Category Archive for: ‘Theater News’

MY TOP TEN PRODUCTIONS AND MUSICALS–+ top ten actors & actresses performance

I saw 140 productions this year. Of course I could not every drama, comedy and musical productions and  I could not get every actor and actresses performances in the top ten.  There were some outstanding performances that I could not get in.

THE TOP TEN PLAYS

(In order of their appearance)

 

GEM OF THE OCEAN—Marin Theatre Company.

August Wilson’s dialogue was sheer piety beautiful performed by a great cast.

 

COLOSSAL—SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE a play so big, so bold, so seemingly impossible but SF Playhouse pulls it in aces.  It had a large superb cast of actors.

 

CYRANO—TheatreWorks— a dazzling production . Robert Kelly the director knocked this production right out of the park.   He brought the dialogue into the 21st Century without its use of elegance.

 

HAMLET—Shotgun Players—This Theatre Company has presented something new. A member of the audience draws from a skull a slip of paper announcing who will the parts for that night’s performance. The actors are all on stage.  David Sinaiko played Hamlet that night and he gave an outstanding performance

 

TREASURE ISLAND—Berkeley Repertory Theatre—You were in the ride of your life. A wonderful reproduction of the Robert Louis Stevenson with a devised life size ship and superb acting.

 

RED VELVET—SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE==This a superb production with outstanding acting by the eight member cast. It was worthy of New York production

 

KING CHARLES III—American Conservatory Theater—This is one of the best productions at ACT. It well deserved winning the Olivier Award for Best New Play last year.  A splendid cast from New York, Seattle and San Francisco

 

CASA VALENTINA—-NCTC—-This Harvey Fiestein’s drama has a superb cast of seven actors and two actresses.

 

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF —Shotgun Players     Shotgun knocked the Edward Albee right of the park with a brilliant cast of four actors   This was one of the best ensemble productions consisting of  Beth Wilmurt, David Sinaiko, Josh Schell and Megan Trout.

 

ALL AUNT HAGAR’S CHILDREN—WORD FOR WORD—-The Word for Word production was outstanding with a brilliant cast

 

Honorable Mention

 

MOTHER AND SONS—NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER—Terrence McNally’s drama was gratifying, insightful and sometimes humorous with a superb cast. It contained brilliant natural dialogue .

 

THE REALISTIC JONES—AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATER—Don’t expect a complete plot but the conservations between two couples is this comedy are positivity brilliant. This was on the best ensemble  drama with Rod Gnapp, Rebecca Watson, James Wagner and Allison Jean White

 

ENTAGLEMENT—3 Girls Production—a world premiere by AJ Baker was a charming production about theatre. Louis Parnell brilliantly directed the party and had assembled five excellent actors to present the characters

 

THE BROTHERS SIZE—Theatre Rhinoceros–this production was first rate and an outstanding cast of three brilliant actors consisting of Gabriel Christian, LaKeidick S. Winberly and Julian Green

 

THE TOP TEN ACTOR PERFORMANCES

(in order of appearance_

 

DAVID SIKULA AND BRENDAN AVERETT—“Sam and Dede” Custom Maid—They were brilliant as Samuel Beckett and Andre.

 

L.PETER CALLENDER—SWIMMERS— he gave an outstanding performance as the janitor who is trying to mind his own business but fells to do.

 

ROD GNAPP—THE REALISTIC JONES—AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATRE— He gave a brilliant performance as Bob Jones. He skillfully played the confused character with sharp wit and expert delivery

 

ANTHONY CRAIN—“Cyrano” TheatreWorks—He was an inspired choice for Cyrano.  He gave the audience insight into the breadth and depth of his character with a perfect blend of anguish and courage

 

CRAIG MARKER “Anne Boleyn”  Marin Theatre Company===Craig gave a brilliant portrayal of both monarchs, the cross-dressing, lively King James with a perfect Scottish accent and the loutish King Henry VIII.  Also —The Invisible Hand—Marin Theatre   Craig did a riveting performance as the imprisoned banker. He skillfully moved from his arrogant demand to barely constrained lunacy.

 

CARL LUMBLY—“Red Velvet”—San Francisco Playhouse.   Carl was magnificent as Ira Aldridge.  His voice was commanding when he spoke the lines of “Othello”

 

KHARY MOYE—SIX DEGREES OF SEPERATION –CUSTOM MADE He was outstanding as Paul.  He was sensual, confident and cunning with an edge of both neediness and endangerment. Also “All Aunt’s Hagar’s Children”.  He dominated the production with his splendid action.

 

.DAMIEN  BROWN—“Othello”—Marin Shakespeare —he looks and acts like a raw Othello as he goes form a losing and gentile husband to raging inferno in the last scene.

 

MICHAEL RAY WISELY—“Dear Master”—Aurora Theatre Company—Aurora Theatre Company—In this two character play Michael plays Flaubert the playwright. He portrays the role as frumpy, tormented, sarcastic character. It’s an outstanding performance

 

MORGAN LANGE—was magnificent as Alan Strang. For a first time on a professional stage he rocked playing the 17 year old boy

 

Honorable Mention

 

ANDREW NANCE— MOTHERS AND SONS—NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER— He was outstanding as Cal His interactions with Katherine was full of emotion.

 

JOHN FISHER—-as Garry Essendine— He played with a Noel Coward’s flair for the dramatic in this superb comedic tour de force.

 

JOHNNY MORENO—He was outstanding as Valmont. He gave an outstanding portrayal of a modern day Don Juan

 

DAN KLEGG AND DAVID STRATHAIM—CHESTER BAILEY—ACT both were outstanding  at the reserved Dr. Cotton and Chester. David was droll and self-critical and Dan was pitch perfect with his Long Island accent.

 

TOP TEN MUSICALS

(in order of appearance)

 

 

THE UNFORTUNATES—AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATRE—This musical was electrifying stock with American blues and gospel styling merged with modern and syncopated rhythms.

 

.BOY FROM OZ—Landmark Musical Theatre—This was an energy driven show and it did not stop for breath. It was rapidly pace dancing and singing spectacular.

 

MOST HAPPY FELLOW—42ND Street Moon.   A wonderful production full of splendid songs and sung by terrific singers.

 

THE LAST FIVE YEARS—AMERICAN CONSERVATORY THEATER— What’s fascinating about this musical is that audience never feels lost because the composer had done such a perfect job of showing us where and we are, at every of the way.

 

THE WILD PARTY—RAY OF LIGHT THEATRE— I saw a the original production in New York. This production was just a good as the Lippa’s Off-Broadway production.

 

ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER—New Conservatory Theatre Center—This was the reimagined Lane/Lerner score.   This most certainly a splendid one with wonderful talented singers.

 

CITY OF ANGELS—SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE—The musical had an awesome cast

 

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS—Ray of Light— A terrific production with a talented cast.

 

CHESS—Custom Made— had the courage to present this musical on their intimate stage and they did a bank up job of presenting this huge musical. This is more like the British production thanks to Stuart Bousel.  I saw the British production and I was blown away this presentation.

 

SHE LOVES ME—San Francisco Playhouse— One of my favorite musical and I have seen it many times since the original This was of the best  productions I have seen. It cast a brilliant cast of singers/actors.

 

SCROOGE IN LOVE—42nd Street Moon— It was on my top ten list in 2015 and it’s on my top ten list this year. It’s bigger than ever with more in the cast and at bigger theatre.  The melodies are delightful and charismatic and the book is entrancing.

 

 

Honorable Mention

 

DISNEY’S THE LITTLE MERMAID—Pacific Coast Repertory Company I traveled all the way to Pleasanton   The large cast gave a engaging performances and the choreography by Brittany Daniels was sparking and professional

 

HAIR—Bay Area Musicals—This was a wonderful spectacular recreating the city of protests against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s. This feature a talented young cast of actors/singers.

 

BOYS FROM SYRACUSE—42nd Street Moon— One of the musicals that shape my love of musical theatre. I saw the original musical in 1938  Greg MacKellan who directed this production with company had assembled a fine cast of singers/actors.

 

THE UNTAMED STAGE—Thrillpedders— Berlin in the 30’s It was terrific and it made you feel that you were in Berlin in the 30’s.

 

HELLO DOLLY—-the concert version—Feinsteins at the Hotel Nikko=== a pleasant experience of a revival

 

MAMA—THE CONCERT VERSION—FEINSTIEN—It was first rate.

 

STALE MAGNOLIAS THE MUSICAL—Oasis—a wild and hilarious musical

 

LIFE OF THE PARTY: A CELEBRATION OF SONGS OF ANDREW LIPPA—TheatreWorks—-this was musical revue of the songs by Lippa with a very talented cast of New York and London actor.

 

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS—Ray of Light— A terrific production with a talented cast.

 

ACTRESSES PERFORMANCE IN MUSICALS

 

 

AMANDA JOHNSON—MOST HAPPY FELLOW—42nd Street Moon—-She was Rosa Bella in this beautiful production. She had terrific vocal chops singing.

 

MARGO SEIBERT—THE LAST FIVE YEARS—ACT. She had big dramatic voice and showed in her really funny number “Climbing Uphill” about auditioning.

 

JOCELYN PICKETT –THE WILD PARTY— as Queenie gave an exceptional accomplished performances. She had a strong , powerful voice and belts out “Raise the Roof”.

 

MELISSA O’KEEFE—ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER—N.C.T.C—-She rocked as Melinda with her mellifluous voice

 

ABBY HAUGH—Baker Street—42nd Street Moon—She was first rate as Irene Alber with terrific vocal chops.

 

MARY KALITA—“Little Shop of Horrors” Ray of Light— was wonderful as Audrey . She had a likeable personality with their dizzy blond accent and a striking soprano voice when singing

 

NICOLE FRYDMAN—“Spelling Bee” BAM—she stood out as the teacher Miss Peretti. She rocked in her rend ions in the songs.

 

MONIQUE HAFEN—“She Loves Me”—San Francisco Playhouse— She had a lovely innocence about her acting. She is worthy successor to Barbara Cook and Ruthie Hensall singing “Ice Cream

 

NANCY ZOPPI—“She Loves Me”—SF Playhouse— Nancy gave a terrific performance as the shop girl who infatuated with Kodaly. She was sensational in singing “A Trip to the Library”.

 

MELISSA REINERTSON—“Scrooge In Love” 42nd Street Moon.   Beautifully sung and acted as Belle.

 

 

TOP TEN SOLO PARTS

 

JOHN DOUGLAS THOMPSON—“Satchmo at the Waldorf” ACT The was one of finest solo performance of the year It was fantastic tour de force. He not only morph into Louis Armstrong he took other parts as well

 

J.CONRAD FRANK—“Buyer & Cellar” New Conservatory Theatre Center   I thought he made this own.  He was just a good as maybe a tad bit better than Mr. Urie.

 

DANNY SCHEIE—“A House Tour” Z Space—Danny gives a fantastic amazing performance He pesters, entices and mumurs to members of the group.

 

LORRIE HOLT –“Colette Uncensored” The Marsh  Lorri mesmerized the audience for 80 minutes with stories of Colette’s life

 

BENJAMINE SCHEUER “the Lion” American Conservatory Theater—- The artist is not a trained actor but a outstanding musical. He talked about growing up and his owned health crisis. He was charismatic.

 

WILL DURST—ELECT TO LAUGH: 2016—  He rocked in this 90 minute production

 

PAUL RODRIGUES—“Maggie’s Riff”—Faultline===Pau was fantastic as Jack Kerouac. The role demanded rapid dialogue tempos and frizzled physical action and he skillfully did all of them.   (also played in “The Ice Cream Incident” at Faultline in a good portrayal of the a cocky captain.

 

 

MICHAEL PATRICK GAFFNEY—“The Oldest Living Cater Waiter”—SF Fringe Festival— Michael constantly entertains the audience in this one hour solo performance. He juggles balls in a comic vaudeville screens, constantly moving and even running on top of table and quoting Shakespeare.

 

STEVE BUDD—“What They Said About Love” SF Fringe Festival—–This was documentary theatre its best and Steve is following the footsteps of Anne Deavere Smith.  It was funny, poignant and thoughtful.

 

MARTIN MORAN—“The Tricky Part”   Martin was spellbinding of Moran’s sexual relationship with a much older counselor he met a Catholic boys camp

 

 

 

TOP CABARET ARTISTS PERFORMANCE

 

NIKITA BURSHTEYN—-MARTUNIS—This young 20 year old rocked with a full-throated voice when singing and flawless vocal phrasing when belting out a song.

 

EMILY SKINNER—VENETIAN ROOM—This artist did an eclectic series of songs ranging from the sublime rendering of Sondheim’s “Send In the Clowns” to the raucous “When You’re Good to Mama” from “Chicago”

 

JOEL GREY—CURRAN BACKSTATE   This was mostly interviewing Joel

 

JOSH GRODSKY—SOCIETY CABARET.. He regaled his fans eclectic range of songs. His voice has a reminiscent of Hoagy Carmichael with a little of Johnny Mercer

 

LAURA OSNES—FEINSTEINS AT HOTEL NIKKO Two time Tony nominee captivated her fans with a wide-ranging groups of songs and patter showcasing her beautiful voice

 

KAREN MASON at Feinstein’s at Hotel Nikko—She regal the audience with her power strong voice and dramatic reads of each song.

 

PATRICK LEVEQUE—Society Cabaret— he had a strong baritone voice much like Robert Goulet and sounded very much like him. He had perfect diction and you could understand every works in the lyric.

 

MELISSA O’KEEFE—FEINSTEIN ===A great night of the sing who had a vibrant voice like Idina Menzel with a little of Ethel Merman vocal cords thrown in.

 

LEANNE BORGHESI- “Beautiful Dirty Sexy Me”—FEINSTEINS—-The show was a fantastic theatrical cabaret production  She was reminiscent of such legendary diva as Francis Faye, Ethel Merman with a little of Carol Burnette thrown in for good measure.

 

COUNTESS KATYA SMIRNOFF-SKYY–:a bittersweet 90s Symphony—-Feinsteins—- Katya is an invention of J. Conrad Frank and has been entertaining San Francisco audience for the past seven years.  His accent sounds like all of the Gabor sisters. He rocked as Katya.

 

DARLENE POPOVIC—Weapons of Mass Distraction—Feinstein’s– The imitable singer, comedian, raconteur and actress rocked the crown with her weapons of Kander & Epp, Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

 

Special Award to

 

 

BEACH BLANKET BABYLON—Club Fugazi   This fabulous musical has been running for 42 year  Its ingenious, slapdash, bouncy, hip and eclectic and nonstop fun. It’s the 5th time I have seen the fab u lous show.

 

THE TEN TOURING PRODUCTIONS

(in order of appearance)

JERSEY BOYS—Once again “Jersey Boys” came to Orpheum Theatre    It was just as good of the original tour that premiered here in December 2006

 

DIRTY DANCING— This musical has passion and romance, pounding rhythms and some fantastic energy-driven choreography.

 

AN ACT OF GOD— I found Sean Hayes pleasure and a little for thought in his reprimands, perceptions and gags.

 

RODGER AND HAMMERSTEIN’S “CINDERELLA” This was a clever re imagination of the R and H version on show on television in 1957  It was a beautiful production.

 

KINKY BOOTS—-The feel good musical was back in San Francisco for the 2nd time.   It was just as good as the first touring company.

 

CABARET— This was a much darker look at this Kander and Ebb musical   Randy Harrison was more menacing as the emcee that I have previous seen.

 

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST—a wonderful production of this Disney film

 

BEAUTIFUL” THE CAROL KING MUSICAL—this returned to the Orpheum Theatre   It was just as good and tithe better than the touring company

 

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY ITCH— Darren Crisis rocked in this energetic musical

 

THE KING AND I— This production was glorious. I saw the original and this production was just as good.

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