Sunday, March 18, 2018 @ 4 pm. Occidental Center for the Arts presents The Life and Art of Isadora Duncan. Director and solo dancer Lois Flood (www.diablodancetheater.com ) brings the iconic dancer and revolutionary feminist to dramatic life with Duncan’s original choreography, classical costumes, exquisite music by Chopin, Gluck and Shubert, and historical stories. Celebrate International Women’s History Month at OCA! $15 Advance/$18 at the door. Fine Refreshments for sale. Wheelchair Accessible . Art Gallery open. . www.occidentalcenterforthearts.org. 707-874-9392
Music/Cabaret: Sunday February 11 @ 4 pm. Occidental Center for the Arts presents Sandy and Richard Riccardi : Cabaret! Laugh along with the talented comedy cabaret duo of Sandy & Richard Riccardi as they combine ‘tastefully raunchy’ original comedy songs with progressive political parody plus expert musicianship to charm your socks off! www.partyriccardi.com .$22 Adv/$25 at door includes chocolates at table. Bring your Valentine or your own loveable self to OCA’s acoustic ‘sweet spot’, with cabaret seating and fine refreshments for sale including champagne, wine and beer. Wheelchair Accessible. www.
March on down to Spreckels Performing Arts Center for the musical comedy, The Music Man Jr. presented by Spreckels Youth In Arts. This show features iconic songs and a story filled with wit, warmth and good old-fashioned romance. The story follows fast-talking traveling salesman, Harold Hill, as he cons the people of River City, Iowa, into buying instruments and uniforms for a boys’ band he vows to organize. The catch? He doesn’t know a trombone from a treble clef. He plans to skip town with the cash but the plans are foiled when he falls for Marian. Join us and find out what happens to Harold Hill and the citizens of River City in this classic musical performed by local youth.
Performances run January 26 – February 4, 2018. Reservations a must.
For tickets, please call the Spreckels Box Office at 707 588-3400. Box Office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5pm and one hour before show time.
To purchase tickets online, please click here.
“For the longest time people had me convinced there was something wrong with this music.” So goes the lament of Donna Summer — five-time Grammy winner, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Queen of Disco — and the latest icon to receive the stage musical treatment. In writer-director Des McAnuff’s Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, world-premiering at La Jolla Playhouse, it’s her mistreatment that’s hammered home. Men abuse, managers steal, cancer comes calling, but worst of all, her art is derided.
This retelling of Summer’s life, which reportedly is aiming for Broadway next season, not only examines an ebullient era in music but aims to give the trailblazing songstress, who died in 2012, her rightful place in pop culture. Summer was, of course, so much more than a dance-club hitmaker. A brilliant songwriter, conceptualist and riveting live performer whose vocal range was off the charts, she made deep-track concept albums — efforts that did not receive their critical due amid the 1970s disco haze.
Her catchy songs, turbulent life and billowing ball gowns are all rich source material, but this show — a quick one hour, 45 minutes without an intermission (rare for a musical) — moves almost too fast. While sprawling iconic lives can never quite be tidily summed up in such productions, a few too many milestones in Summer’s career are missing here. Adding some of them would go a long way toward helping the creative team make its point about her overlooked genius.
Despite its missteps, there is still so much to like about The Donna Summer Musical, particularly the three women portraying the title character in different phases of her life. Broadway veteran LaChanze (a Tony winner in 2006 for The Color Purple) is a marvel as the assured, rafters-raising “Diva Donna”; Ariana DeBose (an original Hamilton ensemble member, more recently of A Bronx Tale: The Musical) is both nervy and vulnerable as anguished midlife “Disco Donna”; and young Storm Lever, a real find, is a scene-stealer as “Duckling Donna.” Moments when the three sing together produce all the requisite chills.
The story traces Summer’s rise from Boston church choirs to the cast of an overseas touring company of Hair, where she becomes a curiosity among her white friends in Munich, marries young, meets producer Giorgio Moroder and starts penning seismic compositions such as the 17-minute opus “Love to Love You Baby,” which would become the blueprint for so much club music that followed.
In one remarkable late-’70s span, Summer and Moroder created seven transformative albums, three of which were double sets — making her the only recording artist in history to have three consecutive double albums reach No. 1 on Billboard‘s album chart. Even more compelling, these intricate records emulated the great rock albums of the ’60s and ’70s, telling complete stories without any of the dud filler tracks that would later become standard-issue in the post-MTV music business.
But these accomplishments are largely glossed over in the stilted narrative from librettists Colman Domingo, Robert Cary and McAnuff, who tell Summer’s story in such a rudimentary fashion, it’s as if they believe she’s a complete unknown to the audience.
And what to make of McAnuff’s decision to cast some — not all, just a few — of the male characters with female actresses, notably the pivotal role of Moroder? Perhaps it’s a nod to the “whole new world of mystery and androgyny” referenced early in the script. Or maybe he’s trying to out-Hamilton Lin-Manuel Miranda, casting way outside audience expectations. Whatever the case, it’s a needless distraction, though Mackenzie Bell as Moroder and Jenny Larouche as Norman Brokaw do acquit themselves as well as can be.
However, performances by Aaron Krohn and Jessica Rush as hustlers Neil Bogart and wife Joyce — the founder of Casablanca Records and Summer’s manager, respectively — are not as successful. Both struggle mightily with their attempts at a New York dialect, to the point where that too detracts from all the positives. Bring in a genuine New Yorker to get this right.
Adding sweet-natured uplift to the whole thing is Jared Zirilli as bassist Bruce Sudano, who becomes Summer’s second husband, standing by for every high and low. Their introduction to each other in the studio, depicted here during the joyous recording of her 1978 smash “Heaven Knows,” is pure bliss.
McAnuff’s staging is also a star, similar in feel to his groundbreaking work on Jersey Boys. Clean, post-modern sets by designer Robert Brill float in and out as if by magic; crisp projections by Sean Nieuwenhuis and dazzling costumes by Paul Tazewell complete the show’s splendid visual look. Choreographer Sergio Trujillo, another Jersey Boys alum with a host of Broadway credits, astutely conveys the excesses of the Studio 54 era with spot-on humor and precision.
The familiar hits — “Bad Girls,” “I Feel Love,” “MacArthur Park,” “No More Tears,” “Dim All the Lights,” “Hot Stuff,” “I Love You” and more — are well integrated into the plot, given sparkling orchestrations by Bill Brendle and Ron Melrose that raise the proceedings well above the standard jukebox musical.
But several great tunes are missing, notably “Spring Affair,” “Rumor Has It” and “Try Me, I Know We Can Make It,” along with mid- and late-career successes like 1989’s “This Time I Know It’s for Real” and 1999’s “I Will Go With You (Con te Partiro).” The omission of songs like these from the narrative implies that after 1983’s “She Works Hard for the Money,” Summer retreated to suburban life in Thousand Oaks, California, homeschooled her kids, painted paintings and faded from view. Not so.
And then there’s the inevitable show-closer, “Last Dance” — Paul Jabara’s Oscar-winning disco anthem, which even back in the day came with its own spectacular club mix right out of the gate. But it’s the shorter radio cut that appears to be the template here, and despite the choreographic, visual and vocal glory of this confetti-fueled number, it’s ultimately something of a letdown. Bring on the long version of this song and let the terrific dance ensemble go to town during that extended interlude!
With the life story of Tina Turner (Tina: The Musical) set for the West End in March, Cher’s biography (The Cher Show) hitting Broadway next fall and Beautiful: The Carole King Musical still running full-tilt, the competition among feminist musical-icon bios will be fierce. But Summer earned her place alongside these greats, and while this version of her life isn’t quite Broadway-ready, it has all the potential. I feel love.
Venue: La Jolla Playhouse, La Jolla, California
Cast: LaChanze, Ariana DeBose, Storm Lever, Jared Zirilli, Jessica Rush, Aaron Krohn, Anissa Felix, Drew Foster, Ari Groover, Afra Hines, Jenny Laroche, Mackenzie Bell
Director: Des McAnuff
Book: Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, Des McAnuff
Songs: Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Paul Jabara and others
Set designer: Robert Brill
Costume designer: Paul Tazewell
Lighting designer: Howell Binkley
Sound designer: Gareth Owen
Projections designer: Sean Nieuwenhuis
Orchestrations: Bill Brendle & Ron Melrose
Music director: Victoria Theodore
Music supervisor: Ron Melrose
Choreographer: Sergio Trujillo
Presented by La Jolla Playhouse
Named one of the top ten shows at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and profiled in the October 16, 2017 New Yorker Magazine.
This is the remarkable true story of four friends from San Francisco who had a life-changing epiphany at a Bette Midler concert that led to them to form The Kinsey Sicks in an effort to find joy during the darkest days of the AIDS crisis. Now that the era of Trumpism is upon us, they’re sharing their hilarious, inspiring and at times heartbreaking tale, showing that hatred and deceit can be fought with humor and heart.
Critics have described the show as “powerful,” “provocative,” “delicious,” “subversive,” “hilarious,” “stirring,” “exquisite,” “electric,” “outrageous,” “heartbreaking,” “brave,” “mesmerizing,” “flawless,” “superb,” “incredibly moving,” ”inventively diabolical,” “riotously funny,” “vitally significant,” and “an absolute must watch.” (For more fabulous reviews, go here.)
So come join America’s Favorite Dragapella® Beautyshop Quartet as they lead us all in resisting these new dark times with laughter, integrity, and heroically high hair in an unforgettable new musical exploring Trumpism, racism, AIDS, extreme macramé, oblong vegetables and, of course, Bette Midler.
(And of course, telling some of Reb Irwin’s previously best kept secrets.)
Note: This show is overflowing with adult content. Discretion advised, in the absence of any at all from the Kinsey Sicks.
VIP tickets are $45 and General Admission, $3o.
Happens at Congregation Ner Shalom 85 La Plaza Cotati, CA 94931
Direct from an award-winning run at Washington D.C.’s Capital Fringe Festival, The Wandering Theatre Company brings its bold new staging of contemporary classic The Laramie Project to New York City’s Access Theatre.
The story of Matthew Shepard broke headlines in 1998. A gay college student, he was kidnapped and beaten by two men, tied to a fence, and left to die in the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. The play is based on more than 200 interviews with Laramie residents conducted during the year immediately following the crime by playwright Moises Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project.
Nearly 20 years later, the play is more relevant than ever. The Wandering Theatre Company’s production reflects on Shepard’s murder, and “more broadly, our present political climate, which may allow people of any racial, gender, ethnic, or sexual orientation minority to feel marginalized,” says Erica Sloan of Washingtonian. Ravelle Brickman wrote in DC Metro Theater Arts, “The Laramie Project is a work that deserves to be seen, again and again. It is a sobering reminder of the hatred and fear that still divides our country.”
A movement-based ensemble, The Wandering Theatre Company explores the play using the Viewpoints method, providing the audience with beautiful dance-like movement and striking tableaus. The minimal stage becomes the town with the infamous fence looming over all. Matthew Shepard, usually unseen, silently throughout this innovative production. Nine other actors embrace 60 roles and let us touch the pulse of small-town America in the 1990s.
Director Natalie Villamonte Zito says, “I chose to do ‘The Laramie Project’ three days after the presidential election; it was my response. We were starting to see hate crimes pop up again all over, toward people of Muslim faith, toward African Americans, toward gay people, so this was just an extremely important story for us to tell again now.”
The Wandering Theatre Company, a movement-based ensemble using The Viewpoint Technique, is dedicated to creating new American plays and reinventing established plays in order to spotlight issues affecting American culture and people.
Due to fires that devastated our community, Art Trails is rescheduled to October 21, 22 and October 28, 29.
Studios NOT OPEN either weekend: 11 Christine MacDonald, 14 Susan Miron, 17 Tom Berto, 25 Barbara Kelly, 26 Lisa Skelly, 28 Bill Gittins, 30 Anne Regan, 31 Char Wood, 32 Dannell Powell, 63 Valerie Adams, 67 Donna DeLaBriandais
Studios open Oct 21-22 ONLY: 34 Rick Blundell, 36 Jennylynn Hall, 39 Sargam Griffin, 58 Beverly Todd Rose, 81 Caro Pemberton, 100 Jay Blums, 147 Sherri Ortegren
Studios open Oct 28-29 ONLY: 1 Martha Mellinger, 9 Ann Iverson, 70 Tamra Sanchez, 134 Carol Peek
Status undetermined at this time: 4 Hugh Buttrum, 6 Evan Garber, 8 Roxanna Ahlborn, 10 Sandra Lane, 15 Wayne Reynolds, 16 Caryn Fried, 62 Ralph Broussard
Art Trails artists are an incredibly caring group and we hope that you will visit the studios that are open to show your support and help the community to heal through art.
Please use this website for the most current information. It is changing daily as new information comes in. Thank you for understanding.
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The Sonoma County Art Trails Collectors Guide is a year-round guide to local artists and businesses. After the Open Studio weekends, some studios are open by appointment only.
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