Woody Guthrie's American Song-- and it's a knockout. I'd seen the show more than a decade ago at Berkeley Rep-- its adapter/director, Peter Glazer, is a Berkeley resident-- and I had looked forward to the opening with some anticipation. It's done with a cast of five and a four-person band, and apart from a couple of dozen great songs, tells a story that resonates with any American with a sense of the country's history, and with Californians in particular, since a good-sized section deals with the "Okie" Dust Bowl refugees who flooded into the Golden State in the 1930s, and the hardships and outright hostility they encountered. I've become very good friends with Sam Misner and Megan Smith in particular, the two cast members who are also in Henry, and who have Bay Area roots-- we share many mutual friends in California, though we'd never personally met before. But the other three actor/singers-- Lisa , Matt and Daver-- are all terrific performers too, and they constitute a tight and upbeat ensemble. It's taking some time for me to get used to the idea of the Festival producing non-Shakespeare plays-- Three Musketeers is even being performed on the Mary Rippon stage, which seemed strange at first-- but I may need to adjust to the thought that the season's most complete and satisfying show may turn out to be performed indoors, and not Shakespeare at all.
Last weekend the Festival opened its second show--