Waving through Evan Hansen’s remarkable window

Dec 07

Waving through <i>Evan Hansen’s</i> remarkable window

It's absolutely astonishing that a musical about pain, that is in itself a painful experience, can be so enjoyable. But that's what Dear Evan Hansen is: a deeply felt show that wrings tears but is so artfully crafted that is pain is also a pleasure.

This is also a show that managed, in the shadow of Hamilton a season before it, to become its own kind of phenomenon. Much of the credit went to original star Ben Platt, who originated the role of the title character, a high school senior whose discomfort in his own skin much less the world around him is palpable.

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Enough with the clichés already in A Bronx Tale

Nov 29

Enough with the clichés already in <i>A Bronx Tale</i>

If it feels like we've seen it all before, well, we have. The gangsters, the tormented teens, the tough streets of New York's deeze, dem, dose borough – it's all the same old stuff in the musical version of A Bronx Tale now at the Golden Gate Theatre as part of the SHNChazz Palminteri's autobiographical one-man show or the movie version that served as the feature directing debut of Robert De Niro or the upgraded one-man show that Paminteri took to Broadway and then around the country.

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Taylor Mac ladles brilliance in Holiday Sauce

Nov 24

Taylor Mac ladles brilliance in <i>Holiday Sauce</i>

Taylor Mac is back with a two-hour show called Taylor Mac's Holiday Sauce, and while two hours is far better than no hours, by the time the show ended, I felt like we were just getting warmed up and ready to do some real work in tearing down "patriarchy as spirituality," as Mac puts it. This is like no holiday show you've ever seen – a Radical Faerie Realness Ritual Sacrifice that involves music and drag and gloriously theatrical excess and full-blown political revolt. Look for eggnog, Rudolph and Hallmark movies elsewhere.

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High-voltage acts power Cirque’s new Volta

Nov 16

High-voltage acts power Cirque’s new <i>Volta</i>

The new touring spectacle, Volta, opened Thursday night under a gray-and-white-striped tent in the AT&T Park for a nearly three-month run before heading down to San Jose. It's a high energy show with more sparkle and verve than the requisite Cirque pretension, and it was a welcome relief to the smoke-choked air that was strangling the world outside the tent.

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Shooting the rapids and tweaking history in ACT’s Men on Boats

Nov 02

Shooting the rapids and tweaking history in ACT’s <i>Men on Boats</i>

Oars up! Oars out! We're going adventuring.

The first thrill of our adventure is the sheer delight of seeing 10 women on stage – 10! – in the American Conservatory Theater production of Men on Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus now at The Strand Theater. How often do we get to see that many marvelous women on a stage together? Hardly ever.

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Slice of life served up sweet and tuneful in Waitress

Oct 18

Slice of life served up sweet and tuneful in <i>Waitress</i>

Waitress is very much like one of the wacky pies its title character concocts – an odd combination of ingredients that come together in a surprisingly delightful way. As a musical, it's about ordinary life – low-paying jobs, abusive relationships, childhood trauma, the families we make as opposed to the ones we're born into – but it sings, often beautifully, about the deep pain and the little joys of everyday living, and it finds ways to make the ordinary soar with lyricism and expressive movement.

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