July 22 2015 02:49 PM

Quaint, hearty Broadway musical plays at Moonlight Amphitheatre

Alessa Neeck and David Engle in 'The Music Man'
Photo courtesy of 'Moonlight Stage Company'

Now in its seventh decade of productions, The Music Man remains a quaint, hearty Broadway musical, as much a time warp as the Year 1912 in River City, Iowa, in which it is set. In case you've forgotten, this Meredith Willson/ Franklin Lacey show is brassy enough to blast to the heavens "Seventy-Six Trombones" (its showstopper), but old-fangled enough to pair onstage a stripe-jacketed barbershop quartet warbling "Goodnight, Ladies" and shamelessly gossiping women chirping "Pick-a-Little, Talk-a-Little."

Moonlight Stage Productions' second summer offering at its Vista amphitheater is The Music Man, and it's as wispy, dramatically speaking, as Old Glory fluttering over the River City courthouse. Still, a massive cast featuring many well-rehearsed child actors couldn't do much better with the time-tested tale of "Professor" Harold Hill, Marian the librarian, and the shady scheme to start up a boy's band that ends up becoming a sugar-sweet love story. Leads David Engel (as Hill) and Alessa Neeck (as Marian) are appealing and clean-scrubbed, and director John Vaughan's choreography sets the pace for a swiftly satisfying night outdoors.

The Music Man runs through Aug. 1 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. $24-$52. moonlightstage.com

Side By Side By Sondheim, which closes the North Coast Repertory Theatre's 33rd season, is a celebration of the legendary lyricist and composer, who really needs no introduction. Accompanied by two pianists onstage, Randall Dodge, Angelina Reaux, Rena Strober and Nicholas Mongiardo- Cooper (who also narrates about Sondheim's spectacular career) croon or belt out—whichever is called for—nearly 30 of the master's show tunes. Most are classics from powerhouses like Gypsy, West Side Story and Company, but a few are on the obscure side.

The fun-loving ensemble adds theatricality to the proceedings by incorporating sight gags and other comedy bits, though individually they tend to oversell some of the ballads. Nevertheless, Side by Sideis a thoroughly entertaining evening of Sondheim for fans, and for those brushing up on their Broadway history, it makes for a lively musical education.

Side by Side by Sondheim runs through Aug. 16 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $44-$51. northcoastrep.org 

Write to davidc@sdcitybeat.com.


San Diego International Fringe Festival: The annual, multi-venue fest features nearly a dozen theatrical shows ranging from one-person productions to experimental musicals. Opens July 23. See website for full lineup. sdfringe.org

Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery: The West Coast premiere of playwright Ken Ludwig's clever adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle's classic Holmes tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Opens July 24 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org 

Tartuffe, or The Hypocrite: Molière's 17th Century comedy about a scheming impostor attempting to ruin a French family's name. Part of the 19th annual Free Classics Series, it opens July 24 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com 

Unnecessary Farce: The comedic tale of an embezzling mayor trying to outrun his accountant, the law, and some hitmen as well. It opens July 24 at PowPAC Community Theatre in Poway. powpac.org 

Return to the Forbidden Planet: Shakespeare's The Tempest gets a sci-fi B-movie makeover complete with a classic-rock soundtrack. It opens July 25 at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org 

Full Gallop: A staged reading of the one-woman show about the life and times of Diana Vreeland, who served as editor of Harper's Bazaar and Vogue for over five decades. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it happens July 27 at the Encinitas Library. intrepidtheatre.org 

Up Here: The world premiere of the new musical comedy about a computer repairman trying to find happiness and love despite his many neuroses. Composed by the duo behind Avenue Q and In Transit, it opens July 28 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org


All in the Timing: This collection of four one-act comedies is arguably playwright David Ives' most famous work. It runs through July 26 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com

AlwaysPatsy Cline: The musical story of the legendary country singer and her unlikely friendship with a fan named Louise Segar. It runs through July 26 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. 

The Pianist of Willesden Lane: The musical true story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish musician whose dreams are put on hold in WWII England. Directed by Hershey Felder and starring Jura's daughter, it runs through July 26 at the Lyceum Stage in the Gaslamp. sdrep.org

Twelfth Night: Shakespeare's comedy about a woman who dresses up like a man in order to be close to a man only to be pursued by another woman who the man loves. Yeah, it's complicated, but it's funny. It runs through July 26 at The Old Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org

West Side Story: You know the deal. Bernstein and Sondheim like Romeo & Juliet so much they made a lavish Broadway musical out if it. It runs through July 26 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org

The Music Man: The musical about a con-man who charms the townsfolk of River City into starting up a kids marching band so he can steal their money. Then things get complicated. Presented by Moonlight Stage Productions, it runs through Aug. 1 at the AVO Playhouse in Vista. moonlightstage.com

Kiss Me, Kate: A musical romcom about a Shakespearean touring company with so much drama backstage, the Bard himself would be jealous. It runs through Aug. 2 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org

The Quality of Life: The San Diego premiere of a new play from Emmy Award-winning writer Jane Anderson (Mad Men) about two couples who form an unlikely bond in the face of tragedy despite their political differences. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it runs through Aug. 2 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre. intrepidtheatre.org

Side By Side By Sondheim: A collection of some of musical theatre legend Stephen Sondheim's greatest hits. Includes songs from Gypsy, West Side Story, Follies and more. It runs through Aug. 9 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org

Dogfight: The local premiere of the musical about three Marines learning the power of compassion on the eve of his deployment to the Vietnam War. Presented by Cygnet Theatre Company, it runs through Aug. 23 at Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com


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