Eileen Bowman as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow
Photo by Daren Scott
She survived a cyclone in The Wizard of Oz, but Judy Garland could not survive the train wreck that was a life devastated by alcohol and drug abuse, and by the pressures of the kind of superstardom we take for granted today. The last few months before Garland succumbed, at age 47, are dramatized in Peter Quilter’s sometimes harrowing End of the Rainbow. As Garland in Intrepid Theatre Co.’s production downtown, Eileen Bowman knocks it out of the park. Her alternating flammability and vulnerability as the beloved but broken Judy transcends an overlong script with many foreseeable plot turns. And when she becomes Judy the front-and-center performer she belts out standards like “Come Rain or Come Shine” with deep-seated passion and swirling torment, all without doing a caricatured Garland impersonation. Jeffrey Jones (as self-serving fiancé Mickey Deans) and Cris O’Bryon (as Garland’s pianist for the London engagement dramatized in the play) offer sturdy support. This is, however, Bowman’s gig and, from somewhere beyond the rainbow, the immortal Judy Garland’s, too.
End of the Rainbow runs through Nov. 29 at the Lyceum Space in Horton Plaza, downtown. $16-$52. intrepidtheatre.org
As long as we’re talking about Judy Garland, why not bring up a musical retelling of The Wonderful Wizard Oz with all new songs? True, Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown did it 40 years ago with The Wiz, and that worked out pretty well. Lamb’s Players Theatre may not have a Wiz on its hands with Jon Lorenz’s Oz, but theatergoers should keep an open mind. This world-premiere take on L. Frank Baum’s classic tale of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man (here, the Woodsman) and the Cowardly Lion unfolds to a more contemporary score that mines a variety of genres. There’s no “Over the Rainbow” in the ho-hum collection of songs, but there is a Latino Lion (Fernando Vega), a mountainous Woodsman (Bryan Barbarin) and a Wicked Witch of the West (Deborah Gilmour Smyth) who is more drama queen than wicked. The first act needs far more action—does each character need his or her own song? But the special effects and the happy commotion pick up in Act 2. Most welcome of all, at the end it turns out the whole thing was not a dream.
Oz runs through Nov. 22 at Lamb’s Players Theatre in Coronado. $24-$78. lambsplayers.org —David L. Coddon
The Oldest Boy: Two parents have to decide whether to let their threeyear-old son go to India to become a Buddhist master. The play combines theatre, puppetry and dance, and opens Nov. 12 at the Lyceum Theatre in Downtown. sdrep.org
H.E.R.O.E.S. The Play: A play set in the future where the government starts to combat overpopulation in scary new ways. Written by awardwinning poet Gill Sotu, it opens Nov. 13 for three performances at the Joe & Vi Jacobs Center in Encanto. jacobspresents.com
Indecent: This world premiere musical centers on the controversial ’20s debut of the Broadway play, God of Vengeance. Written by Paula Vogel, it opens Nov. 13 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
Vonya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: Things get heated in this dramedy about two middle-aged stepsisters dealing with a sudden visit from their other sister and her new boy-toy. Written by Christopher Durang, it opens Nov. 13 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
As You Like It: One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, this one also involves cross-dressing and the power of true love. Performed by students from the Old Globe/USD M.F.A. Program, it opens Nov. 14 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Rhinoceros: This three-act play cleverly criticizes the rise of fascism with a story about a small French town where the inhabitants mysteriously turn into rhinoceroses. Written by Eugène Ionesco, it opens Nov. 14 at UC San Diego’s Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre in La Jolla. theatre.ucsd.edu
Annie : A redheaded orphan sings and dances her way to a better life. Directed by original lyricist and director Martin Charnin, it runs through Nov. 8 at the Civic Theatre in the Gaslamp. broadwaysd.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 runs through Nov. 8 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Stage Fright : A film critic is drugged and kidnapped, only to wake up and find the actors he’s disparaged in the past are extracting their revenge. Written by Charles Marowitz, it runs through Nov. 8 at Lamplighter’s Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com
The Vortex : Noël Coward’s scandalous comedy about an aging socialite and her son who are forced to confront some hard truths about themselves when their respective lovers leave them. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Nov. 8 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Chapatti : The West Coast premiere of the comedy about two Irish animal-lovers who cross paths and start to remember the importance of human companionship. Directed by Tony Award-winner Judith Ivey, it runs through Nov. 15 at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
Precious Little : A gifted linguist receives some troubling news about her pregnancy, but finds solace in two very unexpected places. Presented by Inner Mission Productions, it runs through Nov. 21 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. innermissionproductions.org
End of the Rainbow: The Tony-nominated drama about the final days of Judy Garland that features some of her more beloved songs. Presented by Intrepid Theatre Company, it runs through Nov. 29 at the Lyceum Space Theatre in the Gaslamp. intrepidtheatre.org
Bright Half Life: The West Coast premiere of the dramedy about a lesbian couple told in snapshot scenes spanning 40 years. Written by Tanya Barfield, it plays through Nov. 29 at the Diversionary Theatre in Hillcrest. diversionary.org
The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence : The West Coast premiere of the time-jumping play about four Watsons (Sherlock Holmes’ assistant, the Jeopardy! super-computer, etc.) who become companions in the present day. Written by Madeleine George, it plays through Dec. 4 at the Moxie Theatre in Rolando.
Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas : Now in its 18th year, this holiday classic tells the musical tale of a green grump who plans to ruin the holidays for the town of Whoville. Directed by James Vásquez, it plays through Dec. 26 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org