Grins, gams and gumshoes in SF Playhouse Angels

Jul 14

Grins, gams and gumshoes in SF Playhouse <i>Angels</i>

It's real vs. reel in the San Francisco Playhouse summer musical, City of Angels, a delightfully jazzy take on film noir, greed the constant battle between commerce and art.

This 1989 Broadway hit, with a dazzling score by the great Cy Coleman (music) and David Zippel (lyrics) and a genuinely funny book by Larry Gelbart is a real treat, and it's nice to see that SF Playhouse's musicals just get stronger and stronger.

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Campo goes seriously sci-fi with Hookers on Mars

Jul 02

Campo goes seriously sci-fi with <i>Hookers on Mars</i>

What's the last great work of dramatic science fiction you saw on a stage? Maybe you'll have to get back to me on that one. Sci-fi, while stellar (in every sense) in comics, games, books, big screens and small screens, has not generally been a successful theatrical genre. Shakespeare, Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams all neglected to set any of their dramas in space, which does seem a shame.

For whatever reason – maybe it's just too much a suspension of disbelief to be in the same roof with actors pretending to be in space, in the future, etc. without feeling a kitschy '70s flashback – sci-fi will likely remain successful outside the theater. But then again there's H.O.M.E. (Hookers on Mars Eventually), a world-premiere play by Star Finch now receiving its world premiere from Campo Santo.

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Natural beauty, talent and…disappointment at Transcendence

Jun 20

Natural beauty, talent and…disappointment at Transcendence

Heading back to Transcendence Theatre Company for opening weekend of the fifth season, much of what makes this such a special experience was in place. The amount of talent within the 25-member company is, as expected, at an astronomical level, but the opening show itself, dubbed This Magic Moment (running through July 3), is disappointing.

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Money trumps all in MTC’s fascinating Invisible Hand

Jun 08

Money trumps all in MTC’s fascinating <i>Invisible Hand</i>

Marin Theatre Company concludes its 49th season with a play that is timely for this election cycle to be sure, but because its focus is on the powerful religion known as money, it's really timely all the time.

The Invisible Hand by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar (Disgraced), is set in the Middle East, involves Muslim extremists and traffics in terrorism in the form of a potentially lucrative (and vengeful) kidnapping of American banker Nick Bright. But the most fascinating aspect of the drama is ...

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Reality vs. imagination in ACT’s appealing Chester Bailey

Jun 03

Reality vs. imagination in ACT’s appealing <i>Chester Bailey</i>

In Joseph Dougherty's Chester Bailey, it's reality vs. imagination, and the audience wins.

This world-premiere production from American Conservatory Theater is a modest two-hander performed in the intimate Strand Theater, an old-fashioned feeling play woven through with dry humor and compassion. Think of it sort of as an Oliver Sacks case history come to life with a modicum of theatrical flair.

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Ruhl peters out in Berkeley Rep’s For Peter Pan

May 28

Ruhl peters out in Berkeley Rep’s <i>For Peter Pan</i>

Sarah Ruhl is a brilliant writer capable of intellectual heights and emotional depths. Her latest play, For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday, now at Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre, displays few of those qualities.

Paired with director Les Waters with whom she worked so memorably on Eurydice and In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) at Berkeley Rep, Ruhl is working in mysterious ways here.

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Ray of Light’s Party is wild and winsome

May 26

Ray of Light’s <i>Party</i> is wild and winsome

San Francisco has known its share of wild parties, but the particular bit of revelry now happening at the Victoria Theatre under the auspices of Ray of Light theatre is of particular interest. Once again, this enterprising company ignites the local musical theater scene with remarkable energy and talent, and their production of The Wild Party imbues a flawed show with undeniable passion and pizazz.

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