July 6 2016 01:18 PM

Songs interwoven in history

Rat Pack-ing it in Lamb's Players' American Rhythm
Photo by Ken Jacques

Lamb’s Players Theatre’s revival of its 2000 musical American Rhythm might as well have been titled “American Marathon.” Over the course of nearly three hours, an ensemble of 10 sings and dances to what has to be over 100 songs (at least in part) from more than 100 years of American musical history, and they make dozens of costume changes along the way. This show written and arranged by Kerry Meads and Vanda Eggington (directed by Meads with in spiring choreography by Colleen Kollar Smith) is exhausting to watch, but not as exhausting as it must be for the cast and the seven musicians up there.

American Rhythm is a nostalgic trip that delights most of all in the second act when the historical period stretches from the ‘50s to the present. Prior to then, it’s strictly Squaresville. But with Act 2 comes welcome comedy in between and within the numbers, from a sophisticated Rat Pack knockoff to variations on “Whip It” and “YMCA.” The athletic Siri Hafso is the dazzling dancer in the ensemble, which also features affable interpretations and antics by David S. Humphrey, Caitie Grady, Sandy Campbell and Kiana Bell.

American Rhythm runs through Sept. 4 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. $28-$78; lambsplayers.org

At Lamb’s Players’ Horton Grand Theatre downtown, Intrepid Theatre Co., which is in residency there, is staging a quieter, gentler American musical retrospective. In Peter Glazer’s 1988 Woody Guthrie’s American Song, five actor-singers and three onstage musicians tell the story of and pay tribute to a man of legend and conviction. Guthrie wrote reportedly 3,000 songs for the common people, for the oppressed, for hardscrabble Americans who persevered with pride and dignity when perseverance didn’t seem possible.

Screen projections and dramatic enactments in between the evening’s 30-some songs illuminate Guthrie’s story, but this show doesn’t really need them. The wonderful Guthrie songs are earnestly given their due. Leonard Patton’s “Nine Hundred Miles” and Megan M. Storti’s “Deportee” will leave you breathless, and it’s damned impossible to resist the company’s bringing home “Bound for Glory,” “Hard Travelin’” and, naturally, “This Land Is Your Land.”

Woody Guthrie’s American Song runs through July 17 at the Horton Grand Theatre, downtown. $33-$58. intrepidtheatre.org


Sense & Sensibility: The West Coast premiere of the musical based on the Jane Austen novel about the perseverant Dashwood sisters. Adapted by Paul Gordon, it opens July 6 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org

Making Porn: An unemployed straight actor takes a role in a gay porn film in ‘80s San Francisco. The wife finds out and hilarity ensues. Written by Ronnie Larsen, it opens July 7 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org

The Dixie Swim Club: Four comedic vignettes of five longtime female friends who have reunited every year for 33 years at a North Carolina beach house. Directed by Jerry Pilato, it opens July 8 at the Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com

Ain’t Misbehavin’: A musical revue of the black music of the ‘20s and ‘30s, as well as the Harlem Renaissance movement. Written and directed by Richard Maltby, Jr., it opens July 13 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org


American Idiot: The rock opera musical about three working-class friends trying to chase their dreams features music from the classic Green Day album of the same name. Directed by Matt Fitzgerald, it runs through July 9 at the Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com

Woody Guthrie’s American Song: An ensemble musical based on the life of the revered American folk singer and songwriter behind classics like “This Land is Your Land” and “Bound for Glory.” Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it runs through July 17 at the Horton Grand Theatre in Downtown. intrepidtheatre.org

The Last Tiger in Haiti: The world premiere drama centers on a group of Haitian children during kanaval, and blends folklore and modern realities. Written by Jeff Augustin, it runs through July 24 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org

Macbeth: A young prince murders and schemes his way to the throne of Scotland in Shakespeare’s bloody classic. Part of the Summer Shakespeare Festival, it runs through July 24 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org

American Rhythm: An original musical production that uses the most memorable songs of the last 100 years. Conceived by Robert Smyth, it runs through Aug. 7 at the Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org


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