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August 25, 2010

LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS 'Don't Ask' - 'Jacqui Naylor at Rrazz Room'


Adrian Anchondo and Ryan Hough. Photo Lois Tema


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DON'T ASK AT NEW CONSERVATORY
Jacqui Naylor at Rrazz Room. Photo Pat Johnson





















 THIS COULD BE YOUR GREATEST NIGHTMARE

It is something much more than a feel-good play – it’s a feel-everything play. Two attractive soldiers (a commanding officer and a private) start a sexual relationship during the Iraq war. As if there were not enough fire works going on around them, they have begun a little war of their own.

The opening scene shows us the Commanding officer humping the young private over a storage box in the Warehouse. The “Straight” officer does not want a relationship – but always seems to want more.

Yes, there is danger to come. The younger one (Adrian Anchondo as Bobby) is obsessed with his commander. He takes the Commander (Ryan Hough as Charles) down a road that he would rather not travel. The younger one is determined to get what he wants. He says “Don’t Ask” – but he’s talking “I’ll Tell”. And then begins the danger and despair that comes along with violence and blackmail. Be prepared for some really touchy violent situations to watch. But, they are not unreal. It happens to lots of people. Gay or Straight. One just wants a fling – the other wants more. And the two just won’t click. Threats led to more angst that involve many violent moments, physical and verbally.

This play is different. I liked much of it. The actors, kept my interest, especially the plotting, clever, no holds barred Private. As the tension builds – it begins to get a little tiresome as some of the same plot lines begin to be repeated too many times. But, I thought -- well it seems to be building to a really horrible ending. Well, yes and no. That’s the way we are left. It was like a Chinese Dinner. You’re still hungry – and you don’t dare ask for more. Match Making in Iraq just doesn’t work. In the end – it’s like eating Meat Balls that are injected with explosives. Try it at you own risk. And no, you don’t get fries with that – but maybe a Gun.


RATING: THREE GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!! (For the Acting) – trademarked-

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

JACQUI NAYLOR AT THE RRAZZ – SOMETHING NEW – SOMETHING OLD

Right up there, with all the great Jazz Ladies is Jacqui Naylor. Her recent appearance at the Rrazz Room brings back those fabulous memories of the Smokey, dimly lit Night Spots where people would flock to hear the likes of Julie Christie singing “Something Cool” (Billy Barnes). Now, comes Naylor – who creates those wonderful days with her smoky, jazzy and innovative interpretations. Oh, and I should add Sexy.

Naylor glides through a terrific “If I Were A Bell” and “Losing My Religion”, a song that always gets many requests by Naylor’s audience. I was really wowed with the Teddy Pendergrass song “Close The Door” and relished the sublime rendition.

Not only are the musical selections captivating – there is an aura about Naylor that reminds of Lizbeth Scott (movie star) and Lauren Bacall (movie/stage star). If the music doesn’t get to you, then Naylor’s sultry look will do it. Talk about refined showmanship – this is it! The unusual phrasing, the look, the confidence add up to a totally different listening experience.

The Bands arrangements were just perfect. The fantastic Band are: Art Khu, Piano/Guitar (and song writer) – Jon Evans Bass – Josh Jones, drums – Matt Wong, A Naylor Discovery discovered a 12-year old musician genius (Piano/Guitar)

Even with a Jazzy lift on the song “There’s No Sunshine When He’s Gone” – is not the kind of music you would want to hear if you are stranded on a Desert Island. But—in the Rrazz Room – it was perfect. Everything was just right -- The right Music, the Right Talent, the Right Atmosphere, The Right Staff and the Excellent Lighting. Can’t beat that.  I’m looking forward to her return at http://www.therrazzroom.com/





  



August 17, 2010

LEE HARTGRAVE REVIEWS - FAREWELL MOVIE - "EXPLOSIVELY GOOD"

 MUSICAL WONDERS OF 'ALL 4 ONE' - THEY WILL BLOW YOU AWAY! 
Photo: Pat Johnson at The Rrazz Room.


 METRO ZIPNEWS 
-The source for entertainment news-

TODAY – AUGUST 17, 2010

FAREWELL’ MOVIE REVIEW – MUSIC GROUP ‘All 4 ONE’ REVIEW’ – LEE’S LIST (upcoming events)

‘FAREWELL’ IS A WHOPPER OF A SPY STORY that is  based on real events that are a little confusing and bizarre. Half of the time I couldn’t tell who was working for what country, because the French, the Russians and the Americans are all involved in an elaborate charade of hiding and photographing secret documents.  

Everyone seems to have agents who are stealing documents from where they are working.  The trick here -- is not to get caught. And if you do get caught – you will have to pay a very painful price.

There is Sergie. He is a communist. He has a son that he loves very much and he wants his son to have some money to inherit. Therefore, he is willing to take immense chances as a spy. He’s very good at it – but in the end – he becomes the fall guy and falls into the hands of the Soviets. 

This is an absorbing story with a really top-drawer bunch of actors, and it is beautifully filmed. Taking place in the 70’s we see an amazing take on Ronald Reagan calling some of the shots. The actor that plays Reagan really has captured Reagan’s essence. It was very fascinating to watch and listen to him talk about espionage trick or treats. Mostly trick. 

This is a tight ship. Not a wasted moment. I savored them all. No time to run out to the bathroom. Afraid, that I will miss something. Here are some of the things that will put you in the proper time zone. There is an 80’s Sony Walkman, A Queen Video Tape and 8mm movies. Yes, the times have changed. A Sony Walkman was considered hi-tech then. Now they have their place in a touching scene when a Father (spy) brings his son home a Sony Walkman. ‘Farewell’ should be playing to larger houses. As it is – it’s only on the Indie Circuit, which is not bad, it’s just that I would like more people to see it. However, hopefully it will be out on D.V.D. And if you like Spy Stories – “Farewell” will not disappoint. There are several tense moments that make you squirm a bit – but not a lot of blood shed.

This is really a hugely enjoyable knockout of a movie! A Masterpiece of filmmaking -- that is now playing at the Lumiere Theatre in San Francisco. 

THE MOVIE STARS: GUILLUAME CANET, EMIR KUSTURICA, FRED WARD AND WILLEM DAFOE.

DIRECTED BY: CHRISTIAN CARION.

(Fa-Lash! The Landmark Theatres is closing the Clay Movie Theater)

RATING: FOUR BOXES OF POPCORN!!!! (highest rating)   -trademarked-

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

ÅLL4ONE – PLAYED THE RRAZZ ROOM TO A ROARING CROWD

What an unbelievable evening of talent. They’ve been around for quite awhile and their fans have not forgotten them. I was amazed at the different age groups that were at the show. The audience was comprised of young, old, medium and somewhere in-between all of that. The enthusiastic audience stood up in the aisles, grabbed candles from the tables and waved them in the air at the band and singers on the stage gave out enough vocal energy to keep the lights alive in San Francisco. Who needs BP Oil, when we’ve got ALL4ONE?

Their was so many wonderful moments that I would like to tell you about – but here are a few of my favorites of the evening. Of course, there was the magnificent “I Swear”. They even have and Album by that name (still selling on Amazon). What an Exhilarating song. You know what? I would have been satisfied with just that. But, being greedy – I wanted to hear more. You couldn’t drag me out of the place. Give me More, More, And More!

They have an excellent band that they work with that is as smooth as a Latte. Well, that’s one of my favorite drinks. The group really showed us what talent really is. I just about melted when that did those extremely textured harmonies, including the fabulous “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “So Much In Love” (accapella). It just doesn’t get any better then this. But, then of course – they brought out more of their hits making it even more difficult for me to say which song I liked better.

HERE ARE THE FAB MUSICAL ARTISTS:

THE SINGERS: ALFRED NEVAREZ, JAMIE JONES, DELIOUS KENNEDY AND TONY BOROWIAK. THEIR VOICES ARE A WONDER TO BEHOLD. IT WAS AWE-INSPIRING. 

THE BAND:
OSCAR CARTAYA – BASS. CHRISTOPER COLEMAN – DRUMS. CARLOS RODREGUEZ – KEYS/PIANO.

Very few singers can write and sing crowd-pleasing music like these guys can. It was a virtuosic evening of fireworks – but also there were quite moments of stunning love songs that could bring tears to your eyes.  IT WAS SURELY A DELIGHT! AND I LOOK FORWARD TO THEIR RETURN!


LEE’S LIST: UPCOMING EVENTS

DATELINE NEW YORK: Benjamin Walker will star in “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” on Broadway. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone sez: “If Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson wants to start a revolution in musical theater, count me in.” For discount tix call 212-947-8844. At the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in N.Y.  It’s Political and has been called “The Best New Musical this season.”

HOW ABOUT 3-D SEX? Well, that is exactly what Hong Kong director Christopher is thinking about. He is currently filming a $3.2 million film called ‘3-D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy’. Due for release next May. Hey, but wait. Italian director Tinto Brass has already made an announcement that he will produce a 3D remake of his 1979 Erotic film Caligula. If you thought that film was in your face – then wait until you see it in 3-D. You may be ducking for cover from certain body parts coming at you. You know – down below stuff.

CLOSER TO HOME: The fun musical “Annie’ is back at the Diablo theatre Company. And guess what? She still has the same dress and of course, Sandy will be on stage too. The Broadway Award Winning musical will go for 17 performances – Sep.10 to Oct. 2. More info:   http://www.lesherartscenter.org/

RENT – the Pulitzer Prize winning show, based on Puccini’s La Boheme will open at CCMT (Contra Costa Musical Theatre). The story is about young artists and musicians trying to make ends meet against heavy odds.  Opens Aug. 21: Info: http://www.lesherartscenter.org/.

SAN FRANCISCO OPERA PRESENTS VERDI’S ‘AIDA’ – starting September 10 – October 6, at the Opera House. The famed cast includes Micaela Carosi, Dolora Zajick, Mercello Giordani and Marco Vratogna. Also Opera in the park will take place this year on Sept. 24 at AT&T Ballpark. ‘Aida’ is as Grand as Opera can get. It’s an Opera that everyone loves for the music and the Grand opulence of the production. Info: http://www.sfopera.com/

PREVIOUSLY SECRET INFORMATION -- is the brainchild of Joe Klocek. He is a well-known stand-up comic, and his popularity is the engine that inspired this series at “StageWerz Theatre” on Sutter Street. But wait – the comic won’t be alone on the stage. He has invited the best comics, solo performers and Storytellers in town to appear with him on PS!
As he says about “Previously Secret Information” – “Great Stories, told well, with just the right amount of lies.” – Artistic Director – Joe Klocek. Starts – Sept. 19, - StageWerx, 533 Sutter, SF. CA. Info: http://standupjoe,com/

THE DREAMS ARE BACK: That would be ‘DreamGirls’ – the smash hit musical is back in a new flashy version of the terrific musical (at The Curran Theatre starting Aug. 25th). Moya Angela will be Effie White and Syesha Mercado will be Deena Jones. It’s only going to be around for two weeks – so get your tix fast. More info: http://www.shnsf.com/











 

August 14, 2010

WWLH GLOBAL - ÇLOSING SOON 'FANTASTICKS'

 The Fabulous Cast of "The Fantasticks"

THE FANTASTICKS 


 - Capsule Review by Lee Hartgrave
(staff writer for Beyond Chron)
(Full review on www.beyondchron.org. 

How it started. The Fantasticks is adapted from Edmond Rostand's 1894 play Les Romanesques. It tells an age-old tale about a boy, a pretty Girl, a Father and a Mother and a wall that keeps the young lovers apart. The stage is a wooden platform (at least in this version). Other versions have gone more modern. There are bare essentials on this stage. And in this small intimate musical that is a good thing -- because you concentrate on the actors.

The Fantasticks, now playing at the SF Playhouse is directed marvelously by Bill English in this "smart - funny and fresh version. The singers are perfect for this production. The actors not only act, but also sing robustly.  Casting is absolutely right on target. Best production of "Fantasticks" I have ever seen.

Director Bill English wanted to set the "Try to Remember so" song in a world devastated by Global warming so that a time when "grass was green and grain was yellow," was a dim memory, when the ozone layer had been burnt off and "Soon it's Gonna Rain" was a desperate wish. English has bravely taken the musical into strange new depths, that are fascinating as hell. The direction is powerful and the timing couldn't be better. 

What we have here is a fireball of a musical...that will have you laughing through your tears. This Fantasticks is provocative, persuasive and powerful! I absolutely loved it!

Read the full review on www.beyondchron.org this Friday.  

AT THE SF PLAYHOUSE ON SUTTER

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

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced and hosted an entertainment segment of KQED FM for several years)))