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April 30, 2009

AMERICAN VIOLET STARING NICOLE BEHARIE



Pictured on right: Nicole Beharie in "American Violet".
Photo by Scott Saltzman. Samual Goldwyn films.





Lee Hartgrave Reviews April 30, 2009

BUZZIN’S FLICKER BITS
AMERICAN VIOLET

The Story: A young black single Mom Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie) is arrested and accused of drug trafficking in a small Texas town. The D.A. (Michael O’Keefe) is racially motivated and has set up a scheme to get everyone that he arrests to take a plea bargain. It’s a follow the money scheme. Bail money that is.

Buzzin’s take: This is a flat out Civil liberties offense, but how can the single Mom get people with influence to help her? Well, she does with the help of the ACLU. They help her get an Attorney who is a Texan, and knows where all the skeletons are buried. Two Lawyers come to her aid and she sues the District Attorney for False arrest and discrimination. The single Mom was not Guilty – but the D.A is intent on framing her.

The Feedback: The crooked District Attorney fights back, but his wife tells all and puts the D.A. in a bad light. Does he get what he deserves? Like lose his job? Nope! This movie is based on a real life incident in Texas and the D.A, whose name has been changed in the movie, ran for re-election and won. Well, that’s Texas for you. They really should secede.
The End: The single Mom gets a victory. Surprisingly, the real Mom still lives in the Texas projects and is getting on with her life. To her it is home, and all her friends and relatives are there.

Buzz Sum up: Moving! Unique motion picture making! Great Direction and Terrific acting! Opens at the Landmark Theatres.


RATING: THREE GLASSES OF POPCORN!!! – trademarked-

TWITTER LEE HARTGRAVE FOR LATE BREAKING NEWS

More stories on www.beyondchron.org.

April 29, 2009

OLETA ADAMS AT THE RRAZZ ROOM






By Lee Hartgrave April 29, 2009


SPOTLIGHT ON OLETA ADAMS

Oleta Adams is a honey voiced musical star. And lucky for us in San Francisco, she will be appearing at the Fab Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko on O’Farrell Street.

One of the reasons that Adams is so great is probably due to her early training in classical music. It paved the way for her to find her own niche in the music world where she was able to extend her vast talents beyond just vocals into songwriting as well.

Adams has a vast dedication to bringing out the sparkle. She can take songs of Elton John, Bernie Taupin and Gershwin and make them glitter like newfound Gems. Her quality of singing and performing is right up there with Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday.

Adams can bring you to tears with songs like “We Will Meet Again” and “I Knew You When.” Her styling is truly original.
This soulful and jazzy singer is just the kind of thing you need for these cool and breezy San Francisco nights. Have some wine – mellow out, and let O.A spark your evening. If you liked the legendary Anita Baker – then you are going fall in love with Adams. Oleta Adams will only be at the Rrazz Room Thru this coming Sunday. The opening is tonight, and I think that you should surrender yourself to a great treat.

Forget politics and the office. Just kick back and fall into a dreamy, glossy evening of upbeat and fantastic singing.


The Review will be up on
www.beyondchron.org this coming Friday.

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

April 23, 2009

THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE

(Pictured to the right. Daniel Krueger
and Blake Ellis. Photo courtesy: Melllopix.com)




Lee Hartgrave reviews
April 23, 2009







THE LIEUTENANT OF INISHMORE


In Martin McDonagh’s black comedy ‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ -- Padraic, is a man who was refused entry to the I.R.A. for being ‘too insane’. He was just finishing up torturing a young man who is hanging upside down. Padraic has already pulled some of the mans toenails off, and he is just about to cut off one of his nipples when the phone rings. It’s not good news for the torturer – his cat Wee Thomas was a friendly cat. “He is my best friend says Paddraic.” He loves that cat more than life itself. In his life – humans are expendable – even his own Dad.

The voice on the phone tells Padraic that his cat is ill. The man hanging from the ceiling upside down pretends that he has a cat and sympathizes with his torturer. It works and Padraic cuts the rope and lets him go, telling him that he should put something on his bloody feet before his toes gets infected.

This funny play, which was banned in many parts of Ireland, is political satire and at times, extremely shocking. There is lots of violence along with a not-so-subtle statement about the nature of Ireland and it’s competing population. However, the violence is tempered by witty writing. Humor is the main engine in the play. Without it, you would just end up with a horror story.

The cats name is ‘Wee Thomas’. “He was a friendly cat. He would always say hello to you were you to see him sitting on a wall. He won’t be saying hello no more, God bless him.” Who killed ‘Wee Thomas’? Was it a neighbor or someone who had it in for ‘Mad Padraig’? Paidraig will go to any lengths to find out who killed his cat. Here is another warning. There are very loud gunshots during the play that lead to many bodies strewn about the stage. Some people in my aisle were covering their ears and their eyes. It gets that brutal – all of course, with that great Irish humor.

Most of the audience enjoyed the show, even giving it a standing ovation. The language is salty, colorful and quirky in this comedy drama. And it is utterly spellbinding! It’s clear from the opening scene that the play is loaded with solid acting.

The ending is a complete surprise in this stunning and memorable Theater piece. I won’t tell you what happens in the end, but it is staggering.

HERE IS THE RIVETING CAST: Blake Ellis (Padraic) – Magnificent portrayal! James Carpenter (Donny) Compelling acting of the highest order! Molly Camp (Mairead) Entertaining and seductive, Great Performance! Daniel Krueger (James) Amazing performance! Absolutely terrific! Rowan Brooks (Brendan) Extraordinary acting! Adam Farrabee (Davey). Nutty and hugely entertaining! Michael Barrett Austin (Joey) Pitch Perfect! Everyone was marvelous – add this show to your must-see-list!

RATING: THREE GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!! –trademarked-

NOW PLAYING AT THE BERKELEY REP THEATRE

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook Section and produced a long-running arts segment on PBS KQED)))

More reviews: www.beyondchron.org and http://www.forallevents.com.info/leehartgrave/
http://www.leehartgrave.net/

AND THAT’S A WRAP!!!

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April 17, 2009

THRILLPEDDLERS KNOW HOW TO THRILL


Lee Hartgrave reviews
April 17, 2009

THRILLPEDDLERS KNOW HOW TO THRILL

LET ME TELL YOU, THE THRILL IS IN HIGH SPEED AT THE HYPNODROME THEATER ON 10TH STREET.

This time they have whipped up a really quirky evening of four classics from the horror vaults. The absurdly enjoyable evening is about as guilty as pleasure gets, starting with “Private Room Number Six”. A very attractive and sexy woman visits a man who is robust, drinks too much and is basically a crowing boor. He is a domineering male who becomes dangerous when he drinks too much. And the woman that he intends to abuse turns the tables on him. She has other plans for his family jewels. Both in his pants and his checkbook. Creepy yes, but the exhilarating acting keeps you on the edge of your chair as the play creeps you out. It’s Cat and Mouse – and it doesn’t go where you expect it too.

The great thing about the “Thrillpeddlers” is not only the great acting -- it’s the atmosphere of the Theatre. The minute you walk in you feel like you have stumbled into some old Castle that needs repair. Then of course there is the piano that people can play during intermission. That is if they know how to work a piano that has the ancient music rolls that play themselves. You just have to sit there. Never seen one? Then that’s another reason to buy a ticket. You’ll also discover other wonderful things. Like the sections of the Theatre that are designated “Psychiatrist office, or The Architectural Office. “Each one has unique views” – says the greeter as he explains the advantages of each section.

The next play: “Tics, or Doing the Deed” is quite a show and a jazzy crowd pleaser. And, I do mean JAZZY! Men will be men and will generally sleep with anything. Well, in this upper class house – not only do the men sleep around (even with servants) but the women do as well. Yes, everyone in this house is ‘needy’. The fun of this story is that two of the men have a strange tic about their habits after having sex. One cannot speak for Ten minutes. And strangely enough another man – a Doctor gets a strange Tic in his right leg after having sex. His affliction also lasts about 10 minutes. This show is one of the funniest that I have ever seen. It’s exciting fun – with an out-of-this-world cast. It couldn’t be better even in 3D!

THE HEAD HUNTERS is really scary. Some may even close their eyes as the danger in the jungle becomes really bizarre. The lesson that you will learn from this intriguing play is that “sometimes it is better to travel alone” A man has disappeared, and his family begin to look for him. They know that he was on an excursion in the Jungle. They fear for him and begin to search. What they find – will horrify them. ‘The Head Hunters’ was written in 1958, the peak era of men’s magazines.
Let me tell you – this is intense and chilling stuff. Powered by great breakout performances.

THE DISCIPLINE is laugh out funny. Nuns are not immune to sexual drives. This play has a horny man who works at the nunnery. He has convinced the Nuns that sex will make them more spiritual. Heck, he is already saving the Mother Superior – so they might as well take a ride on the “Thing down there”. And when the handsome dude comes into to the room with a huge impression sticking out from under his pants – the nuns have no choice but to raise their habits and let him ‘save’ them. Some of the fun is done behind a screen where the lighting makes the manhood look enormous. I think everyone in the audience was turned on. Especially at the end – when by some magic, huge penises were floating in front of the audience and headed right for an open orifice. So keep your mouth shut. Scary, but exciting. I’ve never seen anything like it and haven’t laughed so much in years. They should make a movie of this and put it on “You Tube” – I predict billions of hits. Everyone was ‘Pleasured”! You know what I mean?

You must see these plays. Once you go to a Thrillpeddlers show – you will be hooked.

THE ACTING IS SUPERB AND INCREDIBLE! Here is a the cast to die for: Lanny Baugneit, TJ Buswell, Russell Blackwood, Kara Emry, Jonathan Ingbretson, Ann Vand, Erick Tyson Wertz, Gina Seghi, James Toczyl, Maria Leigh. (Most of the actors appear in all the plays and appear as different characters). And they are all absolutely extraordinary.

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 Section on PBS KQED)))

Twitter Lee Hartgrave or Google him to see what else he’s up to.

MORE REVIEWS AT http://www.beyondchron.org/

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April 15, 2009

MARTHA REEVES - THE REVIEW



Lee Hartgrave Reviews April 15, 2009

Martha Reeves – “Thrilling!”

GROWN UP BLUES WITH SOUL

Reeves is a great singer. The Rrazz Room has pulled off a real coup to get this talented singer to come to San Francisco. The great thing about Reeves is not only is she a fabulous singer, but she has tons of charisma. At the opening night at the Rrazz, Room, Reeves kept the audience rocking and dancing with ‘Heat Wave’. It was so hot that the audience got up and danced in the aisles. Reeves invited them to come up on the stage and dance with her – and many did. They were having a marvelous time. Looking out at the audience I saw a sea of happy faces.

Seeing and hearing her live is really a treat. What you get is pure Reeves, there are no gimmicks, no echo chambers – just the best bluesy songs ever written. All in all, this great legend has never sacrificed her art. She’s the real deal. Talk about ‘Blues’ she served up a big plate of that in the song “Mood Indigo”.

Reeves rose to the top of Motown. You may be interested to know that she started out a secretary and managed to get beyond the turmoil at Motown and some pretty vicious attacks by one of Motown’s most volatile Diva’s.

In between songs Reeves tells us some backstage stories about Motown and dinners with Barry Gordy, the Prez of Motown. Then to get things swinging again she took off with a rambunctious rendering of “Jimmy Mack”. Now who could hold still with that? No one did – even I was clapping and jumping around in my seat.

Reeves styling technique is one of her best assests. It is her unique styling and presence that gives her that sparkle on everything that she sings – from Funky blues to brilliant ballads. Some she wrote herself.

Take my word for it – Martha Reeves puts on a thrilling, moving and emotionally rich evening of song and entertainment. There are winners and losers in the music biz – Martha is a huge WINNER! By the way – each night is a little different. Reeves likes to change the venue. So, some of the songs I heard may or may not be in the next show. And, that’s another reason to go back to see Reeves – each night is a NEW SHOW!

WHERE TO GO: The Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 229 Mason St., SF. www.therrazzroom.com When: April 14-17, April 18, 7 and 9:30 PM. April 19, 3PM.

TO HEAR MARTHA REEVES
CLICK HERE>>> Miss MReeves

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

April 14, 2009

MISS JULIE IS A BITCH


Pictured (Right) Mark Anderson Phillips (Jean) and Lauren Grace (Miss Julie) in a foot fetish scene. Photo: David Allen

Lee Hartgrave Reviews
April 14, 2009

MISS JULIE IS A BITCH

--“A CHILLING MOVING PLAY” - LH

The August Strindberg play deals with love/lust and the battle of sexes. It takes place in the 1800’s on the estate of a Count in Sweden. Miss Julie, his daughter feels trapped in her comfy life style. She wants to have fun and dance – even with a servant.

There is one particular servant, a footman (Jean), who is amazingly well mannered, intelligent, worldly and sexy – and Miss Julie can’t keep her hands off of him.

All of the cat and mouse sexual tension takes place in the Manor’s large Kitchen, where Jean’s fiancée Christine (the cook) knows what is going on with Miss Julie and Jean – but leaves them to their own destruction as she goes out of the room to sleep.

The tension is not just sexual. There is a power grab going on as well. Miss Julie being upper class can lord her power over Jean. But Jean counters her with his extreme maleness. Also we must not forget Julie’s father, the Count (an unseen character) who has the ultimate power over them both. Although the Count is unseen the ever presence of his boots in the Kitchen let us know that he is around – and then there is the servants Bell that rings. It brings Jean the Servant back to reality.

The sexual flirtation reaches fever pitch. It goes from flirtatious to a lusty, twisted love relationship. But, Jean is not so much interested in love as he is in gaining wealth and power. And he sees Miss Julie as his ticket to everything he ever dreamed about. Sometimes Jean is kind, and then he turns on a dime and becomes a brutal sadistic man. This only draws Miss Julie more into his power that becomes stronger every time they meet.

And they do end up having sex. Miss Julie will now do anything that Jean wants her to do. Jean's raging Hormones are too overwhelming for Miss Julie. There is no escape for her. She is trapped and unfortunately the only way out is not very pleasant.

THIS IS A PLAY THAT YOU WILL REMEMBER FOREVER!

THESE ARE THE TALENTS THAT MAKE THIS PLAY SO GREAT: BETH DEITCHMAN (CHRISTINE) “AWESOME AND MYSTERIOUS!”

MARK ANDERSON PHILLIPS (JEAN) EMOTIONALLY RICH PERFORMER! HIS ACTING IS JET-PROPELLED!”
BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR – LH

LAUREN GRACE (MISS JULIE) – “PROVOCATIVE AND HAUNTING AND CHILLING! A REAL WORK OF ART!”

EXTRAS: LETS SET OFF FIREWORKS FOR HELEN COOPER’S VERSION OF STRINDBERG’S PLAY. SHE MADE IT FRESH AND CREATED A WHOLE NEW WORLD.

DIRECTOR MARK JACKSON: HE KNOWS HOW TO MAKE THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT SNEAK UP ON YOU! “MASTERFUL!”

GIULIO CESARE PERRONE (Set Designer) GAVE US STARKNESS THAT SLIPPED INTO HORROR. ALL THE CLUES WERE RIGHT THERE ON THE STAGE.

HEATHER BASARAB LIGHTING WAS FABULOUS!

FUMIKO BIELEFELDT - COSTUMES (San Francisco’s Edith Head). AS USUAL, SHE CREATED FLAT-OUT GREAT COSTUMES THAT FIT THE PERIOD PERFECTLY.

You’ll be knocked out by this play. Its impact is enormous.

AT THE AURORA THEATRE IN BERKELEY

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

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

Read more reviews at www.beyondchron.org.

FOLLOW LEE HARTGRAVE ON TWITTER OR GOOGLE HIM TO FIND OUT WHAT HE’S BEEN UP TO.

MARTHA REEVES AT Rrazz Room

(Pictured on the right - Martha Reeves. Courtesy Photo)

Lee Hartgrave reviews
April 14, 2009

MARTHA REEVES

GROWN UP BLUES WITH SOUL

There is no doubt about it – Reeves is a great singer. The Rrazz Room has pulled off a real coup to get this talented singer to come to San Francisco. Reeves has matured and so has her voice. And when she sings at the opening tomorrow night at the Rrazz, there is bound to be something for everyone.

No studio wizardly is performed in this exciting evening. What we are going to get is pure Reeves. There is nothing like Martha Live. All in all, this great legend has never sacrificed her art. She’s the real deal – and I hope that she treats us to “God Bless the child” – one of my favorites

Reeves rose to the top of Motown. You may be interested to know that she started out a secretary and managed to get beyond the turmoil at Motown and some pretty vicious attacks by one of Motown’s most volatile Diva’s.

Reeves styling technique is one of the many reasons that she always sounds polished. She sparkles on everything that she sings – from Funky blues to brilliant ballads.

Take my word for it – Martha Reeves will put on a thrilling, moving and emotionally rich evening of song and entertainment. There are winners and losers in the music biz – Martha is a WINNER!

WHERE TO GO:
THE Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 229 Mason St., SF. www.therrazzroom.com
When: April 14-17, April 18, 7 and 9:30 PM. April 19, 3PM.

TO HEAR MARTHA REEVES – CLICK HERE

Miss Martha Reeves


April 8, 2009

ENCHANTED APRIL



Pictured (right) Kerri Shawn/Joseph Rende in Enchanted April





Lee Hartgrave Reviews

ENCHANTED APRIL

WHY CAN’T THE ENGLISH BE MORE LIKE ITALIANS?

Enchanted April is this season’s romantic comedy to see. This warm hearted story about four women who are bored with their lives find a way to get away from the boredom when they answer an ad in a newspaper that offers an Italian Castle in a dream setting for rent.

This play is based on the 1922 novel by British writer Elizabeth von Arnim – and has been made into a movie two times. The most recent in 1992. The play starts on a dreary rainy day in England. Lotty Wilton, a young housewife notices an ad in a newspaper about a Mediterranean castle in Northern Italy that is available for sublet in the month of April. She visions wisteria and a break away from the rainy weather at home.

Lotty talks a friend from a women’s club to go with her – and she also recruits a young socialite who wants to get out of the spotlight and an older woman Mrs. Graves (think Kathryn Hepburn) who is mean spirited and demanding. Will this mix of friends really get along? You find out as the story unravels to hilarious conclusions. This play is truly a story that everyone can identify with. We all would like to escape from the daily routine at some time in our lives, and what could be better than a charming castle in Italy. I’m ready to go.

The best part of the evening in this play is the sterling cast. Throughout, they keep the integrity of the characters. Their talents are what make this comic drama, so colorful, refreshing and quirky. Believe me – this is real fun that will be a hit for the whole family.

Kerri Shawn as the Italian Housekeeper (Costanza) shows terrific star power. She is such a natural actor that you really believe that she was imported from Italy for this role. Lizzie Calogero (Lotty Wilton) is delightful and fascinating. Or, as she says in the play “Marvelous!” Steve Irish (Frederick Arnott) in a small role gives a swell performance. Suzanne Irving (Rose Arnott) brings a plain Jane Housewife to bloom among the flowers of Italy. Remarkable! Wanda McCaddon (Mrs. Graves) is audacious and impressive. If they ever make a film about Kathryn Hepburn – she should get the part. Alex Moggride – (Mellersh Wilton) again gives a fantastic performance as a stiff-upper lip Englishman who finally lets it all hang out (Literally). What fun he brings to the show. Joseph Rende (Antony Wilding). This role was made for him. He is cool, collected and charming and most of all believable. Awesome! Maryssa Wanlass (Caroline Bramble) as the mysterious Socialite, who dresses to the nines in fantastic costumes by Maggie Morgan. Bramble is Jazzy and sharp as a tack. Absolutely superior acting!

EXTRAS: Michael Butler (Director/Artistic Director) has given us an amazing visual experience. Spectacular job! Scenic Designer (Kelly Tighe) gave us a monumental accomplishment that added immensely to the show. David Lee Cuthbert’s lighting made my day. Brilliant! And I must mention the Wig Designer Judy Disbrow worked magic with “Hair”. Remarkable imagination!

NOW PLAYING AT THE CENTER REP THEATRE IN THE LESHER ENTERTAINMENT CENTER IN WALNUT CREEK.

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

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April 7, 2009

BAPTIZED TO THE BONE - SEX AND LUST IN BAPTIST LAND

Pictured (right) Colin Stuart (Preacher)
Paul rodrigues (Ottis)

Lee Hartgrave Reviews -April 7, 2009

BAPTIZED TO THE BONE

GET ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY

Religion can be such fun, especially in North Carolina, where Baptists are like locusts that wait to devour the crops. “Baptized to the bone is a Southern Noir play that gives us plenty of insights into how religion can screw up your mind. It’s a sharp commentary on religious hypocrisy.

There is a Preacher who quits his job at the Mill to Preach from the Pulpit. His wife Gladys is not happy with her life and does not like going to the church so she fakes a headache every time Sunday comes around. But not going to Church is not the only reason that Gladys wants to stay home. She has a younger swain that comes to visit her. Gladys is older -- he is younger. He is hot to trot – and so is Gladys. Think of Barbara Stanwyck in ‘Double Indemnity’. Clothes literally fly around the rather plain Trailer Park décor as Gladys and Otis make out on the couch. The younger man is sexy and enticing and Gladys gives him money every time for the tumble. Hey, you would do the same.

There is more going on here than meets the eye. On the other side of the coin – Ottis is also wrangling money out of the Preacher. Seems that many years ago, they had a hot and steamy relationship. In this case Ottis is quite happy to share his sex with both Gladys and the Preacher. The young Hustler, Ottis is after money “I need it to put on my show the first ‘Gospel Poetry Opera’. I need enough money to get to New York.” – he drawls. When Gladys asks him to recite some of the Opera – Otis fumbles around and mumble jumble comes out of his sexy mouth. When you see this Actor (Paul Rodrigues) – you will also be eager to open your wallet. James Dean is alive and well on the NCTC stage.

Rodriques gives a true look at a dark, seductive, clever and scheming young man who knows what people want to pay for. On the other hand the Preacher is also good-looking and no one would want to throw him out of bed. But he doesn’t exude the sexual attitude that Ottis does. But then again, he’s a preacher and is bound to keep a stiff upper lip and not show much emotion.

EXTRAS: Amy Penney (the Preachers wife) is just terrific as the lusting housewife that wants a baby and will do anything to have one. She is deeply moving in a flawless performance! Colin Stuart (The Preacher) gives a revelatory performance as a conflicted man of God and Sexual desire. He’s unforgettable! Paul Rodrigues (Ottis) is Flat-Out Fabulous in this great stage performance!
What else is a good reason to see this play? Well, there are guns that go off, there is lying and cheating and stealing. As if that’s not enough, wait until you see the last scene. ‘Bonny and Clyde’ has nothing on it - AMAZING!

AT THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER ON VAN NESS

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-
(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many stories to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook section and produced a long-running Arts segment on PBS KQED)))

TWITTER LEE HARTGRAVE or GOOGLE HIM TO SEE WHAT ELSE HE’S UP TO
AND THAT’S A WRAP!!!!

SUEDE AT THE RRAZZ ROOM IN NIKKO HOTEL



Lee Hartgrave Reviews April 7, 2009

SUEDE

LIKE A TORNADO ‘SUEDE’ (DIVA) STORMS INTO THE RRAZZ ROOM AT THE HOTEL NIKKO.

Suede is a “hottsie totsie” singer like a wild horse out on the range. And it’s this wild free-form style of singing that the audience loves. Suede – like Frank Sinatra does it her way. And her way sends ripples of joy through the audience.

Suede takes a song like “Teach Me Tonight” and gives it new life. It’s already a beautiful song – but when Suede adds her special arrangements to the song – it’s a whole new world. It ‘teaches’ us that there is more to the song than we ever realized. Listen, she could turn a rock into a hunk of gold. And she does!

Her new CD is “Dangerous Moods” and the name really means something. There is something about “Suede’s song styling that puts you into that secret dangerous place. On the title song – Suede Growls and Purrs like the wind blowing thru the Grand Canyon.

There couldn’t have been more excitement than Suede’s rendition of “Gravity” from the musical hit “Wicked” that is now playing at the Orpheum Theatre. You know what – she should be the Witch in that show. Her great range shows that gravity can never hold her down. SHE FLYS! And without a Broom! And, of course the audience practically peed in their pants. She’s the perfect singer for our times.

Now outside the Nikko Hotel, people passing by probably thought there was a major disturbance inside the Lobby – but no, it was just the audience screaming from more. Suede was glad to accommodate as she picked up a ‘Small” Guitar, she looked at the audience and said in her wry way: “I know some of you are thinking. ‘Oh Man’ – is she a Lesbian?”

Suede likes to joke around a lot with some ‘double entendre’. For instance she says to someone in the audience: “Like to Dance? I like to lead when I dance.” Suede tells us that she drove all the way here from Palm Springs in one day with her Guitar in tow with the Top Down. Someone in the audience yelled out “Which Top?” Suede replied pointing at her ample breasts: “This top was down – the Continental shelf.” With that she launched into the most beautiful rendition of “My Romance” that I have ever heard. The sultry rendition wowed the audience so much that I was afraid that it might encourage some hanky panky right on the tables. When finished with “Romance” Suede says: “That was Good for Me. That made ‘Diva’ happy.”

Talking to the audience about the evening she said: “I could do this without the audience – but it wouldn’t be the same.”

TONIGHT IS THE LAST NIGHT TO SEE SUEDE AT THE RRAZZ ROOM AT THE CORNER OF MASON AND O’FARRELL (Hotel Nikko) Lobby Floor. Explore the power of great singing as it blows through the Nikko Lobby. Remember – real Fans don’t wait in line – they buy tickets in advance. CALL THE RRAZZ ROOM FOR TICKETS.

April 3, 2009

ACT A LADY - WAR MUSIC - AIRWAVES EXCHANGE

Lee Hartgrave
Reviews April 3, 2009

ACT A LADY

This farce is set in a small town in 1927 (Middle America). The men of the local Elks Club decide to put on a benefit show. But, not just any kind of show. The benefit in this show is that some of the men will dress as ladies. O.K., so it’s drag – but not just any old drag. It’s 18th-century drag. Think French revolution-era with Marie Antonette, beautiful silks and white makeup.

This play about gender bending (some of the men really get into it, and begin to rethink the role of men) is really a lot of fun most of the time. However, there are too many side plots and the idea of having the characters also have another actor as an Alter Ego adds to the confusion. Without these distractions, “Act” would be a stronger play.

The actors are passionate in their roles, in and out of drag. There is nothing-small town about these talents: Harry Breaux as Miles/Lady Romola/Viscomte Valentino Ufa. Michaela Greeley as Zina, Scarlett Hepworth as Dorothy, Glenn Kiser as True/Countess Roquefort, Laura Morgan as Lorna and Benjamin Pither as Casper/Greta the Maid.

There are some really funny moments in the play like this: “I don’t write songs that hurt God. Only songs that hurt their ears!” Here’s another: “When I need to think about something I find a young person and tickle their virtue.” Loved this one: “You can’t change a fellow with a powder puff!” Oh, I don’t know about that, but there’s lots more great zingers for you to enjoy in the show.

“Act a Lady” is a peculiar entertainment. Sometimes it is just hilarious, but as it goes on the various plots get in the way. Also the Alter Ego things distract. They are not necessary. Everyone goes all out in the acting performances…especially Michaela Greeley who wears riding chaps and snaps a whip at everyone and everything. She reminded me of Gene Tierney in “Leave Her to Heaven”. Benjamin Pither (Casper) gives another career topping performance. He’s sexy as a man and a woman. So, now the audience can have it both ways.

“ACT” is a vibrant, rowdy experience. While it does have a few cracks in the flow of things – all in all, I would say that it would be a sell-out. It’s funny, sexy and romantic – what more could you want?

AT THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER.

RATING: THREE GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!! –trademarked-

MINI-REVIEW

WAR MUSIC – BASED ON THE “ILLIAD’ MAY BE BASED ON ONE OF THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD –

But, this version on the A.C.T. stage on Geary Street is one of the most Boring Stories ever told. Adapted and directed by Lillian Groag – it looks epic, but the acting was nothing but shouting at each other. There were too many people on the stage at one time to know who were the Greeks and who were the people of Troy. The costumes certainly didn’t make it clear – they were all pretty much dressed the same.

It’s billed as a modern makeover, but it never reaches the promise of something outstanding and visionary. Quite frankly is seemed like I was watching a High School Pageant. It is supposed to have lots of humor in it, and they did make some attempts at it – but it all fell flat.

In it’s favor was a fascinating set, great lighting and some good choreography. But all in all it never develops or has the impact of Mary Zimmerman’s Argonautica. The actors come with impressive credentials – but nothing seemed to work in this production. My hopes and dreams were that it would fly – but my dreams were dashed. Good try guys! I suggest that you skip it.

RATING: ONE GLASS OF CHAMPAGNE! – trademarked-

AIRWAVES EXCHANGE!!!!

NOW YOU GET STATE-OF-THE-ART SCENE-BY-SCENE INFORMATION FOR THE HEARING AND SIGHT CHALLENGED AND MULTI-LINGUAL COMMENTARY FOR NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING AUDIENCES. It’s now available for all performance of “Wicked” which is in an open-ended engagement at the Orpheum Theatre. This is more than a work-for-work translation. These services give patrons the actual dialogue, as well as continual plot and descriptive information that enable them to follow the action, intention, humor and emotion of the show.

WICKED IS A GREAT SHOW – AND NOW YOU CAN SEE IT AND HEAR IT IN ANY LANGUAGE. SHN has done it again, but improving the Theatre going experience.

AND – DON’T FORGET THE ‘WICKED & GREASE’ CAST IN THE ‘ONE NIGHT ONLY CABARET” ON MONDAY APRIL 13, 7:30 PM, AT THE CLUB FUGAZI. THIS BENEFIT FOR REAF (Help in on the Way) helps many charities with your support. The shows are always terrific with the best talent in the world. Call 415-421-4222 for Tickets.

THIS JUST IN. SHOW BIZ LEGEND PATTY DUKE WILL BE PART OF THE ‘ONE NIGHT ONLY CABARET’. In case you didn’t know, Duke is now Madame Morrible in the Orpheum cast of “Wicked”. Also added will be the cast of the sensational “Burn The Floor”. And believe me – their hot dancing does it! How can you miss this?

COMEDY, GOSSIP, IMPRESSIONS…AND MORE!

THAT’S WHAT YOU GET WITH SCOTT NEVINS IN “RECE$IONI$TA” AT THE RRAZZ ROOM. He has been called “A young, sexy, gay(er) Kathy Griffin”. Show is at 1030 PM, Friday-Sat, April 3 and 4. Fun is good for you! 415-866-468-3399.

AND THAT’S A WRAP!!!!

Follow Lee Hartgrave on “Twitter” or Google him to see what else he is up to.
Check out more reviews on www.beyondchron.org

April 2, 2009

KITTEN ON THE KEYS IS SPANKY PANKY

KITTEN ON THE KEYS - STRICTLY FOR ADULTS

"KITTEN” is strictly for adults. This is Kinky Cabaret with a capital “K”. One minute she is a Flapperette, then a Tin Pan Alley Toe Tapper who strums the Ukuele. Yep – she’s a busy one all-right.

Kitten is everything. She’s Marlene Dietrich, Betty Boop and Dolly Parton all rolled up in her Bra. In her new show – “Does this Piano make my ASS look Big?” Well, yes and no – it depends on the outfit that she is wearing. And Kitten has hundreds of them. During the show she is in a Bridal Gown, puts pig snouts on her nipples and even has a pig snout attached to that place “Down There” – you know the one in the G. Spot area.

She dazzles the audience with her audacious antics. Some call her the musical “Snackcake.” Kitten even makes a gentleman from the audience come up on the stage to be humilitad. She sprays some whipped cream on her toes and makes him lick it off. Funny thing is, the guy was a reviewer for a newspaper. (It wasn’t me). He said: “Keep in mind that I’m here to review the show.” He was grinning – so he must have enjoyed the Toe Job.

This hilarious romp slapping flapper is very frisky. While playing the piano – she entices a virgin-ette to come up on the stage and slap Kitten’s rear while she plays wildly away. Now if that’s not kinky to you – then you HAVE seen it all.

Kitten (Suzanne Ramsey) will certainly get your libido going to a rag-time beat. No need for Viagra at the show. Kitten is the ultimate Rock Star gone bad. Some of her faves are Alice Cooper and Freddie Mercuy. You’ll see other favorites that hang on the back wall.

Upcoming (Ramsey) Kitten will be seen on the National Geographic channel about the History of Bras! And who has burned more than one Bra? Kitten. Of course, she would be the perfect choice the the N.G. Channel.

Kitten has dazzled or conquered audiences all over Europe, on T.V. in the States. She is deliriously decadent. Watch those eyebrows. They move around a lot, so do other things on her body. But, of course – this is a family paper, so I can’t give out too many details. Oh, by the way, Kitten has also played Librace’s mirrored Grand Piano. She’s cute and kinky. Her Original music is hard to resist. Kitten is proud of winning the “Golden Pastie” award at the NY Burlesque Festival for ‘Being the biggest tease’. And when you see the show you will agree.

THIS WEEKEND ONLY AT MAMA CALISTO’S VOICE FACTORY
(Near Van Ness on Mission Street)

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

THIS VIDEO WILL MAKE YOU WANT TO DANCE:  Click Here>>> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EYAUazLI9k


Follow Lee Hartgrave on Twitter or Google him. Also Check out all his reviews at:
www.beyondchron.org.

April 1, 2009

THOM PAIN - THE STORY - KITTEN ON THE KEYS

Lee Hartgrave reviews
April 1st, 2009

THOM PAIN

This Will Eno one-man show is sharply crafted. Thom Pain (Johathan Bock) is like a sand storm that constantly swirls and whirls around the Theater as Pain drags us along through the wreckage of his life. This is a very intricate and difficult play to put over. In lesser talents (Bock) it could turn out to be a true disaster.

If you squirm easily as the Star stares into your eyes for moments that seem like an eternity, then this play would not be for you. You also most not be afraid of the dark, because there are some moments when we are all in the dark along with the actor. Uncomfortable yes, but it does give your mind some time to think over your life – and the wreckage you might have been lucky enough to avoid in your life.

Johathan Bock gives a chilling, almost insane performance. It’s a gripping revelatory tale that brings visualization to the fore. Tom Pain takes us on quick takes of his life as he transits from sanity to someone who is possessed by something. One minute he is sweet and kindly and the next, he is shouting at the audience with obscenities and sometimes physically. Oh, don’t worry – no one is actually attacked.

Like a Beckett character, Thom Pain lives in a miserable world. As the play goes on you sometimes hate the character – but on the other hand, you also want to reach out and hug Pain. There is something that is vulnerable about him. When you look into his eyes, you see a cry for help. But, do you dare? He could snap at any moment. He’s not the type that you would want to bring home. Think of the things that he tells us. They come rolling out of his mouth sometimes covered in honey and sometimes with venom. You might call these outbursts “Twitter Size’ rants. Here’s one: “It would be wonderful to take you home – then leave you there and go somewhere else!”

FA-LASH! -- EXTENDED!

NOW PLAYING AT THE CUTTING BALL THEATRE (Exit Theatre on Taylor Street)

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

THE STORY

A GRIPPING TALE TOLD WITH SWEEP AND FLAIR

It’s a Newspaper office. There are of course Reporters, writers and department managers. They all have there own agenda’s. It is possible for various members of the audience to identify with many of the people in ‘The Story’.

This Story starts out with a brutal murder in a dangerous part of town. Racism becomes a part of the story. Did a black man murder a white man who was in the neighborhood to build bridges for people that don’t have a portfolio? That’s what happens to do-gooders. They sometimes become victims. You read about it everyday – and this particular Newspaper (The Daily) is trying to dig deep to find out what actually went on, than night and on that street.

Meanwhile in the Newsroom – racial tensions run rampant. There is the Black outreach section at this otherwise White Newspaper. The Black Contingent is separated from the White Metro Section. As we follow the lives of the people in “The Story” we find that a new Black woman reporter has conjured up a completely false story about a young Latino girl who belongs to a Gang. She is so convincing in telling the story – that we believe her. We want to believe her. She seems to be a good reporter – but it turns out that she is a ‘Bad Reporter’. It was all a hoax to get her name out there – and to break into the sacred “Metro” part of the paper. And it almost works. Her razzle-dazzle routine worked until her supervisor in the Black Section began to unravel her story.

This is a peculiar play, in that it is not that pro-black. Oh, sure the Whites also get their knocks in this play, but it is the African Americans that don’t come out as the heroes in this Story. It’s all about street smarts, imagination, and a desire to become famous. None of this worked for the Young Reporter who has faked her education, her story and her writing skills – that others have to re-write before it is published.

To add to the secretive goings on at this Newspaper is a White, good-looking Editor who is having an affair with the young black reporter. He doesn’t want anyone to know about it, because he is afraid that it will lead to problems with the higher ups. This is a dark, sexually provocative tale of Crime on the Streets mixed with Office politics. The tone is dark and sinister. But it is an unforgettable wallow in the wicked newsprint of the Newspaper world. Its classic Noir!

“The Story” is based on a True Story.
Here’s the rest of The Story: Play by Tracey Scott Wilson. Sensationally directed by Margo Hall. Featuring these creative actors: Afi Ayanna, Dwight Huntsman, Halili Knox, Awele Makeba, Craig Marker, Allison L. Payne, Ryan Peters, Rebecca Schweitzer, Kathryn Tkel.

EXTEE, EXTREE! Lisa Clark – Scenic Design. Valera Coble – Costume Design. Cy K. Eaton – Lighting Design. “Will McCandless – Sound Design. Allison Jones-Manson – Properties Artisan and Tatjana Genser – Stage Manager.

PRESENTED BY THE SF PLAYHOUSE & LORRAINE HANSBERRY THEATRE

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

GREASE – APPEALS TO MASS AUDIENCE

GREASE is set in the fifties, but has a seventies feel to it. Even the car looks more seventies. It was a freewheeling decade with it innocence and attitude. Think Elvis Era. Still, after all these years we all can relate to this coming of age story. The music is doo-wop style as the dancers and singers dance on top of a classic sports car and in the High School Gym. What fun those days were. It’s a celebration of friendship and youth.

The clothes on the boys are pretty much back in style again. Rolled up Jeans, Leather Jackets and Tee shirts never seem to go out of style. The girls however have evolved. They no longer wear poodle skirts, bobby socks and saddle shoes in todays high schools. The sexuality is just above the surface as the boys and girls get dangerously close to each other, but they knew the boundaries then -- and pretty much stayed in them. Oh, and underwear was worn under other garments – not over the garments like High School Kids today. How refreshing!

The story is sweet, simple and classic. Boys meet girls. They fall in love, run into some rough times, argue, and get back together. Sandy gives up the Sandra Dee look and turns into a hot number on the campus as they all dance to energetic and exciting dance sequences. My only complaint is that in the song “Sandra Dee” they left out Troy Donohue who was a big star when the musical first premiered. Yeh, I know he’s dead – but he is part of the history.

Here are some of my favorite songs: “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”, “You’re the One That I Want”, “We Go Together”, “Beauty School Dropout” and “There Are Worse Things That I Could Do.” For this production they added some new songs that were just O.K. The songs just didn’t have the same feel for the time frame. They were out of place.
Taylor Hicks sang “Beauty School Dropout” – and it is terrific. However, I wonder why they made the Teen Angel an over the top Gay Man? I think it was overdone.

The principals were great. Eric Schneider (Danny is a look-a-like of Adrian Brody) – really put it across. Emily Padgett is a terrific Sandy and Taylor Hicks, who is probably the best-known name in the cast, sounds and looks better in person. This show has a lot going for it – energy and fun. It’s a Comfy show.

AT THE GOLDEN GATE THEATRE

RATING: THREE GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!! –trademarked-

CAFÉ EXTRA

KITTEN ON THE KEYS – PURRRR!

THIS IS A WORLD PREMIERE of “Does This Piano Make My Ass Look Big?” – performed by Kitten On The Keys, aka Suzanne Ramsey. This unique show includes original song, live performance, and video. It’s a new work (words & music) written by Suzanne Ramsey. This limited engagement will be for two weekends only March 27 – April 5, 2009 on Fri., Sat. & Sun. Where you might ask: O.K. I will tell you. It’s a quaint little Artsy Theatre complex Mission near Van Ness. Your gonna love the name of the place – “Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory in SF. More info and Tix: www.suzanneramsey.net. I can’t wait to see it.

These would be good for you also: Keely Smith at the RraZZ Room. The War Room at A.C.T. SUEDE – great singer and more at the Rrazz April 6 & 7. Evita, the musical in Walnut Creek (Lesher Center) and The Cast of Grease and Wicked join up together for a wild and fun evening at Club Fugazi on April 13 for REAF and Equity fights Aids. Better get those Tix now – before it’s Too-Two late. Friday April 13, you can get Baptized. Aha – caught you on that one. No you can’t actually get baptized, but you will feel like it after seeing “Baptized to the Bone” at The New Conservatory Theatre that debuts on April 3.

AND THAT’S A WRAP!!!!

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