Weekend Preview: New Bacharach Musical, Holiday Shows, And Local Art Fairs
December 8, 2011 1:22 p.m.
Jim Hebert, theater critic at the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Liz Bradshaw, curator at The Loft at UCSD.
CAVANAUGH: Is this KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. A brand-new musical at The Old Globe, some holiday shows and concerts, plus places to check out hand-made gifts for the holidays. I'd like to introduce my guests, Jim Hebert is drama critic with the San Diego Union Tribune. Welcome back.
HEBERT: Thanks, Maureen. Good to see you again.
CAVANAUGH: And Liz Bradshaw is the curator at the lost and has worked in the music industry for some time. Good to see you
BRADSHAW: Hi, Maureen.
CAVANAUGH: Now, a new musical by Burt Bacharach. Remind us about Mr. Bacharach.
HEBERT: Right, Burt Bucharach is 83 years old and an absolute legend of a songwriter. He's had, I think 48 top-ten hits spanning something like 5 or 6 decades. And anyone who's listened to pop road for any time during that span knows songs like walk on by and say a little prayer and -- so he's really kind of an icon of pop music.
CAVANAUGH: And his last musical premiered 40 years ago. Was that promises, promises?
HEBERT: Yeah, that was.
CAVANAUGH: What's he been up to since then?
HEBERT: He's been collaborating with a lot of people. He's done work with everyone from Elvis Costello to Dr. Dre. And he still tours all the time. And he's done a lot of movie work and just hasn't done much stage work.
CAVANAUGH: But he's come back to live theatre now, musical theatre.
HEBERT: Yes, yeah. And it's a big deal because as you say, first time in 40 years that he's done a new piece like this.
CAVANAUGH: Now, some lovers is set during the holidays. Tell us about what this show is about.
HEBERT: Yeah, it's -- he collaborated on this with Steven sater, who was the writer and lyricist for spring awakening, the huge Tony winning musical from a few years ago. And Steven sater's story is kind of inspired by the gift of the magi.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, the O. Henry.
HEBERT: Right. Exactly. And the show isn't an adaptation of that, but it's about a couple who makes it a traditional to read that story every Christmas. And in various interesting and ironic ways, that story kind of becomes the story of their lives. It's about their romance, and it's set in time periods, kind of 20 years apart, and it talks about the way that they sort of drift apart, and what happens to their relationship.
CAVANAUGH: Now, you expect kind of poppy ballads, as you said, from backa ram. Is this what this music sounds like?
HEBERT: Yeah, some of it. It definitely has Bacharach's signature to it, including the kinds of horn accents you might remember from the 70s '70s. There's some rock edge and some jazz to it. It's a really very varied score.
CAVANAUGH: And it is one of these old globe productions that is hopeful he headed to broadway; is that right?
HEBERT: Are, they're always coy about that. I think they think maybe it'll jinx it if they talk about it. It's hard to say at this point. It's the world premiere, first time it's been produced. Will so you never know until you get it in front of an audience. I just saw it last night, and it's -- it's a very interesting piece of work. It might need, to me, anyway, the story I think might need a little reshaping. But it has promise.
CAVANAUGH: That's why they're in San Diego. Some lovers is currently playing through December 31st at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa park. The cave singers are playing at the Casbah tomorrow night. Who are they?
BRADSHAW: A sort of neofolk indie rock trio from Seattle. They have been around since 2007, and they're formed from the ashes of a number of other bands. One of them was the postpunk band, pretty girls make raves. And you can liken them similar to lightning dust, dear tic, and sometimes kind of Connor Obest as well. They just released their third album on jack jaguar records. And that label is also home to people like dinosaur junior, and interestingly I learnt that one of the reasons they moved to the label was because the label splits the earnings with the artists 50-50 after expenses.
CAVANAUGH: That's a pretty good deal
CAVANAUGH: Well, we have a clip. This is from their recent album, no witch, here's black leaf.
(Audio Recording Played)
CAVANAUGH: That's from the cave singers, their recent album, no witch. The cut is black leaf. It sounds like their live shows must have a lot of energy
BRADSHAW: Yeah, I haven't actually got to see them live. But I believe they really rock out. And that's definitely kind of one of the more rock and roll songs on the alum. And others, you'll hear more folksy, not necessarily like sunny folksy, but that twangy, rootsy harmonies, some fiddle.
CAVANAUGH: You can hear that in the voice.
BRADSHAW: Which is great, but I believe they have a really good energy on stage and for a trio really belt out some good songs
HEBERT: I hear a little Burt Bacharach in there.
CAVANAUGH: You're the only one! The cave singers play tomorrow night at the Casbah downtown. We have a number of holiday shows compress now, Jim. What new productions can we look forward to?
HEBERT: Lamb's players theatre does a new production called the festival of Christmas. It's a running series. And etch -- year, it's a different script. So they have a new one this year that I saw last week, and it's very nicely done music, beautiful, vocal harmonies to that one. And strangely enough, 32s no -- once again this year, there's no Christmas carol. I hear there may be a workshop version done in Ion sometime in the next couple weeks
CAVANAUGH: They better get going on that!
HEBERT: Yeah, running out of time
CAVANAUGH: It's a wonderful life is in its 6th and final year, why is this the last year?
HEBERT: It's been a great tradition at signet theatre. And it's been a really good show. But Sean Murray, the artistic director said he's been hearing from people about thinking about doing something new. And I think he's getting a little restless too in terms of trying out something new for the holidays. So it's -- and it's a kind of tradition that's so well liked that you don't want to kind of churn people's affections. I mean, quit while you're ahead.
CAVANAUGH: Exactly. Now, what are the family-friendly shows, the really family-friendly holiday shows out there?
HEBERT: There are a number of smaller companies that are doing shows like the Messiah. I was going to say Santaland Diaries at New Village Arts, which is -- it's such a -- it's not exactly a kid-friendly show. But it has such a kind of warmth to it, it's one of my favorites.
CAVANAUGH: Certainly. And it's been a tradition, hasn't it?
HEBERT: Yeah, they have been doing that, I think is this the third year now. And that's David sedarris's very funny piece.
CAVANAUGH: What would you say was the holiday show that perhaps gave the most for your buck? It can be expensive to go out to the theatre during the holidays. What would give theatre-goers the most bang for their buck?
HEBERT: Santaland diaries, I think tickets are $20 for that. And there are several community theatres, as I mentioned, and I want to get the name of this company right. Oh, one I wanted to mention that is new at north coast rep is called mistletoe music and mayhem. I just had a piece about this today. It was workshopped last year, and it's come back, and I think that's -- that show is only running ten days, and I think the ticket prices are relatively low. It's a very compact, fun kind of musical review type thing. And I think that could be one worth putting on that list.
CAVANAUGH: Well, you know, I want to tell listeners that they can find a list of holiday shows on our website at KPBS.org. 91X is Rexing the halls again. It's a 2-day music festival. Who are some of the big-name bands?
BRADSHAW: Think they're got some really great names this year. I was pretty much excited for all of Saturday's lineup which includes the credible Florence and the machine, hitting up the first night, death cab for cutie, then Noel Galliger, who is brother of Liam from Oasis, huge, huge indie rock star, and him and his high-flying birds are going to be playing in San Diego tomorrow. That's exciting. And then Saturday night, I bit more punky. Blink 182, social disorganization, pennywise, and switch foot.
CAVANAUGH: This is really a big band. But this is like a big event each year. You like a band called Florence and the machine, one of the big name acts in the festival. Why do you like this group?
BRADSHAW: Well, I think the first -- from the first time I hear Florence and the machine, it was so refreshing to hear somebody, just, like, belting out a massive tune that you can hear all the theatre Ricks going on behind it. And I just think complete with the hand-clapping, and a song like dog days are over, everyone has heard it a million times I think, it's probably difficult not to sing along in your car, you know? Just that's what I think, anyway. And I usually do! And she's just the way she holds herself on stage. She's got this porcelain skin, this red hair. Always got this fantastic dresses on, and I think that she's great, their band are great. Hopefully it'll be a good show.
CAVANAUGH: 91X wrecks the halls is this Sunday night at valley view casino center. This is an unusual holiday show we're going to now. Making seasons bright. It's playing later this month. Tell us about it.
HEBERT: Right, it's a 1-day show, and it's free and open to the public. It's run or it's a partnership between an organization called Terry, that serves people with disabilities, and the Guajome Park academy in Vista, which is a charter school.
CAVANAUGH: So is this a theatre production that links theatre and autism?
HEBERT: Yeah, it's actually performed by adults with autism. And Terry serves that population. And it's actually -- the show itself is more of a revue with lots of entertainment, but it grows out of Terry's program, working with kids with autism. And there's a lot of interesting aspects to that, I think because it's something you're seeing more being -- more being done.
CAVANAUGH: The whole pairing of theatre and working with people who have autism to be able to overcome a lot of the social difficulty they have on stage. Can you tell us what the show is about? It's a holiday show, radio snit
HEBERT: It is. And there are different songs and skits that they do. And as I say, it's free and open to the public.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, I like free.
HEBERT: Yeah, yeah. And family-friendly.
CAVANAUGH: Making seasons bright is going to be playing on Tuesday, December 20th at Guajome Park Academy Theatre in Vista. And we have, like very little time to talk about a local artist events at Barrio Logan. Market HO. Amano, handmade, and space for arts holiday show in sale. Can you tell us about this in 20 seconds?
BRADSHAW: I'm try. At the roots factory, every weekend in December, they're doing this local hand-made market. You can buy clothing, art, jewelry, prints. Tomorrow there's going to be a live screen printing. So you can get T-shirts screen printed which I think is really cool. Then there's also music and art at each one of these too. Tomorrow is going to be in God we trust, which is pretty exciting. You've got 25 Latino albums in honor of our lady of Guadalupe's feast day, who are going to be giving their own interpretation of the lady of Guadalupe.
CAVANAUGH: We are out of time. I'm sorry about that. But if you want to learn more, you can go on our website because I know Liz had to talk really, really fast. And I want to thank drama critic Jim Hebert, and UCSD lost's Liz Bradshaw. Thank you very much
BRADSHAW: Thanks Maureen.
HEBERT: Thank you.