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Weekend Preview: Mystery Plays, W.C. Fields, And Music

September 6, 2012 12:50 p.m.

There is great music to be heard and entertaining plays to be seen in San Diego this weekend.

Related Story: Weekend Preview: Mystery Plays, W.C. Fields, And Music


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. This weekend, the conventions will be over. And before the debates begin, we have some time to forget about politics and take in a concert or play. That's what we're featuring on our weekend preview. Some tried and true musicians, newly launched plays, and a farewell to summer's streetbeat event. Charlene Baldridge, welcome to the program.

BALDRIDGE: Thank you.

CAVANAUGH: And George Varga, pop music critic for UT San Diego.

VARGA: Hello.

CAVANAUGH: Let's start with the mystery playing that are running at Ion Theatre. And they have been running since August, through September 15th. Mystery plays in the plural. Is there more than one?

BALDRIDGE: Yes, there are two short plays. Two 1-acts.

CAVANAUGH: And can you give us a hint of what the mystery might be?

BALDRIDGE: Well, they're kind of like the medieval mystery plays. That's where they got the impetus. But the first one is kind of like Alfred Hitchcockian in that two men meet on a train, one gets off the train to run an errand, the train pulls out without him, crashes and burns. And he starts getting visits from this guy that came onto him on the train, who's dead. Everybody is dead except him. Will

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So that's the Hitchcockian first one.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And then the second one is also a mystery of sorts.

BALDRIDGE: The other one is a mystery in that there was a murder, but the murder was solved. And the woman goes to her brother's parole hearing at prison, and it's been 16 years since he murdered their parents and her younger sister. And she is called top search her soul to see if there is some way that she can forgive him.

CAVANAUGH: These sound intriguing.

BALDRIDGE: They are.

CAVANAUGH: Stylistically, how would you describe these plays?

BALDRIDGE: Well, the first of course is kind of weird.

CAVANAUGH: Hitchcock. Uh-huh.

BALDRIDGE: And the other one is a dose of reality, but the unreal part of it is that it keeps going back and forth in time. And you're challenged to know where you are.

CAVANAUGH: Now, Ion Theatre, what's the emphasis?

BALDRIDGE: It is very cutting-edge. They do a lot of newer plays by breakthrough playwrights.

CAVANAUGH: Like this.

BALDRIDGE: Yeah. And challenging plays.

CAVANAUGH: And the playwright here is Roberto Aguirre sicasa. And he's now a very in-demand writer, but these are two of his early works, aren't they?

BALDRIDGE: Yes, very early.

CAVANAUGH: So the mystery plays run through September 15th at the Ion Theatre. Let me move onto the Dave Matthews band playing at Cricket wireless amphitheater in Chula Vista. You recently interviewed Dave Matthews.

VARGA: Well, are I interviewed him once before, and he reaffirmed that he is one of the more that you feel rock stars that I've walked to. By that I mean he really thinks about what he wants to say and then how to articulate it. And he's also as far from being a self-absorbed rock star I've interviewed. He's given a lot of money to charity, but he's also one of the only I've talked to who said he felt guilty for being overcompensated for what he does.

CAVANAUGH: What about their new music?

VARGA: They have a new album called away from the world, which I think ranks with their best work. And it reunites them with a producer staved Steve lillywhite from England who worked on their first three albums with them, and then they had a falling out.

CAVANAUGH: Let's hear a song from that album.

(Audio Recording Played)

CAVANAUGH: They seem to tour a lot. How much do they tour in a year?

VARGA: Well, not as much as you would think given that they were the most profitable touring band from the decade of 2000-2009. But basically they tour every summer a few dozen date, and not every summer. And Dave and Tim Reynolds who is also a member of the band will periodically do duo acoustic tours usually in the fall.

CAVANAUGH: Well, they're coming here at the Cricket wireless amphitheater this Friday night at 7:30. Now, the underpants is the name of a play at the north coast repertory theatre in Solana beach. Tell us about the premise.

BALDRIDGE: Well, it's 1910. And that was back in the days when if a lady showed her ankle, there was a scandal. This lady is a young married woman, and she's watching a parade, and drops her underpants, unreliable elastic, I suppose.


CAVANAUGH: A wardrobe malfunction.

BALDRIDGE: Exactly. And the king is passing by at exactly the same time. So it's especially scandalous.

CAVANAUGH: So the original play as you mentioned, written over 100 years ago, are the name of the playwright was Carl sternHeim. But this version has been adapted by comedian Steve Martin.

BALDRIDGE: Right, well, he has a fascination with old things, classic things. He did Cyrano de Bergerac and made it into the movie Roxanne. And he also did Silas marijuanaer, which is an old book. He says in his preface to the play that he always intends to be absolutely religious about sticking with the text. But the fact that he lives in contemporary times colors everything.

CAVANAUGH: So when we go to this play, the underpant, we will feel we're back in 1910 or in modern times?

BALDRIDGE: Yes, it'll be a lovely costumed play. There's only two women in it.

CAVANAUGH: One who loses her underpants.


BALDRIDGE: And the other one is her girlfriend who's making her even more luscious underpants. And hoping that she'll have an affair with an of the men who comes to rent the room. And of course it turns out that all the men have seen her accident and are fascinated by her and are there to seduce her!


CAVANAUGH: So the north coast repertory theatre's production of the underpants, it has previews Thursday and Friday, tonight and Friday, and runs from September 8th through the 30th.

CAVANAUGH: Mike Garcon is a pianist and composer. How would you classify the type of music he plays and composes?

VARGA: That is a very difficult question. It depends what day you ask it and where he is. Of he's incredible eclectic, has a degree in music, classically trained, composed a symphony, studied with Hershey Hancock and played with an array of major jazz artists. For rock fans, they might recall that in 1973, he joined David bowie's fighter from Mars band and played on a number of albums and toured with bowie. And in the NIEBTs he got back together with David bowie for about a decade. In between that, he cofounded a group called free flight that was a classical jazz-fusion group. And in the interim, he has worked with 9-inch nail, and his hands were featured in a TV movie about LIB RACHy.

CAVANAUGH: So he's got no problem in collaborating with other musicians.

VARGA: Not at all.

(Audio Recording Played)

CAVANAUGH: He'll be playing at the back room at 98 bottles. What's the performance space like?

VARGA: It's a very nice room. It is in the interests of full disclosure under the flight path of Lindbergh field. But unless it's a very soft acoustic moment, you're not going to notice the planes. It's a large wooden room, it has a wooden floor, and it's very intimate. And one thing that I find kind of unusual and cool about it is that facing the musicians are three couches. So if you get there early, you can literally be in your living room. And otherwise you sit at tables behind the couches.

CAVANAUGH: And W. Fields by himself, a 10th Avenue theatre production starts Saturday by Dale Morris.

BALDRIDGE: He'd love to take it on the road. Wouldn't we all? But so far I think that's depending on what happens here.

CAVANAUGH: It seems like every old-time comedian used to do an impression of W. C. Fields. I would imagine this play is more than a string of 1-liners.

BALDRIDGE: It is. There's even some old film clips which are fascinating. And I learned something I didn't know. In his later year, he played with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

CAVANAUGH: The famous --

BALDRIDGE: Ventriloquist.

CAVANAUGH: Yes, thank you. I lost the word. And people most know Fields from his days in Hollywood. I understand that this is going to be the premiere of this W. C. Fields play.

BALDRIDGE: Yes. They have been workshopping it at various small places around town with invited audiences. And this is his first legit performance.

CAVANAUGH: I would imagine he does a really good impression.

BALDRIDGE: He does. And of course he's got this marvelous prothesis which helps.


CAVANAUGH: So they are hoping this will be success here, and they'll move on with it.

BALDRIDGE: Sure, sure. And it's all sanctioned by the family.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, really! So it's sort of like an authorized biography.


CAVANAUGH: Now we go onto summer's second streetbeat festival in little Italy. What bands will be playing there?

VARGA: Well, there are three headlining band, the Wall

Ares, Tristan prettyman, shoot the moon.

CAVANAUGH: And where do the bands play?

VARGA: They close off 1 block of India street directly in front of anthology, and they have a large stage, and the bands play there: There is a local band called talk like June who will begin playing at 3:00 PM, and then during intermissions outside. So you can go back and forth. And it reminds you of what street scene was like in the early days, when it was actually on 1 block of town.