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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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