Theatre Spring 2016

The links to each play will, sooner or later, expire.

2016-spring-collage

Theatre Winter 2015-2016

I’m still keeping brief entries in Day One, but the application has still not added back the publishing capability, so I don’t have an easy way of sharing these. The links to each play will, sooner or later, expire.

Winter2015

Theatre Fall 2015

Eleven plays this season. King Lear, my first play at California Shakespeare Theatre in Orinda, was quite well done. Hard to pick a favorite, as there were so many good ones and no bad ones, but I think Adoration of Dora, by KOLT Run Creations, was probably the best just because it was so different from the way plays are usually staged, in a very small space with a few props standing in for stage settings.

theatre-fall-2015

Theatre Summer 2015

A little late to posting summer, and I’d forgotten until tonight when I logged my latest play. I’ve been experimenting with written little short blurbs about the plays in my DayOne journal. Not reviews, just reactions. Those are linked after the entry for each one, but only since I started. Three Shakespeare this season, and another in fall!

2015-summer-play-images

Theatre: Spring 2015

Though I’ve seen Into the Woods many times, and also saw Conner’s showcase of Sondheim titled Marry Me a Little, the breadth of my Sondheim exposure was limited, so I was pleased to finally see another, A Little Night Music, at A.C.T. in San Francisco. It was my favorite of the season, though Trouble Cometh at San Francisco Playhouse and Rapture, Blister, Burn at CapStage were close seconds. Twelve plays for the season.

  • 2015-05-30 ACT: A Little Night Music (Stephen Sondheim)
  • 2015-05-29 Green Valley: VerteFe Cabaret
  • 2015-05-28 Big Idea: Coriolanus (William Shakespeare)
  • 2015-05-16 SF Playhouse: Trouble Cometh (Richard Dresser)
  • 2015-05-15 Green Valley: Dogfight (Benj Pasek & Justin Paul)
  • 2015-05-14 CapStage: The Homecoming (Harold Pinter)
  • 2015-04-30 Celebration Arts: Best of Enemies (Mark St. Germain)
  • 2015-04-19 New Helvetia Theatre: Opening Doors
  • 2015-04-16 B Street B3: Buyer and Cellar (Jonathan Tolins)
  • 2015-04-11 SF Playhouse: Stupid Fucking Bird (Aaron Posner)
  • 2015-04-10 Big Idea: 33 Variations (Moises Kaufmann)
  • 2015-03-26 CapStage: Rapture, Blister, Burn (Gina Gionfriddo)

play-images_Spring2015

New Helvetia Theatre and R Street

NewHelvetiaTheatre_logoThis evening I attended New Helvetia Theatre’s Opening Doors, which is somewhat ironically named, as it is the closing show for the venue on R Street. Founder Connor Mickiewicz and several friends performed numbers from musicals, a revue of favorites and shows never done. The evening was remarkable, silly, sad. With the passion that Connor and friends have, I am sure Connor will find a new home for his vision. Every seat was full, and a second show was added, so there is a lot of support for Connor and the type of theatre and musical theatre he is so committed to. I don’t necessarily think this is a loss for the arts community in Sacramento – Connor is is still here, and his productions will be back.

But it is a huge loss for R Street. R Street is presented as the happening arts and social district of Sacramento. Two years from now, five years from now, everyone will be saying R Street is great, but what it really lacks, to make it click, is theatre. And it won’t be easy to recreate it. Successful theatre is generated by a mix of driving passion by one person or a small group of people, and a large portion of magic that may or may not happen. Will any theatre actors, directors, producers feel welcome on R Street, when they were driven out? I realize that the loss of lease for New Helvetia was the act of a single developer, not the work of the developer community, but I am very, very surprised that the developer community did not recognize the potential loss and come to the rescue. Nor CADA, the agency which has led redevelopment of R Street with the city. Nor the city.

Our community is poorer today than it was yesterday.

Theatre: Winter 2014-2015

Though I’ve seen a few play multiple times, most particularly Into the Woods, I had never seen a play in two different theatres over a short period of time. Last fall I saw Ideation at San Francisco Playhouse, and then this season at Cap Stage. The performances were somewhat but not remarkably different. Actor Carrie Paff played Hannah in both! Two favorites this season, Tree at San Francisco Playhouse, for the though provoking staging and deep feeling, and In The Heights for the incredible energy of the story and dancers. Nine plays for the season.

  • 2015-03-13 Green Valley: In the Heights (Lin Manuel Miranda)
  • 2015-03-11 STC: Julius Cesaer (William Shakespeare)
  • 2015-03-06  City Theatre: The Cradle Will Rock (Marc Blitzstein)
  • 2015-02-15  SF Playhouse: Tree (Julie Hebert)
  • 2015-02-05  Cap Stage: Ideation (Aaron Loeb)
  • 2015-01-23  Geery Theater: Love Letters (A. R. Gurney)
  • 2015-01-22  Big Idea Theatre: Cloud 9 (Caryl Churchill)
  • 2015-01-04  SF Playhouse: Promises, Promises (Music by Burt Bacharach, Lyrics by Hal David, Book by Neil Simon)
  • 2015-01-15  B Street B3: The (Curious Case of the) Watson Intelligence (Madeline George)

play-images_Winter2014

Theatre: Fall 2014

It is often hard to pick my favorite play or musical from a season, as I strongly enjoy nearly every one of them, but I have to say that Motown: The Musical stood out above the rest. It was so full of good energy and good memories for me (I’m of that age when Motown was what we listened to). The acting and singing were superb. Eleven plays for the season.

  • 2014-12-11  New Helvetia Theatre: Marry Me A Little (music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, conceived and developed by Craig Lucas & Norman Rene)
  • 2014-12-10  Sacramento Theatre Company: Kate (Rick Foster)
  • 2014-12-05 Big Idea Theatre: Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling, adapted by Briandaniel Ogelsby)
  • 2014-11-20  New Helvetia Theatre: I’m Getting My Act Together (music by Nancy Ford and book and lyrics by Gretchen Cryer)
  • 2014-11-06  Cap Stage: Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy, adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson)
  • 2014-11-01  San Francisco Playhouse: Ideation (Aaron Loeb)
  • 2014-10-30  Green Valley Theatre: Rocky Horror Show (music, lyrics and a book by Richard O’Brien)
  • 2014-10-03  City Theatre: The Uninvited (Tim Kelly, from the novel by Dorothy Macardle)
  • 2014-10-02  Big Idea Theatre: Exit Interview (William Missouri Downs)
  • 2014-09-27  SHN Theatres: Motown, The Musical (a book by Berry Gordy)
  • 2014-09-26  SHN Theatres: Pippin (Stephen Schwartz and a book by Roger O. Hirson)

Why I go to San Francisco for musicals

I just came back from a weekend in San Francisco where I saw two musicals, Pippin at SHN Golden Gate Theatre, and Motown, The Musical at SHN Orpheum Theatre. Pippin was great, Motown was spectacular. The only modern-music musical that I’ve seen that surpassed it was Beautiful, the Carole King biography, also at SHN.

Many though not all of these national traveling shows come to Sacramento, most often hosted California Musical Theatre’s Broadway Sacramento at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, which has the tagline of “superb acoustics, unobstructed views,” though some are also hosted at California Musical Theatre’s Music Circus at the Wells Fargo Pavilion. Most of these come through for only a week or two, rather than the five to eight weeks they play in the bay area, and many never come.

So why do I go to San Francisco? Well, let me say up front that I go in part because I love San Francisco, I’m happy when I’m there, I do a lot of things including going to the ocean, to museums, to listen to Irish music, to visit friends, to ride my bike, to eat good bread (Arizmendi and Acme), and I could go on for pages.

But the main reason I go is that I can hear the musicals, and the plays. I don’t think I missed a single word or line in either Pippin or Motown. The sound is crisp and clear. It is loud enough without being too loud. In contrast, Sacramento Community Center Theater sucks. The sound is muddy. I often miss key dialog. In order to overcome the acoustic weakness of the hall, the sound gets cranked up way over the capabilities of the sound system. I have attended several plays and musicals that were so painfully loud I thought of just walking out. In fact, two of the professional community theatres in Sacramento, Capital Stage and B Street Theatre mainstage have considerably better sound quality than the Sacramento Community Center Theater. Maybe the comparison in unfair, as these are small theatres, but when I can pay $32 for a ticket and hear great sound in a small intimate venue with sufficient bathroom capacity, why would I want to pay $43 to $95 (and higher for the popular shows such as Wicked) for muddy sound, in a huge impersonal venue with insufficient bathroom capacity?

In the San Francisco theatres, sight lines are good too. From my seat in the balcony, about two feet of the top of the SHN Golden Gate stage was cut off. I remember seeing Wicked in Sacramento, and more than a third of the stage was cut off from my seat. I missed a lot of action that happened at the edges and top of the stage. And I was in one of the more expensive seats, the Grand Tier rather than the Second Tier. I wonder if people in the Second Tier could even see the stage.

SNH Golden Gate Theatre was built in 1922 and refurbished in 1979, and seats up to 2200. SHN Opheum Theatre was built in 1929 and restored in 1998, and seats 700. Sacramento Community Center Theatre was built in 1974 and seats 2,398, which is larger than any of the theatres in San Francisco. You would think that would allow them to sell lower priced tickets, but the ticket prices are the same or higher.

The concrete bunker that is the Sacramento Community Center Theater will never have good sound, no matter how much is spent on renovation. The only solution is to tear it down and start over. I’m sure the convention center would like to expand into that area. There are a number of empty or developable lots around downtown. In fact the city owns a number of potential locations. Or at least did, until they gave away the properties to the Kings.

So please,

tear down the Sacramento Community Center Theater

and give us a new great place to see musicals, plays, and other cultural performances.

Theatre: Summer 2014

Another season of plays, fourteen this time. My favorite was Songs from An Unmade Bed, New Helvetia Theatre’s one-man performance by Conner Mickiewicz. I was leery – could he really pull it off? – but he did, in fine form and voice. I saw Into the Woods (Sondheim & Lapine) at San Francisco Playhouse. This is my favorite play of all time, and one I have seen far more than any other. This performance was on par with others, but not the best. The best was actually the very first one, in Chico, put on by a community theatre whose name I don’t even remember. Chico Theatre Company is in the space now, but they say they started in 2004, and I saw the play about 1991. I think I have seen the play seven times now.

  • 2014-09-18  CapStage: Tribes
  • 2014-09-17  STC: Taming of the Shrew (Young Professionals Conservatory)
  • 2014-09-05  Green Valley: The Light in the Piazza
  • 2014-08-29  Teatro Espejo: Enslaved
  • 2014-08-28  B Street: The Conference of the Birds
  • 2014-08-13  Cap Stage: Orchid Child (Playwright’s Revolution)
  • 2014-08-12  Cap Stage: Black Fly Spring (Playwright’s Revolution)
  • 2014-08-02  SF Playhouse: Into the Woods
  • 2014-08-01  Big Idea Theatre: The Language Archive
  • 2014-07-27  Ovation Stage: The Flu Season
  • 2014-07-12  SHN: Once
  • 2014-07-11  New Helvetia Theatre: Songs from an Unmade Bed
  • 2014-07-10  Shakespeare Davis: Much Ado About Nothing
  • 2014-07-08  B Street: Provenance