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June 28, 2012

TRINI LOPEZ - ROCKS! SCOTTSBORO BROTHERS - INTENSE

The Scottsboro Boys. Courtesy Photo A.C.T.




Trini Lopez and writer Lee Hartgrave at the Rrazz. Photo by Steven Underhill













Trini brings back the Night Club  Atmosphere with the
 clinking of glasses
 to the wonderful, exciting Latin Beat. 

In this show he revealed a secret. "Actually, Lopez is not my real name -- I am not Latino. Just thought I would let you know that!" – He said. Most in the audience might have been a little surprised – but they really adored hearing and seeing him again.

The Room was really rocking with “Route 66” – “Michael Row the Boat Ashore and the fabulous thrilling “America” – from West Side Story.” And the audience and myself were standing up and swinging and swaying to the beat of “La Bamba”.

Trini has it all. Great Talent – Great Personality – and his musical Guitar genius is the best I’ve ever heard. Best rousing fantastic evening I’ve heard in years.

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

Now playing at the Rrazz Room thru July 1st

THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS

 
A Black woman sits on a bench waiting for a bus. Later in another scene we see her getting on a Bus. She is told:  “Coloreds in the back!” – and she fires back: - “I won't sit in the back, no more. No More.” And she stayed where she was.

The Kander and Ebb music will keep you rocking with numbers like “Minstrel March/Hey Hey” and “The Scottsboro Boys” sure will keep you on your toes with toe- tapping exciting music and sounds. Here are a few more exciting musical stories: “Electric Chair” – “Go Back Home” (they find that they can’t) and “Shout” – enormously exciting.


The Scottsboro Boys is a musical with a huge heart – and one of the most rousing entertainments you’ll ever hear.

It’s a horrible part of American History. But, the terrific and brilliant choreography and direction by Susan Stroman will make you laugh. The Kander and Ebb Music will bring you to tears along with some laughs. I think you’ll definitely want to see it again! The story is based on the tragedy of the real Scottsboro Boys. The cast in this appearance at A.C.T. is “Flat-Out—Fantastic!”

NOW PLAYING AT A.C.T.

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


*courtesy beyondchron

promoted

June 15, 2012

GREEN DAY - BRILLIANT PRODUCTION



  June 20, 2012
SHARON McNIGHT AT THE RRAZZ ROOM

There is something electric when you see a McNight Show. Sharon knows how to twist and turn each song to make them her own. Some of them pull at your heartstrings, and others give you so much energy that you have the feeling that you should get up, clap and have a real dandy show. Well – that’s exactly what Sharon always does.

McNight is out to bring to you, unique material – and an evolution of entertainment. She takes standards and makes them sound like they came in from the Clouds. No, not the “Apple” cloud. What you get is never ending shtick and music. A lot of it of course is American – but there are also songs from the French and other Countries.

Sharon gives us that famous growl as she brings to life again gutsy renditions of famous and not so famous songs. Hey, you know what? Sharon has a real knack to flush out the cream of the crop. She goes the Extra Mile.

In this evenings set – it’s all about men. And this show certainly should drag in a lot of men. The songs range from “Spicy” to Love and beyond – if you get my drift. Oh hey, that’s what she’sez. And she knows how to win over the boys. It’s typical McNight.

Not only does Sharon shine with the music – she also is a very talented comedian. Here’s one that brought out a lot of laughs: “ I Like Kids, especially if they are 24 years olds!” I loved this: Sharon says laughingly: “Bet you’ve never seen a woman do Bette Davis?” I’ll explain. Usually it's a Drag Star does bits on Davis.  It's rare when a women impersonates the famous snarling Star Bette Davis.

Back to the music. From Follies “Am I Losing my Mind?” – Made my socks roll up and down. Sharon is always a ‘Hoot’ and this show is so energetic and magnetic – so much so that you won’t be able to resist the magnetism. Sharon talks about the Beach Boys and her friend “Chris”. Chris sang some wonderful music with Sharon. Paired together they added even more magic to this show. The famous piano player Joan Edger (she played many years with Charles Pierce) still plays wonderfully and looks terrific. Chris and Sharon were both in the Musical 'Starmites' on Broadway. Sharon was a Tony nominee as best actress at the Tony awards.

I’ll leave you with these little tidbits (things I did not know) – Willie Nelson wrote the song ‘Crazy’. “No one else wrote it" – Sharon says. "And – When you see on a record 'Written by Elvis Presley' – Sharon says: “Elvis never wrote a note in his life.” See – you never know where you get the News! Try the Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko.You're gonna love this show!

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

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




GREEN DAY HAS THE WATTS!

Scott J. Campbell and Nicci Claspell. Photo: Doug Hamilton

REMEMBER HAIR? SAME STORY
IN GREEN DAY - ONLY MORE ELECTRICITY

SCROLL DOWN FOR BEN VEREEN REVIEW 
The Musical Hair is calming. “American Idiot” - Not so calming! In the Hair days, we thought the music was way too loud. Now -  “American Idiot” came along with it's Thousand Watts of Electricity. "Hair" used few Watts. Never in your lifetime will you see so many things lighting up on the Walls, Ceilings, along with various devices that light up all over the stage. There are cameras buzzing around everywhere - and Televisions that multiply by the hundreds. We get to read messages in the many T.V. Sets. Yes this evening is both a powerful and  sometimes somber evening. That can be good and bad. They music is pretty repetitive, much like the song that they just sang. But, that is what they do these days. Every pop singer usually sings the same lyric over and over. Yeh, O.K. we get the point.

Now this is a puzzle. There is much to like about the show. It has expert timing, great visuals and terrific singers. However, the brooding young people are just never satisfied about anything. They are handsome men and girls that just don’t seem to care about all that. One young man tries to free himself from the drugs, sex and just laziness from himself. Another young guy – forgets all the time to take a bath, but he still makes love with his girl. He trys to clean up his act by putting on a shirt and tie. Then he washes up, and gets an office job that lasted about 10 minutes. This Job was not for him, or any job. He went back to his world of wishing for things instead of actually trying to make a life for himself.

The musicians do deliver some serious scores and the ‘High Wire” acts will really astound you. There are eye-popping colors everywhere that you look. It sure is cinematic. But I don’t see it as a literary delight.

Briefly the story is about some young men and women who try to make some meaning out of their lives. Well, that’s easy – put away the drugs. The punk Rock band (Green Day) influenced this show with blasting musical numbers. They are catchy and effective – but like all modern music, the tunes have an annoying way of sounding the same.

One of the songs says: “You Can’t Go Home Again”. Well, sometimes that is true – but moaning about your self will not get you anywhere. Maybe the psychedelic story will be very interesting to many – but your eyes can only cross so many times.

Look, here’s the Deal. This is a show that is talented to the ends of the Earth. The boys drop their pants and show their tempting tight shorts (that you’ll like) -- and they simulate sexual moments. Or as they call it, Punk Rock! At times the show is Poetic, Provocative and beautiful, in a pulse beating way.

Music by Green Day. Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong. Book by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer.
 These Great Actors and singers are: Van Hughes, Jake Epstein, Scott J. Campbell, Leslie McDonel, Gabrielle McClinton, Joshua Kobak and Nicci Claspell. Also the Ensemble is essential to the show. They are very necessary to keep the drama going. And without the masterful Band – it would not be a very interesting “Day”.

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

NOW PLAYING AT THE ORPHEUM THEATRE





promoted







June 13, 2012

BEN VEREEN -- DAMNED IRRESITABLE




Ben Vereen on opening nite. Courtesy Photo

BEN VEREEN – DAMNED 
IRRESISTABLE!
Scroll down for "Reunion and 'Lips Together and Lips apart'

BEN VEREEN IS AMAZINGLY ATHLETIC.

He dances around the stage like he’s a teenager. No one but Vereen can illuminate the Rrazz Room with the thrilling treasures from yesteryear. His clear strong voice takes us on an unforgettable musical journey. To say that he is vibrantly alive goes beyond that. His devilishly clever personality brings out the thrill of discovery of songs from famous shows like “Hair, Pippin and Wicked. From Pippin is “We’ve got Magic to do”. And Magic he does!

Who could forget Vereen in Hair? His strong voice is still the most marvelous of singers as he touches our soul with “Age of Aquarius from ‘Hair’. Vereen just made our summer! My fave is “I don’t know why I Love Him” from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar”. But as Vereen sez: “What Do I Know? – I’m just a Legendary Star. And that brought out more merriment from the audience. They loved it. And who wouldn’t? 

How did Vereen get started on his brilliant career? Well, the way he describes it – a columnist from the SF Chronicle (The Great John Wasserman) got him going. He pushed Vereen into the spotlight. That Spotlight is still glowing over him. Bob Fosse also had much to do with Vereen’s Career. “He smoked Camel Cigarettes” – Vereen revealed. Of course in those days – almost everyone smoked constantly.

Here’s a very funny moment. Vereen looks around at the audience and asks? – “Has anyone ever heard of a Record Player? A Cassette? Or- a -Telegram? – “Heck – I saved all of my Telegrams.” The audience was just bent over with laughter.

From Broadway’s ‘Wicked’ - Vereen treats us to a marvelous version of “Fighting Gravity”. That song is usually sung by the female lead in ‘Wicked’ but Vereen gives it a new gloss, with his fireworks vocal range. “And that’s what I’m doing San Francisco – Fighting gravity!” - he sez. Yep! It is a beguiling evening.

AT THE RRAZZ ROOM THRU JUNE 17

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


                                                          

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June 10, 2012





60 SECOND REVIEWS

REUNION ‘PLAYGROUND”
LIPS TOGETHER TEETH APART
SONY HOLLAND AT THE RRAZZ

THIS IS A ‘REUNION THAT YOU WON’T EASILY FORGET!

A Prisoner of Love (Marvin Greene - Courtesy Photo





The Sandbox Series presents “Reunion” by Kenn Rabin. Multi-talented Luis Parnell directs this new work. The mission here is to promote new works. And, that they do with great flare.

“Reunion” is a taut story about a handsome school Teacher that charms more than the bees. He is attracted to young women at school. He is one of those men who just can’t help themselves, especially when the young women throw themselves at his feet. And throw themselves at him, they do.

But, here is the hitch in his sex life. One of the girls, claims that she was raped by the School Teacher (Marvin Greene.) Now he is in Jail (10 years) – and is plotting with the other Girl that he slept with, to help him get out of jail. The action takes place in and around Berkeley – and involves a secret recording. Ummm-Juicy!

I was mesmerized by the salty dialogue: Here’s one: “It’s about you – you’re being chased by wild animals and wolverines.” Here’s another – “You’re bumming me out – I’m Mary Magdalene…the whore.” And then there is the Jail Nurse (The Bitch) – “I’m going to attach this device to your Penis.” I expected her to say: Gosh, Sweetie, That’s a Big Gun!” She didn’t say that, but well – that sounds like a lot of fun doesn’t it?

THE ACTORS ARE ABSOLUTELY MARVELOUS. THIS IS FIRST RATE THEATRE. They Are: Steve Bologna, Alexandra Creighton, Lauren English, Marvin Greene and Emily Rosenthal. They really are boldly original! Actors this good should be shipped to Broadway. They are that exciting and provocative!

NOW PLAYING AT THE S.F. PLAYHOUSE IN THE ‘SANDBOX THEATRE.”

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


Photo by Lois Tema




Chloe Makes her Brother show her the "Full Monty" 
 


LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART

It’s the Fourth of July. Two Straight Couples are spending the holiday weekend at a house that once belonged to Sally’s brother, who died of AIDS. We see the Straight Couples but not one Gay person is on the stage. Oh, they are there, for sure, but we don’t see or hear them. We have to imagine that they are the next-door neighbors. They are sort of like being in the Clouds with Apple.Com. The four “Straights” are all related one way or another. They bitch about the Gays on either side of the house – but that doesn’t stop the Straights from having sex. They just swap wives back and forth. But frown on Gays doing the same thing. One of the men, who is the brother of his sister, presents a rather ticklish question. “Let me see your Penis she says to her brother. I want to see how our parents looked.” The brother is frustrated, but gives in. He drops his pants. She says: “Dad did a good job.” They were out on the Patio at the moment. Do you suppose that the Gay boys were watching? What are you mad? Of course they were watching. Wouldn’t you?

 McNally (Playwright) has written some great words that are both neurotic and giddy. It’s funny, sexy, and at times poignant -- you’re sure to double up with laughter. McNally has written some very funny lines for the talented Characters in the play.

SEE THIS PLAY! LAUGH YOURSELF SILLY! ADORE THE ACTORS! GET READY TO APPLAUD -=- HERE COMES: Sarah Mitchell, Marie O’Donnell, Michael Sally and Cameron Weston.  They have the comedy knack down to a “T”. The remarkable chemistry is amazing! You must see this “Hugely entertaining show!”

Now playing at the New Conservatory Theatre

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

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

SONY HOLLAND TONIGHT AT THE RRAZZ ROOM



Sony Holland sings at the Rrazz Room. Courtesy Photo.
Sony Holland has a great collection of songs on Amazon.com, but there is nothing like hearing her gorgeous voice in person. Like Anita O’Day and other jazz greats – Sony is right up there with other singing Diva’s. No problem hearing the lyrics here. Sony not only sings standards that will never die – she re-interprets them. Take “Over The Rainbow” - that was made famous by Judy Garland. Now, Holland has taken that Masterpiece and worked it into something so new and magical that I truly thought that I was in “OZ”. There was even a Wizard there. Yep, right there – he was sitting right in front next to Sony. O.K. I won’t keep you waiting. It was Jerry Holland, the Bandleader and husband.

Both of these talents have written many songs on there own – like “You Are So Good To Me". One of my most favorite hypnotic songs was Holland’s “When I Find You.” Also amazing styling comes about with “Non-Stop To Brazil” with some influence by Astrud Gilberto. That will shake your bones a lot. I loved everything about the show with -- Andy Langham – Piano; David Hughes – Bass; Jerry Holland – Guitar; and Kendall Kay on Drums.

There is only one thing missing for me. I was hoping that Jerry and Sony would do at least one duet. That would be like getting a Double Chocolate Ice Cream Cone. Maybe, next time around. 

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

Courtesy of beyondchron  


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June 7, 2012

BRUJA - YEARS BEST - 100 SAINTS





CAST OF BRUJA. COURTESY PHOTO - MAGIC THEATRE








Bruja – Years Best!
100 Saints – Pray for Them!




Religious Mom Clings to her Priest son. Photo Kent Taylor

BRUJA (The Witch)
By Luis Alfaro

This amazing, sizzling play (based on Medea), is electrifyingly alive, and thrillingly memorable. We’ve all seen the Greek Tragedy Medea many times – but this translation has an undertow, that is tart as a cherry. There also are comic touches, that are iced with an ironic edge.

What you get here – is a masterpiece. There are moments of tenderness and unexpected betrayal. Men will do anything for money. However, the money train crashes and burns a relationship. Her hot Latin lover has given Medea two Children. The boys dress the same, they love to play Soccer, but they will not live through the night because their mother (Medea) is out to get revenge. Sabina Zuniga Varela (Medea) is very upset and she is hell bent to destroy everyone in her family with her fascinating Witch dances of the Palms.

Her housemaid, Wilma Bonet (Vieja) is pure exhilaration. She is one of the most unexpected and greatest discoveries on the stage. Vieja clings to the methods of the old Country. She spiritually clears the space around Medea, and then places a hand on Medea’s head, a ritual they have been doing forever. Medea and Vieja pray briefly in whispers that are so secret that we can hardly hear what they are plotting.

The men are not left out of this thrilling masculine world. They strip their shirts off to be ‘healed by Medea”. She touches the tight firm body of “Aegeus” (Armando Rodriquez), as Medea works her witchcraft to heal his body to get his wish to have a child with his wife. And it worked.

This terrifically exciting work by playwright Alfaro always has something spectacular to say in this exquisitely mounted production.

This is Theatre that throbs with life. Yes, that’s your pulse that you feel. If this show doesn’t move you – then you have my condolences.

AS USUAL – THE MAGIC THEATRE HAS COME UP WITH AN ASTOUNDING CAST: THEY ARE: Carlos Aguirre, Wilma Bonet, Armando Rodriquez, Sean San Jose, Sabina Zuniga Varela – Daniel Castaneda/Daniel Vigil – Gavilan Gordon-Chavez/Mason Kreis.

Fantastic Set Design by Andrew Boyce. Great Costume Design by Alex Jaeger. Gorgeous Lighting Design by Eric Southern and the Creative Sound is by Jack Rodriquez.

INDISPUTABLE DIRECTING BY” Loretta Greco.

NOW PLAYING AT THE MAGIC THEATRE @ FORT MASON

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

THEATRE RHINOCEROS PRESENTS
100 SAINTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Oh ‘COME’ -- All Yee Faithful!

Stories about ‘Heartbreak’ are not new but this production about love, a Priest and A young girl who thinks she is cool, messes up her life and heart in a big way. Not to mention religion.  Could it be because of ‘Happy Pills?” And the answer is yes.

The play keeps us on the edge of our seats and why a Priest (Matthew) is on leave from Church. He carelessly left around some homoerotic pictures. The Church does not think that he should have the pictures, which really are just Art photos from a collection of famed George Platt Lynes photos from an Artsy, tasteful book - nothing shocking there in this day and age.

Then the Priest moves in with his overly religious Mother (Colleen). She is so religious that is it completely unbearable. Why her son Matthew stays with her, is beyond belief. To me – she is a way over the top with the religious business. Just short of climbing up on the cross. Where are the nails? 

Matthew’s Dad -- also an Irish Catholic Devotee - suspects that Matthew is Gay. We never did find that out for sure, but at times he comes close to being bi-sexual. Then there is the inquisitive boy next-door. He asks the Priest one afternoon – are you a “Fag”? – I heard that you are. Matthew answers – “No – I’m not!” Turns out. The young man is really searching for an answer – because it is him that is confused over his sexuality.

This play has many strange revelatory moments in it that will appreciate over time. It’s doesn’t get any more wistful and meditative. You could say that this is a coming of age story about boy meets girl and boy would rather meet another boy or man. The girl is drowning in booze and gets the boy to take way too many swigs. It doesn’t have a pleasant ending to that part of the story.

This very sensitive play about excessive morals between the two youngsters is a big mistake on their part. The stars (and they are STARS) flesh out some of the best extraordinary Acting around. They loom large in the small stage, to bring us the most exhilarating story telling around.

The Church will hold on to a Tragedy that saddens everyone, while they hold onto the cross. I see it as a powerful indictment of religion.

JOHN FISHER (Director) has produced a bold, lucid and insightful version of this play.

THE WHIP SMART ACTORS ARE: Ann Lawler, Wylie Harman, Kim Stephenson,  Tamar Cohn and Michael Rosen. They made this “Gripping” play - “A Triumph!”

THE KATE FODOR PLAY WILL RUN THROUGH JUNE 17 at The Thick House at 18th Street @ Arkansas St. in SF.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!!

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


               LOOKING FOR THE FULL MONTY? JUST SCROLL DOWN TO VIEW
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Promoted












June 4, 2012

THE FULL MONTY -- DANCE DRIVEN COMEDY


THE MONTY BOYS WORK IT UP. Courtesy Photo: Ray of Light
 ////////////////////////
 THE FULLMONTY
TAKE IT OFF
  



THE FULL MONTY (Americanized musical stage version) - is adapted from the 1997 film of the same name. The book is by Terrence McNally, and the Catchy, wildly funny score, is by David Yazbek.

Here’s the deal. Six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers are down in the dumps, literally. The Steelworkers have lost their jobs and they have little cash, and no prospects of getting another job.

But after seeing their wives’ enthusiasm at a touring company of Chippendales dancers – the out of work men decide to put on a one-night show. They think that they will outdo the Chippendales because one of them, Jerry, declares that their show will be better, because they will do “the full Monty’ – You know, strip it all off. Show us what you got. And that they do.

In a sequence of scenes, the former Steel Workers perform strip-tease auditions. This is certainly one of the most hilarious auditions that you’ll ever see. One older guy, that looks like he can hardly stand up at first – turns out to be the biggest hit. He becomes a legend as the “Big Black Man”. Another guy longs to dance like Donald O’Conner in “Singin’ in the Rain’ and he has a jaw-dropping, bulge in his pants. The boys are shocked when he drops his pants.  One of the men, Jerry, fires up the men by telling them to think of it as not dance, but as sports moves. And you know what? – they come up with some brilliant choreography.

There is only one woman in the group. She sits at the piano and advises the boys musically. She’s, a tough, seen-it-all, hard as nails broad that has a cigarette dangling from her lips while playing the piano. Yep, she’s a tough one – but loveable.

The Boys decide on their ‘stage name” (Hot Metal) – you know, they were known as hard working sweaty men that worked with metal.

After many jumps and starts they decided to go ahead and put on the show. After all, they didn’t have anything to lose. But surprise – the boys have a sold-out house. Not only women came to the show – but also men for the one and only performance. You could say that they “let it go” and “Let it all Hang-Out!”

Let me tell you. The players in this version of “The Full Monty” are so exciting – that your head will spin, something will tingle between your leg and your palms will sweat. They sure deliver smoldering music. These dancing and singing rough-edged guys work so hard – that they actually “Shoot of Sparks”. You may wonder – are they uncut? Now how would I know that until the end? All I know is that this “Full Monty” is genuinely thrilling and sensational.

The Ray of Light Theatre has brought to town, a new-refreshed look at the play. The Full Monty is “The Laugh-Out-Loud Comedy of The Year! There is perfect –onstage chemistry. “Hey, I’ve been around 100 yrs – I know a cool thing when I see it! I’m giving it a “Pants on Fire Rating!”

WHO NEEDS SEXTING WHEN YOU HAVE THESE ACTORS? Derek Travis Collard, Katherine Cooper, Elijah Diamond, Danielle Dipaola, C.J. Dion, Maria duzon, Joshua, Fryvecind, Phillipe Gosselin, Sara Hauter, Daniel Hurst, Helen Laroche, Brie Martin, David Mister, Ross Neueneldt, Bill Tankovich, Cami Thmpson, Chris Uzelac, Gwynn Villegas, Leslie Waggoner and Wendell H. Wilson. “TERRIFIC CAST OF THOUSANDS!”

ALSO EXHILARATING: Jason Hoover (Artistic Director/Director), Ben Prince (Music Director) Mary Kalita (Choreographer) – “Spectacular!”

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

Now playing at the Eureka Theatre/Ray of Light Theatre production

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

 SCROLL DOWN FOR XANADU  

promoted
 Courtesy beyondchron

 

June 1, 2012

XANADU -- SPINNING TALES OF LOVE





The unflappable Tim Homsley (Sonny) loves his skates. Courtesy Photo












POP/ROCK AND BEYOND

Get out those skates  cause you are about to go on a magical journey. A young man who has dreams of bringing back to life an old Theater that has been closed for years. He has dreams that may not come true. There are some bumps along the way as a Greek muse, Kira descends from the heavens to Venice Beach, California. Kira and Sonny skate around each other and well, they kinda, fall in love and make the Theater Dream come true. 

She meets up with Sonny, a struggling artist. He not only wants to make canvas come alive, he also wants to turn an abandoned Theater into the first ROLLER DISCO! Remember, we are now in 1980ís time. There are problems with the well-oiled skates. Kira falls into forbidden love with the handsome and charming Sonny. However, Kira's sisters are jealous witches that whip up all the magic they can to destroy the romance between Kira and Sonny.

This is pure Theater. Each Actor fills the magic with astounding sparkly visions. This comedy cocktail will definitely give you a buzz. There is a treasure trove of beautiful tunes, a madcap plot and visual inventive delights. Then there are the frothy, fabulous costumes and the beautiful sets. Believe me you will be astounded with the romantic moments. It's a choreography marvel!

The music is heavenly. You'll recognize fragments of Mama Mia. And songs like "I'm Alive", "Magic" and "Dancin" and that's just a beginning. The basket of tunes takes us up to Mount Olympus. Oh yes - it really is heavenly up there in the clouds where the non-mortal Zeus sits on his Throne. And we are not talking about Apple Mac Clouds. They didn't do computers in those days.

All in all Xanadu, is a rip-roaring, ridiculous entertainment. It's pure exhilaration!

YOU CAN'T RESIST THE ACTORS. THEY ARE THE BEST! And here they are: Tim Homsley (Sonny) is electrifyingly. He could charm the butterflies off the trees. He should put that charisma in a bottle and sell it! He IS every Broadway character actor you ever wanted to see.

Brittany Danielle (Clio/Kira) plays the Muse love interest of Sonny. She is bold, refreshing, lucid, and insightful.  Terrific! Instantly won us over!

All the Actors give us summer smiles. I can't tell you how wonderfully expert everyone was. But I was overwhelmed with the whip-smart cast. You are ALL brilliant! Mark Farrell, Catherine Gloria, Sharon Rietkerk, Dyan McBride, Maureen McVerry, Evan Boomer, Tom Reardon, Ben Bogen and Taylor Jones.

Xanadu is a Triumph. It's a Triumph for the Center Rep and one the funniest pleasures on this years stages. 

Hooray's for: Michael Butler, Artistic Director, Scott Denison, Managing Director, Kelly Tighe -- Scenic Designer is Marvelous. Sound Design by Jeff Mockus is really crisp. Not a note was missed. Costume Designer is Victoria Livingston-Hall and Lighting Designer is by Kurt Landisman really know their stuff. And there is more. Jeff Collister Director - kept those roller skates moving. And Brandon Adams did a bang up job with the musical direction. The fabulous Choreography by Jennifer Perry is more than excellent!

NOW PLAYING AT THE LESHER CENTER IN WALNUT CREEK

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)))


 Scroll Down for "Hysteria" - "Clipping" and other Stories
 LEE HARTGRAVE TONIGHT WILL REVIEW "THE FULL MONTY" BY 'RAY OF LIGHT THEATRE' AT THE EUREKA THEATRE IN SAN FRANCISCO.