Drama Talk & Drinks: Totes Blessed – “we’re kinda ‘basic bitches’”

It’s good to to be able to laugh at ourselves, especially our #bestlife Instagram personas. Which is what drew us to Totes Blessed the new sketch show by Chardonnay Comedy now playing at PianoFight. The show promised  ”a safe space to unpack what being basic even means” which sounded like a pretty hilarious way to spend a night of Drama Talk and Drinks.

Totes Blessed

Brittany: That was so fun. It’s sketch, so not every bit was a winner, but generally I had a great time.

Katie: I was genuinely entertained. I would have loved a little more diversity in the ladies in the group. I felt like they were making fun of a very white privileged lifestyle. The message of the show was also a little unclear. The first quarter they make fun of being a “basic bitch” and then they say it’s okay to be “basic” because we should empower women to be themselves and not judge them for loving the things the love, like brunch. Then they made fun of being basic some more.

B: Part of me feels like they were just acknowledging the fact that yeah, we’re kinda “basic bitches” and we recognize that. We like “basic bitch” things like pumpkin spice everything, and juice cleanses, and group colonics, and posting inspirational quotes on social media. We know it’s ridiculous, but that’s still just us. I agree it was a mixed message, but I think that’s okay. It’s not a super feminist piece or a very deep show, but it’s still a lot of fun. It’s not going to change the world or the environment…oh that poor polar bear.

K: When it got shot it was really funny though. Also that LA yoga-girl podcast sketch was amazing. I feel like that one also did a good job calling out their whiteness.

B: Yeah, that was hilarious. I also liked the Ivanka and Melania Trump Thanksgiving skit, and the Tilden Swinton on Sesame Street sketch was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

The Verdict: Great for a ladies night out. If you are a white women between the ages of 25-35 you will for sure enjoy this show. Generally if you’re in your 20s or 30s and living in SF you’ll probably think this is pretty funny.

The Drama Talk: The Chardonnay Comedy troupe is a filled with a bunch of very funny Bay Area 20/30 something women, and that is the experience that this show draws from. As Bay Area 30 something cis-women ourselves, we thought it was pretty hilarious, as did our dates (two white Bay Area 30 something cis-men). We don’t think our grandparents would find this show very funny, since they wouldn’t get the references, but that’s part of what makes this show so fun. It holds up a carnival mirror to our culture, and forces us to laugh at ourselves.

The Drinks: PianoFight is awesome because it also has a restaurant and bar, so we got dinner and drinks before the show there (they have a special “Basic Bitch” cocktail on the menu to get you in the mood). While we usually stay and debrief at the PianoFight bar, this time we decided to check out a newer bar on the same block called Biig for our post-show drinks. This is a bar with no menu, limited seating, and music at a volume level that encourages intimate meaningful conversation. It’s very adult, very posh and we loved it.

Chardonnay Comedy’s Totes Blessed runs Friday and Saturday nights through November 18th at PianoFight. Tickets are available through Eventbrite and range from $15-$40.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Disney’s Aladdin – “All flash and no substance.”

A Disney caravan rolled into town this week, with the opening of the Broadway tour of Aladdin at SHN’s Orpheum Theater. It’s a favorite childhood movie for both of your DT&D columnists, so we decided to check it out.

Photo Credit: Deen van Meer  Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Anthony Murphy (Genie). Disney's Aladdin North American Tour Original Cast. ©Disney.

Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Anthony Murphy (Genie). Disney’s Aladdin North American Tour Original Cast. ©Disney. Photo Credit: Deen van Meer 

Brittany: It was so shiny and flashy. I guess it’s Disney, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but it had such amazingly high production values. The costumes were gorgeous and there were hundreds of them and the sets were crazy. I mean, fireworks happened on stage multiple times, and they actually rode a flying carpet, that’s nuts.

Katie: Totally, but for me, that’s all this show had going for it. I’m a huge Aladdin fan, and I just don’t think it translated to the stage. It was just super cheesy.  I get that they had to make changes to make it work as a musical, but all the changes were lame. I had hoped they would add value in their re-imagining of the movie for the stage, but they just added a bunch of terrible filler songs. Super disappointing.

B: Agreed the filler songs weren’t great. I also was disappointed that they got rid of the animal sidekicks and added in a bunch of one-dimensional annoying friends for Aladdin and Jasmine instead. In the movie Aladdin and Jasmine don’t have any friends (who are people), which is part of what drives the story.  Given how good they are at spectacle, and how well Disney has done animals on stage for shows like the Lion King, it’s strange they didn’t make some super creative costumes that allowed the play to keep those characters. I wanted Abu and Rajah!

K: This show was just disappointing. The adaptation was lackluster and none of the actors blew me away. Jafar wasn’t scary, Aladdin was too self-confident to be endearing, and I thought all the new characters they added were dumb.

B: The songs “Never Had A Friend Like me” and “Prince Ali”  were damn impressive, and met my expectations in terms of generating wide-eyed excitement, but you’re right, all this show had going for it is spectacle. Big show-stopping numbers with impressive tech.

K: It felt like a money grab to me. All flash and no substance.

The Verdict: This show could be a fun way to introduce a kid to theater since it’s so technically impressive, and they probably won’t mind the lack of depth. But if you are an Aladdin fan we recommend staying in and just re-watching the movie.

The Drama Talk: Aladdin is a valuable Disney francise, and this show is just another way for producers to cash-in on the brand. If all you want is to see some gorgeous costumes, cinematically beautiful sets, and a few big song and dance numbers than you may like this. For us, it fell short of the movie. Jafar wasn’t nearly as scary, Aladdin wasn’t nearly as deep, and Jasmine didn’t feel as strong. It feels like this production is really made for kids who care more about spectacle than storyline.

The Drinks: We’ve been to the Orpheum enough times that we now have official SHN cups that we bring to the theater with us. These cups, which you can also purchase with your drink order, allow you to bring drinks into the theatre to enjoy during the show. This Aladdin is definitely a spectacle better appreciated with some bubbly.

Aladdin runs through January 7th at the Orpheum Theater. Tickets are available on their website for $45-$200. There are $40 in-person rush tickets available.  Goldstar also currently has tickets for $55-$75.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Role Call – “Am I supposed to be impressed with how actorly you can be?”

We have never seen a show from the company FoolsFURY so we were excited to learn about their new show Role Call, which is comprised of two new one-woman shows by local theater artists. The first piece Sheryl, Hamlet and Me, written and performed by Michelle Haner “explores the costs of ambition in the digital era.” The second piece (dis)Place[d], written and performed by Debórah Eliezer, “tells her story as the child of a first-generation immigrant to America ‘caught between cultures.’” We have also never been NOH Space where the pieces were being performed. So we headed to Potrero Hill for for some new experiences and drama talk and drinks.

Debórah Eliezer, left, and Michelle Haner, right. Photo by Wendy Yalom

Debórah Eliezer, left, and Michelle Haner, right. Photo by Wendy Yalom

Brittany: I wish I could say something positive, because I really want to support female voices, local playwrights and small scale theater. Both of these shows were  just so out of touch with what most people would want to watch, I just don’t think I can recommend it.

Katie: Yeah, I completely agree…I don’t know what else to say right now. I didn’t connect with either piece… at times they almost felt like parodies of one-woman shows. Both scripts were all over the place, they never let me fully connect to the stories they were trying to tell. And a big personal pet peeve, both of the actors did characters that had accents which were inconsistent.

B: Yeah, there were tons of little messy things like that which took me out of both pieces, but I think the biggest challenges with both of these plays is they tried to do too much. The second play (dis)Place[d] had some good moments, and I liked the concept of telling this very personal story about her father’s life to explore her complicated Jewish-Arab identity. However, she tried to play too many characters, and wasn’t able to do them all well, which detracted from the story. Also that bizarre, poetic desert-goddess character really took me out of it.

K: Yeah, I could have definitely done without that, and the weird recorded voice with the echo effect with the over the top movement.  I did love when she (Debórah Eliezer) sang though, she has a beautiful voice. A simpler telling of the same story would have been so much better.

B: Then the first piece, Sheryl, Hamlet, and Me, I didn’t enjoy at all. Sometimes actors take themselves way too seriously, and this play is a perfect example of how out of touch theater can feel when that happens. I studied acting, so I get where the breathing and stylized movement come from, but when taken to this extreme it just feels self indulgent. Am I supposed to be impressed with how actorly you can be? She made a few good points about how is Facebook creepy, but it wasn’t that insightful. It almost felt like she realized she had to make a point that people could connect with, and so she decided to pander to tech hating in the Bay Area since that’s an easy target.

K: Yeah, I don’t really know what she was going for, but I didn’t connect to this piece at all. If you could come for just one of the shows (dis)Place[d] felt like it had potential, but Sheryl, Hamlet and Me I’d definitely skip.

The Verdict: Not a show we would recommend for non-theatergoers. Maybe not even a show we would recommend for frequent theatergoers, although it is always interesting to see new plays by local female playwrights.

The Drama Talk: While it’s clear both of the women who created and performed these shows are talented, we didn’t particularly enjoy either of these plays. They try to do too much, they indulge in overly stylized techniques to the detriment of their stories, and they just weren’t that engaging. With some major edits (dis)Place[d] could be a really lovely piece. While Sheryl, Hamlet and Me tried some interesting techniques with video, the story just wasn’t there. We didn’t care about any of the characters (Sheryl Sandberg, Hamlet or the playwright as herself), and so we didn’t really care about the play.

The Drinks: We checked out Darger Bar, which was once Dear Mom. We liked the reboot. Still a lot of seating and relaxed atmosphere but a better drink and food menu.

Role call plays until October 22nd at NOH Space. Tickets are available on their website for $30. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar for $15.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Mineola Twins – “Ridiculously relevant”

Fall theater season is upon us, which means lots of great new shows to see around the Bay Area. Cutting Ball Theater’s first show of their 17/18 season just opened at the Exit Theater on Taylor. The Mineola Twins, by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paula Vogel, is a “razor sharp satire about domestic upheaval in times of political progress and in the rise of conservatism”. It sounded like a pretty timely topic, so we headed over the the TL for some drama talk and drinks.

Elissa Beth Stebbins as Myra (right), Steve Thomas (left) and Sango Tajima (center) Photo by Liz Olson

Elissa Beth Stebbins as Myra (right), Steve Thomas (left) and Sango Tajima (center) Photo by Liz Olson

Katie: That was so interesting! What a cool story! I wish I went in knowing a little bit more about the script. Usually I like to be surprised, but this was such a smart show, I think may have gotten more out of the first few scenes if I had known more about the story.

Brittany: I really liked it. The woman who played the twins (Elissa Beth Stebbins) was amazing. She played each sister so well I honestly couldn’t tell at first if there were two different but nearly identical looking actors, or just one amazing actor playing both roles. Turns out it was just one incredibly talented person, but her physicality was so good each character was totally distinct.

K: Yes, she was remarkable. It was such an interesting show too. I was constantly curious about where the story was going to go next.  It is ridiculously relevant to what the country is going through now and it’s a play that was written in the 90s. I think it did such a great job at creatively exploring the left versus right, conservative versus liberal.

B:  Yes it’s super timely. It also makes you reflect on your own beliefs, and that feeling of superiority that comes with feeling you have the moral high-ground. It’s great to see a play that reveals so much about the division in our society without hitting the audience over the head with politics too. It was just a compelling story about twins, who while they couldn’t be more different, still are the same.

The Verdict: Go see it! Great actors and a super relevant script make it an enjoyable thought-provoking evening.

The Drama Talk: Even though this play was written in the 90s it couldn’t feel more contemporary and in-tune with the political turmoil happening today. Cutting Ball Theater always does really relevant work, but their artistic director did a great job picking this play for this season. Beyond a great script the lead actor Elissa Beth Stebbins was remarkable. It’s worth going just to see her performance. While there were some nitpicky things that we didn’t love, the show as a whole was so engaging nothing could really detract.

The Drinks: A block from the Exit on Theater, is a chill cocktail bar in the Tilden Hotel called The Douglas Room. It has great cocktails and delicious well priced snacks. We also love that they had plenty of seating the two times we have gone. It was a great place to debrief about this thought provoking show.

The Mineola Twins plays through October 29th the Exit on Taylor. Tickets range are $35 and can be purchased on their website. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar for $15-$20.

Drama Talk & Drinks on BFF.fm Roll Over Easy

Yesterday Drama Talk & Drinks sat down for coffee with our friends on the Roll Over Easy show on BFF.fm to talk about the theater scene in SF.


What’s Roll Over Easy you ask?:

Roll Over Easy is a radio show that’s all about starting your day off right. We take you from under the covers to after coffee every Thursday morning, and along the way we’ll give you plenty of good tunes and fun conversation about the City you know and love. 

Our hope is that by the end each show you’ll be a bit more knowledgeable about San Francisco, and hopefully a bit more in love with it too. Our show takes place in a fictional diner and is made from one part us, one part you, and a dash of coffee.

So if you’re waking up next to your babe or if Muni is making you late for the 4th time this week, let Sequoia & The Early Bird serenade you with the sweet sounds of a proper San Francisco good morning. 

If you ever wondered what your DT&D writers sounded like in-person here’s your chance! Our interview begins roughly mid-way through the episode (at the 1:06 mark) – but give the whole show a listen for lots of SF love.

Drama Talk & Drinks: A Tale of Autumn – “A long philosophy lesson”

Bay Area Obie award-winning playwright Christopher Chen‘s latest work, A Tale of Autumn, just had its’ world premiere at Potrero Stage. One of DT&D favorite theater companies, Crowded Fire Theater, commissioned the work “a psychological rise-to-power fable”, so we knew we wanted to check it out for Drama Talk & Drinks.

Lawrence Radecker as Dave (left) and Shoresh Alaudini as Gil (right)  Photo by Cheshire Isaacs

Lawrence Radecker as Dave (left) and Shoresh Alaudini as Gil (right)
Photo by Cheshire Isaacs

Katie: What just happened? I was so excited for this show, and that was just…meh.

Brittany: I feel bad. For the first act I was like, “cool, I’m with you”. There were some good actors, a smart script exploring some cool concepts, but I wish it ended at the end of the first act. I mean, I know it didn’t make sense as an ending, but the whole second act felt like a long philosophy lesson. It totally lost momentum.

K: I agree, I just felt like the story could have been more concise. It was like we were being hit over the head with the concept that the ends can’t justify the means. Cool I get it. How is this helping to move the story along? There were a lot of words coming at me and it didn’t help me connect to the characters. A strong story is really important to me, without that I just stop caring.

B:  It wasn’t like the people in it weren’t talented, or the set wasn’t cool, the set was really cool. It was just over written. You can make a point without jamming it down people’s throats.

K: I agree. I don’t think I’ll be telling friends to run out and see this one, but I have for multiple other Crowded Fire shows. This is a piece that seems like it could use some work.

B: Love Crowded Fire though, they always do interesting, innovative work. This one was a bit too much like a lecture.

The Verdict:  If you are a Bay Area theater nerd, you should probably see it. Christopher Chen is a prominent local playwright, and this is the world premiere of his latest work. Otherwise, if you aren’t really into Bay Area theater and having your pulse on the local theater scene, this is probably one you can skip.

The Drama Talk: This is such a promising play, but needs some edits to live up to its potential.  There were lots of cool and smart things A Tale of Autumn explores  -  like what is the line between selfishness and self care, and should we as a society trust “benevolent” companies, but the story gets lost in the philosophizing in the second act. While this show has lots of bright moments, a cool set, and some great actors, it just collapsed under its own weight.

The Drinks: As always after a show at the Potrero Stage, we headed up the hill to Blooms for some drinks with a view.

A Tale of Autumn plays through October 7th at the Potrero Stage. Tickets range from $15-35 and can be purchased on their website. The company also offers the following discounts: Student Tickets are always $15! (Please bring i.d.). Seniors (65+), TBA/TCG Members: $3 off at checkout.Groups of 5 or more receive an automatic 15% savings at checkout

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A night out in the Mission


Local Livejournal user Honey Jets tells us about a busy night out in a 2-block area of the Mission:

Elisa and Jane met me at Jono’s place at about 5:30. I put my shoes on while we watched Jojo’s video on Vimeo, and then we headed toward the Make-Out Room. Jane had to wait in line for a while to get her hand stamp, so Elisa and I walked around trying to figure out where to eat. Elisa didn’t want anything greasy or fried or containing dairy, so Wes Burger was out, Mission Chinese was out, Escape from New York was out, and F.O.B. Kitchen was out. We settled on Mateo’s. Jess met us there. I ran into Amy and a friend on my way to the salsa bar and we talked about meeting at Doc’s Clock after. On our way out of Mateo’s we ran into Omar and a friend, and we caught up for about half a block. At Make-Out Room Jonathan Richman was pretty good, and we ran into Joe. During the break, Joe and I talked outside about how he, me, Jess and Will had all been in Nashville recently. I told my “P.G. band” story, and he told me a cool story about how English people are different from Americans. After the encore, Jess and I headed for the New Mission. At the bar we ran into Mike and chatted for a minute, mostly about how good he is at his job. Upstairs we waved at Dave and Atousa who were in the row in front of us. Wild Beasts was as gnarly as promised, if not gnarlier. Terror Tuesday rules. After the movie we said bye to Mike, and then to Jess who went home to go to sleep. We joined up with Dave’s friend Brendan and went to Doc’s. Kevin was there already and we talked for a minute about how the new Doc’s is pretty good. Dave and company had gotten a table, so I joined them and we talked about the movie, at length. Dave and Atousa bickered a little (in a cute way) about fried chicken, we talked about plans for Friday, and then I strolled home, and ‘grammed an arty photo of the median on Guerrero in the moonlight.

I think it’s supposed to be a throwback to posts like this and this from July 2011, which in turn were I think some kind of homage to our dear departed Janebook.

Read on for a brief epilogue about the following morning. (And do go to all those restaurants, and do check out Amy’s blog about the Mission and Omar’s cookies and Mike’s Terror Tuesday lineup and new Doc’s Clock.)

The Salesforce awakens

Local artist Steve MacDonald aka Ramblin Worker says:

#sanfrancisco is getting so crazy! I look out my window & I really thought it was the #deathstar

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Puke plea

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[via Doc Pop]

Now please enjoy all these other pleas…