Cutting Ball pumps energy into vivid Dream

Oct 09

Cutting Ball pumps energy into vivid <i>Dream</i>

What a rare treat to have had two productions of Pedro Calderón de la Barca's Life Is a Dream on local stages this year. First there was California Shakespeare Theater's production (read my review here), and now we have a brisk, streamlined version from Cutting Ball Theater and its resident playwright, Andrew Saito at the EXIT on Taylor.

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Ramping up the teenage angst in Crowded Fire’s Truck Stop

Oct 06

Ramping up the teenage angst in Crowded Fire’s <i>Truck Stop</i>

The whole time I was watching Lachlan Philpott's Truck Stop, a Crowded Fire Theater production at Thick House, I was working myself into a state of anxiety imagining being the parent of a teenage girl. How do you fight the global objectification of women and instill a sense of self-worth that comes as much from intellectual, spiritual, emotional places and not just the physical and sexual, which it seems is all the world cares about if you're watching TV or movies, reading magazines or listening to music.

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Uneven tone tilts ACT’s Monstress double bill

Oct 03

Uneven tone tilts ACT’s <i>Monstress</i> double bill

Two of the Bay Area's most interesting theater artists, Philip Kan Gotanda and Sean San José, were asked to adapt a short story from Lysley Tenorio's 2012 collection Monstress for American Conservatory Theater's Strand Theater as part of the company's San Francisco Stories initiative and the New Strands play development and commissioning program.

The results make up the double bill Monstress now at the Strand, and while both plays...

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Performances make Dogfight musical sing

Oct 01

Performances make <i>Dogfight</i> musical sing

There are two very good reasons to see the musical Dogfight at San Francisco Playhouse. The 2012 stage adaptation of the 1991 movie starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor has its moments (mostly thanks to the emotional score by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), but what really makes it connect are the lead performances by Jeffrey Brian Adams as a U.S. Marine with more depth under his gruff military exterior than even he may realize and Caitlin Brooke as a San Francisco waitress/folk singer who is smarter, stronger and more compassionate than anyone the Marine has ever known (or probably ever will know).

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Humming the chandelier: Phantom 2.0

Aug 27

Humming the chandelier: <i>Phantom</i> 2.0

Now we have a "new" production of The Phantom of the Opera with a new director and a (mostly) new design team. Just as he did with Les Misèrables, director Laurence Connor has attempted to freshen up what was definitely becoming a stale property (albeit one that remains as popular as ever). For Les Miz he got ride of the iconic turntable, and guess what? He has made a turntable set the centerpiece of his Phantom!

Back in San Francisco as part of the SHN season, this revamped Phantom scores points for (unlike Les Miz) not...

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Sisters count in SF Playhouse’s 1 2 3

Aug 21

Sisters count in SF Playhouse’s <i>1 2 3</i>

The three daughters of domestic terrorists – activists, as the eldest girl insists on calling them – have moved so often and changed their names so many times they can't really remember who they are exactly. The easiest thing to do is simply number themselves. 1 will be the eldest. 2 will be the middle child and 3 will be the baby.

When we meet these three smart, malleable children, in the world premiere of Lila Rose Kaplan's 1 2 3, they are in a new town about to head to a new school. Again.

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