Though not all of its choreographed, wordless love stories have a happy ending, the Old Globe's world-premiere In Your Arms is a joyous experience for the theatergoer and a triumph of artistic collaboration. Major playwrights, such as Christopher Durang, Terrence McNally and David Henry Hwang, wrote the show's 10 vignettes.
Tony winner Christopher Gattelli is responsible for the direction and for the athletic, frequently sublime choreography. The original music is by Stephen Flaherty (Ragtime), with lyrics by his collaborator Lynn Ahrens.
The overarching theme of the vignettes, most of which tell stories completely in dance (performed by an impressive ensemble), is romance. While we get the cutesy (Alfred Uhry's “Love with the Top Down”) and the overly sentimental (Marsha Norman's “Life Long Love”), we also get Nilo Cruz's sensual “The Lover's Jacket,” Lynn Nottage's heart-stopping “A Wedding Dance,” Carrie Fisher's hilarious “Lowdown Messy Shame” and, best of all, Hwang's hip, cinematic “White Snake.” The fabled George Chakiris even appears in the show-closing “Sand Dancing,” written by Ahrens. There's something for every taste and every lover.
In Your Arms runs through Oct. 25 at the Old Globe Theatre. $36 and up. theoldglobe.org
Cassandra Medley's Cell kicks off Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company's new season, the first under new artistic director Lydia Fort. This intense world-premiere play starring Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson, Monique Gaffney, Vimel Sephus and Andrea Agosto is engrossing but overstuffed. It's a family drama (two sisters and a daughter haunted by the past and by circumstances). It's a hard-hitting commentary (Cell is set in an immigration detention center, where desperation and exploitation collide). It's a crime story (a detention center higher-up is sexually assaulting detainees, and there's a cover-up). There's even a romantic subplot involving Sephus and Agosto.
Cell is a despairing play, with characters seen and unseen crying out for hope in an unjust, uncompromising world. While beautifully acted and enhanced by inventive rotation of David F. Weiner's scenic design in Mo'olelo's limited theater space, it's a big-time downer.
Cell runs through Oct. 18 at 10th Avenue Theatre, downtown. $35. moolelo.net
My Mañana Comes: The bond between four busboys at a swanky New York restaurant is tested after a shocking incident. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it opens Oct. 1 at the Lyceum Theatre in the Gaslamp. sdrep.org
The Weir: Set in a pub in Ireland, Conor McPherson's acclaimed play centers on the arrival of a woman to the typically male-heavy bar and the spooky stories the patrons try to tell her. It opens in previews Oct. 2 at the New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
The Phantom of the Opera: Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical about a masked, disfigured and caped stalker is more lavish than ever thanks to new staging and choreography from Cameron Mackintosh. Presented by Broadway San Diego, it opens Oct. 7 at the Civic Theatre in the Gaslamp. broadwaysd.com
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 runs through Oct. 3 at Swedenborg Hall in University Heights. joan.ticketleap.com
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
Sylvia : A romantic comedy about a couple of empty nesters whose marriage is tested with the arrival of a stray dog. Presented by the SDSU School of Theatre, it runs through Oct. 4 at the Experimental Theatre in the College Area. ttf.sdsu.edu
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
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
A Night of Dark Intent : A thriller about six women attempting to solve a years-old murder mystery in the very house where the crime was committed. Written by L. Don Swartz, it runs through Oct. 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 runs through Oct. 17 at BLKBOX Theatre in Hillcrest. iontheatre.com
Cell : A world premiere play about a corrections officer who begins to fraternize with the illegal immigrants she's supposed to be overseeing. Presented by Mo'olelo Performing Arts Company, it runs through Oct. 18 at the Tenth Avenue Arts Center in the East Village. moolelo.net
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
Healing Wars : A multisensory production that blends dance, spoken word and multimedia in order to explore how soldiers cope with the physical and emotional wounds of war. Presented as the centerpiece production of the upcoming Without Walls Festival, it runs through Oct. 25 at the La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
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
Full Gallop : Broadway vet Mercedes Ruehl plays a fashion editor scornfully plotting a comeback after being fired from Vogue magazine. It runs through Oct. 25 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.org
Orange Julius : The world premiere play from Basil Kreimendahl tells the story of a dying Vietnam vet trying to reconnect with his lesbian daughter. It runs through Oct. 25 at the MOXIE Theatre in the College Area. moxietheatre.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
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