iOS app Android app

Leo Stutzin
Leo Stutzin has covered theater and the arts in the Bay Area and California Central Valley since 1968.

Stutzin grew up in New York City and received a B.A. in journalism from City College of New York. Before settling in Modesto, he worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers in New York City, Upstate New York, Vermont, Virginia and San Diego. He was the Modesto Bee's arts editor from 1980 until his retirement in 2002. His awards include a 1979-80 National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to Stanford, where he focused his studies on art and drama.

Entries by Leo Stutzin

ACT's Orphan of Zhao: Revenge, Honor, Sacrifice in Ancient China

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2014 | 10:56 AM


BD Wong as a country doctor entrusted with a tiny but weighty burden

Photos by Kevin Berne

Like so many Asian antiquities seen through western eyes, the music-infused drama The Orphan of Zhao is a curiosity. Its approach to both character and...

Read Post

Aurora Revives American Buffalo With as Much Thunder as Ever

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 2:22 PM


Bobby (Rafael Jordan) catches heat from Teach (James Carpenter), observed by Donny (Paul Vincent o'Connor).

Photos by David Allen

David Mamet's American Buffalo and Aurora Theatre's postage-stamp stage were made for each other. The play crackles with suspicion, strained loyalties,...

Read Post

Felder as Bernstein in Maestro: Fine Fusion of Biography, Music

(0) Comments | Posted June 10, 2014 | 5:43 PM

Felder as Bernstein, beneath an image from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde
Photo courtesy of

Genius doesn't lend itself to containment in the time-space capsule called theater. And Leonard Bernstein -- conductor, composer, educator, television pioneer, social activist and complex private personality --...

Read Post

Kushner's Epic Guide in Berkeley: Edgy Portrait of Family's Turmoil

(0) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 2:36 PM


A tough moment for father and daughter: Mark Margolis as Gus, Dierdre Lovejoy as Empty.

Photos by Kevin Berne

Sound and fury permeate much of the 3 hours and 45 minutes of Tony Kushner's latest foray into the psyches, hopes, frustrations,...

Read Post

Seeing Double in Berkeley: Two New Theaters, Two Compelling Shows

(0) Comments | Posted April 28, 2014 | 12:09 PM

The Director (Michael Ray Wisely) finds something funny; employee Anna (Beth Wilmurt) doesn't share his amusement.
Photo by Sarah Roland

Two nights, two new theaters, two small theatrical gems. That's the triumphant scorecard for Berkeley, where the neighboring Aurora and Berkeley Repertory theaters...

Read Post

Hamlet, Faustus and Luther: Founts of Hilarity in Wittenberg

(0) Comments | Posted April 14, 2014 | 3:44 PM


Friendly antagonists: Dan Hiatt, right, as the pious Martin Luther, Michael Stevenson as the irreverent Doctor Faustus

Alas, poor Hamlet! Methought we knew you well. Then along cometh playsmith David Davalos, revealing a young man who struggleth to...

Read Post

Power Shifts, Steamy Sex, Ample Laughter in ACT's Venus in Fur

(0) Comments | Posted March 31, 2014 | 3:21 PM


Pleading to audition: Brenda Meaney as Vanda, Henry Clarke as Thomas
Photos by Kevin Berne

Thunder roars and lightning flashes as the translucent curtain rises on David Ives' Venus in Fur in ACT's Geary Theater. The atmosphere is spooky. Moments later the mood...

Read Post

Anarchist Brings Loads of Laughs, Moral Indignation to Berkeley Rep

(0) Comments | Posted March 17, 2014 | 5:44 PM

Photo by Joan Marcus
In step for an investigation: from left, Eugene Ma, Stephen Epp, Allen Gilmore, Liam Craig

Wackiness and indignation travel in constant tandem in the plays of Italian satirist Dario Fo. Finding the most effective...

Read Post

Scorching Medea in San Francisco: 2,400 Years Old, Timelessly Potent

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2014 | 5:40 PM

Photos by Lance Huntley
As the chorus watches, Medea (Leontyne Mbele-Mbong) pleads with Kreon (Dwight Dean Mahabir) to spare her from banishment.

To paraphrase William Congreve's most enduring and misquoted line: Hell has no fury like a lover scorned. You see...

Read Post

Napoli! at ACT: Laughs, Pain and Connivance in World War II Italy

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 12:30 PM


Seana McKenna as Amalia, Marco Barricelli as Gennaro: A poignant reunion.
Photo by Kevin Berne

Eduardo De Filippo lived through the devastation, horror and privation of World War II in Naples, where bombs fell with more intensity than on...

Read Post

Man in a Case at Berkeley Rep: Chekhov, Baryshnikov and Love

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2014 | 9:30 AM


Mikhail Baryshnikov, Tymberly Canale and Aaron Mattocks in Man in a Case: a giddy and painful attraction of opposites. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Any tale of love by Anton Chekhov is bound to be a sad tale -- put two together and...

Read Post

ACT's Christmas Carol Delivers Energy and Scale but Little Heart

(0) Comments | Posted December 17, 2013 | 10:31 AM

Scrooge (James Carpenter, right) revisits long-ago festivities hosted by the Fezziwigs (Sharon Lockwood and Jarion Monroe).

Photos By Kevin Berne

In the immortal words of Ebenezer Scrooge: Bah, Humbug! They're beating the Dickens out of A Christmas Carol at the Geary Theater...

Read Post

Kneehigh Returns to Berkeley Rep With a Dazzling Tristan and Yseult

(0) Comments | Posted December 3, 2013 | 6:10 PM


Andrew Durand as Tristan, Patrycja Kujawska as Yseult: legendary passion
Photos by Steve Tanner

It's tragedy, a tale of love and death, of treachery and mercy; it's comedy, propelled by giddy sprints and springboard bounces; it's circus, with actors swinging...

Read Post

Cirque du Soleil Injects Storytelling to Its Stock of Wonders in Amaluna

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2013 | 3:10 PM

Iuliia Mykhailova and Evgeny Kurkin: Being a lover isn't easy in Amaluna.
Photos by Laurence Labat

Words fail me. Since the subject of today's dissertation is Cirque du Soleil's Amaluna, which is currently occupying a huge tent near San Francisco Bay,...

Read Post

Stressed-Out Wait for Armageddon in Aurora's A Bright New Boise

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2013 | 3:34 PM

Will (Robert Parsons, right) confronts son Alex (Daniel Petzold) as other employees scramble in Hobby Lobby break room.
Photo courtesy of David Allen

When life fails you in every conventional, visible way -- a marriage shattered, a child lost to adoption,...

Read Post

Exquisite Performances Highlight One-Person Shows in SF, Berkeley

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2013 | 1:34 PM

David Strathairn follows a claim tag and a book on a bizarre quest in Lintel.
Photo by Kevin Berne

Two plays, two consecutive nights, two explorations of Jewish experience, two virtuoso performances in which one actor fills many roles: Together they...

Read Post

A Hilarious Opener for Berkeley Rep: Christopher Durang's Antic Vanya

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2013 | 8:42 AM

Getting dressed is an eye-popping event: From left, Anthony Fusco, Caroline Kaplan, Mark Junek, Lorri Holt.
Photo by Kevin Berne

How's this for a proven recipe for hilarity: Start with a few bitter morsels from The Cherry Orchard, add a dollop of...

Read Post

Musical 1776 Opens ACT Season With a History Lesson That Sparkles

(1) Comments | Posted September 23, 2013 | 7:54 PM

Benjamin Franklin (Andrew Boyer) has words for John Adams (John Hickok) in 1776

Photo by Kevin Berne

Just about every American knows the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, I assume. But how many of us -- even those who...

Read Post

Idealism, Truth and Family Values Collide in Revolution at Aurora

(0) Comments | Posted September 9, 2013 | 6:52 PM

A shocking revelation: Emma (Jessica Bates) listens to her father, Ben (Rolf Saxon), watched by uncle Leo (Victor Talmadge).
Photo by David Allen

How's this for a theatrical rarity: a drama that's deeply steeped in politics in which leftists are portrayed as flawed, troubled...

Read Post

Pinter's No Man's Land Receives Stunning Revival With Name Cast

(1) Comments | Posted August 15, 2013 | 4:45 PM


Ian McKellen, left, and Patrick Stewart as poets with conflicting memories.

Fine Scotch whisky flows freely in Harold Pinter's No Man's Land, always consumed straight, or as the British would say, "as it is." Even the sharpest of memories would turn fuzzy under...

Read Post