Reality vs. imagination in ACT’s appealing Chester Bailey

Jun 03

Reality vs. imagination in ACT’s appealing <i>Chester Bailey</i>

In Joseph Dougherty's Chester Bailey, it's reality vs. imagination, and the audience wins.

This world-premiere production from American Conservatory Theater is a modest two-hander performed in the intimate Strand Theater, an old-fashioned feeling play woven through with dry humor and compassion. Think of it sort of as an Oliver Sacks case history come to life with a modicum of theatrical flair.

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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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Jonesing for cosmic connection in ACT’s Joneses

Mar 17

Jonesing for cosmic connection in ACT’s <i>Joneses</i>

The topic is: things that have happened. That broad, yet somehow quite specific, statement comes from a character in Will Eno's The Realistic Joneses now on stage at American Conservatory Theater's Geary Theater. Another broad yet specific topic might be: lives that are lived.

Eno is one of those playwrights whose gift seems to be making raising the bizarre, often absurd experience of human existence to the level of cosmic grace and beauty.

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Crazy good music stirs ACT’s Unfortunates

Feb 19

Crazy good music stirs ACT’s <i>Unfortunates</i>

The Unfortunates is a strange, antic show with some absolutely glorious music. Now at American Conservatory Theater's Strand Theater, the show is part folklore, part fever dream, part comic book, and all those parts are tied together with songs that bridge folk, hip-hop, jazz and gospel into a stirring Americana sound that doesn't need much plot, character or context to explode with life.

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Pops is tops in ACT’s Satchmo

Jan 21

Pops is tops in ACT’s <i>Satchmo</i>

John Douglas Thompson is tall and handsome, which is to say, he looks nothing like Louis Armstrong. But so deft is Thompson's performance as the legendary trumpeter in Terry Teachout's captivating Satchmo at the Waldorf that audiences could almost swear they were in the company of the late, great man himself.

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Bay Area theater 2015: some favorites

Dec 22

Bay Area theater 2015: some favorites

One of the best things about the year-end exercise to round up favorite theatergoing memories of the preceding year is that it can be such a powerful reminder of how much good theater we have in the Bay Area and how many really extraordinary theater artists we have working here. Another element jumps out at me this year and that is how, in addition to great homegrown work, our area also attracts some of the best theater artists from around the world to come and share their work (at the behest of savvy local producers, of course). Herewith, some favorites from the year that was.

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