Crowded Fire tells a futuristic Tale of Autumn

Sep 19

Crowded Fire tells a futuristic <i>Tale of Autumn</i>

Who are the good guys/bad guys? What truth lies behind smokescreens and lies? And when good guys resort to bad behavior, doesn't that make them bad guys, thus leaving no good guys and obscured truth?

San Francisco playwright Christoper Chen's world-premiere A Tale of Autumn, a commission from Crowded Fire Theater, is all about good gone bad and bad gone worse. Imagine Google, Oprah and the U.S. Government wrestling with notions of altruism and greed and you get some idea of what Chen is up to here.

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Succumb to temptation and see Ain’t Too Proud at Berkeley Rep

Sep 15

Succumb to temptation and see <i>Ain’t Too Proud</i> at Berkeley Rep

When Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations is in its groove, this world-premiere musical at Berkeley Repertory Theatre is absolutely electrifying. Featuring all or part of 30 songs from the '60s and '70s Motown era, the music alone is alone is enough to make this a must-see theatrical event, but it's clear that this musical biography is going places (namely Broadway).

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S’Just All Right: Gershwin score saves American in Paris

Sep 14

S’Just All Right: Gershwin score saves <i>American in Paris</i>

An American in Paris, adapted by writer Craig Lucas and directed and choreographed by a member of ballet world royalty, Christopher Wheeldon, is a decidedly uneven affair. It wants to be part serious musical (the darkness of Paris after World War II and the Nazi occupation), part musical comedy (three guys in love with one girl!) and part contemporary and ballet dance show. Call it a ballet-sical (mullet doesn't quite work). Whatever it is, it doesn't quite work.

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Love among the stars in TheatreWorks’ Constellations

Aug 27

Love among the stars in TheatreWorks’ <i>Constellations</i>

British playwright Nick Payne isn't interested in changing minds or even changing the world in Constellations. He settles for nothing less than changing the universe – over and over again. Imagine if Einstein and Hawking had decided to write a love story – you might get something resembling this fascinating play.

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Something wickedly delightful in Something Rotten

Aug 17

Something wickedly delightful in <i>Something Rotten</i>

Thank you, Something Rotten!. I need that.

Sometimes you ned light and froth and delectable show tunes to lift you out of the quagmire of our something-more-than-rotten times, and this musical, now at the Orpheum Theatre as part of the SHN season, is just the ticket.

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Joy, power of stories in Cal Shakes black odyssey

Aug 13

Joy, power of stories in Cal Shakes <i>black odyssey</i>

Just when it seems the news can't get any worse, it gets worse. This weekend in Virginia we saw some of the worst of humanity, with terror, death, hatred and ignorance all on full display. At such times, it can be hard not to give in to that helpless, hopeless feeling of things ever getting better, of our species ever giving over to our better natures rather than constantly reveling our worst.

Then there's art. In a quirk of timing for which I will be forever grateful, California Shakespeare Theater opened a new production Saturday night at the Bruns Amphitheater amid the full chilly summer glory of the Orinda Hills. It wasn't just any production, but one so suited to our troubled times that it seems we should find some way to broadcast it nationally over and over.

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Shotgun’s curious Watson: more than elementary

Aug 11

Shotgun’s curious <i>Watson</i>: more than elementary

Except for the flying cars, we are pretty much living The Jetsons, and we take it in stride. Playwright Madeleine George attempts to knock some wonder – and perspective – into us in her play The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, now at Berkeley's Ashby Stage in Shotgun Players production. George tackles one of the key issues of our time – how, with all this instant and constant digital connection, can we still be so isolated – but does so in a clever way.

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