Drama Talk & Drinks: Dirty Dancing “If they left anything out they would have been criticized for leaving that out”

Katie & Brittany sat this one out, (they reviewed another DD production a few years back) and I took over for the week, to bring a Dirty Dancing superfan (my wife) to see SHN’s latest musical.

Ariel: I had a good time.
Sharon: Me too.
A: But the biggest issue is that it felt to me that instead of a set and set design, the whole thing took place in a pinball game.
S: Yeah, the fact that they projected 90% of the backgrounds made it feel like it was trying to be a film production with live actors.
A: They were in front of video screens almost the whole time. It was really distracting. And it didn’t fit the style.
S: And they changed the set more often than they needed to, which made it feel like beat, beat, beat instead of a flowing story. And all the sets were so literal.
A:  And the story takes place all in one basic setting, they didn’t need to change the backgrounds that much.
S: I did really appreciate the set pieces that were there, I thought they were cool. The orchestra up top and the rotating centerpiece added great dimension to it.
A: Every time they revealed the orchestra it had an impact.
S: Yeah. I was unsure that live music was going to work, but it totally worked. The vocalists were great, and I was glad they were background dancers and not Johnny and Baby, which I had feared. The use of songs was good. The variation between prerecorded and live was solid. The singing and dancing were great. The acting was not as good. I don’t know if that was because of the acting or because of the direction. The movie is so sincere. And in the staged version they were hyper-caricatured versions of those characters. Baby’s sincerity is gone, it’s just her awkwardness, Lisa is just loud and you don’t care for her at all, etc.
A: Right, if you have a movie that has that archetypal feel, then you bring it on stage and lose a lot of the nuance, you reduce them down to the essence and it feels forced.
S: The combination of that with the constantly changing backgrounds/screens, plus, the audience has seen the movie and they clearly felt a responsibility to give everyone the part of the movie they’re looking forward to, and that’s hard.
A: If they left anything out they would have been criticized for leaving that out.
S: And what they ended up leaving out was the flow of it. But I did look forward to every number and scene because I too knew what was coming. But there was some really bad acting by people who are really talented at singing and dancing.
A: They weren’t allowed time to really act. Somewhere along the way pacing was sacrificed for getting every treasured moment in there.
S: It’s a tough one, to please everyone. But they included a lot of scenes that didn’t matter. I wish they had tested this before an audience of super-fans, we could have told them what didn’t matter.
A: On film you can get up in a character’s space, but in theater you’re held at a distance, so if you add more time, it has to be used really skillfully, or else it just feels like dead space. So every moment was filled.
S: Baby was a little too goofy. But they had good chemistry. I warmed up to Johnny. I liked Penny a lot.
A: The dad was more J. Peterman than Jerry Orbach.
S: Yeah, I didn’t like the dad. The mom is pretty much a throwaway character in the movie, unfortunately, and even more so here. Considering the subject matter and how strong Baby is in the movie, the mom and the sister are underused. There was also more humor than there was in the movie, which I had to get used to. I think they were trying to make it entertaining for the whole family, hence humor.
A: The beginning was a little tough to get into, the second act got a little better, but the finale was great.
S: The finale was the best dance.
A: The whole room was lit up by it.
S: And it was finally not relying on the screens. It was just the people dancing, their energy. It’s a tough one, bringing this to the stage. I think they did a pretty good job. I was entertained and wanted to keep watching. It’s worth it if you love seeing live dancing. Now I want to watch the movie again. On the big screen.

The Verdict: If you like to sit at home on your couch and watch Dancing With The Stars, the music and dancing here is well worth getting out of your house. If you’re a huge fan of the movie, you will enjoy seeing it on stage, but maybe you’ll just end up wanting to watch the movie again. And you’ll be excited to go home with a “Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner” shirt.

The Drama Talk: We felt like the producers weren’t able to make this their own, since so many different parts of the movie are iconic to the fans who will come out for this. It’s a difficult challenge, and the storytelling suffered. If the singing and dancing weren’t great, it would be a bomb, but those two aspects helped it still feel worth the experience.

The Drinks: We went out before the show (had to get back for the babysitter) to Farmer Brown. We split a bunch of appetizers, and they were all really good. Especially the ribs and the shrimp hush puppies. Ariel had an Old-Soul Fashioned, which was all kinds of tasty flavors, and nicely strong. Sharon had the Front Porch Ice Tea, which was good, but tasted pretty watery.

Dirty Dancing plays through March 2oth at the Golden Gate Theater, you can buy tickets here.

This needs to be our new jam

This police scanner recording from a couple months ago in response to a reported hookup in Delirium’s bathroom would make a great auto-tuned song.

Dispatch: “Okay, it’s a 311 at 16th and Albion … at The Delirium? And there are people having sex in the bathroom, no description.”
Officer: ” … No sex seems to be happening.”
Dispatch: ” … 311, 16th and Albion, no sex happening.”

Let’s make that happen, someone with musical skillz.

Another abandoned plan for the Mission

Looks like last night someone set about giving this neighborhood what it really needs, a ball pit.

But then things got a little too messy and they had to take care of it.

Arson thwarted

Last night around 8:30 I was coming down San Carlos toward 18th Street when I saw a young man dragging a burning pile into the middle of the street. He then stomped on it and poured a water bottle out over it to extinguish the flames. It wasn’t a large fire, but it had been placed under the construction site on that block. After the fire was out the man told me that he had seen a man, who he thought to be homeless, put a pile of clothes down, light the fire, then run away with another bundle under his arm. He figured the man was out to set more fires, so he drove off to see if he could catch up with him. I went to nearby Mission Station to tell the police what had happened. As soon as they learned that the fire was out they could not have seemed less interested. I was happy to wake up this morning to see that there weren’t any other fires lit last night.

Three buildings in the Castro burned over the weekend. Many homes were burned in an Alamo Square fire on February 1stA man was arrested on February 2nd while trying to start a fire in a building on Valencia near 16th. A man lost his life, and multiple families lost their homes in a large fire on 22nd and Mission on January 28th.

Check your smoke detectors, look out for each other, take whatever preventative measures you can. This city has an uncomfortable history of fires and with all these recent incidents, and an arson on the loose, here’s hoping this doesn’t become a bigger thing.

Non-profit Círculo de Vida loses lease

In case you missed it, Capp Street Crap did a great writeup today on Mission-based non-profit Círculo de Vida losing their lease as tech company Double Dutch expands into their space in the Bay View/US Bank building.

Círculo, which serves primarily low-income immigrants who lack health insurance, provides a wide range of services – from support groups for people with cancer and their children to wigs and prostheses, case management, and in-home support for the terminally ill. Founded in 1992, it has spent the last 11 years at 2601 Mission. Now, it must leave by March 31.

Carmen Ortiz, Círculo’s founder and executive director, said that another non-profit on her floor had to leave after its lease wasn’t renewed last year and that DoubleDutch is now in that space. Even so, Ortiz said she was still surprised to receive a notice from her landlord, knowing the kind of work Círculo does.

Double Dutch claims that they didn’t know their growth was at the expense of Círculo de Vida’s displacement. Nevertheless, it’s a bad sign for our future when we lose a resource for low income Latino families dealing with cancer, so that a tech tool that helps with marketing and events can grow larger. There’s nothing wrong with Double Dutch, or the service it provides, as far as I know (and I didn’t know about them before today), but this city is becoming increasingly unable to take care of the citizens that need its help the most. I have worked for a San Francisco non-profit for almost eleven years and we have had to do a lot of restructuring over and over to be able to stay alive and effective. Even with our efforts, we would not be where we are without the grace of a landlord that truly understands what it means to invest in this city. Unfortunately, Círculo de Vida does not have such a landlord. SF real estate tycoons Vera and Robert Cort have long been targets of community & housing activists, for destroying historic murals, threatening and harassing tenants into leaving, and, in DotCom1, kicking out non-profits to bring in tech companies (number 14, under “Small-Time Scum”). Read on for the larger story on Capp Street Crap.

[pic from Círculo de Vida's Facebook page, via Capp Street Capp]

UPDATE: CSC has a response from Vera Cort.

Sleepwalkers at Urban Putt

Urban Putt, the new-ish mini-golf place with awesomely built SF-based holes and highly-priced fancy cocktails and food, has a rad looking new art installation called Sleepwalkers, by Dan Rosenfeld.

Pretty cool! You can check it out at Urban Putt at 1096 South Van Ness at 22nd.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Shit & Champagne

There’s a new LGBTQ space in town, hallelujah. Brittany & Katie checked it out, here’s their report:

We have been hearing a lot about gay bars closing (Most recently The Lexington and Esta Noche) as well as a lot about the lack of mid-size performance venues. Well, we have some good news! A gay bar that is also a performance venue has just opened. It’s called Oasis and it’s a new 6,000 square foot theater / cabaret / nightclub hosted by Heklina and D’Arcy Drollinger located on Folsom Street in the SOMA district. We first got wind of this from D’Arcy himself when we interviewed him about his last show back in June, so we were very excited to check out his new show Shit & Champagne: A Whitesploitation Comedy with Dance at his new venue.

Katie: The venue is great and being there on opening night of their first performance at the venue was so fun. The energy and excitement around it all felt really special, you could feel how important it was for the people who were there.

Brittany: Yeah, the venue was amazing. Loved the cabaret style seating and the table service. It was really fun.

K: It was also refreshing to go to a show that was interactive and casual but still a formal scripted play, you really felt part of it. The thing is, it was too . . . what’s the word?

B: Campy.

K: Yes! And I’m just not a campy girl. Never been a campy, slap sticky, Austin Powers, poop humor, kind of girl.

B: Looking at the trailer for this, it’s campy as hell. It’s meant to be tongue and cheek slap stick and it delivered on that. That doesn’t mean it’s a great piece of theater. But everyone there was having a great time. There were moments I was laughing and there were performances I thought were great. D’Arcy (who wrote, directed and starred in the show) is just a delightful person. And when he’s onstage you can’t help but like him and enjoy watching him even if you don’t really follow what’s going on.

K: Maybe what could have helped us follow it better is having a couple of drinks before the show . . .

The Verdict:

The Venue: Awesome. If you don’t check out this show definitely go and check out their wide array of entertainment.

The Show: It’s drag meets the Three Stooges meets Austin Powers. Lots of really pun-ny sex jokes and cheap digs. Some of it was smart and clever, but you have to like camp.

The Drama Talk: Not great writing…maybe it’s really good writing for a campy, sexploitation, white comedy, drag show…but its not a traditional play. So don’t expect a play with a well developed plot or deep characters.

The Drinks: The Oasis has two bars as well as table service, so getting drinks is very easy. The drinks were basic, but good and well priced. We suggest getting there a little early and having one or two before the show starts.

Shit & Champagne runs through February 14th at Oasis and tickets are available at the website. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. There are also a limited amount of tickets available on Goldstar for $12.50.

Drama Talk & Drinks: I won’t name names

There’s comedy at El Rio! Katie & Brittany checked it out and liked it! Here’s their report:

[image via El Rio]

Comedy Returns to El Rio! Although it technically never left. We just didn’t realize it was there. Now in its 6th year, this monthly comedy showcase (called Comedy Returns to El Rio) is held every 3rd Thursday and features an eclectic, multicultural mix of comedians. MC’ed by Kung Pao Comedy’s Lisa Geduldig, we saw an impressive line-up of Joe Klocek, Jabari Davis, Yuri Kagan, Lisa Geduldig AND Marga Gomez. Every month is a new line-up of some of the Bay Area’s best comedians trying out some new material. Comedy, drama talk & drinks at El Rio, what’s not to like?

Katie: For a super cheap comedy night at a dive bar I was very impressed. Lisa, the MC, has a very endearing personality, she had funny things to say, she’s likeable, and she kept the night moving. All the comedians were quick and dirty, the whole show was about an hour and a half. Usually when I go to these smaller comedy shows I like one person and don’t really like anyone else. This time I really liked everyone, except for one person…but I won’t name names.

Brittany: I thought it was hilarious. Another comedy show that I like a lot is The Business at The Dark Room, and this felt similar – people trying out new material in a small intimate space. But many of the comedians who perform at The Business are all still pretty young and aren’t necessarily doing comedy for a living. It was neat that these comedians had been in the business for awhile and could read an audience. They were really on top of it. These were professional comedians, which I wasn’t expecting since it’s a $7 comedy show.

The Verdict: Out of the many small local comedy shows this one is worth checking out. It was as good of a comedy show as you would see at the Punchline or Cobbs but waaaay cheaper.

The Drama Talk: Comedy shows very much depend on the talent that the producer books. The lineup of the show we saw was awesome, hopefully she does that for every show… we have a good feeling she does.

The Drinks: The great thing about shows at bars is it’s easy to get a drink before, during and after the show. We recommend getting to El Rio before 8pm to have a drink and snag a good seat. Then grab your second drink right before the show starts (even if you haven’t quite finished your first). There isn’t an intermission and the bar is in the next room, so getting a second drink during the show is kind of tricky. No one will judge you for double fisting, at least we won’t.

Comedy Returns to El Rio! is every 3rd Thursday of the month. Next show is January 15th at 8-9:30pm. Tix: $7-$20. Available through BrownPaperTickets or at the door. Advance Tickets-rear room/7:30pm door/8 show.

Your Drama Talk & Drinks Holiday Guide

Here at DT&D we feel like every season is a good season to see theater. But the holiday season, with the relative cold, rain and staycation days, is perfect for getting into some cozy theaters. Katie & Brittany suggest some local shows that you might want to check out. Here’s their report:

[file photo by me]

From gin & tonicah Hanukkah fetes, to ugly sweater parties, to awkward office eggnog-a-thons, your calendar may already be booked through 2015. But for those of you who are looking for a theater fix, or to find a family friendly outing while people are in town, we didn’t want to leave you hanging. Although we normally don’t recommend shows without prior viewing, with holiday parties and cold and flu season upon us, we just didn’t have time to see everything. But that’s no reason for you to miss out. So without further ado, here’s our round-up of what caught our eye this holiday season that we didn’t get to see.

Looking for laughs?

A Merry Forking Christmas
PianoFight’s brand-spanking-new-Kickstarter-funded venue is opening this week! The first show to pop the champagne on its main stage is A Merry Forking Christmas, their reliably funny choose-your-own-adventure holiday sketch show. Go check out PianoFight’s new digs, try their new bar, and forget about your holiday stress. From the mouths of marketers:

The Holidays are the most magical time of the year, unless you’re stuck in the mall on Christmas Eve. PianoFight’s A Merry FORKING! Christmas chronicles the final hours of the Christmas shopping frenzy through the eyes of a pot-dealing Santa and his cookie-stand partner in crime, a mall security guard on his last legs, a bride-to-be deserted by her would-be fiancé, and a bored mortician who’s got nothing to do until people get back to the business of dying once the holidays have ended. The fates of these five characters and whether Christmas can be saved for each is left up to the audience who will vote at crucial forks in the plot to determine the final outcome. This December, with 362,880 possible paths through the show, saving Christmas is up to you. Get your tickets here.


Group photo show at Cha Cha Cha

I know, it’s raining. If you’re stir crazy from sheltering in place all day today, here’s a good reason to venture out. Our good buddy Troy Holden wrote in to let us know that tonight (Thursday) is the opening for a group photo exhibition, featuring his own work as well as the works of Dave Glass and Emmanuel Blackwell. These are all photographers I admire, each one capturing a very real, very valuable and very unique side of our city’s life. Troy adds:

“We’ve taken down all the old random photos at Cha Cha Cha and replaced them with huge (4 feet!) photos of the neighborhood around 19th and Mission Street. The printer did amazing work. The photos span from the late 1960s through 2014 and are a permanent installation. A second round will be installed in the spring.”


Ariel Dovas

Posts: 723

Email: ariel (at) missionmission.org

Website: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eviloars/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/eviloars

Biographical Info:

This guy moved to the neighborhood from his hometown of Santa Cruz in '93. Now he makes movies and does a bunch of other weird stuff.