Thursday, December 15, 2011

"Three Sisters" at 42nd Street Moon

(L-R) Bill Fahrner (George), Kate Paul (Tiny),
Danny Cozart
(Gypsy Hood),
Riley Krull
(Mary Barbour)  Song:
"Now That I Have Springtime".
(Photo by
There are only 3 days left to see this charming and beautiful show! For musical theatre lovers, this is a must see. If you don't see 42nd Street Moon's current production of this lost gem, you may never get a chance to see it again.

Everything about this show will keep a smile on your face from the opening curtain to your ride home. The melodies are perfect, the acting is excellent, the choreography lively and fun, and the staging, set and lights are a feast for the eyes.  This production and should be selling out. If it's not, that's only because people think it's a musical version of the Chekov play with the same name. It's not! No Chekov here, just Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein at their very best.

GO HERE to buy tickets!

November 30 - December 18, 2011
The Eureka Theatre

Music by Jerome Kern
Book & Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II
Directed by Greg MacKellan

Run Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Enchanting  and poignant, Three Sisters spins the tale of a traveling carnival photographer and his spirited daugthers.  A roving busker woos the youngest daughter, but the wandering performer's life lures him back on the road.  This National Endowment for the Arts sponsored restoration of Kern and Hammerstein's score include:  I Won't Dance, Lonely Feet, Hand in Hand, Rolling on, Rolling Road, and My Beautiful Circus Girl.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Follies", Fantastic!

It's been five days in the Big Apple and although I got nickeled and dimed to death by the experts of Manahattan, I had a wonderful time. I saw four Broadway shows: "Follies", "Sons of the Prophet", "Venus in Fur", and "The Mountaintop".  I will only talk about "Follies" in this post. I'll write something about each of the others over the next few days.
"Follies", is in a word, sublime. If you are heading to New York anytime soon, and if you have an eclectic appreciation for musical theatre then you owe it to yourself to see this show. However, if you rarely go to the theatre, then go see another musical. I recommend "Jersey Boys".  Anyway, back to "Follies".  I just can't say enough about how magnificent this show is in every way.  The very predictable highlight of the show for me was the performance by the goddess of musical theatre, Miss Bernadette Peters as Sally Durante Plummer. I have loved this small bundle of artIstic genius since watching her appear on Sesame Street when I was a kid. The thing I love about her most is that you just never feel that she's acting. She seems to actually completely live each and every moment on stage as her own personal reality.  She sends chills down my spine and gives me goose bumps. Since I'm blogging and not writing a review, here's a little story that's kind of fun. I was having lunch with a friend at 5 Napkins. We were discussing "Follies" and how wonderful it was. As we were speaking Jan Maxwell herself, who is fabulous in the show as Phyllis, was walking down the street toward our outdoor table. Like an idiot I pointed directly at her and said in too loud a voice, "there she is!". Poor Jan's face instantly became a mask of terror, and I felt instantly ridiculous. Quickly, I saved myself by giving her a thumbs up and whispering to her, "great show", attempting also to don the most gentle, non-stalker expression I could muster. It must have worked because she relaxed and realized that I wasn't going to cause her an episode of celebrity hell.  She smiled thankfully and said "yes it is". It was a very funny moment. Anyway, just go see this show, and if you see it and can tell me how the hell they were able to create the otherworldly lighting effects, let me know, because it was magical and I have no idea how they did it.

You can get all the info on "Follies" here:

It closes on January 21st, so buy your plane tickets now. 

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Anna Deavere Smith at Berkeley Rep

Last night I stood in front of the two theatres on Addison Street in Berkeley, marveling at how on one stage the legendary Rita Moreno was getting ready to perform her new show that she developed with Tony Taccone, called Life Without Makeup, and on the neighboring stage the Obie Award winning powerhouse Anna Deavere Smith was preparing to performing her new work, Let Me Down Easy.  It always amazes me that Berkeley Repertory Theatre with its unassuming facade, in its unassuming location is able to take the theatre world by the gonads and present work that changes the culture- and that is exactly what Let Me Down Easy will do. It will change the world. I was  so emotionally drained after the show that I've barely had energy to do a thing all day, today. Rarely, have I laughed so hard, and cried so hard, within the short span of a play, without feeling resentful or manipulated. Within a non-stop 100 minute flash, Smith reveals the personalities of people she interviewed to develop this masterpiece. She becomes these people. She uses their exact words to tell their stories of death, cancer, and the health care system. You get Lance Armstrong, Texas Governor Ann Richards, Eave Ensler and a host of others. Much of the reenactment is done with Smith's tongue planted firmly in her cheek, especially Lance Armstrong. But, later in the show when she begins to depict other people, like her own aunt, there is an empathy and a truth that I have rarely witnessed on the stage. It touched me to the core. It must have touched most of the audience too, because all I could hear during the pauses were hundreds of poorly conceived sniffles.

There are only two performances left of this show. If you ever get a chance to see the remarkable Anna perform live, you must.

WHO: Conceived, written, and performed by Anna Deavere Smith
Directed by Leonard Foglia
Designed by Riccardo Hernandez (sets), Ann Hould-Ward (costumes), Dan
Ozminkowski (lights), Ryan Rumery (sound), Zachary Borovay (projections),
and Joshua Redman (original music)
WHAT: Let Me Down Easy, the latest hit show from the legendary Anna Deavere Smith
WHERE: Berkeley Repertory Theatre
Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison Street @ Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94704
WHEN: FOUR WEEKS ADDED! August 10 – September 4, 2011
 Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays @ 8:00 PM
 Wednesdays @ 7:00 PM
 Saturdays @ 2:00 PM & 8:00 PM
 Sundays @ 2:00 PM
HOW MUCH: $49 - $95 (subject to change)
TIX & INFO: (510) 647-2949 – – (888) 4-BRT-Tix (toll-free)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"A Raisin in the Sun" at The Pear

Jennifer Perkins-Stephens & Michael Wayne Rice

Right now at The Pear Avenue Theatre you have a rare chance to see a top notch production of Lorraine Hansbeery's, "A Raisin in the Sun."
This is  a funny, moving, and thought provoking production. Apparently, there are very few tickets left, so go to the web site and order them right away.

Here is a link to a review of the show by Ben Marks of KQED.


Mrs. Johnson – René Marquerite Banks
George Murchison – Alec F. Brown
Joseph Asagai – Bezachin Jifar
Mr. Karl Lindner – Keith C. Marshall
Lena Younger/Mama – Kendra Owens
Ruth Younger – Jennifer Perkins-Stephens
Walter Lee Younger – Michael Wayne Rice
Travis Younger – William David Southall
Bobo – Dimitri Woods
Beneatha Younger – Yhá Mourhia D. Wright

"A Raisin in the Sun" at The Pear Avenue Theatre, shows through July 10, 2011.
Get Tickets Here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cole Porter's "Silk Stockings" - Don't Miss It!

I happen to be in the cast of  this fantastic Cole Porter musical with 42nd Street Moon in San Francisco's Eureka Theatre. Silk Stockings is a rarely performed show and our audiences are loving it.  The show runs through May 22nd. There are lots of laughs, excellent music, and some pretty darned good dancing! Watch the short video below for all the background information about this production. Get your tickets soon, it's selling out.


May 4 - 22, 2011
The Eureka Theatre

Silk Stockings
Music & Lyrics by Cole Porter
Book by George S. Kaufman, Leueen MacGrath & Abe Burrows
Directed by Greg MacKellan
Runtime: approximately 2.5 Hours

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Orphée presented by Ensemble Parallèle

Eugene Brancoveanu as Orphée
Haunting, hypnotic, and dreamlike: these are the words that best describe Ensemble Parallèle's production of Orphée, presented for two evenings at the Herbst Theatre. The audience of the sold-out Herbst was full of excited anticipation for this San Francisco premiere . Orphée, composed in 1991 by Phillip Glass, is a “homage” to the famous french avant-garde artist and film director, Jean Cocteau. Orphée, based on the Greek myth of Orpheus, is the first part of a trilogy inspired by Cocteau's film La Belle et la Bête and his novel Les Enfants Terribles. Orphée is also a musical homage to various influential composers heard in the films, Bach being among them.

The Founder, Artistic Director, and Conductor of Ensemble Parallèle, the sprightly Nicole Paiement led her orchestra with vitality and passion. The opera began with the full orchestra on stage, and the cast occupying small landing spaces stage right and left of the main stage. With a nod to Cocteau's films, Stage Director Brian Staufenbiel in collaboration with video artist, Austin Forbord, utilized impressive floating framed video panels that enhanced the feeling of the blurring between the upper-world and the underworld, one of the major themes of the piece, and of Cocteau's film. As the opening scene came to an end, the orchestra slowly began to descend on an hydraulic platform and the action moved to the main stage where David Dunning's cubist set enhanced the feeling of “unreality” that the opera strove to express.

The score has the repetitive style, reminiscent of Glass, while also containing subtle nods to Kurt Weill, Bach and others. The cast was uniformly exceptional. Each performance was passionate, and well acted, and the voices were transcendent. Eugene Brancoveanu in the lead role of Orphée, conveyed the sense of loss and conflict required of the part and he did it with absolute commitment. Marnie Breckenridge, Princess of the Underworld, handled her difficult role with grace. She had the task of being both loving and evil. It's a hard thing to pull off, but she did it and she sounded fantastic. John Duykers, Heurtebise, was particularly impressive. His ability to convey a sense of loyalty to his princess, while at the same time, caring for the plight of the mortals was touching. The highlight of the piece was Act II. As the curtain rose the audience was introduced to the Underworld. Before us, in red and purple light was baritone, Phillip Skinner, playing the role of Judge. Flanked by a dragon, spewing forth steam, he stood nearly twenty feet in the air, wearing a white wig that was at least five feet high. It was an impressive site. His amplified baritone voice and haunting physicality created an riveting piece of theatre. The audience was also treated to three talented circus artists representing henchman of the underworld. Marina Luna hung from a fabric suspended from the ceiling where she performed acts of gymnastics that seemed to defy gravity. Rou Cyr Artist, David Pozanter, managed to create amazing feats on what can only be described as a gigantic hula hoop. Placing his body inside the hoop he circled the stage as the hoop carved its figures.

Phillip Glass has a particular gift of creating an atmosphere that seems to draw upon the subconscious and to cause the listener to feel as though they've just woken from a dream. Ensemble Parallèle succeeded completely in creating a spellbinding performance true to the intent of Glass and enhanced by superb acting and visual effects. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Death of a Salesman at the Pear Avenue Theatre

John Beamer, has created a wonderful short video trailer that really captures the spirit of our production.
Death of a Salesman runs through March 20th at The Pear Avenue Theatre in Mtn. View.
Tickets are available at

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

"Death of a Salesman" Coming to The Pear Avenue Theatre, February 25th

Jackie O'Keefe (Linda), Jeff Clarke (Biff), Jeffrey Adams (Happy), and Don DeMico (Willy) Star in "Death of a Salesman"

I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to direct what some believe to be the greatest American play ever written. Years ago, I had the chance to play the role of Biff in a local production. Now I have the chance to help an entire cast perform Miller's take on family and The American Dream.
The show opens on February 26th at The Pear Avenue Theatre in Mountain View, CA.
For tickets and more information go to

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Clybourne Park" at American Conservatory Theater

What an absolute treat it was to attend the opening night performance of the West Coast Premier of Clybourne Park at A.C.T. This play is an outstanding piece of writing and is bound to become an American classic. Reminiscent of Albee in style, you find yourself laughing hysterically at racist jokes, verbal and physical abuse, and severe political incorrectness.

Neighborhood association representative Karl (Richard Thieriot, right) explains the differences between the races to Francine (A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program graduate Omozé Idehenre) and Albert (A.C.T. core acting company member Gregory Wallace). Photo by Erik Tomasson.
The cast, all part of the A.C.T. core acting group, is outstanding. They nail the comedy and the irony of this play over and over again. Wednesday's audience all rose to their feet without hesitation at the conclusion of the performance. Jonathan Moscone, the Artistic Director of Cal Shakes directed this project and turned a great script into a perfect script, with his economic yet subtle direction. One thing I loved about this production is that the actors never moved around just for the hell of it. No one went anywhere unless there was a good reason. Actors often want to get up an walk around and often directors let them do it even if it dilutes the power of the words. That never happened in this production. In fact, Act II was nearly completely stationary. Most of the actors never left their lawn chairs.

You MUST see this play. It is destined for greatness. I expect that it may win the Pulitzer and the Tony.

It runs through February 20th. Get tickets here.


Rene Augesen
(Bev/Kathy )

Anthony Fusco

Emily Kitchens
(Betsy/ Lindsey)

Gregory Wallace
Manoel Felciano

Omozé Idehenre

Richard Thieriot

Creative Team

Bruce Norris (Playwright)
Jonathan Moscone (Director)
Ralph Funicello (Scenic Designer)
Katherine Roth (Costume Designer)
Alexander V. Nichols (Lighting Designer)
Jeff Mockus (Sound Designer)
Beatrice Basso (Dramaturg)
Elisa Guthertz (Stage Manager)
Megan Q. Sada (Assistant Stage Manager)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Good "Deed" is Done

Diane Tasca & Bill Jones in "No Good Deed"
The Pear Avenue Theatre in Mountain View, is now showing the world premiere of Paul Braverman's, "No Good Deed". Last night's performance was an absolute blast. Bravo to The Pear for daring to do something completely different. The show is written and performed in the style of  "film noir", and surprisingly it shines. The performances were all outstanding and under the direction of Michael Champlin, the show has the perfect mix of true "film noir" mystique, and ironic humor to keep you entertained for a unique two hours of intimate theatre.
The show runs through next Sunday.