Thursday, December 09, 2010
Gracing the stage this year as Donna’s guests were the warmly harmonic S.D.K Trio, the bluesy Vicki Shepard, Rrazz Room newcomer, Mr. Kelly Houston, the infamous Val Diamond of Beach Blanket Babylon fame, the angelic Abigail Zsiga, and the raucous Sharon McNight. The three piece band was a sheer delight with Michael Grossman on piano, Daniel Fabricant on bass and Randy Odell on percussion. In addition to Donna’s ability to charm an audience into submission, the highlight of the night was Abigail Zsiga. At the piano her style is reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan and Norah Jones. An entire evening of Abigail at the Rrazz Room would be a fabulous treat. In addition to the actual stage show, the audience was filled with various San Francisco dignitaries. State Senator Mark Leno made a brief appearance on stage and seemed to love the show from his third row seat, and the beautiful and bountifully endowed, Cassandra Cass, one of the stars of the critically acclaimed film, Trantasia, worked the room taking sexy snapshots with various admirers in her super tight red Christmas red dress. Donna was beautiful as always as well. She changed costumes a few times throughout the evening The topper was a beautiful evening gown adorned with a white wig that made Donna look like a holiday version of the Good Witch of the North.
All in all the evening had the feel of the original gathering eighteen years ago: friends getting together and raising money for a worthy cause during the holiday season. Let’s hope Donna can keep doing this for another eighteen years.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
This Friday and Saturday night at the fabulous Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, the late-great Freddie Mercury of Queen fame, will be glorified by the Bay Area's own Carly Ozard. She will be singing the songs of Freddie in her new cabaret show - "Somebody to Love - My Musical Tribute to Freddie Mercury". If this sounds impossible, well it is, except that this is Carly Ozard. She has the chops, believe me. I have heard her sing these songs and she sings the hell out of them. This is going to be one show you don't want to miss.
Friday, September 24, 2010
Apparently, there’s no private restroom for the talent at The Rrazz Room, and they must use the same one the audience does. So, as your favorite star is heading to powder his or her nose one last time, he or she will have to pass in front of the maitre d’s station.
|Master storyteller Leslie Jordan in |
An Evening with Leslie Jordan.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Now what about the show? In a word - FANTASTICK! Ha! Seriously it was. The set was wonderfully dilapidated, reflecting Mr. English's desire to portray the state of much of our world today. This effect really made the show feel comtemporary in a somewhat meloncholic way. I never had the feeling that I was watching a production of the most overdone musical in history. It felt new and lively and current.
The acting in this show was superb, the direction creative and surprising, the choreography lively and funny, and Robert Moreno on the piano, the only musical accompaniment, was inspired in his interpretation of the score.
|Tarek Khan (El Gallo) and Sepideh Moafi (Luisa)|
in The Fantasticks at SF Playhouse
Yusef Mortimer as "the man who dies", died with much aplomb and often and he was hillarious. Joan Mankin as Bellomy, a role written for a man, was perfect. This was one of my favorite risks that Bill English took with the script. By making Bellomy a woman, there was an added depth to the story in that the relationship of Bellomy and Hucklebee paralleled the relationship between their children. Without changing the script much at all, English and the cast were able to create a sense of empathy that otherwise wouldn't be possible. The parent's feelings for one another made it easier for them to understand the trials of their children. It was subtle but wonderful.
Sepideh Moafi as Luisa was superb. I must admit that I have acted with Sepi so one might assume that I am biased, but I'm not. Her comic timing and dramatic acting skills are superb, her dancing is beautiful and fluid, but as good as all of this is, her soprano voice is angelic. I know it sounds like I'm exacturating but I simply am not. There were moments in the show when I could hear audience members gasp as she sang, simply because what they were hearing sounded like perfection. Unfortuneately, for us, and as is often the case with people of her talent, she is leaving the Bay Area to study with the prestigious MFA program at UC Irvine. I wouldn't doubt if one day in the not to distant future we see her starring on the Broadway stage. I've seen it a few times over the last decade, friends of mine with exceptional talent making it in New York or in Hollywood. I have a feeling that Sepi will be another of those gifted few.
Louis Parnell as Hucklbee was hilarious and touching. He gave such an honest and heartfelt performance as he always does. Norman Munoz as the mute added a touch of testosterone to the show. The shirtless Munoz was strong and atheltic and moved like a gazelle.
Ray Reinhardt the resident celebrity of the cast, who has appeared in numerous productions in the Bay Area - A.C.T., San Jose Rep. and others, as well as many roles in television and film, just nailed his depiction of Henry, the aging Shakespearian "over-actor". His performance was just delightful.
Were there any flaws in this production? It sounds as though I am describing something "fantastical", I know. There were some flaws, yes, because actors are human beings. But I don't care about that. Even the flaws were endearing. I was totally won over as was, I dare to say, the entire audience.
Bravo SF Playhouse! Very well done.
Find out more about SF Playhouse and their exciting season of plays!
Thursday, September 02, 2010
Katya… a One Night Stand: Vonderful!!
| Published: September 2, 2010 |
“We’ve known Katya since he… I mean she was a little girl,” a nice lady exclaimed as we waited in line at The Rrazz Room to see the fabulous Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy and her 90-minute, sold-out show, Katya... A One Night Stand. “Oh, yes,” the nice lady’s husband exclaimed, “the first time I saw him… um, her, was the day he was born.” In fact, the room that evening was filled with Katya’s devoted fans. Many knew her from her ongoing Sunday night appearances at Martuni’s Bar. And for most of the night the phrase, “We love you, Katya,” could be heard between songs from all corners of the room.
The show began with Katya’s accompanist and musical director, Joseph Kanon (or, “Yo” as she affectionately calls him in her distinctive Russian accent) on the piano. Katya entered from the back of the room singing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” As she rounded the corner, her gracious soprano voice suddenly gave way to a rather gruff but hilarious baritone, “Get outa’ my VAY!” she snapped at an audience member whose feet were dangling in the aisle. From that moment on, the audience knew it was in for a Russian treat.
Katya possesses the style and beauty one would expect of a Russian Countess. She wore a beautiful green evening gown, wonderfully adorned by her dresser Hilary Marking and designed by the gifted Mr. David. Halfway through the show she took a brief break to change into a gorgeous sequined black pants suit. Her hair was impeccable, the jewelry big and sparkly, and her nails the envy of every lady in the room.
READ MORE ON THE SF BAY TIMES WEB SITE
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
There are so many reasons that I love this movie. The ensemble work is as good as it gets. You really get the feeling that not only do the actors love being a part of this movie, but underlying the entire thing is this feeling that they really love one another. I know that maybe that sounds nuts, but you just get the feeling that they all knew they were making something very special and that somehow transfers itself to the screen.
If you somehow missed this movie five years ago, treat yourself to a fine wine and rent this movie.
Thursday, August 05, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I LOVED IT!
I found myself laughing to the point of pain. If you love the movie, you will love this production. TWO very enthusiastic thumbs up from me. And in the chorus is a young actor whom I've had the priveledge of performing with, Matthew Hutchens. He's a local boy whose made his mark on a few national touring companies. and I am certain one day on Broadway.
Get your tickets here.
CLOSES JULY 25TH!
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
So fellow directors, please, if you insist on doing Durang, make sure you ask a third party to come in and give you an honest assessment of how things are going about half way through the rehearsal process. Make sure this person is an experienced director who will be brutally honest with you. What you think is drop-dead hilarious, might actually be like finger nails on the chalkboard to those removed from the ubiquitous zaniness.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Well, it's closed now but on Saturday afternoon "I saw In the Wake" at Berkeley Rep. Lisa Kron's new play is poised to perhaps be one of the greatest plays of our time. With a little cutting and a little bit of work in bringing together the main story, and the background story of our country's downfall during the Bush years, this play will surely be a huge hit in New York and will bring on the attention of the Amercian Theatre Wing.
Not in a long time has a play so absorbed itself into my consciousness. The day after seeing this show I felt incredibly down and hopeless. The message at first seemed so fatalistic. But as I thought about it more,I realized that it actually was a play about finally understanding oneself after hardship and heartbreak.
I think that this play may win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It's headed to New York this fall. What can you say, another great one comes out of Berkeley Rep. You have got to love that.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
In the last episode I saw a couple of friends on the show: the multi-talented Carla Pantoja played a housekeeper! Can you believe the woman pictured here played a housekeeper! (The picture is a production photo for Way of the World at The Pear Avenue Theatre). Not only is she a versatile and skilled actor, Carla is also an expert at stage combat! Check out her company, Dueling Arts.
Also, Michael Ray Wisely, bay area stage star and host of the DIY Networks do-it-yourself home improvement show, Home Transformations finally got to show his stuff on the last episode of the season. He's currently appearing in To Kill a Mockingbird at Theatreworks.He played the brother of a guy who got fried by chemicals or something. Michael Ray used a very interesting sort East Coast accent in this episode. It was kind of cool. Actually, I wonder if he was emulating an accent I used to hear all time as a kid growing up in San Francisco. My grandparents had it pretty strongly and sometimes I find myself slipping into it. They were born in San Francisco, but their parents immigrated from Italy. I believe that there were a large number of mostly Irish and Italian people that spent a decent amount of time in New York City after arriving on Ellis Island, and many of them took the trip out west to San Francisco. Their first introduction to English was with a New York accent, so it stuck. If you go sit in some of the old watering holes in North Beach or in the Mission, you'll hear some old timers who still speak with the accent. Listen to the "r"'s, like in words like drawer. They will usually say "drawuh" like on the East Coast. Thanks Michael Ray for bringing it back. Brought back some good memories.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
So here is what may be the final episode of the show. Let's hope not.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 05, 2010
cast (click on Name for Bio and Picture)Isaac Benelli
|Set Designer||Ron Gasparinetti|
|Stage Manager||Shannon Wass|
|Lighting Designer||Michael Sokolsky|
|Costume Designer||Rebecca Ennals|
|Sound Designer||Valerie Clear|
The PlayThe Illusion is a play by Tony Kushner, adapted from Pierre Corneille's seventeenth-century comedy, L'Illusion Comique. It follows a contrite father, Pridamant, seeking news of his prodigal son from the sorcerer Alcandre. The magician conjures three episodes from the young man's life. Inexplicably, each scene finds the boy in a slightly different world where names change and allegiances shift. Pridamant watches, but only as the strange tale reaches its conclusion does he learn the ultimate truth about his son.
The Illusion has a lighter mood than Kushner's most famous play, Angels in America, but the two plays share a love of poetic dialogue and theatricality.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
and Diane Tasca
Eight 10 Minute Plays
Paul Braverman, Doug Brook, Helena G. Clarkson, Leah Halper, Margy Kahn, Megan Ma, Elyce Melmon, and Ross Peter Nelson
Bill C. Jones
- Timelines tangle as visitors from The Future invade a bedroom and push the re-set button on a couple's missed opportunity . . . to procreate. – Paul Braverman, Out of Time
- A man and a woman run the gamut of a relationship in ten minutes, performing a courtship dance that might have been choreographed by Samuel Beckett.– Helena G. Clarkson, As Is (No Warranty)
- Two lifelong friends--one too busy to appreciate life, the other with too little time left--rediscover the ties that bind them, and forge new ones – Megan Ma, Foreign Bodies
- A creature from Scottish legends crawls out onto California's rocky coast: Half-man, half-seal, and looking for Love, the Selkie encounters an aging flower child and uptight female park ranger. --Margy Kahn, The Selkie
- A Jewish mother and daughter find temporary sanctuary from the Nazis in a Catholic church in Italy. A friendly priest offers them longterm protection, but they must assume the identity of Catholic nuns. – Elyce Melmon, The Veiling
- A homeless, wheel-chair-bound Vietnam vet helps a woman find the name of the father she never met in Portland's Vietnam Memorial. – Leah Halper, Eye Level Eye
- A young woman returns from Italy with a surprising announcement for her parents: She had found God in the person of a polite young man whom she met on the sidewalk in Rome. – Doug Brook, Finding God
- Two peace activists are stuck for ideas about political theatre. So they cross the River Styx to seek advice from the master--the Greek playwright Aristophanes. –Ross Peter Nelson, The Return of The Frogs
Friday, January 08, 2010
Come and see the show!
Get your tickets early, as this show is sure to sell out!
Visit our on-line box office or call 1-800-838-3006 for tickets.
Directed by Ray Renati
Starring: Paul Loomis, Jake Vincent, & Sarah Griner
Opens January 8th
| Paul Loomis as Bobby Gould ||Jake Vincent as Charlie Fox||Sarah Griner as Karen|
Hollywood mid-level producers Bobby Gould and Charlie Fox engage in a verbal boxing match centered on the eternal debate of art versus money. Should Gould recommend to his unseen boss another bad action would-be blockbuster? Or should he put himself on the line for a film adaptation of a spiritual, uplifting, and apocalyptic novel? The office's temp acts as catalyst in this debate. Gould has her read the novel in order to report on it to him later at his apartment. Things get very heated, but we don't want to spoil it for you. So come see the show!