Front Row Reviews

Evita,the musical, spotlights the power of one woman

SF Playhouse and Director Bill English brilliantly orchestrates a large ensemble to showcase the multifaceted life of Argentina’s first lady, Eva Perón. Creative lighting by Michael Oesch and varied accompanying music directed by David Dobrusky immerse the audience in the 1940s era. The scenic design by Heather Kenyon’s include movable props: stairs, podiums, tables, chairs, and … Read more

“Who’s-Dead McCarthy” Speaks to Our Inner Selves

Word for Word and Z Space Z Space’s artistic Word for Word program blends the genres of story-telling and theatre. Each word of a classic short story spoken as well as enacted.  In “Who’s-Dead McCarthy,” Director Paul Finocchiaro perceptively tunes into the work of renowned Irish novelist and short-story artist Kevin Barry. He then empowers … Read more

“Noises Off” Spins Social Interactions into Comedy Gold   

Novato Theater Company Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off” is a sharp, witty, and intricately twisted laugh-out-loud farce about a play that is, in itself, a farce. It hilariously explores human behaviors, their complexities, follies, and deceits. Under Carl Jordan’s creatively honed direction, this fast-paced comedy leaps from order to chaos, mirroring our tumultuous society. A Bay … Read more

“Ghost of King” Awakens King’s Powerful Passion for Humanity

Michael Wayne Turner III as Martin Luther King Jr. Thanks to the Producer, Xavier Rernard Cunningham, and the endless talent of writer, performer, Michael Wayne Turner III, we are touched to be present at Martin Luther King Jr’s last sermon. At Oakland Theatre Project, we sit waiting for the reading to begin. We hear the … Read more

“Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons” Serves Up A Twist in Language

Argo Thompson (Oliver) and Rosie Frater (Bernadette)  Photos: Dana Hunt/Courtesy of Left Edge Theatre Sam Steiner’s play, “Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons,” at Left Edge Theatre creatively explores the unique power of words. This “out-of-the-box” production challenges us to consider how many words we “really” need to convey thoughts and feelings. It also examines the … Read more

Torch Song, a Drag Queen’s Lament

Marin Theatre’s “Torch Song” delivers a magnificent heart-rending journey of a drag queen’s quest for love, respect, and acceptance.   We meet fast-talking, gregarious Arnold Beckoff (Dean Linnard) dressed in a shimmering gown performing drag under a 1980s theatre marquee. Arnold sings the soulful “I See Two Lovers,” by Helen Morgan, adding comic twists that … Read more

“The Book Club Play” Spotlights Group Connections

Karen Zacarías’ comedic production, “The Book Club Play,” staged at Ross Valley Players, superbly captures the quirks of a book-reading group and the cultural, racial, class complexities that may accompany it. Ronald E. Krempetz Scenic Design of a comfortable living room with a light-colored recliner and chair on one side and full couch on the … Read more

“Red Red Red” Challenges A Gay Identity

Oakland Theatre Project, known for profound experimental premiere work, has created a mesmerizing psychedelic portrait of a young, queer man attempting to reclaim his identity. Within a drab tan room, a bed slants forward on wooden pallets resting on a floor above boulders. Objects are strewn in and on milk and vegetable crates. A small … Read more

Blithe Spirit Ghostly Comedy Shines

Benicia Theatre Group resurrects Noel Coward’s charming comedy, “Blithe Spirit! What a wonderful timely enchanting gift to the Benicia community, and beyond, for their 60th year anniversary.  We are first taken by Brian Hough’s exquisite four-piece set construction, crafted with artistic flair by the talented designer, Beate Bruhl. The walls are adorned with elegant hues … Read more

“The Hello Girls” Spotlights Women Warriors  

Sonoma Arts Live “The Hello Girls” masterfully blends a first-rate musical with a tumultuous WWI offensive, showcasing five spirited and courageous women warriors. Set Designer Laurynn Malilay and Maeve Smith skillfully incorporate both orchestra and characters on stage. Three characters even play musical instruments. Four chairs face the audience, and the actors impressively animate working … Read more

“The Tutor” Exposes Cultural Repression

New Conservatory Theatre Center, in association with Golden Thread Productions, presents Torange Yeghiazarian’s compelling Iranian/American production “The Tutor.” “The Tutor” delves into deception as a cultural defense against the terror of Tehran’s “morality laws.” Iranian immigrant, spirited 25-year-old Baran (dynamic Maya Nazzal), finds herself navigating an unfamiliar culture amid a complex situation. Recently Baran wed … Read more

“The 39 steps” sprints with suspenseful Satire

SF Playhouse breathes new life into the uproarious and fast-paced suspense, “The 39 Steps.” John Buchan adapted the play from Patrick Barlow’s 1915 thriller novel of the same name (spelled The Thirty-Nine Steps). The play incorporates elements from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 film adaptation. Director Susi Damilano skillfully preserves Hitchcock’s dry wit and lightning-fast slapstick humor. … Read more

“The Divine Sarah” Illuminates a Musical Biography

“The Divine Sarah,” presented by Ross Valley Players at the Barn Theater, brilliantly mirrors the life of the dynamic French Diva Sarah Bernhardt from the 1800s. This collaborative musical play, from its conceptualization to its world premiere on stage, has been forty years in the making. Penned by June Richards and featuring diverse musical styles … Read more

“Cost of Living” Magnifies Vulnerabilities of the Physically Disabled

 Martyna Majok’s thought-provoking play “Cost of Living,” staged at Oakland Theater Project, delves deeply into the physical constraints and emotional turmoil experienced by the physically disabled. Under Emile Whelan’s insightful direction, sentimentality gives way to raw, moment-to-moment portrayals of two couples. Whelan adeptly balances the characters’ emotions with the weighty challenges they face. The unique … Read more