Life is a Cabaret

Happy Wednesday everyone! I’m feeling good this week because I had one of those weekends that reminded me of why I’m doing what I’m doing, and encouraged me to re-focus on my goals with fresh eyes. Plus, it’s a new month (which means we have long leads and pitches and press releases to go out ASAP, which is stressful but exciting.) This weekend, I was working but also having a blast. This job has PERKS, y’all, and last week I saw three wonderful performances, bringing my play count up to thirteen!

Sweeney Todd, TheatreWorks, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 10/30/14. Dir. Robert Kelley. (Play #12)

Photo Credit: Kevin Berne
Photo Credit: Kevin Berne

I love musicals. I love Sondheim. And I LOVE Sweeney Todd. It’s probably second only to Into the Woods as my favorite Sondheim musical. This absolutely fabulous production at TheatreWorks was re-set by director Robert Kelley in a subway tunnel in World War II era London. For those who don’t know, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a musical based on the penny dreadful and play by the same name. It’s about a barber who returns from years of being locked up for a crime he didn’t commit and involves jealously, revenge, and a pretty grisly pie recipe courtesy of Sweeney’s partner in crime, Mrs. Lovett. (She’s also kind of in love with him, but he is mostly concerned with killing people).

Anyway, this production was awesome. The costumes and staging were theatrical without being over the top, every performer was on top of their game vocally, and the pit sounded incredible. Live theatre, everyone! The urgency of the show was heightened by strategic air raid sirens, which marked dramatic turns in the production. It was a perfect way to kick off Halloweekend!

The Boy Friend, 42nd Street Moon, The Eureka Theatre, San Francisco, 11/1/14. Dir. Cindy Goldfield (Play #13)

Photo Credit: David Allen
Photo Credit: David Allen

The Boy Friend is a musical written by late British composer/lyricist Sandy Wilson, and is a playful send-up of the frothy musicals of the 1920s. It is silly, adorable, and an awful lot of fun. Director/choreographer Cindy Goldfield did an awesome job of using the space of the intimate theatre  imaginatively, even including a lively number (“Sur La Plage”) involving beach balls in the aisles. With its intentionally over-the-top romantic tropes and pretty flapper-esque costumes, it couldn’t have been farther from the gritty Sweeney Todd.  I suppose that’s the beauty of musical theatre–from the streets of London to the French Riviera, people apparently always have something to sing about.  (And The Boy Friend is still running until the 16th, get your tickets here!)

Leslie Uggams, Bay Area Cabaret, The Historic Venetian Room of the Fairmont San Francisco, 11/2/14. (Not a play, but WONDERFUL nonetheless)

Photo Credit: Joseph Moran
Photo Credit: Joseph Moran

I took my mama with me to this wonderful concert and we were both surprised at just how fantastic the legendary Ms. Uggams was. Famous for her roles on Broadway and in film and television, Leslie Uggams gave a show stopping performance in the Venetian Room (which is gorgeous). She is everything you want from a cabaret performance, belting out favorites like “One” from A Chorus Line and “Stormy Weather.” Her voice is strong and beautiful and she looks incredible. Some of Ms. Uggams’ riffs were so heart-rending that I had to hold in my inner church lady refrains  of “mmhmm” and “sing it girl!” She told funny anecdotes from her years in the industry, and seemed to be having a great time with the band. I was so happy I was able to bring my mom with me–we both had a wonderful time.

In addition to all these shows, it was also Halloween (which I think must be a holiday created by drama geeks) AND the Giants won the World Series! Woo hoo! Although I am excited to catch up on Netflix and sleep this weekend. I hope you are all having a great week!

Love and theatre,

-K

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