Nothing against romance. Play The Alarm’s “Presence of Love” and I go all to pieces. There’s just something about Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility that while indefatigably clever is also excessively sentimental. That being said, the Old Globe Theatre’s presentation of Paul Gordon’s musical Sense and Sensibility is sumptuously staged and performed with tremendous spirit, unabashed though it may be in its love of love. Newcomer (to San Diego) Barbara Gaines directs a superior cast that features Megan McGinnis and Sharon Rietkerk as the Regency-era Dashwood sisters Marianne and Elinor, who if you know Austen, represent sense or sensibility when it comes to the two L words: life and love. McGinnis and Rietkirk are top drawer, each one at ease with this adaptation’s comingling of melodrama and welltimed comedy.
Gordon’s musical score is decidedly expository, though the recurring “Rain” swells with dramatic effect, and “Wrong Side of Five and Thirty,” sung by the awkward suitor of Marianne’s, Col. Brandon (Sean Allan Krill), manages to be both funny and touching in its self-deprecation. Kevin Depinet’s inspired set relies on an architectural swirl and the illusion of windows, allowing the focus to be on the persevering Dashwood sisters, as it should be.
Sense and Sensibility runs through Aug. 14 at the Old Globe Theatre. $39 and up. oldglobe.org
Tom Jacobson’s The Twentieth Century Way, running through July 24 at ion theatre, is about as different from Sense and Sensibility as you can get. Rather than looking for love, its two principal characters (in fact the one-act play’s only two characters) are actors auditioning for a coveted part. Or are they? In short order, Brown (Colton Iverson) and Warren (Richard Johnson) are engaging in fast-and-furious role play, immersing themselves in a scenario in which actors posing as vice cops compete to nab gay men practicing “social vagrancy” in 1914-era Long Beach. This is a breathless, explicit show that shows off Iverson and Johnson’s stamina and way with accents, but even at 85 minutes it feels too long and its history lesson is rather obscured by the characters’ quick-change theatrics.
The Twentieth Century Way runs through July 24 at ion theatre’s BLKBOX @ 6th & Penn in Hillcrest. $14-$32; iontheatre.com
Junk: The Golden Age of Debt: This world-premiere dramedy from Pulitzer Prize winning author Ayad Akhtar centers on a brash genius who sets out to change the world of finance in ‘80s America. It opens July 26 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
80 Days: A Musical: Student performers present the musical version of the adventures of Phileas Fogg and his attempt to go Around the World in 80 Days.
Presented by the Grossmont College Summer Theatre Arts Conservatory, it opens July 28 at the Stagehouse Theatre at Grossmont College in El Cajon.
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
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 runs through July 31 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
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 runs through Aug. 7 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.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
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 runs through Aug. 7 at the Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com
Hamlet: When the prince of Denmark’s father mysteriously dies, he sets out to find the truth and get revenge in Shakespeare’s classic play. Directed by Tom Haine, it runs through Aug. 7 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Funny Business: The So-Cal premiere of this British farce about a seedy hotel whose guests and staff are thrown into upheaval after the arrival of a notorious journalist. Presented by PowPAC, it runs through Aug. 14 at the Poway Community Theatre. powpac.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 runs through Aug. 14 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Gypsy: Stephen Sondheim’s lavish musical about an overbearing stage mother’s attempts to make her daughters into stars of the stage. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Sept. 4 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com