Moxie’s world premiere showcases female legends
By David Dixon
For 10 seasons, Moxie Theatre has produced shows involving strong women in front of the stage and behind the scenes.
The company — founded by Artistic Director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, Associate Artistic Director Jennifer Eve Thorn and General Manger Jo Anne Glover — has staged classic stories such as “A Raisin in the Sun” as well as work from modern playwrights including Marisa Wegrzyn and Sarah Ruhl.
“Eternally Bad,” making its world premiere from July 10 through Aug. 2, will be the latest musical at the intimate space in the Rolando neighborhood. Based on the humorous book “Eternally Bad: Goddesses With Attitude” by Trina Robbins, the theatrical piece, timed to coincide with Comic-Con, focuses on several stories featuring female characters from ancient mythology. These adventures are influenced by different cultures and incorporate cheeky comedy, which should give the production a 21st-century edge.
Thorn, the producer who is an Uptown San Diego resident, says audiences will be extremely entertained learning about the myths.
“Some of the roles will be familiar to people such as Pele and Eve,” she said. “Some of them are lesser known. Their adventures are really wild, which helps make the production very fun.”
Although this will be the first time “Eternally Bad” is fully staged, there was a 2003 dance-heavy piece with the same name directed by Javier Velasco, Artistic Director of the San Diego Ballet Dance Company. Velasco is also the playwright/director of the new adaptation.
“Initially, he first thought that it would be a musical,” Thorn said. “He sort of shopped this idea around, and when he didn’t get any bites, he decided to pursue it as a dance piece for San Diego Ballet. That was his first incarnation.”
Eventually, Velasco received a grant to turn “Eternally Bad” into a musical. Working with Velasco is the well-respected blues and jazz singer/songwriter Candye Kane. The two have collaborated before at the Moxie on her autobiographical script, “Toughest Girl Alive.”
“I think Kane fans are going to enjoy the evening,” she said. “The music has her flavor. The lyrics and the style of the piece are influenced by her. It is exciting that not only does the plot focus on mythological bad girls throughout time, but that the songs were written by a sort of legendary bad girl.”
In addition, Thorn acknowledges the contributions from arranger/music director Steve Gunderson, who has provided original music.
“He is known for complicated arrangements. His work with Velasco on ‘Everybody’s Talkin: The Music of Harry Nilsson’ at the San Diego Repertory Theatre was incredible. We are pretty lucky that he is a part of the creative team.”
The producer acknowledges that there are both positive qualities and challenges of working on a musical.
“The positive aspect is that musicals tend to sell well, especially in the summer,” she said. “While we don’t produce a lot of musicals, because we have worked with Kane before, we have been exposed to her diverse fan base. They are a really cool group of people, many of them visiting from Los Angeles. A lot of of fans became fans of the Moxie after watching ‘Toughest Girl Alive.’
“Challenges include being creative with our sound system and using prerecorded music. If you are using music that is recorded, having a smart sound designer who knows how to mike singers can help make things easier. However, I think what is exciting about seeing a musical in our space is that you are so close to the performers. It feels larger than life,” Thorn said.
“Eternally Bad” concludes the latest season for a theater that has progressed substantially since opening in 2005.
“I think the thing that I am the most proud of is we have grown in size steadily since our inception. We never had to stop or take a hiatus. We have been producing full seasons since day one. Our subscription base last year nearly doubled, which is amazing,” Thorn said.
“Sonnenberg will probably agree with me that since we have found our groove, our fastest growth is going to happen in the next few years. I am proud to be a founder with two people who I still work with everyday. I think the future of Moxie is going to be incredible.”
—A fan of film and theater from a very young age, David Dixon has written reviews and features for various print and online publications. You can reach him at email@example.com.