already been banished from the kingdom by his brother and now that same brother decides to banish his niece. So Rosalind runs away to the forest of Arden with her cousin Celia. Rosalind disguises herself as a man and Celia dons the clothing of a shepherdess. The two purchase a cottage and start a new life in the forest of Arden. Meanwhile Orlando has met Rosalind’s father the banished duke and takes up residence with him in a cave with his other Lords who joined him in his banishment. Eventually Rosalind and Orlando meet again, but Orlando does not know it is her due to her disguise. Rosalind convinces Orlando that she can cure him of his love for Rosalind if he will agree to woo her everyday. Eventually Orlando’s brother comes to the forest and falls in love with Celia and a young shepherdess falls in love with Rosalind, who in turn is in love with Orlando, who is love with her, Rosalind. Talk about a serious love triangle going on. Eventually Rosalind convinces Orlando to marry Rosalind if she can produce her, and the young shepherdess to marry her if she desires to, but if not she must marry the shepherd who is in love with her. Rosalind then returns without her disguise as Rosalind and of course the young shepherdess no longer wants to marry her so she is committed to marry the shepherd and Rosalind gets to marry her Orlando. The kingdom gets restored to them all and they live happily ever after. The End.

It is truly a tragic, yet comedic love story that has a happy ending. The actors were sensational, though at times it was hard to hear them. I am not sure whether their mics were not working correctly or they were not projecting their voices enough. My favorite scenes were the ones in which Orlando was trying to who Rosalind disguised as a man. It was quite hilarious and a lot of fun to watch them banter back and forth. There was one scene in the play with men, umbrellas and a deer that made no sense whatsoever with the rest of the story. I am not sure if that was in Shakespeare’s original play or whether it was added. I think it could have been left out of the play all together. Overall I had a great time and enjoyed the production very much. It was enlightening to see another side of Shakespeare.

October 11, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.

Little Shop of Horrors @ The Avo Playhouse

I had the pleasure of attending the production of Little Shop of Horrors at the Avo Playhouse in Vista, performed by the Encore Youth Theatre. It was a delightful and hilarious tale of an alien species of fly trap that preys on human blood. The opening scene of the play takes place in a flower shop down on skid row that is hurting for lack of business until the two employees Seymour and Audrey come up with an idea. Seymour likes to raise rare and unusual plants and his newest rare plant is put on display in the shop window to draw people inside. To the disbelief of the shop owner the plant actually does draw in a customer who spends $100 on roses. Overnight the little flower shop on skid row becomes a success. The only problem is that Seymour discovers the only way to keep the plant healthy and grow is to feed it human blood. Seymour is in love with Audrey, but she is dating a dentist that abuses her. Overtime the plant (Audrey II) is no longer satisfied with drops of Seymour’s blood, but needs a greater quantity of blood to feed its growing appetite. Seymour ends up feeding Audrey’s dentist boyfriend to the plant after he dies from inhaling too much nitrous oxide. Seymour and the plants fame grows bigger and now he has the attention of Audrey the only person he has ever loved. The shop owner gets suspicious and he ends up being fed to the plant. Seymour is in over his head and intends on killing the plant. Instead the plant eats Audrey and then Seymour. It may sound like a gruesome tale, but overall it was delightful and hilarious.

The two main characters Seymour and Audrey were sensational actors and singers. I am sure that these two have a bright future in theatre. The three skid row girls that did most of the singing were great singers when they sang individually, but all together they did not harmonize well. I do have to say that they were the quickest costume changers I have every seen because they had to change all night from one scene to the next. The blood eating plant Audrey II was an amazing creation. Someone was inside this giant plant costume making it move and being the voice and it could actually eat people. The background noises were appropriately created, especially the horrific noise Audrey II made every time it ate someone. The props for this production included a motorcycle and a dentist chair that they brought into the theatre. The shop owner had gray makeup all over his face that was distracting to his character. I think the makeup was trying to make him look like an old man, but instead it just looked funny. At times there were technical problems with the microphones, so it was hard to hear the characters sing.

 Overall I think the production was well casted and a success. I am glad that I was in the second row and not the front row for this production because the theatre was so small the actors were walking, singing and dancing at times right in front of the people in the first row. I will keep this in mind for future events that I attend at this venue. I believe that the small size of the theatre and our closeness to the stage made it easier to notice things that were out-of-place. In a bigger theatre with more room, we might not have noticed these things. In conclusion I had a great night of laughter and fun with my friends.




October 3, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.

Miss Siagon @ The Moonlight

I had the privilege and honor of seeing the Moonlight Amphitheatre’s production of the musical Miss Saigon. The performance was sensational. The play is set in Vietnam during the Vietnam war and focuses on the tragic love story between Chris an American G.I. and Kim a Vietnamese woman. The two fall in love overnight and then are separated when Chris returns to America and Kim is left behind. Eventually Chris moves on with his life and marries another woman, but Kim bears Chris’s son and never stops hoping that her lovers will return one day. Eventually they are all reunited in Bangkok when Chris discovers that she is alive and that he has a son. The play ends tragically when Kim kills herself in order to ensure that Chris and his new wife will take her son to America where he can have a better life.

Having never seen this play before I was caught up in the suspense of what would happen next after every scene. Overall the production was well staged and casted. The voices of all the main characters, Chris, Kim, Ellen and the Engineer were breathtaking. The special effects added greatly to the performance, especially the helicopter that landed on stage during the scene where Chris has to leave both Vietnam and Kim behind. The helicopter was as realistic as a prop can be, evening having a rotating propeller on top. The production also included a video of real children that were born during the Vietnam war between American soldiers and Vietnamese woman. This video added to the authenticity of the play and emotionally drew the audience into the plight of these innocent children that were born out of the tragedy of war and abandoned.

This production was very intense and emotional. I found myself walking away analyzing the ending and each characters choices. Chris was haunted by the horrors of war and leaving Kim behind. He did not plan to leave her, he loved her intensely and was forced to leave her behind against his will. He lived not knowing whether she was alive, having horrible nightmares about her painfully dying, but chose to move on and begin life anew with Ellen. Kim on the other hand, was consumed by her love for Chris and survived on the hope that he would return one day. She choose to even give up marry another man who loved her because in her mind she was still married to Chris. At first it is hard to understand her adamant devotion to her vows, until she introduces her child into the picture and then it becomes clearer why she lived to be united with Chris. The play kept you in suspense of this detail and also of the circumstances that surrounded their separation. The scenes of the play skip over how the two became separated and does not show that scene until the end of the play. This kept me in suspense and even confused me a little in the beginning, peaking my interest to know what really happened.

Towards the end of the play it became hard to imagine how it would all end. Part of me wanted the typical fairy tale ending where Kim and Chris would be united together in love with their son, but I knew that realistically that wasn’t a plausible ending. Chris and Ellen decide that they will support Chris’s son, but leave him in Bangkok with his mom. They cannot imagine taking a child away from his mother no matter how hard she pleads for them to take her. Kim decides to take things into her own hands by sacrificing herself for her child. She wants him to have a better life in American and know that since Chris has a new wife the only way for that to happen is to give up her own life. The play ends with Kim dying in Chris’s arms while his wife Ellen, son Tam and friend John watch. At this point Chris is broken and the actor did an excellent job of portraying that brokeness.

I am so glad that I choose to attend this production and a small glimpse into the tragedy of the Vietnam war.

September 20, 2010. Art Events. Leave a comment.