Summer’s a bummer in all but music

Dec 05

<i>Summer’s</i> a bummer in all but music

For a terrible show, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is fairly enjoyable, and that is for one reason alone: the music. As jukebox musicals go, this one is toward the bottom of the list, which is surprising given that director and co-writer Des McAnuff has two shows much (much) higher on that list: Jersey Boys and Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.

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Of mice and music: Berkeley Rep’s Despereaux charms

Nov 26

Of mice and music: Berkeley Rep’s <i>Despereaux</i> charms

There are so many charming, astonishing, inspiring moments in PigPen Theatre Co.'s The Tale of Despereaux you have to stop logging them and simply realize that, from beginning to end, this is exactly the show we need this holiday season.

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Identity crisis renders Anastasia dull, derivative

Sep 05

Identity crisis renders <i>Anastasia</i> dull, derivative

As much as we might like to think that the future of Broadway looks like Hamilton or Hadestown, I'm pretty sure the future looks more like Anastasia, the inconsequential musical based on the 1997 animated film (in turn based on the 1956 movie starring Ingrid Bergman) that is now touring the country. Given how uninspired this show is, the fact that it ran for two years on Broadway is surprising, but perhaps lukewarm rehashes are just what audiences want.

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Come to the Cabaret at SF Playhouse

Jul 12

Come to the <i>Cabaret</i> at SF Playhouse

San Francisco Playhouse's Cabaret is, to put it simply, a wow. A big, debauched, delightful wow. Everything in director Susi Damilano's production just clicks. The look, the feel, the sound of this John Kander and Fred Ebb classic are all securely in place, so this well-constructed musical (Damilano is using the 1998 Broadway revival as her base) can connect directly with its audience.

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Vivacious Aztec tunefully reclaims, re-writes Latinx history

Jun 07

Vivacious <i>Aztec</i> tunefully reclaims, re-writes Latinx history

After 33 years at Berkeley Repertory Theatre – 22 as artistic director – Tony Taccone is taking a final bow with Kiss My Aztec, a world-premiere musical that serves as a fitting farewell. Hatched from the fervid mind of John Leguizamo, the show hits a lot of Taccone hot spots. It attempts to stick it to the white man (in this case, the Spanish conquistadors who colonized, destroyed and attempted to erase Aztec civilization) while re-writing history with a focus on those who should have had a hand in recording it in the first place. It's a sprawling, inclusive, celebratory explosion of energy that continually lobs truth bombs at its audience through crude, incisive, often hilarious lines and lyrics.

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Carole King and all that is Beautiful

May 30

Carole King and all that is <i>Beautiful</i>

Almost six years ago, a Broadway-bound musical had its world premiere at San Francisco's Curran Theatre, and though there were a few issues, the show looked like a bona fide hit. Sure enough, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical became a smash on Broadway, winning a Tony Award for star Jessie Mueller and continuing to draw a cheering audience more than five years later.

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