Saturday, July 24, 2021

Delicious Combination of Acting, Directing and Playwriting Give NCR’S “Dr. Glas” A Tasty Morsel of Intrigue, Morality and Mystery.

 When you start thinking about a play you’ve seen for days on end, you might consider seeing more than once. Through the technology of streaming (a new phenomenon during Covid) it’s possible to go back and watch a play more than once sans an audience. None-the -less however it does have its advantages and North Coast Repertory Theatre has become a prime example of doing an exemplary job at it perfecting this type of filmed streaming. It is its eighth of this type. 

“Dr. Glas” is a short story by Hjalmar Söderberg published in 1905 in Stockholm, Sweden, where it was immediately condemned. And why not? It deals with abortion, women’s rights, and male dominance, infidelity, sexual perversity and murder.  

             Daniel Gerroll as Dr. Glas. (Photo Credit Aaron Rumley)

With the winning combination of playwright Jeffrey Hatcher (“Tuesdays With Morrie”, “The Turn of the Screw”, “Compleat Female Beauty” and a host of others), director David Ellenstein and celebrated actor Daniel Gerroll giving a tour de force performance as Dr. Glas, mark your calendars as a must see. 

Gerroll, after reading the book, brought the idea of writing a play based on the novel to Hatcher, who immediately took on the challenge. When Ellenstein was brought into the picture, the deal was sealed and voila the world premiere of “Dr. Glas” is streaming through Aug. 15h’ 

Hatcher frames the monologue in journal form as the good doctor jots his notes after seeing his most celebrated patients; the not so good reverend Gregorius and his youthful wife. Let your imaginations wander. Helga Gregorious can’t stand having sex with her husband (she’s having an affair outside the marriage). He demands she perform her wifely duties. In separate visits Glas promises her to talk to her husband whom he detests, yet finally convinces him to give it a break.  


After several visits by her,  Glas admits he’s in love with the reverend’s wife and let's his imagination run away with him. What to do about the husband he loathes and has thoughts about getting rid of? He does have those tablets laced with cyanide. He arranges a meeting. If nothing else. But, alas…

As the good doctor muses, “Morality’s place is among household chattels, not among the gods. It is for our use, not our ruler. And it is to be used with discrimination, with a pinch of salt”. 

Sadly, love has passed the good doctor bybut passes it off with a shrug, yet in another exchange he confesses that he wouldn’t’ trade places with anyone else. The Dr. totters on the edge the several morality questions. Yes, the cynicism gives this short piece (60 minutes) both comic and tragic edges as he explores the pros and cons of euthanasia and death by one's own hand and gives it a voice. 

Söderberg ’short story is a loaded cannon jammed with questions waiting to be answered and for an audience to experience. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Let’s just say that there’s more than a morsel to digest in this world premiere psychological thriller.

Director Ellenstein and Gerroll have the whole projected streaming perfected thanks to the excellent help. Scenic Designer Marty Burnett, Cinematographer / editor and stage manager Aaron Rumley, costumes/Elisa Benzoni, Prop Design Phillip Korth, photo credit Aaron Rumley. 

DR. GLAS will stream on July 21 – August 15, 2021.

A 30 min talkback follows the show. It's worth the listen.

Tickets:  $35.00-$54.00


Thursday, July 22, 2021

At Moonlight Stage Productions of “Beauty and the Beast”, A Star is Born.

 If the stars, moon and sun were all in alignment, it couldn’t have been a more perfect year for Jenna Lea Rosen (Belle) to be born. The year of her birth, 1999 was the same year her parents were performing in the First National Tour of “Beauty and the Beast”. Now, a star in in the second production of Moonlight's showy of showy shows she is a standout. She has the poise , beauty, grace, charm and the chops that give this production the grounding it needs. (“Home” and “Change In Me”). 

Jenna Lea Rosen and Michael Deni as Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Adriana Zuniga Photography

Based on Disney’s animated film of the same name, this show has all the ingredients any youngster (and adults alike) would drool over. Beautiful heroine, bright and colorful costumes (Mela Hoyt Heydon) handsome prince (Michael Deni) before he was transformed into the Beast.  

Company by Ken Jacques Photography

Included in the large cast (24 in all) Buffoon/cad/bully Gaston (Evan White), Belle’s Dad, Maurice, an eccentric inventor (Johnny Fletcher), singing and dancing table utensils, teapots. The dancing silverware and other household items, signatures of the show, are always fun to watch especially (Michael Paternostro) as Lumiere the candelabra, whose lights are ready to extinguish any moment, Jerald Vincent as Cogsworth the clock and head of household is a kick, three silly girls Taylor Evans, Carly Haig and Kaitlyn O’Leary are part of the company and great dancers, Zane Comacho is a hoot as Lefou, Gaston’s punching bag and Bryce Hamilton is Madame de la Grande Bouche.  

“Be Our Guest” song and dance number, one of the most extravagant and as production numbers go, proved to be both lively, and jaw dropping. The more familiar theme song, 'Beauty and the Beast', sung by Bets Malone is lovely.  Madame de la Gran Bouche, (Bryce Hamilton) and the grand armoire is as a strong presence throughout and was most clever.  

Evan White as Gaston. Ken Jacques Photography

(Bill Burnes choreographed) and an adorable youngster, Chip (Abraham German) “Human Again” is the face inside the tea cup. The rest of the household are frozen according to the tasks they performed in the Palace. As the teapot, Mrs Potts, Bets Malone, is spot on. 

The story of Belle a beautiful young woman sought after and perused by local cad Gaston, her  journey of beastly cordiality and finally love begins when her father, an absent minded inventor, gets lost in the mystifying forest that lies just beyond the outskirts of her little French village and is beseiged by some pretty scary looking animsls (lighting designs by Jean-Yves Tessier. )

Unbeknownst to those living in the Provencal, there is a castle hidden deep in the woods where, years earlier, a Prince who had not been very Princely turned a beggar woman away from the castle when she asked for shelter. 

Before she is sent away, she handed him a rose which not only revealed her beauty, but cast an evil spell on the Prince, turning him into a Beast;  his servants into morphed household items and his castle, a  cold and uninviting prison. No B&B that! The curse, we find, can only be broken when the Beast learns to love and is loved in return. This must happen before all the petals from the rose, which is sealed in a glass jar, fall from its stem.  

 Back in the village, Gaston tries every means including manhandling Belle to convince her to marry him strutting across the stage, flirting with the audience, flexing his muscles and just plain being obnoxious and loathsome, as he offers an absurd proposal of marriage to Belle, who quickly turns him down. 

He’s the guy you love to hate for his larger than life ego. Yet he’s so ridiculous, that its fun watching him. Ms. Rosen, as mentioned at the top of this review, is charming as Belle the deal maker/breaker for the beast. She was in fine voice on opening night and needless to say everyone was rooting for her to tame the Beast and rid herself of Gaston.  She is just the right, charming choice as Belle. 

With lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice and book by Linda Wolverton and music by Alan Menken, who is no stranger to collaborating with other artists, worked on several Disney features such as “Little Mermaid”, “Pocahontas”, and “Aladdin”. His first successful work was in the off Broadway musical, “Little Shop of Horrors” in 1982. “Beauty and the Beast” made its Broadway premiere in April of ’94   based on the Disney animated film of the same name. It was the first animated film to be nominated for The Academy Award for Best Picture. 

L to R, Michael Paternostro as Lumiere, Jerald Vincent as Cogsworth and Jenna Lea Rosen is Belle. Photo by Ken Jacques.

Director JamieTorcellin is in the director’s chair, Elan McMahan in the pit, Jonathan Infante as production designer, Jennifer Edwards technical director and special shout out to Stanly Cohen as Stage Manager.  

The show continues at 8 pm through Aug 8th. at Moonlight Amphitheatre, Brengle Terrace, Vista Ca 92804. 

Tickets range from $17.00 to $59.00.

Photo by Ken Jaques and Adriana Zuniga Photography