Two openings to revive war memories

Tom Titus

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

Playhouse.

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

appear Fridays.

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