Archive for the ‘a.c.t.’ Tag
It’s time for my third annual Top 10 round-up. These don’t attempt to be comprehensive reviews…but rather an Amuse-bouche of the most stellar performances I witnessed by the Bay, in ’11. How in the world can I compare a Pop Star to a Handel opera, you ask? Well…I warm up the jcm-ulator, and out come the tabulated results. It doesn’t lie. I seem to be trending towards opera, with musicals taking a back seat. Why? They sing louder, higher and without mics?
1) RING Cycle, SF Opera details
With the carefully crafted characterizations of a stage play, this Cycle was a well-deserved hit and had the city abuzz with Wagner. Nina Stemme’s Brünnhilde was an utter triumph, equal parts true Wagnerian and singing actress. Stunning SFO leading role debuts were offered by Heidi Melton as Sieglinde, and Daveda Karanas as Waltraute. There wasn’t a weak link in the cast. Francesca Zambello’s concept was fortunately not too heavy-handed, largely staying out of the way of the story and score…more often informing it, and only periodically misstepping. I found the Industrial Revolution concepts throughout Das Rheingold to be the most iconic and potent. However, the mythic Die Walküre was the emotional highpoint, featuring the burnished, virile tenor of Brandon Jovanovich’s Siegmund. Siegfried was also surprisingly engaging. I had the good fortune of serving as Super Captain and Supernumerary in Walküre and Götterdämmerung.
2) Stacey Kent, Venetian Room, Fairmont Hotel details
I fell in love with her voice three years ago. After stalking her tour schedule for a Bay Area performance, I got to experience her art live at last. She’s a real pixie…a gentle spirit, with a frail flutter to her vibrato. She completely transported me and her audience, casting a convincing spell. Her palpable, loving connection to her band leader, sax player and husband Jim Tomlinson added to the glow. She embodied “less is more,” drawing us in, rather than overworking her numbers in a too extroverted manner. Her set included lots of brazilian and french songs unfamiliar to me, some off her just released album. Come back soon Stacey!
The nominations for the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards (BATCC) were just announced. I was so thrilled to see that the production, cast and artistic staff of The Rocky Horror Show, of which I was a part have received some well deserved nominations! I also applaud my friends and colleagues from other shows who have received notice as well.
I applaud the noms too for both Quality of Life, at ACT, and Figaro, at Berkeley Rep, which I was very pleased to attend. Although, I’m very surprised JoBeth Williams, also of Quality of Life isn’t on this list!? (Noted below are just my highlights.)
(For Theatres 100-300 Seats – Musicals):
The Rocky Horror Show, Victoria Theatre:
ENTIRE PRODUCTION, Ray of Light Theatre
Cate Caplin: Choreography
Rebecca Pingree: Supporting Performance, Female
Sarah Kathleen Farrell: Supporting Performance, Female
Dustin Snyder: Lighting Design
Brandon Adams: The Musical of Musicals, Center Repertory Company
Martin Rojas-Dietrich: Cabaret, SF Playhouse
Stephanie Rhoads: Ben Franklin in Paris, 42nd Street Moon
+ + + + + + + + + +
(For Theatres over 300 – Drama):
Principal Performance, Female:
Laurie Metcalf: Quality of Life, American Conservatory Theater
Principal Performance, Male:
Dominique Serrand: Figaro, Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Figaro: Berkeley Repertory Theatre & Theatre de la Jeune Lune
+ + + + + + + + + +
(Theatres Under 99 Seats – Drama):
Original Script Solo Performance:
Katya Smirnoff-Skyy: From Russia with Love, New Conservatory Theatre Center
Supporting Performance Female:
Christine Macomber: The Cocktail Hour, Ross Valley Players
Although we do more than the average amount of theatre-going, this weekend was surely one of the most chock-full. It included “In the Next Room: The Vibrator Play,” by Sarah Ruhl, at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, “Souvenir,” featuring Judy Kaye, at A.C.T., and “Origin of Love,” by and with John Cameron Mitchell, at the Victoria.
“In the Next Room” showed how that the vibrator was often the prescription for “hysteria” in the early 20th century… for women AND men. Although the premise seems a guaranteed night of laughs, it was a rather tepid performance, and the world premiere script will likely need some tweaking to fine tune the characterizations and dramatic arc.
“Souvenir” is a fantasia on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins. She is up there with Mrs. Miller, when it comes to novelty artists/albums that people have adored for generations. I can specifically remember the first time I heard Flo. I was in a record store in Boston… I ran up to the sales guy and asked: “I must know who this is!” Amusingly, another shopper asked it to be turned down or off. I suppose that is a microcosm of the polarization around F.F.J. You either “get her” and love her, or you don’t.
Take a moment to experienct F.F.J., and even compare her to some of the finest recordings of the same aria (Lakme’s “Bell Song”):
Do you have a preference? Despite F.F.J’s performances sounding like a joke, it is largely believed that she was NOT in on the joke. As portrayed in the play, she likely heard something very different when she sang (as MANY of us do!) To make this point, one of the most beautiful moments in the play is at the very end, when after mimicking F.F.J. thoughout, Judy Kaye takes the stage and sings “Ave Maria” beautifully… as “F.F.J heard it.”
My favorite quote from the show was “singing is like dreaming in public.”
“Origin of Love” was a wonderful opportunity to see and hear JCM’s artistry LIVE, and to “share” the stage with him. I was honored to perform as a backup to Anita Cocktail, the guest host.
JCM performed “Origin of Love”, “My Funny Valentine”, “Midnight Radio”, and “Wicked Little Town”, shared a short story about his travels to Russia, and then offered commentary to his film “Shortbus”, with the help of a few other cast members. It was quite an interesting movie to watch in public. Despite a heavy indisposition earlier in the week, he sounded near 100%. Anita Cocktail performed “Making Love Alone”, a piece done by Bernadette Peters on one of her live albums. And, with her “Lovers” (incl. me), Anita performed “Contact” from Rent, and “Angry Inch” from Hedwig.
It was a very fun evening, although one of the most unorthodox and risque Valentine’s day I’ve shared in.