Category Archives: Theatre Reviews

1950’s Feel: Porchlight Music Theatre Presents Sunset Boulevard at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts (Through December 8, 2019)

In 1950, Sunset Boulevard was released as a film, directed by Billy Wilder. On July 12th, 1993, the musical version premiered in London starring Patti LuPone. Just five months later, it opened in Los Angeles starring Glenn Close. In 2017, Close reprised her role in London and on Broadway. Now, Porchlight Music Theatre opens their version in October of 2019.

In the musical, an older actress is planning her great return. She has written a gigantic script for her next film. At the same time, a young writer is trying to make it in Hollywood. One night, his car breaks down in front of her house. Upon them meeting, the actress learns that he is a writer and convinces him to stay and help with her screenplay. She even gets him to move in. At the same time, he is working on another project with a young engaged woman. Conflict is inevitable.

With some musicals, it can be difficult to understand the words or it is tiring having every word sung. This is not the case with this production. The singing is slow and clear. Also, the acoustics in the intimate Ruth Page Center for the Arts are excellent. This production keeps the 1950’s feel and will appeal to older audiences.

Hollis Resnik is superb as Norma Desmond, desperate to return to the spotlight. Billy Rude is excellent as Joe Gillis, troubled by the choices presented to him. Michelle Lauto (In the Heights, HAIR) is great as Betty, looking for her first big break in Hollywood. Larry Adams (The Merry Widow) is spectacular as Norma’s servant, who hides many secrets from her. The entire cast sings beautifully.

Get tickets now for Sunset Boulevard through December 8th!

Cost of a ticket: $60

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney

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Perfect for the Halloween Season! WildClaw Theatre Company Presents Hell Followed With Her at The Den Theatre (Through November 9, 2019)

The setting is a western style saloon in the middle of Texas. A game of liars dice is being played in the back corner. The bartender is pouring drinks for the thirsty people at the bar. In walks a woman known as “The Wisp”, like a wisp of smoke. She grabs an acoustic guitar and sings. She is seeking revenge and she is close to finding the man she is hunting down. Suddenly, another woman enters the saloon screaming and drops dead. Then, she rises from the dead, thirsty for blood. She attacks the others until “The Wisp” puts a bullet in her skull. This is no ordinary night at the bar.

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This horror play is perfect for the Halloween season. It builds up the drama and tension leading to the bodies piling up. The audience wonders who will make it out alive. Also, a song at the beginning and one at the end is a great touch.

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Sophia Rosado is absolutely cold blooded as “The Wisp”. George Zerante is tough as nails playing Glanton, the man whom “The Wisp” is seeking. Nora King is hilarious as Shelby, the witty blind girl in the corner. Ardarius Blakely is excellent as Cole, a spot on western gunslinger. The rest of the cast is solid in their supporting roles often ending in a gruesome death.

 

Get tickets now for Hell Followed With Her through November 9th!

Cost of a ticket: $35

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It –

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

 

The digital program is available here.

 

Quinn Delaney

Smart and Funny! Shattered Globe Theatre Presents Be Here Now at Theatre Wit (Through October 19, 2019)

Bari is a professor who teaches nihilism. Her status is ABD, all but dissertation. She cannot teach again until she completes it. Bari is struggling to finish so she takes a job at a fulfillment center. At the center, she makes a few new friends who convince her to go on a date with Mike. On their date, she has a seizure which results in her acting as if she is high on LSD. She loves the feeling and doesn’t want to fix whatever is causing the seizures out of a fear of losing that feeling.

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This play is very smart, funny, and heartfelt. The 90 minutes fly by without a lull in the quality of dialog. It’s a journey of self-discovery in midlife.

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Rebecca Jordan (Shameless) is excellent as Bari, searching for meaning in her life. Joseph Wiens (The Realistic Joneses) is hilarious as Mike, an eccentric guy building houses out of found items, aka, trash. Deanna Reed-Foster is excellent as Patty, the leader at the fulfillment center who also wants to lead her employees’ private lives. Lastly, Demetra Dee is delightful as Luanne who is young and enjoying the simple pleasures of life.

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Get tickets now for Be Here Now though October 19th.

Cost of a ticket: $42

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

Quinn Delaney

Intense and Full of Twists! Sideshow Theatre Company Presents X at Victory Gardens Theatre (Through October 27, 2019)

A research crew on Pluto has lost contact with Earth. It has been three weeks since they had any communication and the crew is starting to worry. The clocks at the station begin to malfunction leading them to no longer be able to tell how long it has been since last contact. The crew discusses the bad conditions on Earth before they left. All the animals and plants have died. Everyone is living on the last patch of land not underwater. They wonder if everyone on Earth is dead.

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The scenic design by Yu Shibagaki is absolutely fantastic. The set is all white except for few silver appliances. It’s truly has that futurist space feel. The sound design by Michael Huey is excellent in creating suspense and setting the scene.

An episode of Mind Field also explored this concept of what happens when someone loses the ability to tell how much time has passed. It turns out that without clocks or the sun, we are pretty bad at discerning how much time has passed. It also features a completely white set.

This show would fit in as an episode of Black Mirror. Both of them envision future dystopian societies and have many twists and surprises that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s an intense ride.

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Gage Wallace (Mike Pence Sex Dream) is excellent as Clark, the most joyful of the crew. H.B. Ward (The Realistic Joneses) is great as Ray, the most pessimistic one. Sarah Price (The Wolves) puts on a very strong performance as Gilda, struggling to stay positive. Krystal Ortiz and Natalie Ortega also are solid in rounding out this stellar cast.

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Get tickets now for X through October 27th!

 

Cost of a ticket: $29

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Exceptional Value +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

 

Quinn Delaney

Heartfelt! Tiny Beautiful Things at Victory Gardens Theater (Through October 13, 2019)

Cheryl Strayed (Wild) is working as an advice columnist. She posts anonymously as Sugar. She takes on many different types on inquiries. There is a transgender person who must decide whether to accept their parents back into their life who are now understanding, but who shunned them before. There is the father who lost his 22 year old son and is struggling to move on. In her responses, Sugar shares a lot of about her own life. This includes the story about buying a toddler sized red dress with her mother before she even decided if she wanted children. Interspersed between all these heavy issues are shorter and sometimes funny ones to create a good balance.

The set is very professionally created. It is a monochrome style café with all dark blues. This monochromatic set allows the key items in the play to stick out such as the red dress in a visually striking manner.

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Janet Ulrich Brooks (The Children, Native Gardens) is fantastic as Sugar. She treats each letter with complete respect and gives truly heartfelt responses. August Forman (Girl in the Red Corner), Eric Slater, and Jessica Dean Turner are all great as the letter writers. They all embody so many different characters with very little time in between each.

Get tickets now for Tiny Beautiful Things through October 13th!

Cost of a ticket: $56 (Silver)

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney

Excellent! The Great Leap at Steppenwolf Theatre (Through October 20, 2019)

It is 1989 and Manford really wants to play on the University of San Francisco basketball team. It is mainly because the team is scheduled to play a game in Beijing, China. He is a great basketball player and he also wants to visit his mother country. At this time in history, students across China are protesting to overthrow the communist government.

The theatre is set up just like a basketball gym. There are seats on both sides rising up and a real hardwood floor in the middle with basketball lines. Above the seats are electronic scoreboards. They also play a bunch of songs from the Jock Jams albums. It truly feels like you are at a basketball game, even though there are no actual hoops.

Keith Kupferer (If I Forget, Sweat, Support Group for Men) is hilarious as the tough USF coach. Just like his past performances, he has perfected the hardened blue collar American. Glenn Obrero is great as the athletic Manford stopping at nothing to achieve his goals. Deanna Myers (Two Mile Hallow) is solid as Manford’s friend, helping him along the way. Lastly, James Seol is impressive as the Chinese coach conflicted by the clash in values between the East and the West. The playwright, Lauren Yee (King of the Yees, Cambodian Rock Band) once again truly captures the experience of living as a Chinese American in San Francisco and then visiting a country where everyone looks like you, but you are the enemy.

Get tickets now for The Great Leap through October 20th!

Cost of a ticket: $45

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It +

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney

Very Witty! Bernhardt / Hamlet at the Goodman Theatre (Through October 20, 2019)

It’s 1899 and Sarah Bernhardt is the world’s most famous female actor. She is determined to play the most famous role in theatre, the role in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. This causes outrage as Hamlet has always been played by a man. To push things even further, she wants her lover to rewrite Hamlet and remove all the poetry. This just doubles the public outrage!

The show is filled with many of the best scenes of Hamlet being rehearsed and then the actors joking around afterwards while discussing the play and theatre in general. Shakespeare’s language can be very dense and difficult to follow for a full production. It’s much easier in these short pieces. This entire play flows very well and the two and half hours just fly by as the audience laughs and soaks in the witty comments about theatre.

Terri McMahon is commanding as Sarah Bernhardt. She fills the entire stage when she steps up to speak. John Tufts is fantastic as her lover and the playwright, Edmond Rostand. He brings out the complexities in this character. Larry Yando is hilarious as the veteran actor, Constant Coquelin. He seems to have a witty comment for every situation since he has seen it all before. Also, the rest of the cast is excellent in their supporting roles.

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Get tickets now for Bernhardt / Hamlet through October 20!

 

Cost of a ticket: $60 (Main Level) The Full Range: $25 to $80

PlaylistHQ Economic Rating: Worth It

Rating Scale: Exceptional Value > Worth It > Half Price > Go for Free > Don’t Bother

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Quinn Delaney