Friday, March 27, 2009

Grease is Again the Word

My favorite thing about going to a show at The Golden Gate Theatre is in getting there. In the distance, I could see the corner of Market and 6th Street. Having had this view many times over the years, I know that safety awaited me at that corner. The wide doors of the ancient and palatial theatre will be open, giving me safe haven as I fling myself through, shielded by the rent-a-guards that buffer the building from the rabble on the street.

I take a deep breath, try to look sort of crazy and pissed off, and begin my four block trek from Taylor and Geary. Wading through the human excrement and puddles of urine, I encounter beggars, pimps, she-males on parade, meth addicts, runaway teens, and a myriad of the rest of the hoi polloi that inhabit San Francisco's Tenderloin District. Finally I reach my destination. I know I'm there because I see the smiling face of Taylor Hicks, the newly anointed Teen Angel, looking down on me. It gives me a sense of peace and otherworldly comfort. Enough of this, lets talk about the show.

Actually I couldn't believe I went to see Grease. A show with no depth, a moral which basically says, "If you want the boy bad enough, act like a slut and make him think he's going to get some and he'll be yours, ... the end." But attend, I did. And what a seat I had! As you can see in the photo my free tickets assigned me to row trillion, seat XX. My head literally rested against the back wall of the building. The place was sold out. Throngs of screaming fans of all ages, girls dressed in costume, boys dressed in costume, middle aged men dressed like the Fonz filled the cavernous theatre. Excitment was in the air. This goofy show actually has a cult following. I was flabbergasted. As for the show, the actors were directed to play to the back of the house, which I appreciated greatly. The choreography was superb, and the director was able to find many comic moments in the show that weren't necessarily built into the book. Beyond this, there really is nothing special about Grease.

What I can't figure out is why I enjoyed myself so much. Was it my memory of Olivia Newton- John playing Sandy on the big screen. I was sixteen and vacationing in Tahoe with my family when the movie was released. I have the distinct memory of seeing Olivia on the big screen in her tight leather pants and doing that thing she did with her eyes. I believe I saw the movie three times in six days.

Now lets talk about Taylor Hicks. The prematurely gray Teen Angel of American Idol fame, uses this production as a platform to launch his new album. Things got strange when during his "Beauty School Dropout" duet with Frenchy the actress blurted out, "I voted for you!" They got stranger when Hicks took out his harmonica and began playing a blues riff, off key, at the end of "Beauty School Dropout" as he ascended into heaven in a giant plastic Ice Cream Cone. At the curtain call, Hicks ran off stage in the middle of it the encore. After the longest curtain call in the history of curtain calls, he reappeared in his characteristic jeans and muted top, microphone in hand and began to sing the single from his new album. You could feel the disdain from the crowd wafting up toward the rafters. I almost choked on it. People in the balcony began to get up from their seats to leave. And in a move of utter brilliance, the lighting guys turned on a half dozen follow spots and shined them directly up into the balcony. Everyone sat down like scolded school children and politely waited for Mr. Hicks to finish selling his album. What made it even stranger was that after the show there were two announcements. One was to throw a dollar in the pot on your way out to benefit Actors' Equity for A.I.D.S., and the second announcement wast to get Taylor's' album, and look for him in the lobby so that he could sign it for you: only in America.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Florence Foster Jenkins - and "Souvenir" at A.C.T.

I went to A.C. T. today to see Souvenir, A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins starring the marvelous Judy Kaye and the multi-talented Donald Corren as they relived the life of Florence Foster Jenkins. Florence was a society woman in New York in the 20's, 30's and 40's who believed herself to be a great opera singer. In actuality she was completely tone deaf. Basically, it's the twentieth century equivalent of The Emperor's New Clothes. Florence was so bad, that her concerts sold out due to their unintended hilarity. All the while she believed herself to be a gifted, exceptional singer. If you are familiar William Hung from American Idol, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.

A.C.T.'s show is spectacular. It's both hysterical and touching. A big hit on Broadway in 2005, we are fortunate to have it playing here in San Francisco for a short time. It closes on Sunday, so you best get your tickets now if you can. Today's matinee appeared to be sold out. If you'd like to hear an actual recording of Florence, go here.

Click here for the A.C.T. Performance Calendar

Below is a clip I found of a modern day Florence. I think the lady is serious.
Watch her body language and her constant bra adjustments.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pick Up Ax: Performance | KQED Public Media for Northern CA

Oh no! Not more self promotion! Yes it is. My show, "Pick Up Ax", is loved by the critics and audiences alike. We had our "talk back" after the performance on Sunday and all but about two people stayed. I've never seen that happen before. I am so proud of the actors and the production gang. Here are a couple of reviews.

If you want to go tickets are available. Just go to

Pick Up Ax: Performance | KQED Public Media for Northern CA

San Mateo Daily Journal

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