Front Row Reviews

“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

“People Where They Are” Dissolves the “Us and Them” Paradigm

CATHLEEN RIDDLEY, BRADY MORALES-WOOLERY Photos by Dave Lapori Anthony Clarvoe’s powerful play at The Stage in San Jose reflects the contemporary landscape of racial and socio-economic conflicts, gun violence, and the spreading of white supremacy. But the time of the play is the 1950’s, and the place is the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee. … Read more

“Miriam and Esther go to the Diamond District” Fails to Sparkle

Andrea Gordon’s world premiere of “Miriam and Esther go to the Diamond District” at the Magic Theatre blends a fictionalized autobiography, fantasy, opera, and dancing. The plot line is a predictable siblings-come-together-after-parent-dies tale. Miriam and Esther, daughters of a renowned pianist and opera-singing mother, find themselves back in their childhood home after the recent passing of … Read more


Fences at 6th St Playhouse

“Fences” Spotlights 1950’s Racism   Photo: Mark Anthony (Cory), Val Sinckler (Rose), and Keene Hudson (Troy). Photos: Eric Chazankin 6th Street Playhouse presents a captivating production of August Wilson’s renowned play, “Fences,” that skillfully captures the emotional landscape of the African-American experience in the 1950s. Set in 1957, the narrative revolves around the 53-year-old, edgy … Read more

Swimming With Lesbians

“Swimming With Lesbians” Embarks on a Romantic Voyage by Patricia L. Morin Marga Gomez’s comedic 14th solo show, “Swimming With Lesbians,” at The Marsh, launches us on a wild ride aboard the Celesbian, the lesbian cruise ship headed to the Isle of Lesbo. Using her experience as a lesbian cruise-ship entertainer, she introduces a potpourri … Read more

“NUNCRACKER” Spreads Hilarious Holiday Humor


It’s been quite some time since I laughed this hard. Playwright Dan Goggin’s “Little Sisters of Hoboken” and Father Virgil bring full-speed humor to the stage. From handing random audience members tokens upon entry and quipping, “It’s been a while since you’ve been to confession,” we are thoroughly entertained. What a respite in a world … Read more

“White Christmas”: A vibrant remake of a classic

In the midst of today’s chaotic world, Coastal Repertory Theatre’s production of “White Christmas” swiftly draws us into the holiday spirit. The infectious “feel-good” atmosphere is accentuated by an impressive multi-set, meticulously crafted by Doug McCurdy. The production radiates vitality through its blend of songs, music, and dance. We are enveloped in a wondrous and … Read more