Archive for the ‘Peninsula’ Category

“Bring me a shrubbery!!” watch out for Killer Rabbits, head toFoster City!

Russell Ward as the French Taunter. Mark and Tracy Photography.

Love Monty Python? Want to see Sir Lancelot and King Arthur dancing and singing their way to Camelot?  Well, what happens in Camelot, stays in Camelot, so pack up the family and head over to Foster City for a rollicking time with SPAMALOT, directed by Dan Demers.  Hillbarn Theatre does it again with a blockbuster production and fun for everyone (though some adult themes and gestures included).  I have always wanted to see SPAMALOT but I had my doubts as to how theatre could replicate Monty Python’s Holy Grail, so I didn’t know what to expect.

But SPAMALOT does it, and Hillbarn did a fantastic job (as usual).  If you are a Monty Python fan, you will LOVE this show!  “I’m not dead yet,” one of my favorite scenes of all time, was early in Act I and had the audience in stitches.  I especially did not anticipate they would be able to pull off the Black Knight scene, but pull it off they did, along with managing to chop off all his extremities (“It’s just a flesh wound!!”).  Other favorite scenes included are the Knights that say Ni, “Bring me a shrubbery!!!!” and the killer rabbits.

Russ Bohard as King Arthur. Mark and Tracy Photography.

I started to get excited for the show when I saw their Facebook posts and photos of them building the set and props.  There is a LOT of work put into the production of this complicated show, and multiple technical props. The set design is a giant castle covering the entire stage which lights up at various times. The Trojan Rabbit was huge and awesome, the killer rabbit was hysterical, there is a big cow tossed, and, while not props, let’s not forget the dancing Laker Girls and Sir Robin’s Minstrels.

Casting was perfect.  Tracy Chiappone as Lady of the Lake was tremendous, Russel Ward was an hilarious Sir Lancelot, and I really loved Paul Araquistain as Patsy, and Ray Mendonca as Sir Robin.  Oh, let us not forget Steven Ennis, who was born for the role of Prince Herbert.

Sir Robin played by Ray Mendonca* (center) and his Minstrels, Jacob Marker (center right), Evelyn Chan (right), Steven Ennis ( left), and Jason Hobart (center left). Mark and Tracy Photography.

The choreography wasn’t as tight as it usually is and there were some technical glitches, HOWEVER, this is a huge production and I have no doubt the show will get better and better after each performance.   I can see there was an enormous amount of work put into the show, and overall it exceeded my expectations. Everyone left the theatre singing “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

I had so much fun.  Opening Night was a sold out show and the audience was ready for some play time in the air conditioned theatre.  Lee Foster, Hillbarn’s Executive Production Director, noted before the start of the show that the people of Foster City should remember that Hillbarn is a great theatre right in their backyard.  I can’t argue with that, I drive 35 miles each way to see their shows and I have never been disappointed.  So head over to Foster City and see a show that is rarely produced nearer to the South Bay than San Francisco!

 

The Cast of Hillbarn Theatre’s Production of Monty Python’s Spamalot!. Mark and Tracy Photography.

SPAMALOT
Through September 22 [extended to September 29!!]
Hillbarn Theatre
1285 East Hillsdale Blvd, Foster City

 

I really look forward to the rest of their season.
Make your plans now!:

Lettuce and Lovage:  October 18 – November 2013
Mame:  December 6 – December 22
The Grapes of Wrath: January 24 – February 9
Lend Me a Tenor: March 14 – March 30
The Color Purple:  May 9 – June 1

 

 

September Theater Round-Up and the start of the 2012-2013 Season!

What shows are on your September calendar? That’s right Folks, the 2012-2013 season has just begun, and theater reviewers everywhere have our pencils sharpened and phones set to silent.  There are a lot of exciting shows on the horizon this year!  I will be reviewing three shows this month and am recommending one more which I won’t have a chance to see.

 

Ragtime

Ragtime: The Musical
Hillbarn Theater
August 30 – September 23

Musicals are what Hillbarn does best and with a great show like Ragtime, how can they go wrong?  This is the one I’m sadly going to miss, but I can without hesitation state that you should try to never miss a Hillbarn musical.

Ragtime is a powerful portrait of life in turn-of-the-century America, but a relevant tale for today. Written by an award-winning team, the musical intertwines the stories of three extraordinary families, as they confront history’s timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and what it means to live in America. The Tony-winning score is just as diverse as the melting pot of America itself. Featured are such show stopping songs as Getting Ready Rag, Your Daddy’s Son, Wheels of a Dream, Till We Reach That Day, Back To Before,and Make Them Hear You. This thrilling musical is sure to inspire actors and audiences alike!

 

The Death of the Novel

The Death of the Novel
San Jose Repertory Theater
August 30 – September 22

You’re not seriously going to miss this one, right?  “Mad Men”’s own Pete Campbell, Vincent Kartheiser, is starring in this season opener. My friends at the Rep have been buzzing with excitement, and all signs point to an amazing show.

Brilliant young novelist Sebastian Justice claims to be the most well-adjusted, depressed agoraphobic in Manhattan. While he rants about anything from global warming to tennis, his publisher-ordered psychologist (a “writer’s block-whisperer”) tries to get to the bottom of his grief. But when a stunning and mysterious Saudi woman intrudes into his self-contained world his emotional descent takes a sudden turn, for the raving beauty may not be the person she says she is. Will this stranger be the one to help him find his way back, and at what cost? Identities blur in this enthralling and evocative story that takes a look at the modern world through the eyes of a brilliant and tragically wounded artist.

 

Pearl Fishers

Bizet’s Pearl Fishers
Opera San Jose
September 8 – September 23

Watch out, Opera San Jose, because for this show the Opera Novice will have as my guest an actual Coloratura Soprano, and she’s going to help me understand the nuances of the performance.  Instead of my usual “Oh gosh, it sounded PERFECT! It looked PERFECT! Everything is PERFECT!” I might actually know what’s going on…  But I’m pretty sure Opera San Jose is not going to disappoint.

A forbidden love. A friendship tested. Georges Bizet’s exotic romance, The Pearl Fishers comes to life for the first time on the California Theatre stage. Set on the tropical island of ancient Ceylon, two fishermen vow eternal friendship, but the desire for a mysterious woman from their past ignites a jealous rivalry. A mesmerizing tale of love and sacrifice, Bizet’s musical gem overflows with lush melodies, haunting arias, and the beloved duet, Au fond du temple saint.”

 

The Little Dog Laughed

The Little Dog Laughed
Dragon Productions Theater Company
September 14 – October 7

I believe this will be my first show by Dragon Productions, but I practically begged for a chance to see it.  It was written by New York playwright Douglas Carter Beane, the screenwriter for “Too Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar”.  The Little Dog Laughed was nominated for several Tonys, incuding Best Play, and I am really excited to be able to review this for you.

Follow the adventures of Mitchell Green, a movie star who could hit it big if it weren’t for one teensy-weensy problem. His agent, Diane, can’t seem to keep him in the closet. Will there be a happy ending as the final credits roll?

Diablo Ballet at Hillbarn Theater this weekend

Raise your hand if you’ve been to Hillbarn Theater in the last six months.

*looks out at sea of blank faces*

Well why the heck not??

A heated family discussion between Lenny Magrath (left- Kelly Rinehart) and Chick Boyle (Eileen Fisher) takes place as Babe Magrath looks on (Jade Shojaee in back) in Hillbarn Theatre's Crimes of the Heart

Hillbarn Theater is an amazing venue which presents some of the best plays in the Bay Area.  They consistently present top rated shows, completely transform their stage with every production, and always attract amazing talent.  Just this year you’ve already missed City of Angels, Master Class, The Will Rogers Follies, Social Security, and recently Crimes of the HeartCrimes of the Heart especially caused the audience to twitter excitedly during intermission about the amazing trio of actresses who carried the show, most notably an incredibly impressive performance by young Jade Shojaee – keep an eye out for that name in the future.  Foster City is not that far away from the South Bay, traffic at night is usually going the opposite direction, and the venue is run by some of the nicest people in theater.

But Hillbarn also presents many extra shows and educational events.  Crimes of the Heart just finished its run and The Producers doesn’t begin until May (put it on your calendars now!), but there is already a new event scheduled this weekend:  The award-winning dance company Diablo Ballet will present works by some of the top choreographers in the Bay Area and the world this Friday and Saturday.  Known for their exciting and innovative performances, the program this weekend will include the following:

Diablo Ballet dancers Robert Dekkers (right), Hiromi Yamazaki (lifted), and Derek Sakakura (lifting) perform KT Nelson's Escaping Game

The West Coast Premiere of the duet from Mercurial Manoeuvres, by Christopher Wheeldon, one of the top choreographers from England.

Escaping Game by KT Nelson, Co-Artistic Director of ODC/San Francisco

Back in the Day, the new dance work set to the music of Frank Sinatra by David Fonnegra.

Live music will accompany several of the works, and following the performance the audience is invited to mingle and meet the dancers at a complimentary reception in the lobby.   And I know from experience that Hillbarn always presents a fun food and drink spread for their parties.

After the Saturday, 2pm performance, young dance fans and their parents are invited to the Little Ballerina Tea in the courtyard.  Featuring specially prepared tea, food and drink, young ballet fans are invited to meet and take pictures with the dancers.  This is a wonderful family activity!

 

Diablo Ballet dancers Derek Sakakura and Hiromi Yamazaki perform Christopher Wheeldon's Mercurial Manoeuvres

Diablo Ballet
Hillbarn Theatre
Friday, March 30:  8pm
Saturday, March 31: 2pm and 8pm
1285 East Hillsdale Boulevard, Foster City
Tickets:  650-349-6411

Hilarious lessons in happiness at Hillbarn’s SOCIAL SECURITY

Mary Moore and Corinne Kason in SOCIAL SECURITY

There are a lot of amazing events in theater this weekend, but one of them is ending this weekend.  If you’ve had a rough week, Social Security is a show to put a smile back on your face.  Don’t let the title give you the idea this is a show about stodgy old people or serious social issues; it’s a(n often embarrassingly) laugh out loud show by a screenwriter of “Blazing Saddles” and “The In-Laws”.   This is a show where a babysitter is a must, as there is a lot of adult humor and a plot heavily infused with sex.

It’s certainly no surprise that Hillbarn Theatre’s current show is another can’t miss production.  In the two years I’ve been covering their shows they have consistently kept the bar high with amazing actors, a stage design team that conducts miracles, and overall exciting and entertaining shows.  Social Security is no exception, with another exquisitely designed set (rendering the entire stage indistinguishable from previous shows, as usual), beautiful, hilarious and fitting costumes, and six incredible actors.

Married couple David and Barbara are enjoying their carefree lives together with no children, but Barbara is worried when her sister Trudy wants to meet to discuss a matter.  Trudy and her husband Martin have been caring for the women’s mother Sophie, a cantankerous, antagonistic, strong-willed woman who uses a walker and complains about everything.  Well, at least this is how we come to know Sophie in the first act, through only Barbara and Trudy’s descriptions.

What ensues are lamentations over a college-age runaway child who wants to “live for sex”, the dumping of mother Sophie at the other grown daughter’s home, and a lot of discussions and accusations over who’s having sex and how and what was appropriate or damaging to the morals of others.  Sound serious? I hope not, because it’s both hilarious and shocking while also extremely enjoyable, and this is just the first act.

In the next act we finally get to meet Sophie, and if ever a child fell far from the apple tree, it’s both manic Barbara and uptight Trudy.  Played by Corinne Kason, the elderly but life-loving Sophie swiftly earns the love of the audience.   Hardly the difficult person her daughters had described, we discover Sophie actually loves having fun just as much as she loves her sourball candies.

Although this show is about many different things, the final message may be that to enjoy life, you must enjoy all that’s available in it, including sex and love – and maybe those particular two don’t need to always be enjoyed together.  In the end, the only character to end up unhappy and alone is the one person who couldn’t open themselves up to that kind of life enjoyment.

Don’t miss another fantastic show from Hillbarn.

Social Security
Hillbarn Theatre
Through February 12

Silly and Dramatic; Sister Cities:Theatre at it’s Best

Boy do I love modern plays that incorporate things like Google and iPhones. Add silliness and a character prancing around in men’s underwear and I am all over it.

Dragon Productions’ Sister Cities is a mash of realism, great comedic moments, family coming together and dark subjects.

Carolina (Kim Saunders), Baltimore (Katie Rose Krueger), Dallas (Alexandra Bogorad), and Austin (Darcie Lee Grover) are four sisters from different fathers, different corners of the country, and different perspectives, and they must reunite after their mother’s abrupt death (Shelley Lynn Johnson). What unfolds is a comic but heartfelt look at the ties that really bind.

The playwright, Colette Freedman, has created a masterpiece that appeals to a young, modern audience as well as any age. Director Dale Albright took her story and made it shine onstage with an amazing cast who portray these sisters remarkably.

Grover is outstanding as Austin. She’s comfortable on stage as the chill sister, lounging in her PJs eating Ramen. Austin has many huge emotional transitions, and Grover nails these.

I love Saunders’ portrayal of Carolina. She plays the stuck up lawyer well. Very up tight and from a different world than the others. It’s a relief when she lets her hair down and starts to relax a little. Just like Austin, Carolina has quite a few scenes where she has to go from drinking vodka with her sisters, to extreme emotion. Both of these roles would be difficult for any actor, and you can see that Grover and Saunders have put a lot of work into making these emotions real.

Bogorad is cute as the sister with the “perfect life”. Her character is a little boring, but Bogorad spices it up, especially during the drunken vodka scenes and an outright confession she makes to her sisters, which makes her not seem so perfect afterall.

Krueger is beyond awesome as the free-spirited Baltimore. She is a blast! Funny, outrageous, and huge props for walking around in her underwear for 90% of the play. This actress blew me away!

Johnson takes you into the mind of Mary, the mother, during flashbacks. She does a great job at showing us the sadness and pain of what she was going through before her death and is hilarious at telling the audience of her love for sex. What a vivacious character!

Don’t miss this wonderful multi-layered and side-splittingly funny play.

Darcie Lee Grover (Austin), Kim Saunders (Carolina), Alexandra Bogorad (Dallas), and Katie Rose Krueger (Baltimore).

Sister Cities runs through October 23rd, 2011.

Visit Dragon Productions Theatre Company for details on times and tickets.

 

 

City of Angels brings murder, mayhem, beautiful women and, most of all, FUN.

Detective Stone

Hillbarn Theatre started their 2011/2012 season off with a bang (3 bangs to be exact), and continued their tradition of choosing an extremely complicated production to produce – and finding a way to nail it.  City of Angels brings a 15 piece live orchestra, a full cast of incredibly talented singer/actors, and an ever-changing set design that must be a nightmare to manage.

City of Angels is a complicated tale itself, revolving around a film noir detective story which is simultaneously being written by a screenwriter back in 1940’s Hollywood.  There are film characters, “real life” characters, and actors playing the film characters.  There are revisions done by the screenwriter (shown by actors reversing their actions and speech and replaying the scene), most of the cast playing at least two characters in the show, and many film characters based on the “real life” characters.  In short, don’t have too many drinks before seeing this show.

Should you see the show? YES! It is SO MUCH FUN.  Writers, detectives, scantily clad beautiful women, mobsters/goons, lecherous Hollywood producers, bed hopping, murder… what more could you ask?

Alaura, Femme Fatale

The cast is so incredible as a whole that I found it impossible to single anyone out.  Each member has their own moment to shine and they all do it well.  The singing is top notch with some far from simple melodies.  Although the sound was a bit off in the beginning, it got taken care of quickly and was superb overall.

The promo pictures we’re given to share don’t do the show justice, and if I could sum up the show in one word it would be FUN.  I would say it’s fine for teenagers up, with many short scenes of playful frolicking (and really, who hasn’t come home to find a beautiful, half naked, strange woman in their bed??).  And with a total time of 3 hours, I’d suggest coffee before the show and during intermission.  But it’s three hours of complete enjoyment.  Don’t miss Hillbarn’s latest successful attempt to WOW its audience.

City of Angels
September 1 – 25
Hillbarn Theatre
1285 East Hillsdale Blvd.
Foster City
650-349-6411

Screenwriter Stine wrestles with lovers, producers and his own characters.

Lust, Betrayal, and A Streetcar Named Desire

Friday night I had the pleasure of seeing Tennessee Williams’ iconic classic, A Streetcar Named Desire at Dragon Productions Theatre Company in Palo Alto. Streetcar won Tennessee Williams a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1947.

In this production, director Jeanie K. Smith chose to focus on Blanche’s story as opposed to Stanley’s as many other renditions have. We follow Blanche DuBois who is an aging Southern Belle trying to run away from her shameful past in Mississippi. When she moves to New Orleans to live with her sister, Stella, and brother-in-law, Stanley, Blanche clashes with their rough, industrial lives and learns that she can run but she cannot escape trouble.

I went into the theatre having never seen a staged production of the show. I saw the movie years ago, but tried not to compare what I was seeing on stage in front of me with what little I remembered from the movie. It’s difficult not to compare if you’ve seen other versions of this play. Have you ever seen this play in a small theatre that seats 42 audience members?

Jeanie had a challenge; how do you tell such a big story in such a small space? Her answer? Simplicity. Keep the set minimal and let the actors tell the story. This worked wonderfully because we were able to be right there with the characters and feel their emotions, see every layer, every nuance and not be distracted by a busy set. And the actors did a fantastic job of telling the story.

Blanche DuBois is a very complex character. She puts on airs and insults her sister’s way of living, all the while taking one shot of whiskey after the next and obviously not being able to deal with whatever she is escaping. Meredith Hagedorn, who plays Blanche, creates a somewhat likeable character who you just can’t seem to take your eyes off of, arrogant and an emotional wreck, or not. Meredith sucks you into Blanche’s story and makes it easy to feel pity for her and to want everything to work in her favor.

Andrew Harkins is perfect as the rough and crude Stanley Kowalski. I wasn’t sure the momentum of the scene leading up to the famous “Stella” line was enough to put him in the emotional state of someone who is ashamed of what he’s done and is madly and deeply in love with the woman he did it to, but he did. He dropped to his knees, sobbing, and the whole audience felt the intensity.

Katie Anderson is brilliant as Stella Kowalski. She plays a very calm Stella. Her calm nature gives the audience someone to turn to during times of chaos. She is nurturing, understanding, and lovable.

Also lovable is Mitch, played by Troy Johnson, Stanley’s friend who dates Blanche. Troy creates an extremely likable character in Mitch. Sweet and innocent, like a big teddy bear.

The rest of the cast was quite talented as well: Charles McKeithan, Monica Colletti, Phillip Raupach, and Mary Lou Torre.

This production is a definite must see!

A Streetcar Named Desire

July 29 – August 21, 2011

Dragon Productions Theatre Company

Free Thursday Movies on the Square 2011

Free Movies on the Square Thursday evenings in Redwood City – May 19 through October 6.

Come early for the best seats (a limited number of chairs and tables are available). Bring your blankets; bring food and/or drinks (no glass). In addition, there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance to get take out from.

Redwood City Courthouse Square
2200 Broadway Street, Redwood City, 94063

Parking

Movies May 19 – October 6:

The King’s Speech (R)
May 19 – sundown (approx. 8:30pm)

Inception (PG-13)
May 26 – sundown (approx. 8:30pm)

Hitch (PG-13)
June 2 – sundown (approx. 8:45pm)

Empire Records (PG-13)
June 9 – sundown (approx. 8:45pm)

Bye Bye Birdie (G)
June 16 – sundown (approx. 8:45pm)

Jurassic Park (PG-13)
June 23 – sundown (approx. 8:45pm)

The Green Hornet (PG-13)
June 30 – sundown (approx. 8:45pm)

How To Train Your Dragon (PG)
July 7 – sundown (approx. 8:45pm)

True Grit – 2010 (PG-13)
July 14 – sundown (approx. 8:45pm)

Ice Age (PG)
July 21 – sundown (approx. 8:45pm)

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (PG-13)
July 28 – sundown (approx. 8:30pm)

Megamind (PG)
August 4 – sundown (approx. 8:15pm)

E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (PG)
August 11 – sundown (approx. 8:15pm)

Toy Story 3 (G)
August 18 – sundown (approx. 8:15pm)

Mary Poppins (G)
August 25 – sundown (approx. 8:00pm)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (PG)
September 1 – sundown (approx. 8:00pm)

Sherlock Holmes (PG)
September 8 – sundown (approx. 7:45pm)

Date Night (PG-13)
September 15 – sundown (approx. 7:30pm)

Dirty Dancing (PG-13)
September 22 – sundown (approx. 7:15pm)

The Sound of Music (not rated)
September 29 – sundown (approx. 7:15pm)

Despicable Me (PG)
October 6 – sundown (approx. 7:00pm)

THE DROWSY CHAPERONE Lights up the Stage with the Glitz and Glamour of the 20’s

Annmarie Martin as The Drowsy Chaperone, toasts the upcoming wedding of Janet Van de Graaff (Courtney Hatcher) and Robert Martin (Trevor Meacham). Photo: Nancy Fitzgerald-Metzler

My theatre buddy and I were lucky enough to be able to attend Opening Night of Hillbarn Theatre’s last show of their 70th season, The Drowsy Chaperone. We really enjoyed this fun, clever story, which is a good introduction to musical theatre.

I had heard of Hillbarn before, but had never been. Well worth the drive to Foster City from the South Bay. Hillbarn is a nice sized house, about 140 seats. Intimate, yet still large enough to have a great audience and to hold all the amazing song and dance numbers and extensive set from the Tony Award-Winning musical, The Drowsy Chaperone.

The Drowsy Chaperone is different than most musicals I have seen. It is narrated by a lonely, agoraphobic man who loves musical theatre, the Man in Chair. He plays for us the record of his favorite musical, the fictional 1928 musical comedy, The Drowsy Chaperone, and his apartment comes to life with the sights and sounds of the roaring 20’s, full of tap dancing, vaudevillians, gangsters, starlets, impressive sets, and of course, a drowsy chaperone. I even noticed some Shakespearean aspects, like mistaken identity and multiple weddings. Staples in most of Shakespeare’s comedies.

Ron Lopez, Jr. who plays the Man in Chair did an amazing job of engaging the audience into his world. It is just a normal night at home for him, listening to music to cure his blues. As the musical comes to life before us, he starts and stops the record, which stops the action on stage, to explain what is going on, what makes a good musical, and the gossip behind the actors who originally played the roles of this musical within a play. Ron’s neuroticism, flamboyance, and excitement to share the story of The Drowsy Chaperone with us made me chuckle again and again.

Courtney Hatcher who plays Janet Van de Graaff, the 20’s showgirl who is giving up her career to marry an oil tycoon, Robert Martin, definitely has some singing pipes and acting chops. Her song and dance numbers blew me away. Not just because of her extraordinary charisma and talent, but all the cute costumes she wore, fun props, the great background dancers, and the humor in it all.

Annmarie Martin who plays The Drowsy Chaperone, is an amazing singer and has a great stage presence. Annmarie was spot on as the Drowsy Chaperone. The Chaperone is a woman who enjoys a drink, or five, during prohibition. She reminds me of Karen in the sitcom Will and Grace. Karen was always drinking, saying something funny, and stealing the show. That’s exactly what Annmarie’s Chaperone did.

The show is full of humor and physical comedy. There are the Vaudeville-like characters such as Mrs. Tottendale, played by Melody Cole, and her butler, Underling, played by Don Cima. Mrs. Tottendale and Underling have an amusing scene where Tottendale repeatedly spits vodka at Underling.  It is spit take after spit take. Also Vaudevillian are the gangsters, Stewart Kramar and Joey Montes, who are disguised as pastry chefs to threaten Janet’s producer, Feldzieg, played by Michael Carey, to get Janet to call off the wedding and stay in show business. I love the gangsters’ dessert and food puns and their side-splitting physical comedy and dance numbers. Very memorable.

Also memorable were Eric Ribeiro as Aldolpho, the bumbling romantic, hired by Feldzieg to seduce Janet so as stop the wedding. And, of course, Trevor Meacham, Robert Martin, who has many enjoyable scenes. I especially liked the scene where he is blindfolded on roller skates as well as the entertaining tap dance number with his best man, George, played by Daniel Lloyd Pias. I can’t forget Michelle Foletta, who played Kitty, the dumb blonde who, according to Feldzieg, has no talent but thinks she can take Janet’s place as the starlet. She has some very cute numbers and scenes. The rest of the ensemble was very talented as well.

I’m glad I finally made it to Hillbarn Theatre and was able to experience this pleasurable, entertaining musical. Even if you aren’t into musicals, you will hear the Man in Chair’s opinion about what makes a good musical, and you might just agree with him. And I know you will agree that going to Hillbarn to see The Drowsy Chaperone makes for a fun evening out.

The Drowsy Chaperone Through May 29th at Hillbarn Theatre
1285 East Hillsdale Blvd. Foster City, CA 94404
Tickets available at Hillbarn Theatre or call 650.349.6411

Michelle Foletta, as Kitty, has a run in with Gangster #1 (left - Stewart Kramar) and Gangster #2 (right - Joey Montes) as Feldzieg (Michael Carey) looks on. Photo: Nancy Fitzgerald-Metzler

Two Fantastic Shows: Separate Tables and Fiddler on the Roof!

The downside to Cinequest is that the dramatic productions for the month get less attention than they deserve.   It’s time to take care of that problem today.  There are two fantastic shows out right now, and one of them is ending this weekend!

[Edit to add: Look below for special deal at Fiddler on the Roof for final performance, Sunday March 20!]

Separate Tables, at Hillbarn Theatre

Hillbarn Theater, one of my favorites, is currently presenting Separate Tables, and getting rave reviews. This is the one show we had to miss due to the film festival, but it sounds like a great production for true fans of theater, and lovers of British comedy.  Hillbarn often brings originality as well as quality to its shows, and Stark Insider says that Hillbarn Director Hunt Burdick stands “this piece on its head by heightening the action so that it played as over-the-top British humor instead of high drama.”   The Mercury News says that “Hillbarn takes a rather somber existential play and gives it a spritely and campy staging.”  They compare it to “marrying Agatha Christie to Monty Python.”  That sounds like a must-see show!  As always, the set design is also raved about – and if you’ve ever been to Hillbarn you know they always manage to do outstanding things with their oddly shaped stage. This is one show I am truly sorry to have missed, but you don’t have to! It plays through March 27.

Hillbarn Theatre
1285 East Hillsdale Blvd.
Foster City, CA

.

The legendary John Preece as "Tevye"

The other fabulous show ends on Sunday!  Broadway San Jose is presenting an amazing production of Fiddler on the Roof.  This was my first time seeing the show and I was absolutely charmed.  I found the story of Tevye and his family very comforting, even as Tevye struggles against change in tradition.  Living in a very tight knit Jewish community, Tevye has five daughters, three whom are of marrying age.  But instead of using a traditional matchmaker or following their father’s advice, each daughter has their own idea about who they should marry.  It’s a story that could easily make Tevye out to be a bad guy, but instead every decision is made with the utmost love and respect for his family.  Even when the third daughter makes a decision that Tevye just cannot accept, and though Tevye himself makes a decision none of us today would accept, we still sympathize with this man who has just been pushed a little too far by all the changes in his family, his community, and his world.

The stage is decorated in a very warm palette which is soothing to the soul, and the songs and music are beautiful and familiar even to those who have never seen the show (like me!).   We are very lucky to see John Preece in this production; he has played in Fiddler over 3100 times, and over 1500 as Tevye!  And his comfortableness in the role shows.

If you are looking for something to do this rainy weekend, I do suggest you make a trip to the Center for Performing Arts to see this show.  I feel very lucky to have been given the chance, and now I understand why all my friends were so excited for me.  Next up is renting the film!  But YOU should go see it live.

Special note from Broadway San Jose for final performance, tonight! March 20!  Happy Purim everyone! We’ve got a special rush ticket for the closing performance of Fiddler on the Roof to celebrate! For the 6pm performance tonight get $20 best available seat when you buy in person at the box office at the Center for Performing Arts!”

Broadway San Jose
Center for the Performing Arts
West San Carlos and Almaden Boulevard, San Jose

Tevye explains his "dream" to his wife


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