Berkeley Rep’s White Snake: ‘sssssss wonderful

Nov 15

Berkeley Rep’s <i>White Snake</i>: ‘sssssss wonderful

Even ophidiophobe Indiana Jones would fall in love with the stunning serpents at the heart of Mary Zimmerman's The White Snake, a poignant, colorful tale from ancient China that arrives at Berkeley Repertory Theatre like a giant holiday gift just waiting to be savored by audiences.

This is Zimmerman's seventh show at Berkeley Rep, following in the wake of such stunners as Metamorphoses, The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and, most recently, The Arabian Nights. Like these previous outings, The White Snake is theatrical storytelling at its very best, a fusion of stunning imagery, captivating music and, best of all, characters whose stories cut straight to the heart.

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Nostalgic for The Homecoming at a different home

Mar 14

Nostalgic for <i>The Homecoming</i> at a different home

The absolute power of live theater, when it's done superbly well, is undeniable. The connection the playwright, the director, the actors and designers forge with the audience – and vice-versa – can be incredibly powerful.

That's a wonderful thing and leave a lasting impression. Sometimes, perhaps, too lasting.

Last week I saw Carey Perloff's production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming for American Conservatory Theater. It's a bizarre, tormentingly fascinating play by a master playwright at the height of his game-playing dramatic powers. And though the production is fine, all I could think about was the Aurora Theatre Company production staged by Tom Ross at the Berkeley City Club in April of 2000.

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Making theater dance – an ode to collaboration

Jun 13

Making theater dance – an ode to collaboration

One of the most exciting things about the world premiere of American Conservatory Theater's The Tosca Project is that it shines a big old spotlight on the riches of the Bay Area.

Here is a revered local theater company venturing into risky territory – a play mostly without words told through dance and recorded music of all kinds – in collaboration with an artist from another revered local company. But get this, that other revered institution is not a theater company.

Yes, ACT Artistic Director Carey Perloff has spent four years working with the San Francisco Ballet's Val Caniparoli to create The Tosca Project, a story inspired by – hold your hats again – a piece of San Francisco history. Are you getting all this local, local, local stuff? The legendary Tosca Cafe in North Beach is the subject, from its opening in 1919 by a trio of Italians to its current status as the royal court of Jeanette Etheredge and her literary and cinematic pals, and that history is related via dance, music (opera, jazz, standards, rock) and even some beat poetry.

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Theater review: `War Music’

Apr 02

Opened April 1 at American Conservatory Theater Soldiers rock out with their “guns” out in American Conservatory Theater’s War Music, a world premiere adaptation written and directed Lillian Groag. Photos by Kevin Berne.   Not much music, not much war in ACT’s academic `War Music’«« American Conservatory Theater’s...

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Cal Shakes, ACT’s Willis honored

Oct 28

The National Endowment for the Arts – did you know that even existed anymore? – has handed out some $20,000 grants as part of a new NEA New Play Development Program. And one of the recipients was Berkeley-based California Shakespeare Theater, which will spend 20 grand on early play development activities — read-throughs, public readings and workshop...

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Review: “Rock ‘n’ Roll”

Sep 18

Opened Sept. 17, 2008   Rene Augesen is Esme and Manoel Felciano is Jan in a scene set at Prague’s John Lennon wall in the American Conservatory Theater production of Rock ‘n’ Roll by Tom Stoppard. Photos by Kevin Berne   ACT gives Stoppard’s heavy `Rock’ a mighty roll«««1/2 Rock ‘n’ Roll has a beat – a...

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