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Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
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Arts & Culture

Five reasons San Pedro Playhouse should keep its hands off 'My Fair Lady'

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The Musical of Musicals: The Musical! If we need something lighter and frothier on our main stages, I suggest this hilarious meta-musical, which takes a banal situation — a dispute over rent — and deftly sets it to the styles of five different musical theater composers, including Rodgers and Hammerstein, Kander and Ebb, and Stephen Sondheim. It's witty, fresh, and a marvelous showpiece for a talented quartet of musical theater artists.

Next to Normal. This surprise winner of the Pulitzer isn't my favorite piece of musical theater, but I respect its ambition and even its courage. It's an unblinking look at a family coping with mental illness, set to an (often) hard-rocking score. I think younger audiences, in particular, would find this an affecting and memorable evening, and it's set in an appealing, contemporary musical idiom.

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. This might seem an oddball choice, but stay with me. This rockin' version of Jackson's presidency boasts a sophomoric, joke-filled book that reminds me very much of San Antonio's perennially popular Cornyation. But the jokes stop when Jackson's genocide starts, and the evening concludes with a powerful take on America's troubled relationship with its Native American communities. (In addition, its slogan practically sells itself: "History just got all sexypants." That's some good advertising right there.)

When I catch theater in other cities, including Austin, Dallas, and Houston, I'm always startled to spot groups of young theatergoers — and by "young theatergoers" I mean (somewhat alarmingly) those under 35. That's a demographic that seems underserved in San Antonio, and part of the problem must be chalked up to theatrical programming that's geared towards a much older, and artistically conservative, audience. I call upon SA's artistic directors to ring in this New Year with programming that's fresh and new as well. •

 

Thomas Jenkins has been covering performance for the Current since 2004. He also shows up for work regularly as professor and chair of classics at Trinity University to teach courses in ancient drama and cultural theory. He greatly admires plays about incest and dismemberment. You can follow his San Antonio theater blog, Wicked Stage, at blogs.sacurrent.com.

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