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January 26, 2009

DOLLS: OUT OF THIS WORLD FUNNY

Pictured: Michael Phillis in Dolls

BUZZIN’ LEE HARTGRAVE
January 26, 2009

DOLLS –STARRING MICHAEL PHILLIS

A SMART, CLASSY AND FUNNY OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD COMEDY!

Pardon me if I gush, but Michael Phillis (Actor and Playwright) is by far one of the Bay Area’s most talented actors. His new play “Dolls” comes with lots of bite…laden with funny twists that blends humans and dolls in a rollicking tale of redemption, and a teenagers wide eyed fixation on his dolls. To him they are real people. And you know what? …The Cool special effects made a believer out of me.

The humor is sharp and quirky. Some of the Dolls are Super-hero action figures – but even they can become obsolete in this fast moving delightful play that wanders in an out of the real world. Hey, if you really wanna have a good time – you sure can find it in Dolls with its cheeky highflying excitement as we listen to what the Dolls have to say about their lives. And they are wiser than you might think. Even Dolls have their likes and dislikes and yes, there is a class system in the Doll world, just like the human world.

Some live on the top shelf and others are relegated to the bottom drawer. But as one Doll tells us (an action figure) – it’s comfy and cozy in there and a lot of space. Because he now had a broken hand, which made him limp wrested -- he was no longer a valuable action figure. His disfigurement took him out of battle, so to speak, but it didn’t shut him up.

During orientation day when a batch of new freshly-unboxed Dolls arrive (the audience) at the Teenagers home – the new Dolls are greeted by an unstable porcelain Southern belle that tells the new arrivals what they can and cannot do. You also get fashion tips from the “Fashion Dolls” (male and female). One of the Dolls says during the orientation that most of the Dolls are made in China or Taiwan, except for few that you will find on the Top Shelf. The Porcelain Doll says: “I’m known as TOP SHELF” She continues – “Today, it’s all about you, so lets start with me.” Oh, and you’ll also find a Barbie knockoff on the 3rd shelf. You see -- Frank (the Teenager) is known to buy “Ben’s” (as opposed to Ken’s). The off Brands are cheaper.

There’s nothing like a Star on fire. And let my tell you – Michael Phillis is THAT Star. His Beam shines so far that you will follow him anywhere. “Dolls” is the season’s most enchanting surprise. This play is just hilarious and heartfelt. I never wanted it to end. I have never really seen anything quite like it.

In fact – guess what? I went home to play with my Dolls.

THE DIRECTOR ANDREW NANCE, Completely knocked this one out of the park. The pace is consistently funny! John Kelly gave us some great and unusual lighting design. And Matt Stines gives us the extremely, great stirring sounds that are enough to make you cheer. Michelle McCoskey gave the scenery lots of “Pop” with her scenic painting. AT THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER. www.nctcsf.org.
RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-

THE DAY

FA-LASH: TONY AWARD WINNER 'SOUTH PACIFIC' WILL WASH UP ON OUR SHORES AND THEN SET UP SHOP AT THE GOLDEN GATE THEATER.

The cast names have not been released yet for the musical that started out in 1949 (based on James Michener's) "Tales of the South Pacific." The production will be the same as the whiz-bang-word-of-mouth production that was in New York. The entire show has been re-worked and re-sizzled. You can get your advance tix (available only through 'Best of Broadway subscriptions). For more info about the show and times go to: www.shnsf.com.

YOU CAN FOLLOW LEE HARTGRAVE: GOOGLE HIM TO SEE WHAT ELSE HE'S DOING.
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