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Friday, May 15, 2015

It'll Be Very: Heathers: The Musical Comes to the Victoria

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 11:00 AM

RAY OF LIGHT THEATER
  • Ray of Light Theater

As Christian Slater said in Heathers, “Society nods its head at any horror the American teenager can think to bring upon itself.”

As the mother Winona Ryder’s character Veronica Sawyer said, “When teenagers complain that they want to be treated like human beings, it's usually because they are being treated like human beings.”

And horror of horrors, Heathers: The Musical is coming to San Francisco, May 22 through June 13, to remind some human beings the joys of teenage misery. Ray of Light Theatre (the troupe that performs other edgy musicals like Jerry Springer and Carrie) has scooped the show up fresh from its off-Broadway run, and it’s better than awesome: It’s very!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Original Lyricist Martin Charnin Directs Touring Cast Of Annie

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2015 at 2:00 PM

Gilgamesh Taggett as Oliver Warbucks and Issie Swickle as Annie - JOAN MARCUS
  • Joan Marcus
  • Gilgamesh Taggett as Oliver Warbucks and Issie Swickle as Annie

It’s a good bet that if you were to pluck a random person off of the street and ask them to sing a show tune, one of the easiest songs to pull out of thin air would be a number from the musical Annie. "It’s a Hard Knock Life"? "Tomorrow"? Even people who aren’t into musical theater know and appreciate these songs.

This is really a testament to Annie’s lyricist, Martin Charnin. As the story goes, Charnin had purchased a collection of Little Orphan Annie comics as a gift for a friend. Rather than delivering the book, he became so wrapped up in the story that not only did he not give the book to his friend, he became obsessed with creating a musical around the story of the orphan. So while his friend missed out on a present that year, Charnin produced what is arguably some of the best work of his life. Not a terrible trade.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Andrea Martin Joins Pippin Cast in S.F. to Reprise Tony Award-Winning Role

Posted By on Mon, Oct 6, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Andrea Martin performs as Berthe in Pippin. - JOAN MARCUS
  • Joan Marcus
  • Andrea Martin performs as Berthe in Pippin.

In 2013, when actress Andrea Martin won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, she set her golden statue on the ground mid-acceptance speech to nervously double check her notes, eliciting a collective 'Awww!' from audiences across the nation. The musical that won Martin the award? Pippin — where she plays the title character's spirited grandmother, Berthe.

Now, Martin joins the touring cast of Pippin during its remaining performances at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco. SF Weekly caught up with Martin to discuss her role in Pippin, her new book, Lady Parts, and her favorite spot in San Francisco.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jersey Boys: Can't Take My Eyes Off of You. Seriously.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Nick Cosgrove as Frankie Valli serenades the crowd with "Sherry"
  • Nick Cosgrove as Frankie Valli serenades the crowd with "Sherry"

Everyone loves a good underdog story. But when you add some mobster shenanigans, drug use, copious sex, betrayal, death, and four blue-collar guys belting out more than 30 epic oldies like a jukebox on amphetamines, you've got Jersey Boys, the musical.

Chronicling the bittersweet saga of The Four Seasons, the 1960s rock n' roll quartet, the play -- directed by Des McAnuff -- traverses more than 40 years of the Boys' lives together from the streetwise corners of New Jersey to the glinting lights of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The play opens rather strangely -- in Paris of all places -- with a black rapper flanked by B-Girl dancers circa 2000. Tommy DeVito (played by the rakish John Gardiner) steps into the gyrating mass, freezing the action, and directly addresses the audience. He tells us the rapper was singing Oh What a Night (Ces Soirees), the 1963 hit from the Four Seasons. Yup, they got that big -- Europe big.

Each of the Boys takes over narration for part of the show, offering their own takes on the group's rise to stardom. It works well and offers the audience the occasional breather from Nick Cosgrove's relentless falsetto (more on that in a minute.)

Four seasons (get it?) demarcate the passage of time -- and the boys' different perspectives -- with pop-art projections over the stage. The set, designed by Klara Zieglerova, is fairly stark -- toggling between chain-link fences, scaffolding, bar stools and neon signs -- but transforms the space seamlessly and simply, allowing the music to take center stage.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Q&A with Gary Soto, Playwright of In and Out of Shadows, Ruthless Self-Challenger, Baker of Cookies

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 12:30 PM

J. Adan Ruiz and Angelina Orellana in the new musical at the Marsh. - KATIA FUENTES
  • Katia Fuentes
  • J. Adan Ruiz and Angelina Orellana in the new musical at the Marsh.

Poet, novelist, and short story writer Gary Soto is known for his unsentimental, leanly written portraits of Chicano life in the Fresno of his youth, some of which are geared toward adults, others toward young readers. He is less known as a baker of biscotti, which he brings in bundles as gifts to interviewers, and only slightly better known as a playwright. In and Out of Shadows, which premieres at the Marsh S.F. this weekend as part of the Marsh Youth Theater (MYT) program, is hardly Soto's first play, yet the medium of theater still feels new to him. The text of the musical comes from interviews with undocumented youths in Richmond and Pinole; MYT participants conducted the interviews, and Soto shaped them into a play. We talked to Soto about writing for the stage, his collaborative process, and the remarkable timeliness of the project.

See Also: Video of the Day: "Princess Ivona", A Literally Moving Theater Experience
"4000 Miles" at A.C.T. Tries to Keep Its Feel-Good Qualities on the D.L.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

The Book of Mormon Review: Hilarious and Foul-Mouthed, but Also Sweet

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Gavin Creel and National Company - JOAN MARCUS
  • Joan Marcus
  • Gavin Creel and National Company

The Book of Mormon, the incredibly popular Broadway musical from the geniuses behind South Park (Trey Parker and Matt Stone), which has won 6,000 Tony Awards (actually nine, including Best Musical), is gracing the San Francisco stage. And like the new iPhone and Pound Puppies on eBay, the show's run sold out immediately.

But don't worry, there's still hope.

See also:

"Reborning": Theater Review

"Clue": Theater Review

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Review: The Lion King (Broadway in San Francisco)

Posted By on Wed, Nov 7, 2012 at 11:30 AM

lionking_400x520.jpg

This past weekend was the opening night of Disney's The Lion King, and we'd first like to tell you that attendance is mandatory. Regardless of anything else in this review, or anything you may read in any other review for that matter, The Lion King is absolutely and undeniably not to be missed -- by you, your children, or any of your friends and family. This has been a public service announcement from the Foundation for Spreading Unbelievable Amounts of Joy.*

(*Definitely not a real foundation, but probably should be.)

See also:

The Roxie, S.F.'s Longest Running Theater, Needs Our Help

Disney Buys Lucasfilm, New Star Wars Planned for 2015

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson: Growing Pains for S.F. Playhouse

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Ashkon Davaran as the president who taught Americans how to reject elitism and, more importantly, how to rock. - JESSICA PALOPOLI
  • Jessica Palopoli
  • Ashkon Davaran as the president who taught Americans how to reject elitism and, more importantly, how to rock.

Andrew Jackson, title character of San Francisco Playhouse's 10th season opener, doubled the size of the United States, and it's no coincidence that the theater company itself begins this anniversary season in a new space with twice the seats. Formerly in a 100-seat venue on Sutter Street, the company has moved a block away to what was once the Post Street Theatre, and the space has never looked better. Though gorgeous, with details like a coffered ceiling and Gothic moldings, the theater had its share of problems: It was cavernous, at 729 seats, and the stage seemed trapped inside its proscenium arch, which distanced actors from the audience.

See also:

Becky Shaw: SF Playhouse Finds Pleasure in Soapy Pain

Period of Adjustment: Romantic Holiday Comedy Achieves Lyrical Poignancy

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

25th Anniversary of Les Misérables Is Not to Be Les Missed

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Ladies of the Night
  • Ladies of the Night

I love it when theater companies take a classic and really re-vamp the hell out of it. If you think you have seen Les Misérables, I assure you, you have not seen it like this. Inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, Cameron Mackintosh presents a 25th anniversary production of the timeless musical. Using the imagination of Hugo's art, and bringing it to life on the stage, you are transported to Hugo's vision of 19th-century France. The sets were dazzling, one even taking the form of a boat on the rough seas.  

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Hedwig and the Angry Inch Rocks the Boxcar

Posted By on Mon, Jul 2, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Just a few of the Boxcar's Hedwigs.
  • Just a few of the Boxcar's Hedwigs.

Arrive early to the Boxcar's production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and stay late. Director Nick Olivero has both expanded and condensed the groundbreaking rock-musical, and in all the right places. Don't worry; the mutilated genitalia that gives the show its name is still intact -- that is to say, it suffers no more slicing and dicing than the script requires.

The musical, with a book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, follows Hedwig (née Hansel), who wants to escape his East Berlin home by marrying Luther (Reggie D. White), an American. But to get married, not only must he pretend to be female; he must also undergo a full physical exam and thus a sex-change operation. But as the song "Angry Inch" recounts, the operation goes horrifically awry: "When I woke up from the operation ... I was left with a one inch mound of flesh where my penis used to be, where my vagina never was." In other words, Hansel went "six inches forward, five inches back," and what was left made him Hedwig.

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