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    Culture, Stage

    Bumpy Flight

    Portraying an archetypal character as anything other than a cliche is no small feat. Imagine the difficulty of playing in a carnival of archetypes and you have an idea of the challenges facing the cast of the Marin Theatre Company's…
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    Culture, Stage

    Death Trap

    There has been a lot of water under the bridge since The Shadow Box first opened to enormous acclaim in 1977. Praised as an eloquent attempt to come to terms with death and dying, Michael Cristofer's play won both the…
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    Culture, Stage

    Beaux Ideal

    Pre-show publicity to the contrary, there are no heaps of rotting fruit or mounds of steaming horse manure in the Berkeley Repertory Theatre intended to re-create the stench of Restoration England, the setting of George Farquhar's The Beaux' Stratagem. Director…
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    Culture, Stage

    Sweet and Sour

    Sometimes formulas are a good idea. Take 42nd St. Moon, for instance: The theatrical company restricts itself to staged concert-version readings of so-called "lost musicals," dated shows in which (some) great songs were introduced. Producers Greg McKellan and Stephanie Rhoads…
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    Culture, Stage

    Missing Pieces

    The most persistently intriguing aspect of Berkeley Rep's Missing Persons (written by Craig Lucas, directed by Penny Metropulos) is the set (by Kent Dorsey, who also designed the lighting): a realistic living room and kitchen furnished in generic Pottery Barn,…
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    Culture, Stage

    Catch the Moon

    It's not often an authentic work of genius comes our way. But until Jan. 21, we've got one in West Side Story. With a book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, the touring production…
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    Culture, Stage

    Ptidying Up

    Watching the decidedly limp Actor's Theater production of bad-boy New York playwright Nicky Silver's Pterodactyls, I had an odd thought. I wondered what his room had looked like during his not-so-long-ago childhood. I decided it was probably deliberate chaos: casually…
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    Culture, Stage

    Combat! Zone

    John Fisher's new play, Combat! An American Melodrama, now at the Zellerbach Playhouse for a limited run, is as sweeping, exhilarating, and entertaining as a good Saturday movie matinee. Don't let the exclamation point or the ponderous subtitle put you…
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    Culture, Stage

    Curtain Calls

    Blood Brothers "Tell me it's not true," go the lyrics of the show's final song, echoing my sentiments about this musical by Willy Russell (Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine). Petula Clark plays Mrs. Johnstone, a Liverpool dole mom who cannot seem…
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    Culture, Stage

    Siamese Dream

    Trying to cover the full range of Broadway theater in a mere three days is clearly impossible. Especially this season, which offers a smorgasbord of the old and the new: sturdy revivals (The King and I, A Funny Thing Happened…
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    Culture, Stage

    Heavy Weather

    Maybe it's the spell cast by scenic designer John Mayne's huge backdrop -- a wash of purple, violet, and red that Novella Smith's lighting will change over the course of the evening to suggest green bayou grass, gloomy black clouds,…
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    Culture, Stage

    Situation Satire

    For 33 summers now the Bay Area has been blessed with free performances from the innovative, irreverent, and supremely talented San Francisco Mime Troupe. This year's offering, Coast City Confidential (expertly directed by Michael Gene Sullivan), is smart, sassy, and…
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    Culture, Stage

    Song of Seven

    There are plenty of reasons for celebrating Seven Guitars, August Wilson's latest play (directed by Lloyd Richards), now in its pre-Broadway run at ACT. There's the significance of the event itself -- any new work by the author and director…
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    Culture, Stage

    Whose Life Is It Anyway?

    Philip Kan Gotanda's Ballad of Yachiyo is so full of marvelous sights, sounds, and moments, it seems to dare the audience to find something about it not to like. Impeccably directed by Sharon Ott, it has original music (Dan Kuramoto),…
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    Culture, Stage

    Word Up

    The Confessions of Madame Psyche From the novel by Dorothy Bryant. Directed by Delia MacDougall. Starring Yumi Sumida, JoAnne Winter, Sammie Choy, Jeri Lynn Cohen, and Tahmus Rounds. Presented by Word for Word at the Magic Theater, Fort Mason Center,…
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    Culture, Stage

    Image Is Everything

    It's tempting to focus on Oscar Wilde's wit in An Ideal Husband, his next-to-last play, and dwell on the repartee that served famously as his primary dramatic tool. Make no mistake: This comedy is replete with epigrams, puns, and just…
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    Culture, Stage

    Female Trouble

    Scenes From an Execution Presented by Fifth Floor. Written by Howard Barker. Directed by Kenn Watt. Starring Patricia Silver, Jordan Winer, and Patrick Costigan. At Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St., 267-1836. With precious little to applaud on local stages…
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    Culture, Stage

    Hello, Jerry! Now Go Home

    Tune the Grand Up Songs by Jerry Herman. Directed by Jay Manley. Musical direction by Barry Lloyd. Starring Pierce Brandt, Dan Johnson, Michelle E. Jordan, Barry Lloyd, Marsha Mercant, and Jane Wasser. At the Alcazar Theater, 650 Geary, in an…
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    Culture, Stage

    Shadow Plays

    Very little is more heartbreaking than the loss of a writer who showed every sign of growing into a major talent. Such was the case with John C. Russell, a New York playwright (whose Stupid Kids was produced by Smart…
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    Culture, Stage

    Familia Ties

    Santos & Santos Presented by Campo Santo. Written by Octavio Solis. Directed by Tony Kelly. At New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom, 550-7250. Take a play that burns with ambition, volatile language, and ideas; cast it with an exceptional ensemble of…
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    Culture, Stage

    Welcome to The Gap

    Henry IV, Part One, which chronicles a period of rebellion and unrest in medieval England, is a play edgy with anticipation. It's about waiting and planning, about promises kept and good faith destroyed. Though it's Shakespeare's most popular history play,…
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    Culture, Stage

    Power Stirring

    Early in the first scene of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia (now in its West Coast premiere in a splendid ACT production directed by Carey Perloff), a brilliant 13-year-old observes to her youthful tutor, "You cannot stir things apart." Thomasina (Tina Jones)…
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    Culture, Stage

    So Much to Love

    One of the happier paradoxes associated with reviewing a successful production -- in this case, the California Shakespeare Festival's Much Ado About Nothing -- is that the more triumphant the effort, the more invisible its mechanics. There is a seamless…
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    Culture, Stage

    Mississippi Mirth

    History and literature are full of inspirational stories about exceptional people rising from humble origins and accomplishing heroic feats. From the Mississippi Delta, the autobiographical drama by Endesha Ida Mae Holland, is such a tale, and as presented by the…
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    Culture, Stage

    Heavenly

    Journey to the West Directed by Mary Zimmerman; adapted by her from the translation by Anthony C. Yu. Starring Jane C. Cho, Kim Miyori, Christopher Donahue, Nelson Mashita, and Doug Hara. Presented by Berkeley Repertory Theater at the Zellerbach Playhouse…
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  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"

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