Candlestick resurrected in new Campo Santo drama

Jan 26

<i>Candlestick</i> resurrected in new Campo Santo drama

It was with trepidation that I went to opening night of the world premiere drama Candlestick by Bennett Fisher and produced by Campo Santo, long one of the Bay Area's best incubators of new plays.

The premise is that a group of Bayview friends spend eight home games tailgating in the parking lot of Candlestick Park in its final season as home to the 49ers and its final days as a standing stadium.

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Aside from dancing, Berkeley Rep Square is far from paradise

Jan 11

Aside from dancing, Berkeley Rep <i> Square</i> is far from paradise

There are actually two competing musicals in Paradise Square: A New Musical now having its world premiere at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. One of them is much better than the other.

Incredibly ambitious and overstuffed, Paradise Square wants to create excitement about a particular moment in American history with a wonderfully diverse cast and a score that blends show music, traditional music and contemporary sounds (sound familiar? can't blame producers for not wanting to throw away their shot). But this show, many years in the making, is still fuzzy, unfocused and only intermittently interesting.

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Humans at their best in joyful Come From Away

Jan 10

Humans at their best in joyful <i>Come From Away</i>

Already a long-running hit on Broadway, Come From Away is now making its way around the country. The touring company at the SHN Golden Gate Theatre is extraordinary. A dozen performers play the passengers and the townsfolk with astonishing ease and remarkable versatility with just the shift of an accent or a small bit of costume (designs by Toni-Leslie James).

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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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All the holiday feels in SF Opera’s wonderful Life

Nov 18

All the holiday feels in SF Opera’s wonderful <i>Life</i>

Not being an opera aficionado, I was interested in San Francisco Opera's adaptation of It's a Wonderful Life for a number of reasons. First and foremost is the power of the original 1946 Frank Capra movie, a durable staple of the holiday season right up there with Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

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