Grand adventure awaits at Berkeley Rep’s Treasure Island

Apr 30

Grand adventure awaits at Berkeley Rep’s <i>Treasure Island</i>

Mary Zimmerman's work is consistently thrilling. Since I first saw Journey to the West at Zellerbach Playhouse, I have looked forward to seeing whatever Zimmerman makes next. Luckily, her relationship with Berkeley Reperoty Theatre is such that she keeps coming back and back, always with something intriguing and, quite often, magnificent. Her swimming pool-set Metamorphoses in 1999 (also performed at Zellerbach Playhouse) remains one of my favorite nights in a theater ever.

Zimmerman's latest offering at Berkeley Rep is a zesty staging of Treasure Island, and it's a blast.

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This Lion is king at ACT

Apr 21

This <i>Lion</i> is king at ACT

If Benjamin Scheuer were simply a musical act, I'd happily go see him in concert and buy his albums. his voice can go from sweet to gravelly, aggressive to tender, rollicking to romantic even within the space of a single song, and the same can be said for his guitar playing. He puts himself out there in his music, and in addition to being aurally pleasing, his music is also deeply satisfying.

But Scheuer is more than a concert act. He's also a playwright and actor. So his version of a concert is the one-man autobiographical musical The Lion now at American Conservatory Theater's Strand Theater.

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Anne Boleyn seems to be heading in right direction

Apr 21

<i>Anne Boleyn</i> seems to be heading in right direction

The relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn – adulterous, adventurous and tragic (for Anne) – has long captivated the public imagination. Their story has been told on the page, on the stage and on screens large and small. There's been a shift in thinking about Anne, not as a vixen, home wrecker or overzealous climber but as a smart cookie who was more of a power player behind Henry's throne than we might have thought.

One such exploration can now bee seen on stage at Marin Theatre Company in Anne Boleyn, a 2010 play by Howard Brenton.

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Catching up with Colette & Cyrano

Apr 21

Catching up with Colette & Cyrano

So many shows, so little time!

Herewith, a petite voyage to France, first to check in with the writer Colette and then to catch up with the swashbuckling Cyrano de Bergerac. I reviewed both Colette Uncensored at The Marsh, a solo show starring and co-written by Lorri Holt (with Zack Rogow, and Cyrano, a new adaptation of Rostand's tale at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley for the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Pure pop pleasure with the Puppini Sisters

Apr 17

Pure pop pleasure with the Puppini Sisters

Under ordinary circumstances, the fact of wonderful British actor Hugh Laurie sitting a table away from me would be highly distracting. But Sunday afternoon at the Fairmont's Venetian Room wasn't ordinary circumstances: it was the only scheduled US performance of the British act The Puppini Sisters in support of their new album, The High Life.

The afternoon performance, like the sold-out evening performance, was part of the Bay Area Cabaret season, a season that spans Broadway, pop, jazz and, in a grand Puppini embrace, high camp and sterling musicianship.

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Tense, riveting Brothers from Crowded Fire

Apr 14

Tense, riveting <i>Brothers</i> from Crowded Fire

Not much happens in Jonas Hassen Khemiri's I Call My Brothers, a Crowded Fire Theater production at Thick House. But then again, everything happens.

This is a mostly subterranean drama, which is to say, a little happens on the surface – a young man goes about his day running errands and interacting with friends and family – but a whole lot more is happening in his thoughts, his imagination, his paranoia.

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Sean Hayes is devilish/divine in Act of God

Apr 07

Sean Hayes is devilish/divine in <i>Act of God</i>

Like parochial school for fans of The Daily Show, the play An Act of God is a curious theatrical experience. All the ingredients are there: bells and whistles set, sharply funny script, charming star. But in the end, as in the beginning, it's more lite than enlightening. Maybe it's too much to ask that a snarky comedy about a grumpy god holding forth before an audience of heathen Americans have some spiritual heft to it, but the script comes close several times but ends up wishing it were a ditzy musical.

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