Friday, March 31, 2006

Foothill Alum out in the world: Austin Ku

Got a note from Austin Ku (he of Anthony in "Sweeney Todd" fame) and he updates us on what he's up to now:
Just wanted to let you know that I'm playing Tulsa (the young male lead) in Town Hall Theatre Company's production of the musical GYPSY in Lafayette. The musical is actually all about Mama Rose (the ultimate stage mom) and her two daughters trying to make it in Vaudeville as performers, so the rest of us are only in a few scenes--but, I do get a scene-stealing solo song and dance number.

If you're interested, please visit for all the info.

If you're a fan of the show, you might also want to check out the lavish production of GYPSY going on right now as well at American Musical Theatre of San Jose. I saw it last night and enjoyed it a lot--so different from our teeny intimate production!

Good to know, since I'm going next week.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Annie get your Gun is cast!

I'm off on a trip to NYC (although unfortunately I don't think I'll even get the chance to see any theatre!) so I don't have time to transcribe the whole list. Lots of new names. If you want to hear the whole cast list, you can hear it via recording at: 650-949-7414

Congrats to Foothill stalwarts Doug Brees and Steve Completo, playing the roles of Charlie and Sitting Bull respectively.

My review: Theatreworks' Anna in the Tropics

Is online at my personal blog. In my defense, given my cranky review, or perhaps in TheatreWorks' defense, the audience was full of annoying nightmare people. I am getting too old to be around people I think! They just bug the hell out of me. Let's just say this; I have a new appreciation for why they have those rules about not bringing food and drink into the theatre.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Interpreting "Oklahoma!"

Ann Althouse is a well-known blogger, who happens to be a law professor and a rational conservative :) She is also on the Advisory Board for BlogHer Conference '06, over in my other life. That being said I've never met Ann, nor read her extensively until I saw that she too (let me bow my head in shame) writes about American Idol. Yes, it piqued my interest that Ann writes about law, politics and American Idol.

So being a new subscriber to Ann's blog rather than an occasional topical reader, I read this morning that she saw a production of R&H's Oklahoma! last night...and rolled out her expectations for the never-see show vs. the reality.
But I had no idea what the story was, other than that it took place in Oklahoma. Based on the songs, I assumed it was a clean-cut love story. I was surprised to learn it was all about sexuality. There was one young woman who withheld her sexuality and another who gave it away freely. Each of these women had one man who loved her in a worthy way and another who loved her in a dark and slimy way. The sexually withholding woman's story was played for drama, and the sexually free woman's story was played for comedy. The characters' stories interweave through the many long scenes, until the predictable ending eventually arrives. The high point is a surrealistic ballet, the drug-induced dream of the sexually withholding woman, whose fears of rape are elaborately dramatized.

Oklahoma! is my favorite R&H (I'm not generally a huge fan of R&H) specifically because it doesn't just hint at the dark side, like most of their other works, but delves in deeply. Yes, I know that Sound of Music has its threatening Nazis and South Pacific its underlying racism, and King and I its hints gender domination themes.

But in those shows the dark side is much less a part of the plot, or the show happily perpetuates some sterotypes even as they bemoan others.

South Pacific is an example. It comes closes to achieving something very critical that Oklahoma! does: it has the dark, uncomfortable stuff coming out of the mouths of "one of us." Nellie Forbush is the All-American girl, and she is the one who must battle her own not-so-latent racism to find true happiness. Excellent. Except this same piece has a character that doesn't just border on offensive, but runs right over into appalling, Bloody Mary. Speaking pidgin English and willing to essentially sell her teenage daughter to an American serviceman, doesn't the very presence of her take the heat off those racists in the show? Speaking of the daughter, she is the model of a silent submissive Asian woman. So, sorry, I know the show may have been revolutionary for its time, but it doesn't stand up too well.

In Oklahoma! the light and the dark are all represented by plain old Americans. Althouse is correct that the Persan peddler Ali Hakim is played for laughs, even as he drugs up the young Laurie, meanwhile Jud Frye is just a regular guy gone horribly wrong.

The game-playing between Curly and Laurie, the psychological warfare between Curly and Jud, the political conflicts between the farmers and the cowmen, the triumph of Ado Annie's wanton nature over Will Parker's hypocritical double standards for their couple-dom. These are the constant themes of Oklahoma!, and they actually seem as edgy today as they certainly must have then.

Oklahoma! edgy? I think so.

One last note: given Althouse's readership, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the first comment on her post is this one:
It's refreshing to hear about a play or musical being actually performed, rather than interpreted--i.e. used as a vehicle to express the director's views on contemporary political & social issues.

a) I don't think Althouse really said enough abot the play's production to know whether the show was done with any particular overlay of interpretation.

But more importantly...

b) WTF? Did this person think we were talking about the judiciary? What do artists do but interpret when they perform? Nice way to insert conservative politics into a theatre review.

Anyway, I enjoyed Althouse's review. What do you think? Does Oklahoma, the state, represent female virginity?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Officer Lockstock at our service

Officer Lockstock, otherwise known as David Curley, has compiled a page on his web site with all of the Urinetown reviews. He's even scanned and converted to PDF those reviews that weren't psoted online. How much you wanna bet they said tnice thing about him? ;)

Check it out.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Another rave review...from

There's only one more weekend of Urinetown left, so if you've been procrastinating, now would be the time to jump on it.

And Judy Richter's review for the site is only going to make getting a seat harder!

One key Excerpt:
In addition to Manley's direction and Risk's choreography, the show benefits from Joe Ragey's flexible set, Julie Engelbrecht's costumes, Kurt Landisman's lighting and Catherine Snider's musical direction. It also is a pleasure to attend a musical theater production where the sound designer (Shane Olbourne) realizes that singers don't have to be miked in an intimate space like the Foothill College Playhouse. Consequently, the singing comes through clearly without the distortion or overamplification that mars so many musicals today.

Nice to spread the credit around. I can assure you Richter also praises the cast and the material in her review. But since hearing the unamplified voice is one of my favorite things about seeing shows in Foothill's smaller space, I thought I'd pull out this closing paragraph of her review.

So remember: for tickets, order Online at Ticket Web or call the box office at (650) 949-7360.

I've been remiss: Annie Get Your Gun auditions start this weekend!

Here's the official info:

Award-winning Foothill Music Theatre (FMT) announces auditions for its summer production of Annie Get Your Gun, (by Irving Berlin; revised 1991 Broadway version) Saturday, March 11, from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.; and Monday, March 13, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Smithwick Theater at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills.

Callbacks are March 18-20 by arrangement.

Rehearsal begins June 5.

Performances run from July 28 through Aug. 20.

All roles are open. Strong singers, dancers and actors are needed for the large cast. An appointment is not necessary. The production is not for pay, however, Equity guest artist contracts are possible. Performers should prepare an up-tempo or Broadway ballad, and bring sheet music in the correct key. An accompanist will be provided.

For More Information: Chck the web site or call 650-949-7268.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A slew of Bay Area Theatre Critics Cirlce Awards/Nominations for Sweeney Todd!

The annual BATCC Awards and nominations have been announced, and Foothill Music Theatre's production of Sweeney Todd has raked in 4 nominations, and 3 wins:

Entire Musical Production
Principal Performance, Male: James Monroe Iglehart as Sweeney
Supporting Performance, Male: Sean Patrick O'Connor as Tobias
Choreographer: Joe Duffy
Lighting Design: Kurt Landisman
Ensemble Performance

And Diana Torres Koss won for Principal Performance for her performance as Mrs. Lovett!

You can see the full list of nominations and winners here.

Congratulations to all our Foothill nominees!

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