Home-grown 'Wrenegades' shines as CCdd wraps up Playhouse residency
by CHARLENE BALDRIDGE
Published - 06/09/15 - 12:45 PM | 3382 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
David Warren Keith looks as baffled as the rest of us in 'Be Here Now, the Journey of Ram Dass,' reprised for San Diego's fringe festival by Vantage Theatre amid last year's rave reviews. COURTESY PHOTO
David Warren Keith looks as baffled as the rest of us in 'Be Here Now, the Journey of Ram Dass,' reprised for San Diego's fringe festival by Vantage Theatre amid last year's rave reviews. COURTESY PHOTO
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The 2014-15 La Jolla Playhouse Resident Theater Program is in its waning days. The current ”gypsy” theater company is Circle Circle dot dot. In the delicious throes of its final resident production, CCdd presents “Wrenegades,” an ecological adventure that continues in the Shank Theatre through June 19.

Readers may recall the previous CCdd residency production, a science fiction farce titled “Red Planet Respite,” which played two weeks last September. Now, we have the no-less serious, timely and funny “Wrenegades.” As always, CCdd’s productions are original and based on community subjects and interviews. For instance, “Wrenegades” is subtitled “An Ecological Adventure.” The “renegades” are cactus wrens.

The new play is directed by CCdd technical director Patrick Kelly and written by Katherine Harroff and Michael Nieto, and it features attractive music by Andrew Steele and Michael Nieto (the composition and execution of the Fairy Shrimp duet is worthy of the Rhine Maidens!) and choreography by Anne Gehman.

Those who saw “Red Planet Respite” have savory memories of Soroya Rowley’s space ship robot. In “Wrenegades” she portrays a fairy shrimp and a mama wren and various other entities that include a wise Torrey pine. Due to ecological factors, Mama Wren must send the eldest Wren chick (Alexandra Slade), who’s fledged, on a mission to find the family a new home. Wren forms an alliance with Coyote (adorably costumed Justin Tuazon-Martin), who agrees to help, carrying the bird reluctant to fly on his back (wrens are not much good at long distance). The odyssey is at length successful due to Rowley’s wise Torrey Pine and help from Veronica Burgess’s majestic Great Egret and a Gray Whale. A field guide is provided in the program.

Meanwhile, on the human species side, ecologist Edward Leopold (Nieto), a specialist at finding property that will not spoil the environment when developed, is hired by Natalie (Harroff), a hospital employee who’s all business and bottom line. She is charged with finding the site for a children’s hospital and never met a vernal pool, yet she is fascinated by Leopold, a man so dedicated to endangered species that she’s game enough to hike with him. So everyone’s looking for a patch of earth.

Harroff and Nieto teach lessons without our being aware of it. They also create a set of beloved birds and animals of which we grow quite fond. The journey is informative and funny, and though it's aimed at kids’ edu-tainment ultimately, the adults are mightily entertained.

“Wrenegades” continues at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through June 19 at La Jolla Playhouse’s Shank Theatre $10 to $25. circle2dot2.com or (619) 356-3682.

Be here now again

Vantage Theatre, run by La Jollans Dori Salois and Robert Salerno, remounts Lynne Kaufman’s “Be Here Now, the Journey of Ram Dass” (starring Warren David Keith) for this year’s San Diego International Fringe Festival. They will also produce So Small a Thing (July 23-Aug. 2), written by their daughter, Dominique Salerno, a recent graduate of American Conservatory Theatre. Dominique will not be present; however, she has been cast in Caryl Churchill’s new play at the Strand Theatre, ACT’s new 275-seat theater. Information: vantagetheatre.com

Tony loves Jeanine

How 'bout them Tony Awards? Jeanine Tesori, whose musical “Violet” soon opens San Diego Rep’s 40th season, copped a statuette for Best Score for her new musical “Fun Home,” which also brought book writer Lisa Kron (familiar from the Playhouse in days gone by) Best Book. “Fun Home” also won Best Musical, Best Director, and Best Actor. Tesori also wrote “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

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