Watch on the Rhine at Berkeley Rep

Dec 08

<i>Watch on the Rhine</i> at Berkeley Rep

The thing I can't stand about 24-hour cable news networks is that it's 5% news and 95% talking heads spouting opinions and fighting over those opinions.

The thing I loved about Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine (a co-production from Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Guthrie Theatre) is that the author stakes a claim for action. After a certain point, opinions matter a whole lot less than what you choose to do about whatever opinion you hold.

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Love doth evade Marin’s Shakespeare in Love

Dec 02

Love doth evade Marin’s <i>Shakespeare in Love</i>

The Bay Area finally gets to see Shakespeare in Love on stage thanks to Marin Theatre Company, and while the cast boats some of the Bay Area's best actors – Stacy Ross, Lance Gardner, Megan Trout, Mark Anderson Phillips, L. Peter Callender – the production flails under the direction of Jasson Minadakis.

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Galaxy of emotions surround Bright Star at the Curran

Dec 01

Galaxy of emotions surround <i>Bright Star</i> at the Curran

Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's Bright Star is a beautiful musical, especially if you have a penchant for bluegrass music and florid stories with twists, turns and not-so-surprising surprises.

It feels like a quintessentially American musical in several ways, the first being that glorious, banjo-heavy bluegrass, which brings to life a story that stretches from the 1920s to the 1940s in North Carolina.

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Shotgun’s Black Rider dances with the devil

Nov 26

Shotgun’s <i>Black Rider</i> dances with the devil

Thirteen years ago – such an appropriate number of years – American Conservatory Theater made some sort of deal with the devil to get The Black Rider onto the stage of the Geary Theater. Now Berkeley's Shotgun Players revive this decidedly adult fairy tale under the guidance of director Mark Jackson, and the results are heartily satisfying.

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The knockout punch of Aurora’s Royale

Nov 10

The knockout punch of Aurora’s <i>Royale</i>

There's something wonderfully vital and theatrical about Marco Ramirez's The Royale now at . It's a play ostensibly about boxing, but really it addresses the much larger issue of race in America.

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Disney’s Aladdin flies high at the Orpheum

Nov 06

Disney’s <i>Aladdin</i> flies high at the Orpheum

There is no question in my mind, that of all Disney's animated film to Broadway adaptations, Aladdin is the most thoroughly successful. For The Lion King stage adaptation, Julie Taymor offered eye-popping spectacle and stagecraft in service to a flimsy story and even flimsier characters. Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s first Broadway venture, was fun and dazzling but only a ride vehicle away from being a theme park attraction. The less said about the misguided Tarzan and missed opportunities of The Little Mermaid the better.

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Be mindful of the gap: Small Mouth Sounds howls at ACT

Oct 27

Be mindful of the gap: <i>Small Mouth Sounds</i> howls at ACT

The cast of Bess Wohl’s Small Mouth Sounds, an almost entirely wordless play presented by American Conservatory Theater at The Strand Theater, includes (clockwise from left) Ben Beckley, Brenna Palughi, Connor Barrett, Edward Chin-Lyn, Socorro Santiago and Cherene Snow. Below: Six urbanites experience the awkward tension of a silent meditation retreat. Photos...

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