Ham and jam and Camelot

Jul 25

Ham and jam and <i>Camelot</i>

I never loved Camelot, not ever once in silence. Not in the lusty month of May. Never. And I wanted to because how could you not love the work of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, the guys who created the masterwork known as My Fair Lady? I'm also genetically inclined emotionally hard wired to love anything involving Julie Andrews, who followed up her star-making turn as Eliza Doolittle by playing the placid Guenevere in Lerner and Loewe's adaptation of the King Arthur stories as told in T.H. White's The Once and Future King. But the fact is that the role of Guenevere, like the show in which she's stuck, is a big drag.

How exciting, then, to hear that San Francisco Playhouse was going to re-imagine Camelot as something darker and grittier.

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Wilson Jermaine Heredia goes from Rent to Camelot

Jul 15

Wilson Jermaine Heredia goes from <i>Rent</i> to <i>Camelot</i>

When Wilson Jermaine Heredia decided to make a splash in the Broadway world, he dove right in and created giant waves. For his performance as the dazzling Angel Schunard in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rent he won Tony, Drama Desk and Obie awards and was nominated for an Olivier when he reprised the role in London.

Since that splash, Heredia has worked consistently – his most recent Broadway gig was opposite Harvey Fierstein in the Tony-winning revival of La Cage aux Folles, but for his next chapter, the 41-year-old actor has taken a road that has led him away from his native New York (he was born and bred in Brooklyn) and to a new home and a new life here in San Francisco.

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Actors put some life in SF Playhouse’s Party

Jun 07

Actors put some life in SF Playhouse’s <i>Party</i>

If you've seen a Mike Leigh movie, the conversational rhythms and that true-to-life quality of nothing happening/everything happening will seem familiar on stage in Abigail's Party, a play Leigh devised in 1978 with the help of his actors (Leigh is famous for improvising scripts). Though not nearly as substantial or illuminating as some of Leigh's best movies – Life Is Sweet, Secrets and Lies, Another Year Abigail's Party has some delightful gin-soaked moments as an older couple and a younger couple mix it up Virginia Woolf-style under the wary (and woozy) eye of a neighbor who would probably rather be anywhere but this party.

At San Francisco Playhouse, director Amy Glazer and her quintet of actors is working wonders with the subtext in Leigh's script, finding laughs that perhaps Leigh never even knew about.

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At SF Playhouse, pretty is as Pretty does

Mar 31

At SF Playhouse, pretty is as <i>Pretty</i> does

I've come to learn that when a Neil LaBute play or movie crosses my path, I detour around it, ignore it or make an immediate donation to a women's support or LBGT organization. LaBute is a really good writer – his ear for dialogue is impeccable, and his ferocity for storytelling is admirable. I just rarely like what his characters have to say or where his stories end up.

That said, LaBute's Reasons to Be Pretty, now at San Francisco Playhouse, marks the first time I've left one of the writer's play and not wanted to bash my head against the wall on the way out. Sure, there are traces of misogyny, homophobia and racism (mostly coming from the mouth of one classic LaButian male character). But what's interesting here is that LaBute is being provocative in the name of evolution, of self-actualization, of emotional growth.

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Playwright Jordan Puckett ready for prime time

Mar 05

Playwright Jordan Puckett ready for prime time

We have a Theater Dogs guest writer! Welcome Scott Lucas of San Francisco magazine, who chatted with playwright Jordan Puckett, whose Inevitable runs through March 23rd as part of San Francisco Playhouse’s Sandbox series. Scott Lucas: With the opening of Inevitable, it’s not only the first performance of this play, but the first time any of your plays has been done, right? Jordan Puckett: I’ve had readings of Inevitable before, though it’s had many titles and versions. This is the world premiere. It’s the first production of it, and my first production ever.

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Yo, Mofo! SF Playhouse tips a mighty fine Hat

Feb 06

Yo, Mofo! SF Playhouse tips a mighty fine <i>Hat</i>

[warning: this review does not hide or disguise the word "motherfucker" in the title of the play at hand]

The comedy, the intensity and all that rough language keeps things skittering right along in the San Francisco Playhouse production of The Motherfucker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis. The play is this rush of plot and character and language, then the sadness and despair lands. It takes Lionel Richie and the Commodores to underscore it, but man oh man is it there.

In so many ways, Gurigis' Hat is about growing up, about taking yourself and the world you live in seriously enough to find purpose and pursue it with as much discipline as you can muster. The grown-ups in the play, let it be said, don't do such a good job on the discipline part, although most of them have (or find) some degree of purpose.

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