Archive for the ‘cabaret’ Tag
I’m back for my annual musings on the finest SF/Bay Area live performances of the year (#whatiattended)! As always, there’s a very healthy dose of opera, musical theatre, and jazz here, so they are more than well represented. And, I’m well aware of some great shows I had to miss because of my budget, or other commitments, but alas…it’s still a scrumptious array. Reflecting on these is a favorite way I savor and reexperience them once again.
What were your favorite Bay Area performances of the year?
1) Champion, Opera Parallèle, SFJAZZ Center
This unique jazz opera by Terence Blanchard is about the life of world champion boxer Emile Griffith, including his struggle with trauma-related dementia. A deeply affecting, tragic story, with gay content that was very impactful on a personal level. It features a great score, which deserves to land on the stages of the top American opera companies. It was heading to the Kennedy Center next, so it at least also had that audience. Unfortunately, it’s up against Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird” (featuring Lawrence Brownlee), so I fear it’s doubtful two jazz/jazz-oriented operas can have major legs. But, I get ahead of myself. This evening (Feb. 27th) had a sense of event, with Tuck and Patti, and Terence Blanchard in the audience, and lingering in the lobby afterwards as well. And we had the good fortune there of briefly meeting the contemporary opera legend, baritone Robert Orth, who passionately played Howie Albert.
The opening scene was so alive it reached out and grabbed the audience. The orchestral palette was rich, with the percussion and bass real stand outs. The orchestral hand-clapping-as-percussion really resonated. Former Merolini Karen Slack lit up the stage as Emelda Griffith, as did Arthur Woodley as the elder Emile, who was devastatingly real. The Herman’s Hole/”pussy” scene, with its fluid sexual expression was compelling and confusing, reflecting his confusion and the surrounding culture. Victor Ryan Robertson as Benny ‘Kid’ Paret was also very touching, a great physical actor, with a pleasing lyric voice in the midst of all the dramatic voices. A couple of scenes featured an actual boxer/dancer/percussionist who moved onstage in an unstoppable fashion.
Some lighting/projection cues revealed glaring flaws, and a couple of voices sounded tired. Also, where we sat there were frequent challenging sight lines, but it was thrilling to experience this opera in a true hall to jazz.
2) Dolly Tour: Pure & Simple, Shoreline Pavilion (Mountain View)
Not much needs to be said about this legendary woman. There may be many great drag impersonators of her, but there is only 1 Dolly. Her mix of goodness, simplicity, and yet worldliness and acceptance seems to be without peer.
It was a lovely night out as well, reminding me of concerts of my youth at Riverbend in Cincinnati. My favorite songs/moments included “Little Sparrow/If I Had Wings,” “9 to 5,” and two vocal quartets: “I’ll Fly Away,” and “The Seeker,” which skewed more towards bluegrass. Also, “Coat of Many Colors” and her new single “Pure and Simple” were really lovely.
I was in some disbelief that she sang it all live. The nuance and tone was so fresh…as if she was 25 again. She offered many quotable moments. When inviting a handsome band member to the spotlight for a featured musical moment, she shared: “I said I was married I didn’t say I was blind.” Her costumes take a page from Elvis’ book…bell bottoms and sequins for days!
3) Cabaret, National Tour, Golden Gate Theatre
The Emcee, Randy Harrison surely brought in audience based on his Queer as Folk celebrity, but he exceeded my expectations on stage. He offered a more solid, robust voice and technique than I expected, and than most of this role previous exponents had. I also appreciated that he used his voice in a somewhat less caricature-y fashion. He expressed plenty of lithe, engaging movement as well.
Andrea Goss, a petite Sally Bowles, was fantastic, offering a gamine, pixie appeal. Her small-scale delivered a big presence and impression. My date, who has seen a dozen or so Cabaret productions put her in his top 3…the slew of past celebrity Sallys not holding up real great by comparison.
As is often the case with this show, the love story between Fraulein Schneider and Herr Schultz tugged on many a heart string. The set design, and how it was used was engaging throughout, integrating the orchestra in an authentic way, true to the milieu.
Back in february, CJ and I performed with our friends in “EMERGENCY Cabaret Relief: Haiti.” It was our cabaret debut together, and our first performance together since we met six years ago, in ROLT’s production of The Wizard of Oz.
We performed a song very near and dear to my heart, Paul William’s “When the River Meets the Sea,” from Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas. This Jim Henson movie has been a family favorite since I can remember, and it’s spiritual questioning felt so perfect for the tone of this fundraiser.
I’m pleased to be able to finally share the video of our performance. Unfortunately, the source audio is not ideal, so please turn up your volume for the beginning, and be prepared to turn it down once the source volume increases:
Date: Monday, February 15, 2010
Time: 7:00 – 10:00pm
Location: San Francisco Community Music Center (SFCMC)
Street: 544 Capp St.
Price: $15.00 or $20.00 (incl. drink ticket)
Join Jessica Coker, Soila Hughes and Leanne (“Anita Cocktail”) Borghesi — aka Busty, Over-the-Top, Outrageous, Brawds, Singin! (B.O.O.B.S!) — and friends for “EMERGENCY Cabaret Relief: Haiti”, an evening of song and performance to benefit those affected by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
Buy Tickets: Brown Paper Tickets (seating is limited)
Under the musical direction of Ben Prince, the evening will feature performances by the cabaret trio B.O.O.B.S!, as well as other stars of San Francisco’s theatre and cabaret community, including Jennifer Coker, Amanda Dolan, Lonnie Haley, Charles Huff, Christina Miglino, John McCullough, Sara Moore, Shane Ray, Alex Rodriguez, Jef Valentine, P.Z., Daniel Umili, Daniel Velazquez, Chris Yorro, and Sharon Boggs! With a program of show-stopping and heartfelt numbers, this evening is sure to lift your spirits.
100% of proceeds from the event will benefit Partners In Health (PIH), a Boston-based organization that provides medical care to poor communities around the world. PIHs work in Haiti began 25 years ago with a single clinic and today it is one of the largest providers of health care in Haiti.
In addition to the performance, there will be a raffle, and wine and refreshments (pay with donations). For directions and parking information, visit sfcmc.org.
We hope to you will join us for this special evening!