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American Conservatory Theater

Chester Bailey in ACT's Strand: A Compelling Exploration of Illusion, Reality and a Resilient Mind

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.06.2016 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Personal narratives: David Strathairn is a doctor, Dan Clegg his patient Photos by Kevin Berne Two exceptional actors, two compelling characters, ...

Stand and Deliver

George Heymont | Posted 05.19.2016 | Arts
George Heymont

It starts with the writing. Once a playwright has an idea, there are lots of details to be worked out. Backstories for characters, plot points, import...

Fortunate to See the Unfortunates: Highly Original Musical in a Revamped Movie House

Pamela Feinsilber | Posted 03.21.2016 | Arts
Pamela Feinsilber

The play's creators want to "expand the definition of Americana," explains Hurt, enfolding jazz, hip-hop, and spoken word with the roots music of folk, gospel, ragtime, and blues in an innovative, highly entertaining way.

Realistic Joneses at ACT: Beneath a Quirky Comedy, Deep Fears of Mortality

Leo Stutzin | Posted 03.19.2016 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Words don't come easily to the four personalities who populate Will Eno's The Realistic Joneses. And when they do come, very often those words communicate the failure of communication itself.

Cannon Fodder For The War Boom

George Heymont | Posted 03.13.2016 | Arts
George Heymont

After shuttering Alert & Oriented Medical Transcription Services at the end of 2015, I started off the new year with a project I had been stalling for...

Titans of Twentieth Century American Music

George Heymont | Posted 02.25.2016 | Arts
George Heymont

You don't have to be Cinderella to boast about your rags-to-riches story. With American Idol now in its final season, it's amazing to examine the list...

Louis Armstrong Lives Again, in San Francisco, in "Satchmo at the Waldorf"

Pamela Feinsilber | Posted 01.30.2016 | Arts
Pamela Feinsilber

John Douglas Thompson as Louis Armstrong in Satchmo at the Waldorf is such a delight. Directed by Gordon Edelstein, Thompson embodies the iconic trumpet player and singer in an engrossing, thought-provoking performance in the intermission-free play.

Satchmo at the Waldorf, Ain't Got that Swing

Erika Milvy | Posted 01.29.2016 | Arts
Erika Milvy

ACT's one-man play, "Satchmo at the Waldorf," is set, post-performance, in Louis Armstrong spacious dressing room at the ritzy Waldorf Astoria hotel. Why does it matter that the name of the hotel is in the title of the play? Was this a particularly memorable concert by Satchmo?

Satchmo at ACT: Louis Armstrong Minus the Smile, Unveiled by Play and Phenomenal Performance

Leo Stutzin | Posted 01.24.2016 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Anyone lucky enough to see Satchmo at the Waldorf, a one-actor, three-character show in ACT's Geary Theater, will discover a very different Louis Armstrong: a man who loved music above all else and suffered through poverty, incarceration, racism, gangland threats and ultimately, through declining health, to blow his horn in ways that few if any have equalled.

Beware the Squid Children of Cebu

George Heymont | Posted 12.06.2015 | Arts
George Heymont

When American Conservatory Theater first announced plans to renovate the Strand Theatre on Market Street, its Artistic Director, Carey Perloff, was bubbling over with ideas about what a second performance space could do for the company.

When Substance Abuse Takes Center Stage

George Heymont | Posted 10.25.2015 | Arts
George Heymont

Directed by Jenny Sullivan on a simple and attractive unit set designed by Nina Ball, Center Rep's production benefits immensely from Scot Woolley's musical arrangements, Steve Blum's music direction and the musical supervision of Brandon Adams.

Between Riverside and Crazy: ACT Opens 49th Season With a Tough, Humane Pulitzer Prize Drama

Leo Stutzin | Posted 09.13.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

The past weighs heavily on Walter "Pops" Washington, the angry, suspicious ex-cop whose rage and stubbornness propel the fierce Between Riverside and Crazy, which opened American Conservatory Theater's 49th season a few days ago.

Unrealistic Urban Affairs

George Heymont | Posted 08.06.2015 | Arts
George Heymont

A decade later Furth and Sondheim teamed up once more for Merrily We Roll Along, which focused on the changing dynamics between three friends over the course of their lives.

Battling the First Act Blues

George Heymont | Posted 05.14.2016 | Arts
George Heymont

Last fall, as Mike Daisey was performing his new tetralogy entitled The Great Tragedies, he recounted some of his experiences as a student in London. One of his acting teachers was a fierce martinet with a habit of interrupting her students by yelling "YOU'RE BORING ME! "

A Look at the Resurgence of Williamstown Theatre Festival

Cara Joy David | Posted 06.20.2015 | Arts
Cara Joy David

Now people are going to say there was no need for Williamstown to make a comeback, because it never went anywhere, but let me lay out my case.

Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play at American Conservatory Theater

Jason Mannino | Posted 05.10.2015 | San Francisco
Jason Mannino

Mr. Burns is having a stellar run at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco with Mark Rucker at the helm. In the play the survivors of a North American apocalypse barely salvage food or weapons but in abundance they salvage culture in the form of the Simpsons, and specifically the 1993 episode "Cape Fear."

Charmed, I'm Sure!

George Heymont | Posted 04.24.2015 | Arts
George Heymont

When people with widely disparate cultural beliefs meet up in real life, several outcomes are possible. One of the best examples of this phenomenon was depicted in Pacific Overtures (the 1976 Broadway musical which focused on the historical moment in which Japan opened its isolated island society to Western culture).

Love and Art Are on Full Display in Stoppard's 'Indian Ink' at American Conservatory Theater

Jason Mannino | Posted 03.29.2015 | San Francisco
Jason Mannino

"Rasa" is the Indian term that describes the essence of an artwork. It only occurs through a participant's uplifted experience of the art and it is flowing in full force in American Conservatory Theater's new production of Tom Stoppard's Indian Ink.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 03.27.2015 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

No one should be surprised when any theatrical canvas painted by Tom Stoppard is enormous: In Indian Ink, he outdid himself, perhaps too ambitiously.

Stoppard in India

Steven Suskin | Posted 11.30.2014 | Entertainment
Steven Suskin

Mid-period Stoppard -- that is, the work of the acclaimed Czech-born British playwright in his fifties and early sixties -- brought forth a remarkable series of intricate, thought-provoking-but-inviting plays like Hapgood, Arcadia, The Invention of Love and The Coast of Utopia.

Bill Irwin and David Shiner Dazzle and Shine in Hilarious Old Hats

Pamela Feinsilber | Posted 11.24.2014 | Arts
Pamela Feinsilber

In Old Hat's nine segments, Shiner and Irwin offer the best wordless physical comedy you'll ever see.

Asian Persuasians

George Heymont | Posted 10.29.2014 | Arts
George Heymont

Western culture isn't always what it's cracked up to be. Comparative studies of Judeo-Christian versus Eastern religions and philosophies reveal much greater depth and breadth in some areas of Shintoism, Taoism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

To Hype or Not to Hype: That Is the Question

George Heymont | Posted 09.07.2014 | Arts
George Heymont

Bloggers, filmmakers, and arts administrators are all faced with the challenge of capturing people's attention. Depending on their respective budgets and the nature of the project they are promoting, various approaches can be pursued.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 08.26.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Apparently many San Francisco viewers find it marvelous. On opening night, ACT's production was greeted by a standing ovation from a huge portion of the audience in the Geary Theater. That doesn't happen often.

Who's Really on Top?

George Heymont | Posted 07.03.2014 | Arts
George Heymont

Two new productions focus on what happens when the status quo (based on assumptions that rest on a foundation of male privilege) is undermined by women who are more intelligent, more complex, more aggressive and better at what they do than certain men in their lives.