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Theater and Dance

10 Mar 2018
A play set in a 1940s radio station in Chicago—now, how much opportunity for fun is that? Playwright Tony Padilla is directing the world premiere of his The Thespian Radio Hour at the Pearl McManus Theatre at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club, on behalf of the Desert Ensemble Theatre Company. Padilla has been lauded for his plays, receiving the Desert Theatre League’s Bill Groves Award for Outstanding Writing and the Joan Woodbury Mitchell Award for his impact on local theater—and he’s received international recognition as well. The writing here is solid. Padilla uses the stereotypes of early radio personalities to make his case. Linda Cooke, for example, plays crusty producer Agnes Cohen, who fusses and worries about everything, endlessly bossing everyone around. Her sidekick, the youthful Steve Randy, played by Nick Wass, is the unappreciated kid who directs the actors and narrates the broadcast and writes the scripts and commercials…
27 Feb 2018
He left Cuba at age 11—but Tony Padilla remembers the Revolution. “We were in Santiago, near Guantanamo,” he said. “We could see fighting in the hills where Fidel Castro was hiding. At first, we were all Fidel fans. Then he said, ‘Now we are Communists.’ Everybody said, ‘What?’” Today, Padilla is one of the Coachella Valley’s most renowned playwrights. In March, his Desert Ensemble Theatre Company will produce one of his newest plays, comedy The Thespian Radio Hour. “I have to tell you, I’m glad he’s dead now,” Padilla said about Castro. “We weren’t in real danger then. … My dad was a barber; my mom was a singer. She was stunning! “I remember seeing Che Guevara in Santiago. When he spoke, he was like Hitler, so charismatic. You could see how thousands would follow.” Ironically enough, Padilla would years later audition for the role of Che Guevara in Evita…
20 Feb 2018
Picture it: New York City, 1957. A romantic biracial tragedy begins to unfold in the streets—with warring factions everywhere. The issues surround two star-crossed lovers—poor Tony and Maria!—but “Somewhere,” there is a time and place for them. It turns out that time is Friday, March 9, through Sunday, March 11, and that place is the McCallum Theatre, in Palm Desert. That’s when and where the theater is celebrating the centennial of composer Leonard Bernstein’s birthday with a concert version of the classic musical West Side Story. Chad Hilligus is producing and directing West Side Story: In Concert. Currently the senior manager of sponsorship development at the McCallum, he’s a singer and actor who was one of the Ten Tenors—with a number of musicals to his credit. “Because of my involvement in the world tour of West Side Story, this project was born,” Hilligus said. “… We wanted this production to…
17 Feb 2018
How auspicious to open a show on Chinese New Year. Gung hay fat choy, by the way, and welcome to the year of the dog. People born under this sign are loyal, honest, just, socially popular, helpful and decisive—and they keep all their worries and anxieties buried deep inside. Famous dogs include Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, Elvis, Madonna and Michael Jackson. That’s the good news. Election Day, presented by the hardworking, clever and talented people at Desert Ensemble Theatre Company, is our topic, but all the news regarding this play is not so good. We now live in a world where humor, and particularly political humor, has changed drastically. Of course, who could ever have predicted that the show’s opening night would follow the ghastly reality of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., just two days before? With that and other recent horrors, in my mind, there just wasn’t much…
06 Feb 2018
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You know Richard Kind’s face from numerous TV shows and films—and you certainly know his voice from iconic animated movies such as Toy Story 3 and Inside Out. Kind is also a talented stage actor—and he’s starring in the one-man show A Man and His Prostate, coming to the Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum from Friday, Feb. 23, through Sunday, Feb. 25. During a recent phone interview, Kind said that he almost didn’t go into show business. “I was thinking of going to law school,” Kind said. “I was supposed to go into my dad’s business. … He owned a retail jewelry store. I would have been happy and done well, because I liked my dad’s store, and I happen to think I might have been a good salesman—but if you make a living doing what I do, you’re the luckiest guy in the world. Yet I…
03 Feb 2018
In the program notes for Dirty Blonde, Coyote StageWorks Founding Artistic Director Chuck Yates mentions he has wanted to present this play, which focuses on Mae West, since the theater’s inception 9 years ago. Since 2018 has been dubbed “The Year of the Woman,” he chose the perfect time to do so: Whether or not you’re a Mae West fan, it’s impossible to deny that she was an icon of womanhood, in her own way. Written by and starring Claudia Shear, Dirty Blonde ran Off-Broadway in 2000, and on Broadway in 2000 and 2001. (Interestingly, it’s one of just a few plays in Broadway history to have its entire cast nominated for Tony Awards.) The show explores the phenomenon of West through the eyes of two devoted fans—aspiring actress and office-temp Jo, and public-library film archivist Charlie. They meet while visiting West’s grave, and develop a warm friendship based on…