Monthly Archive for: ‘May, 2017’

Stage jollies: revivals, premiere, new comedy fest

June, as the Rodgers and Hammerstein song from “Carousel” informs us, is busting out all over — with tons of Marin area entertainment being playbilled.

Much of it looks good.

Amanda (LeAnne Rumbel) and Elyot (Gregory Crane), ex-spouses, current lovers and constant bickerers, are caught off-guard in “Private Lives” Photo by Robin Jackson.

Consider Noël Coward. He’s been dead since 1973 but his work is still very much alive.

Consider “Private Lives,” the 1930 heterosexual comedy of manners by the gay, flamboyant, knighted English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer that’ll be romping at the Barn at the Marin Art & Garden Center in Ross through June 18.

The Ross Valley Players’ revival, which I just caught, flaunts sly sexuality and sly dialogue — and precise British and French accents.

Though I found the notion of two remarried loving-and-squabbling former spouses staying in adjacent honeymoon suites near Paris contrived, the artifice hardly matters since Coward’s witty words overshadow it.

Including bickering-banter and mutual mistreatment (one character knees her ex in the groin and he misogynistically proclaims that “certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs”).

Gregory Crane is outstanding as Elyot (his artful facial expressions and hand motions illuminate character traits galore), and LeAnne Rumbel as Amanda is especially delightful in a scene in which she dances wildly.

Director Ken Rowland adroitly keeps the 110-minute show moving at a brisk pace.

And, doubling as set designer, has carved a marbleized balcony out of Styrofoam that cleverly deconstructs during intermission to reveal a well-appointed Parisian flat.

Coming up at the Marin Theatre Company, June 13 through July 2 is Matthew Lopez’s 90-minute comedy about an Elvis impersonator who becomes a drag queen, “The Legend of Georgia McBride.”

It’s the troupe’s 50th anniversary season finale.

Lopez, who’d been a staff writer for HBO’s “The Newsroom,” wrote “The Whipping Man,” which I reviewed as “a one-of-a-kind powerhouse despite it making me think of August Wilson one minute and Redd Foxx the next” when it played at MTC.

So I’m definitely looking forward to “McBride.”

For those who prefer outdoor events, the Transcendence Theatre Company’s latest production, “Best of Broadway Under the Stars,” is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.

The upcoming wine country run (June 16 through July 2) will replicate, mostly, the troupe’s performance I recently saw at the Marin Center.

The song-jammed Sonoma version should draw hordes of pre-show picnickers to Jack London State Historical Park.

Want to hear “Don’t Rain on My Parade” again? Or about 20 other familiar numbers, including “I Got Rhythm,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Singin’ in the Rain” or “I Feel Good”?

Yup, Transcendence makes it virtually impossible to not feel good.

If you go, you’re apt to see Sausalito’s Lexy Fridell. The young comic-actress stopped the show twice in San Rafael with what I called in my MarinScope piece her “elastic face and rubbery body.”

One dramatic pause across the Golden Gate, from now until June 25, is “Grandeur” (a premiere at Fort Mason’s Magic Theatre).

Directed by the company’s artistic maven Loretta Greco, it’s being promoted as an amusing yet gut-wrenching piece about legacy, art, hope and redemption (revolving around a meeting between an ambitious young journalist and Gil Scott Heron, a real-life soul and jazz poet, musician and author — a guy described alternatively as “the godfather of rap” and “the black Bob Dylan.”

The drama by MacArthur Genius award-winner Han Ong stars Carl Lumbly, arguably the most talented African-American actor in the Bay Area.

Greco calls it “wickedly funny and poignant.”

“The Roommate,” at the San Francisco Playhouse through July 1, is also a comedy. Also dark.

It unleashes an avalanche of character and background flaws as an odd female couple unearth secrets.

On the fluffier side, “Roman Holiday — The Musical,” a pre-Broadway run at the SNH Golden Gate Theatre through June 18, puts a new musical face on an old Audrey Hepburn romance flick about a runaway princess.

The show features classic Cole Porter tunes like “Night and Day,” “Begin the Beguine,” “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” and “Easy to Love.”

A real treat for comedy aficionados, meanwhile, will be the three-day Colossal Clusterfest — June 2 to 4 at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium and Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco.

Featured will be Jerry Seinfeld, Kevin Hart, Sarah Silverman, Bill Burr, T.J. Miller, Tig Notaro and a gadzillion other funny folk.

There’ll also be music by Ice Cube, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and somewhat less than a gadzillion singers and musicians.

Considering the spate of scary news from D.C. these days, a hearty laugh might be the best way to cope.

Contact Woody Weingarten at or

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