Registered Critic: Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes

Paul Myrvold has been writing theatre commentary for over thirty years, first in the Bay Area covering every kind of performance including plays, musicals, ballet, opera, circus and even a Portuguese-style bull fight. He has written about theatrical performances at all levels in all kinds of venues from the premiere theatres, such as A.C.T., Berkeley Rep and TheatreWorks, to smaller, high quality venues such as San Jose Stage Company, City Lights Theatre Company and Pacific Repertory Theatre in Carmel. He has also covered community theatre productions, college and university productions and, on occasion, high school productions. Now residing in Southern California, Paul has been commenting on shows throughout Los Angeles County and has stretched his beat to Orange County and South Coast Repertory. An Equity actor for over forty years, Paul played Jonathan Jeremiah Peachum in San Jose Stage Company’s award winning production of The Three Penny Opera and the dual roles of Sir Walter Elliot and Admiral Croft in the world premiere of Jane Austen’s Persuasion also at San Jose Stage Company. He earned a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for “Outstanding Performance” in the supporting roles of J. V. “Major” Bouvier and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale in the musical Grey Gardens at TheatreWorks (2008). In the summer of 2018, he appeared in the highly acclaimed Open Fist Theatre production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood as Reverend Jenkins and Narrator. Paul has performed on Broadway (most notably in the hit show Shenandoah with John Cullum), off Broadway, off-off Broadway, in regional theatres, summer stock and as a Guest Artist at colleges and universities from coast to coast. He has performed his signature role Cervantes/Quixote in Man of La Mancha eight times over four decades, the latest of which was an intimate, theatre-in-the round production at Pacific Repertory Theatre. Some other favorite roles include King Lear, Fred Graham/ Petruchio in Kiss Me, Kate, Trigorin in The Sea Gull, Fredrik Egerman in A Little Night Music and Caldwell B. Cladwell in Urinetown. Paul is never happier than when he is in the theatre, either on stage or in the audience, and he hopes to see you at intermission or after the show.
Oct

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill

Ms. Foreman as Billie develops a sweet, self-effacing rapport with the audience, telling all the important stories of her life from childhood to the present moment, interspersed with songs that are heavy with love and desire, as well as loss. She roams out into the audience talking and making eye contact and even touching some as she spins her tales. Sitting on the aisle in the third row, I got a sweet dose of her charisma in an all too brief exchange of smiles and glances.

... The songs are profoundly affecting, none more so than “Strange Fruit,” that puts to music the horror of lynching. A song of extraordinary emotional power; just the memory of it makes my eyes get moist as I write this. In the theatre I needed a hanky. I confess to being an emotional sap. When the audience leapt up at curtain call for an instantaneous standing ovation that went on and on, tears rolled down my cheeks.

sweet - ...read full review

Oct

Neil Simon's Musical Fools

The plot, too complex to explain here, but easily understood by an audience, is filled comedic opportunity, which the cast, under the superb direction of Ron West, seizes with unfettered gusto. When they perform as an ensemble unit, the complex, detailed choreography by Louisa Kendrick Burton is delivered with hilarious precision. In fact, precision is the name of the game here, with rapid entrances and exits, hand-offs of props, and action so breathlessly energetic that it called to my mind the old Broadway show and subsequent movie, Olsen and Johnson’s Hellzapoppin. The musical numbers come fast and furious with an expert band consisting of Matt Germaine on reeds, Ross Wright (Ryan Roberts, alternate) on bass, Adam Snow on drums and percussion, with musical director Jan Roper conducting at the piano at the piano...

Neil Simon’s Musical Fools is so hilarious that I giggled, guffawed, snorted, and howled basically through out the whole show. I cannot remember having a better time at a show than this. If you love comedy as I do, don’t hesitate, get your tickets, see the show, extend its run. You will not be sorry.

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Oct

A Kid Like Jake

Exquisitely directed by Jennifer Chambers, the cast, including the sympathetic nurse (Olivia Liang), is superb in bringing the playwright’s tightly written script to vivid, intimate life. As the play surges toward the climactic scenes, the audience is rapt in pin-drop attention. A dénouement of magic realism brings the show gently to a close. A Kid Like Jake is drama as good as it gets.

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Oct

The Abuelas

Under the direction of Andi Chapman, the two-act play is intense and affecting, delivered by a cast at the top of their craft. Sometimes the pace lags, but that is a small quibble in an otherwise sterling performance...

The production is fortunate to have an A+ bunch of theatre geniuses...

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Oct

Operation Ajax

With a superb cast of five protean actors playing thirteen roles of real and imagined figures from the events, director Suzanne Dean crafts a taught, fast-paced, thoroughly entertaining political thriller.

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Oct

Constantinople

Constantinople is structured as a series of vignettes accompanied by original dramatic music composed by Ara Dabandjian and Ken Press. The music is quite good, but has the effect of slowing the pace of the action. The playwright, Mr. Kouyoumdjian, directs.

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Oct

Treya's Last Dance

In Treya’s Last Dance, actress/playwright Shyam Bhatt delivers with boundless energy a one-woman show that is filled with joy, angst, laughs and sadness—the whole gamut of human experience as rendered in the story of one human being...

Treya’s Last Dance, under the sure-handed direction of Poonam Basu, benefits from the excellent creative team with music composed by Archita Kumar, lighting and sound by Steve Pope, voiceovers/vocals by Arun Kamath. Jana Dimitrievska is the production assistant.

This theatergoer fell in love with Shyam Bhatt at first sight. It is a privilege to have been able to spend time with her.

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Oct

THE EDGAR ALLAN SHOW

With sublime silliness, writer/director/song writer and performer Ari Stidham creates a Python-esque spoof of the most famous works of that dark-hearted American scribbler, Edgar Allan Poe. Compulsively absurd, the players (Kimia Behpoornia, Jordan R. Coleman, and Nika H. Mabson), shred, and, in their own way, truly honor the great American writer with studied ineptitude. Creator Stidham joins the cast on stage, briefly, about two-thirds of the way through the eighty-minute show and delivers some pretty slick singing. The fifth member of the cast, co-producer Jimmy McCammon, creates chaos up in the booth with lights and sound. The company does damage to the history of Poe’s life and lost loves while satirizing The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher and more.

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Sep

The Spanish Prayer Book

The Spanish Prayer Book is an intellectual drama that leaps back and forth in time, with the occasional ruminations of a ghostly Jacob Adler. Under the direction of Lee Sankowich, the pace of the action in the two-act play is deliberative, which is not to say uninteresting. The ensemble of veteran actors is superb.

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Sep

Deadly

With playwright/lyricist Vanessa Claire Stewart’s, Deadly, now in its world premiere run, Sacred Fools has invested a lot in its swing-for-the-fences production, guided by the always inventive director Jaime Robledo.

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Sep

The Solid Life of Sugar Water

Already the fall theatre season is opening with a bang. This week, it is Deaf West’s extraordinary production of Tony Award-winning playwright Jack Thorne’s, The Solid Life of Sugar Water. The title is left to the audience to ken, as is the searing, vibrant performance by the actors.

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Sep

Handjob

This show is not to be pigeonholed as a “Gay play.” It is so much more than that.

The ensemble, under the scintillating direction of Chris Fields, is…oh, where is le mot juste? Formidable! Magnifique!...

Handjob is without doubt one of the most electrifying shows currently in production in Southern California. Don’t miss it.

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Aug

Beast on the Moon

Beast on the Moon is a powerhouse of passion delivered by superb performers under the sensitive direction of ICT Artistic Director caryn desai. The interplay between Travis Leleand and Rachel Weck crackles with tension, affection, and conflict.

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Aug

Hannah and the Dread Gazebo

Directed by Jennifer Chang, the performances are wonderful–potent with some delightful whimsy, serious in basic plot, with an affecting, soft basso ostinato of genuine grief. The play is literally magical.

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Aug

Andy Warhol’s Tomato

Under the keen direction of Dana Jackson, the relationship that develops between the two men, who are so radically different, has its fits and starts. Andy and Bones are seemingly from different universes, yet first impressions gradually change. I don’t believe it serves to detail more of the action of the play. That is for the audience to discover and to be touched by. Suffice it to say that the road to the climax of any good play is fraught with twists, turns, conflict, and misunderstandings that ratchet up dramatic tension.

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Aug

Early Birds

Drama needs conflict, and in this script it arises over revealed information that begets misunderstandings and a friendship-wrecking clash. Along the way, dramatic moments lead to crisis, climax, and a satisfying dénouement.

Director Elizabeth Swain keeps the action crisp.

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Aug

Fefu and Her Friends

Fefu and Her Friends is regarded as a feminist play, which it certainly is. Aspects of the eternal female situation are on full display. The terrific cast is passionate in their playing whether delightfully funny, terrifying, or affecting. The characters as written, however, are thinly drawn. The playwright was after something else.

The production is marvelous with set designed by Frederica Nascimento, lighting by Katelan Braymer, sound by Christopher Moscatiello, costumes by Denise Blasor and Josh La Cour, and props by Mateo Rudich. And one can only imagine the tremendous skill that Jacob Price employed as stage manager. Together, they have turned Odyssey, with its three venues, into a theatrical playground.

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Aug

LOOSE KNIT

The script is frankly dated and the depiction of women in desperation for a man doesn’t play well. The fault lies not with actors, but with the play. The men don’t fare well either. The good guy, Bob, sees nothing wrong with cheating on his wife, smiling through all the scenes. And Miles and his notebook objectify the women he dates. All the characters are, frankly, thinly drawn.

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Jul

100 PLANES

Director Elizabeth V. Newman keeps the pace brisk, and I greatly appreciate the necessary choreography that the cast effects as they shoved and carried props and scenery.

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Jul

The Skin of Our Teeth

This mash-up of religion, history, and mythology, written at the start of the United States participation in the conflagration of World War II, is especially pertinent in our own time of crisis, cruelty, and looming worldwide disaster. That it makes us laugh is a bitter blessing...

...I was awed by the show as a teenager, and this production exceeds my memories.

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