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January 30, 2013

PEGGY CUMMINS STARS IN NOIR CITY 11 - SHE'S THRILL CRAZY!



Courtesy Photo - Noir City 11


SHE’S THRILL CRAZY, KILL CRAZY - AND GUN CRAZY!

THE SILVER SCREEN

It’s a dark, rainy night on a badly lit street. There is a neon Hotel sign that blinks off and on. It’s already creepy. A boy (14 years old) tries to get out of the rain in a hardware store.  He sees a Gun in the Window. The boy is mesmerized by that Gun. He tries to steal the Gun and he runs out with the gun. He slips on the wet pavement. A Sheriff grabs the kid. The boy goes to court. His sister Ruby in court to the Judge says: “Im not only his big sister, but mother and father too – I’ve been trying to take care of him but I guess I never earned enough to buy the things for him that other boys have.” The Judge sizes up the boy – and puts the boy on probation. The boy grows up, and meets the woman of his dreams. She’s a carnival sharpshooter (Annie Laurie Starr) portrayed by 24-year-year old Peggy Cummins. She’s a clever blonde who is constantly scheming on how to get money and shoot at people. This movie was the pre-curser of “Bonnie and Clyde”. Peggy Cummins is still alive and looks stunning even today. She attended the opening night at the Castro Theater – Noir City 11.

CURSE OF THE DEMON

Not so much of a “Noir” movie, but an interesting one. This is a strange and rare movie that takes place in a foggy and chilly countryside. Stonehenge has something to do with it. The movie in its day was probably very scary. Now-a-days – it’s more comic than serious. In the movie is Peggy Cummins (who was in big demand in those black and white days on the screen.) This is a séance sequence, a central villain and a stormy Halloween party. And, oh yes – there is a laughable hypnosis session – that comes to a violent ending. Is it Corny? Of course it is – but to this day, the film 50 years later still scares you in that foggy mansion.

HELL DRIVERS
Underrated British Film

This is a pretty damn good realistic drama about an ex-con (Stanley Baker). He gets out of the slammer and seeks a job. He gets the job, but finds out later that he works for a crooked haulage company. The Boss and his foreman have been cheating the driver of lots of money. Not to mention – that the new hires are forced to work in extremely dangerous conditions.

The cast is very strong. Stanley Baker, exposes his corrupt boss, and Patrick McGoohan really knows how menace just about everyone. If ever there was a psychopath. He would just love to crash into your truck so that he can be in the lead. If you look closely, you will see a very young Sean Connery.

Peggy Cummins also has a Star role in this film. The trucks that the guys had to drive looked very dangerous and in a bad state of maintenance. I asked an Englishman what brand were the Trucks? He said: “They were Dodge Semi Forwards with diesel engines.” Well, they sure as hell got a beating. Exciting  stuff  for Truckers. This flicker is smouldering and vengeful. It’s right up your Alley. Get out the Gravel.

The films were shown at the 11th annual  San Francisco Film Noir Festival Thru Feb. 3, 2013. NOIRCITY.COM.  Thanks to Czar Eddie Muller – Programmer: Anita Monga – Noir City Announcer, Bill Arney – And the Film Noir Foundation. And of course – Thanks to the fantastic Castro Theatre.  

MORE TERRIFIC BLACK AND WHITE MOVIES  AT THE CASTRO THEATER 

JAN. 31: BAD GIRLS NIGHT; THE COME ON (Stars Anne Baxter); FRI. FEB. 1: 3-D NOIR - MAN IN THE DARK (Edmond O'Brien). CORNELL WOOLRICH TRIPLE BILL! - SAT. FEB 2. - STREET OF CHANCE, THE CHASE AND THE WINDOW. 'ALL GREAT SUSPENSE FILMS'. CATCH THEM WHILE YOU CAN AT THE CASTRO. 

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

   


January 24, 2013

CLINT HOLMES - LIVE AT THE RRAZZ




CLINT HOLMES - COURTESY PHOTO




CLINT HOLMES – LIVE AT THE RRAZZ

DIRECT FROM NEW YORK’S ‘CAFÉ CARYLE’ IS THE ACCLAIMED SINGER Clint Holmes, named Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year three times. He sings everything ranging from contemporary to jazz to Broadway – you will be amazed as he sings the most beautiful music in the world.

When Holmes sings the great songs of Cole Porter and Paul Simon and Porter we get to enjoy Simon's 'Love' and Porter's 'What is This Thing Called Love?  It’s more than “Just One of Those things” – Porter. One of my favorites was “Bridge Over troubled water” – Simon.

There is a whole bunch of great music on the Rrazz stage – you’ll find that out during the show. Clint Homes has taken this great music and made it fresh and bright again. Great melodies and lyrics have inspired on many stages – Clint's vocals wow the audiences. He is not just a voice. If you have a fascination with rhythmic music, then this show is for you. It sure is for me. Holmes doesn’t just sing – he creates as he goes along. He does new and innovative ways to make the songs young and fresh again.

Experiment is the word. Holmes is not afraid to bend some of the music in new ways. The diversity of his music set is absolutely fascinating. Some of the songs are rollicking and some are sweet. Many tell us stories that bring back memories. And the band behind Holmes gives us another edge – another way for us to appreciate new sounds.

Fantastic songs deserve great singers. Holmes is one of those guys. Yep, he’s a guy that can twist and turn a lyric into new ways to listen to them. One thing I liked about this show is that they actually have talent. And, that’s a surprise. Clint Holmes is a true vocal master. Don’t let this show get away. You still have a few nights left. I think he will be one of the most remembered Talents around.

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

THE TIMES: Thurs, 1/24 – 8pm. Fri. 1/25 – 7pm. Sat – 1/26, 7pm. Sunday 1/27 5pm.

(((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

January 22, 2013

MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL - SCINTILLATING EMOTION!




Tallman (Joshua Roberts) - Lilly (Lyndsy Kail).  Photo -Chesca Rueda






MANIC PIXIE dream girl

There is something that makes me think of Woody Allen. There is the kinky factor. Hey, I’m also kinky—so I fit right into this play. Not actually in it – but on the sidelines watching. There is also the creepy feeling that Rod Serling was floating around the room (see Serling’s (A World of His Own) for the plot idea. Not exactly the same, but similar.

There is a real love story here. A young Artist meets a girl who just kinda finds her way into his apartment. You know right away, that this is not completely normal. Yes, there is something very strange about her. Her moods run from sweet to neurotic. She is mostly emotionless – but then all of a sudden she snaps – and goes a little bit nuts. While actually – she is more than a little nuts.

The young Artist can’t quite understand what is going on. But, he will find out later that there is more to the quirky girl than he expected. His paintings are not doing well, and he is totally broke. His landlord is about to kick him out of the Apartment. The energy on the stage really sends lighting bolts across the room. How can you not get involved in this whole love story, when they are both more or less half wits? The Artist is not painting – the Girl has a secret that you find out near the end, and the Artist is overwhelmed with the secret.

THE ACTING IS SUPREME! Lucas Hatton plays three men: Rick/Bartender/Phil - and this guy really has a talent to look like someone hit him on the head with a magic wand. It’s amazing! Joshua Roberts (Tallman) is the Artist that is in a funk – he can’t seem to get back on the creative track. Others on the fast track are Lyndsy Kail (with the wandering mind). And to heat things up there is Liz Anderson (Jackie) to keep the strain going. Everyone is on a High Wire Act – and it may come crashing down at anytime. Porter Price (Michael Barrett Austin) tries to help the Artist along in an irritating way.

*Manic Pixie Dream Girl was commissioned and originally developed by PlayGround – James A. Kleinmann, Artistic Director.

Now Playing at ‘The A.C.T. Costume Shop Theater. 1117 Market St., San Francisco. (Across the street from the Orpheum)

Rating: Three Glasses of Champagne!!! –trademarked-

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

January 21, 2013

TOURING CAST OF 'ANYTHING GOES' - 'One Night Only'

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Lindsay Pierce - Courtesy Photo -Glee Project










ONE NIGHT ONLY

With Touring cast from
“Anything Goes” 
- Bay Theatre - Pier 39

This is it – this is exactly what we have been waiting for. On the stage will be that beguiling American Idol, LA TOYA LONDON. Her awesome singing voice and personality sure knows how to capture an audience.
Then comes along GEM – Lindsay Pearce from The Glee Project & Glee. As they say, “Nothings gonna stop her now!”
And I’m sure that we in San Francisco know all about Tim Hockenberry. What a wonderful deep voice he has. His raspy, masculine voice takes over the stage. Yes, but that is what he is noted for. You can put him in the fantastic file. At ‘America’s Got Talent’ he had the audience entranced with his incredible, unusual vocals. You’re gonna see him tonight—and I guarantee that you are gonna love it.
ERICH BERGEN who recently was at the Golden Gate Theatre in “Anything Goes” –  is a blast. Not only is he a great, great actor, he’s a comic, a dreamboat, and on the stage tonight, he will as usual be the charming guy up there in the spotlight.
This original evening of music, dance & hi-jinks will be the best compilation of entertainment tonight. Yes, it’s only a one-night-er.
Tickets & Information. www.helpisontheway.org. or 415273.1620. There are a limited number of tcets available for the dessert party with he cast at the Hard Rock Café following the show for an additional $20/person. (includes complimentary  cocktails, wine & desserts.)

ANOTHER TREAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED!  ‘JEFFERSON STARSHIP’ FLEW INTO ‘LIVE AT THE RRAZZ’ AT 1000 Van Ness. SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE REVIEW.

  

January 20, 2013

JEFFERSON STARSHIP FLYS IN AT THE RRAZZ


 




LEE HARTGRAVE TONIGHT

JEFFERSON STARSHIP
HEADLINER BLAST

“NOTHING’S GONNA STOP THEM NOW!” As usual, with outstanding guitar work and the fantastic local effects – you won’t fall asleep. You could actually sit on the steps outside of 1000 Van Ness—and your butt will still be jiggling along to the beat. In fact one of the musicians said: “I don’t think those movie theatres in the building are going to like this.

Like a real “StarShip in space – the Ship knows how to whirl around the enjoyable music. Yes, everyone in the audience was bobbing their head from side to side and front to back. I guess it was good exercise. Something however about the new Rrazz Room on Van Ness was the music. It was just a little tiny bit too loud. Loved the songs – but the volume kinda covered up some the beautiful words. Also – I have another request. Could maybe the “Starship” friends give us a hint of what they are singing? Sure, I know some of the songs – and they are spectacular arrangements. The Rock and Pop songs do some neat blending along the rail, but I think the audience would really love it more if we could just grab onto the Starships tail.

There is Major, Major talent on this stage, there is no doubt about it. The music is truly awesome. And the band couldn’t be better. They had lots of fun up there on that stage – but the musical blast sent us up above mars. A little mellowness (which they did at times) would really be best. I’ve seen Jefferson Starship talent before and overall, I would recommend this show – and I certainly will look for them again at the Rrazz. They ended with a magnificent closer. And that had everyone standing up in the back of the room and rocking and rolling.

NOW PLAYING AT “Live at the Rrazz Room” – 1000 Van Ness at O’Farrell.

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

(((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

January 17, 2013

LEE HARTGRAVE TONIGHT


GREAT CAST! Courtesy Photo



WHY torture is WRONG - and the people who LOVE THEM

HEADLINE




WHY TORTURE IS WRONG, AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEM

Directed by Claire Rice

Hey – this play is every Broadway Actor you ever wanted to see on the stage. I’m overwhelmed with this evening at the Custom Made Theatre that’s fun and frothy. This show is like a billion firecrackers going off every few seconds. Yes, Torture me – I love it and I love the talent in this Bay Area Premier Comedy.

Who is Christopher Durang? Well, he was born in Montclair, New Jersey. He attended Catholic schools as a child, including the Our Lady of Peach School in New Providence, New Jersey. He received a B.A. in English from Harvard and an M.F.A. in playwriting from Yale School of Drama. He's been with a partner for many, many years.

His work deals with Roman Catholic  dogma and culture and homosexuality. Durang’s plays have been on Broadway and Off-0ff Broadway. He has a fabulous collection of one-act parodies. One of them is the hysterical “For Whom The Southern Bell Tolls” (a parody of The Glass Menagerie by (Tennessee Williams.)

Durang’s Torture play keeps the audience laughing at this uproarious comedy about an ongoing ‘war on terror’. The father is not only looking to catch a strange guy that married his daughter by letting her get drunk. They both get so drunk that they don’t even remember that they got married that evening. Daddy, is not happy. He pursues the young non-working young guy. The Dad thinks that his daughter has married a terrorist.

The mother is just hysterically emotional. In this house she can only wear yellow, orange and red. Daddy, you see, won’t let Mom wear any other colors. You wonder – is the mother a theater-loving eccentric – or is she really insane. She greets everyone that comes in the door by Greeting them with “Do you love the Theatre? Yes, I would say that she is insane but funny as hell.

Hey, this play is richly enjoyable. It’s a winner! Durang and The Custom Made Theatre score again! Impossible to resist!

NOW PLAYING AT THE CUSTOM MADE THEATRE ON GOUGH STREET

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

This is the funiest black comedy that I have seen AND THE BEST ACTING I'VE SEEN IN YEARS: They Are: Eden Neuendorf, Sal Mattos, Jennie Brick, Paul Stout, Jonathon Brooks, Teri Whipple and Christopher P. Kelly. "Hands -down the best new play in San Francisco. I'm hooked and you'll be hooked as well! It's a swift blast!" 


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

January 10, 2013

ANYTHING GOES MUSICAL IS CHARMING - ENJOYABLE


THE CAST. PHOTO JOAN MARCUS







ANYTHING GOES – AMAZING CAST AT
GOLDEN GATE THEATRE

Hey, take it from me. This is the ultimate musical. The score is mesmerizing, and the entire cast is outstanding. They belt out the famous songs in a way like never before! The arrangements will not only dazzle you – the music will keep your toes tapping.

Rachel is ideally cast as a singing chanteuse-turned evangelist. I’ve sometimes been skeptical about revivals, but this time on the Golden Gate Theatre stage, everyone and everything about the show sparkles with pizazz and panache. You’ll see – it’s not the least disappointing – just follow Reno’s timeless advice: “Stand up on your lazy feet and sing!” Yep – this show has plenty of Style, Class and Sex appeal.

Love this line: “Please don’t unwrap your Life Savers. We have enough ‘Life Savers’ on Board!”

This production of the show is definitely a hands-down winner. There is nothing disappointing about this revival.

Yeh- I’m still humming “You’re the Top”. It’s such a fun show. And when the singers are on the deck singing ‘It’s De-Lovely’ the moonlight speaks to love and romance. The moon has a lot to do with the atmosphere. And what is even more seductive is the full Overture. Even the music Conductor sings (quietly mouthing) along with the songs.

Alex Finkle sings (Hope Harcourt) “Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye” with a silvery singing voice. I just love the Cole Porter music. There are so many fun moments in the show – and, Laughter is all around the audience. This is one of the best musicals I’ve seen this year. It’s all together Amazing musical.

NOW PLAY AT THE GOLDEN GATE 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 Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))
  











 

January 7, 2013

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS ON THE PROWL



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Portrait of Tennessee Williams. Courtesy of Juan Fernando Bastos



TENNESEE WILLIAMS ON THE PROWL

The name of the play is “Something Cloudy, Something Clear” and it is a Williams’ autobiographical play that originally popped up as a short play in 1941. Way back then, it was titled “The Parade”. Later, Williams expanded The Parade into a full-length play and produced it on Off-Off-Broadway in 1981. There are two versions of the play both set on wharfs of Provincetown. The two stories are basically the same. A young playwright named August (Williams) deals with unrequited love for another man.

The characters, and the situations are drawn from Williams’ life. He clearly has a sketchy dilemma that reflects a relationship Williams had in Provincetown with ‘his actual lover for summer (Kip Kiernan - actor).

The truth is that “The Parade” was written after a fight with Kiernan and Williams reflected that in the 1962 version of the play. However, the facts are that the play is different from Kip, as he really was. There is a quote here that says: “When someone hurts you deeply - we no longer see that person at all clearly. Maybe if Tennessee was still alive, his art might make things more clearly. But alas, his Art outlived the play.

In the play it reads very dramatic. There is brutal honesty on the pages, but something has gone to the clouds. I mean it is really cloudy. The Characters have a strange connection to each other. They love, but they love in a strange way. Oh, there are the occasional pieces of wit and bitchery sex play, but they don’t send out sparks.

The play is not all bad. There are Genius moments that really do get to the soul of the story. And there is superb acting that keeps you afloat. It’s not their fault that the play rambles too much. But here is the good news:  After all – Williams Play received its British professional premiere at the Finborough Theatre, London, in 2003. It sold out for the entire run. And you will find magical moments in this play as well. Here is one of those gems: - “People rarely remember last nights names.” Here is another: - “I Love Kip, but I’m not in love with Kip!” And that’s typical Williams.

THE ACTORS ARE “An unqualified Triumph!” They are – Aaron Wilton (August), Kayal Khanna (Kip), Gwen Kingston (Clare/Celeste), Jeff Biddle (Maurice/Bugsy) and Maryssa Wanlass -- (Nurse/Hazel/Caroline/Tallulah).

JOHN FISHER has directed a profound and intensely erotic classic. 

NOW PLAYING AT THE EUREKA THEATRE in San Francisco

RATING: Three Glasses of Champagne!!! –trademarked –

(((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)))





 

January 3, 2013

ANYTHING GOES -- THIS ONE'S THE TOPS!

 BeyondExam

Alternative Voice
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Rachel York and Company. Photo Joan Marcus

















ANYTHING GOES-"This one's the Tops!"
Plus - "TRISTANA" (Movie) - An unqualified Triumph"
  
This Broadway production of “Anything Goes” is really a grand musical. With lyrics by Cole Porter we get to have tons of fun on an ocean liner that is headed for a wonderful and frothy time. You’ll love the madcap antics on board. You’ll bump into a stowaway in love and an heiress. What a trip this is when a Nightclub singer gets to know Reno Sweeney. Ooops, there’s a wave.

This show brings such fabulous songs like “Anything Goes”, “You’re the Top”, and “I Get a Kick Out of You.”

The musical has been revived several times in the United States and Britain and has been filmed twice. Here’s a little tidbit: Porter wrote the majority of “Anything Goes" in the Rosecliff mansion in Newport, RI while staying as a houseguest there. I’ll bet that was a romp and a half.

The story has been revised at least in four versions. However, all involve similar romantic complications on the SS. American. The Major features are still on board. The score has been somewhat altered – and some songs have been cut and others may have been reassigned to different scenes and characters, and augmented with various Porter songs from other show.

No matter how many times the show has changed a few times, the show is still exciting fun trying to figure out who is doing what. The great sets and the energetic dancers and singers will keep your rear end jumping around. ‘Anything Goes’ is still one of the most exciting musicals in the world. It has kept it’s legendary status with “Diva” BELTERS.

Heck – I’m going to see the show again on Jan. 9th at the Golden Gate Theatre on Market Street. The Theatre and the show make a perfect pair. It’s a knockout in every possible way. (advance story)

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

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NERO AND DENEUVE. Courtesy Cohen Media Group





TRISTANA – THE OLD IS NEW

CATHERINE DENUEVE plays “Tristana” brilliantly. She starts out as an innocent young girl with high ideals about relationships. And haven’t we all been there? Luis Bunuel’s style of dramatic movie making still shows off after all these years.

There is no doubt about it – this is a cinematic masterpiece that reveals romance with dark shadows, social criticism and World War 11 Spain - and a never-ending grudge between socialists and fascism. And of course, Bunuel brings out his characteristic criticism of the church and bourgeoisie lifestyles.

This story is, heavy-duty stuff. Tristana gets a terminal disease on her leg. They remove her leg and she survives. Tristana is bitter and cynical. Who wouldn’t be?

Tristana is a complex story. The newly refreshed movie now showing brings out many facets of men and women. There are funny moments and some very tragic events.
Catherine Denueve still shines on the screen.

NOW PLAYING AT LANDMARK THEATRES

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

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







January 1, 2013


 

 

 

 

 

 


BeyondExam

Alternative Voice

 

The Marvelous Wonderettes

Hey, if you’re into the 50’s and 60’s then you will love “The Marvelous Wonderettes now playing at the New Conservatory Theatre.

It’s like Prom night – every girl on the stage is uniquely interesting. You’ll find that the mean look on your face will vanish. How is that? Well, it happens that the songs from the 50’s and 60’s are so heart warming and unique. The 50’s and 60’s music will leave you humming the tunes even after you leave the Theatre.

The Marvelous Wonderettes will certainly make you gush the way the Wonderettes present the evening. The all girl group have some terrific 50’s arrangements. I liked it a lot. Only one thing is missing. I think that maybe a boy or two might expand the singing experience even more on a couple of songs. Anyone know a “Jersey Boy” that would like to join the fun classics? Oh, and one more thing. The Marvelous Wonderettes have a bunch of CD’s on Amazon.com.
 
RATING: Three Glasses of Champagne!!! -trademarked-