Bright and bouncy, Moon’s Sunshine radiates charm

Apr 13

Bright and bouncy, Moon’s <i>Sunshine</i> radiates charm

The song titles say a lot about what this musical is like: "Livin' in the Sunlight," "You Hit the Spot," "Sweeping the Clouds Away." If it seems there's a rosy glow emanating from these titles, that's exactly right. You'll find no more glowing show in town than 42nd Street Moon's first original musical in its two-decade history, Painting the Clouds with Sunshine.

This is a stage musical in love with movies. Creators Greg MacKellan and Mark D. Kaufmann have learned a whole lot from the passing parade of lost, forgotten and banal-to-brilliant musicals...

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Bouncy Island breezes blow at TheatreWorks

Mar 12

Bouncy <i>Island</i> breezes blow at TheatreWorks

Last Saturday I reviewed the TheatreWorks production of Once on This Island, the charming musical fairy tale by the Ragtime/Rocky team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. My review ran in the San Francisco Chronicle, and you can read it here.

Director Robert Kelley's production captures much of the show's charm and energy, and the cast is delightful. But I've been thinking about...

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Life, love, kick-ass music in Bengsons’ Hundred Days

Mar 06

Life, love, kick-ass music in Bengsons’ <i>Hundred Days</i>

In those moments, when the music and voices are soaring, the drums are pounding, the feet are stomping and the hands are clapping, there's no better place to be than sitting in Z Space fully immersed in the glorious new rock musical Hundred Days.

A creation by The Bengsons, the musical duo comprising spouses Abigail Bengson and Shaun Bengson, Hundred Days is an unconventional musical that is so much more than it seems.

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Porgy sings anew at the Golden Gate

Nov 14

<i>Porgy</i> sings anew at the Golden Gate

p>The music of Porgy and Bess is so pervasive in the musical landscape that actually seeing the show and how the songs fit into the story is a little startling.

I know the George Gershwin-Ira Gershwin-DuBose Heyward score not from cast recordings but from pop and jazz versions recorded by the likes of Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Carmen McRae, Cleo Laine and Ray Charles and Frances Faye and Mel Tormé. And then there are the countless covers of the show's songs. "Summertime" is considered one of the most recorded songs of all time, with more than 30,000 versions. This music, in other words, is part of the American cultural fabric.

Productions of Porgy and Bess don't come along very often...

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Broadway-bound Carole King bio truly is Beautiful

Oct 09

Broadway-bound Carole King bio truly is <i>Beautiful</i>

You know that Beautiful: The Carole King Musical has worked its musical biography magic when, during the curtain calls, the extraordinary Jessie Mueller takes her bow, you feel like you're applauding an actor for her superb performance as King and you feel like you're acknowledging King herself and all of the remarkable work she has contributed over the last five decades.

King herself is nowhere to be found in the creation of this Broadway-bound enterprise except where it really counts: in the music. The story that book writer Douglas McGrath and director Marc Bruni are telling springs out of King's early start in the songwriting business and her emergence as a seminal singer-songwriter of the 1970s, but the show is really a tribute to the craft of songwriting.

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Well I’ll be dipped in pig’s blood — Carrie lives

Oct 06

Well I’ll be dipped in pig’s blood — <i>Carrie</i> lives

The bucket of pig's blood is to Carrie the Musical what the chandelier is to The Phantom of the Opera -- you just know both of those suckers are coming down. In fact, Carrie and Phantom have more than falling props in common. They're both essentially horror stories adapted for the musical stage in which the central character is a misunderstood, sensitive soul who gets bullied to the point of horrific violence. The difference is that one has an upper berth on the "most successful musicals of all tiem" express train, and one is a flattened penny on the track underneath that train.

If you've heard of Carrie the Musical it's probably in the context of "musical disasters" or "Broadway's biggest flops."

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