Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Broadway Bound BOB FOSSE'S DANCIN' Dazzles at San Diego's Old Globe

Hold on to your hats. There are stars just waiting to explode into supernovas when BOB FOSSE'S DANCIN' opens in New York during the 2022-2023, as director and musical stager Wayne Cilento (who won the Tony Award for his star turn in the original production of DANCIN') brings his revived and re-imagined production back to New York.

Bob Fosse was the ultimate "Dancin' Man" who left a brilliant legacy of stage musicals and films featuring edgy, slithering, sexy choreography. Some of his signature moves are now part of the common lexicon; does anyone not know what "jazz hands" are?

Always controversial, wildly entertaining and envelope-pusher par excellence, Fosse is a Broadway legend with a devoted following of hard core theatre aficionados, comparable to the brilliant Stephen Sondheim.

Even if you have never seen a Fosse show (and you probably have if you ever saw "Pajama Game," "Damn Yankees," "Sweet Charity," or "Chicago"), you will have your mind blown by the amazing talented cast of young dancers, singers, and actors gracing the stage at San Diego's renowned Old Globe Theatre.

A witty Prologue at the top of the show (deftly delivered by Manuel Herrera) explains that this show has no plot, no boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl stories. It's just pure dancing as an expression of all the conditions of life through movement. And the cast delivers it in all its thrilling highs and lows.

The opening number set to Neil Diamond's "Crunchy Granola Suite" explodes with sound, color and movement that brought vociferous cheers from the audience.

Seamless set moves and split-second costume changes help the production flow smoothly, allowing Cilento's narrative to uplift and cool down the viewer.

There are so many fantastic performers in this show and hats off to the production for including dancers of every shape, size and appearance who strut their stuff with joy.

From the panther-like dances of 6'5" tall Jovan Dansberry to the lissome ballet moves of Ida Saki, the taut sexuality of Kolton Krouse to the luscious curves of Karli Dinardo, the petite spitfire that is Yani Marin and the soul-shaking singing of Khori Michelle Petinaud, every member of this cast is superb.

The true heros of this production must include the dressers who have nano-seconds to assist dancers change costumes in about 60 seconds for over a dozen scenes. Costumer Designers Harriet Jung and Reid Bartelme have assembled pieces that shimmer, shake, cling, float and enhance each performer.

Some of the original numbers in the 1978 production seemed dated and not as relevant to today's audiences, so Cilento (with the blessing of Nicole Fosse and input from frequent Fosse collaborator Kirsten Childs) decided to present what he thought Fosse would be doing if he were around today, keeping all his edgy wit and sense of humor. It appears he has admirably succeeded.

There are many people behind the scenes bringing a level of excellence to this production who need to be mentioned. The amazing orchestra, under the direction of conductor and keyboardist Darryl Archibald, hits every note to perfection. The driving drumming of Gary Seligson pushes the glorious "Sing Sing Sing" to new heights and the jazz licks of musicians Greg Armstrong, Robert Elinson, Steve Dillard, Andrew Elstob, Devin Burnworth, Erica Erenyi, Nikko Nobleza, Vince Cooper, Mark Vanderpoel and Tim McMahon are the solid foundation on which this show rests. 

Robert Brill's lean and mean scaffold set rolls in a series of smooth moves, switching levels and creating new spaces within David Grill's superb lighting design. Peter Hylenski's sound design and Finn Ross's video design complete the vision of the creator.

This week the Globe announced that, due to an unprecedented surge in sales, the show has been extended to June 5. This is great news if you haven't already ordered tickets; so take your fine selves down to the Globe's Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage and experience what will no doubt be the (jazz)hands down hit of Broadway's 2022-23 season.

-- Lisa Lyons

Tuesday, April 19, 2022


Dennis Gersten, Janellen Steininger, Marta Portillo and
Andrew Joseph Perez star in CVREP's "Native Gardens"

As the early scenes of playwright Karen Zacarias’ 2019 comedy play-with-a-bite unfolds, one would think ‘I’ve seen this play /story before’.  But, you would be incorrect.  More precisely, we’ve all seen productions of the subject matter in “Native Gardens”, however, playwright Zacarias brings a new and fresh authenticity to her story solidly and deftly directed with sensitivity by Michael Mathews.

Latina/American born in Mexico, Zacharias bases her “Native Gardens” comedy on her book of the same name, becoming the most produced playwright in America over the last four years.   Her plays include The Copper Children, Destiny of Desire, The Book Club, and Legacy of Light, among many others

We’re now producing plays and movies in the 21st century that appeal to a different age demographic. Today’s entertainment productions are not the choices that your grandfather, nor your father made 50 years ago.  Everything on planet earth is constantly evolving from climate change to the way we speak, look and relate to our various communities in 2022.  

America today is a melting polyglot numbering 338 million souls who call America home.  We need to get on board the ‘future’ train or we’ll be left at the station wondering where the country and our society went. The realities of today’s world may sound a little scary but as the young people of today say, “It is what it is. Get over it.”  Harsh words?  Yes; but much wisdom lies between the lines of Zacarias’ clever and intriguing dialogue spoken by this talented four-member cast and the four-member on-stage ensemble. 

The 2022 Oscar Awards telecast visually validated that we are many individuals with creative skills and intelligence (except for the ‘slap’ seen around the world) that contribute to every aspect of American life.  We may not all look alike but we are all unified in its spirit.

The comedy, set in an upscale neighborhood in present Washington D.C., revolves around young new neighbors Tania and Pablo (wonderfully played by Marta Portillo and Andrew Joseph Perez, respectively) who live next door to Frank and Virginia (Dennis Gersten and Janellen Steininger) an established older couple who cherish their prize-worthy English Garden, among other memories. 

Pablo is a rising star attorney at a posh D.C. law firm and Tania is his very pregnant doctoral candidate wife.  We all know how young competitive lawyers are when it comes to being at the top of their profession.  We also recognize, how difficult and important it is for ‘seniors’ to embrace change as they get older.  How the characters resolve the situation that each finds itself in is the beauty of “Native Gardens”.  We could all learn its important messages once one gets past the obvious obstacles.

Tania is set on redoing the garden that existed when they bought the property. She wants to plant sparse native plants.  There is nothing wrong with her plan except that it flies in the face of Frank’s lush English Garden that he enters yearly in the Best Neighborhood Garden competition.  Competition may be great for business, but it can turn friendly neighbors into enemies when personal lifestyles clash.

Seeing problems from another’s point of view is the essence of compromise. It isn’t easy to walk in other people's shoes when one is not used to the path less traveled. That is at the heart of playwright Karen Zacharias’ thoughtful and reflective comedy play.

It’s the splendid cast that makes this production such an entertaining evening in the theatre. Dennis Gersten as Frank delivers a fully realized performance as a resistant to change senior.  I remember his two memorable performances in past CVREP’s productions of “The Chosen” and “How I Learned to Drive”, both powerful and entertaining.

His co-star Janellen Steininger may be new to me but her portrayal of Virginia, a senior who displays a softer yet stubborn side, delivers a nicely nuanced characterization. Experience and talent, like cream, always rise to the top. 

Marta Portillo as Tania, makes her ‘uncomfortable’ points in negotiation mode which comes across as a highly intelligent and savvy young Latina who knows how to gently but firmly resolve the escalating thorny issues (no pun intended) between Frank, Virginia, Tania and Pablo. The end result produces a winning portrayal.

Right from the instant Andrew Joseph Perez as Pablo, breezily and confidently comes on stage, the audience knows they’re in for a treat.  His energy and his stage presence signals the comedy’s message of this is going to be a fun evening.  Just go with the flow as the story unfolds.  You won’t be disappointed.

In the technical department led by director Mathews, the first thing the audience will see as they enter is the absolutely stunning set design created by Emmy-winning resident designer Jimmy Cuomo.  It’s one of the best designs he’s created at CVREP over the years.  

The ensemble actors Ariana Carrillo, Allan Looney-Escobar, Raven Cheikhi-Murphy and Alex Hernandez work their scene changes as well as performing on-stage as the gardening construction team.  

Lighting Director Moira Wilke Whitaker who doubles as the Technical Director, along with award-winning  Hair and Makeup artist Lynda Shaeps, plus Tony nominated Sound Designer Cricket Myers and Prop Manager Louise Ross, complete the creative team.  Gabrielle Bruno stage manages the production.

Postscript:  This marks the final production of CVREP under the outstanding 13-year stewardship of founding Artistic Director Ron Celona.  It appears that the siren call of the rocking chair of retirement was too strong to resist.  Well Done and Bon Voyage!!  He will be missed.

Performances of “Native Gardens” will be available to enjoy from April 16th to April 24th, 2022.  Call the Box Office for reservations and ticket information at 760-296-2966. The production is performed without an Intermission and runs about 90 minutes.

And, remember … a great nation deserves great art.  Support all the arts.

-- Jack Lyons

Sunday, April 3, 2022


Michael Pacas (L) stars as Cyrano in Palm Canyon Theatre's
production of "Cyrano de Bergerac". All photos by Paul Hayashi.

It's springtime in Palm Springs, CA and love is in the air, especially on stage at the Palm Canyon Theatre where bravado and bragging go hand in hand in 17th-century French playwright Edmond Rostand’s famous classical romantic comedy/tragedy of unrequited love “Cyrano de Bergerac”.

The rousing production directed by PCT founder Dr. William Layne, Ph.D., is an homage to one his favorite plays on the subject of unconditional love.  Rostand specifically wrote the play for an actor friend who needed a winning play to boost his sagging career. Well, he certainly provided that, as well as penning a romantic dramedy that audiences around the world have come to embrace and enjoy for 125 years.

The Palm Canyon Theatre (PCT) usually does about four or five musical productions in their season.  The pandemic has been punishing all live theatre productions for over two years, however most of our Valley and Hi-Desert theatres are pushing the envelope and will mount productions whenever possible for the rest of 2022.

Director Layne has cast 22 performers to tell the achingly poignant story of Cyrano and Roxane. There are a couple metaphors on the foibles and folly of the human condition that run throughout that could easily recall a memory or two bringing misty eyes to those in the audience who can still relate. Yes, it’s somewhat of a tragedy masquerading as a comedy in dead earnest. Love is like that sometimes.

Cyrano de Bergerac (played with flair and style by the commanding presence of Michael Pacas) is a brash, strong-willed man of many talents. In addition to being a remarkable, loyal and feared duelist, he’s also a gifted, joyful poet and musical artist. However, he also is the owner of an obnoxiously large nose which causes him to doubt himself. 

Katrina Dixon as Roxane

This doubt prevents him from expressing his love for his distant cousin, the beautiful and intellectual Roxane (wonderfully and convincingly portrayed by Katrina Dixon). Cyrano believes that his ugliness would prove to be a detriment to any romantic entanglements with women.  But we’ve seen what can happen when kindness and empathy in the world of romance via ‘Hollywood’ is introduced to audiences.

Just remember that actor Ernest Borgnine portrayed plain looking, stocky Marty Piletti, a New York butcher, in the 1955 film “Marty” that went on to win him a Best Actor Oscar along with the Best Picture Oscar.  Never underestimate the power of love, which is not to be taken lightly, whether in fiction or real life.

Solid support comes from Cameron Keys as Christian de Neuvillette, who falls hopelessly in love with Roxane but lacks the ability to express himself romantically and begs Cyrano to help him win Roxane’s love; William Stetz as the Count de Guiche, the Nobleman suitor of Roxane whose constant proposals of marriage are constantly being rebuffed by Roxane; Ragueneau, the Baker and the closest friend and confidante of Cyrano, is delightfully played Stan Jenson. Linda Cooke as The Duenna shines in a little gem of a comedy role which she has been doing at PCT for the last ten years. Terry Huber as Le Bret and Matt Whitaker as Viscount de Valvert lend additional support as do a group of costumed nuns who become the stagehands in the changing of the set pieces, a clever directorial touch.

In the technical department led by director William Layne, the Resident Costume Designer Derik Shopinski has created some of his best looking costumes with this production which says a lot about his creative gifts as a designer  He’s a multiple Desert Theatre League (DTL) award-winning Costume Designer who deserves his many awards.  

Set Designers J.W. Layne and Kay Van Zandt deliver a functional performing space which they also arranged as the lighting directors for this show.  Sound design is by Nick Campbell, with projection designs and props by Nick Edwards and Marsha Berry complete the creative team. Resident photographer Paul Hayashi produced all the publicity photos for the production. 

All theatrical productions no matter where they are produced or performed require dedication and commitment on the part of the theatrical company to insure that every production is ready to entertain on opening night.  The only way to make that a reality is through the rehearsal process. 

Rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals!  It’s the only way to cure opening night ‘jitters’ and build confidence in the actors' performances.  If it ‘ain’t ready’, postpone it whenever possible.  Your loyal audiences will thank you in the long run.  Alas, it’s a pity that all this talent, blood, sweat, and tears was scheduled to perform for only four days. 

PCT’s upcoming production of the wacky musical of “Spamalot”, however, will perform for 10 days beginning April 22nd through May 1st.  For tickets and reservations contact the Box Office at 760 – 323 – 5123 or go online at: 

Remember, a great nation deserves great art… support all the arts!

-- Jack Lyons

Friday, April 1, 2022


When it comes to the subject of sex, with its ups and downs among 2022’s younger set, award-winning playwright Rajiv Joseph’s prescient 2006 play “All This Intimacy” is a funny but sobering commentary on the sexual mores and raging hormones of 21st century American society.

Desert Ensemble Theatre (DET) of Palm Springs concludes its highly successful 11th season despite the crushing two-year body blow that the worldwide pandemic delivered to Arts communities across the country.   However, it’s now springtime in the desert.  It’s time to leave the last two years as a bad memory to leave in the past.

Artistic Director Jerome Elliott and Executive Director Shawn Abramowitz picked up where they left off two years earlier bringing cutting-edge dramas and bold comedies to their audiences in Theatre #3 of the Palm Springs Cultural Center.

Keith M. Cornell, seasoned Chicago stage director of some 30 years of experience – now living in Palm Springs - has smartly and skillfully staged this comedy along with crisp direction that helps cleverly mitigate a boatload of expletives.  Sometimes less is better when seeking an impact. 

“All This Intimacy” delves into the current social and sexual mores through the performances skills of its talented cast of six actors.  If you thought that “Tom Jones”, the movie with Albert Finney, was a bit racy or Michael Caine’s “Alfie” was a reflection of London’s over-sexed, swinging ‘60s, then Rajiv Joseph’s edgy comedy romp set in Brooklyn and Manhattan is a must-see for you.

The story revolves the around the hedonistic adventures of high school poetry professor Ty Green, a self-proclaimed Don Juan type who can’t resist his urge to bed every female he meets. Things get really sticky when Green accidentally impregnates three women - his ex-girlfriend Jen (Kudra Wagner), his married neighbor Maureen (Phylicia Mason), and his high school poetry student Becca (Eliza Convis) - all in a span of one week.

A special note at this point. DET Artistic Director Jerome Elliott made an announcement prior to the Opening Night that the role of Ty Green played by Sean Timothy Brown would be performed tonight by DET Executive Director Shawn Abramowitz due to Mr. Brown’s severe case of the flu, adding that Mr. Abramowitz would be carrying a copy of the script on stage. The audience sat back to await the happenings that would be unfolding in front of them over the next two hours.

The aforementioned talented cast includes Raul Ramiro Valenzuela as Seth, Ty’s frenetic best friend who wants Ty as his best man despite the objections of his bride-to-be Franny (J. Clare Merritt). 

The three mothers-to-be, Kudra Wagner, Phylicia Mason and Eliza Convis, shine in their individual responses to their relationship with bad boy Ty. Their scenes are juicy, witty, appalling and hilarious all at the same time. Kudos, ladies. 

The creative, technical department, led by director Cornell, features the clean lines and visual set production values of master set designer Thomas L. Valach, ably assisted by lighting designer Kevin O’Shaughnessy, and sound designer Gus Sanchez. The production is stage managed by Sierra Barrick.

There is a short window to see this provocative comedy production so make your reservations now as the show will only perform on Friday, April 1st through Sunday, April 3rd. Call the box office at 760-565-2476 or visit their website at

Remember, a great nation deserves great art… support all the arts!

-- Jack Lyons

Monday, March 7, 2022


L-R: Julie Garnye, Jeffrey Landman, Janna Cardia 
and Michael Bullard in CLOSER THAN EVER

Shakespeare said it best in his play Romeo and Juliet - “Parting is such sweet sorrow!”   “Closer Than Ever”, the winning musical revue production now on the CVREP stage with music by David Shire and Lyrics by Richard Maltby, Jr., is the logical, perfect-fit production for founding Artistic Director Ron Celona to surrender his theatrical director’s hat and enjoy his retirement. 

Celona has been a highly successful theatrical force in the Coachella Valley for over twenty-five years. It was his ambition to create an Equity regional theatre company in the Coachella Valley as a way of bringing professional writers, actors, directors and technicians to our Valley residents. 

Broadway is 3000 miles away in NYC; Palm Springs is 110 miles from LA.  Do the travel math and the money. The Valley is now sitting on a gold mine of talent, creative professional and regional performers both homegrown and imported. Celona’s dream is now a reality, so support all local live theatres in the Valley.

This musical revue, of love lost and love found, vividly comes to life thanks to four highly skilled singer-actors who know their way when it comes to singing two, three, and four-part harmony. Fans of Stephen Sondheim’s music written in the minor key with lyrics that sound like dialogue will feel right at home with “Closer Than Ever” which is smartly and crisply directed by Ron Celona.

David Shire's music and Richard Maltby, Jr.'s lyrics are spot-on for today’s theatergoers. The music may not be as melodious as the traditional Broadway sounds and cadence of years ago, but the lyrics nicely capture the aching poignancy and sophistication of a musical revue written 33 years ago that still touches on and reflects the foibles of today’s human condition.  Actually, we humans abhor change; we are very comfortable in our various ruts.  However, the power of love is the only potent force that endorses and embraces human change.

The four talented professional performers who breathe life into this winning production are Julie Garnye, Jeffrey Landman, Janna Cardia, and Michael Bullard. Together, and in duets or solos, the cast is like the proverbial ‘pizza man’ - they also deliver…but just the performing goods.

There are 24 musical numbers in this show that brilliantly touch the full range of human emotions.  It’s practically impossible to resist the nostalgic pull of this production and its wonderful cast who all shine in their various numbers. 

Especially relevant, poignant and at the same time comedic are some of the musical numbers: “You Want to Be My Friend”, sung by Julie Garnye and Jeffrey Landman; “Pattern”, sung by Janna Cardia; “Life Story” also by Cardia; “I’ll Get Up Tomorrow Morning” by Jeffrey Landman; “One of the Good Guys”, sweetly sung by tenor Michael Bullard; also his duet with Mr. Landman and their plaintive wails in a number called “Fathers of Fathers” hit the marks -  the men of the world.  

Julie Garnye and Janna Cardia deliver the wisdom of love’s adventure between men and women in “It’s Never That Easy/ I’ve Been Here Before”. The full cast numbers have the four-part harmony songs neatly paced along with sharp timing and the ‘acting stuff’ down pat.  They make for a must-see evening of life’s ups and downs as a winning experience.  I also suspect the ladies in the audience will embrace the musical’s relevancy a tad differently than the men. But always remember it takes two to tango in life’s journey

The creative technical department led by Director Ron Celona, features the depth and talent of Music Director Scott Storr, who had to turn over his piano accompaniment and conducting chores on opening night to David Andrews Rogers, who graciously stepped in for Mr. Storr. But not to worry, Mr. Storr will be back in his director chair soon.

CVREP’s Emmy-winning design wizard Jimmy Cuomo creates a functional set that is awash in a sea of sparkling neon colors and doors that really matter in this enjoyable production.  Lighting Designer Moira Wilke Whitaker cleverly paints the stage with just the right amount light to compliment the performers when called for.  

Costume Designer Frank Cazares gets high marks for his costume designs. His sleek black evening dress worn by Ms. Cardia is simple yet elegant and eye-catching.

Hair designs and makeup by Lynda Shaeps have been winning awards for years. Sound Engineers Karlene “kiKi“ Roller and Joshua Adams complete the creative team. Paul James Tenaglia stage-manages the show.


My sources have informed me that the new Artistic Director at CVREP will be announced within a fortnight.          

“Closer than Ever” is a splendid production not to be missed. For tickets and reservations, call CVREP at 760-296-2966, ext. 114

Remember… a great nation deserves great art.  Support all the arts!

-- Jack Lyons

Sunday, March 6, 2022


Cortez Johnson and Shante DeLoach in Dezart Performs
Production of "The Mountaintop"

It’s been two years that audiences have been denied the pleasure of sitting in live theatre venues. However, the thrill and the excitement of attending an opening night performance never goes away; the experience is too seductive. The good news is that Coachella Valley theatre companies are venturing out and reaching out to entertain their loyal audiences once again.

Case in point is Dezart Performs of Palm Springs and their current production of “The Mountaintop”, written by award-winning playwright Katori Hall, which presents her riveting reimagining of the last night on earth of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The play, directed by Artistic Director, Michael Shaw, is set in Memphis, Tennessee at the Lorraine Motel, in Room 306 amidst a late night thunderstorm.  Dr. King (nicely played by Cortez Johnson) is going over his notes for his soon to be famous “I Have a Dream” speech the next day. He is tired and worn out from the rigors of being the country’s civil rights leader.  He calls the front desk to ask about some food only to be told the kitchen is closed for the night. A minute later a knock at his motel room door reveals Camae, a maid (sassily portrayed by Shante Deloach) with a tray of food and coffee ready to serve him.

“The Mountaintop” is play where the audience needs to pay close attention to the story to fully appreciate its many metaphors running throughout this provocative, 90-minute, no intermission production. There are just two talented actors who flesh out Ms. Hall’s quasi-spiritual points of view that are both earthly and a tad salty at times. After all, we’re dealing with and observing flesh and blood characters here… or are we? No spoiler alerts from me. One has to attend this splendid production for oneself.

That’s the beauty of Ms. Hall’s play. She forces the audience to think about matters in life that are really important. Dr. King is fully aware of his position and his destiny and all that it entails. Mr. Johnson’s deft performance hits the mark in his nuanced interpretation.

Ms. Deloach’s character, as the conscience of the audience, must either accept or reject what she believes. Both characters are firm in their knowledge. The chemistry between Mr. Johnson and Ms. Deloach is palpable which is what makes the play so watchable, and hopefully, will expand our own life experience with its enlightenment.  

“The Mountaintop” is produced by director Shaw and Video and Sound designer Clark Dugger. The technical team led by Shaw includes Set Designer Thomas L. Valach; Lighting Designer Derrick McDaniel; Frank Cazares, Costume Designer; Lynda Shaeps, Wig and Make-up Designer; Greg Thorneycroft, Props and Effects Master; and Yvans Jourdain, Assistant/Director and Fight Choreographer.

The icing on this splendid must see production cake is the wonderful projections sequence created by Clark Dugger. They’re simply first class.  Nathan Cox stage manages the production.

There is a short window to see this show, which only runs through to March 13th.  For tickets and reservations go online to

Remember, a great nation deserves great art… support all the arts!

-- Jack Lyons

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


The  Cast of "Salty" playing now at Desert Ensemble Theater
Rear L-R John Corr, Anthony Nannini;Front L-R Tessa Gregory Walker, Phylicia Mason, Miguel Arballo, Heather Bates
Life is often complicated, but it can also be funny at times. There is always humor and empathy to ease the pain of life’s ups and downs; the trick is to find it.  Desert Ensemble Theatre (DET) of Palm Springs found it in their delightful production of “Salty”, written by A.J.Clauss, that is innovatively staged by Artistic Director Jerome Elliott.

The poignant comedy was inspired by the true story of two male penguins at an Australian zoo who made international headlines in 2019 when they fostered an egg. In playwright Clauss’ pseudo-fanciful reimagining, it takes place in a zoo in the middle of nowhere in the summer and autumn many years from now.

Bowie, a tall penguin, is winningly played by John Corr, and his penguin co-parent Silver, ‘who wants to be a father that’s like a mother’ is deftly played by Anthony Nannini.  Both actors are a couple of scene stealers.  All of the actors are double-cast as both humans and as penguins in fleshing out the compelling story that playwright Clauss imparts to their audience, bolstered by the vision that director Elliott brings in breathing resonating life into the actors’ performances.

If you’re a fan of Disney animated movies you will enjoy the anthropomorphic characters in “Salty”.  They are empathetic and possess the simple wisdom and instincts that both animals and humans share. 

But a note of caution: Playwright Clauss has imbued all the characters in this 21st century production with a boatload of “effing expletives” that may be off-putting to some, so one might consider leaving grandma and the kiddies at home for this one.

The talented six member ‘ensemble cast’ assembled by director Elliott is always in their moments.  It’s a joy to watch them.  They include: Phylicia Mason as Snicker/Steph; Miguel Arballo as Edward/Mason; Tessa Gregory-Walker as Fauna/Winnie; Heather Bates as Flora/Desiree; and the aforementioned actors Anthony Nannini as Silver/Tour Guide and John Corr as Bowie/Zach. Melanie Blue, as the energetic neither-human-nor-penguin, delivers a stunning interlocutory-like comedy performance as the Fox that completes this thought-provoking production produced by DET president Shawn Abramowitz and play director Elliott.   

The cast holds up a theatrical mirror whether they are portraying humans or penguins, as a way for the audience to see themselves as characters on the stage that is, if the shoes fit.  After all, we rarely see ourselves as other see us. Perhaps, it’s time to take inventory. Listen and learn. Comedy can be a great teacher. It’s sublime stuff.  But no more spoiler alerts from me. One will just have to come to the theatre to see for oneself.

In the technical team department, led by director Elliott, “Salty” is set designed by Thomas L. Valach with a lighting design by Jason Smith, assisted by technician Kevin O’Shaugnessy; Costume Designer Andrew Maclaine creates costumes for both people and penguins; Sound Designer Gus Sanchez provides the sound. August Pearson is the assistant director to Director Elliott. “Salty” is performed without an intermission that runs about 90 minutes. Sierra Barrick stage manages the production

A shout out and congratulations is definitely called for upon learning that DET has been awarded a Coachella Valley Spotlight award in a partnership with Gulf California Broadcast Company and the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation of a generous grant of $25,000 which will be used for improvements to the DET facilities at the Palm Springs Cultural Center for future productions.  Founding member and playwright Tony Padilla is no doubt beaming at the news as well. Well done DET!

“Salty” performs on Friday, February 25th at 7 PM and on Saturday, February 26th at 2 PM, and 7 PM.  and closes on Sunday, February 27th following the 2 PM Sunday Matinee.

For ticket information and reservations go online to or call the box office at 760-565-2476.    


The country’s pandemic hit the Coachella Valley theatre community pretty hard. We lost Coyote Stage Works, one of our multi-award-winning, leading professional companies who, after more than ten years, was forced to turn off their ‘ghost light’ forever. Other theatre companies have been hanging by their fingernails amid this pandemic monster; but, how long can they wait? The world of entertainment in the 21st century is changing as you read this review.

CV REP’s founding Artistic Director Ron Celona is retiring and passing the reins of ‘producing director’ to an as yet named theatre pro. Celona was the quintessential Artistic Director and savvy theatre person who understood the rules of engagement in the world of theatre. He leaves the Coachella valley richer in theatrical talent and theatre boldness in play selection during his years of offering quality theatre entertainment.  He will be missed.

Remember …a great nation deserves great art.  Support the Arts!

-- Jack Lyons