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Theatre Magic Moments from 2022

By Cassiopeia Guthrie, Dec. 27, 2022

Every show is special from one perspective or another. Some are sweet and lighthearted, leaving us feeling happier for having experienced them. Some use their stage as a platform for important social commentary. Some have technical components that we geek out over. But there's just something about that moment of buzzing energy when theatre magic hits just right. In honor of that buzz, rather than recapping the year's phenomenal productions (of which there were many) in their entirety as we close out 2022, I thought I'd shine a light on the handful of magical moments that most stand out in my memory from the year... ones that I'd love to experience again:

Fruit Foley - Here There Are Blueberries, La Jolla Playhouse

Cast of Here There Are Blueberries onstage.
Elizabeth Stahlmann and Charlie Thurston in La Jolla Playhouse and Tectonic Theater Project’s world-premiere production of Here There Are Blueberries; photo by Rich Soublet II.

La Jolla Playhouse's staging of this co-production with New York’s Tectonic Theater Project, developed by Moisés Kaufman and Amanda Gronich, was expertly executed throughout, but I found myself surprised and enraptured by the Foley work, paired with Bobby McElver’s sound design and stunning directional lighting by David Lander. One moment in particular continues to live in my memory: that of metal spoons clinking and scraping the insides of china bowls. After all, blueberries, an innocuous sweet treat, carry a darker nature when being enjoyed by SS officers and staff at Solahütte as a celebration of murders happening down the hill. Read the full review.

Jetset Romance - Come Fall in Love: The DDLJ Musical, The Old Globe

Cast of Come Fall in Love on stage.
The cast of Come Fall in Love – The DDLJ Musical, 2022. Photo by Jim Cox.

Come Fall in Love: The DDLJ Musical's musical adaptation, with book and lyrics by Nell Benjamin and music by Vishal Dadlani and Sheykhar Ravjiani and directed by Aditya Chopra, turned heads at the Old Globe Theatre. With stunning costumes, choreography, and vocal performances throughout, I was rooting wholeheartedly for Simran (Shoba Narayan) and Rog's (Austin Colby) relationship to succeed... especially following the titular number "Come Fall in Love." This song, which captures the entire month-long Europe trip in just a few moments, featured beautiful partner work embedded in the choreography and was seemingly effortlessly executed. As the duo (and ensemble) danced on and off of trains, through bistros and cafes, and amongst the landmarks of Europe, I watched their chemistry grow and was more and more charmed by the magic of stage romance. Read the full review.

Swing on, Grizabella - Cats, Broadway San Diego

Cast of Cats on stage.
The company of the 2021-2022 national tour of CATS. Photo credit: Matthew Murphy, Murphymade.

When actress Tayler Harris wrapped her first act preview of "Memory" in the touring production of Andrew Lloyd Weber's Cats, there was no indication that anything was wrong... and yet, as we returned from intermission, an announcement was made: in Act II, the role of Grizabella would be played by swing Rachael Haber. Not only was this mid-show debut a surprise to everyone in the house (the stirring of the audience was palpable!), but it was an absolute victory for the performer as well as she delivered a rich and resonant performance of "Memory," earned a prolonged applause from the captivated audience (and even some audience members on their feet!), and took an extra well-deserved bow following the production. Read the full review.

Hoofing and Huffing - Hadestown, Broadway San Diego

Cast of Hadestown appears on stage.
Morgan Siobhan Green and cast in the Hadestown North American Tour. Photo by T Charles Erickson.

There's a lot of well-deserved hype surrounding Grammy and Tony award-winning musical Hadestown, written by Anaïs Mitchell and directed by Rachel Chavkin. And, while there were beautiful performances by Chibueze Ihuoma as Orpheus and Eddie Noel Rodríguez as Hermes (both of whom were understudies) framed in brilliant technical elements, the magic that I was most tickled by actually resides in the band. Y'all, if you haven't seen a trombone/glockenspiel player jive before, watching Audrey Ochoa is an absolute treat - she not only wails on her instruments, but kills it as a dancer as well and it is something to celebrate! Read the full review.

Fox in the Field - Witnesses, CCAE Theatricals

Cast of Witnesses appears onstage.
Front: The company of Witnesses. (Photos Courtesy of Ken Jacques)

The collaborative musical Witnesses, conceived by Jordan Beck with book by Robert L. Freedman, music by Carmel Dean, Matt Gould, Adam Gwon, Anna K. Jacobs, and Gerald Sternbach, and lyrics by Jordan Beck, Mindi Dickstein, Matt Gould, Adam Gwon, and Anna K. Jacobs, opened in a breathtaking world premiere this year. And, while the premise and the music surely take center stage, I was surprised by the elegant use of the turntable and choreographic tableau in "Fox in the Field" starring Giovanny Diaz De Leon as Dawid, among other songs. The actors wove their way amongst fellow performers, over blockages and under fences, we watched as rice spilled from a torn bag... there is quite a bit of turntable use on the circuit these days, but this iteration was - somehow - especially powerful and visually stunning. Read the full review.


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