Sean Hayes is devilish/divine in Act of God

Apr 07

Sean Hayes is devilish/divine in <i>Act of God</i>

Like parochial school for fans of The Daily Show, the play An Act of God is a curious theatrical experience. All the ingredients are there: bells and whistles set, sharply funny script, charming star. But in the end, as in the beginning, it's more lite than enlightening. Maybe it's too much to ask that a snarky comedy about a grumpy god holding forth before an audience of heathen Americans have some spiritual heft to it, but the script comes close several times but ends up wishing it were a ditzy musical.

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Slick moves and a cornered Baby in live Dirty Dancing

Feb 25

Slick moves and a cornered Baby in live <i>Dirty Dancing</i>

Oh, help. Someone put Baby in a corner and she can't get out! The corner is actually the stage of the Golden Gate Theatre, where, as part of the SHN season, she is appearing in Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage, a reasonably entertaining show that feels less like a national touring production and more like a slick, overly faithful film re-creation you might find in a theme park where the loyal fans come to pay homage and wallow in nostalgia.

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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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Bright, shiny Christmas Story musical delights

Dec 10

Bright, shiny <i>Christmas Story</i> musical delights

I remember seeing A Christmas Story in the movie theater in 1983 (I was in high school), and since then, I've probably seen it 50 times or so (in whole or in part) on TV. It helps that TBS has been known to show it in constant rotation for days. So I have affection for the movie and for Jean Shepherd the man who created it (and narrated the movie is wonderfully droll, comforting voice). It's no surprise that this beloved Story has been adapted for the stage as a play (by Philip Grecian, which popped up at the now-extinct San Jose Repertory Theatre a few times) and now as a big old Broadway-style musical.

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Merry murderous mayhem in musical Gentleman’s Guide

Dec 03

Merry murderous mayhem in musical <i>Gentleman’s Guide</i>

You really do root for the murderer in the delightful A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder. That may seem an insensitive scene in these brutal, terrifying days we're living in, but the reality is that this musical comedy (based on a novel by Roy Horniman, which in turn inspired the wonderful 1949 movie Kind Hearts and Coronets) is all about karma. What you put into the world comes back to you.

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If/Then? No/Thanks.

Nov 13

<i>If/Then</i>? No/Thanks.

If/Then is not a musical I like much. I saw it on Broadway because I was enthusiastic about creators Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey after their powerhouse effort on Next to Normal (a show that I had problems with but admired). My reaction – meh – was very much the same when I saw the show in its touring incarnation featuring much of the original cast, including star Idina Menzel.

There are some pretty melodies, good songs and affecting moments in the show, primarily courtesy of an excellent cast working hard to make something of this rather mushy tale.

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