Drama Talk & Drinks: Pre-Show Talk with soon-to-be Bay Area celebrity kid- Tyler Patrick Hennessy

San Francisco is often referred to as Neverland.  It makes sense then, that a kid that grows up in the Bay Area would be a perfect cast-member for the first tour of Finding Neverland, a Broadway hit about the origins of the Peter Pan story based on the 2004 film by the same name.

Tyler Patrick Hennessy, a young Walnut Creek native, is living the stage-kid dream and is currently on the road playing the roles of Jack and Michael in Finding Neverland. When Drama Talk & Drinks learned that we had some local talent on the tour, we wanted to sit down with Tyler to learn a little more about him and the show (so we could legitimately say we knew him before he was a famous).

finding-neverlandTyler-Patrick-Hennessy

 

 

 

 

 

DT&D: Tyler, How did you first get involved in theater?

Tyler: My three older sisters all did theater first, and it looked like a lot of fun, so I wanted to try it. That’s how I originally got involved.

DT&D: Why should people come see this show, Finding Neverland

T: I think people should come and see the show because it’s a lot of fun, they get to have time to be a kid again.

DT&D: What’s it like to be on tour?

T: It’s really fun. I like all the people in the cast. They’re so nice.

DT&D: What’s the most exciting part of the tour?

T: I had never really been past Arizona before, so when I got to go to New York for the auditions, and then to rehearsals Buffalo, that was really exciting. I love performing. It’s really fun to do the play in-front of different audiences and see their reactions. I’m excited to perform in LA, and in San Francisco for my friends and family.

DT&D: Before you were cast in this tour you primarily did shows in the Bay Area, what are some of your favorite places you’ve performed?

T: I had a lot of fun when I was in Ragtime at Stage 1 Theater (e.d. note: in Newark, California.) I also have been in shows at the Lesher Center for the Arts (e.d. note: in Walnut Creek) which I really liked.

DT&D: Do you have a favorite thing to do in SF or the Bay Area when you’re not in a play?

T: I like watching Giants games with my dad. Buster Posey is my favorite.

If you want to check-out this soon-to-be Bay Area celebrity, Finding Neverland opens at SHN’s Orpheum Theater on January 18th and runs through February 12th. Tickets are available on their website and range from $55-$125, or if you want to try your luck, they have a limited number of $40 rush tickets available for each night of the show – rush instructions here. Stay tuned for our DT&D review of the show coming soon!Save

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Speakeasy – “appreciate where you are in the moment”

For those of you who missed the The Speakeasy the first time around, it’s an immersive play set in prohibition-era San Francisco. It had a sell out run in the TL in 2014. After losing their space, they decided to find a more permanent one to keep the show running. They closed for about a year, did an awesome crowd-funded micro investment campaign, got a space on the North Beach/Chinatown border, and set about to converting it into a real, three times bigger than the original, Speakeasy.  When The Speakeasy officially re-opened we knew we had to see it again, so Brittany donned her flapper dress, and brought Sam with her for a fresh perspective. After the show we stumbled over to Vesuvio to dissect what we had just experienced. We pushed our way into a table with a lovely couple who were also dressed as a flapper and a gangster. As we had guessed, they had also just seen the show, so we asked them to join us for drama talk and drinks.

The Speakeasy. Megan Wicks as Velma. Photo by Peter Liu

Gangster: It was striking how much effort went into transporting the audience. The production value, the set design, the sound design, the different story lines, how immersive it was, I loved it. It’s nice to be able to put away our modern life, put the cell phones away for the night, and just experience something amazing.

Flapper: I agree, I enjoyed having a night out with no phones. The show was so intricate, there were so many things going on, but it never felt forced or fake. We were just comparing our experiences and it was fun because we each got something different out of it. There are so many story-lines, I could see how you could go back over and over again and still see something new. If you spend the night in the casino, you’ll have a totally different night than someone who stays in the cabaret, or watches the dressing rooms. It’s also fun to see a theater performance, with performances in it, so you see the characters on the stage in the cabaret, and then you get to see their back stories and feel like you’re behind the scenes.

Sam: It was also fun to be integrated into the scene in a way that you aren’t normally in theater. You’re an audience member in the cabaret, which is a play within a play, so you almost have to become a character yourself. Everyone dresses the part too, like you guys look amazing, you can’t tell the audience from the actors.

Brittany: I think what’s great about this show, compared to other immersive theater plays I’ve seen, is you really have a hard time parsing fiction from reality. In shows like Sleep No More you know the plot. When you see a character you know who they are and their role in the story. Here you don’t know the story-lines, and you have no idea who is in the play and who is an audience member, which makes the discovery process that much more exciting.

F: Exactly, this is the first time in a long time I’ve left a show and really wanted to talk about. Like, which things did you see, what pieces of the plot do you have, because you only get bits and pieces of the show. We didn’t know how much we were supposed to stick to a structured thing, so we didn’t really move around the space until the second half of the show when we realized there were other rooms. I am sure there is a ton we missed.

B: I think no matter what you’re going to miss something, you just have to appreciate where you are in the moment.

S: So true, I think my favorite part was a scene we watched while we were spying on the office where two actors were performing, and just three of us were watching. No one else got to see that bit of plot, and that made the experience that much more special.

The Verdict: Absolutely a must see. We didn’t think it was possible to like this show more than the first time we reviewed it, but this new space is amazing, the show is tighter and overall the experience is more impressive. Yes, it’s expensive, and you have to budget for some of their delicious cocktails too, but buy it as a gift to yourself. It’s totally worth it.

The Drama Talk: The Speakeasy space is absolutely amazing. The cabaret is beautiful, the bar feels smoky even though there’s no smoke, and you totally feel like a creeper snooping into the ultra realistic dressing rooms and office. It doesn’t look like a set, it looks like a real speakeasy with classic cocktails and all. Since the audience is dressed up as much as the actors you sometimes forget that you’re in a play. This is the real-life version of virtual reality – we felt transported to the 1920s. There are so many different pieces to this production that it’s impossible to see it all. Yes it does still give you a certain amount of FOMO, but honestly it’s just too fun to care. While you don’t leave knowing the full story of any of the characters, you do leave with snapshots into their lives which are powerful. You could easily see this show 4 or 5 times and still not really know what happened, but that is part of the beauty and what should make this permanent run possible.

The Drinks: The Speakeasy is a speakeasy.  So much so you can go to the bar known as Club 1923 on certain nights after the show just for drinks. They have great cocktails, which are way too easy to order. You give them your credit card ahead of time so after your third drink you forget that you’re still paying them when you show your wooden nickle. The booze flows freely, and some audience members were more than tipsy by the end, but if you’re looking for a place for more drinks after the show Vesuvio is stumbling distance from the door.

Tickets for The Speakeasy can be purchased through The Speakeasy SF website and are currently available through March. Although some nights are sold-out there are lots of others that still have space, so if you need a last minute gift you can still book now. Thursday and Sunday shows are $85, Friday and Saturday shows are $110. You can also become a member of Club 1923 if you want to keep going back, and get discounted tickets for you and your friends. Club 1923 is also open on select nights after the show, so if you want to get a sneak peek into the space without committing to the show, you can pay a $10 cover for a night of drinking in a pretty dope bar.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Next Time Let’s Take the Stairs – “All these strange people are on a metaphorical elevator ride”

“Darkly comic theater that moves” is how local performance company 13th Floor describes itself. We’re always up to see inventive original San Francisco theater, so when we saw the press release for 13th Floor’s latest show Next Time I’ll Take the Stairs we knew it was time for some drama talk and drinks.

From left, Colin Epstein, Julie Mahony, David Silpa, Zach Fischer and Jenny McAllister appear in “Next Time, I’ll Take the Stairs.” (Courtesy Robbie Sweeny)

From left, Colin Epstein, Julie Mahony, David Silpa, Zach Fischer and Jenny McAllister  (Courtesy Robbie Sweeny)

Brittany: It was beautiful to watch. The movement was mesmerizing. They were really good at integrating lighting, sound and dance to create poetic stage pictures and some fascinating moments. The narrative was so abstract though. I had a hard time getting into the story. It seemed like the characters all had very precise backstories, but I couldn’t really piece them together. I found myself getting frustrated that I didn’t really know what was going on.

Katie: I kept thinking there was going to be a reveal, like oh this turn is going to tell us something. I was hoping for an ah-ha moment, but there never was one.

B: There were moments that I thought I started to understand what was going on, like – okay all these strange people are on a metaphorical elevator ride, and the reason they are all there is because they have some sort of weird painful history, and they all need to be in this space together to be able to eventually get to where they want to go – but I don’t even know if that abstract concept is right? I didn’t know what I was supposed to take away.

K: Exactly, and not being able to connect the story with the movement left me pretty unsatisfied. It was interesting, and the movement was beautiful, but the story fell short for me.

The Verdict: Go to this show for the aesthetics. If you like very abstract, poetic, visual movement-based work you’ll enjoy this performance. If you want a strong narrative with rich characters that tells a moving story, this show doesn’t quite get there for us.

The Drama Talk:  The 13th Floor company is made up of performers who have a strong background in acrobatics and dance, and that is where this show shines.  It’s very clear that all of these actors work really closely together. They move effortlessly through some pretty detailed and difficult choreography. It’s a visually engaging and beautiful piece with some interesting moments, but the storytelling element fell short. Yes, we were engaged, but this piece felt like you should leave with an emotional response, and the storytelling didn’t get us there.

The Drinks: This show is just an hour long, and the show we saw started at 7pm, so we decided to get dinner after the show at Tartine Manufactory. The whimsical space is a good compliment to the show and an appropriate way to end a night of beautiful San Francisco made art.

Next Time, I’ll Take the Stairs runs through this weekend Dec. 18 at Joe Goode Annex. Tickets are available on their website for $15-$40.

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Drama Talk & Drinks: The Golden Girls – “yay, for mindless television”

It’s holiday time again, which means it’s time for Golden Girls the Christmas Episodes! Since this was our 3rd year attending (we saw the 2013 and 2015 shows and loved them too) we thought it would be fun to bring some friends who hadn’t seen it. We were excited to experience this show with fresh eyes, so out we went for a night of drama talk and drinks.

Golden Girls Live 05 sm photo by Mr Pam

Rachel: I thought it was great, very entertaining. Dorothy and Blanche were amazing, but as a Golden Girls fan, Sophia and Rose fell short for me. I wanted their delivery to be a little more like the originals. Overall though, really fun and recommend seeing it.

Garrett: Love this show! Best SF drag show I’ve ever seen!

Sam: It was a fun show. It’s all novel to me, I’ve never watched the TV show. They have a lot of rapport. They all seem to like each other. I don’t know the characters they’re trying to embody, so for me it was fun to just watch some good drag performances. I have no idea how true it is to the original. At first thought it was fan fiction, but I guess these are real episodes?

Brittany: Yep, real episodes. I do think it’s interesting, because Rachel comes from knowing the show so well, and she didn’t like Sophia or Rose as well, but you said Sophia was your favorite.

S: Yeah, she was the funniest, she had the best timing.

B: It’s a fun night. If you really like the TV show, you’ll enjoy seeing these fun characters larger than life on stage. If you don’t know the show well, it’s still a funny show with a lot of talent.

S: You don’t need to know anything to enjoy it for sure. It’s got beautiful and talented drag performers, great costumes, a really detailed set, everything you need.  Loved that they went around selling Fireball shots! I would definitely say yes to Fireball again.

Katie: It was fun to see it again, this show is so consistent. You can count on a good time, it just makes you smile. It definitely takes my mind off of the horrifying things that are happening in the world.

B: Yay, for mindless television.

The Verdict: Need to take your mind off of the terrible things happening in the world? Then get to this show ASAP. If you know and love the Golden Girls show from the 80’s or not, this is fun, mindless holiday themed entertainment for all.

The Drama Talk: This is our 3rd year of seeing Golden Girls and it hasn’t disappointed yet. It has been consistently well produced, with extremely talented drag queens year after year. We do advise to get there at least 30 minutes before the show to ensure a decent seat and grab a drink at the bar before the line gets too long. Better yet, get a cocktail nearby before the show (we recommend Bond Bar) and then just get a beer since the cocktails are the theater are expensive and not very good.

The Drinks: We headed up to Valencia street to a bar we had been wanting to try called Holy Mountain. It’s above the thai hipster restaurant Hawker Fare so we didn’t know what to expect. It ended up being a pretty open room with plenty of booths and tables. It was a great place to get a fancy cocktail, sit and talk about the show.

The Golden Girls runs through December 23rd at The Victoria Theatre. Tickets are $30 and available at online at www.goldengirlssf.com.

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Drama Talk & Drinks: The King and I – “If Rodgers and Hammerstein are your jam…”

After a week of post-election depression we decided to see if some Broadway magic could brighten our outlook on life. Hamilton had been our post-election playlist, but since that’s not coming to SF until next year, we decided to check-out the classic The King and I which is currently playing at the Golden Gate Theater.

The King And I

Brittany: You would think a week after election day would be a great time to go see a Broadway musical, because it would take your mind off all this stuff.

Katie: (laughs) Right, that’s what you’d think. We need singing and dancing. But gosh this is probably one of the worst musicals for people, especially women, to see to make them feel better about what’s going on in the world.

B: Right, it’s like let’s be a little racist, let’s throw some Western exceptionalism in there….

K: …and some misogyny.

B: Oh yeah, you can’t forget to add a lot of misogyny! And just kinda laugh about it. I don’t know, maybe we’re way off base. I understand that at the time this play was written (ed. note: in 1951) acknowledging that Taiwanese people are not barbarians was probably a revolutionary statement, even if it’s done while perpetuating Asian stereotypes. I’m sure having a single women stand-up to an Emperor in any way must have seemed so progressive.

K: But when Anna would stand up to the King, it was like one step forward and three steps back. She’d say “No I won’t be treated like this!” and then five minutes later she’d be like “Oh, NBD, I’m just a women. I’m probably overreacting when I yell that you should not whip one of your many slave-wives for running away because she doesn’t want to be married to you. It’s cool, sorry I was upset.”

B: And that whole refusing to give her a house thing.

K: Yeah! She’s all like “I’m putting down my foot and won’t stay here if you don’t pay me what was promised and give me my house.” Then the story fast forwards to a year and half later and she’s singing in the classroom with his wives and kids still without the damn house! Really, Anna? What happened this last year and a half? WHY ARE YOU STILL THERE!

B: This is just our liberal elite bubble Katie, we are out of touch with The King and I.

K: I guess so. This show is for somebody, but it’s poor timing for us.

B: I mean it was a beautiful looking show, the sets were amazing. It was a great production.

K: People did seem to be enjoying themselves. The women who played Anna, was just awesome. What an actress. What a voice! She really owned that stage. I couldn’t stop watching her. It’s just a very old-timey type of musical. I personally don’t like Broadway classics as well as more contemporary musicals, they’re a bit too corny for me. The King and I  just doesn’t feel very relevant anymore. It’s just not exciting.

B: Yeah it is a Rodgers and Hammerstein. Which, when you feel like Hamilton, is a bit of a let down. (laughs) But if Rodgers and Hammerstein are your jam…

K: True, if you’re looking for nostalgia, and you like this kind of musical you’d probably love it.

The Verdict: Beautiful production, and well sung Broadway standards, but unless you love this play already it may be better to pick another piece of theater to get you out of your post-election funk.

The Drama Talk: We personally don’t think this show ages very well, although this production was well done. If you’re a huge fan of Broadway classics, and are better at appreciating this play in the context of when it was written than we are, you may love it.  The sets are really amazing. There are some really impressive dance numbers, and some great renditions of well loved songs. But, if you’re not into musical theater, and as fed up with casual racism and misogyny as we are, it’s probably not a great pick for you.

The Drinks: Monarch’s The Emperor’s Drawing Room seemed aptly named for this show, so we decided to check it out for post-show drinks. While not the most ideal venue for a quiet post-show conversation, a good strong classic cocktails seemed the best way to dull the heartache.

The King and I runs through December 11th at the Golden Gate Theater. There are $40 both virtual and in-person rush tickets available. You can check-out the SHN website for rush instructions. Goldstar also currently has tickets for $50-75 (normally priced $65-150).

Drama Talk & Drinks: Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat – “It was refreshing”

Golden Thread Productions has been on the DT&D radar for a while, but bad timing has stopped us from reviewing one of their shows…until now. They’re wrapping up their 20th season with a West-Coast premiere of Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat by Egyptian-American playwright Yussef El Guindi, so off we went to Thick House theater in Potrero Hill for a night of Drama Talk and Drinks.

James Asher as Gamal (left)  and Kunal Prasad as Mohsen (right)

James Asher as Gamal (left) and Kunal Prasad as Mohsen (right)

Katie: Wow. What a great story. A good set, good lighting, good acting, and good writing that was deep but also funny. It’s cool to have a theater company focused on stories from the Middle East. I feel like this play offered a well rounded and balanced perspective that often doesn’t get onstage.

Brittany: I agree. It was refreshing to have a show give voice to so many nuanced and authentic perspectives, while still being entertaining. It would be easy for a play that’s dealing with frustration about the way Arab-Americans are represented in American media to get preachy or pedantic. This play stuck to good storytelling and somehow avoided that. I thought that it was a really honest play.

K: I loved the actress who played Noor (Denmo Ibrahim). She was so authentic and in the moment. It was great to watch her find so many discoveries in all her lines. There were moments when she was onstage and I forgot I was watching a play.

B: I loved her too. I also really liked the character of the Sheikh’s son, Hani (Salim Razawi). His monologue emails back from visiting his family in Egypt were really lovely. Overall a pretty strong cast.

K: There just isn’t a reason not to see this show.

B: And it’s cool that it’s Golden Threads 20th anniversary. It’s entertaining, and engaging…

K: It’s unpredictable.

B: It isn’t a perspective you necessarily get to hear a lot either. People should absolutely go see it.

The Verdict: Go see it! It’s a smart, refreshing, and all around engaging night at the theater.

The Drama Talk: This is Golden Thread Productions 20th anniversary year. They are the first American theatre company who is dedicated to focusing on the Middle East and producing “passionate and provocative plays… that celebrate the multiplicity of its perspectives and identities.” Our Enemies does just that. By focusing on three intersecting storylines the show shares the struggle of the Arab American community as it tries to define itself. Families fight and sometimes those who are most like us can be the most frustrating. The heartfelt and multidimensional characters in this play show us how we can sometimes be our own worst enemies.

The Drinks: As is often the case when we go to a show at the Thick House, we decided to head up the hill to Blooms Saloon for great city views and cheap drinks. If you’re looking for a nearby place to get into the spirit of the play though, consider hitting up Pera before the show for some awesome Turkish food. They close too early to be a good post-show option.

Our Enemies: Lively Scenes of Love and Combat runs through November 20th at Thick House. Tickets are $34 for general admission and $24 for students and seniors and can be purchased on their website.Tickets are also available on Goldstar on select nights for $17.

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Drama Talk & Drinks: The Lion King – “I have some great feedback but apparently so do the speakers”

The Lion King was my favorite movie as a kid. I’ll admit, I even performed it in the back yard with my brother and sister. So when the stage musical version hit Broadway in 1997 I desperately wanted to see it, but it wasn’t until this week that I got the chance. Not only was it a musical of my favorite Disney movie but it was being directed by my favorite director Julie Taymor, who was the first woman to win a Tony for Best Direction. Brittany couldn’t make it so I had my star back up guest reviewer, Garrett, attend with me.

 Lion King Musical
Garrett: Well, I have some great feedback but apparently so do the speakers.

Katie: Ooohhhh, good one.

G: It was a bit jarring to experience sound and technical difficulties so severe that they had to stop the show, but after I got over that the show was great.

K: I’ve never experienced that level of technical difficulties at a professional musical. A first for me for sure.

G: I thought the show was incredible though, especially the costumes. What I didn’t love were the filler songs. The songs that were not in the movie that they added to fill out the show. It was fun to see the characters from the movie that I loved so much.

K: This show really had me at the opening number, so many actors in elaborate animal costumes killing the “circle of life”. But there was such a high in the first 30 mins, and then with the disruption of the technical difficulties, I never really got that high back. It was still an amazing piece of theater, but I might have gone in with too high of expectations.

The Verdict: While there were some technical difficulties in the production we say, this is still a must-see for anyone who loved the Lion King movie. The nostalgia is so worth it. It’s like watching the movie but better.

The Drama Talk: The costumes, set design and the amazing original songs make this show special. It’s no mystery why it won Tony awards for best costumes and set design. However, not every part of this adaptation of the film is award winning. The added filler songs were mediocre and due to sound issues it was sometimes hard to understand who was speaking and what exactly they were saying. Also, the stage version really loses momentum in the second act. Luckily the first act makes the whole show worth it.

The Drinks: We headed to our go-to post Orpheum spot with good cocktails Dirty Water. There we had plenty of space to have a drink and take a long walk down The Lion King memory lane.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Shocktoberfest 17: Pyramid of Freaks – “Let your freak flag fly”

Halloween season is here! That means it’s time for another year of Thrillpeddlers’ annual Shocktoberfest; a festival of Grand Guignol horror theatre. Shocktoberfest 17: Pyramid of Freaks promises an evening of ‘terror and titillation’, all in the Thrillpeddlers purpose-built horror theatre the Hypnodrome. Never wanting to miss a night of titillating theater, off we went to SOMA for a night of drama talk and drinks.

Pyramid of Freaks

Brittany: I don’t know if I have just been to Burning Man one too many times, or have seen enough Thrillpeddlers shows that I’m a little jaded, but it was so much less shocking than I thought it was going to be. Yes you had some sodomy, some penises, a little bestiality, but it was much more tame than I remember last year’s Shocktoberfest.

Katie: I didn’t see last year’s Halloween show, but I did see another one of their regular season shows, and it was a lot more rated X than this one. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed this one either. This time I was just super entertained, even if some of the acting was a little rough around the edges, the vignettes were short and sweet and kept me engaged.

B: So true, they didn’t go too far this time, and I think it made it a stronger show.  It’s so fun how much the audience gets into it too. That’s what I love about every Thrillpeddlers show. It’s not just the actors having fun, the audience is having a blast . It’s easy to forgive some pacing issues, and a few too many scene changes, when everyone is having a great time.

K: It’s a great show to see for Halloween. I’m not a fan of horror movies, and don’t love a lot of gore and blood, but even I still had fun. I did have to look down a couple of times, like when he was ripping people’s hearts out literally, but even during the lights out spook show at the end it never went so far I felt uncomfortably creeped-out. It was just a cool different experience.

B: Thrillpeddlers does a great job creating an experience. From the moment you enter the door of the Hypnodrome and hear the pre-show band playing you feel like you enter a different world.

K: It sounds odd, given the subject matter, but I got this warm and fuzzy feeling about the whole show. It’s such a great community. This free spirited attitude of let your freak flag fly, do what feels good, be in costume, sing, dance, hoot and holler, be whoever you want to be. It makes me happy there’s still a community of avant garde San Francisco artists around to put on a fun night of spooky, bawdy, sexual, twilight zoney, old school San Francisco theater.

The Verdict: Looking for something to do this Halloween? Go see this show! Definitely not for kids, or for your friend who can’t sit through a rated R movie, but a great night of sexy scary fun theater.

The Drama Talk: Thrillpeddlers does a great job creating fun, sick, sexy and twisted worlds. Done in the style of Grand Guignol  Pyramid of Freaks is made up of four vignettes with a black out spookshow finale. Great costumes, cool lights, neat special effects and lots and lots of fake blood make for some memorably spooky scenes. Although there are some strong actors and singers, this show is more about the experience than it is the quality of the performances. While all of the vignettes had some good moments, the second one in the series, The Hellgramite Method, written and adapted for the Thrillpeddlers by William Selby, the original writer of the Twilight Zone episode by the same name, stood out as the one that will give you nightmares. In the same way a haunted house can bring people together, by making you grab your friends hand in terror, Shocktoberfest creates community by letting people share in a ridiculous evening of gory sexy Halloween inspired inappropriateness.

The Drinks: The Hypnodrome isn’t near much, so we decided to go back to the Mission to the Armory Club, to continue the night of spooky sexiness. Katie got the Zombie Princess  and Brittany got the Bawd Rye, and we toasted to San Francisco and the wonderful freaks and artists that still make this city great.

Thrillpeddlers Shocktoberfest 17: Pyramid of Freaks runs until November 19th, with shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Ticket are available on their website and are $30 for general admission or $35 for the front row or one of the specially decorated “Shock Boxes”. There were tickets on Goldstar, which have now sold-out, but it’s worth checking to see if more become available when you go to purchase.

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Drama Talk & Drinks: Hedwig and the Angry Inch “a wild interactive rock concert with heart”

When Hedwig and the Angry Inch was on Broadway in 2014 with Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig, we had friends who flew to New York just to see it. These aren’t super theatre nerds either, just people who love this show. So when we heard it was coming to SF with Darren Criss and Lena Hall, we knew we needed to see it. Unfortunately for her, Brittany caught a nasty cold and couldn’t make it the night we had tickets. This gave Katie the opportunity to invite her Aunt Deirdre, an actress whom Katie credits for originally instilling in her a love of the theatre, to join her for some Drama Talk and Drinks.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

Katie: So, what did you think?

Deirdre: I thought it was unexpected. I have to admit I liked it way more than I even thought I would. The audience participation was great. It was almost more like being at a comedy club than a broadway musical. I loved all the San Francisco references, it made people feel even more part of it. You feel like you aren’t seeing the same show that you would see in Chicago. At first I wasn’t very sold on Lena’s part (Yitzhak), but I loved her by the end and wanted more of her. I thought Darren (Criss) was truly amazing. His physical abilities, vocal abilities, his humor, his timing. Fantastic.

K: Agreed! He (Darren Criss) carried the show so well, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off Yitzhak (Lena Hall). Even though her part isn’t the center of attention, she was fascinating to watch. I also loved the set, especially the use of the scrim that came down during the song “Origin of Love”. The projections of the animations were freaking incredible. I felt like I was watching the most awesome hour-and-a-half music video.

D: The most powerful moment for me was Hedwig’s last song, where he took off the wig and costume. When he was done, and the lights came up, not one person broke the silence, he did it so well. The whole audience was so taken by that moment; we didn’t clap and it was silent for at least 30 seconds and then the guitarist started playing and they started singing again. Such masterful direction. It was an incredibly touching moment to have that huge audience so moved that they couldn’t clap, they just had to be present in the moment. Amazing.

K: This show went by so fast for me and I love that it had no intermission. I want to see this again with Lena Hall as Hedwig!

D: I got it, here is my tagline for you: “It’s a wild interactive rock concert with a heart, and an amazing pair of gold shoes!”

K: Nice! We can use that.

The Verdict: One word “wow”. This show is moving, funny, beautiful. Get your tickets now. This show is worth every penny.

The Drama Talk: Hedwig and the Angry Inch was all around spectacular. From the story, to the actors, to the direction, to the band, to the set and lighting design, it was truly an amazing show. Literally everyone should go see it, because everyone who was in that audience (which was a pretty diverse audience) seemed to have a great time. It’s not your typical Broadway experience. In fact, at times it feels more like a rock concert or a cabaret comedy show, but the ridiculously talented actors, and amazing production totally live up to Broadway quality. Darren Criss’ Hedwig couldn’t be better, and it’s so clear why Lena Hall won the Tony for this. It’s worth every penny, despite the pricey tickets.

The Drinks: We headed up the street a block to another theatrical venue Pianofight, because we didn’t want the theatrical night to end. We had some wine and listened to an accordion playing duo as we beamed about the show.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch runs through October 30th at the Golden Gate Theatre. Tickets range from $50 – $212 and are available through the SHN website. They are doing in-person AND mobile $40 rush tickets, which is pretty cool (Click here for more info). There are also currently some tickets on Goldstar selling for $50-$70.

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Brothers Size “There was a lot of yelling”

We love seeing theater that challenges the norm and we had a feeling that Theatre Rhino’s production of The Brothers Size, which is a play about two brothers, the Louisiana bayou, and West African mythology, would do just that. So we headed to the outskirts of the Financial District to the Eureka Theatre for some Drama Talk & Drinks.

Pictured left to right: Lakeidrick S. Wimberly as Ogun, Gabriel Christian as Oshoosi, and Julian Green as Elegba. Photo by Steven Ho.

Pictured left to right: Lakeidrick S. Wimberly as Ogun, Gabriel Christian as Oshoosi, and Julian Green as Elegba. Photo by Steven Ho.

Katie: I’m dying to hear your thoughts.

Brittany: It’s a cool play. I think it is highly likely that those actors did exactly what they were told to do. It was just so slow and so indulgent. They tried to milk every single second of drama out of the play to the point that it was no longer dramatic.

K:  I feel like I was yelled at. The actors stayed at one level of intensity most of the play, and when that happens it really turns me off.  I feel like I lost a lot of the story, which was a beautiful story.

B: Yeah, there was a lot of yelling. The stakes were so emotionally high the whole time it didn’t give the play anywhere to go. I don’t think they were bad actors, I just think they were not given good direction.

K: There was also a lot of huffing and puffing, a technique that actors often over use to indicate they are frustrated or angry, that really drives me crazy.

B: I did really like the movement and physicality of the actors, they were definitely present and focused. Also, the set and sound design were cool. The two brothers had a really lovely moment at the end where I really felt like wow, you guys really care about each other, I felt that emotional connection. But that was just one moment in what should have been a much more moving play.

K: I agree, so many aspects of this production didn’t hit the mark, so for me it makes the whole production meh.

The Verdict: Beautifully written play. Such a great story, just not told in a way that let us fully take in its glory. However, if you are hungry for a show that isn’t the typical narrative, we would say this piece is worth checking out.

The Drama Talk: We wanted to like this show so badly. A cool play, important themes, diverse actors, and a theater company with a great mission, but this production of The Brother’s Size fell short. While there was some good physical work, and a few touching moments, most of the time the actors were acting so hard that they ended up losing the beautiful language given to them.

The Drinks: Since this piece was set in the bayou, we thought some New Orleans-inspired cocktails would be appropriate. Luckily we found that only 3 blocks away on the embarcadero at Hard Water.

The Brothers Size runs through October 15th at the Eureka Theatre. It’s one hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. Tickets can be purchased through their website and range from $15-$40. Right now there are tickets on Goldstar from $0-17.50.

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