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‘Tartuffe’ at SCR, Plácido Domingo at SCFTA, Beckett’s ‘Happy Days’ at UCI

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Director Dominique Serrand and his sly, slippery ensemble are up to something in “Tartuffe” (through June 8 at South Coast Repertory), though their motives are not entirely clear at the outset. Nor is the decision to use David Ball’s contemporary adaptation of Molière’s dark satire, which largely veers away from the rhyming couplets and rapier wit of the familiar Richard Wilbur version.

Ball’s text is clever to be sure, even while Serrand’s striking and original staging emphasizes the visual over the verbal. The audacity of the cast—notably Steven Epp (Tartuffe), Suzanne Warmanen (Dorine) and Nathan Keepers (Laurent)—is breathtaking. Serrand’s scenic design and Corinne Carillo’s sound are no less bold.

The production may offend some patrons, but then the play did likewise when first produced in 1664. All told it’s a zesty interpretation of a classic audiences think they know well—but they’ll be in for some surprises. What better way to celebrate SCR’s 50th anniversary than with a fresh take on the play that launched the enterprise? Call 714-708-5555 or visit www.scr.org.
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Far more obscure is Jules Massenet's masterpiece “Thaïs,” which OC theatre and music lovers will have the opportunity to experience on May 27 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. It’s a special concert performance, not LA Opera’s fully staged version (which can be seen at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion May 25 & 29), but when a supernova like Plácido Domingo graces OC with his presence, it’s no time to quibble.

The opera, which premiered in Paris 120 years ago, is set during the Byzantine period. It’s about an exotic Egyptian courtesan, the titular Thaïs (to be sung by Nino Machaidze), and Athanaël (Domingo), a monk who vows to save her soul and risks losing his own in the process. The role of Thaïs served as a star vehicle for Leontyne Price, Beverly Sills, Renée Fleming and others; her Mirror Aria is a famed concert piece. Call 714-556–2787 or visit www.scfta.org.

Samuel Beckett’s offbeat and all-too-rarely staged “Happy Days,” not to be confused with a certain television sitcom, makes its way to UC Irvine’s Little Theatre June 2 in a production directed by Gabor Tompa. The award-winning director is a professor at UC San Diego, and artistic director of the Hungarian Theatre of Cluj, one of Romania’s top theatres.

More from Jordan:

Writing for I Love Lucy and Other Funny Stuff
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CLDTX98

Leslie Caron in ‘Six Dance Lessons’ in Laguna, comedy pioneer Hal Roach recalled http://www.examiner.com/article/leslie-caron-six-dance-lessons-laguna-co...

Daniel Beaty’s Robeson at the Taper, Ebony’s Robeson extends, ‘Godot’ doc on DVD http://www.examiner.com/article/daniel-beaty-s-robeson-at-the-taper-ebon...

Visit my Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jordan-R.- Young/e/B001K8E7NW
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