MOXIE Theatre Presents Lynn Nottage's "Clyde's"

A Play that Prompts the Imagination and the Taste Buds 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Tanya Alexander and DeAndre Simmons. Photo Daren Scott
MOXIE welcomed the year with the hilarious "Clyde's" by the esteemed Lynn Nottage, under the slick direction of MOXIE co-founder and former Artistic Director, Delicia Turner Sonnenberg.

Clyde's, a hidden gem sandwich shop and trucker favorite, is owned by Clyde (Tanya Alexander) who thoroughly takes advantage of her employees due to them being returning citizens/formerly incarcerated. She uses the fact of them having a record to retain them with bad pay, verbal abuse, and threats. Clyde is no stranger to the bars either...

The cast shines brightly with each member delivering authentic performances that resonate and several laughs which made it a rollercoaster of a performance, balancing suspense and comedy. Tanya Alexander's portrayal of Clyde captures the character's feisty essence with a compelling intensity that keeps the audience captivated throughout. In the opening night performance, there was what I called a "Saturday Night" moment between Tanya Alexander and Justin Lang, where Alexander could not hold the laughs and had to take a pause to get back into character. Audiences celebrated and it made the performance even more special.

Marcel Ferrin as Rafael and Deja Fields as Letitia definitely prompt the comedic and cute moments as well as having great stage rapport. DeAndre Simmons as Montrellous is not only the "sandwich whisperer" but the grounding voice for his co-workers, and the imagination prompter for the audience as he belts combinations of different ingredients that sound like the perfect sandwich. Jason (Justin Lang) gives a false image to the rest of the employees because of all his face tattoos when really, all he wants to do is get his life back. Lang's histrionic work has undergone a nice evolution, showcasing a level of maturity. His portrayal proves dedication and talent, elevating the emotional depth of the play.

Side/added note: I understand the context, I understand the stereotype, yet, it jumped at me how Nottage definitely included the racist undertones and tones regarding a Latin American employee (assuming Mexican) in the kitchen, portrayed by Marcel Ferrin who as always, was a joy to watch and because of his work, it definitely got some laughs and reactions *raises an eyebrow*. 

Deja Fields, Marcel Ferrin, and Justin Lang. Photo Daren Scott

Michael Wogulis's scenic design, in collaboration with Rai Feltmann's meticulous props, creates a visual feast for the senses. The attention to detail in recreating a kitchen setting is praiseworthy, evoking a sense of nostalgia for me as I remembered a play kitchen and exploring it as a kid. The use of props in this play, from serving paper to trays, putting the buns, the tomatoes, and the ever-triggering garnish, -as it is key in the show- adds a delightful touch that enhances the audience's immersion in the theatrical experience, blending the lines between reality and fiction seamlessly.

Zoë Trautmann's costume design brought out the personality of each character, especially Clyde with fitted corsets, high heels, and red tones. Annelise Salazar's lighting and Harper Justus's sound design further elevate the production, creating a multi-sensory experience that lingers long. Salazar's lighting design sets the mood and tone of each scene, while Justus's sound design enhances the emotional impact of key moments. And... what an awesome playlist! I heard it, I danced to it in my seat, and I mumbled a couple of words as I was being mindful of my fellow audience members.

"Clyde's" is fresh and this cast made it hilarious and memorable. The production resonates with raw emotion and under the skillful direction of Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, this production is a testament to the power of live theatre to transport and transform.

Currently performing until March 10. Industry performance on Monday, February 26th.

For more information please click HERE

New Village Arts Rises Once Again to the Challenge

Giving a New Breath to the Musical Fun Home

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Rae Henderson-Gray. Photo Daren Scott
It always makes me very happy when regional theatres take on the challenge of producing a Tony award-winning musical like Fun Home that is not only powerful but has a strong background and foundation. Putting all these pieces together is not easy. New Village Arts continues to embrace these hurdles avanti like they did with their 2023 productions Singin' in the Rain and The Ferryman.

With music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, Fun Home premiered in 2013 at the Public Theatre and in 2015 on Broadway. Based on Alison Bechdel's 2006 graphic memoir in which she chronicles growing up in Pensilvannya, her strong bond and relationship with her dad Bruce (Brent Roberts), who is a teacher, renovator/restorer, and mortician. Her mother Helen (Sarah Alida LeClair) a former actress and a woman who as a defense mechanism, is detached from reality, and Alison's brothers Christian (Zayden McHardy) and John (Leo Jones). 

The one-act piece goes back and forth between adult Alison (Rae Henderson-Gray), college or medium Alison (Priya Richard), and Small Alison (Lena Palke) talking to the audience, asking questions, and reaching conclusions about her sexuality, her dad's sexuality, and his sudden death. Ethan Eldred's sound design held the essence of Fun Home with Alison's three stages that are surrounded by a wonderful soundtrack that has no bad songs and, at least for me, these particular songs, with Korrie Yamaoka's musical direction, gave space for the different cast members to excel like "Come to the Fun Home" where the three Bechdel kids -led through Patrick Mayuyu's choreography- shine bright and win over the audience, "Changing my Major" with a lovely rendition by Priya Richard, the moving "Ring of Keys" with Lena Palke and Rae Henderson-Gray where the house just came down as it is such a revealing and powerful song as well as the heartbreaking "Telephone Wire", raising the suspense with that awaited conversation between Alison and her father, very delicately delivered, full of heart by Henderson-Gray and Brent Roberts as well as Alison's conversation with her mother in "Days and Days", movingly portrayed by Sarah Alida LeClair. 

Lisette Velandia and Priya Richard. Photo DarenScott

The Bechdel home is Bruce's treasured space where he unloads the feelings while restoring, adding, and decorating. Yi-Chien Lee's set design used the space well to communicate that message in parallel with McKenna Foote's props design from the books, to the vintage radio, and candlesticks. Curtis Mueller's lighting design highlighted each and every frame of this musical. Alison grew up in the sixties and went to college in practically the eighties. Carmen Amon gave the key decades through the costume design and even included the signature top with stripes that small and middle Alison have been known for. 

Lena Palke and Brent Roberts. Photo Daren Scott

Kym Pappas's careful direction definitely was a guide for the cast members to embrace this powerful work and deliver. Along with Kandace Crystal's intimacy direction in delicate scenes where Alison is both discovering and owning her sexuality with college friend Joan (Lisette Velandia). Bruce also has a tense encounter with the handyman/babysitter Roy (Kris Bona). These scenes were paced and mindfully landed. For people who have yet to become familiar with this piece, all of these elements definitely make a difference. New Village Arts once again rose to the challenge by lending this musical another breath to reach new audiences and give another opportunity to those who know and love it.

Currently playing until March 3. For performance dates and times please click here

Scripps Ranch Theatre's "Chapatti" Takes Audiences Through

A Journey of Self-Discovery and Connection 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Grace Delaney and Robert May. Photo Ken Jacques
As I mentioned in another blog view, San Diego Theatre is starting the year strong and with the one-acts! I enjoy all running times, but one acts are just charming. Scripps Ranch Theatre opens the year with Irish playwright Christian O'Reilly's "Chapatti". A tender play about two older and lonely people who meet thanks to their love of pets. Betty (Grace Delaney) has 19 cats, and one gets hit. Dan (Robert May) goes around the neighborhood asking who the cat belongs to and comes across Betty. Since they are already on the subject of animals, Dan asks Betty if she would be interested in keeping his dog "Chappati" as he is moving away. Betty who is curious, asks where Dan is moving to and gets a vague answer which at the same time, discloses to the audience what Dan's true plans are. 

Directed by Christopher Williams, Grace Delaney, and Robert May deliver warm and very charming performances as Betty and Dan while the play delves into the lives of these two lonely individuals who find solace and a unique connection. One of the standout features of the production is the innovative set design by Tony Cucuzzella. The stage is cleverly divided into two distinct spaces, representing Dan and Betty's separate homes. This visual separation effectively underscores the characters' isolation while also emphasizing the eventual merging of their worlds as their relationship unfolds. Marcene Drysdale's costume design further enriches the storytelling by subtly reflecting the characters' inner complexities. The contrast between their everyday attire and their more polished, 'dressed to impress' looks mirrors the layers of their personalities and the different facets they reveal to the world.

The lighting design by Deanna Trethewey and the sound design by Ted Leib, play key roles in setting the mood as well as enhancing the emotional resonance of the play. The lighting beautifully accentuates key moments, like when the characters are talking to themselves or, when they are breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience to fill pieces from the story, while the sound design adds depth and texture, immersing the audience in Dan and Betty's journey of self-discovery and connection.

Grace Delaney and Robert May. Photo Ken Jacques

A curious fact is that this play premiered in 2014 as well as "Outside Mullingar" also set in Ireland and currently playing at LAMBS.

"Chapatti" is a heartfelt production that takes a dive into themes of loneliness, companionship, and the transformative power of human connection. Showing how as we grow older, it becomes more isolating and, very importantly, also showing that as an older adult, or senior, there are still needs for relationships and intimacy. Trigger warning: Chapatti also shows how suicidal tendencies are all across the age range. 

It made me think not only of my grandmother and my older relatives, it also made me think of ME! my near future, how I want it to look and feel, and what I need to do now for that to start shaping up. Maybe I am oversharing but that is the power and the beauty of theatre.

Currently playing until February 25th. For dates and showtimes please click here

“Black Perspective” Exhibit Currently Showing at The Oceanside Theatre Company's Brooks Theater Gallery Through March 26

“The exhibition is a treasure for the eye and the heart,”

Press Release

Oceanside Theatre Company (OTC) is pleased to announce the positive reception by the public of its newest exhibit “Black Perspective: A Celebration of Community, Family & Heritage.” The show, which has been on display since January 12 at the Brooks Theater Gallery in the lobby of the Sunshine Brooks Theater in Oceanside can be viewed cost-free.

Thematically aligned with two of the theater’s major events at the beginning of the year, “Black Perspective” complements the performing arts taking place on stage. The first event, “Generational Black Pioneers: Oceanside Firsts” on February 17 and 18, highlights black leaders who have fought for change in Oceanside. 

In March, OTC is thrilled to produce the San Diego Premiere of “Chicken & Biscuits,” a feel-good comedy written by black playwright Douglas Lyons and centered around the complex dynamics of a modern black family. Lyons was one of a record-breaking eight black playwrights whose work was on Broadway in 2021 but was forced to shut down due to ongoing COVID-19 cases. 

“Black Perspective" features the works of 12 artists who are showing at the Brooks Theater Gallery for the first time including 17-year-old Brooklyn Burroughs. Honestly, my grandma told me that the Brooks Theater was doing an exhibition, and told me that I should submit,” said Burroughs. I looked into the details and just decided to go for it. I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be, because at my art school; we have to do juries and present our portfolios every year. It felt a little intimidating to submit I can admit, because I didn't expect for my artwork to get in.” 

The exhibition includes a myriad of different styles including portraits, sculptures, nail art, and powerful social justice themes. Of note is Thomasina Ferguson-Howard’s “Gordon Parks,” a stunning assemblage piece featuring little girls in the 1950s looking at a public park from outside a chain link fence. The artist uses an actual chain link gate – closed when racial injustice is making the headlines; and slightly open when there’s hope for change.

Paintings that have already sold include Artist Rhya Cawley’s “The Importance of Books,” which was bought by a publisher who discovered she’s worked with the artist but has never actually met her. Cawley was inspired by a photo of the first bookmobile made available in 1956 to black neighborhoods in the South. Another piece that sold was Marian Howard’s “Reading, a Shared Experience,“ which included visual language enhanced by the rich words and imagery of her son, poet and songwriter Alfred O. Howard. It was purchased by a couple with triplet girls who have been read to since they were babies. A painting of Rosa Parks by Krista Timberlake is pending sale to a visiting musician from Ohio. Additional sales include “Reflections on Hurricane Katrina” by Don Pallia, and “Tomika’s Village” by John Linthurst. 

The exhibition is a treasure for the eye and the heart,” said gallery curator and OTC Board Member Carol Naegele. All are welcome to come and see the ‘Black Perspective.’”  

The Brooks Theater Gallery is located in the lobby of the historic Sunshine Brooks Theater in the heart of Oceanside’s Cultural District. With year-round exhibits curated to relate to the themes of Oceanside Theatre Company’s main stage and youth productions, the gallery is seen by art lovers, theatergoers, music lovers, tourists, and the Oceanside community. Artist Open Houses for each exhibit offer an opportunity for the public to meet the artists and enjoy the exhibit cost-free. The Artist Open Houses, often coinciding with Oceanside’s First Friday Art Walk, include ambient music, an artist-at-work on a new piece, and light refreshments.


Black Perspective: A Celebration of Community, Family & Heritage

Exhibit Dates: January 9 – March 26

The free exhibit is open before and during most main-stage events. 

Call 760-994-5975 to schedule an exhibition tour during the week.

Brooks Theater Gallery at the Sunshine Brooks Theater. 217 N. Coast Highway, Oceanside

* Please note a temporary exhibit of renowned Rock ‘n Roll photography will be on display during the Oceanside International Film Festival February 20-24.

The Old Globe Presents "English", in the Round, by Iranian-American Playwright Sanaz Toossi

A play with Soul, Heart, and a Lot of Truth!

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

(from left) Ari Derambakhsh, Pooya Mohseni, Joe Joseph, and Tara. Photo by Rich Soublet II.
Definitely, the year has started strong in San Diego, and after seeing almost ten plays from the first week of January to now, I can happily say it is not stopping. And what a joy it is in these trying times when it seems all who should be allies, are trying their hardest to block the craft and its nature. Anyway, my ADD always takes me in many directions...

The Old Globe presented its first production of the year in the round. Winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize, the Obie Award, and the Lucille Lortel Award, the play English, written by Sanaz Toossi and directed by PigPen Theatre Co.'s Arya Shahi. English had not been presented in the round before. San Diego gave it this structural and let's say, visual challenge and they definitely rose to it. 

This play gave me so many feelings and with that, so much to say that I do not even know how to begin lol... I can start by saying that work well crafted shines through and onto the stage. English is a good play with a lot of soul, a lot of heart, and a lot of truth!. As it can resonate with many and maybe create some empathy for the rest. 

Set in a classroom outside Tehran in Iran, four students are enrolled in classes in English for a proficiency exam. There are different reasons like getting student visas or communicating with loved ones. Sadra Tehrani's scenic design paid attention to detail not just by including the student and teacher desks, but also by including the books under the desk and the props that give room to play as well as the lights in the room. I do not understand why schools, offices, and hospitals use those terrible LED strip or tape lights. Tehrani included them and it definitely made it look real along with Amanda Zieve's lighting design that shows this brightness I am referring to with the LED and dimming it to mark the different times in the day.

The classroom is led by Marjan (Pooya Mohseni) who lived many years in the UK and has been teaching the class since being back home. Roya (Mary Apick) is a new grandmother who has a residency in Canada, Goli (Ari Derambakhsh) wants to study in Australia, Elham (Tara Grammy) has a history with the TOEFL and needs to pass, and Omid (Joe Joseph) is applying for a green card. Like in all classrooms, there is the shy student, the overachiever, the competitive one, and so on. The casting (Caparelliotis Casting) for the piece is fitting and each actor imprints the different shifting personalities of the characters: I can assure you, that we all sympathized with Roya and her situation. Goli wants to learn and be a better speaker of English. Elham is mega competitive and gets frustrated easily (man how I identified with her), and Omid is fluent but just needs to belong. Afsaneh Aayani's costume design is simple yet functional for Omid and for the ladies, using colorful and stylish headscarves and tunics. The backpacks also shine a light on each of the personalities using prints and solid colors.

Mary Apick and Ari Derambakhsh. Photo by Rich Soublet II.
As time goes by and the students get to know one another while trying to learn the language and all that it entails, situations and truths come afloat in a contrasting context that is funny, truly moving and sometimes heartbreaking. 

Even though the play is a one-act of an hour and forty minutes, I could have enjoyed fewer transitions. Megumi Katayama's sound design made it go smoothly with sound and musical effects, as well as Iranian songs including "Ashegham Man" by Iranian female singer Delkash, which means "I am in Love" and it is part of one of the key moments in the piece. 

Coming in to see the show, I thought it was going to be bilingual and there would be dialogues in Farsi and English but no. It was resolved more creatively as it is practically all in English but when they are speaking in Farsi, the accent just shifts to a Valley girl-like tone. When they are speaking in English, they do so with a thick accent which I thought was brilliant and hilarious. As someone who has been part of an Iranian family for over ten years, I can attest this was spot on. Bravo to Dialect Coach, Ana Bayat. (who has also worked in the series Tehran, which is a favorite in this household). 

Another fact that was spot-on and with this I too acknowledge both Sanaz Toossi's writing as well as Arya Shahi's direction, is the illustration of the struggle when being different or having an accent when speaking in another language. This happens all around the world but, in a country where many are monolingual, having an accent has been historically perceived as a flaw. As not good enough when in fact, it is the opposite as there are double, or triple the amount of words, sentences, and the always tough, conjugations. The complexity of practically having different personas that come with the language using varied tones, and volumes. Thinking of one language while speaking the other and how it is put in the piece, how isolating that can be.

English balances out the personal story behind each character with the commonality of the challenge that learning English represents along with its Western perceptions, for example, changing a name, Americanizing it to fit better, and being "pronounceable". I cannot share enough stories with you when I introduce myself in a room: "Aaaaleeeejanddrrra", "Oh caliente!"...again, anyway... 
Tara Grammy and Pooya Mohseni. Photo by Rich Soublet II.
There is a phrase within the play that says "Our mothers get to choose our name, not foreigners". It sucked the wind out of me. Toossi also sprinkled a hidden nod to the Iranian poets through a complaint one of the students has about Farsi. 

The play is constantly contrasting creatively and logically as it has a heavy, historical, specific premise that unfolds and keeping its cultural essence, becomes relatable while definitely hitting different fibers. Because, regardless of language and place of origin, this is about the unknown, fear, identity, and judgment. Something we all have gone through. 

Currently playing until February 25 with a Post Show Forum on Tuesday, February 13, and an Open-Caption Performance on Saturday, February 17 at 2:00 p.m

For more information please click here.