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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42nd Street Moon hits the high seas with Coward’s Sail Away

Nov 01

42nd Street Moon hits the high seas with Coward’s <i>Sail Away</i>

Sail Away, the last musical for which the great Noël Coward wrote the whole shebang (book, music, lyrics), had two things going for it when it premiered on Broadway in 1961. First was the customary Coward wit, which shone in numbers like "The Passenger's Always Right" and "Why Do the Wrong People Travel?" And then there was the show's star, Elaine Stritch for whom Coward created the role of cruise hostess Mimi Paragon. Any show was better for having Stritch in it (Goldilocks anyone?), and the combination of her personality and Coward's charm should have proven irresistible.

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Sweet transvestite! Ray of Light rocks Rocky Horror

Oct 29

Sweet transvestite! Ray of Light rocks <i>Rocky Horror</i>

lab and see what's on the slab. Any prospect of a live Rocky Horror Show makes us shiver with antici................pation, And the good news is this Rocky is a rollicking ride through one of the most beloved cult musicals of all time.

Jason Hoover, Ray of Light's artistic director, is at the helm of this full-scale production, which Ray of Light last produced in 2008 when Hoover...

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Curran brilliance continues with stunning Ghost Quartet

Oct 24

Curran brilliance continues with stunning <i>Ghost Quartet</i>

Before I rhapsodize about the incredible Ghost Quartet now at the Curran Theatre as part of the Curran: Under Construction series, can I just say how extraordinary this series has been so far? This is the third show following The Events (review here) and The Object Lesson (review here), and so far, producer Carole Shorenstein Hays is batting a million (I don't know sports).

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Hypocrites’ Pirates sets sail at Berkeley Rep

Oct 23

Hypocrites’ <i>Pirates</i> sets sail at Berkeley Rep

The Hypocrites' Pirates of Penzance is one part Yo ho! and one part Yo, ho! Which is to say, this is not your great-grandparents' Gilbert and Sullivan, and what a blessed relief that is. No wonder Berkeley Repertory Theatre seized the opportunity to present this Pirates as part of its season.

Not that there's anything wrong with G&S, but I have been tortured by Pirates and Mikados in the past and...

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Performances make Dogfight musical sing

Oct 01

Performances make <i>Dogfight</i> musical sing

There are two very good reasons to see the musical Dogfight at San Francisco Playhouse. The 2012 stage adaptation of the 1991 movie starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor has its moments (mostly thanks to the emotional score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), but what really makes it connect are the lead performances by Jeffrey Brian Adams as a U.S. Marine with more depth under his gruff military exterior than even he may realize and Caitlin Brooke as a San Francisco waitress/folk singer who is smarter, stronger and more compassionate than anyone the Marine has ever known (or probably ever will know).

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