Bewitched by The Tempest

Prospera and Ariel
Kate Burton as Prospera, Nora Carroll as Miranda, and Philippe Bowgen as Ariel in The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, runs June 17 – July 22, 2018 at The Old Globe. Photo by Jim Cox.

The Tempest 

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” Prospera breaks her staff then sets it on a movie theater seat before slipping away.

Director Joe Dowling’s vision of The Tempest at The Old Globe whirls dreams and reality together with spell caster Kate Burton as Prospera.

Flotsam and jetsam are strewn about in front of a two-story stucco building. Collaborating with Scenic Designer Alexander Dodge, the director imagines the sandy beach breaking through into a theater.

As all good stories do, The Tempest starts with action. Philippe Bowgen as Ariel reports he has safely shipwrecked the King of Naples, Antonio—the usurping Duke of Milan, and the crew. Prospera, Duchess of Milan, lives in exile with her daughter Miranda on a deserted island after being thrown out of power by Prospera’s brother. But no worries there are spirits to keep them company, Prospera’s books to work her dark magic, and of course young love thanks to the shipwreck.

A helm in the middle signifies the ship. The crew enters in simple black clothes and beanies. One turns a large funnel with paper to create wind, another shakes metal for thunder and another holds a drum for more affects. More crew enters with an off-white cloth—two of the cast are on the balcony and two below holding onto the corners and fighting the elements. Others pull ropes of the out-of-view sails.

Kate Burton plays Prospero, or in this case—Prospera the witch. She is the stern, but caring mother whose temper and magic collide. Maybe it’s the blonde hair and the chaotic past couple of years, but the way she throws her arms out and head back with her control freak nature one can’t help but hear the maniacal laughter of Hillary Clinton. She uses her sorcery for her daughter Miranda played by Nora Carroll to bring Ferdinand, son of the King of Naples, to the island.

Between news of a shipwreck—for colonizing efforts—reaching England in 1610 and Shakespeare’s reading of Sir Anthony Shirley’s journeys to Persia and Russia, he imagined a magical island. Perhaps colonization brings out the master and servant theme with Prospero and Ariel and Caliban, and the crew to the ship’s captain.

Ferdinand played by Sam Avishay falls head over heels for Miranda at first sight. He too is tested by Prospera and made a servant. Nora Carroll pities him and shockingly offers to be his wife. In their voluntary ‘service,’ true freedom is found in love.

Dark magic and mythology enhance David Israel Reynoso’s costume design. Prospera delights the young couple Miranda and Ferdinand with a trio of fallen angels singing a Supremes mash-up. Samantha Sutliff as Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is also the daughter of Saturn, the wife of Jupiter and the mother of Mars. The trio glide around in platforms and 1960s fitted dresses with a slit up the thigh, and a framed cube set off-kilter over their heads. Sutliff sings to Carroll like she is an angel, fairy godmother, or Frankie Avalon in the movie Grease, then ends with an exaggerated vocal run for a laugh.

An audience member mentions Aquaman at the sight of Ariel in his blue sequined unitard. They are on an island. Though Ariel controls air and fire. Caliban controls water and earth. If Ariel is a merman then Manoel Felciano’s Caliban looks like a sludgy water toad.

Alonso, the King of Naples, played by Robert Foxworth falls on his knees terrified by the devil. The red-horned beast with red-hot pokers up and down his arms is something out of Aeneas’ journey into the Underworld, who was influenced by the poet Dante. Above Kate Burton casts a spell in a red and purple sequined robe with a golden staff.

The Old Globe’s 2011 ethereal production of The Tempest was filled with dreamy pastels, a minimalist stage, and an Irish jig. The year is 2018 and we are woke from our sleep recalling a dark and whimsical dream that haunts and delights. This is what fairy tales are made on.

Azuki Sushi 

The balmy breeze stirs between the buildings as a line forms at the renowned Azuki Sushi. With a reservation, we are asked, “Upstairs or downstairs?” We follow the young hostess up the narrow stairs to a red-cushioned and warm-wood tabled patio that seemed like the VIP lounge we viewed from afar last time. The setting sun creeps through the slatted walls. The moistest rice and nori wraps tempt me all week. But some items aren’t available this time around. The menu seems to change and isn’t always fun for the cruelty-free eater.

The mackerel isn’t available the waitress tells Renaissance Man, but the Spanish mackerel is. On a small square plate, a skinned fish is curled up like the “fortune teller miracle fish” with the insides spilling out. Fortune says I’m feeling sad. The waitress says she can take the outer part away. She doesn’t seem comfortable either.

The Green sushi roll is gluten-free and vegan, but the asparagus is a bit too crunchy. The Shiitaki roll from last time was perfect, but is one of the items missing on the menu. There is savory miso soup with fresh shiitaki mushrooms. There are four different kinds of miso soup. The Cucumber and Avocado roll is perfect like last time. The root vegetable fries are tasty, but a bit greasy.

The menu is for a range of palates. Like The Tempest, Azuki Sushi is enchanting.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare directed by Joe Dowling runs June 17 – July 22, 2018 at the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre.

The Old Globe, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego, CA 92101. Box Office (619) 234-5623.

Copyright 2018 Melissa Crismon

The Little Little Mermaid

CSUF Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid at CSU, Fullerton. Photo by M.C.

The Little Mermaid has been getting a lot of play as of late. Last year I went to see a phenomenal high school production of the under the sea musical. The singers were amazing and set design and costume design too. So, I expected CSU, Fullerton’s production to be good. Their production of Little Women a few years back was great, but with CSUF the theatre can be hit or miss. Since CSUF’s The Little Mermaid was a miss, I’ll focus on the more entertaining parts.

First off it is opening night so things can go wrong in the beginning. Many of the singers sing off pitch, or are hard to hear, or one screams the high notes. Part of the problem may be the Little Theatre, which seems outdated and not as nice as the other theatres on the other side of the building. The singers may be having difficulty hearing themselves.

Timothy H. Lee (King Triton) has an enjoyable singing voice. Megan McCarthy (Ariel) and Evan Borboa (Prince Eric) have good chemistry. Borboa is a great hopeless romantic. During the song Les Poissons, Jacob Wayne (Chef), enjoys cutting off fish heads with a throaty French “Huh, huh, huh.” In his enthusiasm, his mustache flops half off. He turns his head to the side sans mustache and sings in a higher pitch then exposes the mustache side and sings in a deeper voice. It’s these moments why I love seeing college age theatre. There is always someone willing to play the clown.

When seeing a show at CSU, Fullerton see the shows in the newer theatres where the sound and seating are better. I still enjoyed the production. The Little Mermaid is a strong, romantic story, but for $25 a ticket I’ve seen better entertainment for less.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid • March 23 – April 15, 2018 • Little Theatre • Cal State University, Fullerton • College of the Arts • 800 North State College Blvd. Fullerton, CA 92831 (Parking is free on weekends starting on Friday at 5pm. Park in the Nutwood Parking Structure on Arts Drive. Also, show your high school or college I.D. to get in for $5.)

Copyright 2018 Melissa Crismon