Home > Carol Davis, Music, Theatre > ‘Suds’ ‘N Starlight

‘Suds’ ‘N Starlight


Kurt Norby, Samantha Mills, Anise (in the middle) Courtney Corey (in back)...photo by Ken Jacques


By Carol Davis

Carol Davis

SAN DIEGO — If you’re a softie for a little bit of nostalgia, you might want to pack your snuggie, a thermos of warm coffee/hot chocolate and a warm blanket and head down to Balboa Park where Starlight Musical Theatre is presenting a robust production of the 1987 home grown rock musical, Suds.

Starlight Musical Theatre is an icon in San Diego having been around for no less than 64 years. Suds hasn’t been around quite that long (a mere baby at 23) but it was conceived and written by local writers Steve Gunderson (who was there on opening night) and Melinda Gilb (who will be playing Dolly Levi in Starlight’s last show of the season) when it debued at the Old Globe in 1984.

Dubbed a jukebox musical, it features at least eighteen familiar ’60’s tunes in Act I and about the same in Act II. Stretch your memory and see if your feet don’t start tapping and shoulders swaying to “Please Mr. Postman”, “Locomotion”, a Burt Bacharach/Hal David medley,  “Wonderful, Wonderful”, “Respect” and “We Can Work It Out” to name a few. Honestly, for once I knew every tune the four member cast sang.

The story, feeble as it might be, drives the songs and lo and behold! a musical is born and celebrated in, none other than the local Laundromat, of which Cindy is in charge. 

Cindy, no last names here, (Samantha Mills) is celebrating her birthday and nothing but bad news comes her way this day. She gets a letter from her boyfriend ‘pen pal’ whose decided to break off their relationship for someone with better penmanship; her cat is run over by a corvette and because of some fluke in the tax law, she owes the IRS oodles of back taxes. In short, Cindy is having a really lousy day.

Prostrate and desperate and seeing no way out of her unhappiness she goes so far as to attempt to strangle herself with a pair of bright red stretch capris wrapped from around her neck to the washing machine’s agitator. (Yup this is as serious as it gets)

But wait. Help is on the way in the shape of two guardian angels, Marge (Anise Ritchie) a seasoned angel who has already earned her wings and De De (Courtney Corey) an apprentice still waiting to get hers. Their job is to talk Cindy out of suicide and make her whole again by any means possible, and hopefully by helping her to find her ‘true love’. (Baby we’ve come a long way)

Artistic director Carlos Mendoza who resuscitated Starlight last year, is back again with a vengeance to keep this outdoor theatre venue going. Javier Valesco, (who was responsible for the original staging and choreography of Suds way back then), and Mendoza have assembled an energetic and well-rounded cast of characters who are giving it their all in this first of three productions to be aired on Starlight’s stage this summer.

Samantha Mills is a bouncy, starry eyed and clueless Cindy who just goes about her business singing her way through her problems. Courtney Corey’s De De the wingless angel, is spry and somewhat of an overachiever in trying to be first helping Cindy out.  Anise Ritchie (her “Respect” brought the house down) is a sassy and commanding Marge, the in charge gal.

Between the three singing and dancing, the music rocks, rolls and glides through the entire thirty odd songs without a hitch. Kürt Norby who plays all the male characters (mailman, washing machine repair, etc) comes and goes in and out of the Laundromat as well as Cindy’s life. He’s a good balance and quite funny.

Tanya Bishop’s costumes have just the right look, Jennifer Edwards lighting design works for the most part, but Patrick Hoyny’s sound design needs some tweaking. It is ear piercingly loud especially for those close to the stage. Musical direction under the baton of Rayme Sciaroni and his five-piece band is lively just in keeping with the theme of the show.

This year two portable movie screens were added to either side of the stage for easier viewing and close up shots for those sitting in the nose bleed seats. It reminds me of watching a sports event on TV where only action shots can be seen.

Live theatre should be seen in its entirety and not just selected scenes a videographer selects. Bring those in the boonies down to fill in some of the empty seats. There are no less than 4,200 seats, half of which are empty on any given performance night. It makes no sense.

For a fun filled family night, Suds is the right choice to make.

See you at the theatre.

Dates: June 17th– July 4th Thursdays through Sundays

Organization: Starlight Musical Theatre

Phone: 619-232-7827

Production Type: Musical

Where: Starlight Bowl, Balboa Park

Ticket Prices: $10.00 -$75.00 Kids free& Youth program Thursdays and Sundays

Web: starlighttheatre.org

Venue: Starlight Bowl

Theatre critic Davis is based in San Diego

  1. June 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    I just want to tell you that your blog is very interesting. What a funny picture! love this blog..

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