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March 25, 2009

KEELY SMITH AT THE RaZZ ROOM


BUZZIN - LEE HARTGRAVE
March 25, 2009

KEELY SMITH – CONFIDENT, EXCITING AT THE RaZZ room

Smith has led a long career filled with ups and downs, not the least the marriage to Louis Prima. Keely has done very well for herself since she left Prima. Her song albums and now her C.D’s are always big sellers and continue to be. And here is something that you can believe – her voice is even stronger today then it was in her earlier years. Unlike some singers, Keely has managed to keep the great style and clear voice that makes her so special. Many singers, even Sinatra began to lose the great range that they had in their younger years. Not so with Smith. She still has the tenderness on the love songs and she soars through upbeat tunes like “Jump Five” and “Gigolo”.

On the stage, when she sings Smith looks just like she did forty years ago. She has the same bobbed hair and dressed in a sultry black outfit with beads of glitter here and there she looked like the same Keely Smith of the Big Band days. She also has great fun up there on the stage between boffo songs. Smith admits to the audience that she is 81 years old (doesn’t look it, I think she jests. I would say she’s in her 70’s.) “But I still feel like I’m 13” – she says. Smith quipped to a man in the front row who was with his wife – “I’m hungry are they going to feed us afterwards?” The man says: “I’ll take you to dinner!” Smith looks down at him, pauses then says: “What are we gonna do with her (The Wife)?” Yep, Smith is sharp as a tack. In a debate – she would win.

Keely Smith is a survivor. Through changing musical trends – she never goes out of style. And she has fans in High Places. Actor Robert DeNiro and director Martin Scorcese have been long-time fans of Keely’s. Over the years they have placed her music in numerous films, including ‘The Deerhunter’, ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Analyze This’, ‘That Old Feeling’, ‘Big Night’ and ‘Mad Dog and Glory.’

Swing and Big Band music is coming back into it’s own again. You hear it everywhere including ‘Dancing with the Stars’. And, why not? This is the kind of music that tunes your body up – you can’t help but tapping your toes and shaking whatever you want to shake. The audience at the RaZZ were shaking everything that was legal. Their bones loved the music.

Smith finished this fantastic evening of music that ‘fits your mood and fits you’ with this soaringly romantic masterpiece – “I Have Dreamed”. It was a powerhouse ending with a Band that was the best I have heard in years. It’s a Spectacular evening that will be on the RaZZ room stage through April 4th. As Smith’s opening number says “Good Times Roll”. And, that is what you can expect and more from Keely Smith.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook Section and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

March 23, 2009

SUEDE, EVITA, REAF STAR STUDDED BENEFIT, MAN TO MAN TANGO

Pictured: Jazz singer Suede at the RraZZ Room on Mason Street. Two nights only April 6,7 2009



Lee Hartgrave - March 23, 2009

AirwavesExchange – Wow! Suede Live at RRazz;
Wicked and Grease cast perform for REAF;
86,000 viewers watch Man-to-Man Tango.

WICKED AND GREASE ONE NIGHT ONLY BENEFIT

Hey, it can’t get any better than this. Cast members from the touring casts of the hit Broadway musicals, Wicked and Grease, will join together to present a one-time, one-night only benefit to raise funds for the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. This exclusive “One Night Only Cabaret” event will feature cast members from both touring shows performing song selections of their own choice to present an evening of upbeat, high-energy music, dance and comedy. As you know, the Richmond Ermet AIDS Foundation has worked with over 25 touring casts to date, to produce “One Night Only Cabaret” events and looks forward to another successful evening benefiting these worthwhile charity organizations. To date REAF has distributed well over $2 million to AIDS service agencies. These are great shows – and, I can’t recommend them enough. The quality of the talent and the production values are more than great. They are fantastic. The event will be at Club Fugazi at 678 Green Street. You can call for Tix at the Beach Blanket Babylon box office: 415-421-4222. Ask about the dessert party with the cast after the show at Eddie’s Restaurant on Stockton Street. (Wicked is currently playing at the Orpheum Theatre. Its Wickedness is extraordinarily uplifting -- (The Witch flies above the stage). “Grease’ is at the Golden Gate Theatre starting Mar. 24 – April 19) with Taylor Hicks as Earth Angel. Now, how lucky can we be to have this great entertainment in town?

EVITA – THE STAGE MUSICAL IS BACK IN TOWN

IT WOULD BE SURPRISINGLY GOOD FOR YOU!

Now at the Lesher Theatre complex in Walnut Greek, you can relive Argentina’s famous years of Eva Peron in the fantastic musical “Evita”. The musical won 7 Tony Awards on Broadway and has been a smash hit around the world. Here are some of the great songs that are in the musical play. “On This Night of a Thousand Stars”, “Eva, Beware of the City”, “Buenos Aires”, “I’d Be Surprisingly Good For you”, (that’s what I tell people about me). Well, it gets a laugh. “Another Suitcase in another Hall,” (Evita kicks her rival out in the hall) “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”, “High Flying Adored”, “Rainbow High”, “And The Money Kept Rolling In (And Out).” In this production, Mindy Lym is ‘Evita’.

DOING THE LIGHT FANTASTIC

THIS WILL KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. Usually when you see a couple doing the Tango it’s a guy and a girl. Well, why not a guy and a guy? There is a You Tube sight that is really racking up the view numbers to a video posting that shows two really professional handsome men dancing the Tango. It’s a hoot – and is bound to start a new trend. Who knows – “Dancing with the stars” – might even introduce a similar dance couple on their popular T.V. show. Believe me, the ratings would absolutely soar. Just click on the following: www.youtube..come/watch?gl=IL&hl=en&v=S-mkR-KoPts. And you know what? --- You’re gonna wanna dance! 86.000 viewers can’t be wrong. I’ve sent it to all my contacts. I have no friends’….only contacts.

A NOTE FROM MY COLLEAGUE JORGE SANTOS

He writes: “It’s true, I haven’t visited all the cities in the world, but I doubt there’s another city as lively and exciting as New York.” Jorge has his own Web Site dedicated to musicals. He loves musicals. In his own words: “This time we saw seven shows. Six musicals and a play, the first one we ever saw on the Broadway Stage” He saw West Side Story, Shrek, The Little Mermaid, South Pacific, Pal Joey, Blithe Spirit (the play) and Happiness. And as usual after the shows, Jorge ran to the stage doors to meet the actors and, when possible, take photos with them. And he got a lot of great photos this time that he is willing to share. Here are some quotes from shows that he saw: “West Side Story” -- “This production failed to impress me. No excitement. His rating: One Star.

The Little Mermaid: Jorge says: “Appalling choreography! My rate: One and Half stars. South Pacific: Jorge says: “The show looks terrific and the cast is flawless, but there’s no energy here. My Rate: Two and 1/2 stars.” Pal Joey: “The reviews were bad – but I loved it!” – Jorge says. “My Rate – Four Stars.” Blithe Spirit: “Only one set. It’s kind of dated, but Angela Lansbury is simply delicious as Madama Arcati. I found myself wishing this were a revival of ‘High Spirits’ – the musical version of the play. My Rate: Two Stars.” “Happiness:” “Susan Stroman and John Weidman did it again. The story about a group of people stranded on a subway carriage, are forced to remember the happiest moments of their life. I even cried in two of those moments. This musical is fun, tender, real and uplifting. My Rate: Four Stars.”

(Above reviews are by Jorge Santos – Musical Theater lover. His Web Page is www.jorgeplace.com/musicalChronicles.

SUEDE LIVE AT RRAZZ CLUB

What a whirlwind performer Suede is. She’s like a star collision. A Super Nova that somehow has melding into parts of Bette Midler, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. No matter what she sings – pop/jazz or naughty blues it all sizzles. She will make you swoon with her unique original take on pop, blues and jazz. And she also accompanies herself on the piano, trumpet and guitar. No matter where Suede tours – she also packs the house and gets rave reviews. Suede not only sings – but she has helped raised thousands of dollars for various causes that she supports like AIDS, Alzheimer’s research, Animal rights and lots of others. This singer is genuine. She is funny and witty. No wonder she sells out. Suede will be at the RraZZ room only for two nights April 6,7. Warning: Better call soon to get your tix. I wouldn’t take the chance of missing this amazing evening if I were you.

IT’S CURTAINS FOR PARKWAY SPEAKEASY IN THE EAST BAY

The Parkway Speakeasy was the first theater in California to offer food, beer and wine service in a lounge style movie theater. Now, after more than twelve years as a great cultural crossroad the Theater will be closing at the end of business day this Sunday, March 22, 2009. From African Diaspora to Thrillville to lesbian fashion shows and educational porn, the Parkway has offered an eclectic array of movies and events. As Gary Mayer of the Balboa Theatre puts it: “The irony is that lower admission neighborhood theaters are struggling in this economy while high priced megaplexes are having a banner year. It isn’t fair.” More info: support@speakeasytheaters.com.

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook section and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

AND THAT’S A WRAP!

Follow Lee Hartgrave on ‘Twitter’ -- and Google him to find out what he’s been up to.

March 2, 2009

WAR MUSIC - OSCARS - SPAMALOT AND MUCH MORE!



Pictured above: Hugh Jackman at the Oscars

To the left: Poster from War Music at A.C.T.


Buzzin – Lee Hartgrave
March 2, 2009

Three Dots…A-Go-Go… Things you won’t see in the Chronicle! Oscars: What country censored Sean Penn’s Gay remarks?

FOLLOW THE DOTS…

THE SPAM ABOUT ‘SPAMALOT…RICHARD CONNEMA’S (Talkin’ Broadway) chat line reveals some news about the Chronicle...THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATER’S FIVE-STAR GALA…A.C.T. WILL ‘ILLUMINATE THE NIGHT WITH 2009 GALA …WEST COAST PREMIERE -- ‘THE STORY’ OPENS AT SF PLAYHOUSE…A.C.T WILL PREMIERE ‘VOLLEYGIRLS’ AT THE ZEUM THEATRE…MAGIC THEATRE UNVEILS NEW COMEDY…A.C.T’ TAKES FLIGHT WITH ‘WAR MUSIC’…Plus Buzzin looks under the hairdo’s at The OSCARS! SPIDER MAN CLIMBS THE WALL ON STAGE IN NEW MUSICAL…

Buzzin’s KSFC RADIO’S AIRWAVES PAGE SIX…Will talk you through the ‘Spam’- Give you some ‘Buzz’ about two Gala’s…treat you to some gossip…go Russian for an evening with Katya Smirnoff-Skyy…and Connie Champagne may sip some…PLUS spin some webs with Spider Man.
THE THREE DOTS BEGIN: Jim writes: -- “Have you noticed the politico’s (even Ms. Clinton) using the term “shovel ready” to indicate the preparedness for effective use of stimulus money. Those of us who have been working in Aegean stables, not unlike the senate, have always been shovel ready. It’s just that it’s so deep today, we have no idea where to shovel it to.” Mr. Three Dots sez: If you really want to be stimulated go to the “Vibrator Play” at the Berkeley Rep. You will get stimulated good.

Mr. Three Dots…loves premieres. And we’ve got a hundred on ‘em. This one originated at the famed Public Theatre (NYC) starring Phylicia Rashad, and directed by Loretta Greco. “The Story” by Tracey Scott Wilson and directed by Margo Hall is opening at the SF Playhouse with joint producing by the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre. The Buzz? Based on a true story that includes murder, investigation and a newspaper reporter. The paper is not pleased (are they ever). Will the truth come out? Don’t ask Mr. Three Dots – he knows nothing.

WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO? JUST THROW THEM UP IN THE AIR? We are talking Volleyballs here. “Vollygirls”, the Rob Ackerman’s new comedy takes us on a trip to a girls Volley Ball team at a down-an-out High School. And of course, pushy parents play out their own personal dramas. Wow – that’s a surprise … sez Mr. Three Dots. The featured actors are from the graduating class of the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program. At the Zeum Theatre. There will be no reviews of this play – but you can tell Mr. Three Dots what you think about it. He loves to hear from fellow dots.

And here’s one of those Dots…Velma writes with this comment – “I admire Edward Albee’s plays no matter what the reviewer (Buzzin) says. I’m sorry Velma, but that’s what reviewers (critics) are for…to disagree.

FA-LASH from Mr. Three Dots…Ace Publicist Phil Lanides has left his PR job in Palo Alto to start his own PR Company in the sports and music realms. Lots of luck Phil…Three dots will miss you. Hey, did you know I can sing in three-dot style?

TALKIN’ BROADWAY’S Richard Connema on the SF Chat line heard from (Dramedy) one of his fans with this question: “When will they fire Theater Critic Robert Hurwitt?) Connema’s reply…”I don’t think it is always up to Hurwitt as to what shows he goes to see.” He goes on to say that lots of theatre in the Bay Area is not reviewed at all. “Even when Steve Winn was reviewing shows along with Hurwitt, not everything was covered.” Now the Chronicle has pared down even more…so expect even less reviewing, especially of local plays. Also expect more free-lance writers to appear on the Chronicle pages, if the Paper lasts. It’s cheaper, and they don’t have to pay benefits to the free-lancers. You know – just like the Examiner! Dot…Dot…Dot!

SPAM ME A LOT! …Headed for the Golden Gate Theater in May, Monty Pythons ‘Spamalot’ the musical that says on their logo – is “ripped of from the motion picture”. The Tony award winning musical has more Spam fun than a can of Spam. The show at the Golden Gate will star Television’s John O’Hurley. Get your ‘Spam’ tix starting this Friday (27th). The Original cast recording of Monty Python’s SPAMLOT won the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album. Don’t try to eat it – the recording that is…the taste is all on the stage. There will be dots galore with Divas and Knights and flatulent Frenchmen and one legless Knight. Oh My…Mr. Three Dots is Dot Breathless! So, I will just sip on my SPAM-A-LATTE! Thanks Starbucks. Yes, I’m insane!

Last year A.C.T. had a sold-out success with their fund raising Gala. This year’s Black-tie event will be held at the elegant Four Seasons Hotel with Headliner Judy Kaye. Kaye, who is now in “Souvenir” at the Geary Theater, will give the show a magical touch. The special Gala is to support A.C.T.s extraordinary conservatory. The ‘Illuminate the Night’ gala co-chairs will be Crane and Geiger Gordon. The event takes place on Sunday, April 19, 2009 and includes performances by A.C.T’s Master of Fine Arts Program and Young Conservatory students. Tony nominated John Carrafa will direct. Info – www.act-sf.org/gala.

Dotting along…The New Conservatory Theatre Center will hold a Five Star Evening of song, fun and laughter. The Benefit will star Connie Champagne, Meg Mackay, Tom Orr, Billy Philadelphia, and Katya Smirnoff-Skyy with a special appearance by the wonderful Stephanie Temple. F. Allen Sawyer will direct. Where will this be asks Mr. Three Dot? At the Decker Theatre at 25 Van Ness is the answer to that three-dot question. But then, you can check it out for yourself in living color at Newconservatorytheatre.


THIS ITEM MAY TAKE MORE THAN THREE DOTS TO FIGURE OUT. A Celeb complains to Buzzin about the idea to take car traffic off of Market Street. Well, here is the Three Dot answer to burn your tires on. The Celeb says that taking autos off of Market Street will not speed up Streetcars and buses, because people will be walking in the street. Duh – Sounds like the Celeb is right. The Politicians have more Dots in their head than I knew about. What is that song the Scarecrow sang? – Oh, here it is – “If I only had a Brain?” But then, you knew that politicians are just wanna be actors – didn’t you? Market Street is not Utopia – it’s just the ugliest street in town – taking the cars away will not turn it into Paradise Island sez Mr. Three Dotter who agrees with the Celeb that you should take your traffic act to Fresno. And that’s in Three Dot time!
The Magic Theatre in spite of tough economic times is still bringing exciting Theatre to the Bay Area. Next on the stage is “American Hwangap, a new comedy by Lloyd Suh. It opens on April 4. Here a snippet: A Korean immigrant returns to the U.S. to reunite with the family he abandoned 15 years ago. It’s a homecoming – but one that is both funny and complex. More info: Google Magic Theatre…and then in May the Magic will open with a new play “Mauritius”. Who knew that stamp collecting could be so dangerous? You’ll find out. Pulitzer Prize nominee and Emmy Award winner Teresa Rebeck turns out a wickedly smart thriller that will keep your eyes on the ‘stamps’. And that’s a Dot… capsule look.

WAR MUSIC…A GROUDBREAKING FUSION OF LANGUAGE, MUSIC AND MOVEMENT AT A.C.T.

Christopher Logue has come up with a fabulous translation of the ‘Iliad’. This World Premiere event will be at A.C.T’s Theatre. The adaptation by Lillian Groag is wildly theatrical and totally modern. Groag reignites the wrath of Greek warrior Achilles against his archrival, with movement by award-winning opera, theater, and ballet choreographer Daniel Pelzig. There is also the thrill of original music composed by John Glover alongside an eclectic selection of rock and pop music. Opens March 26. Info: www.act-sf.org.

OSCARS DOTS…AN OVERVIEW

Sarah Jessica Parker looked like Glenda the good witch. I thought that she would float up into the sky at any moment. Or you could say that her gown was strictly something from “Gone with the Wind” and if a good wind came along, I’m sure that it would have given her the lift that she needed…Most of the Gowns were ghastly. Whatever was that presenter wearing with a big Napkin attached to the front of her Gown? I hope that she didn’t have to pay for it. Maybe she went to the Ladies room – and forgot to remove the napkin…Jack Black in his routine was not funny. Then there were the two guys in a film clip that showed them laughing at clips from the nominated films. Most of which were serious. Not funny… what a disaster that was. Also stupid was Ben Stiller’s lame imitation of another star. It bombed – was he on drugs? But the show did have it’s moments…Hugh Jackman was great…the Baz Luhrman produced production number was fantastic…but seemed more like a tribute to Broadway than to Hollywood. And of course…it was way too long. But do Bring Hugh Jackman back…he gave the show some spark and spirit. By the way – most of the films and actors that won were not from the USA…and Jackman is Australian. Does that say something about Hollywood? Three Dots is just curious. Some countries just don’t get it…take Asia for instance…they chopped off Sean Penn’s ending remarks about “Gays and Civil rights”. The censors are ever vigilant over there. Should we censor the cheap clothes?

SPIDER MAN THE MUSICAL

A NEW WEB IS GOING TO MAKE ITS DEBUT ON BROADWAY. ‘Spider-Man the Musical is officially called “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark.” The music and lyrics are by Bono and the Edge. Julie Taymor (of Lion King Fame) will direct. It opened on Feb. 18. The question is this…is there enough room for Spidey to climb buildings and spin his famous web? I hope it works – Mr. Three Dots loves new epic musicals.

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook section and produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

>>>FOLLOW LEE HARTGRAVE – Just Google him to find out what else he’s up to.

AND THAT’S A WRAP!!!