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'American Night' offers a fuller view of U.S. history Maria Patrice Amon | Fri, Feb 10 2012 04:57 PM

The new political comedy “American Night” is a brilliantly funny and insightful trip through the lesser-known chapters of United States history. Renowned Chicano comedy troupe Culture Clash’s production is a must see. The La Jolla Playhouse again demonstrates its commitment to creating politically relevant and culturally conscious new works to audiences.

In “American Night” recent immigrant Juan José strives to pass his U.S. citizenship test. He was a police officer in Mexico but refused to take a bribe and had to run for his life. Now he works to learn U.S. history in order to bring his wife and newborn son to this new promising life. In his final night of studying, he falls asleep and travels through history in a dream.

Juan José visits the Mexican-American war, joins Lewis and Clark’s journey, lends his voice to a radio play in a Japanese internment camp and helps save the sick from the 1918 Spanish influenza outbreak in rural Texas.

Writing history’s omissions through humorous pop cultural references, “American Night” is an excellent example of the power of creating a fuller history. Only Culture Clash would be capable of seamlessly combining the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and an “Ice, Ice Baby” line-dance in a single unified show.

Especially poetic and bitterly poignant was the play’s treatment of Sacajawea, Lewis and Clark’s 15-year-old guide. The show emphasizes her youth, fitting her with braces and rainbow-striped leggings. Stephanie Beatriz plays Sacajawea with all the self-assurance befitting a teenage know-it-all, but gives the character emotional depth in her failure to foresee the reactions of her people who would call her a traitor for leading the trail of white settlers into the American frontier.

“American Night” is playing through Feb. 26 at the Potiker Theatre at the La Jolla Playhouse with evening performances Tuesday through Sunday and weekend matinees. Tickets are available at (858) 550-1010, www.lajollaplayhouse.org or at the playhouse box office. Ticket prices range from $35 to $60 with discounts for children.

Performing Arts calendar
The Magic of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” will grace the stage at Mater Dei Catholic High School for four final performances this weekend courtesy of Christian Youth Theater.  More than 90 South County students are involved in the production. “Cinderella” keeps true to CYT’s Broadway-style productions captivating audiences with music, special effects and grand staging.

The lead cast features Mia Apalategui (Bonita Vista Middle School) as Cinderella and Landen Baldwin (Otay Ranch High School) as the prince.

All seats are reserved. Ticket prices are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. A special rate of $6 is available for groups of 30 or more. Visit the Web site at www.cytsandiego.org or call 588-0206.

SHOW DAYS           
Friday, Feb. 10: 7 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 11: 2 and 7 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 12: 2 p.m.

OnStage Playhouse’s upcoming production of ‘Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’ opens March 2. Call 422-7787 for details.

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