Monday, September 02, 2013

Link: FlavorWire's 10 NYC theatre productions to look forward to this Fall

Some of these upcoming NYC productions sound VERY interesting. I'm always up for Ian McKellen, and Betrayal is my favorite Harold Pinter play.

Which ones float your boat?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Fall Theatre Season In the South Bay/Peninsula

Here's a nice run down from San Jose Metroblogging on upcoming shows. Lots of theatres in San Jose and up the Peninsula are kicking off their seasons this and next month.

Since I'm a subscriber to the San Jose Rep I know I'll be seeing One Night with Janis Joplin next month.

What's on your calendar?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Ray of Light Theatre Launches Cabaret Series

Ray of Light Theatre in San Francisco is doing a Cabaret Season (which was news to me, but I have just been out of touch).

They're opening with one of my wonderful colleagues from 42nd Street Moon, Ms. Dyan McBride. Here are the deets:

WHATDyan McBride in…Liner Notes: Songs From a Rock N’ Roll Adolescence
WHEN: August 26 @ 7pm
WHERE: Martuni’s Piano Bar, 4 Valencia St., San Francisco

Dyan McBride will take audiences through her formative years using rock n’ roll and pop music as her primer, with songs ranging from Tom Waits to Motley Crue to Meatloaf. Special guests and awkward teenage stories will round out a rockin' evening, featuring David Dobrusky on piano.

“I think adolescence is the most intense period of one's life,” says McBride. “Everything seems epic, important and dramatic. At least it felt that way for me. I had a lot of major events happen to me during this time in my life and music basically kept me sane and told me what was important in life. And music was also a terrifically bad influence on me too, which was what made it so fun.” She continues, “I want [my audience] to, first and foremost, just laugh and have fun. I was totally obsessed, mildly delusional and crazy about pop music and how is that not funny? I also want them to understand that when you fall in love with something, it can change you, save you and determine the path your life takes. While I never became a rock star, I did transfer that passion for music into performing and to quote the Dead, ‘What a long, strange trip it's been.’”

HOW TO BUY TICKETS: Tickets and information are available at:

When I lived in NYC I did cabaret, and my NYC swan song was my show "Pop Goes Elisa!" It was an entire show of all the songs that moved me from the pop/rock/country sphere, and I was partly inspired to create it when I first saw kd lang sing Roy Orbison's "Crying" and found it to be a revelation. It reminded me of the power popular music really has. Not just the power to move you, but the power to help you articulate and express your deepest feelings...even when you're a muddled and confused teen.

Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to this!!

About the Artist
Dyan McBride is an actor, director, singer and teacher. As an actress and director she has worked with such companies as Center REP, 42nd Street Moon, Ray of Light, Marin Theatre Company, Solano College Theatre, Laguna Playhouse, Golden State Productions, New Conservatory Theatre Center, Pacific Alliance Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Sonoma, Broadway By the Bay, Willows, Napa Rep, Mondavi Center, Utah Musical Theatre and Performance Riverside, to name a few. As a live performer, she has had the opportunity to perform all over the United States and in Europe. In the world of TV-Film-Voiceover she has done work for Comcast Sports Net, Yahoo! Progressive Auto Insurance, Nintendo, Intuit and many more. McBride has her BA from California State University at Fullerton (musical theatre) and her MFA from U.C. Davis (acting). She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild, Actors Equity Association and The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

About Ray of Light’s Cabaret Spotlight Series
Since its debut in December 2011, Ray of Light’s Cabaret Spotlight Series has partnered with Martuni’s Piano Bar to create a stage for new cabaret talent to reinvent and revitalize the form with a focus on intimacy and, above all, fun. The first Spotlight Series included Ellyn Marie Marsh, Jessica Coker and Alyssa Stone & Eliza Leoni.
The Fall 2012 series will feature Dyan McBride (Liner Notes: Songs From a Rock n’ Roll Adolescence, August 26, 7pm), Kit [formerly Sarah Kathleen] Farrell (Eat Your Heart Out, September 30, 7pm) and Emily Wade (Love Is Blind, October 28, 7pm).

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stanford's Summer Festival tackles Sam Shepard

You don't see a Sam Shepard Festival every day, so happy to share this update from the folks over at Stanford: 

WHAT: Stanford Summer Theater's 2011 Sam Shepard Festival from July 9-August 12, 2012

WHERE: Stanford University Campus (see site for details)

HOW MUCH: Show tickets $15-$25; Symposium $90 (includes lunch) 

MORE INFO:,, (650) 798-4072

Now, the big question is: Will the enigmatic Shepard show up? I have no idea, but that would be super-cool, don't you think?

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Different Kind of Mother's Day Outing

Honor your mom by honoring the fight for women's rights. This Sunday one of my buddies is the producer behind a unique experience:

Mosaic: Voices of Women's Suffrage

There's tea, a light lunch and a performance of this work honoring the women who fought for our basic rights last century.

Learn more, and buy tickets, here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Review: Cirque du Soleil's Latest Touring Show, TOTEM

I saw TOTEM under the big top in San Jose a couple of weeks ago, and reviewed it here.

Spoiler Alert: OMFG, I LOVED IT.

Seriously, best one since 1990's Nouvelle Experience. Let's face it, you can never outshine your first!)

Read the review, or just head online to get your tickets with a 25% discount! Here's the info from the horse's mouth:

Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring production TOTEM has hit San Jose, and friends of The SF Bay Area Theatre Blog can now receive 25% off select performances in seating categories 1-3!

Cirque du Soleil is pleased to announce that it has returned to San Jose with its latest big top touring production, TOTEM. TOTEM will perform for a limited engagement under the trademark blue-and-yellow Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) at Taylor Street Bridge.

TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species. Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential.

Fun for the whole family!

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Friday, February 03, 2012

Cirque du Soleil San Jose discount...expires tomorrow night

I love Cirque du Soleil, so here's a special Valentine's Day offer from them that apparently expires tomorrow.Buy one you ticket for TOTEM in San Jose and get another ticket for free*!

TOTEM opens on March 2 at the Taylor Street Bridge in San Jose. I am going to a preview on the 1st and am very excited about it!

Claim this offer, which ends at 11:59PM tomorrow, at the following link (no additional promo codes needed):

*Some restrictions apply. Must become a Cirque Club member, with free subscription, to take advantage of offer. Service and delivery fees apply to all tickets during the purchase process.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Jerry Herman Salon at 42nd Street Moon, starring Faith Prince!

This coming week may I suggest a little entertainment for your calendar?

42nd Street Moon is the theatre on whose board I serve, and they are doing one of their composer salons this Thursday night. Jerry Herman is the man behind Mame, Hello Dolly, and Mack and Mabel among others.

Faith Prince is a Tony-winning actress who burst on the Broadway scene with her Adelaide in Guys & Dolls, opposite Nathan Lane.

These salons are both full of lovely singing from talented performers, but also come with a bit of history and story-telling around the featured composer. Herman is still alive and both Faith and her co-star Jason Graae have worked with Herman, so we should expect some good insider info on the great composer who was a staple on the Broadway stage in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.

Check it out!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Woodminster Theatre announces their season

And here it is, their 46th season at the outdoor amphitheater in Oakland's Joaquin Miller Park:

Fiddler on the Roof, July 13-22, 2012
What else is there to say? This is a perennial favorite for most musical theatre companies.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, August 10-10, 2012
Sondheim's first Broadway show as lyricist *and* composer

Cats, September 7-16, 2012
The first time they've gotten the rights to perform this one.

Season ticket sales are open now, with individual ticket sales starting on March 1st.

And by the way: They haven't held auditions yet, so if you're interest they're taking place on March 31st-April 1st. If you're Equity, you can call 510-531-9597 to make an appointment after March 20th.

Woodminster has lots of ticket deals...children, seniors, groups...and also opens the final dress rehearsal of each show as a preview performance costing only $12, which is pretty cool. Also cool is the "Kids Come Free" program, where kids 16 or younger may be able to come free when accompanied by a paying adult. They give away about 3,000 tickets per summer this way (so it's understandable they're seeking sponsorship for the program).

I've been to Woodminster many times...outdoor summer theatre is always a lovely outing...especially when you go with a group. Woodminster sort of reminds me of the summer stock theatre where I got my own Equity Card, the Barn Theatre in August, MI. These theaters are a labor of love, so I hope you support them!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Lengthy Sondheim article upon "Look, I Made a Hat" release

In The Tablet, tagline: A New Read on Jewish Life

Article headline: The Art of Making Art

Some interesting stuff.

Some stuff with which i don't agree. (Sorry, love Sunday in the Park, don't see it as the start of his decline NOT AT ALL!)

but anything that delves into Sondheim, his lyrics and his life is always worth a read from me. And you, if you're like me :)

Enjoy. And you're welcome.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

50th anniversary of West Side Story, wow!

One of the best musicals of all time, wouldn't you agree?

Someone sent me the full opening dance sequence, and I thought it was well worth sharing. To me this is 9 minutes of joy. :)


Thursday, October 06, 2011

More on Cirque du Soleil's tour to the Bay Area

As I wrote back in June, a new Cirque du Soleil is coming to town.

Back then I only had ticket/discount info for the San Francisco leg of the tour, but now I have a discount code for San Jose too. So here are the deets:

WHAT: Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring production is called TOTEM
WHEN: TOTEM starts in San Francisco Friday, October 28th, 2011 and then opens on March 2, 2012 in San Jose.
WHERE: TOTEM will perform at AT&T Park in SF and at the Taylor Street Bridge in San Jose.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?: Well, straight from the horse's mouth: "TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species. Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential."

So, all I want to know is: Will there be shirtless flying men. Because that's been a much -loved staple of prior Cirque shows!!

And here is the discount info:

San Francisco Discount Link (20%)

San Jose Discount Link (15%)

Who's excited?

Disclosure: Cirque provided these discounts for me, and I may be able to go see the SF premier at no charge...but probably not because I will likely be traveling :( Maybe they'll let me go to San Jose instead.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Cirque du Soleil show coming to the Bay Area, and I have discounts

I have a lot of strong opinions, and I'm not shy to share them. (Hence the seven blogs, I guess.) One thing I don't opine about regularly, but feel very strongly about is Cirque du Soleil. When I saw Nouvelle Experience in San Jose way back in 1990, it was indeed a new experience, and I haven't missed a Bay Area tour since then. I've also seen Mystere, O and Love in Vegas.

Let's just say I'm a fan.

So, I'm pretty excited to learn that a new show is coming to the Bay Area this Fall. I'm going to get to go to a press preview and review it, and I'll share a couple of discounts for you here, as I hear about them.

WHAT: TOTEM by Cirque du Soleil
WHEN: Opens in San Francisco October 28, 2011, Opens in San Jose on March 2, 2012
WHERE: At AT&T Park in San Francisco and at the Taylor Street Bridge in San Jose

San Francisco: Until June 25, ONLY Cirque Club members can purchase advance presale tickets for the San Francisco opening. You can join and take advantage of that here.
San Jose: You have a more time for early access (until September 17th), also by being a Cirque Club member and by using this link.

I've been a Circque Club member for some time now (it's free) and while there are a variety of offers and products available by being a member, the one thing I've always used it for is to get early access to tickets to impending shows.

IN addition to the pre-sale access, members will get $10 off Level 1, 2 or 3 tickets by using the above links.

WHAT WILL THE SHOW BE ABOUT?: I think it's generally pretty hard to describe what Cirque shows are about, so here's the official description from Cirque:

TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species. Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential.

So, I'm kind of hoping for a Julie Taymor's Lion King-ish Cirque du Soleil mash-up...wouldn't that be cool?

OK, there you go. You can look for a review from me of the show in October, so if you're in San Jose and are waiting for my "expert" opinion before investing, look for it then :)


Monday, May 30, 2011

Two openings this coming week

The summer season in the Bay Area is heating up, so I wanted to share two openings coming up this week form theatre companies that reached out to me. (Did you know that? If you send me your info, I am happy to post about various Bay Area shows going on.)

1. Playfest 2011, produced by Woman's Will at the Phoenix Theatre

WHO: Woman's Will, the area's all-female Shakespeare Company
WHAT: Playfest 2011
WHERE: Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason Street in San Francisco
WHEN: June 3rd and 4th only, 8PM
HOW MUCH: $30 VIP/$20 regular ***This is a Fundraiser event for the theatre***
MORE INFO: Woman's Will website

DESCRIPTION: Woman's Will selected the best plays submitted from across the country. From serious plays contemplating the sacrifices and choices that a young woman must make when considering an abortion to playful plays summarizing what women truly want, Playfest 2011 celebrates subject matter that explores the range and depth of women’s experiences, throws light on the muscular talent of our overlooked female playwrights.

740 is Blue Ribbon by Nancy Gall Clayton
Blood Sisters by Robin Rice Lustig
1960 by Marilyn Hughes
After the Prologue by Carol S. Lashof
It's Good to Know by Megan Cohen
Counting the Minutes by Evelyn Jean Pine
The Suffrage Play by Woman’s Will

2. Assassins, produced by Ray of Light theatre at the Eureka Theatre

WHO: Ray of Light Theatre
WHAT: Assassins, by Stephen Sondheim
WHERE: Eureka Theatre, 215 jackson Street in San Francisco
WHEN: June 2nd-25th (8PM Thursdays, Fridays, 2PM/8PM Saturdays, 2PM Sundays)
HOW MUCH: $20-$36
MORE INFO: Ray of Light website

DESCRIPTION: Well, if you've seen Assassins then you know it's sharp, dark, unexpectedly funny and full of Sondheim's usual haunting music and exquisite lyrics. If you haven't seen it, you may know of it as one of Sondheim's more controversial pieces. In this day and age of heightened political rhetoric and increasing gulf between the haves and have-nots, it's only more relevant and resonant than it was in its debut 20 years ago.

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Sunday, May 08, 2011

San Francisco Special: The Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy

San Francisco is the absolute epicenter of the drag theatre universe. (OK, NYC might argue, but I don't have to listen to them.) Taking it to a higher level of theatre and performance art, one such show is opening this coming week and plays for two weeks only.

J. Conrad Frank has been evolving Countess Katya for six years, including monthly stints at Martuni's (every 3rd Sunday at 7 PM), but this show represents a big leap, as a full-length, stand-alone piece.

Here are the details:

WHAT: Katya Takes You Home: Songs and Stories for the Gypsy, Vamp and Vodka Drinker in Your Soul
WHEN: May 12-22, 2011
The Jewish Theatre
470 Florida Street,
San Francisco
WHAT TIME: May 12-14, May 17, May 19-21 @ 8pm, May 22 @ 4pm
HOW MUCH: $30 general admission, $20 students / seniors
HOW TO GET TICKETS: Tickets – starting at $20 – are available now via Brown Paper Tickets and Katyaʼs Web site

THE STORY: Katya tells tales of her well-travelled life, including struggling in Moscow as the daughter of a ballet prima dona, partying down in Ibiza with Ashton Kutcher, and giving show tips in Las Vegas to Tina Turner. It ends, of course, in San Francisco, where the now-fallen Countess has made her home as a Macy's cosmetics counter lady.

MORE INFO: The Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy

I'm in Detroit, NYC and Atlanta over the next two weeks (ah, the glamourous life) so unable to attend myself. If you go, enjoy! And come back and tell us all about it.

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Who doesn't like Forever Plaid? And for $10 off?

No one, that's who.

[I now fully expect to bring the Secret Society of FPHs (Forever Plaid Haters) out to tell me how wrong I am, and why there are SO MANY REASONS to hate it!]

I digress (and hallucinate).

If you're among the wise majority who think Forever Plaid is nothing but adorable simple good times, then you'll be glad to know it's being produced on the Peninsula, starting this week. It has played in the South Bay pretty frequently, but I'm not thinking of a recent production further North.

Until now, thanks to Broadway By the Bay.

The Deets:

WHAT: Forever Plaid
WHEN: MARCH 31—APRIL 17, 2011, 12 Performances only!
WHO: Broadway By The Bay
WHERE: Fox Theatre, Redwood City, 2223 Broadway Street, Redwood City, CA 94063-1641 (CalTrain accessible)
HOW TO SAVE $10: Click here and enter offer code: YELLOW
FINE PRINT: Restrictions may apply. Subject to availability. Not valid on previously purchased tickets. Excludes balcony and student tickets. Cannot be combined with any other offer. $2 Service Fee applies. Not valid on Target Family Matinee Series.

IN CASE YOU'VE BEEN LIVING UNDER A PLAID-LESS ROCK: Forever Plaid is a tuneful, clean-cut musical revue features 50s-style crooning by a foursome of (usually) adorable males. It features well-known songs, such as: “Sixteen Tons,” “Love is a Many Splendored Thing,” “Three Coins in the Fountain” and more!


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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Memphis on Broadway, by way of Palo Alto, coming to a (movie) theatre near you!

Did you get all that from the headline?

That's right: Memphis, the Tony-Award-winning musical, got its start right here in the Bay Area at Theatreworks. It went on to acclaim in NYC, and now it's participating in an interesting phenomenon that has popped up over the last few years.

A taped performance of Memphis is going to be shown in select movie theatres over a four-day period in late April/early May, produced by Fathom Events, which is part of National CineMedia. This has been going on with concerts and other live events for a while, but I'm not sure they've ever done it with a Broadway musical before, and certainly not with the reigning "Best Musical" on Broadway.

Another local tidbit: James Monroe Iglehart, a longtime local performer here in the Bay Area, traveled to NYC with Memphis and is still one of the featured performers.

There are lots of local showings.

So, my questions for you are: Have you ever gone to one of these kind of events before? Did you see Memphis when it was at Theatreworks? Or have you seen it on Broadway? And finally, of course, would you go see it in a movie theatre?

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Opening this Weekend: Working at Foothill Music Theatre

I've had the music for the musical "Working" for years and sung many a song (and heard others sing many a song) from it. But unbelievably: I've never actually seen it performed.

I have the chance to change that over the next 3 weeks because Foothill Music Theatre is performing it now through March 6th.

It's a show about working people and I have a feeling it's going to resonate pretty strongly during these difficult economic times.
And seriously, if you don't know the music? Great music by the likes of Stephen Schwartz, James Taylor, Craig Carnelia and more.

Here are the deets:

WHAT: Working, the Stud Terkel musical
WHERE: Foothill Music Theatre at Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA
WHEN: 2/18-3/6. 8PM Thursdays/Fridays, 2PM and 8PM Saturdays, 2PM Sundays
HOW MUCH: $26 General Admission, with discounts for students, seniors and staff
Phone: 650-949-7414
Online Here



Sunday, February 06, 2011

Local theatre accepting applications for $1,000 theatre scholarship

If you are or know a young theatre student, there's a local scholarship available from the West Valley Light Opera.

Here are the details:

The Board of Directors of the West Valley Light Opera Association has announced the 9th. Annual Gene and Cele Pincus Memorial Theater Arts Scholarship for 2011. For 2011 the award has been increased to $1,000.

The Gene and Cele Pincus scholarship will award, on a competitive basis, an amount of $1,000 to a Santa Clara County graduating high school senior who intends to pursue a career in Theater Arts and who has demonstrated a high degree of involvement in the performing arts throughout his/her high school career.

The applicant must be a graduating high school senior going on to a 2 or 4 year college; his/her intended college major must be in the Theater Arts; this includes Acting, Music (vocal), Dance, or Stage Production. Applicants must be a Santa Clara County resident.

Application details are on www.WVLO.ORG

Note, application materials must be postmarked no later than Tuesday March 15, 2011.

Email questions to

$1,000 is pretty sweet, so let your young thespians know...they have just a little over a month to apply!

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Karen Ziemba, a personal favorite...and I have to miss it!

What are you doing next Thursday night?

Because Karen Ziemba, one of my favorite musical theatre performers, is coming to town to do a tribute to John Kander for 42d Street Moon, and I'm going to be in NYC that week.

So, I really think all of you should attend in my absence, and then come leave comments on how it was.

And your answer will be "stellar", I am sure.

I first remember seeing Ziemba in a Sondheim Celebration televised on PBS. She sang "Sonner or Later" from Dick Tracy, to a flummoxed Bill Irwin. She was hot hot hot.

She may not be singing Sondheim at "And All that Jazz" next week, but hey, it's Kander, as in Kander & Ebb. I think it's safe to expect other hot, hot, hot numbers :)

WHAT: And All That Jazz, a tribute to John Kander
WHO: 42nd Street Moon, featuring Karen Ziemba and Noah Racey
WHEN: Thursday, January 27th, 7PM
WHERE: The Alcazar Theatre, San Francisco

Check it out.

And make me green with envy.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Spiderman delayed again

Given I wrote about my concerns about the Broadway production of the new Spiderman musical, I thought I'd keep you posted that they've delayed their opening yet again. Another month.

It's kind of ridiculous. By the time they open (if they open) they will have had more previews than any other show in history.

But meanwhile they're charging full price for every ticket.

I'm going to NYC in a couple of weeks, but I'm not planning to try to see it. I'll let it run for some time without injury first!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ah, the "What's Wrong with Broadway?" meme

It rears its ugly head about as often as we hear "Where are the women in...[fill in the blank]?" meme here in Silicon Valley. It's the "What's wrong with Broadway?" meme, and having lived in NYC in the late 80s, you can imagine I've heard that question a time or two.

Kimberly Kaye tackles the issue for, of all things, The Economist. I didn't even know they had more of a lifestyle outlet entitled "Intelligent Life".

A factor Kaye brings up that I really hadn't thought about was the economy's impact not on Broadway, but on significant Off-Broadway houses...many have closed, apparently. And that leaves certain shows with more quirk, less sure-fire spectacle, with nowhere else to go but to attempt Broadway. Sometimes it works; often it doesn't.

It's a good read, and as she points out: Nothing new is wrong, specifically, with Broadway. Broadway has long been the most commercial of enterprises, vs. purely an artistic enterprise, and therefore it lives and dies by tourists and their dollars.

Could producers examine the model of lowering prices to bring in a higher volume of audience member? I think they should. It's part of a vicious cycle that's been going for decades...spectacle begets cost. Cost begets higher ticket prices. Higher ticket prices begets expectations of something "spectacular" is going to happen. Expectations beget spectacle. And so on. And this all also begets more dependence on tourists vs. theatre-loving locals.

Vicious circle, as I mentioned.

Here in the Bay Area, over the last few years my theatre-going habits have changed dramatically as I've had less time...but also due to that expectations cycle.

Of course, 42nd Street Moon is always on my list, since I'm on their board. And one of the things I like most about their productions is the intimate space and unamplified voices.

But my other theatre-going has shifted from a brief subscription with TheatreWorks and a very long-term subscription to American Musical Theatre of San Jose (AMT) to the more recent 3 years my S.O. and I have been subscribers to San Jose Rep.

With TheatreWorks, I felt like the prices (and local media hype) begat expectations they couldn't live up to for me. I wanted a level of quality I didn't feel I was getting for the price.

With AMT, I felt like they were resorting to more and more old and tired fill a 3,000 seat theatre they couldn't really be too out there...not too dissimilar from Broadway I suppose. When it became clear that our subscription was always going to include way more Camelot and Music Man than Spring Awakening or Assassins, we moved on from that subscription too.

Now, with San Jose Rep, we're seeing way fewer musicals, more straight plays.We're seeing more new works. We're seeing things we haven't see (a hundred times) before. And we really like it. And think we're getting our money's worth.

But it is not a big, commercial, for-profit theatre. And it likely never could be.

What's wrong with Broadway: The same thing that was always wrong with it.

But what's right with Broadway also remains: Amazing talent. Beauty, not just spectacle. The shared, live experience of something you can't get anywhere else.

I'm heading to NYC in late January, and I'll be saving an evening for Broadway, no doubt about it.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thoughts on Spiderman, safety and a union's obligation

If you're in theatre at all, you might be aware of the impending opening of the most expensive and complicated Broadway musical ever: Spiderman.

It certainly sounds uber-cool. U2's Bono and Edge provide the music and lyrics, and it's directed by Julie Taymor. She of the visionary Broadway version of The Lion King.

Broadway roles are hard to come by. Paying acting gigs are hard to come by. The percentage of Equity actors who actually make a living with their acting is horribly small. The actors who got that call that they had been cast in this show must have been over the moon happy about it.

But is it worth dying for?

And what s the duty of our union, as actors, to step in and shut something down when it is clear things are going horribly awry?

I'd say it's a pretty unmistakable moral duty.

The most recent of several serious accidents happened Monday night. An actor's cable snapped, and he fell 20-30 feet. They're not being incredibly transparent about his injuries, but latest reports cite broken ribs, internal bleeding and have him in serious but stable condition. Apparently undergoing back surgery. Nothing mentioned about head injury.

I'm prone to wonder about that, especially since one of the musicals lead actresses only recently returned form two weeks off due to concussion.She was hit in the head by a heavy rope and knocked out. Another actor broke two wrists during an aerial stunt.

A quite comprehensive look at the injuries and issues is here.

This show has been in development for years, rehearsal for months, and suffering technical setbacks, difficulties and these injuries since the very first preview (which is when the above-mentioned concussion happened). I don't mean to sound frivolous about the $65 million investment that's been made, but oh my God!

There are obvious safety issues. What else needs to happen to prove that? Sure, they can blame human error, and they are, but perhaps then they are asking the humans to do too much.

I think Equity (and OSHA) have an obligation to keep this show dark until every stunt and every set piece and every piece of machinery and equipment and every procedure and every failsafe and every fallback option has been thoroughly experts. Not the same people who are already working on it. No, a new and fresh set of eyes and ears and hands.

Because a Broadway role...not worth head injury, not worth a broken back, not worth paralysis, and not worth dying for.

(PS-I think the same thing about sports, including cheerleading, in case you were wondering.)

What do you think?

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Next up at 42nd Street Moon: Babes in Arms, a true classic

If you haven't seen Babes in Arms by Rodgers & Hart, you may wonder how that possibly could be once I list all the hit songs. Try this list on for size:

My Funny Valentine
The Lady is a Tramp
Johnny One-Note
Where or When?
I Wish I Were in Love Again
All at Once

Yes. All in one very hit-packed 1937 show. And one that is rarely produced anymore. You may have seen the's a classic Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney "Let's put on a show" affair, but I'm betting you haven't seen it on stage.

That's where 42nd Street Moon comes in. This is what they were created to do: Let you hear songs like those in their original context. And it's always fascinating.

The show opened this weekend at the Moon and plays for three weekends.

I wouldn't miss it, how about you?

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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Guess i won't be seeing *this* on my next NYC trip

My last two trips to NYC have produced two wonderful theatre-going experiences: Bernadette Peters in A Little Night Music and Marin Mazzie in Next to Normal.

If I want to keep my streak going, according to my entertainment bible, Entertainment Weekly, I guess I betetr not see the new musical version of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Their review is, um, negative doesn't cover it, let me just put it that way.

As the reviewer himself points out there's a ton of amazing talent on the stage...not least being Patti LuPone and Brian Stokes Mitchell (I've missed him). But that's insufficient to save the show, I guess.


And I guess I'll be checking out something else. I just have no idea what.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

42nd Street Moon's Next Opening: West Coast Premiere of Murder for Two

It's a first for 42nd Street Moon (on whose board I sit). They're actually producing a West Coast premiere of a new musical, Murder for Two.

Here's the official scuttlebutt:

Join us for the West Coast Premiere of this hilarious new musical! Take two parts Agatha Christie, mix with one part old-fashioned musical comedy, add a dash of 21st century flair, and you've got Murder For Two, A Killer Musical.

An inspector arrives at an old, dark house to solve a murder and encounters a host of eccentric and cunning suspects. The twist? One actor plays the inspector, the other plays all 13 suspects, and they both play the piano!

It sounds like a great combo of a murder mystery, musical, and novelty play featuring multi-tasking Greater Tuna.

If you want to learn more, from the horses' mouths so to speak, here are some interviews with the creators on the 42nd Street Moon blog.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

42nd Street Moon's Latest: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

Tomorrow I'm off to see the season opener for 42nd Street Moon (on whose Board I sit).

The show is Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and it's getting some bang-up reviews!!

Like this rave for the non-traditional casting choice for the role of Pseudolus, Megan Cavanaugh.

And this one from the SF Examiner.

I'm looking forward to it, and expect to be thoroughly entertained by a silly show with tremendously fun music and clever lyrics.

Learn more and get your own tickets here.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Broadway by the Bay moving for 2011 season!

Just got a press release from Broadway By the Bay, and in addition to announcing their new season, they anounced that they're going to bring live theater back to the Fox Theatre in downtown Redwood City.

Peninsula Center Stage used to perform there before they disappeared.

BBB's current home is a former high school auditorium, and while it's not a bad facility, it is kind of off the beaten path and doesn't have a ton of character. The Fox, conversely, is right in the middle of a revitalized RWC downtown, and has all the character in the world. I wonder if it's been refurbished a bit though...I think it had seen better days, and its backstage isn't exactly roomy and well-equipped.

And traffic/parking downtown should get even more annoying, I'm guessing!

But all for a good cause.

Now, I wish BBB's new season was more enthralling to me...Forever Plaid, Gypsy and The Music Man are not at the top of the list of shows I need to see yet again in my life.

But I'm probably likely to see more BBB productions at this new location, than I was to go up to San Mateo.

How about you?

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Next show on my list: "Chicago" at Hillbarn

I like Chicago. I saw the original Broadway production, only not with the original stars Chita Rivera and Gwen Verdon. I saw their replacements, including an up and comer named Anne Reinking as Roxie. We did, however, see the great Jerry Orbach.

My grandmother had originally bought tickets for us to see Pippin, but it closed and went out on tour, so Chicago was the replacement. Given the years the show ran ('75-'77) I'm guessing I was about 12 or so when I saw it. Needless to say, my grandmother walked out feeling a little mortified that the show was not exactly appropriate.

(I didn't know until years later that Pippin and its orgy dance sequence would have likely been even more inappropriate!)

The Hillbarn production stars my friend, handsome Will Giamonna, as Billy Flynn, and a frequent Foothill performer who I've always enjoyed, Alicia Teeter, as Roxie. And the theatre is about 10 minutes form my office, so I'm seeing a week night production in my future:

WHAT: Chicago, by Kander & Ebb, originally choregraphed by Bob Fosse
WHERE: The Hillbarn Theatre
1285 East Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City, CA
WHEN: September 2-26
BUY TICKETS: online or call: 650-349-6411
MORE INFO: Hillbarn Theatre website

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ray of Light Theatre: West Coast Premiere of Jerry Springer the Opera

This one comes with some buzz do you make a lowest-common-denominator talk show host the fodder for a high-falutin' night at the theatre? See this show and find out:

WHO: Ray of Light Theatre (Their 10th Anniversary season if you can believe it!)
WHAT: The West Coast Premiere of Jerry Springer the Opera
WHERE: The Victoria Theatre in the Mission
WHEN: September 10 – October 16


This was, ironically, a huge British hit, and hasn't played an extended run in New York. There have been regional productions, but this is the first on the West Coast. I'm looking forward to seeing how people react. Will they love it? hate it? Or like the namesake it something people will love to hate or hate to love?

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