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Filmmakers come to San Diego to receive awards

Three prominent filmmakers — Louie Psihoyos, Charles Hambleton and Alan Edward Bell — journeyed to San Diego last week to receive awards from the San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS).

Psihoyos made his Oscar-winning debut into filmmaking last year with the documentary “The Cove.” Hambleton, the assistant director of the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS) served as assistant director on the documentary. In addition to winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary, the film won more than 20 other top industry awards.

It was at a marine mammal conference in San Diego with 2,000 of the worlds top marine mammal scientists, that Psihoyos met Ric O’Barry, a former dolphin trainer and learned about O’Barry’s passion to save the dolphins. Eventually O’Barry and Psihoyos, a former National Geographic photographer and director of the Oceanic Preservation Society, took a film crew to Taijii, Japan where massive numbers of dolphins are slaughtered annually for their meat.

‘The Whipping Man’ explores war

Playwright Matthew Lopez brings a heartfelt and unique story set in Virginia only a few days after the Civil War to the stage of The Globe’s Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre.

The West Coast premiere of “The Whipping Man” takes a peek into a significant time in American history, but the play is a character-based story about a Jewish Confederate soldier and former slave owner who comes home to find his slaves about to have a Passover Seder.

“I was interested in telling an American story about how life returns to normal after a calamity,” Lopez said. “The biggest calamity we’ve had that seemed dramatically ripe was the Civil War and Emancipation. We sort of had a dual calamity there — war and slavery

REVIEW: Insightful view of Israeli history from ‘Golda’s Balcony’

A theatrical production blending history and storytelling can be an exciting and enjoyable evening. That’s the premise of “Golda’s Balcony,” a one-woman show starring four-time Tony Award nominee Tovah Feldshuh as Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of Israel. Written by William Gibson and supervised by Scott Schwartz, the play is packed with moments, ideas and stories of Meir’s life.

“Golda’s Balcony” is the longest-running one-woman show in Broadway history, and Feldshuh, an associate artist of The Old Globe, has been hailed for her tour-de-force performance that has garnered many awards, including four Tony Award nominations for Best Actress, four Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Obie, the Theatre World Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Actress for her work on the New York stage. She also has an impressive resume in film and TV performances.

Feldshuh modestly credits the success of “Golda’s Balcony” to the material.

1881 themes resonate in North Coast Rep’s ‘Ghosts’

Most people who hear the title “Ghosts” in reference to a script think about the 1990 movie “Ghost” starring the late Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg. The play, written in 1881 by Henrik Ibsen and adapted for the North Coast Repertory Theatre by Anne-Charlotte Harvey, is nothing like that movie, but has enough punch and captivating delivery by its cast to be engrossing.

The comfy stage setting of widow Helene Alving’s (Rosina Reynolds) seaport home reveals little of the intrigue that will soon take place there. As Pastor Manders (John Herzog) arrives, his conversation with Helene discloses there is to be a grand opening of an orphanage the next day that she is dedicating to her late husband.

But things turn topsy-turvy when Helene’s prodigal son Osvald (Richard Baird) returns home. Helene is so overjoyed to have him back that she misses the look of allure in his eyes when he sees housemaid Regine Engstrand (Aimee Burdette).

Classic movie mania — what a thrill it is!

Attending a film festival usually results in the same occurrences — too many films to see in one day, meeting directors who offer insight into their films, and great parties. One usually returns home exhausted and unable to recall much about the festival. That’s not the case with Robert Osborne’s Classic Film Festival.

I just returned from the festival as an invited panelist for the fourth year. I enjoy this festival so much that I bravely boarded a plane for Athens, Ga., only five weeks after total knee placement. This is the sixth year for the festival, and nearly every seat in the beautiful 900-seat Classic Center was filled for the four films each day.

I think what makes this festival so successful is its specific genre. Classic movie fans love these films, which include everything from silents to melodramas and comedies.

Local actress back for ‘Sweeney Todd’

Many children take singing, dancing and acting lessons with the hope of making it big. Few see that dream come true. Del Mar’s Ashley Fox Linton had her eye on the prize at age 3 and never looked back. Hard work, determination, talent and probably a small dose of good fortune has placed Linton on Broadway stages and filling roles in numerous productions around the country.

She is currently starring in Cygnet Theatre’s “Sweeney Todd” in Old Town.

Linton attended Santa Fe Christian School. She appeared in the Old Globe’s “Grinch” production and spent 10 years singing, dancing and acting in San Diego Junior Theatre. Although she thought about a journalism career, acting remained constant in her life with performances at SDSU, The Theatre in Old Town, San Diego Opera, The Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse.

REVIEW: Cygnet’s ‘Sweeney Todd’ is powerful, mesmerizing

Christopher Bond’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” has been on theatrical stages since 1973. The story gained notable recognition when the 2007 film won the Oscar for Best Achievement in Art Direction and was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Achievement in Costume Design and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role for Johnny Depp. With music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by Hugh Wheeler, the Broadway play won several Tony Awards in 1979.

Cygnet Theatre Company’s production of “Sweeney Todd” is astounding. Taking on a story of this dark caliber and suggestive gruesomeness could have ended up a mess, but co-directors Sean Murray and James Vasquez have immersed the show with an exceptionally talented cast and a beautiful musical score that accentuates the cast’s talented voices.

Sex scandals, double standards drive themes in ‘Ghosts’

Staging a theatrical production is an arduous task that involves hard work by the director, design team and actors. When a play is adapted or translated — the case in North Coast Repertory Theatre’s new play, “Ghosts” — that’s another step in the process that can take months or years to complete.

Anne-Charlotte Harvey, born and educated in Sweden, is a translator/dramaturg who specializes in Ibsen and Strindberg plays and who served as the translator for “Ghosts.” The play was written in 1881 by Henrik Ibsen, considered the father of modern drama. Ibsen wrote “Ghosts” as a scathing commentary on 19th century morality.

“One of the issues it tackles is the double standard between men and women,” Harvey said. “Men at those times were allowed to play around and get wild, while a woman could not even drink too much. There are also issues about opposite sexes living together, maybe just for financial reasons, without being married.”

Classic romantic comedies fuel Alive and Well

“The smart and quick dialogue of those films is fun and a real influence on my play,” said playwright Kenny Finkle.

Essence of an artist in one-man show

Herbert Siguenza is no stranger to the entertainment world. An original member of the Latino performance troupe Culture Clash, Siguenza’s work as a writer, performer and producer is well known. Ready to exhibit his consummate skills as a writer, actor and visual artist, Siguenza will perform his one-man show “A Weekend With Pablo Picasso” at the San Diego Repertory Theatre beginning March 21.

Keeping in mind Pablo Picasso’s own statement, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” Siguenza tackles the role of this legendary artist as he actually paints on stage. Time becomes a race against muse as Picasso works from his private studio with a deadline to deliver six new works of art to a buyer on Monday morning.

Siguenza was just a young boy when he received a photo album of Pablo Picasso at work in his studio. So inspired by what he saw, Siguenza told his mother, “When I grow old, I want to live like this man.” In his one-man show Siguenza unfolds that dream as he strives to reveal Picasso’s proclamations about things such as children, war, ambition, God, love, hate, beauty, friendship, patriotism, eternity and art as an agent of social change.

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