Amy (Jennifer Seifert) is in the big-time doghouse with her Grandma Beth (Kwana Martinez), and it doesn't matter that tomorrow's her wedding day. She can't cough up the string of pearls Beth gave Amy's mom long ago. Undaunted, Beth launches a personal search for the jewels, which takes us into the lives of assorted friends and family throughout the course of 35 years.
That's a big fuss to make over a few measly beads, but North Coast Repertory Theatre's current String of Pearls works fairly well nonetheless. There's something almost confrontational about the ad nauseam first- and third-person references (“She touched my breasts, and I let her”), as if playwright Michele Lowe seeks to spoonfeed the story. But consider that director Karen Carpenter calls on only four actors to play 27 roles, and you find yourself caught up in the roulette of it all. If there's such as thing as a chick play (and I don't think there is), this is it—but that doesn't necessarily make it awful, the starchy writing notwithstanding. String of Pearls runs through Feb. 10 at North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987-D Lomas Santa Fe Drive in Solana Beach. $26-$40. 858-481-1055 or www.northcoastrep.org.
—Martin Jones Westlin
The Daddy Machine: The musical story of two moms, two kids, one singing dog and 62 dads. In preview on Jan. 18, opening Jan. 19 at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd. In University Heights. 619-220-0097 or www.diversionary.org. $20-$25.
Fences: Troy Maxson fences in his family amid his abandonment of personal responsibility. Opens in previews Jan. 17 at Cygnet Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Blvd. in the College Area. 619-337-1525 or www.cygnetthe atre.com. $22-$31.
Once on This Island: The relationship between two star-crossed lovers is challenged by race and chaos on the French Antilles islands of the 1950s. Presented by the California Young Actors Conservatory Jan. 16 through Jan. 20 at The Lyceum, 79 Horton Plaza downtown. 619-544-1000 or www.sandiegrep.org. $15-$25.
Sea of Tranquility: The story of a transplanted psychologist and the revelation of a mystery in the human condition. Opens Jan. 17 at The Old Globe Theatre mainstage, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. 619-23-GLOBE or www.oldglobe.org. $46-$56.
This is Our Youth: Three youths are disenfranchised amid the Reagan years and society's rejection of the liberalism on which they were raised. Opens in previews Jan. 17 at New Village Arts Theatre, 2787-B State St. in Carlsbad. 760-433-3245 or www.newvillagearts.org. $15-$26.
In This Corner: The story of the Max Schmeling-Joe Louis boxing rematch and the men's unlikely reunion 32 years later. Through Feb. 10 at The Old Globe Theatre's Cassius Carter Centre Stage, 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park. 619-23-GLOBE or www.oldglobe.org. $42-$52. See our review on this page.
The Blessing of a Broken Heart: The story of author Sherri Mandell and the aftermath of her 13-year-old son's murder. Through Jan. 20 at The Lyceum space, 79 Horton Plaza, Downtown. 619-544-1000 or www.sandiegorep.com. $28-$36.
The Pillowman: An author is interrogated about the possible link between his short stories and a series of murders. Presented through Feb. 16 by Ion Theatre Company at The Lab, Academy for the Performing Arts, 4580-B Alvarado Canyon Road in Mission Valley. 619-374-6894 or www.iontheatre.com. $10-$29.50.
Chalk It Up to Murder: Features a cavalcade of new clues for a terrible crime. Presented by HIT Productions, Fireside Steakhouse, 439 W. Washington Blvd. in Escondido. 619-561-8673. $16-$29.50. Joey & Maria's Comedy Italian Wedding: The fortunes and foibles at the heart of an Italian wedding. Holiday Inn on the Bay, 1355 N. Harbor Drive. 800-944-5639. $49.50.
Where There's a Will... There's a Wake: The story of gangland figure Sonny Shoeleone, heir to the family fortune unless his siblings have their way. Presented by Mystery Café Dinner Theater at Imperial House Restaurant, 505 Kalmia St. in Bankers Hill. 619-544-1600. $56.50, $59.50.
Triple Espresso: The story of three dorks and their bid at fame on national TV. Through Feb. 17, at the Horton Grand Theatre, 444 Fourth Ave., Downtown. 619-234-9583. $10-$37.50.