December 16, 2011


Cast of "Bring it On" at the Orpheum Theatre. Photo" Michael Lamont



DIRECT FROM THE GOD’S IS THE HEAVENLY VOICE OF FRANC D’ AMBROSIO. Ambrosio is the longest running Phantom on stage. And he has that special knack on how to interpret the lyrics in his special spellbinding way.

The audience was hooked at the Rrazz Room on opening night. He actually made us believe in Christmas music. The audience was hanging on every note. And no wonder… Ambrosio puts a special spell on these songs. That is what makes him a great singer.

There is no doubt about it Franc D’ has one of the most powerful and passionate voice that I have ever heard. His voice range is absolutely amazing on everything from “It’s beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas, Holly Jolly Christmas – Lyric (“For we need A Little Christmas”). What a fun ride it is with “My Favorite things” and so many other special renditions at Christmas time. Even ‘White Christmas” (“Do you hear those Sleigh Bells in the snow”) – really make you believe that you are out in the white stuff.

His glorious, thrilling voice really gets to you with “Oh, Holly Night.” Franc D’ makes us believe this: “From now on your troubles will be miles away.” Always the tearjerker – the song “Oh Danny Boy” – as D’Ambrosio explains – is actually a story about a father and son in Ireland. Heart Tugging? – Bring some hankies. The venue will change from show to show.

Franc D’Ambrosio will perform at the Rrazz Room thru Dec. 18. A little tree told me that Franc’s partner (Skating Champ Brian Boitano) would be in the audience one night over the weekend. Oh, and by the way – Franc also sings his marvelous version of “The Music of the Night” from the Phantom. Believe me – “It’s SOUL-STIRRING!”

Through December 18. 

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


For the most part, the songs in this show are awesome if you they all sound alike. I’m sure that most will not remember one tune. However, on the flip side of the show – it is catchy and fun and there is the really exciting acrobatics in the show. One they toss someone up in the air – they really get tossed up high. Yes, it’s scary at times, but they seem to land in someone’s arms all the time, without dropping them.

This show is combination of “West Side Story” (there are two rival high schools. One high school is ritzy the other down so much). There are also elements of “Glee, the musical story on T.V.) There is even hints of “Grease”. Some of the lines are hilarious. One girl at the school across the tracks sez to a Cheerleader: “Oh well, I like myself – I always have.” Here’s another line from the same school: “I’m a Bitch all right – but I’m a bitch that means good!” Many of the boys are great dancers in the poorer school, but they seemed to have learned how to put you hand over body parts. Overheard someone say that they learned that strange movement in a prison. That’s what I heard.

Everyone in the cast is delightful. The music is just so-so – but the actors at both schools are really outstanding. There are also hints of “Hair Spray” – however the language is a lot more “out there”. For instance: “But we are stuck up Bitches.” Here’s another: “Cheerleading is like a spreading virus.” A boy to one of the Cheerleaders sez: When I see a Rainbow – I get a stiffer – just by looking at it!” He said this to a possible date. I guess she got it.

The audience was mostly young. There are wise about everything. The place was crowded on opening night – but I wonder how many Teens are going to shell out money to see it? It’s a party track that is loaded with teenybopper songs. Great dance music though. It keeps you moving. The preppy Cheerleaders do cheer – but mostly they are flying though the air. Well – actually they are tossed into the air – and the strong well-trained boys, catch them before they hit the stage. It really pumps you up.

THE STARS ARE: Taylor Louderman – Adrienne Warren – Jason Gotay – Elle McLemore – Ryann Redmond – Arian DeBose-- Gregory Haney – Neil Haskell – Janet Krupin-- Kate Rockwell and Nicolas Womack. They all did an amazing job. Lots of talent up there on that stage – lucky for us that they did “Bring It On!”


(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he has also produced a long running Art Segment on PBS KQED. He also contributed some public service Interviews for KNBR in the 1980's.)))

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