Magic’s Se Llama Cristina or What’s in a name?

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Sarah Nina Hayon and Sean San José star in the world premiere of Octavio Solis’ Se Llama Cristina at Magic Theatre. Below: Rod Gnapp is the embodiment of bad guys plaguing the lives of struggling people. Photos by Jennifer Reiley

There are moments when Octavio Solis’ darkly poetic writing leaves me breathless. Take this passage from his world-premiere play Se Llama Cristina as two lovers are driving down a lonely highway. The driver looks at his sleeping passenger and says: “And your head is leanin’ against the window and the passing cars light up your face like a Hollywood starlet. Famous, then not. Famous, then not.”

Truth be told, there are also moments when the San Francisco playwright’s writing leaves me befuddled, and that happens, too, in Se Llama Cristina. But confusion and mystery is part of the foundation – albeit rocky a rocky one – on which this intriguing drama is built.

Essentially Solis is telling the story of everyday triumph, specifically the ability move beyond the horrors of the past to stake a claim as a functioning – however flawed – human being capable of sustaining important relationships such as spouse to spouse or parent to child. Parenting is the guttering neon sign at the center of this creation, flickering at various levels of brightness until it all but explodes by the end.

Solis eschews a linear narrative and, curiously, turns his protagonists into audience members as they watch their story unfold in bits and pieces, with flashbacks within flashbacks and even flash-forwards.

Lights come up on a dingy, battered room (the low-ceilinged set is by Andrew Boyce). A man and a woman are just coming to after what appears to have been quite a bender. The guy still has the rubber strap tied around his arm with a syringe embedded in his skin.

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Neither of these characters knows their names, where they are or how they came to be so drugged up. The doors and windows of the room are locked, and there’s a crib in the corner. Only instead of a baby, the crib holds a piece of fried chicken, a drumstick.

We’re just as confused as the characters on stage, and when the first explanatory flashback happens, we learn things right along with them. How that works exactly, I’m not sure. I know how it works for the audience, but what exactly are the characters seeing in that room? That’s really too literal a question for this play, which has the feeling of a fever dream leading up to the making of a pivotal life decision.

Director Loretta Greco’s production feels substantial, even at only 85 minutes. As the play jerks us back and forth in time and tone – flights of poetry crash against gritty realism – she guides her cast from a strong emotionally grounded center.

Sean San José and Sarah Nina Hayon are superb as broken people who don’t expect to accomplish much in this life beyond surviving and making mistakes. They find each other by accident and begin a journey, sometimes a reluctant one, toward realizing potential they didn’t know they had. As rough and gritty as this play is, there’s a current of hope that continually pushes through the violence and neglect and poverty (of many kinds) in these people’s lives.

San José, whose character is a would-be poet, is especially adept at navigating Solis’ dramatic turns from naturalism to fantasy. He has two scenes on the phone, one with Hayon and one with a figure from his past, and both are incredible. One of those conversations is mostly in Spanish, and you don’t have to understand a word of the language to feel your heart break along with the character.

If you want charm and menace in equal measure, Rod Gnapp is your go-to guy. Here he embodies every bad choice a woman can make, and though he’s a walking nightmare (an effect augmented by Sara Huddleston’s sly sound design), he’s also funny as hell and completely recognizable as someone you may know.

The performances are so good here (the cast also includes a nice turn by Karina Gutiérrez) that they almost compensate for the ways in which the fractured structure confuse the narrative and cloud the emotional impact. Piecing it all together isn’t all that hard, but the emotional through line gets somewhat clouded because there are so many questions about what is reality and what isn’t. Questions are good in drama, but when those questions are straddling dream and reality, it’s hard to know what to trust and grab hold of so that by the end you’re holding on to what’s important in this story.

But then again, that’s so much of what Se Llama Cristina is about: what’s worth holding onto and what’s better left behind. Sometimes you don’t have a choice in that, but sometimes you do.

[bonus interviews]
I talked to director Loretta Greco and playwright Octavio Solis for a feature in the San Francisco Chronicle. Read the story here.

Octavio Solis’ Se Llama Cristina continues through Feb. 5 at Magic Theatre, Building D, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard at Buchanan Street, San Francisco. Tickets are $22-$62. Call 415-441-8822 or visit

Size matters — Magic’s Brothers is a keeper

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Tobie Windham (left) is Oshoosi Size and Joshua Elijah Reese is Ogun Size in the Magic Theatre’s The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Below: Alex Ubokudom is Elegba. Photos by Jennifer Reiley.

Comparing The Brothers Size, the second part of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays cycle, to In the Red and Brown Water, the first part, is inevitable but ultimately unnecessary.

These are two very different plays, both extraordinary and both extraordinarily well produced by, respectively, Magic Theatre and Marin Theatre Company. Red and Brown opened first and gave us a broad view of McCraney’s world, a working-class Louisiana town where the mostly African-American inhabitants exist in a purely theatrical dimension between reality and poetry, between fact and folklore.

Marin’s Red and Brown, with its musical soundscape and large cast, gave us a wide view. Magic’s The Brothers Size scales things down to a wonderfully intimate, emotionally powerful level. You don’t have to have seen the first part to enjoy the second, but it will provide a richer experience (and the reverse is probably true as well).

In director Octavio Solis, the renowned playwright, the McCraney’s drama has found a deeply insightful guide into a tight brotherly bond challenged by bad behavior and unfortunate circumstances. With only three men in the cast and a mostly bare stage (Sarah Sidman designed the lights and created the set, such as it is with its piles of tires and metal drums, with James Faerron), Solis evokes an entire community through acutely observed details in his actors’ performances.

Joshua Elijah Reese is older brother Ogun Size. We met the character (played by another actor) in In the Red and Brown Water and learned that he’s a hard worker, a self-made man who runs his own car shop. Tobie Windham (a recent graduate of American Conservatory Theater’s MFA program) is younger brother Oshoosi Size, fresh out of the penitentiary and not very excited about finding his way in the world, especially not as his brother’s employee.

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Basically on their own since the death of their mother when they were young, the brothers are fiercely bonded. Their relationship is also fiery, especially since Oshoosi’s return from prison and the heightened contrast between Ogun’s mature and grounded responsibility and Oshoosi’s more profligate ways.

Ogun, as he has done most of his life, is trying to be a steady, guiding figure to his younger brother, but the world and its pleasures are too enticing. Oshoosi is an outsize (pun intended) personality. He’s a pure charmer (and you should see Windham flirt with the audience – shameless and mighty powerful) who has captured the affections of Elegba, a character we met in Part One, played here by Alex Ubokudom.

The two men became close in prison. They were, in Elegba’s careful words, “brothers in need.” Now their relationship is intensely complicated, and Elegba, whose nature is passionate and mischievous, will lead Oshoosi in a dangerous direction.

The plot of The Brothers Size is fairly straightforward as Oshoosi attempts, unsuccessfully in so many ways, to walk the proverbial straight and narrow. But the intensity and the depth of the relationships are incredibly rich and complicated.

McCraney still employs a certain narrative distance, especially when he has his characters recite their own stage directions. But there’s very little emotional distance here (as there is in Red and Brown) because the superb acting provides so many openings into so much conflict and humor and profound human connection.

These brothers love each other with everything they have – but what they have is so very different. When they’re hanging out together listening to Otis Redding, being brothers and having fun, it’s like real life in a discreet theatrical frame. The communication with the audience is so direct and so thrilling it’s impossible not to be sucked into the heart of the story.

With the extraordinary momentum created by In the Red and Brown Water and now The Brothers Size, it’s a shame we have to wait until November for the concluding chapter, Marcus; Or the Secret of Sweet at ACT. But good things, as they say, come to those who wait.


Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brothers Size continues through October 17 at the Magic Theatre, Building D, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard at Buchanan Street. Tickets are $45-$60. Visit For information about The Brother/Sister Plays cycle visit

Entering heavenly Pastures



The ensemble of Cal Shakes and Word for Word’s The Pastures of Heaven, an adaptation of the John Steinbeck book by Octavio Solis. Photos by Kevin Berne


Spectacular things are happening at the Bruns Amphitheater – on stage and off.

At long last, California Shakespeare Theater is getting a performance venue worthy of its status as one of the Bay Area’s foremost theater companies. Improvements to the Bruns include a new box office, new landscaping and, most importantly, a beautiful new 7,850-square-foot building to house its food operations and some spectacular bathrooms (if you ever used the bathrooms in the old endlessly “temporary” facility, you’ll appreciate just how spectacular these new facilities really are).

The improvements aren’t quite done yet, but they’re already upping the ante on the Cal Shakes experience – and just in time for Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone’s 10-year anniversary with the company.

So many things to celebrate ̶ not the least of which is the world-premiere production on the Bruns stage.

There’s a palpable sense of the new at Cal Shakes, and that extends to Octavio Solis’ adaptation of the 1932 John Steinbeck novel The Pastures of Heaven, which is the first world premiere to take place at the Bruns. In translating this book for the stage, Cal Shakes turned to the one of the nation’s greatest literary and theatrical resources, which just happens to be across the bay in San Francisco: Word for Word Performing Arts Company. There’s no better company when it comes to adapting fiction for the stage.

But in keeping with the whole idea of making things new, Word for Word’s collaboration with Cal Shakes involves, for the first time, a playwright. Usually, the wizards at Word for Word adapt short works of fiction for the stage without changing a word of the author’s original text. That’s why they’re every writer’s favorite theater company. This time out, they’re working with a playwright, and it’s inevitable that the playwright will place his own literary and theatrical stamp on Steinbeck’s work.

So you end up with an extraordinary quartet of collaborators: Cal Shakes, Word for Word, celebrated San Francisco playwright Octavio Solis and a silent but very present John Steinbeck.

Steinbeck’s Heaven, published when the author was only 30, is a novel told in 10 thematically linked short stories (with a prologue and epilogue), and Solis’ adaptation more or less follows the structure of the book with some dramatic rearrangement. The result is a play that feels more like a complete novel than the actual novel does. A deeply human story of dreams and destiny, of flaws, foibles and failure, Pastures of Heaven, both on the page and on the stage, is a compelling and beautiful story shot through with the sadness of fantasy clashing with reality.

Directed with the emotional acuity and elegance we’ve come to expect from Moscone, these Pastures are rich with nearly three hours’ worth of fascinating stories and characters enlivened by a marvelous cast of blended Word for Word company members, Cal Shakes company members and newcomers.

Set in a picturesque valley outside of Salinas, Las Pasturas del Cielo (“pastures of heaven”) was settled by a disenchanted 49er fleeing gold greed seeking an ideal home for many future generations, and though his vast family never quite materialized (he and his wife had only one son, and that son only had one son), the area grew into a thriving little farming community.

And where there’s community there’s drama, as we find out in Steinbeck’s pithy portraits of the valley’s inhabitants. There are so many vivid moments in this production that it’s impossible to catalogue them without simply reprinting Solis’ script. But some of the stand-outs include Rod Gnapp (seen at right with Charles Shaw Robinson) as Shark Wicks, a financial whiz with a big secret whose world collapses just as his wife’s world (so insightfully illuminated by Joanne Winter) expands into bold new emotional places. It’s also impossible to forget Amy Kossow’s portrayal of Hilda Van Deventer, a terrifying child whose mother (the invaluable Julie Eccles) has an unfortunate penchant for grief and endurance.

Madness and mental challenges play a surprisingly large role in the stories Steinbeck chooses to tell. Tobie Windham plays Tularecito, a somewhat deformed young man whose mental grasp of the world is tenuous but whose artistic talent is undeniable. The young man is forced to go to school, but his teacher (an animated Emily Kitchens) reveals an unbridled enthusiasm for the boy’s artwork and his grasp of the more supernatural elements of valley nights.

Amid much serious subjects that includes curses, ghosts, religious fervor, death by snakebites, filicide, financial ruin, and the depression of dashed dreams, the play takes a break for a chapter told completely in song. With music by Obadiah Eaves and musical direction by Julie Wolf, actors Winter and Catherine Castellanos (seen at right) play the Lopez sisters, who fail at farming and at running a diner. They finally find success in a centuries-old profession, and they do it singing and dancing (movement by Erika Chong Shuch) all the way.

Aside from wonderful guitar playing at the top of Act 2 by Richard Theiriot, there are no more musical interludes, alas. But we continue to delve into the stories of people – among them are those played by Dan Hiatt, Andy Murray and Charles Shaw Robinson – coming to California with a dream and inevitably having to reconfigure their lives when too much reality interferes.

This is an ambitious, abundantly rewarding new work that combines delicious theatricality (just watch the way 11 actors populate an entire valley and the way Annie Smart’s amazingly precise dollhouse set gives them room to do just that) with a literary pedigree that fuses Steinbeck’s muscular yet poetic prose with Solis’ lyrical, humor-tinged script.

The Pastures of Heaven tills fertile ground. Notions of destiny and legacy weigh heavily in these stories, but so do undercurrents of hope, community and determination. And this powerhouse collaboration yields a new dramatic work that should grow into a long, distinguished life on stage.


Cal Shakes/Word for Word’s The Pastures of Heaven continues through June 27 at the Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, one mile east of the Caldecott Tunnel in Orinda. Tickets are $34 to $70. Call 510-548-9666 or visit for information.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival reviews (pt. 1)

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Vilma Silva and Armando Durán star in Octavio Solis’ adaptation of Don Quixote on the Elizabethan Stage at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Photo by David Cooper.

The first round of my reviews from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — the three outdoor shows on the Elizabethan Stage — have arrived and were published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Read the reviews here.

The second batch (including the superb drama Equivocation and masterful Servant of Two Masters) will be published in the Chron’s Pink section July 5.

Theater review: `Lydia’

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The cast of Marin Theatre Company’s Lydia includes, from left, Gloria Garayua as Ceci, Adriana Gavria as Lydia, David Pintado as Misha and Elias Escobedo as Alvaro. Photos by Ed Smith

Power, passion course through Solis’ startling `Lydia’
««« ½

There’s a reason critics across the country have compared San Francisco playwright Octavio Solis’ Lydia to Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Both are vivisections of distinctly American families. For Miller, the Lomans suffered mid-century secrets and pressures within their family unit. For Solis, the Flores family picks up some 20 years later in a different place and time with secrets and pressures both similar and distinctly their own.

Solis is such an exciting writer that the Miller comparison is not lightly made. Miller had American tales to tell, and so does Solis. With Lydia, Solis takes a leap with the kind of family drama so rich, so surprising that it redefines what you think family dramas can do. Just when you think you’ve seen every variation with, mom, pop, the kids, their troubles and a sofa in the middle of the set, along comes Solis to shake it up and think again.

Receiving its local premiere at Marin Theater Company in a production helmed by artistic director Jason Minadakis, Lydia is an evening that will linger in the memory for a long time.

Solis is unafraid to throw a whole lot into the mix here: sexuality, faith, violence, betrayal, romance, hope, death and poetry. It might be too much, but the only time you feel the weight of the playwright trying to balance too heavy a load is in Act 2 when the play seems to end multiple times before landing on a final scene that is bold, shocking and exactly what it needs to be.

You might say that Lydia is a riff on Mary Poppins – a caretaker arrives, shakes things up, inexorably alters the family then moves on. But then again, Ms. Poppins wasn’t dealing with immigration officers, a brain-damaged teenager, domestic violence or soul-damaging secrets.

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The Flores family — short-order cook dad Claudio (Luis Saguar), mom Rosa (Wilma Bonet) returning to the workforce, high school student Misha (David Pintado), rebel older son Rene (Lakin Valdez) and severely injured daughter Ceci (Gloria Garayua above right) – is staking its claim on the American dream. Claudio and Rosa crossed the border from Mexico to create a life and a family in El Paso. That things didn’t turn out so great in the land of promise weighs heavily on Claudio, who works nights, sleeps days and spends most of his free time drinking beer and listening to his headphones from the Barcalounger.

The night two years before that Ceci was brain damaged in a car accident is one of the play’s motivating mysteries. It was just a few days before her quincenera, and whatever happened in the Pontiac only the people who were there know: Ceci, who is now unable to speak, her brother Rene and their cousin Alvaro (Elias Escobedo, below right with Garayua).

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The play’s poetic soul belongs to Ceci, who rouses from her stupor to share her internal monologues with the audience. Even in her mostly vegetative state, she’s like the family sponge, absorbing all of their pain and unable to do anything about it. If asked, family members would say Ceci’s injury is the source of much of that pain, but in truth – and Ceci prefers the truth – that pain was already there.

When Rosa decides to go back to work, she hires a newly arrived Mexican immigrant to be the family maid and caretaker to Ceci. Lydia (Adriana Gaviria, above with Garayua) is sensitive the way Ceci is sensitive. The two young woman find a way to communicate beyond language, and soon Lydia begins unlocking those painful secrets and forcing the family out of its habitual denial.

Some of the play’s surprises aren’t all that surprising, but what connects in Solis’ play and in Minadakis’ production is the walloping emotion that pours from character to character. What could have been stock melodrama is instead invested with genuine feeling and lots of it. Garayua as Ceci is extraordinary, both as the vital, lovesick teenager who pours her heart out to us and as the twitching, moaning woman on the mattress in the middle of the living room floor (the slightly surreal ranch house set is by Robert Mark Morgan and lit with a fondness for moonlight by Kurt Landisman).

Pintado makes for a believable high schooler with a big crush on the new family maid, and Gaviria as Lydia is practically perfect in every way, which is to say she has an electric presence that convincingly leaves change in its wake.

The entire cast rises to the challenge of Solis’ outstanding script, which makes you rethink the term “family entertainment” as something as dark and dangerous as it is deeply felt.


Marin Theatre Company’s Lydia continues through April 12 at 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. Tickets are $20-$51. Call 415-388-5208 or visit for information.


Cal Shakes, ACT’s Willis honored

The National Endowment for the Arts – did you know that even existed anymore? – has handed out some $20,000 grants as part of a new NEA New Play Development Program.

And one of the recipients was Berkeley-based California Shakespeare Theater, which will spend 20 grand on early play development activities — read-throughs, public readings and workshop productions — for Pastures of Heaven, which is being written by San Francisco’s Octavio Solis (right), based on a collection of interlinking short stories by John Steinbeck. The piece is being developed with San Francisco’s Word for Word Performing Arts Company

“We are extraordinarily grateful to the NEA for selecting us for this prestigious program,” Cal Shakes artistic director Jonathan Moscone said in a statement. “Pastures of Heaven marks the first commissioned world premiere play for our Main Stage in our 35-year history.  I hope that our unique collaboration with Octavio, Word for Word and community members in the Salinas Valley and Bay Area will create a significant cultural impact on communities new to us, and perhaps to theater itself, as well as to the field at large.”

Pastures of Heaven is the third play to be developed under Cal Shakes’ New Works/New Communities program, which brings people of diverse backgrounds together around the creation of a new work of theater inspired by classic literature. Based upon Steinbeck’s little-known 1932 novel of interconnected short stories, the play will depict the destruction of dreams within a fragile farming community in Northern California’s Salinas Valley. The play is slated to premiere on Cal Shakes Main Stage in 2010, directed by Moscone.

“Every year the NEA supports about 135 new theatrical premieres, but the NEA New Play Development Program, in partnership with Arena Stage, is something special. It creates a small but superb national network to develop new works from across the country,” said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia.

 For more information about the NEA New Play Development Program, visit For information about California Shakespeare Theater, visit


Eleven top regional theatre actors from around the country have been selected as the inaugural Lunt-Fontanne Fellows by Ten Chimneys Foundation, the National Historic Landmark estate of Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne – as part of The Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program, a national program to serve regional theatre actors and the future of American theatre.

Among the 11 fellows is Jack Willis(right, photo by, a company member of San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater.

Each Lunt-Fontanne Fellow receives a cash fellowship and will participate in an intensive week-long master class and retreat at Ten Chimneys (in rural Wisconsin) with a respected master teacher.  Acclaimed actress Lynn Redgrave will be the very first master teacher in the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program.  In addition to a prolific, award-winning career on Broadway, in London, and in film and television, Ms. Redgrave was named in honor of Lynn Fontanne – making her a particularly meaningful choice to launch this important program. 

Ten Chimneys is the home and retreat of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, widely considered the greatest acting couple in American theatre history.  (The estate is fully restored to its original glory.  With all of its contents and personal mementos in place, it looks just as it did in the 1930s and ’40s, when friends like Helen Hayes, Noël Coward, Katharine Hepburn, and countless others visited the Lunts summer after summer.)  For much of the 20th century, Ten Chimneys was the center of the theatrical universe – an important place for the luckiest of artists to retreat, rejuvenate, and collaborate.  The Lunts were known for their dedication to the “next generation” of actors.  They reveled in mentoring young actors.  Legends such as Laurence Olivier, Uta Hagen, Montgomery Clift and Julie Harris proudly considered themselves protégés of the Lunts.  The Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program continues that tradition of mentorship – as Ten Chimneys reassumes its historic role as a powerful resource and inspiration for American theatre.

Here are Willis’ fellow fellows: Suzanne Bouchard, Seattle Repertory Theatre (Seattle); Dan Donohue, Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, Ore.); Lee Ernst, Milwaukee Repertory Theater (Milwaukee); Mary Beth Fisher, Goodman Theatre (Chicago); Jon Gentry, Arizona Theatre Company (Phoenix and Tucson); Donald Griffin, Alliance Theatre (Atlanta); Naomi Jacobson, Arena Stage (Washington, D.C.); Kim Staunton, Denver Theatre Center (Denver); Todd Waite, Alley Theatre (Houston).

For information about Ten Chimneys, visit For information about American Conservatory Theater, visit

Theater Review: `June in a Box’

Opened March 10, 2008 at Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco

New musical finds lyricism in true crime
three stars Enigmatic Box

About four years ago, playwright Octavio Solis and composer Beth Custer collaborated on a surprising (and surprisingly delightful) musical called The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy, based on a true-crime story of bandits who robbed bars in San Francisco’s Mission District.

Solis and Custer have returned to their true crime musicalizing ways with June in a Box, a perplexing one-act musical now at Intersection for the Arts.

The show is based on the story of June Robles, an elementary schoolgirl who, in 1934, was kidnapped by two men, buried in a box in the desert outside of Tucson, Arizona and left there for 19 days. The story was also turned into a “corrido,” or Mexican-American ballad called “Ell Corrido de la Nina June Robles” (thoughtfully included in the program in its entirety in English and Spanish).

From the outset, I have to admit I was bothered by the idea of the show: cruelty inflicted on children as entertainment. Not my idea of a good time.

But Solis is a sensitive artist, and the show, though it lacks an overarching theme or impact beyond its biographical details, is an interesting musing on how June’s experience in the desert affected her in later life.

Solis directs the 85-minute show himself and has cast his disarming daughter, Gracie Solis, as young June, whom we see in flashbacks enduring her desert horror with astonishing fortitude. Custer is at the piano and clarinet, assisted by an accordion player (an alternate filling in for Isabel Douglass the night I saw the show).

The tale is told through the prism of June’s old age, and as an older woman she’s played by the extraordinary Denise Blasor, who sings and acts with ferocity and realism.

Luis Saguar and Marc David Pinate play various roles, from hungry coyotes prowling the desert and tormenting the older June, to the men in young June’s life: her father, her grandfather, her district attorney uncle and her kidnappers.

James Faerron’s set is an artful junk heap — timber and corrugated metal sheets — dominated by a box center stage. This is June’s prison, though the fantastical flow of the play means June isn’t always confined (and when she is, the sides of the box are see-through).

Why this story needed to be a musical — especially when it had already been turned into a ballad — is mysterious. Perhaps because the older June is coming to the end of her life and needs to re-live the defining moment of her life — 19 days buried alive — and its lifelong aftermath, she needs music to give it all the lyricism of a dream. “The fever of 19 days is gone, but it leaves a constant chill,” June says in her reverie.

Some of Custer’s music is wonderful, full of emotion and melody. Other moments aren’t so successful. For instance, Pinate and Saguar break into a number asking “Where is June?” and both the tune, their singing and Erika Chong Shuch’s choreography come together in awkward ways that constitute a musical stumble.

Young Gracie Solis is a genuine talent — beautiful, believable and a fine singer. She gives weight and light to the story, which wants very much to become as lyrically intense as the musical Floyd Collins, Adam Guettel’s musical tale of a man trapped in a cave, but it never quite attains that level.

June in a Box continues through March 31 at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia St., San Francisco. Shows are at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays (plus 8 p.m. March 31); no show March 23. Tickets are $10 to $25 on a sliding scale. Call 415-626-3311 or visit for information.