Bright, shiny Christmas Story musical delights

Dec 10

Bright, shiny <i>Christmas Story</i> musical delights

I remember seeing A Christmas Story in the movie theater in 1983 (I was in high school), and since then, I've probably seen it 50 times or so (in whole or in part) on TV. It helps that TBS has been known to show it in constant rotation for days. So I have affection for the movie and for Jean Shepherd the man who created it (and narrated the movie is wonderfully droll, comforting voice). It's no surprise that this beloved Story has been adapted for the stage as a play (by Philip Grecian, which popped up at the now-extinct San Jose Repertory Theatre a few times) and now as a big old Broadway-style musical.

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Much to love in Moon’s charming Scrooge

Dec 05

Much to love in Moon’s charming <i>Scrooge</i>

Just when you thought there was not a breath of life left in the seasonal cash cow known as A Christmas Carol, along comes Scrooge in Love! to remind us that there's still a lot of life and heart and holiday spirit left in old Ebenezer Scrooge.

San Francisco's venerable 42nd Street Moon, formed 23 years ago to present neglected or forgotten musicals, has been shaking things up of late, with the company's latest coup being the world premiere of this sequel to Dickens' Carol with music by Larry Grossman, lyrics by Kellen Blair and a book by Duane Poole. It's an absolute gem of a musical – fresh, clever, spirited and a welcome addition to the canon of holiday perennials.

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Baldwin adds spice to the delicacy known as Stew

Dec 04

Baldwin adds spice to the delicacy known as Stew

Essentially, Notes of a Native Son is a rock show with a literary degree. Ini the words of Stew, the composer (with Heidi Rodewald), this 90-minute show is "not a musical nor a play with music. It's a song-cycle, a set, a concert, or put squarely, just a buncha songs with banter in between." And that about sums it up.

But what a description of the show itself can't convey is the sheer joy, the energy, the alive-ness of the music and feeling created by Stew and his band, the Negro Problem.

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Merry murderous mayhem in musical Gentleman’s Guide

Dec 03

Merry murderous mayhem in musical <i>Gentleman’s Guide</i>

You really do root for the murderer in the delightful A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder. That may seem an insensitive scene in these brutal, terrifying days we're living in, but the reality is that this musical comedy (based on a novel by Roy Horniman, which in turn inspired the wonderful 1949 movie Kind Hearts and Coronets) is all about karma. What you put into the world comes back to you.

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SF Playhouse offers a sweet, satisfying Kiss

Nov 22

SF Playhouse offers a sweet, satisfying <i>Kiss</i>

San Francisco Playhouse puckers up and offers a nice juicy kiss for the holidays in Stage Kiss a delightfully daffy theatrical spin with a touch of real-life melancholy.

This is the first time we've seen Ruhl's play in San Francisco, but the whole Bay Area is alive with the sounds of Ruhl's empathetic, intelligent, often mystical take on life.

There's a reason Ruhl reigns over theater here (and across the country)...

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Steve Cuiffo dazzles as Lenny Bruce at the Curran

Nov 21

Steve Cuiffo dazzles as Lenny Bruce at the Curran

My knowledge of Lenny Bruce is sorely limited (I've seen the Dustin Hoffman movie and heard other comics express their reverence), but I'd like that to change. After seeing Steve Cuiffo Is Lenny Bruce at the Curran Theatre as part of the astonishingly varied and vital Curran: Under Construction series, I feel like not knowing enough about Lenny Bruce is not knowing enough about an important and influential artist of the 20th century.

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Odysseo: full gallop gorgeous

Nov 20

<i>Odysseo</i>: full gallop gorgeous

If Bojack Horseman and Mr. Ed count, I can say I'm a horse person. I fell off the back of a running stallion as a child while visiting relatives on a farm in Idaho (that horse really wanted to get back to the stable), and I know people who love horses beyond all measure. But when it comes right down to it, I'm not a horse guy. But I sure do like watching horses running around and doing tricks in the epic new equestrian extravaganza Odysseo.

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