San Diego Entertainment: La Jolla Playhouse – Up Here Review

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Matt Bittner and Betsy Wolfe in La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere musical UP HERE, book, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, directed by Alex Timbers, running in the Mandell Weiss Theatre July 28 – September 6; photo by Matthew Murphy.

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Catch a Show at La Jolla Playhouse!

 By: Deanne Goodman

La Jolla Playhouse has produced 75 world premieres including the smash hit Jersey Boys. Now is your chance to be among the first to see Up Here, the newest world premiere musical to take the stage in San Diego.

The musical comedy features book, music and lyrics composed by the husband and wife team of Robert Lopez who co-conceived and co-wrote The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q, and Kristen Anderson-Lopez who created the show In Transit. The duo also wrote the music for Disney’s Frozen and won the 2014 Academy Award for Best Original Song for the hit song, “Let It Go.”

Up Here is more like Avenue Q and Book Of Mormon than Frozen. Leave the kids at home for this one. The entertaining musical is full of adult humor and an incredibly talented cast of actors, singers and dancers. 

The story is about the thoughts in one’s head, and how what’s going on “up there” can alter the relationships you have with others and yourself. The main characters are Dan, a 30-something geeky computer repairman and Lindsay, a cute and outgoing designer of shirts that portray feelings and thoughts. 

The musical follows the inner workings of Dan’s mind, which are played out in a carnival-like atmosphere. The story begins with Dan and Lindsay meeting, and develops as we watch their new relationship take shape, their ups and downs while dating, the emotional rollercoaster that follows, and how one’s mind and self-confidence can alter reality. 

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Betsy Wolfe and Matt Bittner in La Jolla Playhouse’s world-premiere musical UP HERE, book, music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, directed by Alex Timbers, running in the Mandell Weiss Theatre July 28 – September 6; photo by Matthew Murphy.

The musical takes the viewer on an emotional journey as well. I found myself annoyed at the negative voices in Dan’s head which are characters in the musical, laughing out loud at the funny one-liners, cheering for a feel good ending where Dan realizes the greatness inside of him, and leaving the show with a powerful reminder that’s it is so important to openly communicate what’s going on in your head, especially when in a relationship. 

The songs in Up Here are catchy and I wish they were available on YouTube, iTunes or CD. The orchestra and the performers did a fantastic job.

One of the best scenes is when both Dan and Lindsay see a therapist; there’s a fun surprise in store that is hilarious. The writing of this show is super witty. 

Seeing Up Here made for a fun and entertaining date night. Every seat in the house is a good seat as the Mandell Weiss Theatre at the La Jolla Playhouse is a relatively intimate theatre. Purchase your tickets now to see Up Here before it leaves San Diego September 6. 

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