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May 27, 2014

THE HOMOSEXUALS - BEST PLAY WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR!


BUZZIN LEE HARTGRAVE 



Courtesy Photo - Lois Tema  
THIS IS THE STUFF THAT ENTERTAINS! 

This is a tale of a group of sophisticated gay New Yorkers who befriend an innocent young man from Iowa freshly out of the closet. 

Over the next 10 years he has an intimate relationship with everyone at the party. The story is told in reverse. Each scene takes place 2 years earlier. Each scene we meet a new character. Yes, it's a little confusing - but it's bracingly raw and really impressive. 

It all starts out in 2010 when we first meet Evan a young man. He is now breaking up with Peter - a classic drama queen. Now we see him making out with Mark who has green card marriage. Now remember, we are now in 2006. He is in a hospital where he is visited by Michael, his original contact with the group. Yes going backward is a little strange. But Michael is a friend to everyone, but lover of none. O.K. backward we go again. We are now in 2004. We discovered 'Tam' a fag hag teacher who has a token marriage to British Mark. You can now get ready for a Halloween Party. In 2002 he fights off the attention of the other Mark, Peter's former partner. Yes, it's a little goofy - but such fun. 

In the 2000 years - we are back at the original party. The host Collin, has just broken up with Tom - but he is on the rebound. He sweeps Evan off his feet. 

The play is full of snappy dialog  a 'la Boys in the Band. This one I like the best. In most scenes there are some reasons for the boys to take of his clothes - but you don't get to see everything. 

Matt Weimer is a standout as the campy Peter. In contrast, he plays very macho real images of normal life. At least in his life.

You like emotions and laughter? Then get ready for the laugh fest of the year. The sexual situations are very tame. Sexy yes- but not overwhelming. The language is no more strong than any other stage situation. The show is fantastically funny. Thats what funny and entertaining amore evenings are for.

Love this quote: "I'm not even cute enuf to fake the pain!" Oh, please try.  Try the Homoflexuals --they are also fun. 

FABULOUS PERFORMANCES....
The Best in Years! 

HERE ARE THE BRILLIANT ACTORS: Scott Cox, Keith Marshall, Daniel Redmond, Robert Rushin, Gabriel Ross, Alyssa Stone and Matt Weimer. 

PRODUCTION: Stage Manager Manager - Emilio-Rancinez. Scenic Design - Yusuke Soi, Lighting Design - Christian Mejia -  Costume Design - Wes Crain. Sound Design - AudioZephyrus. Technical Director - Paul Collins. And...Casting Director - Lori Fowler. 

NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER 

THE HOMOSEXUALS by Philip Dawkins 
Directed by Arturo Catricala 

RATING: SIX STARS****** (highest rating) - or drink Six Glasses of Champagne!!!!!!!



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


  


May 21, 2014

TWO BOYS AND A PIANO - STARRING NELSON & LACY AT THE "REX"


THE BOYS TAKE US DOWN A MELLOW ROAD. WHAT A LOVELY DUET NELSON AND LACY BRING TO LIFE



The above songs (Styne/and Sondheim) make this "Duet Fun" this evening. The song that I'll never forget will start with the soft and glorious "You'll Never Get Away From Me." 

Here is another Grand set: "It's Never That Easy/I've Been Here Before." Yep the Boys, have been here before - and it looks like that will stay that way. The wonderful evening brings these songs to the stage: - "My Man/The Music That Makes Me Dance Night And Day." Wow -- it's just wonderful. Especially when he takes me in his arms. Well, I didn't mean my arms - I was two busy tearing up on some of the greatest songs of the world. 

Then comes along "I'D Rather Be Sailing/Set Those Sails" (Finn). The evening is Fab and fantastical. I can just see those sails in the nightclub. 

The Marriage Medley will get you moving in many ways. There is "Old Fashioned Wedding" - "Not Getting Married Today" and "Choo Choo Honeymoon" - (Berlin, Sondheim, and Wise/Haimsohn/Miller) Woo-eee! The Medley sure moves along with Zippy Words and the best writers and singers.  

Here's another great charming song. "You and Me". No, not me - but it is sung by the Stars, Christopher M. Nelson & G. Scott Lacy. It's a heavenly evening of love. Wish I cold sing as well. As you will find out at their next evening out together -- both boys bring a multitude of love to the stage. Yes, it's in the air. Can't forget it. I was thrilled. It sure made me mist up. 

To hear the Nelson and Lacy voices is a "Masterpiece. It's one of the most extraordinary and touching evening that I have ever experienced. It's truly stunning! I really did find myself dazzled and overwhelmed. Please lets have an encore. 

RATING: Six Stars******- or you might prefer to drink Six Glasses of Champagne******(trademarked)

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Sunday Datebook and he also produced and hosted a weekly segment on PBS KQED - 7-years)))






May 14, 2014

HEADLINES: MARK KENWARD PERFORMS 
PLUS SINGER KAREN MASON  (Advance)




Mark Kenward's. CB & CO. photo








NANTUCKET

THE MARSH BERKELEY PRESENTS 
MARK KENWARD'S 

SOLO PERFORMANCE

Author Actor Mark Kenward has the ability to make the ordinary extraordinary. The first Act tells the story of a very average family newly arrived in Nantucket. 

Kenward tells us all about his family and a book that he wrote. That Book sparks the young man's story. He keeps the laughs building to the final curtain. To say he is brisk - and he is a marvel, is more than that -- he is like an Ocean Breeze. 

The first Act sweeps us off to Nantucket. There he is with his strong story. The Nantucket Island almost throws Mark into the mean looking water. Sometimes he laughs - other times, he is not as happy as he would like to be. Seems to me that he would like to get off the Island. 

Here is the story: Mark brings all his characters to life. He has a laid back fishing father, a perfect school marm mother, and a bratty younger sister. 

Sandwiched between Act One & Two is a Picnic Dinner. Provided by Restaurant Gregoire which also makes the ordinary extraordinary. There was a generous choice of gourmet sandwiches. The corn beef was particularly succulent with lots of lean meat. I'm sure you'll get the nuance of Sandwich and the dinner. It's real! Ummmm tasty. 

Now there is Act Two. This is where high drama and the Ocean almost knocks us out of our seats. His mother is pining for warmer climes. She goes beserk, when moms domestic problems peak. And they sure as hell do. 

Dad ends up in a hospital when Mom does some major damage to Dad's body. Tsk, Tsk. What a shame. An eccentric but clever doctor patches him up. 

Mom comes out of rehab cool, calm, collected & cooking up a storm. The family reject her and send her packing. Probably a wise choice. This is a riveting drama on a gray winter's day. 

The performance received a well deserved standing ovation. Kenward gives us a unique performance with background music, video and clapping of hands. This is a Sand dune that you won't want to forget. And you won't forget the Seagulls and Sand Dunes along the beach. 

HIGHEST RATING: Six Stars -****** or You can drink Six Glasses of Champagne******

Written and performed by Mark Kenward. Directed by Rebecca Fisher

Character work & additional Direction by Julia McNeal. Neat Video Installation by Alfonso Alvarez. Photography Exhibit by Matthew Carden. Graphic Design by David Caggiano

www.themarsh.org

////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Karen Mason. Photo cb-pr







KAREN MASON 




LUCKY US 

Some songs may be from the past -- but it brings back memories from Mason's gorgeous singing voice. Now-a-days she still has that great sound and great diction. But don't forget she brings us all the current tunes. I ran into her not to long ago -- and she was very happy go-lucky at  the Venetian room. This of course is a advance story. So I won't tell you what will be on the list - but i'm sure looking forward to a spectacular evening this coming Sunday at the Fairmont Venetian Room (opening night Sunday Night - at 5pm) 

If you have never heard or seen her you should get familiar with Karen. Now is that time - her incredible warmth and humor. But she also can really get that powerful voice going. Actually you feel like you are singing only to one person. You will be glued to the stage. She is one of the most loved cabaret artists around. 

If they still had phone books around - Karen Mason could even sing them. She has the inspiration to do it. You know what? I don't know about you - but I do know that Karen will make you feel like you're getting a personal performance. 



KAREN WILL BE AT THE FAMED VENETIAN ROOM AT THE GORGEOUS FAIRMONT HOTEL. YOU'LL LOVE ALL THE GLITTER IN THE MAIN LOBBY 

May 11, 2014

SEMINAR - BY THERESA REBECK

THE THRILLING CAST! Photo by Jessica Palopoli



DEFENDERS OF THE PUBLIC WORLD 

HEY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE FIVE HUNDRED BUCKS A WEEK? 

There are four aspiring young novelists that are struggling with a ten week private writing class by a famed author (Leonard), who will whittle you down to nothing. You had be very careful - because Leonard will tear your hopes apart. Yes- he is vicious most of the time. Oh, yeh - the Five Hundred Bucks -- forget about it! 

One of the actors said "What I saw last week was like a bowl of S#*T -  Leonard said: "If you're going to write, don't write like an idiot." One of the wanna be novelists said out loud -- "Post novelists are falling on hard times!" That sounds like 'Leonard to me'. The young novelists have discovered that 'Leonard' actually stole some material. Interesting - No? Well...he WAS a Prick. 

One novelist says - "I'm a depressed Feral Cat." Another wanna be writer breaks out with -- "She's upset. She eats Ice Cream and Lays Chips - I'm not a Lesbian!" I hope the Ice Cream knows that.  There is another novelist that says: "He talks like an Idiot" -- and he really does. 

Another in the group shouts out: "You're something Martin - you have a screw loose!" I'd say more than one is loose. Of course -- one genius says: "Post Modernism is really falling on hard times." What we have here are some Dragons. They don't need real life action heroes - they live right next door. Somehow they all think that they have Super Powers with no capes, bravery and precision. I wouldn't doubt that one guy is wearing spandex.  But don't get all excited. It's only a play - and a damned good one. Talk about speed of sound -- it's continual. Everyone is angry. But, Oh what fun. It's like racing to the next blow out. 

A Nurse is waiting? Ooops - wrong, it was not a Nurse it was a writer having sex. It's all passion for different life styles. And there is plenty of that. 

NO ONE THAT LIVES AND BREATHS WOULD WANT TO MISS THIS STORY. IT'S TRULY INTENSE AND FLAT-OUT HILARIOUS. UTTERLY SPELLBINDING BROADWAY STYLE! 

RATING: SIX STARS! ****** or IF YOU PREFER - 
SIX GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!!! 

I know one thing...THE GREAT ACTORS KEEP US ON THE STAGE: HERE THEY ARE - Charles Shaw Robinson (Leonard*), Lauren English (as Kate*), Natalie Mitchell (as Izzy*), Patrick Russell (as Douglas*) and James Wagner (as Martin*) 
******
CREATIVE TEAM: Theodore J.H. Hulsker (Sound Design), Maggie Koch (Stage Manager*), Mark Hueske (Lighting Design*), Bill English (Set Design), Casting Lauren English (SF), Judy Bowman, CSA (NY), Abra Berman (Costume Design), Abra Berman and Props Artisan - Jacquelyn Scott 

SEMINAR 
by Theresa Rebeck 

Directed by Amy Glazer 









May 10, 2014

DU BARRY WAS A LADY - STARRING BRUCE VILANCH







Courtesy photo -
42nd Street Moon


DU BARRY WAS A LADY



The Broadway show (the final Broadway hit of the 30's) was actually one of the most fun for the 1930s - and most likely more people then really laughed enormously at Broadway shows. It was Star Time. Now it's your turn. 

In those days there was Ethel Merman, Betty Grable, and Gypsy Rose Lee and Bert Lahr. You of course remember Lahr also in "The Wizard of Oz. He was the cowardly Lion. 

Cole Porter's show 'Du Barry Was A Lady' was dynamite. And -- it seems to be another "Laugh your head off". Sure there were a few slow paces -- but the Music brings us to the Dynamite singers and Dancers on the 42nd Street Moon Stage. 

It may not be on the screen -- but it has that cinematic staging that's downright amazing! It is so much fun to watch the freshness of this delight. Loved the costumes, hairdos and a handsome cast. Yep - it illuminates! You couldn't hire a better crew. Well, you could hire me -- but lets not do that -- I don't want to destroy the fun. 

It seems that a nightclub wash room attendant quits his job when he wins the irish Sweepstakes. Someone gives him knock-out drugs and he 'awakens' to find himself on the throne as King Louis XV in 18th century France. 

Here are a few ditties from Cole Porter classics: "Well, Did You Evah?" (The Evah could have come out a little stronger) - but still fun. Also liked "Friendship" and the ever lovely "Do I Love You?" Yes or No? Oh, and do get excited about "Give Him the Oo-La-La". It's just your style. 

What really dazzles is the Gorgeous costumes and the gorgeous girls and gorgeous guys. And of course the charming leading man (Bruce Vilanch) in this old-fashioned musical will keep you entertained for EVAH! Oh and you might want to scratch your head when you get puzzled. Hey -- there's a lot of hair on top of Vilanch.  

The musical is truly nutty as the screwball story practically leaps from the stage. Vilanch as a King is a little far-fetched - but it's now safe to be seen in his Royal Robes. But what could be better than to be seen wearing all kinds of baubles. They won't stick around for EVAH YA KNOW!

CATCH A FLYING THRONE SOON AT 42ND STREET MOON (Eureka Theatre)

THE INVENTIVE LUMINESCENT CAST IS A BLEND OF DRAMA AND ROMANCE: Here they are: Bruce Vilanch -Ashley Rae Little  - Nicole Renee Chapman - Ryan Drummond - Roy Eikleberry - Rudy Guerrero - Kathryn Han - Adrienne Herro - Katherine Leyva - Jack Mosbacher - Anthony Rollins-Mullens  plus Nathaniel Rothrock and Abby Sammons - and Jordan Sidfield. They all gave us 'boldness and originality'. A Powerhouse ensemble. 

RATING: FIVE STARS*****or you might like Five Glasses of Champagne*****or both.  














May 7, 2014

SMUIN BALLET PRESENTS -XXCENTRIC!


Marilyn Monroe - Photo: Keith Sutter



SMUIN BALLET






AN ANNIVERSARY WITH
TWO WORLD PREMIERES

"XXCENTRIC" SPRING DANCE SERIES 

The Smuin Ballet closes its 20th Anniversary Season with two really 'Hot' World Premieres, plus a Michael Smuin classic. 

This Ballet is absolutely a wildly successful SOLD-OUT evening. Bring out the Champagne. What a treat. The stage sensation is magnificent. 

The Dance series features one act of Michael Smuin's Gershwin. The evening will also include famed Amy Seiwert and Val Caniparoli.

Hoop de do...this program is one of the best gleeful romps of Broadway's most treasured songs. Michael Smuin's 'Dancin' with Gershwin features vocal and instrumental recordings by great artists as Peter Gabriel, Marilyn Monroe (sizzles), Sting, Carmen McRae, and Michael Feinstein, brought out fantastic classics. Here are some of the songs on "Summertime," "Do it Again," and "The Man I Love". It was like heaven on earth. 

You still can attend this fantastic show. It continues now at the Yerba Buena Stage downtown. It will end soon - but you can see it again at Walnut Creek - May 16-17, Mountain View on May 21-25, Carmel: on June 6-7. 

GREAT DIRECTORS AND AN INCREDIBLE
COMPELLING AND DEEPLY MOVING EVENING. HURRY - THE BEST BALLET IN TOWN. IT'S LIKE EVERYTHING YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE. And don't forget the barefoot divas. 

RATING: Six Stars******. If that's not enough - then try Six Glasses of Champagne!!!!!!