By John Farrell
“Private Lives” is as much Noel Coward as you can get in one package, full of his dry, brittle and sometimes misogynistic wit and as bitingly satyric as it was when it premiered in 1930 in London with Coward and Gertrude Lawrence as, repetitively, Elyot Chase and Amanda Prynne, the long-divorced couple who inadvertently meet when they both are on honeymoons with new spouses, and, against common sense but very much for comedy, fall in love all over again.
Elyot is Freddie Douglas, who is terrifically good looking and speaks every Coward line like he wrote it himself, with a clarity that make remarks like “some women need to be struck regularly, like gongs” every bit as humorous today as 80 years ago (if a little less politically correct.) Caroline Kinsolving is Amanda and, at least on opening night, she sometimes hurried her lines a little.
The other halves of these two couples, Sibyl Chase (played by the lovely Jennice Butler) and Victor Prynne (played with a very stiff upper lip by Adam J. Smith,) serve only as people to react to Amanda and Elyot.
The sets are simple but very spectacular, by Kurt Boetcher, and the ladies' gown are elegant, though costume designer Kim DeShazo makes more of the women than the everyday boring clothes of the men. Luke Yankee directs with a sure hand.
Tickets are $37 Thursday, $44 Friday-Sunday. “Private Lives” plays through September 18.
What: Play by Noel Coward, directed by Luke Yankee, presented by International City Theatre
Where: Center Theatre, 300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach
When: Tomorrow at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Through September 18.
Details: (562) 436-4610; www.internationalcitytheatre.org,
Venue: International City Theatre
Location: Centre Theatre, 300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach
How often (if ever) have you had a Vulcan with huge ears and a logical demeanor serve you chili? (Probably never, we'd bet.)
How often have you personally been teased by any Star Fleet officer. Probably the same.
Go to the All American Musical Hall in Seaport Village, Long Beach this weekend and that is just some of the fun you'll have with “Space Trek,” the ridiculously and ridiculously entertaining “melodrama” written by Ken Parks (who not incidentally stars at Captain Smirk,) with a cast that doubles as the servers during intermissions.
You'll cheer the hero, sigh for the one young lovely and boo the villain, and, because All American is a small theater (less than 100 seats if every table is full) everything is less than 20 feet from you, and mistakes (like Mr. Smock's ear falling off in mid-scene) go with the territory and you see them at once.
This is the last weekend for “Space Trek.” Starting September 16 through November 6 is “Snooty and the Beast” and then a Christmas show. Seaport Village is small enough to retain its local charm, and the All American Melodrama is just part of the show.
Tickets are $20 20, $18 for seniors, military and students, $12 for children 12 and under. Validated 2 hour parking is $1. Performances are Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 7:30 p.m. “Space Trek” plays this weekend only, “Snooty and the Beast” starts next weekend.
Details: (562) 495-5900; www.allamericanmelodrama.com
Venue: All American Melodrama Theater
Location: 429 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach
Gilbert and Sullivan's “Yeoman of the Guard” is considered by many the best of their works, a comedy with a dark side that tells of the hurried marriage of a man under sentence of death and his eventual reprieve, which leaves the comedy's comic jester to commit suicide at the play's end, while everyone else is (more-or-less) happily married. You can see it through September 24 at the charming Sierra Madre Playhouse, and maybe you'll want to some back for some of the series of events in the Playhouse's Head over Heels for Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, which includes performances of other music of Gilbert and Sullivan tonight and on two other evenings, and a staged reading of Gilbert's play “Engaged” this Sunday.
“Yeomen” is played with some skill by the cast, especially Luis Marez Ordaz as the Tower jailor Wilfred Shadbolt and Joseph Garate as Colonel Fairfax, condemned to die and willing to marry just to frustrate his uncle's intention to steal his inheritance. Others are not so good vocally, but director Eugene J. Hutchins used the theatrical space with great ideas, and the entire play, uncut, is presented.
Tickets are $25. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through September 24. Other performances, including one this evening, are shown on their web-site.
Details: (626) 355-4318; www.sierramadreplayhouse.org
Venue: Sierra Madre Playhouse
Address: 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre