May 31, 2011


Johnathan Reisfeld, David Bicha, Cameron Cummings. Photo: Lois Tema 
“Stop in the name of Love!”

Noel Coward wrote: Hey ho, the most I’ve had is just a talent to amuse. Hey ho, if love were all.” And that is exactly what you get in the in this off and on musical comedy. The show is just like a 70’s drag show that was popular in every Gay Bar in the City.  In those days, the drag show was ‘huge’…everyone loved them. Now in a different time and space – this musical is more of an odd ball than it is a new discovery.

The music is derivative of popular songs. The lyrics at times are quite amusing. I liked “A Bossa Nova for Jehovah” and the raunchy, not very subtle -- “Tulips on your Organ.” Also fun is “Face Lift for Ecclesiastic Surgery.”

David Bicha in the role of a Baptist – is more or less the main anchor of the show. Sometimes the camp works and other times it seems to be lame.

“Stops” seems to be making a lot of Stops that are unnecessary. The show is very strange. It goes from being a true drag show to a bunch of bible thumping strumpets. The set is really interesting. But then as they say…you can’t whistle the set.

Music and lyrics by Eric Lane Barnes, Book by Eric Lane Barnes and Drew Emery. Directed by F. Allen Sawyer. Musical Direction by G. Scott Lacy. Choreography by Stephanie Temple. With this Talent – I expected more.



May 26, 2011




They are wild, they are hyperactive and they make you hyperventilate. The Blue Man Group is more than remarkable – they are exhaustingly dazzling. Of course, the music blasts you out of your seat. Maybe they should put safety belts on the seats. The visuals are awesome – from the paint drumming to ping pong balls that are caught in the mouths of two of the actors.

The Blue guys lift you to a state of exhilaration for 90 minutes. They are weird and wonderful, all at the same time. The three Blue guys came down into the audience. I was in the front row and they spotted the blue Fedora that I was wearing. They just stood there and stared at me, and the hat. I was worried that they would take my hat and I would never see it again – or worse, that they would drag me up on the stage. I put the program in front of my face to distract them from me. Off they went and got a victim (a girl) to go up on the stage and eat Twinkies with the blue guys. She was a good sport and went along with the fun.

This show is a visual feast with pulse pounding sequences. And like pure thoroughbreds – they are a wire-to-wire smash. The audience was mixed. There were Grannies, Grandfathers, Dad’s Mom’s, Children and Teens. There is no doubt about it…this show is a visual knockout. 

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

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

May 23, 2011



Radio talk show host Karel (KG0) keeps your ears perked up. Or maybe they might even turn a little red. Hey, he tells it like it is – mikes are open, and he doesn’t give a sh-t what anyone thinks. His right on the money outbursts, and his biting wit either will have you kissing his feet – or you will begin to write your first hate letter to Karel.

The popular radio host keeps interest going with extremely painful truths that everyone relishes. Now you might take issue with his views about politics – but you can’t take issue with his comedic genius. Who knows what he will do next. Heck, he might even tell you how to have sex in your sixties and save $1,000 on your energy bills. How does that fit? Who knows how anything fits with Karel. I just know that he can take any situation and turn it into a mini booklet of stories.

Karel (Charles Karel) is host on KGO AM 810 between 7 and 10 pm on Sat. & Sunday evening. He’s madly liberal, tantalizing twisted on his crackling tales about celebs and politicians. We laugh out loud at the down and dirty deeds about Politicians and the f---ked up world.


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

* This 'advance' will also publish on beyondchron with some revisions this Friday 

May 22, 2011




THIS TRIBUTE CONCERT IS ONE OF OZARD’S BEST. Freddie Mercury may be gone, but Ozard brings back all the memories of Mercury and Brian May. Yes, Freddie sadly is gone – but we are not. And I’m grateful to hear Ozard bring back the great songs of Mercury and Queen. “Radio Ga Ga" (Roger Taylor) has a great beat. As Ozard sings – a Video of Mercury is on two huge screens on each side of the stage. Ozard is just spectacular.  In the words of Mercury’s friends: - “God gave Rock and Roll To Us”, -- and Ozard keeps that Rock Rolling.

Ozard just makes your knees weak with “I Want it All” (Words and Music by Queen). Carly wants it all – and she deserves it. She’s an incredible singer that conjures up every aspect of the great “Queen” music. Ozard makes the audience feel that they are really at a Queen concert. The cutting edge band  is brilliant in this show called “Somebody To Love.” They are:  Michael Grossman – Musical Direction, Piano, back-up vocals. Brendan Getzell – Guitar, soloist, back-up vocals. Kelly Park – Drums, back-up vocals.

As Ozard says after singing the fantastic Mercury song -- “We Are The Champions,” – “I Believe that Freddie did not die – he just went home.” And you know what? – I believe that too.

Tonight is the last night for this show at the Rrazz Room The songs sound so fresh and new. They are hits all over again. This is something that you won’t want to miss. It blows you away with its beauty!

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


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

May 15, 2011


Alexander Alioto and Lauren English. Photo: Jessica Palopoli


To say that ‘Reborning’ will take you to a place that you will never forget is putting it mildly. The play has deep and dark moments. A young woman is busily happy making custom made dolls. The Doll Maker has a strange weird business. You see -- she makes dolls in the image of children, for parents who lost their child early in life. Basically, she is ‘reborning’ the child to exact instructions from the mother.

On one hand this is a loving and tender play. But, don’t be fooled. Suddenly the play is full of surprises. Sweetness and light turns into smoldering passion for the life like dolls. Creepy? Yes!  But, take my word for it – this is easily the best play of the season. The powerful acting makes this story totally unforgettable. Emotions will involve you. I even shed some tears. And that’s not easy for me.

Also unique in this spectacular adrenaline blast – is the technical wizardry that allows the audience to get a close up on how the Dolls look so life like. I’ve locked my Frank Sinatra Doll up.

Josh Costello directs this sizzling play. Lauren English returned from New York to play the lead role of ‘Doll Maker’.
English takes her multiplex formula of acting to new, higher levels that range from utterly scary to terrifying. Alexander Alioto is brilliant as the boyfriend of the ‘Doll Maker’. Alioto delivers the best performance I’ve seen this year. Not arguably – but, THE BEST! Then there is Lorri Holt’s crowning achievement in the play. As usual she is precise and focused.

My advice – take someone with you!


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

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

The above story courtesy of beyondchron. 

May 9, 2011



SEXY SPRING FUN IS BACK in the limelight at 42nd Street Moon Theatre. “Silk Stockings is seldom performed today – and that is a shame. Its High Society mixes it up with Stalin’s Russia. The words and music by the legendary Cole Porter tunes make the show very memorable. You’ll really enjoy the tantalizing twists and crackling dialogue. Here is a short list of some of the legendry songs: “Stereophonic Sound”, “All of You” and “To Think That This Could Happen To Me”. The musical skillfully mixes tongue in cheek comedy with romance and cultural differences. And you know what? – You’ll leave with a little Russian glow. Yes, they do have a sense of humor.

“Silk Stockings” is easily one of the best comedies ever made. The writing is exciting and very clever. And it sure has stood the test of time. The musical swirls around Greta (Soviet Agent) who is seduced by Western materialism and a dashing PR Agent. All though written for another era – it is not dated. The same politics in the world are still on the main stage. Stalin is lampooned and well as American Stereotypes. The fast paced script and the extremely truly witty actors almost don’t have to say much to make us laugh. They have it all in their faces – from deadpan to defensive posturing.

It’s a huge cast and each one should be nominated for a Tony – if we had Tony’s here. But in my book – they deserve it. Here they are: Bill Olson, Jonathan Shue, Annie Donahey, Hannah Knapp, Daniel Epstein, Jeremy Vik, Michael Rhone, Jackson Davis, Ian Simpson, Nancy Dobbs Owen, Corinne Proctor, Hannah Knapp, Ray Renati, Lee Ann Payne and Dyan McBride.

 The Musicians make the music sound like it’s a full Orchestra: They are Dave Dobrusky and Nick DiScala. The Dance Captain Nancy Dobbs Owen keeps the pleasant surprises going. Superb directing by Greg MacKellan has again made another ‘treasure’ shine just like he found an old trunk full of jewels.


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

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


May 2, 2011



The Beauty of “Vice Palace – The Last Cockettes musical" is that it is not just only hilarious -- but Russell Blackwood and the rest of the talented cast has created a work of Art with dreamy sequences that show humans as mere mortals – that are reduced to a primitive level. This is it Darling – it’s like watching an Andy Warhol superstar. You could say that it is twisted and insane – and you would right. 

Hey, how can you miss with this show? Its raucous comedy with beautiful mood lighting, delightful singing and dancing (some in the nude or mostly nude). Oh, Oh – that perked you up – didn’t it? Yep – this is the greatest movie never sold. Who knows? – it could become a movie one day. But, if it does – I insist that they use this Cast: Russell Blackwood, Leigh Crow – Flynn Demarco – Joshua Devore – Anne Fensod – TJ Buswell – Ste Fishell – L. Ron Hubby – Scrumbly Koldwyn - Laura Le Bleu – Steven Satyricon – Fennel Skellyman – Tina Sogliuzzo – Bonni Suval – Jim Toczyl – Birdie-Bob Watt – Eric Tyson Wertz and Tony Wichowski. For the movie of course, they will have to have a name that will fit on a marquee.

The musical extravaganza is loosely based on Edgar Allen Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death.” The Thrillpeddlers has given us a diabolically clever show that is super funny. If ‘Bizarre’ were an Ice Cream – I would be eating tubs of it.

The last time for this show was the last time that the original Cockettes put on the show. Now -- the Thrillpeddlers has brought out a totally newly refreshed and thrilling groundbreaking ballsy musical thriller.

The setting takes place in Italy a long, long, long time ago. Well, actually – it was 1960. Act II takes place, later on. The music is by Richard Scrumbly” Koldewyn (yes, that’s really his name). Lyrics by Martin Worman & Richard “Scrumbly” Koldewyn.  There -- said it twice – just to make sure that I didn’t misspell it. Director Russell Blackwood gave this show much “Flash and Dash.” Maybe he was a pirate at some time in his life. But I know one thing -- no one puts on a show with more vibrant visuals with blood soaked bad-asses. “Vice Palace” is an instant classic!

 Note: Originally produced by Sebastian and directed by Donald Ward. The star was then was “Divine”.

At the Hippnodrome at 510 10th St. SF, CA.

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

P.S. They sell the Popcorn There. 

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

May 1, 2011



THE MILLS BROTHERS are still fantastic performers. They were the best way back then, and they still bring us the harmonies that continue to fascinate in 2011. It sure is a remarkable show for both young and old. Tonight (Sun. May 1st -- the last chance to catch them at the Rrazz Room).  The huge audience response to last nights show is an indication that they will most likely be booked again.

The Fun audience just adored John Mills (the 2nd) and Elmer Hopper (of the Platters fame) as they took us down memory lane with riveting versions of “You Always Hurt The One You Love” – “Don’t Blame Me” – “Bye, Bye Blackbird” – “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You” (Russ Morgan). Then there was the magical “Paper Doll”.  Mills said: “Most of these songs were debuted by the Mills Brothers. Many others have made a fortune doing a retake of them – but I know one thing – we were the first to record Paper Doll.”

Elmer Hopper has been with Mills for a decade. His version of “Only You” was the biggest number one hit ever when he was with the Platters. And you know what? Not only can Hopper sing – he knocks it out of the ballpark. What a voice. Now every time I step into the Rrazz, I will remember that song. The richness of the lyrics is really powerful. It’s truly amazing how Hopper can go from a “Platter” to blend into the Mills Bros. smooth sounds.

In the audience were the “Red Hat” ladies. I would say there were 20 or so Red Hats (all different) in the Audience. The group is international – and the Ladies knew every song and every lyric.

One of the big hits (The Glow Worm) was a favorite on opening night. Everyone one of us, including the Red Hat Ladies was absolutely glowing. And afterward the Mills Brothers were out in the Lobby selling memorabilia and C.D.s. Boy, was there ever a mob out there! This is a Gem of a show that you won’t want to miss.

TODAY: AT THE RRAZZ ROOM 3pm, 7pm. Tix and information:

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

John Mills (the 2nd) and Elmer Hopper  -Courtesy Photo