War and its aftermath will be examined in a pair of dramatic
productions -- one set at the onset of World War II, the other
examining the Vietnam War's personal impact -- offered this month at
UC Irvine and the Newport Theater Arts Center.
Opening next weekend is UCI's production of "Cabaret," set in
Berlin as the Nazis were rising to power. It's the second appearance
by the John Kander-Fred Ebb musical on a local stage this year,
following the production a few months ago by the Costa Mesa Civic
A week later, on Nov. 19, will mark the arrival of "Redwood
Curtain," Lanford Wilson's drama about the effect of the Vietnam War.
Although written more than 10 years ago, the Newport production will
be the first one locally.
"'Cabaret' forces us to question our own actions in the face of
persecution," said director Valerie Rachelle, a graduate student at
UCI. "Would we hide ourselves in sin -- drugs, alcohol, sex, partying
-- in order to numb ourselves from the horror of the outside world?
Would we shrug and give in? Or would we stand up and fight against
this destruction of others?"
UCI's production of "Cabaret" marks its return to the university
stage after 33 years. Back in 1971, the musical inaugurated the
opening of the Village Theater, which later was refurbished and
renamed for Claire Trevor, the Oscar winner and benefactor who
donated millions to the university in her lifetime.
Performances will be given Nov. 12 and 13, and Nov. 17 through 20
at 8 p.m., with matinees Nov. 14 and 20 at 2 p.m. Ticket information
and reservations may be obtained by calling the UCI box office at
(949) 824-2787 or the Bren Events Center at (949) 824-5000.
Wilson's "Redwood Curtain" will rise at the Newport Theater Arts
Center under the direction of David Colley, providing the first
opportunity for Orange County audiences to examine the work of one of
America's best-known playwrights.
The play focuses on a teenage, Vietnamese American girl named
Geri, reared by wealthy adoptive parents in the United States, who
journeys into the redwood forests of Northern California to find the
natural father she lost after the Vietnam War.
"Needing to know her ancestral history, and particularly the
history of her father, to restructure the rest of her life, she
detains a homeless veteran against his will in the hope that he might
know of her father -- or even might be her father," Colley said.
The New York Times hailed "Redwood Curtain" as "a
state-of-the-nation piece from the early 1990s (with) enormous wit
and compassion, a real yarn with a satisfying, old-fashioned
mousetrap of a plot."
"Redwood Curtain" will be presented at the Newport Theater Arts
Center, 2501 Cliff Drive, Newport Beach, Thursdays through Saturdays
at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. until Dec. 19. Ticket information
is available at (949) 631-0288.
* TOM TITUS reviews local theater for the Daily Pilot. His reviews