Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: THIS SIDE OF CRAZY at Palm Canyon Theatre

Del Shores' Newest Play is a Must-See!

Review: THIS SIDE OF CRAZY at Palm Canyon Theatre

A very magical combination of excellence has just occurred in Palm Springs theatre, and even though it's only for one weekend, I wanted to tip you off to it. The show is Del Shores' newest play, This Side of Crazy. The magic occurs when this smart script is delivered by four of the Coachella Valley's finest actresses under the helm of one of the valley's top directors, Richard Marlow.

The play is set in the home of Ditty Blaylock (Deborah Harmon), the most prolific writer/singer of gospel music in the country. Her oldest daughter, Rachel (Yo Younger) lives with her. We discover that Ditty is scheduled to be honored with a television special by The Gospel Music Network, but she has promised that her three daughters, the Blaylock Sisters, would appear with her. Problem is, the girls can't stand each other and haven't been in the same room for years.

The next daughter we meet is Bethany (Melanie Blue), an atheist lesbian who has the energy and grace of a big floppy puppy. The last daughter is Abigail (Denise Strand), who has been confined to an institution since strangling Rachel's husband, who has survived 20 years in a coma. She has, well, anger issues.

Shores has smartly structured the first act where we get to meet each of the characters in duet scenes, learn their histories and their idiosyncrasies - and they are all rich in idiosyncrasies! Then in the second act, the fireworks begin when the mother and three daughters share the room. The fur certainly flies, long-buried hostilities surface, and truths are revealed.

Playwright Shores was in attendance opening night and conducted a Q & A after the show, giving some background as to what motivated him to write the show and who it was based on. The consummate entertainer, his answers were part stand-up comedy, part world-renowned playwright, and every inch a Texan gentleman. When he brought the cast and director onstage, he expressed genuine praise for their work - the first time the play had been produced without his directing it. The ladies' shared where their Texan accents came from, how they unwind after a rehearsal or performance, and what the characters mean to them.

Between the writing ,directing, and superb performances all around, the family was totally believable and as dramatic as some of their battles got, they all boiled down eventually to a place of love. They are indeed family.

Extra credit goes to the amazing set design by Toby Griffin. With various levels and cut-away walls, it allows the action to flow throughout the house without set changes. J. W. Layne's lighting design and Derik Shopinski's costumes kept us in the scene, with a special shout-out to Ditty's ensemble for her television special. Hilarious!

This Side of Crazy only plays through Sunday, November 21, at Palm Canyon Theatre with Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Palm Canyon Theatre is centrally located at 538 North Palm Canyon Drive at the corner of Alejo. For tickets or more information, phone 760-323-5123 or visit www.PalmCanyonTheatre.org.

Photo by Paul Hayashi



BETTI & BRUCE Make Hi-Desert Debut In Joshua Tree At FURSTWURLD, February 10 Photo
On Friday, February 10th at 8PM (Doors 7PM), Musical Comedy Duo, BETTI & BRUCE, make their High Desert and Joshua Tree debut at FURSTWURLD after a year of performing for audiences across the US, UK, Ireland and Mexico.

Review: Desert Ensembles Southern California Premiere of KILL THE EDITOR is a Great Produc Photo
Desert Ensemble Theatre is presenting the Southern California premiere of Aren Haun's comedic drama, KILL THE EDITOR. As is usual with DET, the directing, performances, and technical aspects of the production are top-notch. What lowers the presentation from a 'must see' to a B or B+ is that, in my opinion, the script has some flaws.

Winners Announced For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Palm Springs Awards Photo
The winners have been announced for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Palm Springs Awards, honoring the best in regional productions, touring shows, and more which had their first performance between October 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022.

Hollywood Comes To Palm Springs For UNSUNG MIDLER Photo
Popular (and most times infamous) podcaster, journalist, on-air personality, and former Palm Springs Pride Media Grand Marshal Alexander Rodriguez returns to the stage after a five-year absence (thanks to procrastination and COVID) for an irreverent night of storytelling and song with Unsung Midler, celebrating the great, lesser-known hits of the Divine Miss M from The Rose, For the Boys, and Beaches to her numerous albums and covers.


From This Author - Stan Jenson

STAN JENSON has been acting for 58 years since his high school debut at the age of 14. In those ensuing years, he has appeared in several hundred productions across the United States and Australia ... (read more about this author)


Local Playwright Returns With Palm Springs-Based MusicalLocal Playwright Returns With Palm Springs-Based Musical
January 20, 2023

Palm Springs Getaway keeps getting better as it presents Version 2.1 Local playwright Cara Van Dijk is a busy lady. Well, make that playwright, author, journalist, publicist, producer, actress, wife and mother. Her recent musical Palm Springs Getaway is currently in its second production at Palm Canyon Theatre (PCT), the Valley's longest-operating theatre company, and even though audiences are proclaiming the show to be 'A joy' and 'a pure delight,' every time she sees a rehearsal or performance she thinks, 'Next time we'll try....' It's certainly the happy sort of show you can sit through multiple times, and I know I enjoyed seeing what was kept from last year's production and what was new.

Review: THE LINCOLN DEBATE at The BentReview: THE LINCOLN DEBATE at The Bent
January 2, 2023

The Bent Theatre is coming to Palm Springs and their preview production was a knock-out!

Review: PALM SPRINGS GETAWAY at Palm Canyon TheatreReview: PALM SPRINGS GETAWAY at Palm Canyon Theatre
December 8, 2022

What did our critic think of PALM SPRINGS GETAWAY at Palm Canyon Theatre? Palm Canyon Theatre has revived a new, streamlined version of Palm Springs Getaway, their original 'musical romp' which they premiered last season. I'll start right out by confessing that I was in the original production so I know it well, though I never actually 'saw' it. I'm delighted to report that playwright Cara Van Dijk, aided by Eric Stein-Steele and Se Layne, has kept the best of the first production and replaced a few of the previously weak moments with some very strong scenes. The result is a tuneful, educational, nostalgic and totally enjoyable couple of hours.

Review: THE FANTASTICKS at College Of The DesertReview: THE FANTASTICKS at College Of The Desert
November 16, 2022

COD's production of THE FANTASTICKS is a simple joy -- something we can all use more of!

Review: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at Desert TheatreworksReview: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at Desert Theatreworks
November 9, 2022

What did our critic think of BAREFOOT IN THE PARK at Desert Theatreworks?