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December 29, 2011

LEA DELARIA-SHAKESPEARE-ELIZABETH TAYLOR






Lea Delaria will appear at the Victorian Theatre. Photo: Facebook


UPTOWN – DOWNTOWN – ALL AROUND THE TOWN

Well – here’s the deal. I know when NOT to see a play, musical or movie when the “Little Man” is jumping out of the chair in what could be called the “Masturbating position.” My take – I usually avoid anything recommend by the Little Man.
I miss Elizabeth Taylor. I loved talking to her – she was so down to earth. Liz told me a little secret once about her ex ‘Larry’. She said that she saved ‘Larry’s’ Life. – “It was my voice that saved his life” – she said at the Fairmont. Interesting…but is the laying of hands next for Celebs? Just wondering.
Real movie stars are non-existent these days. Gone are the Hollywood Greats. What you get now is heaving breasts, overly sexual scenes, drugs and cheap tacky romance. Occasionally there will be a really great, humanized movie that comes along – but not to often. I don’t want to pay just to see anorexic waifs playing loud boom boxes on the screen.
SHUCKS – even “Greater Tuna” had more class than the trash on the big screen. I’ll never forget “Vera Camp” in the Tuna Musicals. And who could resist the “Smut Snatchers?

Our own homegrown Theatre Rhino is doing quite well since they moved from 16th Street. And I am happy for John Fisher, who is putting on some fabulous shows at various venues around town. “Sex Rev” – starring Tom Orr. It was one of the most popular musicals this season. I hope that it opens again soon. But right now John Fisher (Rhino) has Lea Delaria coming to S.F. with her hilarious – one-woman show in her New Year’s Eve Show called -- “The Last ‘Butch’ Standing” -- at the Victoria Theatre – 7 & 9pm Saturday, 2961 16th Street. Remember – It’s ‘BUTCH’—not “Bitch!” There is also music to be heard. Delaria will sing “The Ballad of “Sweeny Todd” among others.

IT WAS 1963 THAT THIS WAS IN A MAGAZINE CALLED “Plays and Players.” “The writer wrote: -- “I hear that as a result of the exhaustive preparations for the spectacular Shakespeare exhibition to be mounted in Stratford-on-Avon next year for the four hundredth anniversary of the poet’s death all manner of previously undiscovered material relating to his private life has been unearthed. Establishing beyond all shadow of reasonable doubt that he was both a Catholic & a homosexual. I also understand that the exhibition organizers are now following up a theory that he was also a black man.” Written by Anonymous.

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he also Produced and Hosted a long running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))
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Kim Nalley and Houston Person. Courtesy Photo RRazz Room






December 27, 2011

KIM NALLEY - HANDS DOWN BEST SINGER IN TOWN



Kim Nalley and Houston Person. Photo: Pat Johnson

KIM NALLEY – A MUSICAL WORK OF GENIUS

Pennies From Heaven, Them Their Eyes and My Man are just a few of the songs that are associated with Jazz Singer Billy Holiday.  However, Nalley doesn’t imitate.  But she does leave a Ghostly presence of famous and sometimes troubled singers.

YOU MAY REMEMBER SOME OF THESE SONGS!

“Mon Homme” the popular song known in the U.S. as “My Man” was originally composed by Jacques Charles, Channing Pollack, Albert Wilemetz and Maurice Yvain.  The song was popularized in the English-speaking world in the 1920’s with the 1921 recording by Ziegfeld Follies singer Fanny Brice. The song was a huge hit for Brice and the record eventually earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award for Brice.  I don’t know if Nalley will sing “My Man” or some of the others that I mentioned.  But I would be thrilled if she did sing some of them. But hey, whatever she sings – I will become lost in another world. 

Nalley gives us great snapshots of Jazz. It was an exciting time then, when the popular hits were “God Bless the Child”, “Tain’t No Bodies Business”, and “Them Their Eyes”. Whether or not Nalley sings any of those songs, we will find out this evening at the Rrazz Room.  No matter what she sings – it will be deeply moving and powerful.

Nally’s easygoing style on the stage is infectious. You can’t help but like her, and appreciate her varied talents.  Even when she sings songs that Billy Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald made popular way back then – Nalley makes them her own now. Its just amazing – Same Song – yet so different! All in All – Kim Nalley as always, gives an Electrifying evening from the moment that she starts to sing! Talk about a compelling, heart breaking and amusing evening – then we are talking serious singing here.  Don’t even think of missing it at The Rrazz Room at the Nikko Hotel in the main beautiful lobby. And remember – she is on stage live – so it’s like watching, breathtaking talent in 3-D!

Here’s an EXTRA BONUS – HOUSTON PERSON WILL SHARE THE STAGE WITH KIM NALLEY. 

--That’s bound to be non-stop joy for the New Year. The fun starts tonight Dec. 27 thru Jan. 1st.  I’ll be looking for you tonight.



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

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 Courtesy: beyondchron 








December 22, 2011

HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! The Musical



 Stefan Karl and Seth Bazacas Photo by: Papparazzibyappointment.com

 
HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! The Musical. 












BRIGHT AMAZING SETS IS THE FIRST THING THAT PERKS YOU UP IN THIS UPBEAT STAGE MUSICAL

The Grinch as you know, is a scary villain that abuses his dog. This old grumpy hermit hates the “Who’s” down in the Village. They are simply just country happy folk that especially enjoy the fun of Christmas.

Well – that’s about to end. The Grinch has decided that he must stop this Xmas nonsense. So – he cooks up a scheme to steal the Childrens Xmas presents while they sleep. Even one encounter with the Grinch would ordinarily scare the tinsel off anyone’s tree, but in this case he puffs and he shouts and threatens – but on the inside the Grinch is beginning to show that he has a heart. Just like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz. Actually he even begins to like children. I must take some lessons from him. I think children are obnoxious little monsters on their own – Yes – I do agree with the Grinch…Children should be seen, but not heard.

To Continue the Dr. Zeus story – The Grinch starts out to steal every ornament and present that he can find. He even takes the Christmas tree and the food. Now, I would never go that far – but it does leave a happy moment to think about.

Of course, I won’t give away the ending – although here is a hint. It gets all warm and fuzzy near the end – even I melted a little with the dazzling snowflakes. They are really beautiful to look at. Actually the entire set is glorious – and very ingenious.

One really wonderful thing about this Grinch is that you can hear every word of every song clearly. What a blessing that is! Will there be a Sequel? Well – what could it be? Maybe a Grinch would steal all the gifts from seniors only in the Village – that would really bring out some tears and outrage. Of course -- I would never do that. 

To get real here – this Grinch story is charming and heartfelt. It’s not an obnoxious parody of the movie, or the TV Version. The music is not particularly fabulous – but there are a few tunes that you will recognize and love. 

My Favorites are the Young and old Dog. I also loved the talented Grinch. One of the biggest hits is: “You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch.” I’m glad they weren’t singing to me. Although the Grinch did throw something my way. 

HERE ARE THE MASTERS AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME -- STARRING: Stefan Karl (Grinch) - Seth Bazacas - Brooke Lynn Boyd - Serena Brook - Brance Cornelius - Ariana Gibb - Ryan Knowles - Bob Lauder - Rebecca Prescott - Bailey Ryon  and Clara Young. ASTOUNDING ACTING BY ALL!

AT THE GOLDEN GATE THEATRE THROUGH DEC. 29

Courtesy: beyondchron

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

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

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MOVIE -- "THE ARTIST" PLUS MANY MORE STORIES AS YOU SCROLL DOWN.












December 21, 2011

THE ARTIST: NOT A TALKIE













THE ARTIST 

IN THIS FILM YOU WILL SEE HINTS OF 
 ‘SUNSET BOULEVARD’ AND ‘A STAR IS BORN


O.K. here’s the deal. At the beginning of the film George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is at a premiere of his film “A Russian Affair”. The actor poses for pictures in front of the Theater. There is a girl who is dazzled by Valentin. She accidently drops her purse – bends down to pick it up, but the crowd pushes her into Valentin. The next day her photo ends up on the front page of newspapers with the question “Who’s That Girl?”

Of course – you can guess what happens next. She is the new “A Star is Born.” She auditions as a dancer – Valentin offers her a role in his new film. Studio Boss Al Zimmer (John Goodman) objects. “That Girl becomes a bigger star than Valentin. A couple of years later the Studio Boss ends the production of the ‘Silent Films’. Valentin says that “Sound is just a fad.” He produces a silent film that turns into a disaster. He is basically washed up in the film industry. This is where “The Star Is Born” part comes in. Valentin sells off everything. He now is desperate and drunk all the time. Miller (that Girl) insists that Valentin co-star in her next film in a dance routine.

The film in black and white certainly has that Silent era look on the screen. But here’s the problem. Having a movie about not hearing voices is O.K. if you have enough sub-titles to let us know what in the hell is going on. Here’s another mistake. When they leave the studio – why do they open and close their mouths out on the streets and in cars as if they are still in a silent movie? There is one scene where a cop is talking. Only we don’t hear anything. Care to try lip reading? I don’t. In Sunset Boulevard, Norma Desmond talked when she was big in movies. When she got home and on the street – she talked like anyone else would – OUTLOUD! Yes, they had faces in those days – and they also could talked off the screen.

Sorry – but this movie is incomprehensible the way it is. They say that the screenplay took four months to write. Really? – what on earth was there to write about? I could have done it in a week.

I will say that it is elegantly filmed. But after the first half-hour the film begins to become sluggish. The music is one song that is played many times over and over. Yes – it has charming moments and it is loaded with nostalgia about the good old days – but that’s not enough. 

THE CAST IS FIRST RATE – IT’S THE FILM THAT GOT LOST

THE EXCELLENT ACTORS ARE: Jean Dujarkin as George Valentin – Berenice Bejo as Peppy Miller – John Goodman as Al Zimmer – James Cromwell as Clifton – Missi Pyle as Constance – Penelope Ann Miller as Doris – Malcolm McDowell as The Butler – Bitsie Tulloch as Norma – Beth Grant as Peppy’s Maid – Jen Lilley as Onloooker – Nina Siemaszko as Admiring Woman – Basil Hoffman as Auctioneer – Ben Kurland as Casting Assistant and Ken Davitian as Pawnbroker. DIRECTOR: Michel Hazanavicius

Now some of you may say: “I can’t wait to see it again.” That’s fine with me, if you’re into torture. Then again – the film has appeared on some Critics top ten lists as best film of 2011. On the other hand, some critics would select the Straw man from the Wizard of Oz as best actor. I’ll save you a few bucks – don’t go.

NOW PLAYING AT SELECT THEATRES

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

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he has also produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED))) 
FOLLOW LEE:  Twitter @ Famereporter 
Facebook @ Lee Hartgrave 




December 16, 2011

XMAS WITH FRANC D'AMBROSIO AND BRING IT ON!


Cast of "Bring it On" at the Orpheum Theatre. Photo" Michael Lamont







 XMAS WITH FRANC D’ AMBROSIO @ THE RRAZZROOM






BRING IT ON! @ ORPHEUM THEATRE –


DIRECT FROM THE GOD’S IS THE HEAVENLY VOICE OF FRANC D’ AMBROSIO. Ambrosio is the longest running Phantom on stage. And he has that special knack on how to interpret the lyrics in his special spellbinding way.

The audience was hooked at the Rrazz Room on opening night. He actually made us believe in Christmas music. The audience was hanging on every note. And no wonder… Ambrosio puts a special spell on these songs. That is what makes him a great singer.

There is no doubt about it Franc D’ has one of the most powerful and passionate voice that I have ever heard. His voice range is absolutely amazing on everything from “It’s beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas, Holly Jolly Christmas – Lyric (“For we need A Little Christmas”). What a fun ride it is with “My Favorite things” and so many other special renditions at Christmas time. Even ‘White Christmas” (“Do you hear those Sleigh Bells in the snow”) – really make you believe that you are out in the white stuff.

His glorious, thrilling voice really gets to you with “Oh, Holly Night.” Franc D’ makes us believe this: “From now on your troubles will be miles away.” Always the tearjerker – the song “Oh Danny Boy” – as D’Ambrosio explains – is actually a story about a father and son in Ireland. Heart Tugging? – Bring some hankies. The venue will change from show to show.

Franc D’Ambrosio will perform at the Rrazz Room thru Dec. 18. A little tree told me that Franc’s partner (Skating Champ Brian Boitano) would be in the audience one night over the weekend. Oh, and by the way – Franc also sings his marvelous version of “The Music of the Night” from the Phantom. Believe me – “It’s SOUL-STIRRING!”

Through December 18. 

(((Rating Four Glasses of Champagne!!!!) – (highest rating) – trademarked-



BRING IT ON AT THE ORPHEUM THEATRE

For the most part, the songs in this show are awesome if you they all sound alike. I’m sure that most will not remember one tune. However, on the flip side of the show – it is catchy and fun and there is the really exciting acrobatics in the show. One they toss someone up in the air – they really get tossed up high. Yes, it’s scary at times, but they seem to land in someone’s arms all the time, without dropping them.

This show is combination of “West Side Story” (there are two rival high schools. One high school is ritzy the other down so much). There are also elements of “Glee, the musical story on T.V.) There is even hints of “Grease”. Some of the lines are hilarious. One girl at the school across the tracks sez to a Cheerleader: “Oh well, I like myself – I always have.” Here’s another line from the same school: “I’m a Bitch all right – but I’m a bitch that means good!” Many of the boys are great dancers in the poorer school, but they seemed to have learned how to put you hand over body parts. Overheard someone say that they learned that strange movement in a prison. That’s what I heard.

Everyone in the cast is delightful. The music is just so-so – but the actors at both schools are really outstanding. There are also hints of “Hair Spray” – however the language is a lot more “out there”. For instance: “But we are stuck up Bitches.” Here’s another: “Cheerleading is like a spreading virus.” A boy to one of the Cheerleaders sez: When I see a Rainbow – I get a stiffer – just by looking at it!” He said this to a possible date. I guess she got it.

The audience was mostly young. There are wise about everything. The place was crowded on opening night – but I wonder how many Teens are going to shell out money to see it? It’s a party track that is loaded with teenybopper songs. Great dance music though. It keeps you moving. The preppy Cheerleaders do cheer – but mostly they are flying though the air. Well – actually they are tossed into the air – and the strong well-trained boys, catch them before they hit the stage. It really pumps you up.

THE STARS ARE: Taylor Louderman – Adrienne Warren – Jason Gotay – Elle McLemore – Ryann Redmond – Arian DeBose-- Gregory Haney – Neil Haskell – Janet Krupin-- Kate Rockwell and Nicolas Womack. They all did an amazing job. Lots of talent up there on that stage – lucky for us that they did “Bring It On!”

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

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he has also produced a long running Art Segment on PBS KQED. He also contributed some public service Interviews for KNBR in the 1980's.)))

NOTE: Previously published on www.beyondchron.org.  

Follow Lee:  Twitter @ Famereporter 

Lee Hartgrave @ Facebook 

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December 12, 2011

WITTY, CHARMING XANADU!








Jesus Matinez Jr. and Chloe Condon.  Photo: Lois Tema
XANADU – A MUSICAL SPECTACULAR TRUIMPH!


XANADU IS A LOVE STORY, A ROLLER SKATING STORY, AND IT IS FULL OF SURPRISES

What a wonderful dancing, comedy and roller skating trip. Wide-eyed lovers (a Muse and a young man) accidentally fall for each other. She is the quirky and exuberant Joie and he is a naïve sexy young man that is just as ditzy as his newfound love. Their mission is to try to resurrect an old Theatre to make magic and Art. But, first they have to deal with an older cranky landlord that wants to tear the Theatre down. Gee – sounds like San Francisco’s Fox Theatre days.  Hello Mr. “C”.

There is no denying the extreme comic energy of this cast as they sing the insanely pleasurable, romping musical score (directed by G. Scott Lacy).

The Set looks like crumbling Greek columns with genius lighting. And, it certainly is the only time that I’ve seen raucous roller-skating rides around Greek treasures. Yes, Xanadu is a recipe for nutso fun!

The Young man (Jesus Martinez Jr.) says to his newfound blonde beauty Kira – (Chloe Condon) – “You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” Sez Sonny.  “ Yeh,  -- You’re probably right.” -- (Kira sez).

One of the actors says to Sonny – “Ummm- BIG HANDS, BIG FEET – that’s the story I want to hear!” Confused? – You’ll figure it out. Or if you’re that naïve – then forget about it.

Briefly: The story is based on the 1980 cult film, Xanadu. A beautiful Greek Muse (Clio descends from Mt. Olympus to inspire Sonny who is looking for a space where he can create art and culture. Clio/Kira disguises herself as an Australian roller girl named Kira. But she is forbidden to fall in love with the mortal Sonny. Ooops…too late – she falls into forbidden love.  And I won’t tell you he ending.

Of course, the whole thing is a crazy -- 1980’s enjoyable spoof. And what is it today? An incredible -- 2011 fabulous spoof on the stage.

Perfect endings are hard to come by but this charming little musical makes it more than perfect.

And for that: Thanks STEPHANIE TEMPLE for the Great Direction and Choreography.

The Book is written by the talented writer DOUGLAS CARTER BEANE. He famed for “As Bees in Honey Drown” – among many others and many awards.


THE FABULOUS MUSIC AND LYRICS ARE BY JEFF LYNNE AND JOHN.  FARRAR. Thanks for the fun Guys.

THE AMAZING CAST IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. They Are:  Chloe Condon (Kira) – Jesus Martinez Jr. (Sonny) – Joe Wicht (Danny Zeus) – Jamelee Roberts (as Calliope and Aphrodite) – Nikki Arias (Melopmene and Medusa) – Angel Burgess (plays five different roles) – Molly Kruse (plays five different roles) – Nathan Marken (Plays four different roles) and Alex Rodriquez (Plays five different roles). And to them I say:

YOU ARE ALL HILARIOUS, SHOCKING AND BRAZENLY HONEST. You left me gasping and gagging with laughter!

NOW PLAYING AT THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE

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


FOLLOW LEE: Facebook @ Lee Hartgrave
(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he has produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))
Twitter @ Famereporter


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December 10, 2011

STACEY KENT'S MUSIC THRILLS NOB HILL TONIGHT


 

Stacey Kent - Courtesy Photo

 

STACEY KENT HAS A HUGE FANBASE




Stacey Kent will appear this evening in two shows (12-ll-ll) – one at 5pm (sold out) and one at 7:30 pm. The award winning singer is American Born, and is wildly popular in the U.K.

Having won all kinds of Awards – Kent has sold out concerts around the world. Her sets include a mixture of classic standards as well as some really great songs written by her husband and saxphonist, Jim Tomlinson. She not only sings American songs but also romance songs sung in French. Hope I get to hear “Never let me go.” But whatever her choices are tonight – I will love it.

A lot of her music is in the Jazz style. But she is not stuck in one place. For Kent it is the mood that is important – and that is what I like about her so much. She is a complete surprise. She’s as refreshing as a comet off the see the world.

And for her to be on the Venetian room’s gorgeous stage at the Fairmont, makes the evening more exciting. To have a great evening of music and get to hear it in that famous room  brings back so many memories. I just know that Kent will fill all of my expectations. Another thing about Kent is that she doesn’t blast. She sings stories that you will be humming on the way home.

AT THE VENETIAN ROOM AT THE FAIRMONT HOTEL

Times: 5pm and 7:30 pm.


(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he has produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))
Follow Lee: Famereporter @ Twitter 
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December 8, 2011

BRITS WILD BRIDE - XMAS CAROL



Stuart Goodwin and Patrcja Kujawska are whooping it up. Courtesy Photo






Jack Willis in A.C.T - Courtesy Photo

Marvelous spectacular Christmas Carol at A.C.T.

‘The Wild Bride’ is indeed “Wild”

CHRISTMAS CAROL – AN EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT

A Christmas Carol never seems to run out of steam. The story about Greed and Ghosts from Christmas past still intrigues audiences year after year. The Current version keeps the show fresh by making slight changes to the script. There are even hints of the Occupy group. One young man is holding a sign outside of Scrooge’s business that says: “I want a job!”

This year’s show is really a fresh treat. It’s like someone dropped candy canes from the top of the stage. A soufflé that never deflates – “an absolute can’t-miss!”

This year’s version has bumped up the Children’s presence as Vegetables to a level of delight that really shows off their talents. You could say that they are “Fresh and bright Veggies.”

James Carpenter (Scrooge) is again the master of mean. It’s so much fun to see him go from really nasty to warm and fuzzy. And of course there is the ultimate ditz, Sharon Lockwood as Mrs. Dilber. Her part may be small – but her impact is positively historic. With Carpenter and Lockwood together, you get an impressive acting duo.

Also igniting the stage are Manoel Feliciano (Bob Cratchit), Graham Bennett (Tiny Tim), and Sarah Magen (Belinda Cratchit). Also – there are the Ghosts: Jack Willis, Ben Kahre and Omoze Idehenre (Xmas Past). There is more than I can squeeze in – but with the children and all the adults I counted at least forty or more people in and out of the stage.

DIRECTED BY DOMENIQUE LOZANO AND BASED ON THE ORIGINAL DIRECTION BY CAREY PERLOFF. What would this play do without them? They have that marvelous touch. I keep hoping that maybe next time they will turn the play into a complete Broadway style musical. Well – I can hope can’t I?

Also love the music direction by Robert Rutt. Beaver Bauer’s Costumes still infuse excitement to the evening – and the sound by Jake Rodriquez will almost bounce you out of the seat. It’s great! -- As is Nancy Shertler’s lighting design.

NOW PLAYING AT A.C.T.

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

THE WILD BRIDE – “BRILLIANT!”

WE HAVE BEEN INVADED BY THE BRITISH

Kneehigh’s Theater Company has brought with them from Cornwall -- the Costumes, scenery, props and the best Actors in the World. All of this is now on the Roda Stage in Berkeley to turn the stage into a miraculous stunning evening. And I’m not surprised--“Kneehigh” has always been top-quality – and always will be.

This show is a dynamic team. Everything has to work like clockwork. One little fumble or mistake can ruin the whole canvas. The energetic Actor, musicians and set design bring forth a thrilling atmosphere that you won’t easily forget. This team is beyond magnificent. For me – it was like watching Acting Gods. They could do nothing wrong. Heck I would have liked to hang around with them after the show. Maybe even travel with them to the next Theatre. Of course, I kid – but I absolutely will see it again, and again and maybe again!

THE SPELLBINDING ACTORS ARE: Audrey Brisson (The Girl) – Stuart Goodwin (The Father & The Prince) Patrycja Kujawska (The Wild) – Eva Magyar (The Woman) Stuart McLoughlin (The Devil) – Ian Ross (The Musician). Hip Hip Hooray! – “They all give performances of unrelenting ferocity.” And I will say even more: The cast and the show is an extraordinary achievement in the Theatre World. It’s a gripping thriller and wicked delight. If you love ‘Live Wire’ acting – you’ll love this show! Here's a fun note: Someone sitting behind me said -- "Goodwin Cheated. He's wearing a Kilt with shorts underneath. That's cheating. I'm disappointed!" Gee -- he sure is observant -- I didn't look that closely.

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

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

Follow Lee: Famereporter @ Twitter

Lee Hartgrave @ Facebook 

Courtesy of: beyondchron












December 6, 2011

TALK OF THE TOWN...Musicals --quirky, lavish fun and secret codes


Dorrie and Lord Marsden dancing the night away.Courtesy Photo











TEMPERMENTALS.  KERNS ‘THREE 
Golden Girls are pure Gold. Courtesy Photo
SISTERS’ AND GOLDEN GIRLS 

THREE SISTERS -- THE MUSICAL MADE ITS DEBUT IN 1934. Now 42nd Street Moon has put on a lavish and complete version of the musical to bring us back those more sedate days. This American Premiere (it has played at 42nd Moon in the past). But that was more of a reading of the musical and it was not complete. This is a bona fide hoop-de-do musical with all kinds of hi jinks going on.

There is singing and dancing, people with money and those that don’t have that much money. The specialty routines are a highlight of the evening. Soldiers dance and sing and girls just pop in and out with a frilly life that is filled with carefree adventure.

The musical sounds very much like other songs that we have heard over the years. The show opens with kind of an “Oklahoma” style. Then it suddenly moves from the Prairie to the inside of sumptuous homes. Some of the tunes in the show became parts of later year musicals. The only song that really sticks in my mind is the well known, “I Won’t Dance.”

The musical is a lovely trip to another time. Everything is frothy. The Costumes cover up most everything – and that is what makes the women so charming. There was no need in those days to show cleavage. There was even one song that reminded me of “Sweeny Todd.”

There ARE the classes. Hi and Low. And in this frothy show – they seem to mix well. You will probably also notice a touch of “My Fair Lady.”

There are at least 14 people on the stage. Not all a once – but this is a huge talented cast. Michael Kern’s smile gets any girl that he wants. Bill Fahrner (George Purvis) is really a great Actor. All the Actors gave their consistent talents. It was a marvelous evening, and if I had the room -- I would mention everyone.

Director Greg MacKellan knows how to pull the strings perfectly. Dave Dubrusky (Musical Director) never fails to bring out the hidden emotions in music. Scarlett Kellum’s Costume Designs are fantastic.

Sometimes going back to the past – is really a blast.

Now Playing at the Eureka Theatre

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

THE GOLDEN GIRLS AT THE VICTORIA THEATRE

THE GOLDEN GIRLS (A SPOOF)

CALL MY CRAZY – But I became a die-hard Fan of the Golden Girls way back when they were on TV.  The Girls were not only funny, but they also delved into social and controversial issues. Yes, they probed the forbidden. Aging, poverty, discrimination, dying, friendship and even homosexuality were all problems around the world.

Marc Cherry was in the production crew (he came up with most of the tongue in cheek dialogue). You know him now as the creator of “Desperate Housewives.” You can still see the T.V show's on some reruns or on old VCR’s – but I have a better idea. Go to the Victoria Theatre on 16th@Mission to see a live take (with permission) of the Drag Version of the “Golden Girls.” They have been doing this show for something like 13-years. This is the first time in a really big Theatre.

The show is actually called “The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes 2011. And believe me – this Xmas will be the most fun you’ll have this year. In the cast are these amazing actors, that look and act surprisingly like the T.V. Actors. They are: Laurie Bushman, Manuel Caneri, Pollo Del Mar, Cookie Dough, Heklina and Matthew Martin…with Special guest D’Arcy Drollinger. You’ll just love these Episodes: During her Christmas visit. Dorothy’s Lesbian friend Jean falls for the naïve and dorky Rose. Then there is this – Blanche’s gay brother Clayton stays over with the girls during the Christmas holiday and ‘Surprises’ Blanch with the news that he plans to marry his boyfriend, Diego. You’ll just love this Laugh-out-loud comedy.

These over the top personalities really make the show that everyone is talking about. It’s uproariously funny.

WONDERFUL! – GO SEE IT! At the Victoria Theatre

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

THE TEMPERMENTALS  -- GAY COMMUNISTS?

TEMPERMENTALS was a Gay named Group, and a code word in 1950’s America. The play is about Harry Hay and a younger Rudi Gernrich, who later became a famous fashion designer. Rudi was Austrian, Jewish and very Gay. He fled Austria when he was 16. Harry was an American and a Marxist. He was married – but Gay.

The beginning of the play starts off with a lot of talk. Harry tells Rudi about his idea to write a gay rights pamphlet. Rudi thinks it is too dangerous. However, they agree to do it – founded the organization called “The Mattachine Society.” Their secret meetings started out with only four people. However, the word got around and the society attracted hundreds.

The story turns to Dale Jennings, who was arrested for allegedly saying something off color to a police officer. The officer used “entrapment.” The word got out and that only enhanced the publicity for the Society.

That was then. Eventually the Society closed shop. Other secret meeting places took place with other groups. Everyone still had to be very careful. Now – young people just sort of ignore the whole thing. They could care less about what their gay forefathers had to go through with the harassment.

But History is important to us all. The play itself is a little difficult to follow. First of all the dual roles that the actors have to take over makes the confusion even more mysterious. Maybe that is what they wanted with the NCTC production.

The set is hardly a set. A few wooden chairs are around which are used for various things. Office, living space and a hideout.

It’s a demanding play that could have some humor put in it. After all – they were Gay. Where were the cracker jack comments that Gay people are famous for?

But the author of this play, written by Jon Marans in 2009 -- has won a bunch of awards.  So on that hand, he has brought out a subject that may or may not make much of difference in today’s attitude. But, it is interesting to revisit History. The fight actually is not over. There are still Gay Haters everywhere. Keep that in mind.

AT THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE

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

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

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December 5, 2011

RICHMOND ERMET HOLIDAY GALA OF STARS







A MUSICAL EVENING OF THE BEST OF THE BUNCH  - 2011


ANOTHER LAVISH REAF BENEFIT TONIGHT AT THE MARINES MEMORIAL THEATRE

Have you ever attended one of these shows? If so then you know about these splendid talented singers, actors and musicians. If not – then you sure will want to not miss this show.

I have seen every one of these shows over the years, and I am always thrilled with the talents…THE BEST IN THE WORLD! The talent includes entertainers from Film, TV, Recording, Jazz and Dance in this 10th Anniversary Holiday Gala.

O.K. Now you know, that this will be a star-studded benefit concert and gala with Mary Wilson (The Supremes), Sheryl Lee Ralph “Dreamgirls”, La Toya London (American Idol star) and Bonnie Franklin (TV Star and performer) – they and the entire cast, literally take over the stage. Fabulous!

Here’s a little back-story. Years ago Bonnie Franklin (T.V. Star and Performer) – was at the once famed Mocombo in SF. I was set up to do a pre-performance with Franklin at the Holiday Inn on Van Ness. When I got to the Hotel Bonnie Franklin had this little dog that she called “Toto” – you know, like the one from The Wizard of Oz. Cute doggy, but it tried to bite my butt. “Toto” (cut as ever) -- even raised his leg and tried to pee on my leg.  Just like in the Wizard of Oz – where is the bicycle with the basket? Remember the line for OZ? -- "I'm gonna get you and your little Doggie too!" It sure could have come in handy. Toto would have loved the ride. I think. At least I would have.

This 10th Anniversary Holiday Gala promises to be the most electrifying and one of the years best.

Don’t go away – Here’s more: Broadway Star David Burnham will take your breath away – Sally Struthers of TV Fame will bring some humor along – Another famed Idol Star RJ Helton and TV’s “America’s Got Talent Shawn Ryan is always a great treat.

Cabaret stars that will brighten the Holidays are Paula West, Jason Brock, Amanda King, Wesla Whitfield & Samantha Samuels. From You Tube is Von Smith. You’ll love the musical comedy duo “Dakaboom.” Oliver Freeston (Principal Dancer from Company C Ballet) will amaze you. And the long waited cast of “Xanadu” will be at the Marines stage. They are opening at the NCTC on Van Ness.

Thanks to: Joe Seiler & Ken Henderson (Gala Co-Chairs). For more info – go to:

TOMORROW: …LOOK FOR THE INCREDIBLE AND FUNNY "GOLDEN GIRLS REVIEW" -- AT" THE VICTORIA THEATRE  

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

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