Category Archive for: ‘Go See’

BUMS, BROADS and BROADWAY a holiday treat at Z-Space Below

Word for Word posterBUMS, BROADS and BROADWAY: Word for Word’s Holiday High Jinx: Directed by Sheila Balter. Z Space Below 470 Florida Street, San Francisco, CA. 866-811-411 or www.zspace.org.

Rating: ★★★★★

November 25 – December 24, 2015

BUMS, BROADS and BROADWAY a holiday treat at Z-Space Below

If you are looking for a non-traditional holiday show go to the intimate Z Space Below where the Word for Word theatre group enchants the audience with their latest production of Bums, Broads and Broadway. This company has honed the skill of creating stories into stage dramas using every word of the written text. Yes, that includes the “he/she says” and the narrative descriptions. At times they even allow their fellow actors to finish a sentence or describe the action. For their present production they are dramatizing stories by Damon Runyon, Joseph Mitchell and E. B. White.

There is a common thread to their choice of stories with the authors all being reporters and chroniclers of “uncelebrated people living on the margins” during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The major segment, “Dancing Dan’s Christmas” is by Damon Runyon whose stories were the basis for the musical Guys and Dolls. Before it begins the ensemble cast perform a dance on the non-descript speakeasy (sets by Jeff Rowlings) with an upright piano, wooden bar and a small table and chairs.

Before the words begin, Piano Man (Paul Finocchiaro) entertains us with a few riffs on the upright piano. Owner/Bar tender Charley (Soren Oliver) is sharing traditional hot-rum-toddies (made with prescription drug store rye whiskey) with a bar regular (Jackson Davis). A tired Mr. Holliman (Finocchiare) dressed as Santa Claus enters before Dancing Dan (Rotimi Agbabiaka a star in Marin Theatre’s Choir Boy) arrives. Impoverished “Grammer” O’Neill (Stephanie Hunt), attended by granddaughter Muriel, is waiting for Santa Claus to fill her much patched stocking. All the major characters are in place and the ensemble creates the others with a change in voice, demeanor or a simple prop. The outcome is comical tender and heartwarming.

L-R: Dancing Dan (Rotimi Agbabiaka, center) has agreat idea with his pals, a Speakeasy Regular (Jackson Davis, left) and Charlie Bernstein (Soren Oliver) in "Dancing Dan's Christmas". Photo by Julie Schuchard.

L-R: Dancing Dan (Rotimi Agbabiaka, center) has agreat idea with his pals, a Speakeasy Regular (Jackson Davis, left) and Charlie Bernstein (Soren Oliver) in “Dancing Dan’s Christmas”. Photo by Julie Schuchard.

“The Cave Dwellers” by Joseph Mitchell takes a more serious look at the plight of the homeless in general and a couple in particular that are exploited by the news media in search of stories to boost the sale of newspapers. The ‘home’ of the couple has been a cave in Central Park until do-gooders responding to the newspaper article about their plight set them up in a real a rooming house. The good deed eventual backfires when gratefulness is not appreciated.

“Christmas and Relative Pronouns” is taken from E.B. White’s “Notes and Comments” from the 12/17/32 New Yorker magazine. It is a satirical piece about those who considered “The Elements of Style” by Strunk and White to be a bible for writing. After witnessing this charming staging you will never confuse the restrictive that with the non-restrictive which.

The group ends the evening with another dance that receives peals of applause before the audience is invited to the Z Space to meet the cast and share a hot-rum toddy.

Running time 80 minutes without an intermission and is highly recommended.

CAST: Rotimi Agbabiaka, Jackson Davis, Paul Finocchiaro, Lisa Hori-Garcia, Stephanie Hunt and Soren Oliver.

CREATIVE TEAM: Directed by Sheila Baiter; Scenic Design by Jeff Rowlings; Lighting Design by Jim Cave; Costume Design by Christina Dinkel; Sound design by Lawton Lovely; Props Design by Gabi Immelman.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com

L-R Dancing Dan (Rotimi Agbabiaka, center) has a great idea with his pals, a Speakeasy Regular (Jackson Davis) and Charlie Bernstein (Søren Oliver) “Dancing Dan’s Christmas”
Photo credit: Julie Schuchard.

Gammer O’Neill (Stephanie Hunt), waiting hopefully for Santa “Dancing Dan’s Christmas” Photo credit: Julie Schuchard

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