Drama Talk & Drinks: The Speakeasy

We’ve been running Katie & Brittany‘s after-show drama talk for almost a year and I had yet to accompany them for a performance. Last week I was finally able to tag along for The Speakeasy, a new experiential performance in the Tenderloin. Here’s our report:

 

[photo by Peter Liu]

We’d heard a buzz about a unique underground club and theater in the Tenderloin. The folks at Boxcar Theatre have been working on an immersive theater piece that places audiences in the middle of 1920’s San Francisco. Speakeasy has lots of intrigue surrounding it, from the undisclosed location, to the interwoven stories being performed by embedded actors throughout the space. It was enticing enough to get our fearless leader, Ariel, out with us for a night of Drama Talk & Drinks.

Ariel: I loved that it was a world you could be in and not just be a passive audience member. I think they did a really good job of taking me to that place. To go from seeing them on the stage to a space where you could see the behind the scenes drama . . . it was amazing, I just wanted to go back and forth all night. (Ed. note: there was a space where you could spy on the dressing room through a one-way mirror)

Brittany: It was very cool. It was the ultimate in FOMO though. I kept wondering what was going on somewhere else. “Oh my god, there’s a noise in the other room should I be over there?”.

A: Did that bother you? I liked that about it.

B: I guess it bothered me in that I thought, what if I’m not getting everything I’m supposed to get out of the show?

Katie: That is exactly how I felt and I would say that it did bother me. I was trying to enjoy what was happening in front of me but I couldn’t get out of my mind “What’s going on in the other rooms?” Then there was that moment where we were supposed to follow the girl in the red dress and everyone got up and tried to follow her, but since everyone did that there was a bottleneck and we couldn’t get into the other room because of all the people. And I’m someone who doesn’t like crowds.

A: What made me enjoy it more was that the world wasn’t just propped up for me to see but the idea that this world is all around me and I’m just in it. I feel like if I walked into the room and the other rooms went dark it wouldn’t have felt totally immersive. But the idea that I could walk away from you guys and see something else and you guys are seeing something that I’m not seeing . . . It didn’t bother me that I didn’t see the whole story, I liked that about it. It’s just like regular life, we all got our different part of the story.

K: I don’t know, I live “regular life” enough, sometimes I just wanna go to a show and fucking be entertained. I’m in life twenty-fo-seven, I gotta pay $60 to feel life’s disappointments – the 1920’s version?

B: But this life has cool costumes.

K: That’s true.

(more…)

Drama Talk & Drinks: Hir

The subject of one’s Preferred Gender Pronoun is finally getting some mainstream attention right now. Facebook announced today that it will allow many more gender options for self identification in profiles, and late last year A-gender teen Sasha Fleishman bravely spoke out after their attack on a bus by a classmate. The Magic Theatre’s new show Hir (pronounced like “here”) tackles gender identity, and from the sound of it, a whole lot more. Here’s the report from Katie & Brittany:

 

When we saw that the Magic Theatre was putting on a show called Hir we were intrigued. Armed with little more than Magic’s description “Newly enlightened Paige is determined to forge a deliriously liberated world for her two wayward children: Isaac, on leave from the Marines under dubious circumstances; and Max, tender, jaded, and sculpting a third-sex gender identity for hirself.” We braved the rainiest Sunday in recent memory for some Drama Talk & Drinks.

Brittany: I think Magic Theatre likes to say “fuck you” to its’ audiences.

Katie: I agree, I left that show with less hope for life than I did walking into it.

B: Which is not to say it was a bad show. It was a very well done show. But it was SO depressing.

K: It was depressing, but at the same time refreshing. I thought it was fascinating to see how far they could go with a dysfunctional family. The writing was really good, and the show had good pacing.

B: The first act of the play was a little too wordy for me. I felt like I was in a gender studies class, but maybe some audience members need a gender studies class for the play to make sense.

K: Sometimes it did get a little preachy, but overall, good writing, well acted, and an amazing tragic ending. I’m struggling with finding words for it, because it was well executed, I was moved and entertained, but I don’t think I would want to go through that again.

B: In the Director’s notes they talk a lot about the similarities between Hir, and Sam Shepard’s Buried Child (which we reviewed at Magic earlier this season). I feel very similarly now, to the way I felt walking out of that Buried Child. I feel moved, which is to say disturbed, and impressed by what Magic was able to create. At the same time, I don’t know if I would tell everyone I know to go and see it because it is such an unsettling piece.

K: I felt like I was in good hands with those actors, and the director and writer. I don’t have any negative notes for them, I enjoyed the lighting, staging, pacing . . . everything.

B: The actor who played the father (Mark Anderson Phillips), was remarkable. All the actors were good, but his physicality throughout the show was so spot on. That was such a hard role, and to see him throughout the play so debilitated, and then at curtain call as a totally normal person was impressive.

K: I really liked the mother (Nancy Opel) too. I thought she was really complex. I could imagine her as a submissive Mom, who has now gone a little batty and become empowered. She handled that character really well. If there are people who want to see creative, reimagined theatre, that hits you in the face hard, this is a good play to go to.

B: People should definitely go see it, just be aware you might want to drink heavily afterwards.

 

The Verdict: Go see this show. Although we both left with a bleaker outlook on the world than when we entered, it’s the sort of bleakness that makes you think, which is what good theatre is all about.

The Drama Talk: Magic is correct when it identifies Taylor Mac as “one of this country’s most heroic and disarmingly funny playwrights.” This play is disarming. From lights up on a man in a woman’s night gown in clown make up, to an end that leaves you feeling despondent, this play breaks lots of new ground. Magic and its cast pull off this complex show beautifully.

The Drinks: We went to a 7pm show on a rainy Sunday night, so the first place we tried had actually closed early. We ended up at Bullitt Bar on Polk. Katie got bubbly, since they keep talking about drinking non-alcoholic bubbly during the show, and Brittany got a spicy margarita, so her mouth would hurt as much as her soul after seeing such a depressing play.

Hir runs through February 23, at The Magic Theatre in Fort Mason. Shows are starting to sell out, so if you want to see this show before it closes you should get your tickets soon. Tickets for Hir are available through the Magic Theatre online box office and range from $20-$60 depending on seating.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Big, Buttery Sketch Show

As promised, here is Katie & Brittany‘s report from PianoFight’s new sketch show. This time they brought their boyfriends along:

After some changes in relationship status, and with Valentine’s day around the corner, we were looking for an opportunity to do Drama Talk & Drinks: Double Date Edition, and we finally found the perfect show. PianoFight’s female-driven sketch comedy group, Chardonnay, was premiering “The Big, Buttery Sketch Show”. With guest appearances from Uni and Her Ukelele and stand-up comedian Mary Van Note, we thought this estrogen filled evening would be a great place for a pre-Valentine’s day date night. After lots of drinks, and lots of laughs, here are all of our thoughts:

Garrett (Katie’s Date): So was Uni on the Ukulele the best part or was that just me?

Brittany: I think that was just you, Garrett. She’s super creative but it ruined the arc, I felt like she brought down the energy of the show.

Katie: Agreed.

Garrett: Well, it was more real than the rest of it . . . it was soulful and cute and engaging. I didn’t think the rest of the show was very well done. If SNL had the same concepts they would have delivered it better. The show was cute and fun but the execution wasn’t there.

Sam (Brittany’s Date): The execution is what got me – I was laughing the whole time. Even some of the sketches that were a little off, like that postman sketch, that was eventually hilarious. It just took a while to hit its stride. A lot of the scenes had to build up like that.

Katie: So was the guest comedian the best part of that show or was that just me? The sketches weren’t as funny as I was expecting . . . but I think I went in with too high expectations.

Brittany: I think the stand up girl was funny in a perfectly awkward way. But, the guy who played Putin and the DJ (David Lavine) was the funniest actor in the entire show. The comedy the ladies wrote for him was great, but his acting outshined the woman. The ladies had moments where they were hella on, but not one of them nailed a character like he did. I had a fun time, and that’s really what I’m looking for out of sketch comedy, so I’d say go.

Sam: The trick to good comedy – get drinks before, during and after the show.

The Score:
6.5 from Katie and Garrett
9.0 from Brittany and Sam

The Verdict: This show is a good time and a great (double) date night. They have two more shows, this Friday and Saturday. Although there are currently still tickets available, the show we went to looked sold out, so you probably want to buy these soon. Impress your date with your local theater knowledge and get your tickets for a fun-filled Valentine’s weekend date.

The Drama Talk: Get to EXIT Theater a little early so you can get drinks at the bar to bring into the theater with you. This is sketch, it’s better with a few drinks.

The Drinks: We took our dates just a block away to Mikkeller. They had a great beer and wine selection plus food, which was great because 4 drinks deep we felt like some french fries. Brittany and Sam shared a Saison Winter, Garrett ordered a Galaxy White IPA and Katie stuck with a glass of white wine.

You can check out the show this weekend, February 14 and 15, at 8pm at EXIT Theatre.
Tickets are $20 for General Admission, $12 for groups of 5+ people and $30 for VIP tickets, which include best seating and a special Chardonnay gift.

Comedy tonight from Piano Fight

The rad theater people over at Piano Fight, who recently successfully completed their ambitious campaign to build out their huge new space, are premiering a new sketch comedy show. “The Big Buttery Sketch Show” is performed by Chardonnay, a female-led comedy group, and opens tonight for a two weekend run at the Exit Theater. Check out the teaser below, then go laugh your belly off.

Chardonnay is premiering a compilation of original and scandalous sketches paired with local comedians and live music in “The Big Buttery Sketch Show” on February 7, 8, 14, and 15 at Exit Theater (156 Eddy St., San Francisco) at 8pm.

Tickets are $20 for General Admission, $12 for groups of 5+ people and $30 for VIP tickets, which include best seating and a special Chardonnay gift.

Expect the Drama Talk & Drinks review shortly . . .

PianoFight’s final push

The fine folks over at PianoFight invited our theater reviewers, Katie & Brittany, to a shindig in the space their working to convert into a theater with a bar and restaurant, here’s what they had to say:

We love supporting local theater. Invite us to the latest theater thing opening up, and we’ll be there with bells on, if we can find our bells. We may not always like what we see, but we write this blog because we think theater is important, and everyone should see more of it. We just hope to direct you to the more of it that’s worth seeing, so you don’t have a bad experience and then never want to go again.

We’ve been super excited to hear about the development of PianoFight’s new theater venue opening up in the TL (hopefully) in March. “An 8,000 square foot creative playground containing two theaters, a full restaurant and bar plus cabaret stage, rehearsal space, office space, and a film studio. PianoFight will be a landmark entertainment venue, a creative meeting place, somewhere to have a drink, see a show, or create art at the spur of the moment…”

On Tuesday night they hosted their first party in the nearly-complete venue, to launch their final Kickstarter. Free booze, fun sketch comedy and a new SF theater venue? Of course we went.

Our First Reactions:

Brittany: It looks like it’s going to be really awesome, and it’s a lot more space than I expected. It will be really neat to see what ends up getting created here.

Katie: It looks like they still have a lot to build, but I think it’s going to be a cool space once it’s finished. I don’t know how they’re going to manage acoustically with the bar/restaurant right next the theater. Let’s hope it means there are going to be some rowdy fun shows.

The Drama Talk & Drinks: There was PBR on tap, and the wine flowed freely. Once this space is completed it seems like it has a lot of potential, not just as a place to see theater, but as a place to create. The PianoFight crew has a little over 30 days to raise the last $120k they need to finish construction. Check out their Kickstarter if you’re interested in supporting them. Afterall, who doesn’t want Californicorn swag, and another cool theater and art space in the city.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Golden Girls

Katie & Brittany are back just in time to review a true holiday classic, Golden Girls Christmas episodes performed live and in drag. If you ask me, that Sophia below looks pretty amazing. Here’s their report:

Haul out the holly and tack up the tinsel, Christmas has come to the Mission. When we agreed to check out the opening weekend of The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes we had no idea what a following this show had. We arrived at the Victoria Theater to a line stretching almost to Mission Street of people hoping to snag a seat to the sold out show. Once inside the theater we were welcomed by a beautiful drag queen who offered us peach fizz shots. The merriness was palpable. The lights went down, the Golden Girls Theme song began, and the audience burst into song. We now know why everyone is going gaga for the Golden Girls.

Katie: If you like the Golden Girls you are going to fucking love this because those four drag queens nailed it! What an entertaining and fun show. The secondary actors should have been better, but what can you do.

Brittany: The ladies’ timing was remarkable. At first I was a little bit worried – were they going to honor the Golden Girls? Or were they going to make it too corny? I was pleasantly surprised that they found a perfect balance of the two. There were some missed opportunities, but overall a really fun night.

K: Yeah, it would have been great to actually see the commercials they played in between scenes and not just hear the audio. It would have been awesome if they were projected, or better yet if they had reenacted the commercials. That would have really upped the production value.

B: So true! They really captured the holiday spirit though, right down to the shopping frenzy. The audience was having a great time, it was full of Christmas sparkle.

K: And so much glitter, such great costumes. The gaudy Christmas sweaters and brooches, ahh so good.

B: At the end when the actresses came out to give the birthday people in the audience a lap dance the man sitting next to me turned to me and said “This is the strangest thing I have seen in my life”. I don’t know if I agree with that, but you sure don’t get to see a 90-year-old get a birthday lap dance from a drag queen dressed as Blanche everyday.

 

The Verdict: This is exactly how San Francisco brings in the holiday cheer. Drinking, drag queens, and reenacted Christmas specials from an ’80s TV show, what’s not to like? If you enjoy the Golden Girls you will definitely love this drag queen tribute.

The Drama Talk: The length was great. They did two episodes, with an intermission, in under two hours. This show is POPULAR, so be sure to get your tickets early, and get to the theater early. We were lucky and had seats Orchestra level. The balcony at The Victoria is steep, and far less comfortable, so get to the theater early to grab some seats and shots before the show.

The Drinks: The only way to cap off a night of drag queens in the Mission is with more drag queens, obviously. We headed over to Esta Noche for some post-show cocktails. We were not the only show-goers who thought this way, and there was quite the crowd who paid the $5 cover to keep the fun going. We got some margaritas and settled in for the 11:30pm drag show. Another successful evening of drama talk and drinks.

The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes shows at the Victoria Theater on 16th Street and Capp, and runs Thurs-Sun until December 22nd, so you only have two more weekends to check out this show. Tickets are $30 (involving a two part purchase with $15 going over Eventbrite and $15 at the door- don’t ask us why) and can be reserved online.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Urge for Going

With Katie out of town, Brittany took a date and followed up with a commenter to see a new play last week. Here’s her dispatch from the press seats:

David Allen]

A Drama Talk & Drinks reader, connected to Golden Thread Productions, invited us via our comments section to their newest play, the west-coast premiere of Urge for Going, at Z Below in the Mission. Katie was out of town this weekend, but we didn’t want to let a show go unreviewed, or a comment go unanswered. So Brittany decided to enlist the help of a guest reviewer for this installment of Drama Talk & Drinks. Sam Clay, her boyfriend, grew up in a Ukrainian-Jewish household. He also has a theater minor. So who better to take to a show about a young Palestinian girl growing up in a Lebanese refugee camp?

Sam: I thought it was a good show. I thought the text was an excellent place to start, and I enjoyed the world the playwright created.

Brittany: There were definitely parts of the script I liked, but one of the problems with this play, is it was based around a teenager’s conflict with her parents. Part of that was good, because that  made it a more relatable story. What teenager doesn’t fight with their parents? This script placed that everyday conflict in a heightened environment which was interesting. At the same time it was a teenager arguing with her parents. Which is just annoying to watch.

S: It was a universal conflict, and I related to it. Also, on the Jewish side, they talk about all these same struggles, just from a different perspective, and hearing this perspective was interesting for me.

B: I thought the set was very well done. The sense of claustrophobia they were able create, because Z Below is such a small space, worked really well for this play. Definitely one the things driving the conflict between the characters is this sense of claustrophobia. Six people stuck living together in one small room, and they can’t get away from each other. It felt like there wasn’t enough room to breath. They created that atmosphere very well.

S: There was something I really liked about the interplay between the characters, particularly the father, Adham, and his brother Hamzi. It reminded me of my family. Getting a little personal, my family is a family of Jewish immigrants. I was the first to not have to live with three generations in the same apartment. So I saw a lot of parallels in the way the play’s family treats each other, which I enjoyed.

B: Yeah, when they were interacting as a family, despite a few line-hiccups, they seemed really believable. The relationships between the characters felt genuine, and you could tell they took time developing the back-stories between the characters, so it had a sense of history. When they broke the 4th wall and went into the chorus sections, I don’t think it worked.

S: I agree with you, I want to stay positive though, because overall I think it was good. I think it’s well done and an important story to hear. I would recommend it to anyone who asks.

 

The Verdict: Overall an interesting show. Strong believable relationships between the characters, combined with a well done set design, make the show engaging. Although some of the more theatrical elements, such as the chorus, don’t quite work. If you’re interested in seeing a play about a story rarely told, go check this out.

The Drama Talk: Although there are moments that the actors get indulgent, this play paints a vibrant picture of a family struggling to live together as they long for more. Although the conflict between the teenage girl Jamila (played by Camila Betancourt Ascencio) and her parents feels universal, placing this conflict in a Palestinian refugee camp makes it interesting. Golden Thread Productions “is dedicated to exploring Middle Eastern cultures and identities as expressed around the globe . . . [their] mission is to make the Middle East a potent presence on the American stage and a treasured cultural experience.” This play does a good job opening an audience’s eyes to the everyday struggles of a Palestinian family stuck in a country that doesn’t want them, with nowhere else to call home.

The Drinks: We tried to go to Trick Dog for drinks, which is a silly thing to try to do on a Friday night. So we ended up at Southern Pacific Brewing Company. Brittany got the California Blonde, and Sam got the Pale Ale, and cheered to a enjoyable night at the theater.

Urge for Going runs until December 8th, in repertory with 444 Days, a play written by Golden Thread Productions’ Artistic Director, at Z Below. Tickets range from Pay-What-You-Can on Thursdays to $35, with discounts available for students and seniors. You can also get a two play pass for $45. All available through the Golden Thread Productions website.

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: Porgy and Bess

Brittany and Katie are on a roll, seeing some really great theater around town. Here’s their review of Porgy and Bess:

After speed dating the cast and creatives of the touring cast of Porgy and Bess, now playing at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater, we were excited to see them in action. Donning our Julia-Roberts-in-Pretty-Women opera wear, we headed to the theater for some Drama Talk and Drinks.

Katie: I liked it (laughs) . . . I mean opera isn’t my favorite, but I really enjoyed this story. Everyone was really talented and I cared a lot about the characters. I was moved by this play.

Brittany: I think what was remarkable about this production is that they did such a good job of making the opera really raw. They brought a slightly more contemporary way of singing to some songs, which I liked, but it still honored the opera tradition. If you are a purist, some of these numbers may not sound like you remember, but I think it translates well for a new musical theater audience. The way they brought the wailing and the opera together. Their crying was singing, and their singing was crying, and I loved that.

K: Yeah, The music was beautiful. The struggle really spoke to me. The love between Porgy and Bess – I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m a closeted hopeless romantic – that story kept me engaged. All I can say is it was passionate and beautiful, everything I think an opera wants to be.

B: It was a beautiful production. The costumes were beautiful. ESosa created clothing that made the actors look great. The lighting was my favorite part. I thought it was perfectly done, and did such a good job of directing your attention in subtle ways. I thought every single one of the actors had a deep and awesome backstory, and it was great to see those develop throughout the show.

 

The Verdict: This is a beautiful revival. If you aren’t an opera person, this could be a good way to get your feet wet. It has the operatic qualities, but also falls back on the Gershwins’ jazz influences throughout the production. If you’re a Porgy and Bess purist be warned, this production moves a lot faster than the original opera, which may not be a welcome change (it wasn’t for the Porgy and Bess superfan we went with, although he still enjoyed the show). If you really can’t stand opera, Porgy and Bess probably isn’t for you no matter how good or short the production. The folks we chatted up at Mr. Smith’s after the show were admittedly not opera people, and haven’t been to a musical in years. They were significantly less impressed than we were.

The Drama Talk: Porgy and Bess started as a book that explored the Gullah culture and the lives of African American fisherman on “Catfish Row” in South Carolina. The story was first turned into a play, then Gershwin turned it into an American folk opera in 1935. Many opera companies were uncomfortable staging it because Gershwin insisted it be played by black performers, so it was first performed as a musical. This revival honors that history, from it’s Gullah roots to its civil rights undertones, rounding out with 1930s jazz influences. In doing so it creates a layered and beautiful production of this classic American opera.

The Drinks: Mr. Smith’s is right around the corner from SHN’s Golden Gate theater, on the corner of 7th and Market. But despite it’s convenient location, the trek through Mid-Market is evidently too much for many theater goers, because they were empty and about to close when we arrived after the show. The bouncer, Jerry, and bartender, Mike, were true gems, and invited us in for a final drink. We had delicious craft made cocktails, Brittany got the Marmalade Sour and Katie got the 7th Street Gimlet, and we had a great conversation with a few fellow audience members about the show and theater in San Francisco. That’s what’s great about mixing theater and drinking, it brings strangers together.

Porgy and Bess runs through December 8th at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater. All tickets are subject to dynamic pricing based on demand, but prices seem to range from $40 – $210, and are available through the SHN website.

 

Porgy and Bess Pre-Show Cocktails – Speed Dating

In anticipation of an upcoming Drama Talk & Drinks review of Porgy and Bess, Katie and Brittany got to chat with the cast and crew, here’s their report:

When we got invited to a pre-show event for Porgy and Bess, opening at SHN’s Golden Gate Theater, we weren’t sure what to expect. We were, however, told there would be free drinks, so of course we went. This special event for SHN subscribers and Press, featured a talk from the Director and one of the show’s producers, as well as a sneak peek behind the scenes of a tech rehearsal. For press it also featured a speed-dating-like round robin of interviews with the Cast and Creatives. Crammed into our little post-it assigned space in the back of the theater against the wall between “Fashionista Lab” and “The Bold Italic”, we had 5 minutes with each interviewee to get the important questions answered. We were pretty nervous, since this is not the kind of thing we usually do, but we are always down for potentially humiliating and awkward yet interesting situations. So we prepped like any speed dater would, and rehearsed our 3 burning questions to get the conversation started: Why are they excited to be in our great city? What’s it like to work on Gershwin’s iconic American folk opera? And why should people come see it?

After some drama talk and drinks here are the highlights from our dates.

Interview date #1: ESosa (Costume Designer who was featured on Project Runway Season 7)

On SF: What I like about SF, coming from New York, is that it’s a walkable city and I love to walk. And the food here is amazing!

On The Show: As a designer I like to work on new things so Porgy and Bess is the first revival I’ve ever worked on. For me theatre design and fashion design are two sides of the same coin and I approach it the same way. I want to make my characters look good, feel good, and be able to tell their story.

Interview date #2: Roosevelt Andre Credit (Fisherman)

On SF: I was born and raised in Oakland and went to Skyline High School. I now live in New York, so I’m excited to be back in the Bay.

On the show: What Diane Paulus (the Director) did was take the opera, which is four and a half hours, and made it short enough to go on Broadway, because you have to have a show in three hours or less. We really wanted to focus in on the story and this story definitely translates to today.

Interview date #3: Kent Overshown (Mingo, the Undertaker, u/s Porgy)

On SF: I grew up in Oakland but I moved to New York 3 years ago but I wish I was still here honestly. I’m not a fan, but it’s where the business is most lucrative, but there is nothing like the Bay Area.

On the show: Unlike most theatre this isn’t about the spectacle, it’s not about this grandiose thing. It’s not above life, it is life. It’s about community. How we communicate with each other, how we struggle together and the challenges we face together. How we celebrate together as well. I think it’s an important story because people feel alienated by the theater especially young people but this is our story and they need to see it.

Interview date #4: Nathaniel Stampley (Porgy)

On SF: This is my first time here. I’m loving San Fran already [Ed. Note: Oops.], I was so excited to hear we were opening the show here. There is so much history and culture here, it’s such a great city.

On the Show: I think the biggest thing about this production is we are introducing this show to a younger audience and I think it’s in a way that they’re going to absolutely love. It’s two and a half hours. I think any night you are listening to Gershwin is a good night. If you have ears and you are alive you are going to love this show.

 

The Verdict: Our speed-dating-like round robin of interviews was fun but (let’s be honest) stressful. If we had to chose our favorite date Brittany would chose Kent, because who can say no to that deep seeded Bay Area love and Katie was all about ESosa because he’s into the amazing San Francisco food just as much as she is.

The Drama Talk: Based on the very little we saw of the tech-rehearsal, and our conversations with the actors, it sounds like this is a very fresh and real take on this beautiful show. We’re excited to see it and report back to you soon.

The Drinks: SHN knows how to treat their subscribers right. Open bar before a sneak peek tech-rehearsal? Yes please!

Drama Talk & Drinks: Beautiful

Here is Brittany & Katie’s new review of Beautiful:

What do “The Locomotion”, “Like a Natural Woman”, and “It’s Too Late” have in common? Aside from the general time period they were written, we didn’t think much. That is until we saw Beautiful: The Carole King Musical at SHN’s Curran Theater.

Katie: These reenactment musicals, where they just sing songs that we all know, never get me like other musicals. I like original songs, not ones I know repurposed. I thought the acting and the singing was really good, the set was great, but I wasn’t really taken away anywhere.

Brittany: I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it’s a very well constructed musical. I had NO IDEA who Carole King was going into the show. I really like all the songs she wrote, but I had no idea she wrote them. My Mom always had on the on the 60s oldies station in the car, and we’d sing along to these songs, so there was a fun nostalgia in seeing them performed on stage. But like you said, I don’t think I was ever that into the play. It felt like the writer tried to cram in every single hit she ever wrote, which made the plot really brief.

K: Right there was so little story! I wanted more.

B: What was there of the story was great, and surprisingly endearing, but I wish there were a few less hits and a little more of the characters. I thought all the actors were great, the singing was great, I just wish there had been more story.

K: That’s definitely what I was thinking. Especially in the first act when it was hit after hit, I wanted to go back to her and her life.

B: Part of the problem is we’re not appropriately aged to know if the actors playing the bands that played her hits acted and sounded exactly like that group. It sounded similar to what I remember of the recordings, but for me it was never “Oh my God those girls have The Shirelles nailed”. I bet they did, but because I didn’t know the first act got repetitive. I think my Mom might have loved it.

K: Well done production, the woman who played Carole (Jessie Mueller) was amazing, I just wanted more of her. She was such a good actress. I mean, if you love this music, you love Carole King, you’ll love this musical.

 

The Verdict: Are you a huge fan of 60s/70s pop music? Are you into music history? You should totally go see this show! Don’t care about music from that era? You’ll probably be disappointed with the brevity of the story, even though it’s an endearing one. But it is going to Broadway next, so there’s always the cache of seeing it first.

The Drama Talk: Just like most shows put up by SHN, this one doesn’t fail to dazzle with the production. Beautiful sets, talented actors, overall a great spectacle. The only thing that fell short was the play, which choose hits over substance.

The Drinks: We’re always at a loss when it comes to food and drinks near Union Square. Luckily, Katie did her research and we decided to check out Redford down the street. We now have a new go-to spot for happy hour in the neighborhood, which goes extra long on week nights. Brittany got the Redford Manhattan, since the play took place in NY. Katie got a Moscow Mule, because she’s a hippie sympathizer or something. Both were a great end to a fun night.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical runs through October 20th at the Curran Theater. Tickets range from $210 – $75 (on the pricey side) and can be purchased through the SHN website.