April 6 2016 03:00 PM

Deeply repressed sexuality plays well at the Old Globe

Eden Espinosa and Jared Zirilli in Rain
Photo by Jim Cox

Why has Somerset Maugham’s short story Rain been made into a film three times, and now a stage musical that’s world-premiering at the Old Globe? The answer, at the risk of oversimplification, is in its thematic wrestling match: Sex is good. No, sex is bad. No, sex is good. No…and so on. Only the story’s deeply repressed missionary, Davidson, really believes sex is bad, and he’s a flaming hypocrite who self-righteously stalks sexually free spirit Sadie Thompson.

Tantalizing as this may sound, the Globe’s musical, directed by Barry Edelstein and written by Sybille Pearson (book) and Michael John LaChiusa (music and lyrics) is preachy and fulsome. Possibly in an attempt to turn the short story into a grand two-act musical, Pearson and LaChiusa give all seven principal characters stage and song time, much of it a distraction from the moral and psychological battle between the missionary (Jared Zirilli) and Sadie (Eden Espinosa). As such, Rain feels bloated. Espinosa enjoys the expository score’s best turns, though her strutting finale sounds like a Sally Bowles leftover. Rain does play out, however, on a marvel of a set by Mark Wendland, a morphing, multilevel structure that’s a character in itself.

Rain runs through May 1 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. $36. oldglobe.org

There are certain Broadway classics that, if staged sincerely, deliver time and again. Fiddler on the Roof is one of them. In the last four years on the area theater scene, Fiddler’s been presented by Moonlight Stage Productions (with North Coast Rep artistic director David Ellenstein playing Tevye) and by Lamb’s Players Theatre (with Sam Zeller in the lead role). Now Welk Resorts Theatre has gotten into the act. Its Fiddler stars a likable Rudy Martinez as Tevye, supported by Wendy Waddell, a familiar Welk face, as Golde. The only limitation on Welk’s production is the size of its stage, which appears crowded during the ensemble numbers though this was an issue in the Lamb’s staging, too. But Kathy Brombacher’s direction and Justin Gray’s musical direction are deft and faithful to this theater treasure’s messages of family, tradition and perseverance wrapped in timeless songs.

Fiddler on the Roof runs through April 24 at Welk Resort Theatre in Escondido. $49-$68. welktheatersandiego.com —David L. Coddon


The Elephant Man: The acclaimed drama about a severely deformed British man who goes from sideshow freak to attempting to become accepted among the London aristocracy. Presented by the Oceanside Theatre Company and the Backyard Renaissance Theatre Company, it opens April 8 at the Brooks Theatre in Oceanside. oceansidetheatre.org

Big River: Roger Miller’s Tony Award-winning adaptation of Mark Twain’s classic novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It opens April 9 at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org

Constellations: Nick Payne’s acclaimed play about a chance encounter between a man and a woman at a party and all the varying directions events can play out from there. Directed by Richard Seer, it opens April 9 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org

Way Downriver: Two very different men must work together to survive a terrible flood along the Mississippi River. Adapted by Edward Morgan from William Faulkner’s short story, Old Man, it opens April 13 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org


Mack & Mabel: The musical story of a silent film director recalling his love affair with an actress he discovered. It runs through April 10 at the Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com

Private Eyes: Steven Dietz’s dark “comedy of suspicion” in which the audience is left to their own devices to decide whether or not a couple is cheating on one another. It runs through April 10 at PowPAC Community Theatre in Escondido.

The Miracle Worker: William Gibson’s classic story of Helen Keller and her committed teacher Anne Sullivan. It runs through April 10 at the Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org

Rain: This new musical based on a short story by Somerset Maugham centers on a missionary, a doctor and their wives who meet a loveable prostitute in ’20s Western Samoa. Directed by Barry Edelstein, it runs through May 1 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org

The Rocky Horror Show: You’ve seen the movie, now see the show about a couple who unwillingly stumbles upon the castle of a “sweet transvestite” and a sordid cast of characters. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through May 1 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com

Skin Deep: A witty, overweight woman goes on a blind date with a fella who doesn’t think before he speaks. Hilarity ensues, natch. Written by Jon Lonoff, it runs through May 1 at the Scripps Ranch Theatre. scrippsranchtheatre.org

A Little Night Music: The Stephen Sondheim musical centers on an enchanting actress who invites her male admirers, as well as their jealous wives, for a weekend in the country. It runs through May 8 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com


See all events on Friday, Oct 21