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Curran Theatre Announces its 2018 Season

Ruth Azawa School of the Arts, Hamlin School, and Cathedral School for Boys choruses. All photos by Drew Altizer.

Carole Shorenstein Hays, multiple Tony winner and the doyenne of San Francisco theater, introduced the 2018 season of the recently renovated Curran Theater Wednesday, January 17. Reviving the format of her innovative Under Construction entertainment during the renovation project, the event was held on the stage of the theater. With curtains lifted, patrons looked out to the open house with its field of bright red seats, colorful wall murals and moldings, starburst ceiling relief, and sparkling crystal chandelier. The new Curran is a truly spectacular venue in every respect. As patrons consumed finger foods and locally sourced beverages, Ms. Shorenstein Hays regaled them as they awaited the announcements and the special guests of the evening.

Carole Shorenstein Hays, David Henry Hwang.

The season opens with a most unexpected mash up. What do you get when you mix an Elizabethan comedy set to the music of the Go-Go’s? Award winning director Michael Mayer was on hand to introduce Head Over Heels, which goes from here to Broadway, produced by Gwyneth Paltrow. Toes will be tapping to “We Got the Beat,” “Our Lips are Sealed,” and many more. Go-Go’s members Jane Wiedlen and Charlotte Caffey were also along for the announcement.

Next comes Soft Power, a collaboration of two great, Tony winning, but divergent theater writers. This musical brings together composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home) and playwright David Henry Hwang (M. Butterfly), the latter on stage to discuss the play. Soft power is associated with diplomacy as the ability to influence outcomes through cultural means and prestige as opposed to military and economic might. In this highly anticipated East-West musical hybrid, a Chinese executive falls in love with a good-hearted U.S. leader at a time of shifting world power, as China’s soft power is ascendant.

Charlotte Caffey, Michael Mayer, Jane Wiedlin.

Taylor Mac has established himself as a singular talent of great depth and endurance. His 24-hour revue of A 24-Decade History of Popular Music performed at the Curran in 2017 is already legendary. His design collaborator Machine Dazzle, in a dazzling gigantic red costume better seen than described (see photo), shared insights with the audience about the third production of the season, Mac’s Hot Sauce. Continuing with his historic revue, this time, Mac examines the music of Christmas in a more complex and unconventional manner than we accustomed.

The final production of the season is another bonanza, one of Broadway’s hottest tickets and Tony Award Best Musical for 2017, Dear Evan Hansen. This ground-breaking musical about fitting in is certain to resonate with local audiences. In a spatial reversal, a chorus comprised of students from Ruth Azawa School of the Arts, Hamlin School, and Cathedral School for Boys celebrated a rendition of “You Will Be Found” from the mezzanine to the assembled attendees on the stage. In conjunction with this participation, the Curran Angels program was introduced. Children’s attending plays will be underwritten with lead sponsorship from Lynn and Marc Benioff.

Machine Dazzle.

In addition to the theatrical season, Ms Shorenstein Hays has compiled another compelling slate, a continuation of the successful Show and Tell program. Unscripted, titans of the theater will share thoughts from the stage in four separate evenings of provocative exposition. The four sessions will first showcase returning playwright Dania Gurira in a session called Play/WriteSoft Power’s creators David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori will discuss The State of the Art. Famed performer Patti La Pone will conduct a Master Class. And award winning theater director George C. Wolfe will be An American Master discussing the state of culture in America.

Once again, Carole Shorenstein Hays has burnished her credentials not only as a theatrical powerhouse of the highest order, but as a thoughtful and concerned contributor to the cultural health of the Bay Area.

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