Monthly Archives: November 2016

‘Picasso at the Lapin Agile’ in Graton

Review of Picasso at the Lapin Agile
By Steve Martin
Directed by Matt Cadigan
For tickets / schedule :
Pegasus Theater Company
Graton Community Club, Graton

RUN: November 4-27, 2016
RATING: 3 of 5 stars

(November 12, 2016)

Picasso at the Lapin Agile Graton Pegasus Theater Company

Photo from Pegasus Theater Company

Penned by renowned comedian Steve Martin, Picasso at the Lapin Agile is an effervescent confection of comedy vaguely set in 1904, unburdened by historical accuracy. Blatant flirting with the Countess conveniently ignores that Einstein was a newlywed with an infant son by his physicist wife Mileva Marić, and characters regularly use modern slang to gain a laugh. Beulah Vega’s costumes are decidedly modern with touches of the turn-of-the-century, saved by Godey’s Lady’s Book Gibson girl hairstyles, which are superior to the attempts of most Edwardian plays. Characters flit in and out of the bar as the evening progresses, save for old Gaston (Jim Maresca) who’s wistful comments on aging and the pursuit of beauty ground the production in his down-to-earth perspective.

As the name of the bar suggests, this play is a “Nimble Rabbit” hopping from one topic to the next, bouncing between sub plots and scenes, loosely held together by a central thread that ideas and concepts are worth pursuing. Einstein and Picasso shift from adversaries to brothers discussing the origins of creative thought. Both are poised on the verge of greatness, moments before their careers set them apart as geniuses. The play is overly conscious of that fact, placing intense emphasis on “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” and the Theory of Relativity, although Einstein’s repartee with Germaine regarding adding illustrations to liven up his book is quite amusing. Steve Martin gathers a collection of intelligent, lively characters in an informal setting to toss out notions and opinions simply for the sake of an entertaining evening.

Capturing romantic spark and tension are the clever bartenders Freddy (James Rowan) and Germaine (Tricia Siegel) who fearlessly interrupt to improve the caliber of conversation. Sagot’s (Arnold House) brief appearance is memorable and lighthearted, glowing with enthusiasm for the world of art. Rush Cosgrove’s Picasso is an arrogant womanizer who is confronted with his flaws by Germaine’s insight. He initially clashes with Einstein, leading to a ferocious duel with pencils to napkin for the perfect drawing. Matlock Zumsteg’s Einstein oozes bravado and the youthful ambition that his banal job with the patent office is a temporary setback. The ensemble is exuberant and silly, while giving justice to their characters and acknowledging the import of an evening with Einstein and Picasso.

Join two intellectual giants on a pub crawl through the early 20th century; Picasso at the Lapin Agile is a relaxing divertissement of ideas doused in absinthe and frivolity.

Sonoma State University Fall Dance Concert

Review of Fall Dance Concert
Directed by Christine Cali
Sonoma State University Department of Theatre Arts & Dance
Evert. B Person Theatre

RUN: November 3-6, 2016
RATING: 4 of 5 stars

November 6, 2016

The Sonoma State University Fall Dance Concert is a celebration of student work; supervised by faculty, they choreograph, design, and manage pieces in the short space of two months, with only eight rehearsals per choreographer. Due to the outpouring of interest this autumn, it has been split into two separate productions: Heart and Soul—the latter of which I attended. Soul is an intimate evening of emotionally charged pieces ranging from crushing sorrow to playful romps in a tightly paced hour of riveting dance.

Photo by David Papas

Photo by David Papas

Solo Dolo
5 of 5 stars
Choreography: Kyle Her
Music: Anvil by Lorn

A lone couch becomes the focal point of this stunning solo that slowly builds from stark loneliness to anxiety, anger, and letting go, sinking back into stillness. Kyle Her’s mesmerizing athletic performance is constantly fluid—extensions reach into the air, arms long and graceful, elbows jut out first with the body following. Mark Wilson’s low lighting sets a somber, rhythmic tone, moving with the dancer in a tangent symphony.

Photo by David Papas

Photo by David Papas

4 of 5 stars
Choreography: Bella Wenneberg
Music: “Magnets” by Disclosure, “Do I Wanna Know” by Arctic Monkeys

Western themed white corsets, shirts, and braids give the impression of a conventional piece, but Tension swiftly breaks that illusion and becomes a creative set of three vignettes. Groups stalk in emotionless symmetry across the stage, linked or isolated, crossing in straight lines, breaking formation to push, lift, or manipulate each other, constantly connected. They disperse in favor of a mirrored pas de deux of unique relationships, ending with the powerful depiction of a single dancer struggling with a rope to the sound of her heartbeat, fighting to move forward against all odds, and breaking free for a captivating final moment—her fist clenching and relaxing to the beating sound, ending in darkness.

Photo by David Papas

Photo by David Papas

4 of 5 stars
Choreography: Anjelica Martinez in collaboration with the dancers
Music: “Atomos X” by A Winged Victory for the Sullen

Weaving Classical and modern sensibilities, this trio seeks for purpose, tentatively searching themselves, languidly stretching in long expansive shapes. Babbling voices drive them into communal purpose, coming together to discover meaning. It is a fascinating dance, although the performers could be lighter on their feet—the heavy footsteps took away from an otherwise contemplative piece.

No One Left Behind
3 of 5 stars
Choreography: Christina Campos in collaboration with the dancers
Music: “Brotsjór” by Ólafur Arnaldas

Earth smeared dancers crowd the stage, shifting between pleasing tableaux. Dynamic lighting by Jessica Amen projects shadows and flashes of lightning, while heart-racing music charges through the auditorium. It has the elements of success, but it is trying too hard without a unifying look to the movement or clear thesis of what is being portrayed, leaving a muddy, detached impression.

4 of 5 stars
Choreography: Caitlin Colangelo
Music: “Losing the Light” by Explosions in the Sky

This quiet piece is deeply vulnerable; dancers silently shiver, subtly shifting and cocooning beneath the stress of life. Shoulders initiate movement, simulating distress by curving up and inward. Dancers slowly balance and meditate, comforting each other or giving in to sorrow. Silent dark shadows envelop the stage, and this brief window illuminates the importance of supporting each other through difficult times.

The Space Between
5 of 5 stars
Choreography: Bria Gabor in collaboration with the dancers
Music: “Untitled” spoken word by Jasmine Williams and “Midnight” by Coldplay

Literature and dance mingle in this powerful message of acceptance that our world needs hope to survive. Words spark gentle pantomime journeying from birth through childhood, how we are trained to hate what is different. Music echoes across the end of Bria Gabor’s reading, washing the stage in blue moonlight of Kieran Latham’s lighting design. Tiny threads of blood glow in white and blue across the dancers’ wrists, prompting them into a slow coming together, finding similarities, and accepting who they are, forging the peace we strive for through unforgettable visuals.

Subliminal Taps
3 of 5 stars
Choreography: Carissa Pinnix
Music: “Heart Cry” by Drehz

Continuing the theme of light, this frothy tap piece includes shoes that flash in the dark. It is a joyful, bright frolic that is infused with party energy and fun. The music is unexpected, and I am not sure if it works or not, but the piece was the perfect uplifting note to close the performance.

Lively Staging of ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

By Rick Elice
Based on the novel by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson
Music by Wayne Barker

Directed by Patrick Nims
Marin Onstage
For tickets / schedule :
Belrose Theatre, San Rafael

RUN: October 21 – November 12, 2016
RATING: 3 of 5 stars

(November 4, 2016)

Peter and the Starcatcher marin onstage san rafael

Photo from Marin Onstage

Peter Pan’s world is a genre that is difficult to define; while wrapped in the outer appearance of a bedtime story, its darker elements are crafted for adults. In earlier stories, he is a sinister figure, which recently resurfaced in the Once Upon a Time adaptation where parents fight to protect their children from the immortal kidnapper of Neverland. Touches of cruelty and bitterness surround the boy in Peter and the Starcatcher. As an orphan, he has endured suffering and rejection; adults betray Peter, leading to repeated outcries of anger against them. Nick Gallagher captures the character’s brooding nature that secretly yearns for companionship. Through decisions made by adults within the play, we are forced to examine how they affect children who do not understand the nuances behind those choices. Peter struggles with why he has been treated unfairly, internalizing the abuse until it isolates him. These compelling themes run underneath a play filled with melodramatic antics.

From flashing red lights and awed shouts of “Black Stache!” to toothbrush toting mermaids mincing across the stage, this production is a masterpiece of primitive theater, drawing on the competence of the actors over elaborate sets and props. When Molly creeps through the ship, peering into cabins, the cast becomes doors and bulkheads. The backdrop by Gary Gonser is a simple and effective wall of stacked crates as if inside the cargo deck of a clipper ship; remaining sets are created by ropes, a ladder, and the occasional sea chest. Leffie Martin’s imaginative fight choreography includes toilet plunger and brush wielding combatants facing off on a storm tossed ship amid Harrison Moye’s inspired lighting design. Unfortunately, despite an ensemble that gives it their all, the production suffers under a poorly constructed plot, staid dialog, and narration that attempts to be clever. There are flashes of dry humor in the style of Douglas Adams, but not enough to hold up the play.

Peter and the Starcatcher marin onstage san rafael

Photo from Marin Onstage

Hannah Bloom’s Molly Aster shines like the stardust pendant around her neck—she manages a consistent accent, coquettish energy, and grows from a petulant young girl in the first scene to a maturing woman who bids Peter farewell with wistful acceptance. Mark Clark as Mrs. Bumbrake lightens the mood with his touches of eyelash fluttering comedy, and the entire cast hams it up with enthusiasm, dashing about, tumbling, and running, rather like a group of friends playing dress up in the attic and having a grand old time.

Enjoy a boisterous evening of inside jokes and clownish antics with thoughtful musings on being an adult. Unwind after a stressful day with Peter and the Starcatcher in the cozy cabaret seating of San Rafael’s Belrose Theatre.

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