Mini Reviews – Les Mis, Making God Laugh, Animals Out Of Paper

Time is short this week, but I saw a number of shows that are really worth mentioning for those looking for something to do in the next week or two…nothing in depth here, but a quick bite on what to expect going into these shows…

Making God Laugh – Tabard Theatre Company (San Jose)

While the title might suggest more of a comedy, there are some very poignant and personally difficult themes in this play. That being said, the more serious elements are not reasons to avoid this play by any means. On the contrary, the merits of the performances, authenticity of the script and the universal family humor that drives this piece are entertaining and worth the trip. Tabard takes us on a moving journey over several decades and it’s surprisingly relatable and extremely nostalgic, reaching a diverse intergenerational audience. Embrace the laughter and the sighs of this show equally and go in expecting to be charmed and touched. 4 lovely jewels in the review tiara for a balanced exploration of family ups and downs, love and acceptance. It plays just through this weekend, October 13th, with a 3pm Saturday Matinee that will time perfectly with the San Pedro Square’ Market’s Oktoberfest AND the Sharks Game. Make it a San Jose Day!

Animals Out of Paper – City Lights Theatre Company (San Jose)

This was one of the shows I was most looking forward to in my  “Fall Review” and the content of the play and the production did not disappoint. This is not a tidy, neat play with regard to its plot (outbursts, social awkwardness and hot messes, oh my), but it’s really well crafted and layered. There’s good conversation to be had after watching this because while the subtext isn’t buried, the play is very raw and in the moment and lets US explore the metaphors and themes instead of spelling everything out. It’s rich and has a lovely message of art celebrating art celebrating more art in many forms and makes a beautiful (and I feel very valid and cathartic) connection between coping with the emotions of life and creativity. 3 actors carry this play and they are infectious, adorable, annoying, pitiful, empathetic…real. This was a play that was indeed well-chosen for City Lights, well cast, well-directed, well performed and well executed technically. Freaking amazing sound design, a scene change that got applauded and noble attempts at complex origami (NOT EASY) enhanced this intimate production immensely. A strong 4 1/2 jewels in the review tiara for a clean, thoughtful piece with poetry throughout. It plays through October 20th.

Les Miserable – South Bay Musical Theatre (Saratoga)

This show was sold out before they even opened and I had so many mixed feelings about going into this show. Would it work with stage/budget limitations? Could the talent be found to pull it off especially with another production of the show going on at Stage 1 in Newark at the same time? Would the pit in the front row be too much for the space? The show is iconic and everyone who has seen a professional version of this show is going to have their deal-breakers going in, but I tried to ignore that last Saturday. While I wasn’t 100% on board with all the character interpretations, choreography or lighting, the show sounded excellent. A really admirable job of an intense, ambitious show. The orchestra was ON and the vocals (soloists and ensemble harmonies) were very pleasing. If you already have your ticket and have yet to go you’re in for a treat. If you are missing it, it kind of sucks to be you. Good thing there are two more shows that promise to push the expectation envelope left in SBMT’s season. Les Mis gets 4 jewels in the review tiara for a really tremendous undertaking with a satisfying result, it plays through October 19th in case you get offered a ticket from someone who can’t use theirs.

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