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Around San Francisco

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 09.15.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

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 dancer who could probably double as a contortionist; a comic who draws roars from pratfalls, subtle glances, punchlines and sensuality.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 09.10.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

It's heady stuff, to be sure, and possibly controversial to some viewers. But it's wildly funny, too, giving a bright start to the company's 23rd season.

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.

Aurora Revives American Buffalo With as Much Thunder as Ever

Leo Stutzin | Posted 08.23.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

David Mamet's American Buffalo and Aurora Theatre's postage-stamp stage were made for each other.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 08.10.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Felder handles the story's many moods with grace and versatility, usually sitting at the piano and blending his words with virtuosic playing of pieces by Beethoven, Mahler, Wagner, Grieg and others, and naturally by Bernstein.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.28.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Episodes of cruelty, humiliation, struggle and resilience punctuate the narrative, delivered most often with the innocence and bewilderment of a child, and generating laugh after laugh, before reflection.

Hamlet, Faustus and Luther: Founts of Hilarity in Wittenberg

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.14.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Friendly antagonists: Dan Hiatt, right, as the pious Martin Luther, Michael Stevenson as the irreverent Doctor Faustus Alas, poor Hamlet! Metho...

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 05.31.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

The transformation offers a fleeting suggestion of the stream of reversals that will follow in the play's 90 minutes of broad comedy, intense drama and sizzling sexuality.

Anarchist Brings Loads of Laughs, Moral Indignation to Berkeley Rep

Leo Stutzin | Posted 05.17.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

For the current staging of Fo's internationally acclaimed Accidental Death of an Anarchist, director Christopher Bayes tilted heavily toward the goofy side, with spectacularly hilarious results.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 05.11.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

With a scorching Leontyne Mbele-Mbong in the title role and compelling direction by Dawn Monique Williams, this fresh Medea bridges the centuries in its visual style, language and impact.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 04.26.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

The essence explores a situation in which the struggle to survive -- and the urge to prosper -- blurs traditional lines of morality, behavior and relationships.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 03.31.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Any tale of love by Anton Chekhov is bound to be a sad tale. Adapt them for the stage and present them with grace, invention and deep humanity, as Mikhail Baryshnikov and a small company of actor-dancers are doing in Man in a Case, and sadness assumes an unusually compelling allure.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 02.16.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Familiar lines alone don't re-create the magical, morality-driven adventure that Charles Dickens published in 1843, and left to the ages. That narrative flickers between bright and bleak aspects of human experience, both personal and social.

Kneehigh Returns to Berkeley Rep With a Dazzling Tristan and Yseult

Leo Stutzin | Posted 02.02.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Ingredients for a love story? Certainly. But one with a multitude of twists and complications, the most crucial being that the King has chosen Yseult to be his bride, not knowing that she and Tristan have already connected, emotionally and physically.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 01.25.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

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, that verbal shortcoming is hardly cause for embarrassment. Theatrical spectacles don't always lend themselves to meaningful description.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 01.23.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

An Obie award winner in 2011, the play is receiving a theatrically compelling, fierce and often funny Bay Area premiere at Aurora Theatre in Berkeley.

Exquisite Performances Highlight One-Person Shows in SF, Berkeley

Leo Stutzin | Posted 01.23.2014 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Two plays, two consecutive nights, two explorations of Jewish experience, two virtuoso performances in which one actor fills many roles: Together they offer proof that the art of storytelling is not only alive but very healthy in the age of Apple, Android and Netflix.

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

Leo Stutzin | Posted 11.30.2013 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

You don't need to know Anton Chekhov's melancholy classics to giggle and guffaw at Vanya and friends, though some familiarity doesn't hurt. All you really need is the ability to laugh at human excesses, foibles and vanities.

Musical 1776 Opens ACT Season With a History Lesson That Sparkles

Leo Stutzin | Posted 11.23.2013 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

A Tony Award winner in its Broadway debut in 1969, the show boasts music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards and a book by Peter Stone that transform a story that we might have considered familiar into something magical and new.

Idealism, Truth and Family Values Collide in Revolution at Aurora

Leo Stutzin | Posted 11.09.2013 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

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

Race, Sex, Shaky Facts and Sizzle in This Is How It Goes at Aurora

Leo Stutzin | Posted 08.26.2013 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Race, sex, three thorny relationships, dubious truths: Schematically, that's the spine of Neil Labute's taut but hollow play, which is receiving a riveting production in its West Coast debut at Aurora.

Berkeley Rep's Elizabeth Explores Affection Between Esteemed Poets

Leo Stutzin | Posted 08.03.2013 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Comparisons with the likes of Dear Liar, the sparkling dramatization of epistolary sparring between George Bernard Shaw and the actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell, or Love Letters, A. R. Gurney's amusing and tender fiction, are almost inevitable. As theater, Dear Elizabeth isn't in the same league.

'Arsonists' at Aurora: A Sizzling Dissection of the Perils of Apathy

Leo Stutzin | Posted 06.16.2013 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Fifty-five years later, at Berkeley's Aurora Theatre, The Arsonists has resurfaced as a sizzling triumph of theatricality, and a wake-up call to any who choose to be awakened. It carries a simple but profound warning: Ignore or appease destructive forces at your own peril.

Berkeley Rep's Fallaci Offers Taut But Thin Sketch of Famed Journalist

Leo Stutzin | Posted 05.19.2013 | San Francisco
Leo Stutzin

Oriana Fallaci was a larger-than-life personality -- outspoken, idealistic, pugnacious, passionate, contradictory -- whose work often revealed as much about herself as it did about her subjects.