2011 in the rearview mirror: the best of Bay Area stages

Dec 29

2011 in the rearview mirror: the best of Bay Area stages

Let's just get right to it. 2011 was another year full of fantastic local theater (and some nice imports). Somehow, most of our theater companies has managed thus far to weather the bruising economy. May the new year find audiences clamoring for more great theater.

1. How to Write a New Book for the Bible by Bill Cain
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Directed by Kent Nicholson

Only a few days ago I was telling someone about this play – my favorite new play of 2011 and the most moving theatrical experience I've had in a long time – and it happened again. I got choked up. That happens every time I try to describe Cain's deeply beautiful ode to his family and to the spirituality that family creates (or maybe that's vice-versa). Nicholson's production, from the excellent actors to the simple, elegant design, let the play emerge in all its glory.

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Telling Tales and making them sing

Jun 02

Telling <i>Tales</i> and making them sing

There’s a beautiful line of dialogue that perfectly encapsulates the denouement of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, a tricky new musical having its world premiere at American Conservatory Theater. Toward the end of the nearly three-hour show, one character comforts another with: “Mystery solved. Mystery loved.”

In those two short lines we get what Tales of the City, whether in novel, miniseries or musical form, is all about: acceptance and love. It’s interesting to note that in the musical, this line is spoken not sung. That’s telling.

Of course the show had to begin life in San Francisco, and like the city that both inspires and hosts it, this Tales of the City has its ups and downs.

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Tweeting, posting and singing with Betty Buckley

Apr 27

Tweeting, posting and singing with Betty Buckley

Onstage and online, Broadway legend Betty Buckley is electrifying.

If you’ve ever seen her perform on Broadway – perhaps in the original cast of Cats or as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard -- or in concert halls large or small, you know just how electrifying she can be. Very few singer/actors connect to material the way she does.

But Buckley, at age 63, has embraced social media in a big way. On the advice of her brother, Norman, a television director, she got hooked up. Now she Tweets daily (@BettyBuckley) and posts on Facebook with regularity to her nearly 5,000 friends. To find a name for her latest concert, she asked her online followers for suggestions. The winner would receive two tickets to the show.

Buckley brings that show, called For the Love of Broadway, to the Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko May 3 through 8.

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K-K-K-Katie Holmes on Broadway, `Tales’ in tune

Mar 31

Yes, Katie Holmes, late of Dawson’s Creek, she of the couch-jumping husband, the ever-changing cute hairdos and the impossibly adorable Suri parentage, is being rumored to be heading to Broadway for a revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons starring John Lithgow and Dianne Weist. Ms. Holmes must have had a conversation with Jennifer Garner, who had such a...

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