This Lion is king at ACT

Apr 21

This <i>Lion</i> is king at ACT

If Benjamin Scheuer were simply a musical act, I'd happily go see him in concert and buy his albums. his voice can go from sweet to gravelly, aggressive to tender, rollicking to romantic even within the space of a single song, and the same can be said for his guitar playing. He puts himself out there in his music, and in addition to being aurally pleasing, his music is also deeply satisfying.

But Scheuer is more than a concert act. He's also a playwright and actor. So his version of a concert is the one-man autobiographical musical The Lion now at American Conservatory Theater's Strand Theater.

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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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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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Much to love in Moon’s charming Scrooge

Dec 05

Much to love in Moon’s charming <i>Scrooge</i>

Just when you thought there was not a breath of life left in the seasonal cash cow known as A Christmas Carol, along comes Scrooge in Love! to remind us that there's still a lot of life and heart and holiday spirit left in old Ebenezer Scrooge.

San Francisco's venerable 42nd Street Moon, formed 23 years ago to present neglected or forgotten musicals, has been shaking things up of late, with the company's latest coup being the world premiere of this sequel to Dickens' Carol with music by Larry Grossman, lyrics by Kellen Blair and a book by Duane Poole. It's an absolute gem of a musical – fresh, clever, spirited and a welcome addition to the canon of holiday perennials.

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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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