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April 30, 2014

BRUCE VILANCH - DU BARRY WAS A LADY

Opening night: Friday May 2, 2014 - at 42nd Street Moon 

RING OUT THE BELLS, THERE'S CAUSE FOR JUBILATION, STARTING HERE! Opening night: Friday May 2, 2014


Bruce Vilanch will be at the Eureka Theatre with  delightful, tuneful and captivating music. And of course, the Talented Show Stopper Vilanch, will give out with gang buster ditties. And we are talking high quality here.

You can expect double entendres and many hearty chuckles and guffaws along with raucous, funny romps. Thats what I hear. How would I know? Because I've seen Vilanch on many stages - and boy is he a rang a dang kinda guy. 

They say the show will be sleek as a model, and he keeps going with fast-paced yeas and bravos. It's bound to be like Dream Land. Vilanch is as usual -beguiling.  San Francisco Plays the Eureka Palace today. You will snicker...you'll break into belly laughs - and then whammo! Yep - Vilanch struts his stuff. 

This is a Must-See! Romantic Sparks are bound to light up the stage. The show continues laughs along a fun an exciting trail . We hear that it all builds to the final Curtain. 

They say that the Direction is a marvel. It's emotionally Exhilarating with gorgeous girls and guys. Thats what we need - a big, old-fashioned musical. 

This is a preview - but I will be there on one of the nights. And that will lead to talk about. 

GET YOUR TIX. THEY ARE GOING FAST. 
I can't wait. 

NOTE: THIS IS AN ADVANCE. The actual Play at the Eureka Theatre will start on 5/2-14.
Get your tickets now. 

April 22, 2014

SLEEPING CUTIE: A FRACTURED FAIRY TALE MUSICAL

OFF a Cliff productions
in association with PlayGround
presents













O.K -- WHAT WE HAVE HERE
IS A KIND OF BERNIE MADOFF PERSONALITY

He's a King at getting what he wants. And what he wanted got him in jail. Yep - he goes from a mansion to behind bars. His daughter worries about him. But, actually - she does more sleeping than worrying. She also wants to become a drummer in the Band. That fails. She doesn't have the talent for Indie Rock Concerts. Maybe later.

Lucy gets involved with many prospective suitors - even one who is blind and handsome. But not to worry - the musical is a Wiz Bang surprise. Lucy even dates the good looking Blind Man. At first she pouts -- she is not sure that she wants to be seen with a blind guy. Hey, this is a modern day mix-up with all kinds of fairy tales. Lucy's father is locked up. He hopes to get out from behind bars. His Daughter Lucy is a kinda sleepy time girl. You know - like sleeping beauty. 

I'm a person who loves to go to theater. It makes me happy. Sure, there are a few flaws here and there - but enjoying watching talented individuals on stage gives me energy on the stage - it actually seems to give me solar-power.

Here's the thing. 'Sleeping Cutie' is a modern-day fairy tale - with music by Composer Doug Katsaros. He and his pals are just great. The boys on the stage really can whiz around the music. The dancing is impressive. It gave me major goosebumps from the stage - absolutely stunning. The singing and the music is uniformly quite wonderful. Although most of the singing is swell -- I was really overwhelmed with Gwen Loeb. What a voice. It's unexpected. It's time to celebrate the unforgettable. Impressive also, is John Patrick Moore. He manages to make quick changes so fast that you hardly know that he is the same guy. What a wiz!   

Here is the marvelous Cast: Jesse Caldwell* (Father); Luke Chapman (Charlie); Marissa Joy Ganz* (Lucy); Buzz Halsing* (Man 2); Gwen Loeb* (Woman); John Patrick Moore (Man 1) and Stephanie Prentice (Mary). 

RATING: Five Stars*****or would you prefer Five Glasses of Champagne*****

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



   






April 17, 2014

LE WEEK-END - BRIEF MOVIE REVIEW














LE WEEK-END




CUTE AND TOUCHING 
British Love Comedy 

This is a cozy pair. He is College lecturer Nick. He has a wife. They leave England to Paris for what they think will become a fabulous 30th wedding anniversary. They are both middle aged -- but they both are soured on the entire scene. 

Paris is not really their cup of tea. Sure it has charm here and there -- and walking the streets of Paris is lovely. The Wife is Meg. She is constantly grumpy in Paris. He is the Husband Nick (Jim Broadbent). She (Meg) complains. Yes, she is not happy. 

Nick tries to sweeten things up, but Meg wants more. She insists that they stay at a fabulous Hotel. He says O.K. -- but they have no more money to spend. So what do they do -- they run out the door without spending money. 

The Cast is Great -- the plot is lame. Jeff Goldblum is still around -- and his persona brings bright lights to the screen - that's good. It wasn't the fault of the actors. The direction was a complete flop. 

Like most marriages - it wears out as we get older. She wants new love -- and he suffers when he finds out that she indeed is looking for a younger man. 

The ending is this: They are going back to England. They have no money -- and will have to do with what they have. Will they end up happily ever after? I say no! But the streets of Paris are gorgeous - but boring. 

RATING: Three Stars***or Three Glasses of Champagne!!! You can't have both

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook - and he produced a long running Radio Entertainment and Arts Segment on PBS KQED - 7 Years))) 




April 16, 2014

AT THE MOVIE: ALAN PARTRIDGE IS A QUIRKY ENGLISH COMEDIAN



ALAN PARTRIDGE IS LIKE NO ONE ELSE!

COURTESY PHOTO 


PARTRIDGE IS A GOOFY FICTIONAL CHARACTER THAT IS PORTRAYED BY ENGLISH COMEDIAN STEVE COOGAN





Partridge has done it all. He has been on Radio and TV. He created Coogan (Partridge). Now, this prudish man lets us know that he is quite misogynistic. And of course -- he tries to over patronise women. Some like him hot, and some think he is a little on the nutty side. And - he is a little off beat as he describes himself as "homosceptic". As you will see "Some will certainly like it Hot!" I would say 'Most!' Then there is 'Colm Meaney' (the D.J. makes a lot of trouble for everyone. Meaney is really Mean. Especially when the new management tosses him out of the BBC Radio Station.  

On the other side -- Partridge is politically conservative. Some characterise him as "narcissistic and very superficial." But wow!
He is ever bitingly funny in the best tradition of Comic movies. He masquerades from erotic to sexed-up. Don't be surprised if you find yourself stunned. You won't want this laugh a minute story to end. 

I'm diabolical. Partridge? - he's remarkable. I found the whole film experience to be non-stop laughing. It's truly comedy Gold. There is no doubt about it -- this is Classic. You'll be on a sugar high. You'll really love this "Glittery & Splendid" magnificent achievement! 

NOW PLAYING ON SAN FRANCISCO SCREENS 



RATING: FIVE STARS*****(five) or maybe you would like FIVE GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE***** (highest rating)  







April 13, 2014

ONE NITE ONLY BENEFIT SHOW AT MARINES MEMORIAL THEATRE







BRUCE VILANCH SPECIAL EVENING
courtesy photo


SUNDAY APRIL 13th, 2014 - 7:30 pm 


THE BIG GAY COMEDY SHOW...AT THE MARINES' MEMORIAL IS SO BIG -- I MEAN REALLY, REALLY - REALLY BIG. HOW BIG? JUST ASK BRUCE VILANCH

This Evening is very special. There is that fantastic Comedian & Broadway star - Bruce Vilanch. There is also madcap Marga Gomez, Jason Brock, Shann Carr, Ali Mafi, Kitty Tapata, Shawn Ryan (always great fun). Oh, and we can't wait for the terrific Leanne Borghesi (Fab.) - and Cassandra Cass.  Plus the knock em out Katya Smirnoff-Sky. (Did someone say B.O.OB.S?)

Tickets are flying out the door at the Marines Memorial. Get em well they are hot. Just go get the tickets quick for this "One Night Only Cabaret!" Tickets are available by phone: Call 415-273-1620.             Or go online: www.biggaycomedyshow.eventbrite.com 

TO ARRANGE A CHARMING INTERVIEW WITH BRUCE VILANCH, OR ANY OF THE PERFORMERS - JUST ASK ONE OR MORE FROM THE MAGNETIC CAST. 

IT'S A DREAM NIGHT  

THIS IS REALLY A FIELD OF DREAMS
  



April 10, 2014

by Lee Hartgrave


NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER 


STANDING ON CEREMONY: 
THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS

Ta Ra Da Ra Ta Day -- Gay Marriage is on the way. And thanks to all that will follow on this: Without Paul Rudnick, Neil LaBute, Moises Kaufman, Wendy MacLeod, Jose Rivera, Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison and Doug Wright. 

Brian Shnipper conceived a comedy-drama called "Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays." 

Most of the plays are really fun and juicy - Paul Rudnick's little farce is a hoot. Then there is the Jewish liberal democrat mom that tries to marry her son to another man. 

The exceptional actors give us bend over laughs throughout the show -- but near the end of the show, two of the boys drag out a long, long Wedding Ceremony. They do exchange vows -- but they seem to want to draw back. However, they did come to wearing the veil eventually. 

Neil LaBute's "Strange Fruit" is a little to heavy for humor. But wait -- there is a Lesbian couple that is determined to have a wedding. Their minds are strong. 

The play is really all over the place - and it should be in these small vignettes. Some of it delivers a Tour De Force. There are a some couples that really give the audience frolicking knockout laughs that are guaranteed. 

Just yearning - won't do it. You either get married to each other or you lose that epic intimatesy. Yep -- love is all over the place. There is nothing else on the stage like it. It's like Impressionism painting. You're bound to get that squirly fleeting sensation. What should you guys wear? Matching pants would be nice. 

Hey - no need to fret. You're going to Love "Standing on Ceremony". What a great idea. Some of the couples will stay together and as we know - some will fly away. That always happens whether you are a Gay Couple or just a Couple of Straights. Nothing lasts forever. 

In the show there are Christian Families - Some are Jews - Some would like to meet a Muslim. Someone sez: "You're not Gay Enuf" - to make wedding plans!  Then there is this: "You look beautiful" ... What happened? 

THE OUTSTANDING CAST: Patrick Barresi, Katharine Chin, Scott Cox, Colleen Egan, Sal Mattos, and Heidi Wolff 

RATING: SIX STARS******(highest rating) 
Or if you prefer - Six Glasses of Champagne!!!!!!

(((Lee Hartgrave contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he also produced a long-running Arts and Entertainment Segment on PBS KQED - 7 years)))





  


April 9, 2014

42ND STREET MOON PRESENTS A WORLD PREMIERE





42nd Street Moon




"PAINTING THE CLOUDS
 WITH SUNSHINE"

This is such fun: The songs bring to the stage humor, pathos, love and possibly a little bit of anger. Every musical moment overlaps with other theatrical forms - like dancing and singing. As we all know way back then - musical theatre stage works have always been called, simply MUSICALS. 

The artistic steps give us revues and other frothy entertainments. Nothing could be better. Everyone in the audience has a grand smile on their faces. 

As you know, musicals are performed all around the world. But here and in the now, we are really lucky that we have the magic of 42nd Street Moon and songs like "Good Morning Glory"..."Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?"... "You Oughta Be In Pictures"..."Jeepers, Creepers" and "You Can't Have Everything". The evening brightens the fantastic music with clever movements and other stage elements. Seeing it again is even more Grand. 

A lot of musicals performed around the world -- have huge big budgets. Here at 42nd Street Moon we have a vibrant small Theater that has kept 42nd Moon Active for years. And aren't we lucky. Here's a cute musical line: "You put kisses in the Coffee"... And I love Jay Gorney and "Yip" Harburg". 

One of the Glamorous Girls sez to one of the Handsome Boys..."I'm not interested". One of my faves is "Painting the clouds With Sunshine (Joe Burke, Al Dubin). And here is a goodie..."Gather Lip rouge While You May*" (Richard Whiting, Leo Robin, BG DeSylva). 

Singing is a communal experience. It nurtures a sense of community. And it shows on the stage at 42nd Street Moon with a blisteringly funny comedy. And what fun to get to see and hear this musical farce. It's Magnificent! One of the best of the year! 

THIS IS A BRILLIANTLY ACTED AND DIRECTED SHOW. HERE ARE THE SMART AND SOPHISTICATED ACTORS: 

STARRING******Ryan Drummond * Nicole Frydman * Justin Gillman * John-Elliott Kirk * Galen Murphy-Hoffman* Allison F. Rich * Cami Thompson * and Kari Yancy

Directed by Mark D. Kaufmann 
Music Director: Dave Dobrusky
Choreographer: Staci Arriaga

RATING: (****** - Six Stars) 

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he also produced and performed at PBS KQED - 7 years))) 

  



April 8, 2014

THE HABIT OF ART - A PLAY WITHIN A PLAY



Photo Kent Taylor







THE HABIT OF ART - A PLAY BY 
ALAN BENNETT. 


THE ALAN BENNETT PLAY by is a celebration of Gayness. The Buoyant nervous breakdown moments reach out to touch with No-Apologies.

This play is a little confusing at times  - but he does leave indelible impressions on us - as we try to figure it out.  Its hard to keep in mind what is going on with the Actors. 

This exciting play is about play writing and acting. Yes, its a multi layered play that is entertaining but very intellectual. 

Auden is portrayed as a charming curmudgeon. He lives his life by the clock - including his time with a sexy asian rent boy. Of course, remember...it is a play. 

Britten is struggling with his Opera 'Death in Venice'. But his does take a break and auditions choir boys. I wonder what his motives are? Britten's motives may seem pure - but his thoughts may not be. Oh well, that life on the stage. 

They occasionally leave to the stage. The playwright conjures up problems as the actors argue with him and how the play should go. There are many arguments of what should be done and what shouldn't. This is a run through - but without the director - everyone is acting up. Finally, the cast is exhausted to the point where everyone acts up. Finally the run through is over and we all leave sadder and wiser. 

The characters break off during the rehearsal to discuss the play. Auden's failings and other issues reveal dark stories of their own backgrounds. 

Auden hired a Rent Boy. He is quite attractive, but their is a strong difference between the ages. All of the characters reveal stories of their own backgrounds. And that's where the fun is.  

This is a strong play about theater about music, poetry and ethics. But then there is the terror of age, as Bennett gets older. The play is really about actors that rehearse. The scenes are constantly interrupted by prompts and arguments. They agonise about their roles. As one actor sez: "You're not a Rent Boy - you're a Rent Person." Yep - that's what he is.  
The play gets into deep emotions. It's one of the deepest and strongest stageing that I have seen yet.It is clearly Rousing and stunning. It's part thriller and part love story that certainly is engrossing and perceptive. Superb! 

Here is the vibrant cast: Kathryn Wood, Craig Souza, Tamar Cohn, Donald Currie, Justin Lucas, John Fisher, Seth Siegel and Michael DeMartini.  

RATING: SIX STARS****** (highest rating)
and Six Glasses of Champagne!!!!!!

DIRECTED BY JOHN FISHER AT THEATRE RHINOCEROS. www.TheRhino.org. 

at Z Below * 472 Florida St. * San Francisco 

  


  




April 4, 2014

PEARLS OVER SHANGHAI - "WERE SAYING FU TO YOU"






"WE'RE SAYING FU TO YOU" 






THRILLPEDDLERS PRESENT THE 6th ANNUAL THEATRE OF THE RIDICULOUS REVIVAL

While at first we gasped at the word "Cruising", I shock so easily.  Oh my - the Thrillpeddlers are now showing another smash-hit with "Pearls Over Shanghai". People are saying "Come and Get It" -  Just keep in mind that you will be seeing "A Show With A Moral"...or should we say a Show with out a moral? I don't care -- I want to ride down the "Wang Poo River Song". Yes, please do sit on my lap - its so cool. Please sir - may I have a "Jaded Lady" - Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie. Tsk, Tsk. 

You "Jaded Ladies" are just too open handed. Everyone wants to touch someone...remember "I came Running Back To". O.K. Go and "Blackmail me" - just give me a Couple of Won Tons in your pants. Or...should I call them "Sweet Temple Bells?" I think so -- they are so exciting. You have "A Show with a Moral" that has a "Palace of Trash" - "With Endless Mastur******Blues." Please Sir - let us see more." But lets get back to "The Palace of Trash" - I love it - and you'll love the "White Slavery song" -- who knows - it could be 12 years of Slavery." 

Where is all this fantastic rambunctious stuff? I've never been kissed -- do "Drag me in "Pearls of Shanghai" - Remember "I came running back to you..."Ummmmmm!!!!!! Lets try it again." 

Hey...did someone call you "A Jaded Hussy"? I'm sure that you were called many things. But that's what 'Oriental Nights' are for. 

MOST OF "THE PEARLS" SONGS ARE LISTED ABOVE: THE SETTING IS A REVIVAL OF 'OLD SHANGHAI'. THE TIME FRAME IS 1937

Russel Blackwood Directed******
Music by Scrumbly Koldewyn******
Book and Lyrics by Link Martin
with additions by Scrumbly & Pam Tent 

HERE IS THE AMAZING CELEBRATION OF THE BAWDY CREW: Zeldie Koznofski, Birdie -Bob Watt, Jesse Cortez, Steven Satyricon, Erick Tyson Wertz, Pam Tent, Russell Blackwood, Earl Alfred Paus, Rumi Missabu, John Flaw, James Toczyl, Flynn Witmeyer, Bonni Suval, Gabriel A. Ross, Noah Haydon, Sloane Smith. 

MORE
: Remember - I Came Running Back to you!
THE HAND MAIDENS AND ANGELS...Bruna Palmeiro, Diego Gomez, Roxanne RedMeat, Bryn Lux, Rose Blood, Steve Bolinger and Scrumbly Koldewyn. 

RATING: SIX STARS****** 
"THIS SHOW IS A WINNER - IT'S AN EPIC SPECTACLE." -- Pearls Over Shanghai - "Is a Winner!" BETTER THAN BROADWAY******

(((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- 7-years)))


















  





April 2, 2014

LES MISERABLES - CONTRA COSTA MUSICAL THEATRE. *****(FIVE STARS)






Noel Anthony (Jean Valjean) & Nicole Helfer (Fantine)
Courtesy of Actors' Equity Association

LES MISERABLES
MOST POPULAR MUSICAL IN THE WORLD


A NEW PRODUCTION OF BOUBLIL AND SCHONBERGS 



THEY'VE PAINTED THE PALACE -
AND THAT WOULD BE: CONTRA COSTA MUSICAL THEATRE 

The arrival of "Les Miserables" is a smash sellout - a magical treat. Who could not want to see technicolor air at the Theater? It's an unquestionable blockbuster. Brave the glorious intensity - you'll love it.   

 Les Miz talent is crowned with sensational fantastic clothing. You know the story -- it's become a national anthem. Well, let me tell you, this is the biggest evening of bejeweled clothing we have ever seen. There is also the street gypsies beneath the wigs. The mood is sad and sweet at times. The richness of the singing is downright magical. 

Of course, you know the brilliant score - don't you? Of course you do, or you will. And if you don't see Les Miz -- you will regret it forever. This version is the most exciting tear jerker that I have ever seen of Les Miz. Better than New York City - believe me. What Walnut Creek has here are fantastic wonderful magical vocals that bring tear drops to your face. Hey, I can't hold back the tears. It almost knocked me off the chair. What an achievement to admit -- this is one of the world's best miracles ever seen on a stage. These actors have a right to show their struts. And why not -- at least 1500 or more people in the Theater were excited. We cried - we cheered -- we could hardly stand up when it was over, but we did at the end. Everyone in the gorgeous Theater gave a standing ovation. Yes - we will hear the people sing. The voices are pure. You will want to hear and see this show again and again. The theme is unrequited love. The singing is Grand and Romantic. Intense yes - but its a real treat. Oh, and you will be thrilled with the First Class orchestra. Totally awesome!  

THIS IS THE BEST CAST THIS SEASON OR ANY OTHER SEASON - PERFECTLY CRAFTED! 

Here are the rich, complex actors: Noel Anthony* (Jean Valjean). Nicole Helfer (Fantane). Jerry Lee* (Javert - the meanie). Robert Lopez (Marius). Katherine Bartomeo (Cosette) and Alex Moore (Enjolras) and Robert Lopez (Marius). ccmt.org (Contra Costra Musical
Theatre).


RATING: FIVE STARS*****(highest rating) 

Music by- Claude-Michel Schonberg. Lyrics by Alain Boublil & Herbert Kretzmer. 

Book by - Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil, Trevor Nunn & John Caird

Directed by: Scott Denison. Musical Direction by: Brandon Adams and Choreography by Jennifer Perry. 

*appears courtesy Actors Equity Association

LESHER CENTER FOR THE ARTS - WALNUT CREEK. (925) 943-7469 (show)

General Manager - Danny Boyle



(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he also produced and hosted Radio/TV on PBS KQED - 7years)))