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Summer Splash

A Schedule Fit for a Skeptic

Charles Edward Pogue writes plays, films, and novels, including "The Ebony Ape," "Hound of the Baskervilles," "DOA," "The Fly," "Psycho III" and "Dragonheart" (both novel and film). His latest is the Universal release "Kull thr Conqueror," due in late summer.


In Elaine May's "A New Leaf," butler George Rose compliments his master, Walter Matthau, "Sir, you've been keeping alive traditions that were dead before you were born." That's me. I like my movies black-and-white, my music Porterish or pre-British-invasion rock, my authors dead. I cop to it. I'm refining old fogeyism to a high art. The hip, the trendy, the au courant hold no allure for me.

So when people ooze into puddles of anticipatory ecstasy over the barrage of impending summer entertainment, no enthusiastic shivers slide along my circumspect spine.

It only conjures up unappetizing images of paint-by-the-numbers, lobotomized carnival thrill rides masquerading as movies (Alas, I have one escaping this summer. . . . Honest, it didn't start out that way), concerts of bands I've never heard nor care to hear, hassling traffic and hordes of adolescents with too much time and money on their hands. . . . Naw, my summer entertainment is my butt in the hammock, reading one of my dead guys.

But truth be told, Southern California is vast and varied enough to get even my curmudgeonly carcass out of the hammock and on the town.

This summer's theater holds particular promise. Tom Stoppard is one of my gods. His "The Real Thing," a play about art and passion, puts the lie to those who claim he is only intellectually facile, but rarely moving. This powerfully emotional work is easily his best. And it's being done at the best theater around--San Diego's Old Globe.

All three stages at the Old Globe are marvelous and so I might catch a few other shows there. But being something of a theatrical archeologist who delights in obscure and infrequently done pieces, I'm intrigued by that valiant old chestnut on the schedule, "Springtime for Henry."

Also along the archeological trail, but closer to home, is the Matrix's revival of Priestly's rarely performed "Dangerous Corner." The Colony Theater is doing "Our Country's Good," a fascinating piece about convicts performing the first play in Australia in 1789, which I've wanted to see since I first read it years ago.

I had to drag my reluctant wife to see "Smokey Joe's Cafe" during it's pre-Broadway run here. She was bopping in her seat before it was over. It's worth a second look at the Wilshire Theatre. Stoller and Lieber are the Rodgers and Hammerstein of rock. Finally, on the local scene, it would be a grievous sin not to see Sir Ian McKellen--one of the greatest actors of our time--in "A Knight Out in Los Angeles" at LATC.

The La Jolla Playhouse can entice me back south with its "Importance of Being Earnest," one of the funniest plays ever written, and its "School for Wives" might be good for a few yuks. And how about a jaunt up north to scenic Solvang to see PCPA Theatrefest's "Comedy of Errors," a play I'd always hated until I did it twice in my erstwhile incarnation as an actor and saw what raucous fun it could be.

Museums are a lovely refuge from the summer blockbusters. I'd like to catch the exhibit of Greek and Roman antiquities at the Getty Museum--because I've been partial to those ancient cultures ever since I had to carve a Doric column (or was it Corinthian?) out of soap in grade school and because I've lived here for nearly 20 years and have yet to visit this admired icon. As a book collector, I'm sure I'll wallow in the UCLA/Hammer Museum's exhibit of illustrated children's books.

The first time I ever went to the Hollywood Bowl, I paid two bucks for a seat in the nosebleed section to hear (I couldn't really see him) Tony Bennett sing standards. Even though it's three bucks now, Bennett is still worth it when he sings there this summer. This place is a treasure! I've sat in the boxes, but it's best on the uncrowded back forty with a picnic dinner and a bottle of bubbly, just letting the music waft up to you on the lovely night air. I've also earmarked Marvin Hamlisch and Nathan Lane, John Mauceri conducting the Korngold Concerto, and the Ella Fitzgerald Tribute. . . .

Also earmarked: songbird Bernadette Peters at the Universal Amphitheatre (her "You'll Never Know" breaks my heart), the Ventures at the House of Blues, the Houston Ballet doing "Dracula" (swirling cloaks, swooning maidens, fog . . . perfect for a ballet), the Royal Ballet doing Ravel, the . . . . Hey, this is suddenly a pretty busy summer. Good thing the weather stays great through September. That hammock and those dead guys may have to wait till then. . . .


For details on Charles Edward Pogue's summer itinerary, please see Page 16.

Scripted for Fun

Here is the information on the events in the threee screenwriters' summer itineraries on Pages 3 to 5:


"The Real Thing," Old Globe Theatre, through June 15. "Othello," Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, July 5-Aug. 9. "Springtime for Harry," Cassius Carter Centre Stage, July 12-Aug. 16. At the Simon Edison Centre for the Performing Arts, Balboa Park, San Diego, (619) 239-2255.

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