Friday, April 6, 2018

'Beachtown' charms with spirited acting, old-fashioned sincerity

The high-energy cast of "Beachtown" includes Jason Heil as Steve Novak, mayor of Beachtown, Lee Ann Kim as Susan Suhiro, town archivist. William “B.J.” Robinson asmusic teacher Bob Ruby, and Marci Wuebben as Donna French, an activist resident of the fictional town. Photo by Daren Scott.

  San Diego Rep premier boasts energetic staging, local references, audience involvement and dessert

PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER and courtesy SD Rep

'BEACHTOWN' is playing downtown in the theater mecca of San Diego. It's part revival meeting, a splash of pot luck, part pep rally, shades of a political assembly and a little '60s sing-along. That adds up to 100 per cent-plus  entertainment.

William "B.J." Robinson plays Bob Ruby, Beachtown music teacher.
Above, Marci Wuebben and Antonio T.J. Johnson are involved residents.

You may enter the Lyceum a cynic,  thinking it all sounds a bit corny.  Give it a few moments.  Before long, you'll be a believer, for "Beachtown" weaves a spell on its audience. It makes us believe that civic dialogue, courteous listening and respectful debate are possible even in these jaded times.

Salomon Maya plays Benny Ramos-
Leibowitz, councilman
THE PREMISE is that we're returning to the fictional Beachtown for the once-a-decade opening of a time capsule, also the 100th year anniversary of the capsule. Our charge is to vote one new item into the capsule and retire one that no longer fits the town's mood and sensibilities.
 The Rep's always cordial usher corps gets us in the mood by welcoming fellow "Beachtonians"  and wishing "Happy Time Capsule Day," then offering the audience tasty desserts and name tags, just like an old-fashioned church social or college mixer.
When the sweets buffet is retired, the Mayor Steve Novak steps forward to welcome us and explain the premise. Jason Heil plays the charismatic civic leader, whose enthusiasm is contagious as the action unfolds, with the audience voting on the capsule's contents. Equally enthusiastic William "BJ" Robinson provides spirited vocal and keyboard accompaniment, encouraging participation. 
Lee Ann Kim plays plays Susan Suhiro, town archivist.
offers lively acting and Sam Woodhouse's always inventive direction. We feel the theme of idealism and community spirit and develop a real connection to the other members of the audience as both actors and audience share thoughts. The clever piece was written by Rep resident playwright Herbert Siguenza, who artfully pushes the envelope, in collaboration with engagement artist Rachel Grossman.
Details of each time capsule artifact -- and the ardor of the proponents -- creates touching theater with timely San Diego references. *************************************
BEST BETLamb's Players Theatre on Coronado just finished an engaging run of "Camping With Henry and Tom." You won't want to miss the company's new production, "Noises Off," by playwright Michael Frayn. The witty send-up of the British sex farces of the 1970s demands perfect timing as we follow the action on stage and behind the scenes.
Peggy Sue Gabler and her husband Champ have created a fantasyland
homage to the 1950s, with all their Hollywood memorabilia at Peggy Sue's. 




  1. Encinitas AdmirersApril 7, 2018 at 11:14 AM

    We look forward to your columns. Thanks for the tip. We are booked.

  2. Home Town BoostersApril 7, 2018 at 2:08 PM

    Fun show, nice reportage -- and delicious cookies. You are so right about the value of this production. Really love the Rep and have seen many of Sam's shows.

  3. Saw the show last night. Loved the voting part and lively discussion. Felt like our count meant something! Tell your friends, folks.