Fences comes home to the Curran Theatre

Dec 16

<i>Fences</i> comes home to the Curran Theatre

Hard to know which was more exciting: the art or the venue. Let's go with both.

The Curran Theatre formally reopened Thursday, Dec. 15, after more than a year of renovations and refurbishments, and it's gorgeous. In shades of elegance and Curran red, Carole Shorenstein Hays' palace has once again cast open its doors.

The first official event, preceding the January bow of the Fun Home tour (get tickets now), was a homecoming of sorts: the San Francisco premiere of Denzel Washington's screen adaptation of August Wilson's Fences.

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Wilson’s Fences hits hard at Marin Theatre Co.

Apr 16

Wilson’s <i>Fences</i> hits hard at Marin Theatre Co.

I've always been moved by August Wilson's Fences, the 1950s installment of his extraordinary Century Cycle of plays depicting African-American life in the 20th century. But the current production of the play at Marin Theatre Company under the direction of Derrick Sanders made me feel the play in a whole new way.

This has largely to do with Carly Lumbly's wrenching central performance as Troy Maxson.

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Seven Guitars, ably played

Aug 21

<i>Seven Guitars</i>, ably played

Marin Theatre Company's beautiful production of August Wilson's Seven Guitars is the third I've seen, and it amazes me how similar and how different those productions have been. The first was in 1995 when American Conservatory Theater hosted the Broadway-bound version of the show as part of its season. The distinctive thing about that night of theater was the overwhelming wash of lyrical language that poured from the stage. For 3 ½ hours. I called it "indulgent" and "overly long" in my review for the Bay Area Reporter, but I also called the writing "lucid and full of gorgeous natural rhythms." Of Viola Davis' performance as Vera, of whom I wrote, "One of the play's best scenes occurs early in the first act when Vera gives Floyd every reason she can think of why she won't take him back. She does take him back, of course, but her aching, shattering litany – brilliantly delivered by Davis – is probably the truest torch song that was never sung on stage."

The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre produced Seven Guitars in 2003 under the direction of the late Stanley Williams, and by then the show had been trimmed to a more manageable three hours, and in my review for the Oakand Tribune, I commended the ensemble (seven characters, hence the title) when they were able to "revel in the beats and rhythms of Wilson's almost-musical writing."

And now Marin Theatre Company, tackling its first August Wilson play, enters the fray with special attention to the music.

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Hail to the Broadway chief!

May 30

Not to get too political here, but isn’t it refreshing, theater fans, to have a First Family that enjoys and advocates the arts – and specifically theater? President and Mrs. Obama are scheduled to attend a Broadway show tonight: August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Here’s from the New York Times report: Set in a Pittsburgh...

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Review: `Joe Turner’s Come and Gone’

Nov 06

Cast members of Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone feel the spirit (from left): Barry Shabaka Henley as Seth, Kim Staunton as Bertha, Don Guillory as Jeremy and Brent Jennings as Bynum. Photos by kevinberne.com   Berkeley Rep delivers an extraordinary `Joe’«««« At Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Wednesday night...

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Berkeley Rep play aids real-life rescue effort

Oct 20

Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Yellowjackets, a drama about Berkeley High School’s student newspaper, The Jacket, had some real-life consequences. Audiences raised more than $6,600 to help rescue the flailing publication. Ben Freeman (left) and Kevin Hsieh were part of the just-closed show’s young cast. Photo by kevinberne.com   Sadly, it’s...

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