Show tune nirvana: Transcendence under the stars

Jun 18

Show tune nirvana: Transcendence under the stars

Transcendence Theatre Company has a lock on the show tune market. Sure, other companies might be doing musicals, but only Transcendence offers multiple musical revues each summer performed in a spectacular outdoor setting amid a festival-like setting of food, wine and abundant merriment. Now in its sixth season at Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen (Sonoma County), Transcendence more often than not lives up to its name with expertly assembled revues performed under the stars (at least by Act 2 when the sun has set and the first stars begin to appear) in the ruins of an old winery, with vines creeping up the hills in the background.

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Musical Monsoon Wedding debuts at Berkeley Rep

May 20

Musical <i>Monsoon Wedding</i> debuts at Berkeley Rep

Beauty, heart and fun flood the stage of Berkeley Repertory Theatre's world premiere of Monsoon Wedding, the musical adaptation of the 2001 film of the same name. There's clearly a lot of love invested in the making of this show, from the original film's director, Mira Nair, who returns to helm this ambitious stage version, to the ebullient cast.

But is it a good musical? Well, it's a new musical, and it still needs a lot of work.

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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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Fractured fairy tales shine in stripped-down Woods

Mar 09

Fractured fairy tales shine in stripped-down <i>Woods</i>

You've journeyed Into the Woods, but you haven't ever been into these woods.

When great musicals are revived, the first question has to be: why? Is it going to be another retread of a successful prior production? Or will it be a reinvention, a new take for a new time? Happily the latter is the case with the glorious Fiasco Theater re-imagining of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods.

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Gorgeous, moving Fun Home at the Curran

Jan 27

Gorgeous, moving <i>Fun Home</i> at the Curran

At only about 100 minutes, the musical Fun Home, manages to encapsulate a profoundly moving life experience: coming to terms with your parents as human beings and not just the people who gave you life then messed up that life one way or another.

What an extraordinary show to officially re-open the spectacularly renovated Curran Theatre, now in its 95th year and the ongoing project of Carole Shorenstein Hays and her family.

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Finding Neverland: never found, never lands

Jan 19

<i>Finding Neverland</i>: never found, never lands

I'm calling it: the use of Peter Pan as an automatic trigger for poignant reflections on lost youth and the emotional cruelty of aging is officially over. It's been over for a while, but apparently word has not spread to those still hoping to cash in on Captain Hook, Tinkerbell and the whole Neverland crew. That's unfortunate for the musical Finding Neverland.

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