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July 30, 2013

EXAMINER-COURIER: "GOD OF CARNAGE" - ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!






REMEMBER VIRGINIA WOOLF? 

Well, it will all come back to you at the Shelton Theatre. It's like watching a stop motion adventure. The story starts out rather calmly as Michael and Veronica -- and Annette and Alan -- seem to be very calm as they talk about their two kids...that got involved in a playground fight. One of the kids hit the other kid in the face with a stick...causing some tooth loss. 

The foursome are very uncomfortable. Sure they start out civilly enough - but as the night gets darker - the four Parents get into huge arguments. This is where the similarity comes in -- Virginia Woolf  drank lot you know...as Alan, Veronica, Annette and Michael do in the play "God of Carnage". Hope this is not too confusing -- and believe me, I didn't have a drink.  

The contrasting couples get into a real mess as things begin to really get wild. The booze drinking brings out what they really think of each of the parents. Actually -- the parents also begin to hate their spouses. 

This play has two subjects. There is the school bully and a drug with serious side effects. Both very topical. But the play is really about relationships. If they were on the famous Titanic they would really be in big trouble. Yep -- they were sinking, but they kept their heads above the water. But even though, they would like to strangle each other - however, the story is really about relationships. By the way, this play has many hilarious moments, along with the angst.  

The set is both artistic and realistic. The acting was uniformly outstanding and the audience was totally enthralled. They stood up, and wildly applauded. Now, you can't get any better than that. 

HERE ARE THE SERIOUSLY AWESOME CAST: Matt Shelton as Alan, Lilly Sauvage as Veronica, Hayley Saccomano as Annette and Norman Gee as Michael (*Appears courtesy of Actor's Equity) --"A Masterpiece...Stunning performances!"  

Very Accomplished Direction by Lisa Drostova. Managed by Rich Sargent, Music by Charlie Gurke, Set Photos: By Jenny Lemper, Set Artwork, by Cedric Wentworth and, Set design by Matt Shelton and Adam Stowers. 

GOD OF CARNAGE by Yasmina Reza
(Now playing at the Shelton Theatre near Union Square) 

(((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))) 

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July 25, 2013

EXAMINER COURIER: "THE HUNT...EXCELLENT AND EMOTIONAL"





Mads Mikkelsen - Courtesy Photo 
THE HUNT

This is a an ambitious story that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The plot is very intricate and I would not want to reveal too much. 

The main character Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) is certainly one of the most exciting actors that I've ever seen. The movie (The Hunt) was more or less based on a real true incident. 

The film starts out in a very quiet town. There is much beauty all around -- and all the Town people seem to adore each other. Well, the walls of peace and quite have fallen apart. 

Here's the deal. There is a very nice little girl who loves 'Lucas'. He walks her to school to make sure that she gets there. Later -- she writes a love letter to him. Lucas tells her that she should give that letter to someone her age. However, that is not what she has in mind. Remember the old Black and White movie called "The Bad Seed?" Well, this sweet little girl turns out to be somewhat of a witch and bitch. She tells everyone that she sees in school that Lucas, her friend had touched her body. Of course, that reaches every house in the small town.  

Wow - that blew the whole damn village to hell. One little lying girl has everyone in town out to get Lucas. No one wants him around. They want him to get out of town. 

This film brings tears to your eyes. There are many emotional scenes among the lush landscape. What once was beauty has now become ugly. The little girl is a liar. She ruins the life of her best friend. This is a gritty statement of what people will do when they really don't have the truth. 

It happens all the time. And that is why men should never let little girls or boys get too close to elder people -- unless their parents are always around. Children (as they say) should not hang around with adults unless their parents are with them. 

It's always on the headlines. For Lucas it is a frightening experience. He may be accused -- but he didn't do it. 

Mads Mikkelsen (the accused) is a fantastic actor. The kindergarten girl Annida Wedderkopp plays the girl (The Bad Seed) and she is perfect in the role.

NOW PLAYING IN SAN FRANCISCO AT THE LANDMARK THEATRE 

Rating: Four Boxes of Popcorn!!!! (highest rating) - trademarked- 


July 22, 2013

EXAMINER - COURIER * THE ART OF NEGOTIATION/CAMELOT




Lancelot (Wilson Jermaine Heredia), King Arthur (Johnny Moreno
 and Guenveere (Monique Hafen ) at Knighting Ceremony
Photo by: Jessica Palopoli

 EXAMINER - COURIER









 CAMELOT...TERRIFIC...WITH HONEST DIALOGUE AND EASY HUMOR

At the San Francisco Playhouse is the glory days of Kings and Queens and wanna-bee's. 'Tis a tale rich in ironies. There is the peaceful lawful Arthur (the best and brightest King) - but, his Crown begins to slip a little, when he finds out that his Queen is playing around with Lancelot. What's a King to do? Can they bring King Arthur to his knees? Queen Guenevere - gets all hot and bothered as the handsome Lancelot crawls into bed with the Queen. Oh my...will they put Guenevere in the prison? 

Actually -- it seems that the ravishing Guenevere is the one who lures Lancelot to the bed. That's what Queens do. However...the lovers have been found out from King Arthurs Knights that Lancelot has had sex with the Queen. 

The Costumes are spectacular and breathtaking. The actors work very hard for this show. Sure, there are a few flaws here and there -- but what musical doesn't. Even when Camelot first showed up on Broadway, everyone complained about the show. But, guess what? ...the audience loved it. 

It's hard to feel sympathetic for Guenevere. After all...there is gossip around the 'Round Table'. Everyone knows what is going on. Arthur knows all about the whispers of 'poison in the court'.  

But there is more to the story. It is all about the grand and glorious songs: Music by Frederick Loewe, Book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner. Without them -- there would be no Camelot. 

"I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight?" Well, we know don't we? I think that (Guenevere) is hiding behind a tree. They are sneaking around in the forest...that's what they are doing. Yes, it didn't take long before they become husband and wife. 

Lancelot in the background --sings: "If Ever I would Leave you" -- and he didn't. It's all love at first sight until the Awful Mordred bursts into Guenevere's bedroom. As you know -- Mordred is really dreaded. 

The musical is a bit muddled in the execution -- but other elements of the musical play is rich in the musical presentations. 

This is a touch more outrageous than other "Camelot's) -- there is some very graphical scenes that might make you winch. But the scenes are extremely exotic. And yes, I did blush. I'm so tender. 

The sets are glorious. You actually see a real castle on the stage. And it also twirls right in front of your eyes. You will be dazzled! Of course, I dazzle easily. Oh, and by the way...Lancelot sings..."C'est Moi"...he's "In Love with His Self". 

The World of Witchcraft is where Merlin makes Magic -- and you'll get a kick out of that!  

NOW PLAYING AT THE SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE THEATRE ON POST STREET -- STEPS AWAY FROM UNION SQUARE

HERE IS THE CAST THAT BRING REAL PATHOS AND POWER TO THEIR PORTRAYALS: Ken Brill, Charles Dean, Michelle Drexler, John Paul Gonzalez, Rudy Guerrero, Monique Hafen, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Calum John, Steward Kramar, Johnny Moreno, Robert Moreno, Eli Clarke Nichols (young Mordred), Paris Hunter Paul (adult Mordred), Simone Olsen-Varela, George P. Scott, Steven Shear and Adrienne Walters.

FANTASTIC DIRECTION BY: BILL ENGLISH.

THE TALENTED MUSICAL DIRECTOR - DAVE DOBRUSKY - ALWAYS AMAZES.

FANTASTIC SET DESIGN BY: NINA BALL     

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

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

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(promoted)
      **




   

July 20, 2013

BEYOND EXAM - "SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH" -- BEST PRODUCTION EVER!



BEYOND EXAM 

OVERWROUGHT...BUT THRILLING AND FRESH

This 'Sweet Bird of Youth' is Highflying drama that takes your breath away. I love, love the staging and the phenomenal actors. This is a perfect production. I could have watched five more hours...it is that mesmerizing.

Yep, I sat through Three hours of watching Chance Wayne as he satisfies rich women as he dreams about finding fame in Hollywood. Sure he's sexy, but he is also desperately insecure. And...plus, he takes amphetamines, as he sexually performs for Alexandra Del Lago on the satin bed sheets. 

Princess Alexandra's cleverness, is that she manages to keep Chance on the bed. She's a faded screen star and she lets 'Chance' think that she will make him a star. 

And if you think that this is the end of the story -- think again. Chance -- with his strong powerful performance drops names, gives large tips (that he gets from the Princess). She lures him on. They both spend lots of time in bed... she boozes -- and they both take drugs along this journey to no where. Well, not exactly -- it appears that the Princess will come out on top. 

In Tennessee's play there is plenty of  talk about an abortion and castration. No one can mask the hot-dynamics between Chance and the Princess. 

Chance (drugged out) - becomes confused and desperate. He constantly rubs his hands together as he pleads urgently over the phone...and begs for help. 

Casting is the Magic in this 'Tides' production... (by Sally Dana, is quite breathtaking and stunning.) And the play is a 'masterpiece' of direction by Jennifer Welch. 

This is a huge cast...and everyone of them set a new standard. It's a wondrous gift! They are -- Dan Fagan (Chance), Fontana Butterfield (The Princess Kosmonopolis), James Martin, John Lowell, Joe Kearns (Boss Finley), John Terrell, Carolyn Ford Compton, Hilary Hesse, Francis Serpa, Shannon Warrick, Sean B. Hallinan, Carmen Yvette, James Baldock, Jeff Graham, Sam Vegas. And there you have it...the most amazing performers I have seen in years. 

NOW PLAYING AT THE 'TIDES THEATRE
- 533 SUTTER STREET - 2ND FLOOR (between Powell & Mason) 

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))) 








July 16, 2013

WUNDERWORLD - A MUSICAL PANTOMIME

Michael Phillis, Dawn Meredith Smith,
Sara Moore, Joan Mankin & Rory Davis
Photo by David Wilson 
#1200
BEYOND EXAM

A ONE PAGE... THREE DOT THRILLRIDE 
This story is somewhat based on "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass"...however "WunderWorld" is very different. This play is way off of Savile Clarks (1841-1891) book and lyrics.  

 A wonderful musical dream in one act...you'll love the  songs that are from the 50's and 60's (perfect sound). And  the hi-jinks on the stage will for sure keep you awake. The stage is sparse, but beautifully mounted, and splendidly acted. The actors romp around the stage in a delightful artistic fashion. Boy...do they have the stamina. Director Andrew Nance... gives us the liveliest and most delightful perception around. Charming...smartly done. 

The actors open with laugh a minute mime...and the Children were having great times in the audience. And, you know what - they were perfect little kids. I thought that they might get bored and fall asleep. Not at this show...there is a Cheshire Cat... and a Guy who has a great big black hat... and of course there is a mouse. What a thrill. Oh yeh..there is also the rabbit that has ears that touch the ground. Sorry...you can't pull on the ears in this high-octane story...they never stop!  Here is one of my favorite songs in the show..."Bye Bye Blackbird." 

And then there is the Classic Vaudeville...it's laugh-out-loud hilarious. Way, Way WunderWorld is a celebration for any age. 

The Cast is massively entertaining!...they are: Sara Moore (Alice)- Joan Man Mankin (Alice's Sister/Mad Hatter)-Michael Phillis (White Rabbit) - Dawn Meredith Smith (Caterpillar, Red Queen) - Rory Davis (Cheshire Cat). A High Octane Circus! 

ANDREW NANCE DIRECTOR... HAS PUT TOGETHER A STAGGERINGLY SPECTACULAR SHOW

Since there is very little talk in the show...lets go Italian (Abbigliarsi) - "dress oneself"... (Fungee) - "To perform."

RATING: Three Glasses of Champagne!!! 

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

MORE: CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING STORIES BEGINNING WITH "CHANCE" AT THE ALCOVE THEATRE ...."POWERFUL MUSICAL" 





















July 8, 2013

THREE DOT COLUMN - IS TAKING 'CHANCES'

Ken Lear is 'Chance'. Courtesy Photo 
'CHANCE'
NON STOP INTIMATE EPIC

SAN FRANCISCO'S PLAYHOUSE 'CAMELOT'
 IS LUMINOUS (opens July 20th) 

...I've discovered The New Musical 'Chance'. And guess what. If ever there was an extraordinary Theater experience  - this sure as hell is it ... this play has huge issues going...but it fills your mind with your last chance in your mind. 

...And talk about the Actors - "Wow"...are they ever steaming. You won't want to take your eyes off of them...especially "Chance." Hey...he may be a hustler...but he rents...(kinda of) -- he's bound to be the new "America's Sweetheart." His reputation is in ruins...but you will want to put him back together. Ken Lear plays the role of "Chance" ...and believe me - this IS your Chance! Other astonishing Actors are: Richard Hefner and Randy Roberts. Oh- Did I mention that they all sing? ...Now playing at the Alcove Theater (5th floor) ...414 Mason Street/Geary Street). Tix 415-992-8168. Remember ---
Chance cheats...but, ...so do millions of guys! 

****

SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE ON POST STREET...WILL SCOOP THE WORLD WITH A NEW FRESH 'CAMELOT' 

...THREE DOTS WILL DO IT!  So do ride your horse to the SF Playhouse for a new masterpiece version of "Camelot" -- it's going to be the most beautiful Theatrical thrill of the Evening. 

...I love dots -- And can't wait to see and hear another masterpiece from "The Playhouse". I'm sure that it will be filled with Curtain Calls...count me in, standing and applauding "Camelot"... like I'm insane. Insanity is good. It's bound to be "The Best New Musical on Union Square." If you want yearning and romance on the stage...then you will certainly want to see this exhilarating stage play. As usual -- the suspense won't quit...and the three dots, will be smart and tense! 

And the music really delivers yearning romance. Directed by Bill English...Music Director is Dave Dobrusky 

The fabulous 'Camelot' opens on July 20th...
 SF Playhouse (Press Opening) ... See you there. 







   

July 1, 2013

MAN OF STEEL IS A LITTLE TOO BRASSY.



Courtesy Photo - Man of Steel 




THE FIRST HALF OF THE MOVIE HAS MARVELOUS VISUALS AND SEQUENCES THAT ARE EYE POPPING

At first I was thrilled at the action. My expectations have let me down. Oh sure - Henry Cavil is probably the most Handsome guy around as he buzzed around town. After all, he is Superman. But machinery has buzzed him out. 

I kept thinking that Superman will rescue me, and take me on a really exciting mission. Well, that sure as hell did not work for me. There is too much Garbage floating around the planet. The action on the screen begins to bore. They pound the Sh-t out of each other as they bounce from one Transformer to another. As the action continues -- I'm getting more bored. The Guy who was sitting next to me kept falling asleep. I bumped his Arm a couple of times to wake him up. After all, I didn't want him to sleep on me. Even the over wrought music and the over whelming banging of space ships almost continually drove me to the nut house. Hey, will somebody yell this out? -- "Attention, Attention, Attention - Do Not Take The Elevator. Attention, Attention, Attention! Now you listen to this continually and you will see why I was ready to be locked up. Booooring! 

Too much action -- Too much noise -- Too long, and Clark Kent does much ado about nothing. Oh he flies around. Very impressive. Love his outfit. Great face and body -- everyone agrees on that. O.K. - some of that is O.K -- but the second half is not nearly as good as the first half of the show. The story just gets more bloated as it goes along. Yes, you want to scream and look for the nearest exit. Please sir - show me the way. Can I ride on your Cape? The movie is not bad, but not great either. There is not much of a back story. Yeh, he reveals a little, but not enough. I'm sure that everyone thought that this would be a great big fantastic movie. The best part of it is the fabulous colorful scenes. Gee, at last for a couple of minutes we get to absorb the scenery without it falling down on us. The focus is totally "Action". Don't expect much in the love affair department. When he gets a little too close to the writer at the Newspaper - He jumps out the window to get away from females. Sorry girls -- I have a Cape to carry on my back. 

The score by Hans Zimmer was rather annoying. Here's a tip if you go -- see the movie in 2D - Not 3D. Stay back from the screen as far as you can. If you don't, you will get a headache. The entire cast was wonderful. It was the directing that kinda messed up the film. Here are the Superb Actors: Henry Cavil (Clark Kent) - Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon (Zod).  - "they gave all they could, with bold nuanced acting."

STILL PLAYING AROUND THE BAY AREA 

RATING: Two Glasses of Champagne!! 

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