2017 theater in review: Reflections on a powerful year

Dec 28

2017 theater in review: Reflections on a powerful year

If you're a theater fan, 2017 was a very good year. If you're an American, depending on your point of view, 2017 was a terrifying year. Quite often, it seemed, the theatrical stage and the national stage were in direct conversation.

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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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S’Just All Right: Gershwin score saves American in Paris

Sep 14

S’Just All Right: Gershwin score saves <i>American in Paris</i>

An American in Paris, adapted by writer Craig Lucas and directed and choreographed by a member of ballet world royalty, Christopher Wheeldon, is a decidedly uneven affair. It wants to be part serious musical (the darkness of Paris after World War II and the Nazi occupation), part musical comedy (three guys in love with one girl!) and part contemporary and ballet dance show. Call it a ballet-sical (mullet doesn't quite work). Whatever it is, it doesn't quite work.

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Something wickedly delightful in Something Rotten

Aug 17

Something wickedly delightful in <i>Something Rotten</i>

Thank you, Something Rotten!. I need that.

Sometimes you ned light and froth and delectable show tunes to lift you out of the quagmire of our something-more-than-rotten times, and this musical, now at the Orpheum Theatre as part of the SHN season, is just the ticket.

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Howlingly good Dog in the Night-Time offers curious pleasures

Jun 29

Howlingly good <i>Dog in the Night-Time</i> offers curious pleasures

That a play about challenges faced by a 15-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder (just what he's dealing with is never detailed) has become a worldwide phenomenon is surprising only if you haven't seen the play. The touring company of the Broadway production opened Wednesday, June 28 at the Golden Gate Theatre as part of the SHN season, and what the venue lacks in intimacy, the production makes up for with its strong ensemble and its dazzling physical production.

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Hamilton in SF: Re-creating America

Mar 24

<i>Hamilton</i> in SF: Re-creating America

If you love Hamilton, and let me say for the record that I love Hamilton, there's a whole lot to love, including, now, a new company in my hometown. After the Chicago company, which began performances last fall, this new one is what would be considered the national touring company. It's here until August as part of the SHN season before heading to Los Angeles. The full Broadway creative team is represented here, and at Thursday's opening-night production, the show shone through the hype with clarity, excitement and emotional heft.

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