Berkeley Rep’s Good Book is a revelation

May 04

Berkeley Rep’s <i>Good Book</i> is a revelation

Let's just admit it. The Bible is a clusterf**k. How in the world did such a literary hodgepodge, political football, myth collection become one of the most influential – if not the most influential book – ever created? That is the mammoth question asked by playwrights Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare ask in their fascinating play The Good Book now at Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

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Glorious Weightless soars back to SF

May 03

Glorious <i>Weightless</i> soars back to SF

Last year I fell in love with Weightless, the rock musical by The Kilbanes, when it had a triumphant world premiere at Z Space. The show had muscle and heart and passion and staggering beauty. The experience of watching the show was so thrilling it felt like something important was beginning – a new hit musical on its way along the lines of Hadestown or Once but on a slightly different scale, one that finds an intriguing balance between rock concert and rock musical.

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A non-traditional Vanity Fair bows at ACT

Apr 25

A non-traditional <i>Vanity Fair</i> bows at ACT

For their adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's 1848 novel Vanity Fair, writer Kate Hamill and director Jessica Stone do a little bit of cheating. Hamill has decided to liven things up by making this a play about a play about a novel. We are in American Conservatory Theater's Geary Theater, but on stage, we're told that our actual location is "Strand Musick Hall," and the opening number tells us that seven actors are going to play all the parts for the next 2 1/2 hours.

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Not even Oompa Loompas can save this foundering Factory

Apr 18

Not even Oompa Loompas can save this foundering <i>Factory</i>

A golden ticket doesn't buy you much these days – a cut-rate touring musical with chintzy sets, a mediocre score and about as much joy as you'd find in a board meeting about turning wacky movies into boring musicals. You'd be justified in hoping for more from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a new musical re-working of the 1964 novel by Roald Dahl and the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

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Overwhelming humanity, extraordinary theater in The Jungle at the Curran

Apr 11

Overwhelming humanity, extraordinary theater in <i>The Jungle</i> at the Curran

You may enter The Jungle at the beautiful Curran theater in downtown San Francisco, but you exit in an entirely different place – mentally and emotionally speaking, that is.

The idea of immersive theater tends to bring on expectations of fun and intrigue with promises of leaving present circumstances behind and allowing yourself to be somewhere else (possibly someone else or in some other time) for just a little while. But The Jungle is different.

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Berkeley Rep’s HOME is where the (he)art is

Mar 27

Berkeley Rep’s <i>HOME</i> is where the (he)art is

What Dorothy Gale said is true: there's no place like home. But in this particular instance, there is no place and no show quite like HOME, the creation of the marvelous Geoff Sobelle, whom we last saw rummaging through boxes and file cabinets on stage at the Curran in The Object Lesson (read my review here). Sobelle is back with another inventive, wholly unique theater piece, this time at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, where he and a mighty crew of designers and actors are homing in on the lives we lead.

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Hamilton continues to dazzle in new #AndPeggy tour

Feb 22

<i>Hamilton</i> continues to dazzle in new #AndPeggy tour

If anything, the current company – known as the #AndPeggy company – of Hamilton now at the SHN Orpheum Theatre through Sept. 8, is even better than the one we saw at the same theater in 2017. Maybe it's because this company got to perform for three weeks in Puerto Rico with the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, reprising the lead role. Or maybe the Hamilton machine, with productions in New York, Chicago and London and with tours here, Tampa and Cincinnati, has just become so incredibly efficient that it has collected all the best performers in all the land(s).

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