Archive for the ‘Performance’ Category

TheatreWorks’ Crimes of the Heart: Sweet, Charming, Fantastic

Meg (Sarah Moser), gets a reaction from her sisters Lenny (Therese Plaehn) and Babe (Lizzie O'Hara). Photo: Kevin Berne

Meg (Sarah Moser), gets a reaction from her sisters Lenny (Therese Plaehn) and Babe (Lizzie O’Hara). Photo: Kevin Berne

I saw a show at Theatreworks last night that not only had me laughing, but completely kept my mind off politics for two and a half hours. The show is worth the price of admission just for that.

But aside from that. Crimes of the Heart is playing at the Mountain View Center of Performing Arts, and they have done a stupendous job. This is the story of three adult sisters who must come together at their Southern family home after one has been arrested for shooting her husband. The eldest sister is neurotic Lenny, turning 30 that very day and well on her way to coming an old maid. Middle sister Meg has come in from Hollywood where she claims she’s been making it big as a singer. And then the youngest, pretty Babe, who is insisting she shot her husband purely because she didn’t like “his stinkin’ looks”.

The sisters try to suss out exactly what happened between Babe and her husband with the help of young lawyer Barnette Lloyd (Joshua Marx). Mr. Lloyd has a little crush on Babe and also a lifelong vendetta against her husband. Cousin Chick (Laura Jane Bailey) pops in and out, and she has her own longstanding issues with the sisters. And then there’s Doc Porter (Timothy Redmond) whose heart had been crushed by Meg when they were young.

Crimes of the Heart 5_Kevin Berne

Barnette Lloyd (Joshua Marx) acts as lawyer to Babe Botrelle (Lizzie O’Hara) who is out on bail. Photo: Kevin Berne

The show is sweet and it is charming. It walks up to the line of tragedy and then pulls back and has you in tears from laughing. The sisters are played by three incredible actors: Therese Plaehn (Lenny), Sarah Moser (Meg) and Lizzie O’Hara (Babe). The characters could easily veer into over-the-top portrayals, but these women hold tight and present amazingly real and tender yet hilarious performances. No matter what any sister has done, no matter what happens, you see and believe there is an unbreakable family bond of love between them.

There were a few other unsung stars of this show. Andrea Bechert is the Scenic Designer, and the Mississippi home where the play is set was just incredible in detail, and an unfathomable amount of work was put into it. Cathleen Edwards was the costume designer and did an excellent job of dressing every one of the characters according to the time (1974), place and status of each. And because the entire show was fantastic, much applause must be given to director Giovanna Sardelli.

We all need a break now and then. This weekend I really needed the happy escape from reality that I found at TheatreWorks. If you need a moment to take your mind off world events or life in general, I definitely recommend you see this show, and the amazing women who star in it.

Crimes of the Heart
TheatreWorks
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
Through February 5

 

A Magical Evening at Opera San Jose

Well, I was at the afternoon matinee, but still. It was one of the best times I’ve had at the opera, and I’m so happy that there is still time for you to see it. The Magic Flute is a show for adults and children, oldies and newbies, opera and theatre lovers. And it includes a majestic dragon!!

The dragon attacks Tamino in The Magic Flute. Photo credit Pat Kirk

The dragon attacks Tamino in The Magic Flute. Photo credit Pat Kirk

This may not be the best show I’ve ever seen at Opera San Jose, but I still enjoyed it so much and it is a great show for other Opera Novices and Newbies.  As always, the performances were incredible, the story was great, the music was beautiful, the costumes were gorgeous, …but there are some stand-outs that make this a show you should not miss.

1.  This is a great opera for Newbies and families with children.  The Magic Flute is sung in German but has spoken words in English. It always throws me off when an opera is not entirely sung, which is probably the only issue I had with this show, but for newbies and children this is a great plus and makes for an easy introduction to opera.  As always, the lyrics (and spoken lines) are projected in super titles above the stage so you can follow along.  The show has children involved, though they are not the stars, and there were many children in the audience. Although I wasn’t sure they would be able to follow the story entirely, there was not a peep from any of them during the entire three hours.

2. Chris Salinas, Daniel Ostrom and Winter Felton-Priestner are three very young men who can now add “Soprano, Opera San Jose” to their resumes and I don’t think they’ve even hit middle school yet. This certainly trumps my own resume and I might be a tiny bit jealous.

3. There are a couple scenes with children silently wearing beautifully painted animal masks, and the animal-like choreography was riveting. Kudos to both the choreographer and the kids for nailing each of their parts and creating a magical tableau whenever they were on stage.

4. The show is often very funny, usually thanks to Matthew Hanscom as hapless Papageno.  Papageno just wants a wife to love him, but how will he find a woman who wants to marry a poor bird trainer?

5. Isabella Ivy (soprano) is breathtaking as the Queen of the Night.  Two of the songs she sang were so intricate and complicated that any Newbie could see these must be some of the most difficult pieces in opera.  Even more amazing, she sang one of these very complicated pieces in the upper ranges of the scale, while kneeling down, and as she stood her foot got tangled in her skirts. She not only calmly untangled herself, but she never missed a beat or a note in one of the most amazing sections of music I have ever heard. Every jaw in the theater was hanging open. She was incredible.

6. THE DRAGON.  The dragon was simply the most beautiful prop I have ever seen. It was huge and graceful and gorgeous and majestic.  Its wings moved, it spouted smoke from its mouth (the kids in the audience LOVED this), and for me it was the star of the show.  During intermission I voiced my hopes that the dragon would make another appearance, and it did when everyone came out for a bow. That dragon earned its ovation, and so have the operators, the designers and creaters of that piece.  More dragons like that need to be in opera!!

When the entire thing was over I realized that I had had a really fun time. I haven’t always enjoyed every opera I’ve attended, and it has taken me a while to appreciate some parts of opera. But ever since Madama Butterfly, Opera SJ has been drawing me in. I may still be the Opera Novice in most aspects, but I am also quite certainly becoming an Opera Lover.

Recently I have noticed the shows have not had two casts, and are instead having one cast do a shorter run of each show. I don’t know if this is a financial decision (or just a coincidence), but I can say that the performers have upped their game, and the performances are tighter than I’ve ever seen. Try if you can to make one of the last performances (I have heard they are close to selling out all shows) but if you don’t make this one, mark your calendars quickly to get seats for next season. It starts with Puccini’s Tosca, and after that come The Marriage of Figaro (YAY!), Carmen (YAY!), and then A Streetcar Named Desire. That is going to be one amazing season and this Opera Novice is looking forward to it more than ever.

The Magic Flute
Opera San Jose
Thru May 3

Rigoletto: an Amazing and Entertaining opener for Opera SJ

Resident baritone Matthew Hanscom as Rigoletto

 

I’ve been so excited to return to Opera San Jose and see their opening show, Verdi’s Rigoletto! And what a wonderful time we had!

Remember, I am the Opera Novice, and even after several years of attending Opera SJ I still have no technical knowledge, but guess what?  I still enjoy the heck out of the shows.  And that is because you don’t have to be an opera aficionado to love the experience.  My opera reviews are for the general public, with the hope that you will all give it a try one day and discover a new love as I have.

Since this is the beginning of the season, let’s get back to the basics. The first thing you have to do is get out your fancypants clothes and jewelry, because this is your excuse to pretend to be royalty.  Then you make reservations at your favorite downtown restaurant.  If you are going on Opening Night, reservations are very important, as everything is booked solid anywhere near the California Theatre.  Then you just relax, have a great time, and look forward to buying a freshly baked cookie during intermission.

Rigoletto is a great show for a beginner, with over the top tragedy, a tortured clown, vengeance upon vengeance and, of course, a deflowered virgin.  There is also at least one very familiar song.  It is great to have familiar music when you’re a beginner; it makes you feel more comfortable, and it’s always funny to realize a tune you know from childhood is actually from a famous opera.  As my guest said, “I had no idea those were the words to that tune!!” And then we sang it all the way back to the parking garage.

Rigoletto is sung in Italian, but there is a screen above the stage that shows the words in English, so you do not miss a thing.  The set design for the show was not as grand as I’ve seen, but worked well in taking the audience from Rigoletto’s residence, to the outside streets, to a home in the slums where a bit of coin can buy you any favor you wish.

The orchestra was perfection as always; I really feel I do them a disservice by not having grander words for their hard work, but they are amazing.  The performers were also astounding as usual, with special mention for all the hard work of Matthew Hanscom who plays Rigoletto and must sing almost constantly through all three acts. But very special mention goes to a new resident: Isabella Ivy makes her company debut as Gilda and we have a winner here.  When Isabella is on stage, all eyes are on her, and though there are several songs where many people are singing different parts, you will still watch and listen only to Isabella.  She has the voice, she has the power, and she has the talent.  She also sings while lying down at one point, something that even an opera novice can see must be an incredible feat.  I am absolutely delighted to see that Opera SJ has found such great new talent and look forward to her performances the rest of the season.

When looking to buy tickets for a show, remember that the California Theatre is very well designed, and there is no need to pay a lot of money for a front row seat.  Seats in the balcony are fantastic with a great view of the stage.  Attending Opera SJ gives you the opportunity to pretend to be super fancypants, but you can still do so on a budget.

Last, but never least, remember that opera is not a stuffy or boring torture to endure.  At its best there is a really entertaining story, over the top is even better, and Rigoletto fits the bill for a beginner.  Never be afraid to hate all the men, if all the men are playing villains (they often are). Never be afraid to laugh quietly if the dying heroine is taking a few minutes too long to die – or even shed a tear if it’s a truly tragic show.  Never believe that you aren’t meant to think and feel all these things.  What you are meant to do is enjoy yourself.

I have seen theater shows where the last line of the play absolutely destroys the entire experience for me.  For Rigoletto, as the clown wails one final lament I thought “Oh please oh please let this be the last line of the show!!!” and the curtain went down and I clapped my hands and cackled with joy as the audience gave a well-deserved standing ovation.  I absolutely loved this show.  Can you tell?

Rigoletto
Opera SJ
Through September 21
The California Theatre

Resident tenor Kirk Dougherty as the Duke of Mantua and resident soprano Isabella Ivy as Gilda. Photo by Pat Kirk.

King Arthur visits City Lights Theater in SPAMALOT

 

King Arthur (Ken Boswell, in crown) has a jolly old time with the folk of Camelot

King Arthur (Ken Boswell, in crown) has a jolly old time with the folk of Camelot

City Lights Theater Company has gone ambitious this summer as it presents the comedy extravaganza Monty Python’s Spamalot!  This is one of my favorite shows because it’s just so irreverent and complete fun.  There is nothing serious in this show, there are no deep hidden meanings, and there is so much going on at any and all times that glitches are guaranteed to happen every single night… and it is always fun and hilarious to see how these professional performers manage to overcome the unexpected.  When you are in need of a show that is strictly fun entertainment in its purest form, Spamalot is the one to see.

The show recreates many scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with a lot of Broadway mixed in.  You will see killer rabbits, and cows tossed from the ramparts, the Black Knight receives a flesh wound or four, and included in the show is the one thing the film is missing: a plethora of dancing girls.  The story is of King Arthur’s search for a team of worthy knights who will help him on his quest to find the Holy Grail.  On the way they must all avoid the plague, find a nice shrubbery for the Knights Who Say Ni, and rescue a Damsel in Distress Prince Herbert.  Watching the film first is not necessary, so if you have been deprived of the Monty Python movie experience, rest assured you will still have a rollicking great time (and then go rent the film for gosh sakes, why haven’t you seen it yet??).

Almost all the actors play multiple parts, requiring many costume changes, and there is constant choreography and singing.  There is a lot of acting and singing talent required to put this show on, and stage and set work behind the scenes that is unimaginably difficult.  City Lights does a tremendous job with their smaller theater and budget, so that you don’t miss a thing and an amazing time is had by all.  Kudos to director Jeffrey Bracco for pulling off this amazing feat so well, and to Jennifer Gorgulho for managing to choreograph an incredible number of constantly moving people.

Spamalot is running through August 31, but shows have already started to sell out, so get your tickets now before you miss it.  And before you get to the theater, stop off at Psycho Donuts for their special Spam Wellington Donut, a savory creation filled with layers of Spam and mushroom duxelle.  This surprisingly delicious treat was served at the Opening Night Gala along with mead from Alderin’s Meadery and catered food from Cafe Stritch A big thanks to all these companies for supporting City Lights Theater Company and local theater!

 

Monty Python’s Spamalot
Through August 31
City Lights Theater Company
529 South Second Street, San Jose

Main Stage Ticket Pricing:
Adult: $30
Student: $17
Educator: $17
Senior: $25

City Lights inadvertently presents allegory for the closing of The Rep

Resten (Ben Ortega) and Alta (Deb Anderson) share a moment in City Lights Theater Company's production of "The Language Archive" by Julia Cho. Photo by Mike Ko / www.siliconvalleydesigns.com

Theater audiences all over the Bay Area went to see fantastic, thoughtful, hysterical, amazing shows and musicals last weekend.  We came home looking forward to seeing the next shows, or acting or producing the next shows, and many of us contemplated our reviews of the weekend.  And then we sat down Monday to do our work.

And at 10:30am we received the press release in our In-Box:

San Jose, CA. June 11, 2014 – San Jose Repertory Theatre announced today that it has ceased operation as of Monday, June 9, 2014. 

This news came as a shock to most, even those of us who had heard whisperings and warnings, I mean it’s THE SAN  JOSE REP, it’s been downtown for over thirty years, well longer than I would bet most of the valley’s employees have lived here.  In Silicon Valley years, The Rep has been here FOREVER.

It was a heart break for me.  I have years of history with The Rep.  I have sat in almost every seat of their audience, I have played in the pit, I have introduced films and interviewed filmmakers and actors on the stage.  I have brought dozens of dates to see shows and had a close group of friends I loved to share tickets with.  I introduced my own children to theater at The Rep, and as adults I am proud to know that they attend theater on their own now, without being dragged by their mother. I have many memories of drunken shenanigans in and around the theater.  The Rep did not always produce my favorite shows, but they were always my favorite theater.

But I had a review to write, one that was very difficult to write for many reasons.  I had heard great things about City Lights Theatre’s production of The Language Archive and had really looked forward to seeing it.  But due to a scheduled vacation, I had to see the Sunday matinee when our temps were in the 90s and the theater had no air conditioning.  It was difficult to connect to the actors because the theater was so uncomfortable.  I was able to pay attention to the show, but in a distracted way, and I could not drum up any excitement except for getting back to my air conditioned car.  This is a terrible scenario in which to review a show fairly.  So I found myself in the position of feeling sort of mediocre about the show, but knowing it was likely only due to one very hot day since my fellow reviewers loved it, and feeling my normal pressure to want to get people to the theater no matter what, now with the added pressure of knowing the biggest theater in town just went bankrupt.

At the same time, feeling like I was in mourning for a lost friend, and trying not to feel anger towards a very wealthy valley who I felt had let the Arts down.

The Language Archive, playing at City Lights through January 29, IS a great show.  It’s about language and relationships and the care needed to keep them alive.  I sat here thinking tonight how the character of Mary treasures her ages old sourdough starter.  She told of how she had to feed it, pay attention to it, never forget about it or take it for granted, so that more warm, nourishing bread could be made from it, and it would never die.  The show is about George, a linguist who documents dying languages.  As stated in the show, any language needs more than one person speaking it in order to survive; if no one cares for them, the languages die.  George’s marriage to Mary needed the attention that the sourdough starter received.  When George could no longer speak the language that Mary needed to hear, the marriage died.

And sitting here thinking about that show I realized this is very much an allegory for the demise of The San Jose Rep, isn’t it.  No theater can survive on ticket sales alone, many don’t realize this.  Theaters require entire communities to not just attend, but to donate.  The San Jose Rep had an operating budget of $5 million.  I don’t have $5 million.  You likely don’t either.  But when you think of all the businesses in San Jose, all the wealthy businesses (who do indeed contribute money to our community), and the wealthy CEOs who live here (and also donate to the community)… Five million dollars seems like it could easily have been covered between allllll the businesses who reside here, don’t you think?  San Jose simply cannot keep crying that no one knows who we are, where we are, that we are not a neighborhood in San Francisco, if we cannot even keep our own local Repertory Theater open.  And like it or not, theater and the Arts really does fall on local businesses to survive, whether we’re talking about San Francisco or New York or a tiny middle America town. Or San Jose.

But the blame cannot just be put on our local businesses.  Theater is a very complicated business, full of catch-22s and the need for good shows that cost money that doesn’t come without big shows that cost money.  Karen D’Souza has written an excellent article for the Mercury News which points to several of the various factors that went into the closing, and wonders if perhaps San Jose isn’t just due for a different sort of Arts environment.  I would never oppose different, as long as the Arts do not die altogether.

But San Jose does have many, many smaller theaters that many locals haven’t even heard of.  City Lights is a great little theater and it somehow operates in the black.  Hopefully that’s not just due to their lack of an air conditioning bill, LOL (I JOKE! I JOKE!).   And they are one of many theaters that not only put on outstanding productions on a regular basis but are accepting tickets to The Rep’s canceled shows for their own shows.  Theater is a community, and they support each other like a family no matter what.  We should try to support them back.  Like sourdough starter, the Arts require all of us to feed it, pay attention to it, never forget about it or take it for granted, so that it will never die.

“Once On This Island” feeds the soul at TheatreWorks

The cast of TheatreWorks' musical ONCE ON THIS ISLAND. Photo credit: Tracy Martin

The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the Lucie Stern Theater is the beautiful stage decoration.  Even the wall lights have been turned into overflowing fern pots.  You are immediately immersed in a rainbow of rich island colors and no detail is left out.  Sit down and get ready for a joyous 95 minute trip to the Caribbean.

Clockwise, from bottom right: Ti Moune (Salisha Thomas), Agwe, God of Water (Omari Tau), Papa Ge, Demon of Death (Max Kumangai), Asaka, Mother of the Earth (Safiya Fredericks), and Erzulie, Goddess of Love (Adrienne Muller). Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

Once On This Island tells a story of the people of Haiti, the “jewel of the Antilles.”   After a terrible storm, a little girl is very afraid and the island people tell her a story to cheer her up.  What follows is a magical, mythical fairytale set to bouncing happy music and tremendously invigorating dancing.  It is the story of little orphaned Ti Moune (Salisha Thomas), blessed and cursed by the gods, who struggles to discover her place in the world and the meaning of her life.  We are taken for the ride with her, meeting island gods, learning some of the French history of Haiti, and discovering the magic of music and dance.  It’s a story of racism, classism and humanism.  The cast is made up of beautiful, talented actors whose skin tones range from the darkest chocolate to the brightest cream, and that is integral to the story.  It is a true ensemble cast, with no player more or less important the another, and they each bring something so special, individual and important to the story.

The stage is amazing, and the props, costumes and hair are equally fantastic.  The flood is an aquatic beauty, the rain dance is a visual masterpiece, the set lighting is deep and saturated, and the costumes… well, I need one of those frog hats.  Hair ranges from natural beauty to the most handsome braids, and it’s all very impressive.

Papa Ge, Demon of Death (Max Kumangai) visits Ti Moune (Salisha Thomas). Photo credit: Tracy Martin

But the magic is in the music, singing and dancing.  We are treated to soaring ballads of love and loss, and joyous songs that make you want to jump out of your seat and move. At one point there is a graceful ballet, and then it is replaced by a soulful island dance of life and spirit, and you suddenly realize the island dance is the one you want to perform, every day and every night, for the rest of your life.

It’s a visual treat, it’s medicine for the soul, it makes you happy to be alive.  And it will make you want to go home and dance, and dance, and dance.

.

ONCE ON THIS ISLAND
Through March 30
TheareWorks
Lucie Stern Theatre
Palo Alto

Little Women brings Big Surprises and Holiday Joy

(l-r) Arielle Fishman, Emily Koch, Sharon Rietkerk, and Julia Belanoff star as the March sisters - Amy, Jo, Meg, and Beth. Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

Little Women the musical, produced by TheatreWorks, is quite simply one of the best shows I’ve seen this year (and this year has been full of some fantastic shows).  One of the best (and rare) parts of reviewing theater is coming across an unexpected gem, and Saturday evening’s Opening Night was the Hope Diamond.

“Little Women”, by Louisa May Alcott, is the story of four sisters who vow to stick together forever when they are young in the 1860s.  Father is off in the war, and while the family is short on money, they have an abundance of love.  Jo March, the second sister, narrates the story and has ambitions of being a writer.  For many young girls who read the book, Jo is the favorite as she insists on living life according to her own terms and not 19th century society’s.

(l-r) Jo (Emily Koch) and Professor Bhaer (Christopher Vettel) imagine a scene from Jo's novel, portrayed by Justin Buchs, Sharon Rietkerk, and Elizabeth Palmer. Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

I loved the book when I was young, but even so I never imagined a Jo as charismatic and exuberant as the one Emily Koch brings to the stage.  Her joy in narrating her stories to the audience is palpable, and her physical acting makes it clear this character is made for pants, not long and stuffy skirts.  I cannot state enough how much every single actor in this show is perfection, and yet Ms. Koch raises it to a level even beyond that.  Jo is the girl we want to be, and later the woman we look up to as a role model.

I was not so sure how well it would work turning Little Women into a musical, but this show is so perfect, and the actors are such incredible singers, that it becomes one of those shows you don’t even realize is a musical.  The songs fit so well they are just part of the story and the experience.

And what a story for the young women of today, or any day.  This is not merely a story of a girl who refused to put aside her wants and needs in life so she could be someone’s wife, but neither is it a story against marriage.  It is a story of deciding what you want from life and accepting nothing else – and sometimes that means changing your mind.  Sometimes it means getting married.  The right choice is the choice that a woman makes for her own self.  And every character in this story does just that.

It’s a joyful story and a heartwarming one, but of course it also has a couple incredibly sad scenes that left everyone in my row wiping their eyes, and the theater was full of sniffling and shaking shoulders when Marmee sings “Days of Plenty”.

Laurie (Matt Dengler) kisses Jo (Emily Koch). Photo credit: Mark Kitaoka

I had had a very long day holiday decorating with my family, and neither my daughter nor myself were keen on driving to Palo Alto to see a show, but never have we felt more grateful that we had done so.  We were enthralled from the first moment, mesmerized by the balletic beauty of Meg (Sharon Reitkerk), the sweetness of Beth (Julia Belanoff), the spoiled petulance of Amy (Arielle Fishman), and the utter joyfulness of Jo.  We never for a moment wanted to close our eyes or miss one moment.  This show is for everyone, including kids perhaps as young as ten (they should be old enough to deal with a very sad death), and it is a perfect show for the holidays and a cold winter night.  My highest praise, from one who sees a lot of shows:  I would see this show again. And again and again.

Little Women the Musical
TheatreWorks
Extended through January 4
Lucie Stern Theatre
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Holiday Tea Luncheon at the Garden Court Hotel
with matinee this Saturday, December 14

 

This year give the Gift of Theatre

I hope you all aren’t really braving the crowds on this Black Friday, but if so I also hope you’re enjoying the holiday hustle and bustle and excitement.  I’m an internet shopper myself, and won’t visit the mall at any time of year unless forced.  But whether you shop with the masses or shop from your couch, sometimes figuring out WHAT you’re going to buy is the hardest part. Especially when it comes to that someone who has everything.

So why not give the gift of Theatre this year?  Most theaters have tickets on sale now not just for their holiday shows but for the next show in line as well.  Hillbarn Theatre is showing Mame in December, and Grapes of Wrath in January. The Palo Alto Players are selling tickets for all their upcoming shows: The Heiress, Young Frankenstein and The Farnsworth InventionTheatreWorks opens Little Women the Musical in next week. Opera San Jose is gearing up for Madame Butterfly in February and EVERY opera buff will want to attend that show. And of course Ballet San Jose has The Nutcracker.  Tickets to any of these shows would make an amazing and original gift, or you can just plan to take the family as part of the holiday season enjoyment.

At the moment though, there is one show that I am looking forward to the most, and that is The Snow Queen at the San Jose Repertory Theatre.  Here is why:  We have only seen two shows of the 2013-2014 SJ Rep season and I am already blown away.  One Night with Janis was an amazing look at the queen herself and all her inspirations, and the show moved on to Broadway after leaving its extended run in San Jose.  Then they showed Next Fall which was just about the best show I have seen in the Bay Area in the last five years.  It combined issues of religion, age difference in relationships, dealing with death and impending death, and also several issues of gay relationships, and it did all this without preaching that any side is right or wrong – but overall it was a story about any relationship and every relationship.  And it was played by a group of some of the best actors we have available in the Bay Area.  This was two in a row of not just good theatre, but GREAT theatre.  And now we have The Snow Queen.

“With steam punk flair, an alternative rock score and girl heroine, this is not going to be your average Holiday Musical,” states the SJ Rep, and the early audience reviews of the previews are gushing:   “Fantastic.. One of the BEST plays ever.. LOVED every minute” says Joani Krieger Mitchell.  “Absolutely FANTASTIC! Not to be missed. All you fans of English pantomime will rejoice,” from Sally Bookman.  Click here to see a preview of The Snow Queen.

And if you buy your ticket today (Black Friday) you can get 42% savings off regular ticket with promo code “FRIDAY2013”.

I am looking forward to writing a review for the show next week, and I hope you all will join me there.  Something amazing is happening at the SJ Rep this year, and I cannot wait to see what the season brings us.  Happy Holidays!

Broadway San Jose raises curtain on an award winning season!

If you missed seeing Priscilla Queen of the Desert last week at the Center for Performing Arts, you missed one fantastic show.  There are shows that make you think, and shows that are 100% entertainment.  Priscilla hits around 3000% on the entertainment scale, but it is also a show that is full of humanity.  There are themes of friendship and family, and not only being and doing what you want, but finding someone who loves you for being and doing what you want.  Wade McCollum is amazing as Tick/Mitzi, who just wants to get home to his family and is worried his son will reject him.  Also fantastic is Scott Willis as Bernadette, the grande dame of the stage who has given up on finding someone to love her.  Entertainment is the clear priority in this show, with songs like “It’s Raining Men”, “Finally” and “I Will Survive.”  You also get over 500 costumes, 60 wigs, 150 pairs of shoes and over 200 hats and headdresses!  All this and a beautifully lit up bus named Priscilla.  This Australian set musical had the entire packed audience on our feet dancing and singing, and giving a standing ovation at the end.  It was one of the best times I’ve had at a show in a long time.

Broadway San Jose only gets these fabulous shows for about a week, so you have to plan ahead and get your tickets quickly.  What a wonderful holiday present some theatre tickets would be!  Although Priscilla had to end yesterday, here are the shows set for the rest of their season:

EVITA

November 19 – November 24

It’s not often I see this show available live and local, so don’t miss your chance to see the traveling Broadway production.

Watch the trailer!

Evita tells Eva’s passionate and unforgettable true story, and features some of the theatre’s most beautiful songs, including “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” and “Flying High, Adored.” Don’t miss the stunning new production of EVITA, directed by MICHAEL GRANDAGE and choreographed by ROB ASHFORD.

 The Australian Bee Gees Show

February 4 – February 9

What-What-WHAT???

Remember when polyester and a gold chain made the man? The film Saturday Night Fever launched one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time and made The Bee Gees a household name. The AUSTRALIAN BEE GEES SHOW is a live tribute to one of the five most successful recording artists of all time, alongside the Beatles, McCartney, Elvis, and Michael Jackson. Enjoy this celebration of music you all know and love, and the band that has sold more than 220 million records worldwide.

Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT

May 27 – June 1

I sometimes see this show at some of our smaller theaters here, but how often do you get to see the traveling Broadway production??

One of the most enduring shows of all time, Tim Rice & Andrew Lloyd Webber’s JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT is the irresistible family musical about the trials and triumphs of Joseph, Israel’s favorite son. Retelling the Biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and the coat of many colors, this magical musical is full of unforgettable songs including Those Canaan Days, Any Dream Will Do and Close Every Door.  Experience the power and diversity of his music in one spectacular evening!

Jersey Boys

July 15 – July 20

.

Watch the trailer!

You think summer is far off? It will be here before you know it, so mark your calendars because this will sell out quickly.  Remember, only six nights of shows!

Jersey Boys is the Tony, Grammy, and Lover Award-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll and Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Franki Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. This is the story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide-all before they were 30! JERSEY BOYS, winner of the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album and most recently, the 2009 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, features the hit songs, “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night,” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.”

But WAIT! THERE’S EVEN MORE!!

WICKED

August 27 – September 14

Wow, this show will be here for over two weeks!  As anyone who has seen this show in San Francisco (or New York!) will tell you, there is so much more to this show than you would imagine.  I fell in love with it the first time I saw it, and I could see it again and again.  Even at over 2 weeks of shows, this is guaranteed to sell out every night.  It is truly spectacular, with surprises and spectacle at every turn, and moments when your jaw will drop.  Not to mention some glorious music.  “Popular”  (My personal favorite is Defying Gravity!)

So Much Happened Before Dorothy Dropped In.
Long before that girl from Kansas arrives in Munchkin land, two girls meet in the Land of Oz. One – born with emerald green skin- is smart, and fiery and misunderstood. The other is beautiful, ambitious, and very popular. How these two grow up to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good makes for “the most complete- and completely satisfying – new musical in a long time.” (USA Today)
On Broadway and around the world, WICKED has worked its magic on critics and audiences alike. Winner of 35 major awards, including a Grammy and three Tony Awards.

October Theatre Round-up! Start marking your calendars now!

The opening shows for the 2013-2014 theatre season were absolutely amazing and full of SUPER FUN entertainment. I wish I could have seen ALL the shows! I did not make it to Dragon Theater after all, but I did get to Palo Alto Players for an impressive show, and The Fantasticks was canceled the night I went due to an ill leading lady (get well soon, Casey Ellis!).  Two of the shows (One Night with Janis Joplin and Spamalot) had extended runs!  I have high hopes for what the theatres have in store for us next!   How many will I get to this time around?  How many will YOU get to?

 

Warrior Class
TheatreWorks
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
October 9 – November 3

Son of Chinese immigrants, decorated vet, and a charismatic speaker, congressional candidate Julius Lee is dubbed “The Republican Obama.” But when word of a youthful indiscretion threatens scandal, he discovers the dangerous intersection of politics and idealism. In this taut, topical saga of backroom electioneering, the campaign lies ahead, the warriors are at hand, and our future’s at stake. Contains adult language.  From HOUSE OF CARDS writer Kenneth Lin.

Metblogs will not be attending this show but it’s bound to be a sell-out so get your tickets now!

 

Rich and Famous
Dragon Productions
October 11 – November 3

One of “the world’s oldest living promising young playwrights,” Bing Ringling’s 844th script is finally about to be produced, bringing Bing dreams of being, well, rich and famous. A surreal comedy with music, Rich and Famous is part vaudeville, part absurd, and an entirely funny romp through the perils of being a successful artist, by playwright John Guare, the genius who also wrote The House of Blue Leaves and Six Degrees of Separation.

Sounds very different, and different is usually interesting!  Hopefully I will get to this one for a review!

 

.

.

.

Next Fall
San Jose Repertory
October 17 – November 10
Out ‘n’ About” night: October 26

Every relationship requires a leap of faith. This is the case for Adam and Luke, who’ve navigated a committed relationship for five years, even though Adam is a responsible but neurotic atheist, while Luke is an impulsive, underemployed actor and a devout Christian. When tragedy strikes, family and friends’ deeply held beliefs collide. Through pain, intolerance, honesty and laughter, they attempt to discover “how we live our lives” at the intersection of faith and love.

I better bring a box of tissue, I am certain I’ll be crying through most of this.

 

Lettice and Lovage
Hillbarn Theatre
October 18 – November 3

From the author that brought us Equus and Amadeus, comes the delightful comedy, LETTICE AND LOVAGE.   Lettice Douffet, an enthusiast of history and the theatre, is a tour guide at one of the most mundane of London’s stately homes.  She livens up her tours by fabricating wildly theatrical stories, which comes to the attention of her conventional employer, Lotte Schoen. Schoen is not at all amused by Lettice’s uninhibited history lessons. The meeting of these spinsters – the free spirited Lettice, and the straight-laced Lotte, leads to an unlikely, yet riotous friendship.

I always look forward to Hillbarn’s shows, and can’t wait to see what happens in this one!

.

.

 

Priscilla: Queen of the Dessert
Broadway San Jose
October 29 – November 3

This OUTRAGEOUSLY fun show tells the uplifting story of a trio of friends, on a road trip of a lifetime, who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the middle of the Australian outback and end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed. 
An international hit with over 500 dazzling, 2011 Tony® Award-winning costumes, Priscilla Queen of the Desert features a hit parade of dance-floor favorites including “It’s Raining Men,” “Finally” and “I Will Survive.” 

I’m looking forward to this one the most but I haven’t managed to wrangle tickets yet.  I recommend you get yours ASAP. There is no way this show is not going to be spectacular (and sold out)!

 

God of Carnage
Palo Alto Players
November 2 – November 17

While gathered around a coffee table sporting imported tulips and liberally covered with art books, two very civilized married couples meet to amicably resolve a playground altercation between their 11-year-old sons.  One boy admits to whacking the other with a stick, breaking two front teeth.  And both sets of parents agree that boys will be boys.  But civility quickly takes a backseat when parental impulses kick in.  In this winner of the 2009 Tony Award and coveted Olivier Award, the full-force of human chaos is unleashed – and the results are ferociously funny!

This doesn’t start until November, but it’s a well known show and a popular one so get your tickets soon! I won’t be reviewing this show, but it’s a good one and you should not miss it!

 

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.