San Diego Theater is Offering Up a Lot for GLBT Audiences
In addition to a variety of theatrical offerings for every audience, San Diego is an ideal destination to see world premieres and other unusual shows. This Fall is no exception, and here are some highlights.
Allegiance: The Musical, Old Globe Theatre (now through October 28): To call Allegiance a labor of love for Star Trek actor and gay icon George Takei has to be an understatement. The Asian-American actor best known for playing Lt. Sulu on Star Trek and for his hilarious Facebook page based Allegiance on his experiences as a child, when he and his family were placed in a Japanese Internment Camp during World War II. Losing everything, some of the men still went to fight in the war, while others protested being treated like criminals in their own land. The musical stars Telly Leung from Glee and Miss Saigon star Lea Salonga.
Allegiance strikes a nice balance between the horrors of the Japanese Internment Camps and the resilient and hopeful dreams of the Japanese-Americans who were imprisoned there. Takei is never less than riveting as a proud veteran who looks back at the mistakes he made and the family he lost and also in flashback as his own loving grandfather who never lost his optimism, even in the cold environs of the Heart Mountain Camp. Leung sings and dances well, and gives his role depth and heart. Salonga is wonderful as Leung’s protective sister, who falls in love with a resistance-minded fellow internee. Her Broadway voice gives the music much-needed star power, although none of the songs will probably stand on their own outside of the show. You only have a short time to catch it at The Old Globe!
Sam Bendrix at the Bon Soir, La Jolla Playhouse (now through October 17): Get your Mad Men cocktail on and travel back to 1958 to see the swinging singer with a secret. Set in a smoky Greenwich Village nightclub more than a decade before the Stonewall Riots, the audience gets up close and personal with smooth Sam Bendrix, who is giving his final performance in New York City. Handsome Luke MacFarlane, who played Kevin Walker’s sweet husband Scotty in the much-loved show Brothers & Sisters, performs songs by Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Kurt Weill. McFarlane’s Bendrix tells his poignant tale of a gay man looking for a love “that dare not speak its name” at a time when being gay was illegal.
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, La Jolla Playhouse (November 6 through December 16): Des McAnuff, the man who brought The Who’s Tommy to Broadway, is tackling another challenging musical, this time based on the music by the Flaming Lips. Yoshimi is a young Japanese artist who must battle for her life in a fantastic and surreal robot world. Fortunately, Mitt Romney is not one of her robot attackers...
When Last We Flew, Diversionary Theatre (November 8 through December 9): San Diego’s GLBT theater company is finishing a successful reimagining of Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz’ first hit Pippin, but their next show is even more intriguing. Taking off from the iconic Tony Kushner play Angels in America, When Last We Flew tells the story of a gay teenage boy in a small town whose life is changed when he sneaks the town library’s only copy of Angels in America out and is exposed to the play’s emotional power. Extraordinary things begin to happen to him and those in his dull Kansas suburb as a result of the play.
Preview by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.