Imaginative” is the word that best describes Big Fish, Moonlight Stage Company's closing offering of its outdoor amphitheater season. Its trippy screen projections, versatile set pieces and colorful costumes combine to transport you to a circus, to an open field of daffodils, to an Old West town, to the cave of a giant and more. These are all memories from the manically creative mind of Edward Bloom (Josh Adamson)—or are they? Are they instead fantasies? Fish stories if you will?
You may remember Daniel Wallace's novel Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions or more likely Tim Burton's 2003 film based on the book, Big Fish. This 2013 stage musical (book by John August, music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa) is a natural extension. While less wacky and more sincere than Burton's film, Big Fish the musical, directed at Moonlight by Steven Glaudini, is a mostly merry carnival ride, with just the right amount of human warmth. (Its conflict stems from Bloom's son, played by Patrick Cummings, trying to find out “the truth” about his eccentric—and dying— dad's past.) The always magnetic Bets Malone teams with the resourceful Adamson to give you true characters to root for, and the musical score is unpretentious if innocuous. The defining “How It Ends” sequence late in Act 2, however, is undeniably moving. At that point, the question of what's real and what's imagined becomes secondary to the preciousness of life itself.
Big Fish runs through Sept. 26 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. $24-$52. moonlightstage.com
North Coast Rep in Solana Beach has opened its 34th season with Ken Ludwig's madcap comedy The Fox on the Fairway. Few playwrights write madcap better than Ludwig, whose Lend Me A Tenor four years ago was one of NCR's most memorable recent productions. But The Fox on the Fairway, about love, golf and a high-stakes contest between two warring country clubs, is an exhausting exercise in farce and physicality. Its prop hijinks are obvious ones, its plot antics strained. The six-person cast directed by Matthew Weiner goes all out, and Jacquelyn Ritz—sexy, saucy and smart all in one—continues to be one of the NCR's most delightful regulars.
The Fox on the Fairway runs through Oct. 11 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $43-$50. northcoastrep.org
I, Joan: A one-woman play about a young, militaristic French girl who has a special relationship with God. You can probably guess who that is. Written by Peter Mitsopoulos, It opens Sept. 17 at Swedenborg Hall in University Heights. joan.ticketleap.com
A Night of Dark Intent: A thriller about six women attempting to solve a years-old murder mystery in the house where the crime was committed. Written by L. Don Swartz, it opens Sept. 18 at PowPAC in Poway. powpac.org
Master Class: Terrance McNally's acclaimed dramedy about a once-famous opera singer who's having a hard time adjusting to teaching. Presented by ion Theatre, it opens in previews at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com
Hay Fever: Noël Coward's classic comedy about a retired stage actress, her writer husband, their eccentric children and a weekend get-together gone awry. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it opens in previews Sept. 23 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
The Diary of Anne Frank : The stage adaptation of the inspirational true story of a young girl hiding from Nazis in WWII Amsterdam. It runs through Sept. 27 at Vista's Broadway Theater. broadwayvista.com
The Comedy of Errors : Shakespeare's mischievous comedy about mistaken identity and long-lost twins. It runs through Sep. 20 at the Old Globe's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Moon Over Buffalo : Ken Ludwig's comedy about two aging theater actors who may get one more chance to perform on Broadway. Directed by Margo Essman, it runs through Sept. 20 at the Patio Playhouse in Escondido. patioplayhouse.com
Big Fish : A musical about a southern salesman who spins tall tales to his son throughout his life. Based on the novel by Daniel Wallace and the motion picture by Tim Burton, it runs through Sept. 26 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. moonlightstage.com
Mixtape: The Greatest Hits of the ‘80s : The homegrown musical about the ‘80s features songs from some of the biggest pop stars of that time including Duran Duran, The Cure, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and more. Presented by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Sept. 27 at the Horton Grand Theatre in the Gaslamp.
Race : Two lawyers have to defend a wealthy white executive accused of sexually assaulting a black woman in David Mamet's biting drama. Presented by Different Stages, it runs through Oct. 3 at Swedenborg Hall in Hillcrest. differentstages.biz
Amazons and Their Men : The West Coast premiere of Jordan Harrison's comically subversive play about German film auteur Leni Riefenstahl. Directed by Matt M. Morrow, it runs through Oct. 4 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
Blueprints to Freedom : An Ode to Bayard Rustin: This world premiere drama set in 1963 centers on the redemptive story of Civil Rights hero Bayard Rustin. Written by Michael Benjamin Washington, it runs through Oct. 4 at the La Jolla Playhouse's Potiker Theatre. lajollaplayhouse.org
The Fox on the Fairway : A country-club president bets on a golf tournament but loses his ringer to the other side in this Caddyshack -esque comedy. It runs through Oct. 11 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Thoroughly Modern Millie : A young girl fresh off a Kansas farm taps and flaps her way through ‘20s New York City in this highly popular Broadway musical. It runs through Oct. 18 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
In Your Arms : A world premiere “dance-theatre musical” created by a who's who of Tony and Pulitzer winning Broadway vets. Directed by Christopher Gattelli, it runs through Oct. 25 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org