SF Playhouse offers a sweet, satisfying Kiss

Nov 22

SF Playhouse offers a sweet, satisfying <i>Kiss</i>

San Francisco Playhouse puckers up and offers a nice juicy kiss for the holidays in Stage Kiss a delightfully daffy theatrical spin with a touch of real-life melancholy.

This is the first time we've seen Ruhl's play in San Francisco, but the whole Bay Area is alive with the sounds of Ruhl's empathetic, intelligent, often mystical take on life.

There's a reason Ruhl reigns over theater here (and across the country)...

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Steve Cuiffo dazzles as Lenny Bruce at the Curran

Nov 21

Steve Cuiffo dazzles as Lenny Bruce at the Curran

My knowledge of Lenny Bruce is sorely limited (I've seen the Dustin Hoffman movie and heard other comics express their reverence), but I'd like that to change. After seeing Steve Cuiffo Is Lenny Bruce at the Curran Theatre as part of the astonishingly varied and vital Curran: Under Construction series, I feel like not knowing enough about Lenny Bruce is not knowing enough about an important and influential artist of the 20th century.

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Odysseo: full gallop gorgeous

Nov 20

<i>Odysseo</i>: full gallop gorgeous

If Bojack Horseman and Mr. Ed count, I can say I'm a horse person. I fell off the back of a running stallion as a child while visiting relatives on a farm in Idaho (that horse really wanted to get back to the stable), and I know people who love horses beyond all measure. But when it comes right down to it, I'm not a horse guy. But I sure do like watching horses running around and doing tricks in the epic new equestrian extravaganza Odysseo.

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Aurora builds a mighty (funny) Monster

Nov 19

Aurora builds a mighty (funny) <i>Monster</i>

When salsa splatters across the unsealed Carrara marble, the horror of the architect played by Danny Scheie resounds through the intimate Aurora Theatre Company. An hors d'oeuvre has fallen on the floor, and after admonishing the clumsiness of his girlfriend, the architect demands a napkin and some vodka to clean it up. The marble is not stained, and the architect, one Gregor Zobrowski, calms down enough to say, "Crisis averted." But is the crisis averted? Not even a little bit, and that's the fun of Amy Freed's The Monster Builder, a very funny riff on Ibsen's The Master Builder (which the Aurora produced in 2006).

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Cal Shakes gets terrifically Tempest tossed

Nov 14

Cal Shakes gets terrifically <i>Tempest</i> tossed

On a day when terrible things were happening in the world, being immersed in William Shakespeare's The Tempest was sweet balm, especially as performed by the fine actors of California Shakespeare Theater's "All the World's a Stage" tour of the show, which, in classic traveling players mode, is being performed in senior centers, homeless shelters, federal prison, rehab centers and the like. It's hard not to agree with Caliban when he says, "Hell is empty. All the devils are here." But dark notions of revenge, which so inform the play itself, are soothed by virtue, and Prospero's exquisite speech, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep,” is practically heartbreaking in its beauty.

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If/Then? No/Thanks.

Nov 13

<i>If/Then</i>? No/Thanks.

If/Then is not a musical I like much. I saw it on Broadway because I was enthusiastic about creators Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey after their powerhouse effort on Next to Normal (a show that I had problems with but admired). My reaction – meh – was very much the same when I saw the show in its touring incarnation featuring much of the original cast, including star Idina Menzel.

There are some pretty melodies, good songs and affecting moments in the show, primarily courtesy of an excellent cast working hard to make something of this rather mushy tale.

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MTC’s Mañana captures real-life struggles, passions

Nov 04

MTC’s <i>Mañana</i> captures real-life struggles, passions

Elizabeth Irwin's My Mañana Comes cuts through any pretense and gets right to the heart of real life in these United States. In so much of the entertainment we consume (and, truth be told, in the lives we lead), the people Irwin writes about here are on the fringes, working diligently to make modern life run smoothly and efficiently but without much consideration from those whose lives their work benefits. In this case, the focus is on four bus boys in a busy Manhattan restaurant.

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