The Broadway musical Pippin is old enough that in its original production, the part of Grandma Berthe was played by Irene Ryan—trivia buffs know her as Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies. Forty years after its debut in New York, you have to wonder what it's doing at Diversionary Theatre, kicking off the University Heights company's new season. The coming-of-age fairytale written by Roger O. Hirson with very-'70s-sounding music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz may not be dated, but neither does it seem daring.
At Diversionary, under the direction of James Vasquez, daring gets the old college try. With the stage no more than an industrial backdrop of metal, found objects and TV monitors, and much of the ensemble in steampunk attire, this "reimagined" Pippin makes a case for relevancy. A couple of enduring tunes, "Morning Glow" and "Corner of the Sky," plus the steady presence of Courtney Corey as Leading Player, the outrageousness of Luke Jacobs in cross-dress and ambitious choreography (also by Vasquez) are definite assets—as is the fact that none of the cast seems to take the story too seriously, until a decidedly earnest finale.
Pippin runs through Oct. 14 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $36-41. diversionary.org
Its plans to open its new season with the local premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal gone awry, New Village Arts instead launched Season 12 with Bernard Slade's 1975 romantic comedy Same Time, Next Year. It's light and fluffy fare, with a few moments of genuine heartache.
Real-life couple Manny and Melissa Fernandes obviously have crackerjack chemistry as married George from Jersey and married Doris from Oakland, who meet once a year at the same hotel for a tryst. The twist to the trysting is that they share much more than just sex.
Some of Same Time, Next Year feels old hat (Doris' going into labor in front of a frantic George), and the nods to hippiedom, Vietnam and women's lib won't surprise anyone. But this is a story that purposely spans that era, and we're reminded by a well-chosen musical soundtrack between scenes. The times they were a-changin'.
Same Time, Next Year runs through Oct. 7 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $22-$36. newvillagearts.org
Allegiance—A New American Musical: Star Trek's George Takei stars in this remembrance of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Opens Sept. 19 on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
Mistakes Were Made: In a West Coast premiere, an embattled B-list theater producer attempts to mount an epic show about the French Revolution. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it opens Sept. 20 at Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Rent: Here's your chance to see this musical, about young adults struggling to survive in New York, if you missed it recently the Birch North Park Theatre. Opens Sept. 20 at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. welktheatresandiego.com
Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir: It's 1958 in Greenwich Village, and a singer and his band are performing their last New York gig before skedaddling out of town. Presented as part of La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls program, it opens Sept. 24 at Martinis Above Fourth in Hillcrest. lajollaplayhouse.org
Sweeney Todd: A barbaric barber slices and dices his customers, and his pal the baker bakes them into her pies. Yum! Opens Sept. 19 at the Moonlight Stage in Vista. moonlightstage.com
An Iliad: Homer's epic poem about the Trojan War is adapted, using contemporary language, into a one-man show by actor Denis O'Hare and director Lisa Peterson. Through Sept. 19 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.com
2 Across: A crossword puzzle is a metaphor for life in this comedy about a man and a woman riding an early-morning BART train. Through Sept. 23 at the Broadway Theatre in Vista. broadwayvista.com
A Midsummer Night's Dream: the Musical: The Bard's classic comedy meets popular music from the 1960s. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through Sept. 23 at the San Dieguito Academy Performing Arts Center in Encinitas. intrepidshakespeare.com
See How They Run: This World War II-era farce, set in Britain, takes the mistaken-identity device and runs wild with it. Through Sept. 23 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Twelfth Night; or, What You Will: After a shipwreck, much love is professed and identities are mistaken on the Adriatic coast in Shakespeare's romantic comedy. Free performances runs through Sept. 23 at Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Inherit the Wind: The Old Globe takes on the classic fictionalized version of the true story of the Scopes "monkey trial," at the end of which a high-school teacher was convicted for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution. The 1955 play used the trial as a parallel to the McCarthyism of the era. Through Sept. 25 in the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre at The Old Globe in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Richard III: King Edward IV's malicious, manipulative, murderous little brother lusts for England's throne, takes it and presides over a reign of terror in Shakespeare's history play. Through Sept. 29 in The Old Globe's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
As You Like It: If it's a case of mistaken identity, it must be the Bard. The story of lovebirds Rosalind and Orlando in the Forest of Arden is part of The Old Globe's 2012 Shakespeare Festival. Through Sept. 30 in the Globe's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds: An abusive mother makes life difficult for her two daughters in this Pulitzer Prize-winning 1964 play. Runs through Sept. 30 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
Scandal in the St. Florian Valley: Chronos Theatre Group presents an absurdist Slovenian farce written in 1908 about the Devil's visit to a small town. Through Sept. 30 at Victory Theatre in Sherman Heights. chronostheatre.com
The Underpants: In Steve Martin's adaptation of a 1910 farce, a man is flummoxed when his wife's underwear simply won't stay on. Runs through Sept. 30 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Perfect Wedding: In the opener of Scripps Ranch Theatre's 34th season, a man wakes up next to a naked, unfamiliar woman on his wedding day. Runs through Oct. 7 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Same Time, Next Year: Once every 12 months, George and Doris, who are married, but to other people, meet for a tryst. Fun with 1970s-era infidelity! Through Oct. 7 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
Pippin: A boy prince searches for the meaning of life in this re-imagined version of the 1971 musical. Runs through Oct. 14 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. diversionary.org
Glengarry Glen Ross: David Mamet's searing play follows a handful of real-estate salesmen pitted against one another in a lose-and-your-fired contest. Through Oct. 21 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Nov. 25 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org
Once Upon a Wedding: Zaniness abounds during a wedding gone horribly wrong, and it does so while patrons dine aboard a boat making its way around Mission Bay, beginning at the Bahia Resort Hotel. Runs on various dates through Dec. 13. onceuponaweddingthemusical.com
Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net