Archive for the ‘Performance’ Category

“Idol’s” DeAndre at Eastridge Mall

idolwatchnews.blogspot.com

DeAndre Brackensick will make an appearance at Eastridge Mall on Sunday, April 29th. He will be there from noon to 3pm.

DeAndre will talk with his fans. (Around 1:10 pm) Also, there will be a free raffle for the opportunity to have a photo taken with him.

American Idol Live – the tour will be at the HP Pavilion San Jose on July 22.

Songs for a Winter’s Night


I am looking forward to this year’s musical holiday concert presented by the Silicon Valley Gay Men’s Chorus (SVGMC).

I have been told “Songs for a Winter’s Night” will include the songs of Kwanza, Hanukkah, and Christmas.

Also, there are always some cheerful comic moments!

When: December 16th & 17th at 8 PM also the 18th at 3 PM.

Where: Christ The Good Shepherd Church at 1550 Meridian Ave., San Jose 95125

Tickets: Purchase

SVGMC is partnering with Family Giving Tree.

Bring a new unwrapped gift or toy to the “Songs for a Winter’s Night” concert to help the children of a family in need feel the love of the season.

Note: Each donor will receive a ticket for a special drawing.

THE LAST ROMANCE at SJ Rep will sweep you off your feet

The San Jose Reparatory Theatre’s regional premiere of  Tony Award-winning Joe DiPietro’s The Last Romance is brilliant. The story flows perfectly and there is never a dull moment. The actors are phenomenal and the direction by Laird Williamson keeps the characters rich and delightful.

You can tell right off the bat that the characters are humorous and enchanting. Rose (Sharon Lockwood) is great as the bossy, disapproving sister of Ralph (Will Marchetti). Ralph likes to joke around. He is jovial and gets a kick out of life, even if he is lonely.

Rose and Ralph, who are in their golden years, are set in their ways. Rose has dinner on the table for her brother every night at the same time. Ralph takes a walk every day on the same route, until one day he goes a different way and his life is changed forever.

He comes across a dog park where he sees the beautiful Carol (Kitty Winn). He is intrigued by her and goes back the next day to see her again. He gets talking to her, but she is very proper and standoffish and wants nothing to do with his come-ons. Throughout their interactions, you can see the rich characters that Laird Williamson has created; the humor and flirting from Marchetti and the rigidity from Winn.

Carol (Kitty Winn) and Ralph (Will Marchetti) meet for the first time in San Jose Rep’s regional premiere of The Last Romance. Photo by Kevin Berne.

Carol has some fears that keep her from fully living her life. She’s afraid of flying, so she doesn’t get to visit her family. She also has a fear of loss that makes it difficult to experience romance. There is a great moment when Ralph, after much cajoling, gets Carol to discipline her dog in a very strict and authoritative way. She quickly goes from reserved and fearful to confident and strong. This is the arc that helps lead her to giving in to Ralph’s come-ons. And so the romance begins.

There are delightful moments in Ralph and Carol’s romance. They are like teenagers again and Ralph quickly falls in love. Unfortunately there is something standing in the way of their romance.

Throughout the play there is beautiful Opera singing by a young man (Joshua Jeremiah). Ralph loves the Opera. He has always wanted to go to Italy and see an Opera at La Scala. He used to sing himself, in his younger years. Ralph says that in all Italian Operas, life gets in the way of love and that the music makes it better. In this story, even though life gets in the way of love, everyone changes for the better.

Ralph has a strong acceptance of the end of his romance with Carol. He has a newfound appreciation of his sister and his desire to make their relationship stronger is the music that gets him through the loss of his last romance.

Carol makes a tremendous leap into the unknown and faces her fear of flying head on by flying to Italy and going to La Scala by herself, after Ralph realizes he can’t go with her. She absolutely loves Italy and is shining because she is finally living her life to the fullest.

It’s rare to find a play that gives you that much needed catharsis. I definitely felt the emotions in this production. The characters were so real to life, that they touched something inside me that brought up my own thoughts on love and life. When that happens, you know that everyone involved; the writer, the director, and the actors have done their job.

What came up for me is that something amazing can come along and you get lost in the idea of making it reality. Real strength comes when after finding you cannot have what makes your heart sing, you realize your life is just as wonderful without it and you appreciate what you do have and do all you can to make it better.

The last Romance will take you on a compelling ride of love, loss and the strength to change and appreciate life.

The last Romance runs through Nov. 6, 2011 and tickets can be purchased at www.SJRep.com or by calling 408.367.7255.

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.

 

 

The Opera Novice(?) returns for Mozart’s Idomeneo

How many operas does one have to see before they’re no longer a novice?  I suppose I’m not in any way a novice now after attending my sixth opera on Saturday night, but I still have no expertise in what I’m talking about.  However, I still think it’s fun, I still love the music and singing, and I still think everyone should give it a try.

Opera San Jose opens their 2011-2012 season with Idomeneo, the Greek almost-tragedy about the King of Crete and a broken promise to Neptune.  It’s about Kings and Gods, Queens and Slaves, Sea Monsters and shirtless Dancers.  Despite how it sounds, however, there is not much action in this particular show.  There is a lot of worry about tragic consequences, but nothing really comes of it, and the entire story somehow ends happily.  But don’t get me wrong, boring it is not.

Cast A: Christopher Bengochea as the king of Crete in Opera San José’s production of Mozart’s Idomeneo. Photo by P. Kirk.

Storyline is secondary in opera, and Opera San Jose never disappoints in the music department. I thought the singing was absolutely beautiful.  The music by Mozart was played to perfection again by the orchestra and led by the great Maestro George Cleve.  It is a long opera (almost four hours) and the music is non-stop.  I cannot imagine being a musician in this orchestra and playing for four hours straight every night!  But these are many of the best musicians in the South Bay, so I happily and gratefully welcome the chance to listen to their work.  The arias are all very emotional, as is the story, and the very talented singers made you feel the emotions behind their words.

The sets were gorgeous, and simpler than usual, on a grand scale.  In fact, parts of these sets were so enormous they had to be constructed in an airplane hangar on Treasure Island.  A few interesting smaller backdrops while the curtain is down give plenty of variety to help hold your attention.  The costumes were the most impressive in this show.  Ancient Crete is not a usual backdrop in opera, and it was a fresh look of sumptuous gold and brocade togas, gowns and, again, shirtless young dancers.  The dancing was another new element in this show.  I noticed no waltzes this time (I could be wrong), but there was a long and exuberant ballet at the end of Act III, and we loved it.

The Cretans rejoice at the heavenly proclamation. Image by Pat Kirk Photography.

Seasoned opera lovers should love this show and the music, and I definitely recommend it.  The audience broke into a spontaneous “Brava!” after one of the arias, and the show received a standing ovation. Opera newbies might want to wait for the next show, as this is a pretty long production and the story moves a little slower than others.  However, it is still perfect for the entire opera experience.  Opera San Jose continues to be one of the only venues in San Jose where the audience is always dressed to the nines and this can be a really fun evening any time of year.  Dress in your best evening wear and make reservations downtown for a great dinner, then head to the very comfortable theater and people-watch other opera patrons dressed in tuxedos and ball gowns.  There is nothing fancier or more fun in San Jose!

For dinner, we recommend Scott’s Seafood for going all out with the fancy, or the more moderately priced Il Forniao which also has delicious food and is right by the California Theatre.

Idomeneo
September 10 – 25
Opera San Jose
California Theatre
345 S. First Street, San Jose
All seats in the Cal Theatre are wonderful

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

Opera San Jose: Summer Concert Series

Jillian Boye and Krassen Karagiozov as the tumultuous lovers Musetta and Marcello in Opera San José’s La bohème. (2010-2011) Photo by Robert Shomler

Whether the fat lady sings or not, the music is never over at Opera San Jose.  This Sunday, July 10, join Opera San Jose for an evening of opera al fresco, as their Resident Artists perform a concert of popular arias and ensembles at the Redwood City Courthouse Square. Bring a lawn chair and a picnic or your favorite treats, and consider making reservations to enjoy one of the nearby restaurants before or after the performance!

Featuring selections from the most famous opera composers in history, the free one-hour performance will take place on the square, across from the Fox Theatre. You’ll get a peek at their 2011-2012 season (Mozart’s dramatic masterpiece Idomeneo, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci paired with Poulenc’s La voix humaine, Verdi’s beloved La traviata, and Gounod’s thriller Faust), plus a special selection of arias and duets.

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Opera San Jose: Summer Concert Series
Sunday, July 10 · 6:00pm – 7:30pm
Redwood City Courthouse Square
2200 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA

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Life is a Cabaret, or is it?

 

Paul Araquistain thrills as the flamboyant Emcee.

I just attended my third show at Sunnyvale Community Players, which once again did not disappoint. This is closing weekend of the final show of their 41st season, Cabaret, which takes place in 1930’s Berlin shortly after WWI and in the midst of the Nazi Regime. As the Director and Choreographer, Lee Ann Payne alludes to in her Director’s Note, most of the characters of Cabaret could never conceive of anything horrible going on around them, as they live in blissful oblivion, going to party after party. And Lee Ann brings up a powerful question, “what would you do?”

As the lights come up, we are welcomed by a very charismatic, Emcee, Paul Araquistain, who introduces us to the Kit Kat Klub.  “Leave your troubles outside… We have no troubles here! Here life is beautiful… The girls are beautiful…”

When I first laid eyes on the Kit Kat Girls, I was in complete dismay. I expected “beautiful girls” like the Emcee said. These were girls with straggly hair, glossed over eyes, torn fishnets, and bodies of every shape and size. However after I got over my initial shock, I found this ensemble quite humorous and entertaining.

These girls were amazing. I have to give all of them props, because they kicked serious butt as the singing and dancing girls of The Kit Kat Klub: Michelle Beyda-Scott, Denise Lum, Veronika Olah, Melissa Palmieri, Kaeli Quick, Lea Simon, and my personal favorites for never breaking their wonderful, over-the-top characters: Valerie Valenzuela and Cheryl Ringman. Also memorable were the ensemble of shirtless men.

Enter Sally Bowles, (Emily Bliss). Sally is a careless, carefree cabaret singer who as per usual forces herself into the life of another naive man, an American writer, Cliff, (Sven Schultz), who let’s her talk him into letting her stay with him. Sally distracts Cliff from his writing with wild parties and the likes, but Cliff doesn’t seem to mind. Emily and Sven are wonderful as this unlikely couple whose happy times turn dark.

The kind, but stern Fraulein Schneider (Linda Piccone) owns the boarding house where Cliff and the sassy, seductive woman of the night, Fraulein Kost (Cindy Powell) rent rooms. Matt Tipton does a masterful job portraying Herr Schultz, the innocent and meager Fruit Shop owner who falls in love with Fraulein Schneider. I can’t get over how cute Matt’s characterizations are as this sweet and caring man, not to mention impressive, considering Matt is about thirty years younger than the character!

Also dark is the fate of Schultz and Schneider’s pending nuptials. Schultz, who is a Jew, has the attitude that all will be well, but Schneider does not see it that way. She thinks that because of the Nazis, she will lose everything if she marries a Jew. Fear gets in the way of her happiness.

Fear also gets in the way of Sally’s happiness. She seems to know herself too well from her past entanglements and ruins her relationship with Cliff. Cliff returns to America where he finally begins to write his book, based on the good and bad times he experienced in Germany.

I feel that the ending of both relationships could have been more emotion evoking, since the story has the capacity to really make you feel for these characters, especially the emotional intensity of Sally’s destiny and past. However, that was the only thing lacking in this magical production of Cabaret.

I can’t help but think about Director Lee Ann Payne’s question: “what would you do?” Although in modern day America, we are not going through something as horrible as the Nazi Regime, we do have our fair share of political problems. Do we each have our own versions of the Kit Kat Klub? Ways of escaping; like television, movies, or Facebook? Do we get involved to make a change; do we use positive thinking to affirm that the world is at peace and getting better every day? Or do we live in blissful oblivion like the patrons of the Kit Kat Klub? Is life really a Cabaret?

Cabaret through May 15th at Sunnyvale Community Players

Box Office
408-733-6611

Emily Bliss shines as the reckless Sally Bowles

Rebecca Coupe Franks with two local dates this week

Rebecca Coupe Franks

Rebecca Coupe Franks is a talented trumpet player from California who has paid her dues in New York. She has worked with her friend and mentor, the late Joe Henderson, as well as Javon Jackson, Ben Riley, Herb Ellis, and Bill Cosby.  Her 2004 recording, “Exhibition: Tribute to Joe Henderson,” is a showcase of ten original tunes she penned in remembrance of saxophonist Henderson’s spirit, personality, and music.  Her trumpet style can most be likened to that of Chet Baker, as she plays with a relatively sparse, relaxed style, and she favors playing in the middle and lower registers of her instrument. Her compostions have earned her the title of beng a leading innovator in jazz, from winning acclaim in the John Lennon International Song Writing Contest, to writing music for popular televiosn shows such as “Melrose Place” and “Law and Order.” She is currently working on a project recording all-new material she has written for her R & B/Funk band, Coupe & Her Groovemobile, and we will hear some fresh, exciting music from these talented musicians.

 

MARCH 11th
D’VINE and JAZZ
775 Cochrane Road
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Rebecca COUPE FRANKS Quartet
featuring: RCF Trumpet/Composition
Jon Dryden on Piano, Nat Johnson on Bass and David Morwood on Drums.

MARCH 12th
HYATT in MONTEREY 7pm
Rebecca COUPE FRANKS Quartet
featuring: RCF Trumpet/Composition
Jon Dryden on Piano, Nat Johnson on Bass and David Morwood on Drums.

Amazing things come in tiny packages at The Pear Avenue Theatre

We were recently invited to attend a show at the most darling theater in Mountain View.  Started in 2002 and tucked away in the back of some warehouses, the tiny Pear Avenue Theatre (seats about 40) apparently has access to some of the best talent in the Bay Area.  I was not thrilled to be going out in the freezing temperatures Friday evening, but I am now very excited to have found this theater and look forward to seeing more shows there.

Currently they are playing Death of a Salesman, the classic Arthur Miller drama that takes place in the 1940s and introduced the world to Willy Loman.  I have studied this play several times over the years but have never seen a live production; my 19 year old daughter, who attended with me, did not know anything about the story – and I had not told her anything beforehand, afraid that she would decline my invitation.  But when we left the theater she was quite affected, and though she said she was emotionally worn out by the play, she really liked it.

I was in love as soon as I walked in and saw how tiny the place was.  I have been to other extremely tiny theaters before, and for some reason these venues seem to attract the highest level of talent.  The set was the very detailed interior of a bi-level house, comprised of a kitchen, downstairs master bedroom, and the boys’ room upstairs.  The full area of the theater was put to use as Uncle Ben often stood at the top of the bleachers to speak to Willy, and other characters also ran up and down the bleachers.  The stage was right at the feet of our chairs, giving the feeling of being directly in the middle of the action.

I cannot imagine a more perfect production of this particular show.  Every single actor played their characters beautifully.  I keep thinking, “Particularly impressive was Don DeMico as Willy, oh but also Alex Shafer as Ben, but also Larry Raboy as Charlie, and Jeffrey Adams was awesome as Happy, but Jeff Clarke really pulled it out as Biff, but I can’t forget Jackie O’Keefe in her heartbreaking portrayal of Linda Loman…” So who do I single out?  I cannot. (more…)

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