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: 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

Theatre: Summer 2012

Not new information, but posting older information I had not posted before. This is the last one, since I started keeping track of plays in this season of summer 2012, though I was going to plays in Sacramento for a year before that.

  • 2012-09-06 BigIdea: Red Herring
  • 2012-08-24 CapStage: Playwrights Revolution
  • 2012-08-23 CapStage: Playwrights Revolution
  • 2012-08-22 CapStage: Playwrights Revolution
  • 2012-08-21 CapStage: Playwrights Revolution
  • 2012-08-16 B St: Seminar
  • 2012-08-09 CapStage: Dying City
  • 2012-08-03 SHN Theatres: Les Miserables
  • 2012-07-30 B St: Shakespeare Abridged
  • 2012-07-19 B St: Sketchy

Theatre: Fall 2012

Not new information, but a posting of plays and theaters that I had not previously posted.

  • 2012-12-14 SHN Theatres: The Lion King
  • 2012-12-13 Sacramento Theatre Company: A Christmas Carol
  • 2012-12-07 BigIdea: Love’s Labor Lost
  • 2012-12-06 B St: A Pail of Grace
  • 2012-11-29 CapStage: Mistakes Were Made
  • 2012-11-01 CapStage: The Woman in Black
  • 2012-10-28 GreenValley: Rocky Horror Picture Show
  • 2012-10-25 B3: The Price
  • 2012-10-12 NewHelvetia: Next to Normal
  • 2012-10-11 B St: The K of D
  • 2012-10-04 CapStage: Enron

Theatre: Winter 2013-2014

The plays which I saw this quarter are listed below. Twelve play, about the right amount for 12 weeks. You can see the Sacramento area theaters I go to on my Theatre page. I have had a subscription to the SHN Theatres in San Francisco this year, which I’ve much enjoyed and have two performances left to see. I also went to the Berkeley Rep(ertory) Theatre this month and will attend more there in the future. I saw Angels in America, both parts, at TAAC (The Alternative Arts Collective), and after thinking about it for a long time, realized that my dissatisfaction was not with the local staging or actors, but with the play itself. It is too sprawling, too scattered, too much dialog rather than action to bring out the themes. I think my favorite of the quarter was Passion at New Helvetia Theatre, but there are several in close competition.

  • 2014-03-16 Berkeley Rep: The House That Will Not Stand
  • 2014-03-07 Green Valley Theatre: The Wild Party
  • 2014-03-06 B Street: Wrong for Each Other
  • 2014-03-01 Cap Stage: The Real Thing (again)
  • 2014-02-28 Big Idea Theatre: The Merry Wives
  • 2014-02-27 New Helvetia Theatre: Passion
  • 2014-02-14 TAAC: Angels in America 2: Perestroika
  • 2014-02-12 Cap Stage: The Real Thing
  • 2014-01-24 Big Idea Theatre: When the Rain Stops Falling
  • 2014-01-17 TAAC: Angels in America 1: The Millenium
  • 2014-01-16 B Street Theatre: Elemeno Pea
  • 2014-01-10 Runaway Stage: Young Frankenstein

Theatre: Fall 2013

Sixteen plays. Am I overdoing it? Maybe, but there are worse foibles. I became a member of SHN Theatres in San Francisco. I enjoy the event of going to the theatre in SF, but to be honest the productions aren’t any better than what I can see at home in Sacramento. I appreciate most the energy and courage of Big Idea Theatre, and the consistent quality of Cap Stage, but I also very much enjoy the diversity of opportunities in Sacramento, from a group of friends all the way up through traveling shows of national stature.

The Sacramento News & Review had a year-end review of the theatre scene for the year. Many I saw, some I did not.

  • 2013-12-20 SHN Theatres: The Book of Mormon
  • 2013-12-07 UC Davis Theatre & Dance Department: Spring Awakening
  • 2013-12-05 Big Idea Theatre: Outrage
  • 2013-12-03 B Street Theatre: Not in the Stars
  • 2013-11-22 Actors Workshop of Sacramento: The Sunset Limited
  • 2013-11-17 Runaway Stage: Spamalot
  • 2013-11-15 Ovation Stage: Buried Child
  • 2013-11-10 SHN Theatres: Porgy and Bess
  • 2013-11-09 SHN Theatres: Peter and the Starcatcher
  • 2013-11-07 Cap Stage: Macbeth
  • 2013-10-31 B Street Theatre: Detroit
  • 2013-10-25 New Helvetia Theatre: Tell Me On A Sunday
  • 2013-10-24 Sacramento Theatre Company: Pride & Prejudice
  • 2013-10-06 SHN Theatres: Beautiful
  • 2013-10-04 City Theatre: After Juliet
  • 2013-10-03 Big Idea Theatre: Lonesome Hollow

I’ll post about other activities during the fall shortly.

weekend in the bay

My blog has been silent for some while. When I have time to blog, that time goes into my transportation blog, Getting Around Sacramento. Perhaps appropriate, given how important transportation is to my life, my work, my passions. But nevertheless, this blog is feeling neglected.

RivendellRevels_DanAllison

Saturday I went over to Richmond on Amtrak, Millbrae on BART, and on to San Mateo on Caltrain. I spent the afternoon hanging at a nice tea/coffee place named Rendez Vous Cafe, catching up on some work. My friend Barbara joined me, we drank more tea, and then went to dinner at Curry Up Now. Good conversation. The primary reason for being in San Mateo was…

The PEERS Rivendell Revels dance. I went as a hobbit. My costume was limited, less than I had intended, but I ran out of time, money, and talent. Bilbo was there, dressed nearly authentic, along with a large number of elves, some men, a few dwarves, and one dragon. The dance was quite fun, enough different from the Victorian dances, and Kenni Lynn who I’ve not seen in more than a year was quite sparkling. PEERS has a dance once a month, with different themes and time periods. I have conflicts with the next several, but I’ll be back. A great group of people to dance and laugh with.

Continue reading “weekend in the bay”