SF Playhouse La Cage celebrates Herman show tunes

Jul 20

SF Playhouse <i>La Cage</i> celebrates Herman show tunes

Let us all take a moment to praise the national treasure that is Jerry Herman, the musical theater maestro behind three massive hits: Hello, Dolly!, Mame and La Cage aux Folles. It's an opportune time to toast Mr. Herman: his Dolly is back on Broadway in a ravishing production starring the divine (and Tony-winning) Bette Midler, and closer to home, San Francisco Playhouse just opened a sweet and funny production of La Cage.

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Grit, exuberance mark TheatreWorks’ Immigrants

Jul 16

Grit, exuberance mark TheatreWorks’ <i>Immigrants</i>

Think about how often you've seen the Asian-American experience represented in a piece of musical theater. Perhaps Flower Drum Song comes to mind or a sliver of Miss Saigon. A more serious recent work is Allegiance about the World War II Japanese internment camps. And now we have TheatreWorks of Silicon Valley's world premiere, The Four Immigrants: An American Musical Manga with book, music and lyrics by the enormously talented Bay Area writer Min Kahng.

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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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