Friday, January 25, 2008

Speedy New Year/Theatre Hits for 2007

Time flies by fast when you are having fun. Besides crossing over the half-century mark in age and having a magazine profile (see previous entries), there have been a number of interesting things happening.
This month marks the last alimony check I have to pay to my ex-wife. Yeah! However, I will still pay child support for at least the next 10 years.
At work I’ve moved into a new office in a newly built building. As the IT support person, I am running around crazily trying to get everyone hooked to the network. E’s consulting business is keeping him full time. We are both very busy at our jobs.
One amazing accomplishment I do not want to miss mentioning is that we saw a record 104 plays, musicals and operas last year. Here is a brief recap of our favorite plays and musicals by theatre company. I left operas out of this recap. Full list here.

American Conservatory Theatre (ACT)
Sab Shimono and Hiro Kanagawa in After the War at ACTAfter the War - Philip Kan Gotanda
[Wonderful ensemble piece in a SF boarding house on Fillmore in 1946. Japanese Americans, African Americans, rural whites from the Midwest, and other societal outcasts fill the rooms.]
The Rainmaker - N. Richard Nash
[The arrival of a rainmaker named Starbuck sets off a series of events which enables Lizzie to see herself in a new light.]

Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens, Neil Bartlett, Gerard McBurney
[New adaptation done in a very stylized Victorian English music hall potboiler.]
Heartbreak House - George Bernard Shaw
Cast of Argonautika at Berkeley Repertory Theatre[“A masterfully moving comedy about smart and sophisticated people hopelessly adrift in a nation at war.”]
Argonautika - Mary Zimmerman adapted from the "Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts"
[Puppet, circus and improv techniques meet Greek drama in an epic journey of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece.]

Best of Broadway, National touring productions playing in San Francisco.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - Edward Albee, (Kathleen Turner, Bill Irwin)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin[An exquisite and excruciating evening of games: Humiliate the Host, Get the Guests, Hump the Hostess and Bringing up Baby. Excellent interpretation of George by Bill Irwin.]
Avenue Q - Robert Lopez, Jeff Marx, Jeff Whitty
[Great songs for today: It Sucks to be Me, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, If You Were Gay, and I Wish I could Go Back to College. Saw in NYC the previous year.]
The Color Purple - Alice Walker, Marsha Normaan, Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, Stephen Bray [Family saga about an abused and uneducated black woman's struggle for empowerment. Even better a 2nd time. Saw in NYC the previous year.]

Lorraine Hansberry Theatre
The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison, Lydia R. Diamond
[Based on Morrison's novel. Amazing bare stage production. In her eleven years, no one had ever noticed Pecola. But with blue eyes, she thought, everything would be different.]

New Conservatory Theatre Center
Take Me Out at New Conservatory Theatre CenterTake Me Out - Richard Greenberg (Saw twice.)
[Small stage version. Professional baseball player comes out to the team. Many shower scenes.]
Zero Hour - Jim Brochu
[One man show about the humor, outrage, politics and juicy backstage lore of Zero Mostel.]

San Francisco Playhouse
Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train - Stephen Adly Guirgis
[Young man isn't sure why he's in jail for shooting a cult leader in the ass. Verbally spars with a born-again killer while in prison.]
Adrian Roberts, Craig Marker in First Person Shooter at SF PlayhouseFirst Person Shooter - Aaron Loeb
[Things go wrong at the video gaming company when they are blamed for a schoolyard shooting and the young CEO has to deal with the lawsuit which follows and the parents of the victims.]

Theatre Works, Palo Alto
Trying - Joanna McClelland Glass
[Audience pleasing 2 person play about FDR's attorney general, Francis Biddle, and a young fresh-faced secretary there to help him finish his memoirs.]
Merrily We Roll Along - Stephen Sondheim, George Furth
[Based on play by Kaufman and Hart. The rocky rise to fame of three writer and composer friends. Told in reverse, rolling backwards from the self-serving cynicism of the '80s to the starry-eyed idealism of the '50s.]

Traveling Jewish Theatre
Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller
[Small, intimate production. The Loman's are Jewish and trying to assimilate into the American dream. Beautiful live cello scoring throughout.]

July ’07 week in NYC , 8 days-13 shows
Frost/Nixon - Peter Morgan (Frank Langella, Michael Sheen)
[Suspenseful play of David Frost's 1977 TV interviews with former President Nixon.]
Curtains - Rupert Holmes, John Kander, Fred Ebb, Peter Stone (David Hyde Pierce, Debra Monk)
[A backstage musical murder mystery set in a out of town tryout in Boston during the Golden Age of Broadway musicals.]
110 in the Shade - N. Richard Nash, Harvey Schmidt, Tom Jones (Audra McDonald, John Cullum)
Xanadu with Kerry Butler and Cheyenne Jackson[Musical based on the classic play The Rainmaker. Spinster Lizzie suddenly finds herself with two suitors, the local sheriff and drifter/con man named Starbuck.]
Xanadu - John Farrar, Jeff Lynne, Douglas Carter Beane (Cheyenne Jackson, Tony Roberts)
[Musical based on the bad 1980 film. A fun and campy take on "jukebox musicals" and the 1980's.]

Other Shows
Rise and Fall of The City of Mahagonny - Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht, Los Angeles Opera (Audra McDonald, Patti LuPone, director John Doyle)
[Old West boomtown rises from the desert to become a razzle-dazzle mecca for lust, liberty, and the pursuit of pleasure. Cash is king, sin is "in", love is always on sale, poverty is punishable by death, and anything worth doing is worth overdoing.]
Confessions of a Mormon Boy - Steven Fales, Coast Playhouse West Hollywood
Confessions of a Mormon Boy - Steven Fales[A one-man autobiographical confessional of Steven Fales, a former Mormon who came out after marrying and fathering two children.]
Beach Blanket Babylon - Steve Silver, Club Fugazi
[Nonstop onslaught of musical, celebrity and pop-culture lampoons and fantastically sculpted hats and hairdos. A San Francisco treat.]
Teatro ZinZanni - One Reel
[Evening of European cabaret, cirque, divas and madmen with live music and a gourmet five-course dinner.]
The Golden Girls - two episodes from the TV series. Trannyshack
[Mix four well-known drag queens, two scripts of a campy TV show, and a spirited “let’s put on a show” attitude and you will get some wild and wacky theater to laugh your ass off. Performed in a Victorian living room.]
A Skull in Connemara - Martin McDonagh, B Street Theatre
[Did the gravedigger's wife die when he was drunk at the wheel or as a result of a deadly blow ? Smashed, flying bones all over the theatre.]
Whistle Down the Wind - Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jim Steinman, California Musical Theatre [A study of childhood innocence and simple faith follows as three children discover a fugitive in their barn and believe that he is Jesus. Fun over the top score, excellent singing.]

TIP: Half-price tickets for many select performances, sporting events and family activities are often available on Goldstar Events. Areas include San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago.

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