Written in 1977 and set in 1979, Neil Simon's Chapter Two unfolds in a world with landlines, typewriters and still-fresh references to Watergate. Simon's semi-autobiographical comedy was North Coast Repertory Theatre's first production 33 years ago. Now, with Rep Artistic Director David Ellenstein starring in the Simon-esque role of George, a widowed writer who finds love again, Chapter Two is back on the Solana Beach stage.
While some of its references are dated, the foibles of adult relationships are not, and this production (co-directed by Ellenstein and Christopher Williams) gets to the heart of second-chance romance. Ellenstein's sincere performance is complemented by Jacquelyn Ritz's as the secondchance love, Jenny. Ritz is variously wry and poignant, but always full of spirit. You root for her from the minute she appears.
Supporting players Louis Lotorto and Mhari Sandoval provide the broader laughs, but it's the rapport between Ellenstein and Ritz that carries this very pleasing show. Their phone calls when they're just getting to know each other are among the most endearing moments. Marty Burnett's slick two-apartments-in-one set and Alina Bokovikova's blindingly bright costumes take you back to the '70s, which, for one diverting evening, is worth the trip.
Chapter Two runs through March 22. $35 and up. northcoastrep.org
On the silver screen, it was known as Capra-corn— old-fashioned, feel-good depictions of Americana directed by the prolific Frank Capra. One of his most beloved movies, released in 1938, was a film adaptation of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart's 1936 play You Can't Take it with You. The play, like the film, is a likable show that's as comfortable as the quilt Grandma knit for you.
So it goes with Lamb's Players Theatre's current production, directed by Kerry Meads. The laughs come easily in this quaint tale of a wacky family and a couple of stuffed-shirt potential in-laws. Frolicking on a homey set (by Mike Buckley) that you'd like to put your feet up on is a buoyant cast that includes the comically adroit Steve Gunderson, Danny Campbell, John Rosen and, in two equally uproarious roles, Eileen Bowman.
You Can't Take it with You runs through March 29 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. $22- $72.
3 Plays in a Tattoo Shop: Yep, it's pretty self-explanatory. The Trip theater group's performing three short plays at Full Circle Tattoo in South Park (2312 30th St.). Opens March 5. thetriptheater.net
Alice: Curious and Curiouser!: SDSU's School of Theatre, Television and Film performs an adaptation of the Lewis Carroll classic. Opens March 6 in the Don Powell Theatre at SDSU. ttf.sdsu.edu
Annie: A cute li'l orphan longs to find her parents and enlists a rich guy to help her. Presented by J*Company Youth Theatre, it opens March 6 at the David & Dorothea Garfield Theatre in La Jolla. sdcjc.org/jc
The Drowsy Chaperone: As a Broadway enthusiast listens to a recording of an old-timey musical, the production comes to life in his small apartment. Opens March 5 at the MiraCosta College Theatre in Oceanside. hub.miracosta.edu/Theatre/productions.htm
God Committee: In this drama, seven people must decide which one of four individuals on a transplant waiting list will get a heart that has suddenly become available. Opens March 6 at PowPAC in Poway. powpac.org
Goodbye Charlie: A womanizing writer is murdered by an angry husband and is reincarnated immediately as a beautiful woman (Lauren Bacall in the original play, Debbie Reynolds in the movie). Opens March 6 at Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com
Kikiricaja: Una Historia de Payasos: An entirely Spanishlanguage play—good for folks 7 years old and older—about two friends who live in wooden boxes. Runs March 6 through 8 at La Jolla Playhouse's Makineni Play Development Center. lajollaplayhouse.org
My Fair Lady: A man attempts to turn a rough-around-the-edges girl into something more sophisticated—and then develops the hots for her. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it opens in previews on March 5 at the Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
Oedipus El Rey: A modern take on Sophocles' classic tragedy, set not in ancient Greece but, rather, in a Southern California barrio. Presented by San Diego Repertory Theatre, it opens March 7 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. sdrep.org
The Pirates of Penzance: Nine actors stranded on a desert island perform Gilbert and Sullivan's classic comic opera. Opens March 6 at the Broadway Theatre in Vista. broadwayvista.com
Hamlet: Shakespeare's classic tragedy about the vengeful prince gets a treatment at UCSD. Through March 7 at UCSD's Mandell Weiss Theatre. theatre.ucsd.edu
The Darrell Hammond Project: Darrell Hammond, the longest-tenured cast member in the history of Saturday Night Live, tells his own life story in a one-man show. Through March 8 at La Jolla Playhouse. lajollaplayhouse.org
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: Adult actors play quirky middle-school students in a musical comedy about a spelling contest. Presented by Intrepid Shakespeare Company, it runs through March 15 in the Performing Arts Center at San Marcos High School. intrepidshakespeare.com
Chapter Two: A man whose wife died recently and a woman whose marriage has just ended aren't sure they're ready to start dating. You either love Neil Simon or you hate him. Through March 29 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. northcoastrep.org
The Grift at the Lafayette Hotel: Director Tom Salamon's latest immersive theater experience takes audiences in and out of various rooms and other spaces inside one of San Diego's coolest hotels. Presented by La Jolla Playhouse, it runs through March 22 at the Lafayette Hotel in University Heights. lajollaplayhouse.org
Love, Loss, and What I Wore: A series of monologues written by Nora and Delia Ephron, performed by five women, in which clothing is the focal point of life stories. Presented by Philip Roger Roy and Dana Matthow, it runs through March 22 at the Lyceum Theatre at Horton Plaza, Downtown. lyceumevents.org
The Twenty-seventh Man: It's 1952, and Stalin has jailed 26 luminaries of Yiddish literature. The story truly begins when No. 27 arrives behind bars. Through March 22 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. theoldglobe.com
Baby with the Bathwater: In this comedy by Christopher Durang, a couple of not-so-great parents produce a child who grows up struggling with identity issues. Through March 29 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. diversionary.org
You Can't Take it with You: Zany characters abound, and kooky things keep happening, in the home of Paul and Penny Sycamore. Through March 29 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: In a musical based on a biblical tale, a dude who has an "amazing" garment becomes a slave, but he triumphs in Egypt regardless. Presented by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through May 31 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. lambsplayers.org
Win Place or Die My Jockeys are Killing Me: Mystery Café's latest comic-caper dinner-theater production is set at the Thoroughbred Club at Upson Down Race Track. It's ongoing at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net