Romeo and Juliet, The Musical

Romeo and Juliet
Aaron Clifton Moten as Romeo and Louisa Jacobson as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at The Old Globe in San Diego through Sept. 15, 2019. Photo by Jim Cox.

Director Barry Edelstein had a dream of people dressed in white and walking barefoot in a sandbox for The Old Globe production of Romeo and Juliet. For me, the oversized sandbox symbolized society not getting along. For Edelstein, we are told at the talk with the actors sans the director, after the show, that he thought the sandbox to be a place of playfulness and innocence. Another audience member thought maybe she over thought the sandbox as being a place for people to learn to get along. The young lady leading the talk says that Barry says it is open to interpretation.

What is clear is that Edelstein aims for a fun Romeo and Juliet.

Romeo (Aaron Clifton Moten) carries a guitar everywhere. Striding, he holds the instrument with the neck pointing away from himself as he loudly strums and sings “I am human and I need to be loved just like everybody else does,” by the Smiths. It’s his way of explaining his love for Rosaline to Benvolio (Morgan Taylor). I root for Benvolio and Romeo for their friendship to bloom as she laughs at everything he does. Yeah they’re cousins. Benvolio leaves and Romeo sings Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” With his guitar, dragging his knees through the sand, Romeo reverberates “Ha-lle-lu-lu-lu-jah-jah-jah.” He closes his eyes for added drama.

The favorite pastime of teenagers leads the funny Mercutio (Ben Chase), best friend Benvolio, and class clown Romeo to a Capulet party. As everyone dances at the masquerade, pianist Justin Gray plays on a black grand piano, off to the side on a higher stage, surrounded by candelabras. And he plays my favorite Tchaikovsky piece! Romeo sees Juliet (Louisa Jacobson). A beam of light shines on her as all goes still. “O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright,” Romeo says.

A mini piano, bench, then microphone are set in the middle of the stage. Juliet sits and places her fingers on the keys. She hunches and leans into the mic and sings. The song is familiar but is sung slow and in emo-style. Once she gets to the chorus, the audience responds to the recognition of Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana.” Juliet grabs the mic and dancing breaks out to the rest of the party.

Cast of Romeo and Juliet
The cast of Romeo and Juliet at The Old Globe. Photo by Jim Cox.

It’s all fun and games until Tybalt (Yadira Correa) is knifed. Innocence is lost.

Every time there is a fight weapons come out of the sand. Or Friar Laurence (Jesse J. Perez) digs out herbs for potions. There are metal pegs along the box to mark the hidden props the actors explain.

After the masquerade, the Nurse (Candy Buckley) is left alone and takes the mic then runs to the top of the rock at the corner of the sandbox and belts out a tune. She’s over-the-top and playful as she fights for Juliet. She seems to know Juliet better than her own mother Lady Capulet (Sofia Jean Gomez).

Lady Capulet and Lord Capulet (Cornell Womack) are parents who want what they think is best for their daughter. As Lord Capulet throws his voice at his daughter about who she will marry, I think he has dealt with teenagers before. A lady behind me whispers, “Nice guy,” as Lord Capulet walks off stage. A man sitting next to her whispers, “That’s daddy.”

I had been waiting to see Romeo and Juliet for a long time. The San Diego Opera put on a production about ten years ago, but I missed it, I tell the usher. She let’s me know The Old Globe production isn’t traditional. The family behind us seems a bit critical the show wasn’t word for word. The daughters joke how their mom brought a book of the play. I wonder if that is why I rarely see the play produced in SoCal? Everyone is familiar with the play and a critic.

Be prepared to be entertained.

Before the show night traffic isn’t too bad until we get to downtown San Diego. We decide to try a new restaurant near Balboa Park in the Gaslamp but parking is difficult. I park near the colorful Horton Plaza Mall. After deciding not to eat at the Thai place and not to walk to a Sushi place we head into the mall that has a good food court and if all fails there is a new Jimbo’s. All the stores are closed. The food court is dark. A questionable man passes by. Down the escalator through the automatic doors and past the security guard, we end up in Jimbo’s. Hardly anyone is in there. I ask the guy behind the bakery section what happened. He said the mall went downhill about two years ago after Jimbo’s moved in, but Jimbo’s is doing great. He blamed Amazon, I think, or maybe I was thinking that. He said tech businesses are coming in and some of the building will be used for housing. It is eerie sitting in the Jimbo’s café almost alone with piped in music. A ghost town in the middle of a city.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare directed by Barry Edelstein runs from August 11 – September 15, 2019 at the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. (This is an open-air theatre so bring a sweater and blanket. Order your coffee and tea before the show and have it waiting for you at intermission.)

The Old Globe • 1363 Old Globe Way • San Diego • CA • 92101 • Phone (619) 231-1941.

Copyright 2019 Melissa Crismon

Time Machine Giveaway

1 Sawdust
53rd Annual Summer Sawdust Art Festival (2019). You’ll have to trust me it looks like a little man in the spaceship. Photo by M.C.

Sawdust Festival Artists & Makers

Walking into the Sawdust Festival’s outdoor Hobbit house, we are greeted by the white rabbit sitting in a shack topped with a gray spaceship with a tiny man inside. Note the man and not an alien. Straight ahead is Kirk Milette Jewelry booth, the woman’s alarm on her phone rings. She says Kirk made the UFO and that it will move at this very minute. We stare, but no action.

Close to the time travel installation, is new-to-Sawdust, Artist David Kizziar from Blue Bird Studio Arts. Prisma pencil drawings of Laguna Beach are sepia tone photo like. Ornate, dark wood frames give the art a time travel vibe. I imagine being in a coffered ceiling and wainscoted family room with a lit stone fireplace and brown leather sofas. Let’s make them pleather. One frame is ordained with beach rock.

His effervescent wife explains David is self-taught and only went public with his art three years ago. She points at a piece and says he spent 300 hours working on the drawing. Pulling out a sample with sketches here and there, she explains he likes to draw the most difficult part first. From a photo, David begins sketching the grass rather than the buildings. Renaissance Man says, “He could have grown the grass faster.” She laughs and says, “I told him the same thing.”

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Ascend by Artist David Kizziar. Photo of card by M.C.

At the entrance of the booth is a huge replica of David’s oil painted mermaid, which won the City of Laguna Beach Banner Juried Competition. His wife shows us a photo on her phone. It’s of David in his classic jeans and T-shirt standing under Ascend as the banner hangs from a streetlight on Coast Highway 101 in Laguna Beach.

David’s art has many personalities. His earthy drawings that Bo Derek and Robert Englund, known as Freddy Krueger, (Photos sit on a desk.) bought are completely different from his paintings of the blue mermaid. According to David’s postcard, “He wants his art to emit a ‘mood’ that reflects life’s camera and moves the person to ‘feel’ something.

Nancy gives me one of David Kizziar’s Ascend cards. I’d love to give you the card along with my new book Superfly, book three in the MerSea series. Sign up for my newsletter and one lucky winner will be mailed the mermaid card with a signed copy of my book. I’ll choose the winner from the new names on my newsletter list. Just go to my Newsletter page and wait for the pop-up. Newsletter sign up. (Contest is from July 11-July 15, 2019. This time around I’ll only mail to U.S. entrants.)

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The Pageant of the Masters 2019. Photo by M.C.

 Pageant of the Masters

Across the street at The Pageant of the Masters, we stroll through fine art exhibits while waiting for The Time Machine show. I notice a jeweler who was at the Sawdust last year is showing at the Pageant. And the guy who makes gorgeous wood furniture is at the Sawdust and not at the Pageant like he has been for years. I’m not sure why people switch, but hopefully they are getting more traffic. I go to both because both exhibits are fabulous. An artist and I were saying how much we love being at the Sawdust. It’s good vibes.

The Time Machine production loosely follows H.G. Wells’ novella “The Time Machine” and one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks. The Victorian gentleman and his steampunk carriage are joined by Countess De La Maitrie in her equestrian dress and with her dachshund from the painting by Charles Albert Walhain. The Victorian gentleman finds Da Vinci’s notebook and they are off in a gold vehicle with a large disc and red carpet.

Napoleon And His General Staff In Egypt, Jean-Leon Gerome, Oil, 1867. Photo of painting from Wikimedia Commons.

Living art begins with Napoleon And His General Staff In Egypt, 1867. Napoleon is on his camel with his men on camels and horse trudging through the desert. Narration explains the pyramids and hieroglyphs. There is only a mention of the advanced civilization and that there isn’t real explanation as to why. In the program under the photo of the painting is a quote.

“What is history but a fable agreed upon?” ~Napoleon Bonaparte

The show moves through different chapters like The Art of Science which includes Sir Isaac Newton with Prism, Unknown, Engraving, 1868 to Nikola Tesla Monument, Les Drysdale, Bronze, 2006 to Stephen Hawking Ubermensch, J. & D. Chapman, Fiberglass, 1995.

Marty McFly and Doc ride in their “modified” DeLorean, yep a DMC-12, in The Music Machine chapter. Jumping out of the car and onto the stage, Marty surprises the dancers around the jukebox as Working on the Jalopy, Stevan Dohanos, The Saturday Evening Post, 1950 sets up. There is a lot of great Jitterbugging as an audience member sings along.

One of the final chapters takes us to the moon with Norman Rockwell’s The Final Impossibility, Man’s Tracks On The Moon, 1969 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. The props disappear and “Neil” floats reminding the audience these are real people not just paintings.

There is a floating earth and a floating spaceship. The show seems to have gotten cheesier through the years, but I still love it. We have been taught historical inaccuracies in school and in media and many are repeated in the show. The Time Machine isn’t enough to satisfy a MUFON member, but the “living pictures” are always perfection, which is what the show is about.

Sawdust • 935 Laguna Canyon Road • Laguna Beach • CA • 92651

Festival of Arts • Pageant of the Masters • 650 Laguna Canyon Rd • Laguna Beach • CA • 92651 • 1-800-487-3378 (On 7/11/2019 I received an email with a savings code. Main Tier Madness $25, 3 Dates Only, Use Code: MTM25. Main Tier is where I sat and is good seating. Director’s Tier is also on sale, but too far.)

Copyright 2019 Melissa Crismon