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    Culture, Stage

    Dim Bulb

    Gaslight, the play by Patrick Hamilton (as opposed to the movie classic starring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman), is ACT's final production at the Stage Door Theatre prior to the reopening of the Geary. As directed by Albert Takazauckas, it's…
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    Culture, Stage

    Here We Come a Carol-ing

    There's something especially provocative about the way Theatre of Yugen's Noh Christmas Carol merges Dickens' classic English novel with the conventions of ancient Japanese theater. Two powerful traditions -- one a familiar story that has become ritualized, the other a…
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    Culture, Stage

    Be a Clown -- If You Must

    New Pickle Circus' Jump Cuts! Take Two again uses Hollywood as inspiration for a lighthearted romp through various film genres -- westerns, hard-boiled detective stories, romances, and exotic adventures à la Indiana Jones. Conceived, directed, and choreographed by Tandy Beal…
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    Culture, Stage

    Kiss of Death

    For a while during the first act of Kiss of the Spider Woman, now at the Orpheum Theater direct from its Tony Award-winning Broadway run, I thought the show was going to be a significant improvement on the movie (starring…
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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

    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

    Bright Flashes

    There are moments of astonishing brilliance in A Line Around the Block, Marga Gomez's darkly surreal yet deeply emotional tribute to her late father, the Cuban-born entertainer Willy Chevalier. Directed by Corey Madden with a minimal set by Michael Hooker…
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    Culture, Stage

    By All Means

    I wonder if it's possible to separate Huey P. Newton the mythic icon from Huey P. Newton the character, as created from Newton's writing and performed by Roger Guenveur Smith. To be candid, I wonder if it's possible to review…
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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

    Words, No Music

    The Era of Time, Ernesto Ravetto's latest solo offering (written in collaboration with Cheyney Ryan and performed by Ravetto), attempts an ambitious exploration of belonging from the immigrant's point of view --in this case, the young Ravetto, who arrived in…
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    Culture, Stage

    Were All Connected

    It is now approximately 10 years since Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner gave us The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, and while it has had its share of imitators, I was struck last week by two…
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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

    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

    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

    Slightly Off Balance

    Consider the delicate balancing act required to produce nonprofit (or, for that matter, any) theater these days, and imagine that you are a managing director. Your excitement at signing an actor -- in this case the marvelous Will Marchetti --…
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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

    Vocal Talent

    The second Bay Area Afro Solo Performance Festival took up residence for one brief weekend (ending last Sunday) at the New Performance Gallery. While the two nights I attended (Friday and Sunday) were somewhat uneven, the sheer anticipation of seeing…
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    Culture, Stage

    What the Future Holds

    August in New York. Early morning 80-degree temperatures that swiftly rise to the upper 90s. Sweltering subway platforms and inadequately air-conditioned trains. Wilting trees in a surprisingly green Central Park -- its lawns are being carefully reseeded -- and everywhere…
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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

    Compulsive Talkers

    Fast, funny, intelligent, and wise, Katy Hickman's Meteor Girl (premiered last year at the Solo Mio Festival and now reprised by the Encore Theatre Company) offers glimpses of three very different lives linked by the contrasting threads of desperation and…
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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

    Hard Labour

    Love's Labour's Lost is a whirlwind comedy of language in which Shakespeare's passion for words overwhelms his characters' romantic intrigues. Words are the means, and words are the end, even when he tries for loftier themes, such as the demands…
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    Culture, Stage

    Running in Place

    It has been four years since writer/comedian Rick Reynolds burst on the local scene with Only the Truth is Funny, a one-man tour de force that propelled him to New York and Los Angeles and seemed destined to make him…
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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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  • 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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