Purple reigns at SHN’s Orpheum

May 03

<i>Purple</i> reigns at SHN’s Orpheum

When I originally reviewed the musical version of The Color Purple based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and the Steven Spielberg's 1985 movie version, I felt the production was too Broadway slick and the score was too bland. The only thing that worked – and indeed the thing that saved that October 2007 touring production – was Walker's story and her powerful characters. (Read the review here.)

That was only 11 years ago, but The Color Purple is back.

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Ga-ga for Go-Go’s in giddy Head Over Heels

Apr 19

Ga-ga for Go-Go’s in giddy <i>Head Over Heels</i>

Taylor Iman Jones as Mopsa (center) and the company perform “We Got the Beat,” the opening number of the new musical Head Over Heels, which features songs by the Go-Go’s. (below) Peppermint (center) is Pythio, The Oracle of Delphi, in the number “Vision of Nowness.” Photos by Joan Marcus My love for the Go-Go’s began with my first Sony Walkman...

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Floating on air in rock musical Weightless

Mar 01

Floating on air in rock musical <i>Weightless</i>

In this version of the story, adapted by Dan Moses and Kate Kilbane, the horrible things aren't quite as godawful as they are in Ovid (the cannibalism, for instance, is absent), but they're still pretty bad, and they (surprise surprise) fit right into our collective #MeToo moment.

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Galaxy of emotions surround Bright Star at the Curran

Dec 01

Galaxy of emotions surround <i>Bright Star</i> at the Curran

Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's Bright Star is a beautiful musical, especially if you have a penchant for bluegrass music and florid stories with twists, turns and not-so-surprising surprises.

It feels like a quintessentially American musical in several ways, the first being that glorious, banjo-heavy bluegrass, which brings to life a story that stretches from the 1920s to the 1940s in North Carolina.

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Shotgun’s Black Rider dances with the devil

Nov 26

Shotgun’s <i>Black Rider</i> dances with the devil

Thirteen years ago – such an appropriate number of years – American Conservatory Theater made some sort of deal with the devil to get The Black Rider onto the stage of the Geary Theater. Now Berkeley's Shotgun Players revive this decidedly adult fairy tale under the guidance of director Mark Jackson, and the results are heartily satisfying.

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Disney’s Aladdin flies high at the Orpheum

Nov 06

Disney’s <i>Aladdin</i> flies high at the Orpheum

There is no question in my mind, that of all Disney's animated film to Broadway adaptations, Aladdin is the most thoroughly successful. For The Lion King stage adaptation, Julie Taymor offered eye-popping spectacle and stagecraft in service to a flimsy story and even flimsier characters. Beauty and the Beast, Disney’s first Broadway venture, was fun and dazzling but only a ride vehicle away from being a theme park attraction. The less said about the misguided Tarzan and missed opportunities of The Little Mermaid the better.

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