Charm and romance bubble up in Berkeley Rep’s Amélie

Sep 13

Charm and romance bubble up in Berkeley Rep’s <i>Amélie</i>

In this age of illusory connection, a story of isolation told through music seems more necessary than ever. Connection with the world and people in it is a central theme of Amélie, the whimsical 2001 film, and it's even more pronounced in the world-premiere musical version of the story now at Berkeley Repertory Theatre's Roda Theatre.

The whimsy has been turned down (not altogether), but the charm and romance have increased ...

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Crazy about Guirgis’ Riverside at ACT

Sep 10

Crazy about Guirgis’ <i>Riverside</i> at ACT

There's a crackling vitality on stage the Geary Theater as American Conservatory Theater opens its 49th season with Stephen Adly Guirgis' Between Riverside and Crazy. The play is this year's Pulitzer Prize winner, which doesn't necessarily guarantee it will be an interesting play, but if you've seen any of Guirgis' previous work – produced locally by San Francisco Playhouse and Custom Made Theatre Company – you know that this is a muscular, compassionate and deeply interesting writer.

If Riverside isn't as gritty as some of his other work, it more than makes up for that with its fresh approach to the classic American dream-type play.

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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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Cal Shakes scares up big laughs in vivacious Vep

Aug 20

Cal Shakes scares up big laughs in vivacious <i>Vep</i>

How appropriate to go (high) camping under the stars in the Orinda hills with the California Shakespeare Theater. One doesn't think of Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep as a play for the great outdoors, but now-former Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone and his dynamic actor duo make a strong case for Ludlam being funny anywhere.

As swan songs go, Moscone picked a doozy, if only because he leaves them laughing.

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A toast to Champagne and her wily Poon

Aug 02

A toast to Champagne and her wily <i>Poon</i>

Just when it seems all the colorful characters are fleeing San Francisco, along comes an Oasis of launch and glitter. Yes, Oasis, the new South of Market nightclub, has defied the real estate odds and become a haven for performers of all stripes, including impresario D'Arcy Drollinger, a co-owner of the club along with drag legend Heklina and several other partners.

Drollinger has to be one of the most interesting people working in Bay Area theater.

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Trickle down theory: parallel lives in Now for Now

Jul 20

Trickle down theory: parallel lives in <i>Now for Now</i>

I've never seen anything quite like Now for Now, the new theatrical work devised and performed by Mark Jackson and Megan Trout now at Z Below through July 26 (time is short – go see it). As two dynamic and acutely interesting theater people, Mark Jackson and Megan Trout make for an intriguing combination on paper and, happily, that intrigue (and a whole lot more) extends to the work they have created.

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