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Your cultural to-do list for the weekend.

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August 30, 2012 1:34 p.m.


Jim Hebert, theater critic at U-T San Diego.

Peter Holslin, music editor at San Diego CityBeat.

Related Story: Weekend Preview: 'Les Miserables,' The Tallest Man On Earth, 'Allegiance' And More


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: New sounds and new stagings are in the spotlight on this edition of the weekend preview. Musicians creating very personal musical esthetic, and new interpretations of classic theatre pieces, plus one brand-new musical taking shape at The Old Globe. Jim Hebert is theatre critic at UT San Diego.

HEBERT: Good to see you again.

CAVANAUGH: And Peter Holslin is here at CityBeat.

HOLSLIN: What's going down, Maureen!

CAVANAUGH: And congratulations on your weekly's 10th anniversary.

HOLSLIN: Yeah, yeah, thank you!

CAVANAUGH: The last time I talked with you, you were headed to the San Diego music awards. Did you have a good time?

HOLSLIN: I had a fabulous time.

CAVANAUGH: Glad to hear that! We can move on to another aspect of your musical genius, Peter, the tallest man on earth performs on Sunday.

HOLSLIN: Well, first of all, you should know that he's not actually that tall.

CAVANAUGH: Oh, all right.

HOLSLIN: He's just average height. But he's name is Christian matson, and he's a singer songwriter from Sweden. And he plays this very intimate folk music in this classic Americana style. And he's got this amazing voice that's high and raspy and soaring.

CAVANAUGH: I listened to the tallest man on earth, and when I was listening to it, I said to myself it may be just me but I think this guy sounds a little like Bob Dylan. Well, as it turns out, it's not just me!

HOLSLIN: No, he definitely channels the spirit of Bob Dylan, and also woody Guthrie who was a big influence on Bob Dylan. His song writing isn't quite as vivid story telling, but it's still very vivid and sharp and intense and emotional. And his new album, there's no leaving now, it's a little more orchestrated, it's a little more pastoral. It's not quite the Bob Dylan attitude type of thing.

CAVANAUGH: Let's hear some of the music.

(Audio Recording Played)

CAVANAUGH: I read a review where it said the audience listened rev rently while he played. Is this an artist on the rise?

HOLSLIN: Yeah! I mean, he's gotten pretty big, especially since his 2010 album, the wild hunt, came out. He's just been getting a lot of attention. And I think especially for people who are really into folk music, he's just one of those people out there right now who you really got to check out because his music is so intense and beautiful. And it's funny you point that out because I was also reading a review, and the reviewer described being at a concert, and he started playing a song, and then the woman next to him burst into tears, and then he turned to his girlfriend, and she was also crying.

CAVANAUGH: I see. Well, bring your Kleenex. The tallest man on earth performs sand at the birch Northpark theatre in Northpark. Les Mis is back, Jim!

HEBERT: This actor what plays the villain, the implacable cop, is really good. And he's this very imposing stage presence. So that was one of the highlights of the show. I just saw it last night.

CAVANAUGH: Remind us of the story again.

HEBERT: Right. So it's -- it's essentially resolving around jean valjean, who's a good guy, very poor, he steals a loaf of bread. He's been in prison for 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread. So it must have been really good bread. He eventually gets out and is trying to help the family -- this little girl, Cosette, who's living in poverty and being chased by javer, and there's also a student revolution going on. So there's a lot of poverty and combat, and lots of things going on in Paris.

CAVANAUGH: They're calling this the 25th anniversary tour. What's new?

HEBERT: Well, one of the things that they've talked about a lot is the fact that visually it's kind of cued -- it takes its cues from Victor Hugo's paintings. He wrote the original novel, but it's less well known that he was actually a painter as well. So there are projections that include some of his work in it. And it's really effective that way. It's some pretty evocative stuff.

CAVANAUGH: And what did you think?

HEBERT: Yeah, it's -- I've always thought it's kind of an interesting show because it really is this lavish musical about really, really poor people and about, you know, suffering. And yet it really does get to you. For some reason they use the promotional tag line "dream the dream" which sounds to me like a pitch for a retirement community or something. But it's actually based on a song in the show, I dreamed a dream. And it's sad, but it's moving just the same. And this particular production is very well-sung. It has a great orchestra, and it has a lot of great things going for it.

CAVANAUGH: And M83 runs tomorrow. Who are they?

HOLSLIN: It's the project of Anthony Gonzalez, a French man who now lives in Los Angeles. He makes really big, beautiful synth pop. And it's pretty popular among the hipster set. But it also has crossover potential.

CAVANAUGH: All right, that's always good. So it's electronica?

HOLSLIN: Well, there's definitely electronic elements. Not to get all super music nerdy, but I would say that it crosses the swooping, heavy droning sounds of shoe gaze with soft rock.

CAVANAUGH: Let's just hear what they sound like.

(Audio Recording Played)

CAVANAUGH: It southbounded like it came out of 1987.

HOLSLIN: Oh, for sure. It's so synth pop, just that classic something out of "say anything" where the two high school kids are falling in love. And the radio over his head, you know?

CAVANAUGH: What are their live shows like?

HOLSLIN: Well, they're -- it's electronic, but a lot of people think electronic music is boring to see live, but it's actually pretty action-packed. I haven't seen them live myself. But I've seen videos, and it's like a lot of lights, a lot of action, are a lot of drama. It's going to be an epic one, I think. And bring a date, definitely.

CAVANAUGH: M83 performs Friday at So mania. A midsummer night's dream the musical? Being staged? Encinitas.

HEBERT: You had to ask.

CAVANAUGH: What's that? Why is it a musical?

HEBERT: Well, upon I don't think it's the first time it's been done as a musical. But most people don't know it as a musical. But this company, intrepid Shakespeare, which is based in Encinitas, they haven't done a musical before. And they are -- they wanted to do something different with this. And they kind of had a sense from what they told me that there's a real feel of music in the rhythm of the prose and the feel of the play, which is this beloved romantic comedy.

CAVANAUGH: But they used sort of '80s duop music, right?

HEBERT: Yeah, exactly. So it's got, like, this magic moment, and I put a spell on you, and these tunes from back in that era. And the argument is that there's a lot of magic in the show as well. There's -- there are spells being cast, and people being turned into donkeys. So it fits in that sense. And I haven't seen it done as a musical before. The La Jolla Playhouse done a version that had an original score to it, but it wasn't a full-on musical the way this is. So it should be interesting.

CAVANAUGH: Now intrepid is a fairly new theatre company, right?

HEBERT: Yeah, they've just been around for a couple years now. And it's a married couple, Sean Cox, and Christie Yale, and they were actors around town working at a lot of different companies and decided to start their own. It's actually the first theatre company in Encinitas. So they've really been kind of an up and coming enterprise, and they now have a homebase, the ligget theatre on the campus of San Diegito academy.

CAVANAUGH: The album Leaf performs on Saturday. Tell us about this artist.

HOLSLIN: Well, it's the solo project of Jimmy LaValle, who is pretty much a veteran of San Diego's indie rock scene though he doesn't live in San Diego nowadays. He makes this very dreamy, beautiful, ambient electronic music, and I guarantee after you see him live or after you listen to one of their record, you will sleep soundly.

CAVANAUGH: All right. Let's hear some music.

(Audio Recording Played)

CAVANAUGH: Relaxing! Now, you're excited about one of the opening bands, tiny telephones.

HOLSLIN: Yeah, they're a really cool local band, and they have members of this other band called shark attack, which isn't around anymore. They just released a new album called the heavenly child. And you might call it postrock. It fits into that sort of genre, not to go with the nerdy genre things again. But basically suffice it to say, it's very that you feel, and it's heavy but it's also very introspective.

CAVANAUGH: And Jim, you want to leave us with a preview of this big new musical opening at The Old Globe called allegiance?

HEBERT: 2 words. . George Takei.


HEBERT: He is kind of the inspiration for this show. And its backdrop is the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. So it's a very serious subject and one close to his heart. He and his family when he was a child were interned, taken to two camps during the war. So it's got a really powerhouse cast, and it's a brand-new musical. They do want to take it to Broadway. They're pretty upfront about that. So it's going to be interesting to see what they do with it.

CAVANAUGH: Fabulous.