Drama Talk & Drinks: It’s not called fetish theater for nothing

Last Halloween Drama Talk and Drinks reviewed one of the most unique and crazy fun shows we’d been to, Thrillpeddlers’ annual Shocktoberfest. Since Brittany had so much fun at that show, she had to bring Katie back to share in the scintillating fun. We headed to the well hidden Hypnodrome to see the Thrillpeddlers latest production, Jewels Of Paris, for a night of naughty drama talk and drinks.

 

Photo by David Wilson.

Brittany: So that was different.

Katie: Very different. Very San Francisco. What I really liked about it was that it’s true community theater. People just coming together to put on a show because it’s fun.

B: They want to get out there and express their crazy selves in front of an audience and have a good time, which you could tell they did. The writing was also quite smart. If you don’t have a basic understanding of artists that were coming up in Paris in the early 20th century you wouldn’t get all the jokes and references though.

K: I didn’t get many of the references so I got uninterested at times, but most of the time there was so much happening between the singing, costumes, makeup, and nudity that I would get reinterested. It’s cool to see something so visually different. Also, I really loved the sad clown (Birdie Bob-Watt) .

B: I felt like they kinda got tied up in the “we’re doing a show about Paris” concept, trying to cover so much and be so smart, they lost some of the fun. The times when they tried to be more serious didn’t really work for me. There were a few actors that had solos that had trouble carrying a tune. But they went for it, and often naked, so props to them. I couldn’t do that. I love that the audiences at this show always get invested with hoots, hollers and claps even if things aren’t going perfectly. It really gives the feeling that we’re all in this together to have a good time.

K: What an interesting venue too. You enter through a parking lot to a back of a building. I pass this building almost everyday and had no idea that there was this theater behind it. Inside is very eclectic. Next time we go I want to get one of the decorated booths in the back, those were neat.

B: Both times I’ve gone to the Hypnodrome I thought I was lost until I walk into the theater.

K: Overall it was precious, but for me they didn’t bring it home. I would really love to see them do something else.

B: I would definitely recommend going to a Thrillpeddlers show, however, I don’t think this is their best work. I enjoyed it, but if you’re only going to see one show, don’t make this your first impression, I think they can do better.

The Verdict: Thrillpeddlers are a sexy uniquely San Francisco theater company. It’s not called fetish theater for nothing, this is for mature audiences only, which is part of what makes it so fun. Although the writing of Jewels Of Paris is very smart, you may miss some references if you don’t have a general grasp of the history of the Paris arts scene. This show shines when it’s at its raunchiest and silliest, but some weak singers and more serious scenes can make the show lose momentum. It’s an enjoyable night, but not quite Thrillpeddlers at it’s best.

The Drama Talk: For mature audiences only. There are penis, boobs, asses – basically all anatomy is exposed at some point, so be prepared to see it all. Don’t go in expecting everyone in the show to be professionally trained or a knockout singer. Some of the cast is very talented, but what some actors lack in training they make up for in heart and willingness to put themselves out there. The costumes and props are very impressive. The writing is smart, and some of the songs are quite catchy. The whole show is written in house making the sketches and songs all the more impressive.

The Drinks: After the show we headed over to 11th for drinks. If you want to keep the raunchy fun going you can always hit up DNA lounge. Or if you’re looking for a more divey party there’s Butter. We were hoping for some quiet cocktails, and since it sounded French we thought we’d try Bergerac. We couldn’t hear ourselves talk over the bizarrely loud DJ, so we bailed and went to Bar Agricole. Brittany got a Tulip and Katie got a Presidente and we enjoyed a classy and quiet drink to wind down the evening.

JEWELS OF PARIS: A Revolutionary New Musical Revue runs through May 2nd at the Hypnodrome Theater. Tickets are $30 gen. admission or $35 for Front Row Seats, “Shock Boxes” and “Turkish Lounges” and can be purchased on their website.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them

Brittany had to go out of town for work so she couldn’t go with me to see Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them, produced by Crowded Fire Theater at the Thick House, which is the first show of their 2015 season. It’s a bummer because I really think Brittany would have liked it. I mean a story about how a brother and sister deal with the loss of their mother and being neglected by their father along with the complications that two teenage boys go through due to becoming more than friends, that is told in a humorous, honest, and touching way – definitely a Brittany show.

http://www.crowdedfire.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Edith_trioV.jpg

 

The Verdict: This was a refreshing piece of theater! It’s a story I haven’t seen done like this. If you enjoy heart warming, edgy stories that also make you laugh, this is a good time to check out Crowded Fire Theater. I have to admit this play had me almost moved to tears while smiling out loud.

The Drama Talk: It was well produced, with a simple, yet clear, set and the director used the space well. The 3 young characters, though played by adults, were well developed and you really care about them. The actor who played Benji (Maro Guevara) was so good I would swear he wasn’t acting, that it must just be who he is in real life.  I would say however, I didn’t leave wanting more because the show felt a little long.

 

Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them runs through March 21st at Crowded Fire Theater. Tickets are currently available on Goldstar for $10 dollars for this weekend. You can also get tickets directly from their website.

(Maro Guevara, Nicole Javier, and Wes Gabrillo)

Photo by Cheshire Isaacs

Drama Talk & Drinks: How did those boys jump so high?

Weaned on The Little Mermaid, Lion King, Aladdin and countless other Disney musicals, you have to have at least a small soft spot for the magic only The Mouse can provide. True devotees of Disney musicals know however, you have to go beyond the animated features to get the full range of Disney’s prowess. That’s where Newsies comes in; the fantastical musical telling of the true story of paperboys who go on strike in 1899 to protest the unfair treatment they receive at the hands of their big-wig newspaper tycoon bosses. The tour of the Broadway show is playing at the Orpheum now, so of course we had to check it out.

Brittany: Damn can they dance!

Katie: How did those boys jump so high!

B: And flip three times in a row in the air without falling on their head! Seriously by the end I was worried that one of them might hurt themselves. I would collapse after one of those dance numbers, and in the finale they just keep going.

K: Yeah the dancing was ridiculous and amazing. I really loved the second act.

B: Yeah the second act was legit. The first act was a little too Disney corny, but the second act got into the protests and the drama and the really epic songs and set changes. You couldn’t help but feel that swell in your chest when you see four stories of boys dancing and singing in unison about seizing the day.

K: Yeah, you can’t get away from the fact this is a Disney musical. It’s kid friendly and maybe not as cutting edge and some shows I like. But everyone in this show was so talented, the set was dope, and the dancing was just incredible. I wasn’t one of those kids who was super into Newsies, but I was pleasantly surprise by this show.

B: Yeah, me too. And ten year old me would have had the biggest crush on the actor who played Jack Kelly (Dan DeLuca)

K: He can sing, dance and act. Yes please!

The Verdict: Newsies has all the Disney magic you could ask for, and a cast of super talented singers, dancers and actors. It’s a Disney musical, make no mistakes about it, but if you can unironically get into some cheering for a singing and dancing underdog in a jaunty paperboy cap you’ll love it.

The Drama Talk: This show is known for its amazing dance numbers and it more than delivers. Seriously impressive choreography, and an ensemble who can pull it all off. Like every touring show, the design and tech are top-notch, as is the the cast. At times the show is a little too predictable and borders on corny. But it’s heartwarming, good for kids, and with just enough Disney magic that you can believe villains may be able to be reformed after all.

The Drinks: Given this is a show about the newspaper industry, we couldn’t miss the opportunity for a newspaper themed cocktail, so we headed over to Local Edition. Katie got the Fidel and Che and Brittany got the Yellow Kid, and we toasted to dancing, workers rights, and a successful night of drama talk and drinks.

Newsies runs through March 15th at SHN’s Orpheum Theater. Tickets are currently available on Goldstar for $55 dollars for multiple dates. $40 rush tickets are also available for every performance, beginning 2 hours prior to curtain at the SHN Orpheum Theatre Box Office. Cash only, 2 per person. As always you can get tickets directly from SHN’s website.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Sketchfest “you just gotta take a chance”

Sketchfest is upon us! The time of year when all our favorite comedians descend on the Bay Area for three weeks of merriment. Ariel, our DT&D editor, and Sam, Brittany’s boyfriend, are big fans of the 90s American sitcom, NewsRadio so we decided to check out the NewsRadio reunion show as our first foray into Sketchfest 2015.

Brittany: I like NewsRadio, but I don’t think I’m as big of fans as either of you are.

Ariel: When I was in college I obtained raw footage from an entire NewsRadio episode to cut my own episode. And it’s really interesting, when they talked about the musicality of the entrances and exits, for a 3 or 4 camera show it was really hard to cut. You’d imagine for a multi-camera show you can just cut back and forth, but it was so carefully orchestrated, that you couldn’t really cut it a new way. I feel like they took the Kramer entrance from Seinfeld and applied that to the whole show.

B: I was disappointed that there weren’t more cast members there, but I think you still got a sense of what it was like to be on the show.

A: I was bummed that Maura Tierney wasn’t there.

Sam: Vicki Lewis too. I loved Vicki.

A: Maura Tierney to me, maybe because I had a crush on her, she was the heart of the show to me. She was stuck in a world of bumbling cartoon characters.

(more…)

Drama Talk & Drinks: “I wish she was my grandma…”

If you have grandparents who loved Murder, She Wrote marathons, or if you grew up with an affinity for singing teapots, you can’t help but have a special place in your heart for Angela Lansbury. Who else can make murdering people and cooking them into pies sound so sweet? So, when we heard that at age 89 she was doing a super-limited North American tour of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, we knew we had to see it. So, off we went to SHN’s Golden Gate Theater for a night of laughs, drama talk and drinks.

Katie: Go fucking see this show!

Brittany: IT WAS SO GOOD!

K: If you’re going to throw down some money on a really fun, twists and turns, old-school, straight-play comedy, THIS is where you should put your money, people.

B: It was amazing, and Angela Lansbury is the most adorable, wonderfulest person. I wish she was my grandma. I mean I love my grandmas, but I’d take her as my third grandma any day.

K: Be prepared though, because every time she walks on stage people love her so much they can’t stop clapping. Which was annoying, but I get it.

B: She walks on stage and all you want to do is give her a hug. You can’t take your eyes off her, she’s that talented. Everyone in this show is really talented, but she is exceptionally talented.

K: This is one of the few shows I’d say don’t have a drink before, because you don’t want to miss a thing. It starts off with a lot of British fast wit, and you want to be able to follow it, because it’s hilarious. What I really loved about his play is it wasn’t predictable.

B: There’s a reason some plays survive the test of time. This was written in the 1940s, and it’s still so funny.

The Verdict: If you have the money, or if you don’t have the money go find some money and then see this show. When you aren’t mesmerized by what’s happening on stage, you’re hoping that the scene change doesn’t mean the play is over, because you want it to keep going for another hour. One of the best shows we’ve ever reviewed.

The Drama Talk: The best actors are the ones who you can tell absolutely love performing, and you can tell Angela Lansbury loves being on stage. It’s no wonder she won a Tony for this role. She is phenomenal; you can’t help but watch her and love her. This is a quick, smart, witty play, but with enough darkness and occult elements (it’s a comedy about ghosts) that it doesn’t get saccharine. All the actors are great. With a play this fast you need a tight cast, and they are tight. It’s a national tour, so of course the set and design are top notch. As delightful as this show was, perhaps the most endearing part is watching Angela beam at her curtain call. She really is one of the greats. Don’t miss this chance to see her perform.

The Drinks: We had rock-star parking near the Golden Gate, so we decided to stay nearby and go to The Showdown across the street for drinks. It’s an “Urban DJ Saloon” so, as promised, there was a DJ spinning and an open-mic hip-hop show happening. It was hard to hear yourself over the music, but the drinks were strong and good. Brittany got a martini (since those are the drinks they open the show drinking) and Katie got a gin and tonic, and we yelled excitedly over the DJ about what an awesome show we had just seen.

Blithe Spirit runs through February 1st at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater. At the time of writing, SHN’s website was showing the error “We are currently experiencing high demand for tickets. Please check again shortly.” Since price is variable based on demand, these aren’t going to be cheap tickets. If any are still available you can get yours on SHN’s website. As of right now there are also tickets available on Goldstar.

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.

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.

(more…)

Drama Talk & Drinks: Kinky Boots – “In a way it was crazy impressive”

SF “fun” fact: Lena Hall, who originated the role of Nicola in the Broadway production of Kinky Boots, was in my high school class at School of the Arts, back when it was still behind SF State University. So she’s there, and I’m typing this, so obviously we are both shining our bright lights. Anyway, enough about me, Katie & Brittany checked out the local production of Kinky Boots last week, their reactions split down the middle. Here’s their review:

When it’s rainy in SF it’s a challenge just getting out of the house. But when presented with the opportunity for drag queens, fabulous boots, and a night out at The Orpheum, it’s hard to say no. So we braved the monsoon to go see SHN’s latest tour, Kinky Boots.

Katie: I hate to say it, but I’m a little disappointed. Going into this show all I knew was that Cyndi Lauper wrote the music, it won the Tony, and there were drag queens and boots involved. But given Cyndi Lauper’s LGBTQ advocacy, I thought it was going to have more substance and innovation. I guess I was expecting something more like Rent, but with fancier shoes and a few more drag queens. I came in hoping for cutting edge musical theater that would entertain you and make you think. All that kind of bullshit I love. This was just a little forced.

Brittany: That’s so funny. I had the exactly opposite reaction. I was actually pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think I was going to like this show because I had a feeling it was going to be way too fluffy, but it was actually a bit deeper than I thought it might be. I mean it’s a show about shoes, but there were moments.

(more…)

Drama Talk & Drinks: “If Paris Hilton could play Roxie Hart we’d be set for life” – CHICAGO

Katie was out of town, so I got to go with Brittany to SHN’s Chicago tour. I’m a big fan of musicals, and I think more people would be if they gave them a chance. Chicago is a great entry point, with its relentless energy, dark humor, sexy style and classic Fosse pizazz. This cast was great and the show was a whole lot of fun. If you really need another nudge, Seinfeld‘s J. Peterman (John O’Hurley) has awesome personality as Billy Flynn, and of course, Bianca Marroquin is amazing as Roxie. Here’s Brittany’s report:

[via SHN]

Thanks to the 2002 film version of the Broadway classic Chicago most people have an idea where they stand when it comes to this play. Since Broadway touring casts tend to be pretty uniformly great, we thought rather than do a normal Drama Talk & Drinks review of the show, we’d go backstage and give you some insights into why you might want to see this current production in particular, now open at SHN’s Orpheum Theater until November 16th.

After a quick backstage tour, we sat down with Christophe Caballero, swing and understudy for Mary Sunshine, and Adam Pellegrine, who plays Harry, Martin Harrison, and is part of the ensemble, to talk about what it’s like to perform in SF and what’s special about this current production of Chicago. Skip to the end if you want our quick and dirty assessment of the show, but Adam and Christophe had some fun things to say.

Brittany: What’s it like to perform for a San Francisco audience?

(more…)

Drama Talk & Drinks: Party People – “I certainly couldn’t dance like that”

Fortunately for all of us, theater is alive and well in the Bay Area. Between some great shows and inspiring conversations, Drama Talk & Drinks is seeming more and more hopeful for lively, challenging and engaging performance around here. I dunno about you, but I am feeling jazzed to get out and see some theater. More on that soon. In the meantime, Brittany and her boyfriend took his mom to Berkeley Rep to see their new show, Party People. Here’s their report:

[(l to r) Christopher Livingston (Malik), Steven Sapp (Omar), and Reggie D. White (Solias) perform in UNIVERSES’ Party People, a high-wattage fusion of story and song that unlocks the legacy of the Black Panthers and Young Lords at Berkeley Rep. Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com]

When parents visit, finding events with reasonable decibel levels can sometimes be a challenge. So when Brittany’s SO’s Mom was in town, they decided to treat her to a night at one of the best theaters in the Bay Area, Berkeley Rep, to see their current show Party People. Since the play is partially about fostering intergenerational dialogue, we figured why not do a Drama Talk & Drinks Parent-Visit edition!

Brittany: One of the biggest problems with the current theatre scene, at least in my opinion, is it tends to play it too safe and fall back on what’s already been done. We see so many revivals and classics being remounted, and even with new plays lots of topics have been revisited ad nauseum. There’s definitely something to be said for timeless theater, but it’s hard to stay relevant without taking some risks. This play takes risks.

(more…)