Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Three Tall Women" at The Pear

Edward Albee, one of our greatest playwrights, wrote perhaps his most biographical play in "Three Tall Women" showing at The Pear Avenue Theatre through November 18th. The play features three strong actors - Monica Cappuccini, Rebecca J. Ennals, and Diane Tasca. The play is written in two acts. The first act features Diane Tasca as the semi-senile character of "A" who reminisces about her life, her loves, her losses, and her sexual ups and downs. Apparently she is a reincarnation of Albee's real mother. The other two actresses play her caretaker (Monica Cappuccini) and her lawyer (Rebecca J. Ennals).

In Act II the two, helpers become younger versions of "A" and we see them struggle with what they are to become as it is reflected back to them by "A". There is much sardonic whit and humor written into this script. Albee's insights into the mind of his mother is remarkable and disturbing.

This play could have been done more comically, however, because of the sensibilities of the actors it seemed to lean more toward the dark and sardonic. The performances from all three were excellent and Tasca's ability to play a 90 something woman were a joy to watch.

Plays through November 18th.
For tickets call
The Pear Avenue Theatre
650-254-1148
www.thepear.org



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Driving Miss Daisy at CTA Crossroads Theatre

I'm playing Boolie in a production of Driving Miss Daisy. Here's our first review. It's been a great experience to be in this production. My fellow actors and our director are wonderful people and dedicated artists.

Here's the review..


Subtlety drives powerful 'Daisy'
By Pat Craig

STAFF WRITER
Contra Costa Times
Article Launched:10/23/2007 03:04:25 AM PDT
The movie version of Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Driving Miss Daisy" is so fondly remembered and loved, the original theatrical version is rarely produced.

Seeing a beautifully rendered production of the play, however, particularly the production that opened over the weekend at Walnut Creek's Crossroads Theatre, quickly reminds you just how powerful and immediate the work is.

The story is about the quarter century after World War II, seen through the eyes of Daisy Werthan (Scarlett Hepworth), an aging Jewish woman and lifelong Atlanta resident; her chauffeur, Hoke Coleburn (Darold Francis Holloway), a decade-younger black man who has spent much of his career as driver for wealthy Atlantans; and Boolie Werthan (Ray Renati), Daisy's son, whose feet are planted firmly in the moral certainty and obligations of faith and the changing dynamics of Atlanta's contemporary business and social scene.

These changes, which swept through the Jim Crow South following WWII, are chronicled along with relationship between Hoke and Miss Daisy from 1948 to 1973, with little effort on Uhry's part to hammer home any message.

It is simply the fact that all of this change is going on (and that many things are remaining painfully the same) that makes the play so compelling. That there are no wildly emotional outbursts or eloquent proclamations of injustice is what makes the piece so challenging for actors.

In fact, the most anger seen is when Hoke growls a bit at Miss Daisy when they are running late and he must use the bathroom. It's hardly a triumphant pronouncement of newfound freedom and equality, but the simple, charming scene speaks volumes on how things have changed.

Hepworth, Holloway and Renati all deliver masterful performances, giving Uhry's words an understated strength as they capture the nuance and subtlety of their characters. The intimacy of the Crossroads Theatre certainly helps create the warmth of the play, but most of the credit for the success of the production must go to the actors and the direction of Marilyn Langbehn, who moves her characters gracefully across a set where three elements -- Daisy's house; Boolie's office; and the car, represented by two stools -- are onstage nearly throughout the play.

One of the keys to making the story work so well is a subtlety in all things. The characters age quite subtly over the years; long-held attitudes change subtly over the years; and the relationships among the characters, particularly Daisy and Hoke, change subtly over the years.

The Hoke/Daisy relationship becomes a love story of sorts; not in the romantic sense, but in the growing fondness and respect the two strong souls gain for each other over time.

Reach Pat Craig at 925-945-4736 or pcraig@bayareanewsgroup.com.

THEATER REVIEW

WHAT: CTA Crossroads Theatre Company presents "Driving Miss Daisy," by Alfred Uhry

WHEN: Thursdays through Saturdays, through Nov. 17

WHERE: 1277 Boulevard Way, Walnut Creek

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

HOW MUCH: $29

CONTACT: 925-944-0597, http://www.ctacrossroads.org

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Free Tickets To Angels for TBA Members

Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika at City Lights
Don't miss the production hailed by the San Jose Mercury News as "brave," "visionary," and "extremely gratifying"! A limited number of complimentary tickets to City Lights Theater Company's acclaimed production of Angels in America, Part 2: Perestroika are now available to members of Theatre Bay Area only for the October 20 (8 p.m.) and October 21 (2 p.m.) performances. City Lights Theater Company, 529 S. Second St., San Jose, 95112. Call (408) 295-4200 or visit www.cltc.org!

Monday, October 15, 2007

ANGELS IN AMERICA - Part II: Perestroika at City Lights


There's one more weekend left for you to see ANGELS IN AMERICA - Part II: Perestroika at City Lights Theatre Company in San Jose. The show which runs through this Sunday (Oct. 21), is directed by Kit Wilder and performed by a multi-talented cast of actors. City Lights has really done something spectacular here. They have tackled one of the most challenging plays of the 1980s. The play, written by Tony Kushner is the second of half of a story that City Lights performed last season. In ANGELS IN AMERICA - PART I Kushner pushed the envelope and City Lights took his text and created a wonderful production. But in PART II, City Lights pushed the envelope in a way that Wilder is apt to do and has succeeded beyond all expectations. First of all the set, a mish-mash of boards and boxes and cardboard is immediately recognizable to the Bay Area native as one of the many homeless camps in San Francisco or San Jose. The play constantly makes reference to the beauty of San Francisco and that heaven will resemble San Francisco. The contrast the words produce against the actual stage setting is a constant reminder of how we humans, faced with death and fear can idealize reality in order to keep going, to keep moving toward the positive. Gemma Beddo Barozzi as the angel is absolutely beautiful. Normally the angel in this play is portrayed as a balding kemo beaten anemic. But in Wilder's staging Gemma (one of the most perfect looking people on Earth) is portrayed as a beautiful Marilyn Monroe-esque sex kitten and the image works. Her sexiness reminds us constantly of how AIDS has taken away the life force - the sexuality - of Prior in a profound and saddening way. She becomes for him his destroyed libido and his mother-figure all at once.

Kevin Kirby is just fantastic as Roy Cohen, the malevolent lawyer, dieing an awful and painful death at the hands of AIDS. If you have ever seen the HBO version of the show. Al Pacino is fantastic in the role. Kirby takes some of his performance from Pacino's portrayal but makes it totally his own. The energy and hatefulness mixed with abject fear and helplessness that Kirby gives us is disturbing and amazing.

Tomas Theriot as Prior Walter gives a very authentic and painfully realistic performance. His understanding of the character and his sardonic wit are saddening and wonderful. Jeff Clarke as Joe Pitt plays his part with tremendous sensitivity and courage. The entire cast is wonderful and includes Jason Arias, Julianne Arnall, Gemma Beddo Barozzi, Jeff Clarke, Lance Gardner, Kevin Kirby, Shareen Merriam and Tomas Theriot.

____________________________________________

ANGELS IN AMERICA, PART 2: PERESTROIKA
By Tony Kushner
Directed by Kit Wilder
September 20-October 21, 2007
The conclusion of Kushner's saga of sex, love, religion, and politics in the mid 1980s, Perestroika is, like Part One, a testament to the human spirit. Challenging and uncompromising, the play has been widely heralded as a masterpiece for the ages, a celebration of the power of love and understanding to heal both body and soul.
For mature audiences: language, violence and sexuality.

Featuring:
Jason Arias, Julianne Arnall, Gemma Beddo Barozzi, Jeff Clarke, Lance Gardner, Kevin Kirby, Shareen Merriam and Tomas Theriot

Read a synopsis of Part One.

Read the San Jose Mercury News review

Read the Metro review
Read the San Jose Mercury News feature
Take an audio slideshow tour


Performances:
September 20-October 21, 2007

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Sunday Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 at 7pm
Sunday Oct. 14 and 21 at 2pm

Tickets:
$30 GN/ $25 SR/ $15 ST & ED
$40 Saturday Opening Night Gala Sept. 22
$25 Fridy Preview Night Sept. 21
Group rates and subscriptions available!

Click here to buy tickets now
Or call the Box Office at 408-295-4200






Monday, October 08, 2007

The Diary of Anne Frank at San Jose Stage Company

The sad thing about attending a production of a play like The Diary of Anne Frank is that you know exactly how it's going to end. As you watch these people stuck in this little loft for years, trying their best to get along and stave off the terror that lurks in every corner of their minds, you know that in the end it's all an exercise of futility. The Nazis will come. The Nazis will throw them in trains like cattle and torture them and kill them.

So, for me, each time I have seen a production of this play, I get a tear in my eye from the opening curtain onward. What made this production particularly poignant for me was that the actors and director were able to find the humor in the script. As the family and their "guests" tried to survive this ordeal they often used laughter as a means of coping. I found this very touching. In particular, Mark Messersmith and Marie Shell really did a great job with this. Both characters ( Hermann van Daan and Mrs. van Daan) as portrayed my Messersmith and Shell were vibrant, funny, desperate, and so human in their struggle to manage the horror that had become their lives.

The entire cast was wonderful. Randall King did a wonderful job as Otto Frank, showing us his stoic patience and his sense of responsibility and duty that never wavered. Janis Bergmann as his wife Edith was wonderful as the long suffering mother who wanted so badly to take the pain away from her family but was helpless to do so. I don't have time to name everyone here, but the whole cast is wonderful, the direction sensitive yet energetic, and the sound and lights are often stunning. I highly recommend that you go see this show. It will remind you that there are real human beings whose lives are unalterably affected by any act of political or social aggression. Hopefully more of us can keep this in mind the next time we have to choose our own leaders.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Outstanding Weekend of Bay Area Theatre


Friday night I went to see Three Sisters by Anton Chekov at The Pear Avenue Theatre. What an absolutely wonderful job they did with this extremely difficult and tragically comic play. With a new translation by Craig Lucas, Chekov's genius was channeled by these actors at the forty seat gem of a theatre in Mountain View. The thing that's tough with Chekov is that his writing provokes deft humor and incredible sadness all at once. The actor and director must find ways to communicate Chekov's intentions without becoming over dramatic or on the other hand playing for laughs. It's a tough task, but the cast under the direction of Jeannie Forte made it happen. Three sisters is mainly a play about people who want what they cannot have. Their current life experience has brought them sadness and they all see possible happiness in other loves, but it's always just beyond their reach. This theme echoed brilliantly throughout every moment of this production. Bravo, to The Pear once again.

Sunday I took a short ride up to The Geary Theatre in San Francisco to see A.C.T.'s touring production of possibly the greatest musical ever written, Sweeney Todd. Usually I leave a play and feel sad, amused, touched or any number of emotions. But this, I believe, is the first time I have ever left speechless. I think the emotion that I felt, if it is an emotion, was stunned. Never before have I experience a theatrical event like this one. The remarkable and unique thing about this production was that the actors themselves were the musicians. Believe it or not, they acted and sang and played all the music themselves. I know this sounds impossible, but believe, me it isn't. David Hess as Sweeney was nothing short of magnificent. He was in fact the only one who didn't play an instrument. Even Judy Kaye, who played Mr.s Lovett, tooted a few notes on the tuba. From the opening moments of the show as Hess suddenly appears from a wooden coffin singing, "Attend the tale of Sweeney Todd.." I was captivated. His power and pathos and sense of humor along with his wonderful baritone made this Sweeney something to behold. Too bad the run is over. I believe that next they go to Boston for a couple of weeks. You can get all the details from the tour's web site.