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Cygnet shines with another round of ‘Wonderful Life’ radio play


SHOW Through Dec. 31 Cygnet Theatre 4040 Twiggs St., Old Town San Diego (619) 337-1525 Tuesdays through Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 8 p.m.

Saturdays, 4 and 8 p.m. Sundays, 2 and 7 p.m.

Tom Andrews takes the lead as George Bailey in Cygnet Theatre’s production of “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Show.” (Courtesy Daren Scott)

By Cuauhtémoc Kish | Theatre critic Joe Landry’s adaptation of “It’s a

Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” has demanded yet a fifth year of teary-eyed encores from its audience at Cygnet Theatre in Old Town San Diego. The show is a seamless holiday gem. This year’s

Scott Paulson continues to perform

his soundscape magic, conjuring up the sounds of wind, doors and clomping footsteps. The storyline takes place in 1946, at the WCYG “Playhouse of the Air” radio station, where actors tell us the story of George Bailey, whose Christ-

“Wonderful Life” cast includes actors from seasons past, as well as some fresh faces. Tom Andrews reprises his role as George Bailey, subtly suggesting Jimmy Stewart’s stutter and Midwestern drawl from the 1946 film of the same name, while Veronica Murphy, David McBean, Jonathan Dunn-Rankin and Tim West seem meld and improve upon their past performances.

PLAID TIDINGS Through Dec 26

The Old Globe’s (White Theatre) (619) 234-5623 Tuesday through Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 2 and 7 p.m.

“By the end of the radio broadcast, George is con- vinced that living is the better option, Clarence

gets his wings, and the audience blissfully blub- bers about the turn of events.”

mas Eve suicide (He thinks he’d be better of f if he’d never been born) is foiled by his assigned guardian angel, Clarence. Needless to say, by the end of the radio broadcast, George is convinced that living is the better op- tion, Clarence gets his wings, and the

audience blissfully blubbers about the turn of events. The station breaks—my personal fa- vorite—continue to elicit anything from a smile to a guffaw as the actors recreate those now comical moments from dusty commercial archives, including hair tonic and Lux Toilet Cake (soap). Michelle

Caron’s spiffy costume designs evoke the period well, as do the red-walled set designed by Sean Murray

that even includes audience lighting prompts (APPLAUSE), cuing the audi- ence to participate. Visiting Cygnet’s “Wonderful Life” is

like revisiting an old friend; sometimes the conversation gets better as it’s told the second and even fifth time.♚

December 17-30, 2010 GAY SAN DIEGO


Michael Winther, Leo Daignault, Jason Heil and David Brannen in “Plaid Tidings: A Special Holi- day Edition of Forever Plaid” at The Old Globe. (Courtesy Henry DiRocco)

Wholesome ‘Plaid Tidings’ for earthly audiences, young and old T

By Cuauhtémoc Kish | Theatre critic

he heavens parted in early December and allowed a harmoni-

ous four-part guy group to perform the show they never got to do in life, once again, in San Diego.

The first time around

their heavenly approved, “one-night gig” lasted for more than a year on Broad- way. Following that impres- sive feat, “Forever Plaid” played for 19 weeks at the Old Globe Theatre (1991) be- fore the show reopened at the Theatre in Old Town, playing for a mere six years.

This time around they

retooled the show, giving it a holiday glow that will enter- tain San Diego audiences at the White Theatre in Balboa Park through Dec. 26. Creator, director and

writer Stuart Ross has his harmonious quartet (Leo Daignault, Jason Heil, David Brannen and Michael Winther) do a little bit of everything (singing, dancing, gymnastics, piano playing) to make this seasonal celebra- tion work its holiday magic on young and old alike. Backstory: The Plaids had

finally landed their first really big gig at the Airport Hilton

cocktail lounge, when, out of nowhere, this harmonious quartet was broadsided by a school bus as they journeyed to pick up their custom-made plaid tuxedoes and were, oh-so-sadly, killed and taken away to heaven, unable to complete their contract. Now, after some heavenly wrangling, they are allowed this second visit to do a holiday show. It’s launched with “Stranger in Paradise,” setting up the evening for light banter, warm and fuzzy reflections, and a solid four-part harmony (some 34 musical numbers are listed in the program).

Although the vast majority

of songs have a holiday bent, there are some unexpected delights including “Bésame Mucho,” “Fever” and “Sha- Boom” (“Life Could Be a Dream”). Still, old standards like “The Christmas Song,” “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” ring out loud and clear. Sean Fanning’s scenic design is a marvel of dark blue. He showcases the two very competent musicians (Steven Withers on Piano and Tim Christensen on Bass) in

see Plaid, pg 25

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