December 27, 2012


India Adams and Lee Hartgrave tagged at the Rrazz Room. Photo by Desmond

By Lee Hartgrave


Hey, if you are a movie lover of the classics – then you of course love the musicals. And why should you love the music. Well-it’s because what you are really hearing is the voice of the legendary India Adams who ghosted for Cyd Charisse in “The Bandwagon” and Joan Crawford in “Torch Song”.

Now looking back at Crawford’s movies, especially where she sings – Crawford herself looks terrifying on the screen. It’s campy – but so much fun. If it weren’t for India Adams singing on the movie track, there wouldn’t be any “Torch Song!”

Adams has a marvelous voice. And it is just great to have her sing on the Rrazz Room stage. Her voice is still tremendous. She’s a classic. The Studios hid the Ghost singers. They didn’t want you to see who is singing. Most of the public had no idea that Crawford’s was someone else’s. Crawford and Charisse just didn’t have a strong enough voice to carry a musical.

Now we are so lucky to see the real deal behind the curtain. India Adams (love the name) will stun you with her clear and wonderful singing. What a voice. She recently thrilled the audience at the Catalina Jazz Club. By the way Adams has several C.D’s on her website. In a recent interview Adams said: “I love singing. My voice is still strong. Thank God I’m healthy.” She started her singing career in High School. Later an MGM offer came to Adams and asked her is she would do the singing for Cyd Charisse.

This is a “Do Not Miss” an opportunity to see the legendary star. I’ll be there – I can’t wait. Opens tomorrow at 7Pm at the Rrazz Room.

India Adams has got the voice – all you have to do is go the Rrazz Room for an amazing and terrific evening of music. And when she talks about her career, she will tell stories between the songs. They are, Richly Funny.

THE RRAZZ ROOM IS CURRENTLY AT THE HOTEL NIKKO. In January the Rrazz will move to the AMC Complex on Van Ness Avenue to a new dramatic club (which will be called “Live at The Rrazz Room”. 

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

December 20, 2012



Leslie Jordan

By Lee Hartgrave

LESLIE JORDAN has a new show at the Rrazz Room – and guess what? – It’s called “Fruit Fly”. The Emmy Award winner Jordan debuts his new show at the Rrazz Room, and what a swell time it is. I'd say "Thrilling!". This genius has everything. The audience laughs so much that they hardly had time to talk to each other. Jordan's dialogue has everything going for it. Lets just say – “It’s all kinds of Crazy!” Yep – Jordan has it all. He’s been on Broadway, Off Broadway, in Night Clubs, Movies, Television – and I wouldn’t doubt that he may also some day play the Phantom on the Opera”. You never know what he’s going to say next. On each side of him we are treated to stunning screen visuals of his growing with his family. What a treat. And boy does Jordan take advantage of his parents. Jordan never ceases to crackle with stunning visuals.

One of his hits was “Sordid Lives.” It was a big hit. Jordan sez: - “Listen, I’m not a Bar Queen.” Here is another of his Gems – “I listen to K-wfly – the best spot on your dial.” Here’s another crack. Not below guys – but Jordan did say: "I get my back shaved. I don’t like hair on my back --that’s a Gay man’s sin!” Jordan: - “There’s a Bar called Hoedown. Well – I was the HOE!”

Jordan’s Grandmother said to her daughter. – “He’s going to need some help.” Jordan also let us know, that he is not innocent – as he blurts out this jewel: - “I was a Choir slut!” Innocent indeed. He also went on with it: - “I hid behind my innocent face. But, I fooled around everyone in that Choir. I always said yes – but one did have a big nasty Bush!”

Leslie Jordan will be at The Rrazz Room thru Dec. 22. You really must see this spoof on his life. It brims with playful anarchy. This Guy (Jordan) is Hot! He inspires me to check out the ‘Bushes’. Oh come on – you know what bushes I’m talking about. 

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))) 



December 11, 2012


Louis Parnell-Lauren English. Photo: Jessica Palopoli


HEADLINES: “Bell Book and Candle” –
“The Book of Mormon” 

Charming and Romantic

I know, you think that Witches live in a smelly cave where witches stoop over a Cauldron to make a mess of other people’s lives.

But we are wrong. This witch is charming and beguiling. And you would not ever believe that a witch lives in a sophisticated high style apartment. Yep, we are definitely in New York in the 50’s. The apartment wows you – there are some clever tricks going on all the time. The Witch casts a spell over a good-looking guy that happens to live in the same building. He works at a prominent N.Y. Office. The Witch finds out that a former snooty girlfriend of hers - is dating the handsome and sexy man. She’s not amused. The Witch’s revenge is on the way. Watch out for flying objects.

The ultra glamorous and mysterious witch brings out memories of the T.V. show “Bewitched”. This is one of those fun romantic stories that crackle with good humor and wry wit. A lot of her trouble comes from her “Warlock” brother who kinda messes everything up. And the sister is a total Witch Nut Job. She upsets everything. She’s a dingbat -- but fun. Oh, and there are some very strange things going on with the telephone. Scary, and spooky. And I love it! " The show is highly entertaining from start to finish." SF Playhouse creates miracles -- They are always ready 'For their Closeup!'

Here is the perfect Stars (not Starlets) No - these are big time Actors. They are: Zehra Berkman, William Connell, Scott Cox, Lauren English and Louis Parnell.

Written by: John Van Druten. Directed by the Wizard – Bill English. Producer Director: Susi Damilano. THE SF PLAYHOUSE IS STILL NUMBER ONE IN TALENT!

Bill English’s set is stunning. Manhattan never looked so fabulous. I wanna buy the set. When can you deliver it?

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

An over-hyped hit by South Park creators

When a show gets more praise than it deserves, many of the people who bought over-priced tickets may feel misled when they leave the Theater.

The musical is a mixture of mockery and sentimentality that gives a depiction of Mormon missionaries in a hellish part of Uganda. Yes, it’s a satire, and it is tuneful and funny, but I’m sorry – it’s just not funny enough to be spending that kind of money. But it appears that “Mormon will run for years.” However, one thing that I did like was the absurdity of militant Islamism. If Mormon-mania does anything for the public – it might be that those scenes are truly laughable. If you’ve got the bucks, spend it freely. If not – wait for the movie. It’s right around the corner soon. Then watch the pricey tickets go down in value. A Plus, is the acting - couldn’t be better. Oh Yes, and there are the ‘dirty’ words. But, I assume that you are all adults.

Now Playing in New York and San Francisco

Gavin Creel and Cast. Photo: Joan Marcus

December 6, 2012



Starlet the movie. Courtesy Photo

‘Starlet” – “North Star Texas” (movies) – “Slugs and Kicks” and “Pal Joey” – Live Theatre 


FIRST OFF – LETS START WITH THIS: “Starlet” is not what you might think – it’s a cute little doggie. That’s who the Star really is.

The beginning of the movie is rather boring story about drugged out girls who live together. Oh, and there is also a souped up guy – who plans to make some bucks off the girls. They are already connected with a big Daddy that puts the girls in Porno movies. Oh hum—it’s basically the same old thing.

But, like magic – one of the girl’s wrangles herself in an old ladies house. She hangs around the poor old soul – who is barely holding on to her house. But Lo and behold – they seem to be attracted to each other like magnets. Except for this- the Girl takes money away from the sweet old women. If it were not for the super acting – I would have left the Theater. 

Just keep in mind that the film is really for Adults only. There is much nudity as the men do everything possible to the girls during the filming. Everything shows – and everyone is bouncing around with everybody.

The ending of the film is rather strange. It involves the older woman. She wants to see her husband’s grave before leaving for Paris with the young girl. Something strange goes on between the Blonde girl and two gravesites. Now, I don’t know what that means, but it looks to me like the girl who is alive, may actually be the daughter of the deceased girl.

The movie does take off near the end – but bores in the beginning. The Actors are good –
They do a great job of looking and sounding good, but some moviegoers may avoid it – however - right now it is playing in San Francisco. You won’t be able to forget the Doggie (Starlet) – that’s the actor that should win an academy award.

RATING: Three Boxes of Popcorn!!! – trademarked-


THIS IS A NON-VIOLENT STORY ABOUT TWO BOYS AND THEIR FIRST CRUSH. What the wonder is that neither boy gets bullied or bashed. That’s unique!

It’s 1970’s and Pim, a fourteen-year old boy, lives with his mother on the Belgian coast. Pim falls in love with a seventeen-year-old. He is Gino. Both boys develop a sexual relationship. Most don’t last very long.

Gino’s mother tells Pim that Gino has found a girlfriend. Pim is crushed. Gino and the girl move to Dunkirk. There was much pain and angst in between time – but Gino still has deep feeling for Pim. And they do get back together.


Now Playing in San Francisco and other Landmark Theatres.

RATING: Four Boxes of Popcorn: - (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)))

(Live Performance – Slugs and Kicks) 

It’s the 1980’s. They are all young and they all want to learn all about acting. Rory, one of the College students is not sure of his sexual identity. He really is emotionally twisted. Then there is the over stated flamboyant (Zachary Isen) who is gay, is a Bitch, and drinks too much. This director of the play is way over the top. Zachary’s role in this twisted story is almost taken from the pages of La Gage Aux Follies. The performers are really quite good though – it’s the material that doesn’t stick to the frying pan.

The Good part is the tidbits of music throughout the play. The Actors even sing a little.  The Group sing” Edelweiss” in the play, and they have great talents to show. It’s Gay and the story has a good backbone – but unfortunately the meat doesn’t stick to the ribs. I was looking forward to a story that would knock us out. But hold on. There are definitely remarkable moments in the show. I think that with some tinkering “Slugs and Kicks” would be a certifiable crowd-pleaser.

Altogether the show is tangled, but it does wave over the stage with an authentic atmosphere. Here are a few words to remember – Rory says: “I don’t touch my Penis!” O.K. – we’ll accept that. This is nice also: “I’m a person who likes your knee!” Now you can figure that out when you see the play at the Thick House on 18th Street and Arkansas.

The Great Actors are: Ben Calabrese (Rory) – Assail Echols (Cynthia) – John Fisher (Writer/Director) – Zachary Isen (Jerry) – Alexandra Izdebski (Anis) and Robert Kittler (Marty).

RATING: Three Glasses of Champagne!!!


MUSICAL ‘PAL JOEY’ AT 42nd Street Moon

Pal Joey the Stage Play is bright and charming in this revival. And it’s the feel good stage play right now. It’s humorous and Funny’ - and it sure as heck is laugh-out-loud charming. 

At the beginning the play may have had some slow moments in the beginning, but the Rodgers and Hart Musical has become a world-wild entertainment that is still brilliant. It sure is great fun to hear the old songs again – especially with the talented cast now playing at the Eureka Theatre.

Here are a few of some of the wonderful songs from Pal Joey: “I Could Write a Book!’” – “Bewitched”. Love this little Ditty – “”Plant You Now, Dig You Later” and this cute one - “In Our Little Den of Iniquity”. There are plenty more to keep you interested in this perfect fall production.

Right from the beginning, you get the thrill of live theatre. This show is so cool to watch and absorb, and is lovingly constructed.  The music continues to teem with authentic atmosphere. I became thoroughly enchanted.

The Actors are perfectly wonderful. Would love to sing along with the show - but, we can’t.  It’s almost cinematic. They sure are ready for their Close-Up!

The Phenomenal actors are: Michelle Cabinian – Chloe Condon – Deborah Del Mastro – Ryan Drummond – Courtney Hatcher – Bryn Laux – Ashley Rae – Brendon North – Johny Grenberg – Tony Panighetti – Becky Saunders and Alex Shafer. So much is going on that you think that you are watching “A cast of thousands.”

MORE APPLAUSE TO: Greg MacKellan (Artistic Director) and Stephanie Rhoads (Producing Director)

RATING: Three Glasses of Champagne!!!

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