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

Football's Joys and Agonies Get a Thorough Dissection in Berkeley Rep's Dramatic X's and O's

(0) Comments | Posted January 27, 2015 | 3:57 AM


Gridiron triumph or disaster? Find the answer in the eyes of (from left) Marilee Talkington, Anthony Holiday, Eddie Ray Jackson, Dwight Hicks, Bill Geisslinger and Jenny Mercein.

Photos by Kevin Berne

The course of ardent love needs...

Read Post

Stoppard's Indian Ink Returns to ACT, Visually Gorgeous but Dramatically Uneven

(0) Comments | Posted January 26, 2015 | 2:52 AM


Time-traveling through memory: poet Flora Crew (Brenda Meaney) in the 1930s, sister Eleanor (Roberta Maxwell) with her letters in the '80s.
Photos by Kevin Berne

No one should be surprised when any theatrical canvas painted by Tom Stoppard is enormous: In...

Read Post

Kathleen Turner as a Red Hot Patriot: Turning Anger Into Wit

(0) Comments | Posted November 29, 2014 | 1:59 AM


Turner as Ivins: exuberance, laughter and crusading journalism

Photos by

Molly Ivins lives!

Seven years after her death, the fiercely outspoken journalist has rematerialized in Berkeley Rep's Roda Theater in a hilarious, caustic Red Hot Patriot, the Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins....

Read Post

Physical Magic Under the Big Top: Cirque du Soleil's Kurios in SF

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2014 | 12:04 PM


Photos by Martin Girard

Even for a huge mechanical hand, these lithe women are a handful.

Who could fault the creators of Cirque du Soleil's visual extravaganzas for dressing each new show in some fresh and exotic guise? Novelty, after all, is an...

Read Post

Aurora's Breakfast With Mugabe: Exploring the Terrors of a Tyrant

(0) Comments | Posted November 14, 2014 | 8:31 PM


Callender as Mugabe, Hiatt as Peric: sharing authority, insecurity, fear

Photos by David Allen

"Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." The words are Shakespeare's, of course, voiced by Henry IV more than four centuries ago. They...

Read Post

Riveting Performance Anchors ACT's Controversial 'Testament'

(0) Comments | Posted November 8, 2014 | 10:31 PM


Seana McKenna as Mary: opening her arms to a challenging role

Photos by Kevin Berne

Canadian actress Seana McKenna is divine.

The role she fills in Irish playwright Colm Tóibín's Testament, a one-woman drama, may or may not be. McKenna...

Read Post

Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five: A Strong Opener for Custom Made

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 4:05 AM


Boxcar to captivity: Billy (Brian Martin, left) and fellow prisoners

Photos by Jay Yamada

Time flies, as we know too well, especially as the years pile up. So it goes.

In Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut's regrettably ageless novel, time flies forward...

Read Post

Theater's Clown Princes Deliver Fresh Hilarity in ACT's Old Hats

(1) Comments | Posted September 18, 2014 | 11:13 PM


Bill Irwin (left), Shaina Taub, David Shiner: purveyors of fun and more

Photos by Kevin Berne

Has ACT's Geary Theater ever rocked with laughter to match the roars that greeted Bill Irwin, David Shiner and friends at the opening of Old...

Read Post

Meow Meow and Her Audience: A Vibrant Pairing at Berkeley Rep

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 5:59 PM


She's appealing: singer-dancer-comic Meow Meow stretches to connect.

Photos courtesy of

She's bawdy and brash, tender and vulnerable; she's graceful and klutzy, commanding and helpless. She's a singer who hits every vocal nuance, whether serious or satiric; a high-energy...

Read Post

Rapture, Blister, Burn: Feminism and Laughs Open Aurora's Season

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 5:59 PM


Confronting a quandary: Marilee Talkington as Catherine, Rebecca Schweitzer as Gwen, Gabriel Marin as Don

Photos by David Allen

Four women explore, debate, dissect and display aspects of feminism in Gina Gionfriddo's Rapture, Blister, Burn, which is receiving...

Read Post

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

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2014 | 11:56 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 | 3:22 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 | 6:43 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 | 3:36 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 | 1:09 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 | 4:44 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 | 4:21 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 | 6:44 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 | 6:40 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 | 1:30 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