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.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Taming

Katie & Brittany are back, and they finally saw a show that they both really liked! Check out their review:

The Taming serves up a heap of good ole' Southern fried politics. From left to right: Marilee Talkington, Kathryn Zdan, and Marilet Martinez. Photo by Tom Toro.

 
“What happens when a conservative senatorial aid, a liberal political activist, and a newly-crowned Miss Georgia walk into a bar?” We wanted to find out, so we headed down the hill to the Thick House to check out Crowded Fire Theater’s premiere of The Taming, a political comedy by Lauren Gunderson. The Thick House is located in a very residential area of Potrero Hill, and is actually beneath condominiums, a strange place for a theater. We knew it was a good sign.

Katie: So, would you send people to see this show?

Brittany: As long as they go in with the expectation that it’s a satire I totally would. I laughed out loud, the script was really funny and the woman who played Patricia (Marilee Talkington) and the woman who played Miss Georgia (Kathryn Zdan) were both such good actors.

K: They were so good! Too bad the third actress, who played Bianca (Marilet Martinez), was rough.

B: So true, but I still think people should see it because it was really fresh playwriting about a very relevant topic. The director took some of the slapstick too far, there were some rough acting moments, and a few cues needed tightening, but I still really enjoyed it as a whole.

K: Definitely. The script was good and when the actresses nailed the timing – I had the best LOL’s that I have had at a show for a really long time.

The Verdict: The government is shut down but that doesn’t mean your social life is as well. This show is a hilarious night out we highly recommend.

The Drama Talk: This satire on our government couldn’t have come at a better time. Playwright Lauren Gunderson’s script is sharp, silly and smart all at the same time. The theater is pretty tiny and they’re packing audiences in, so be prepared to get cozy with your seat mates.

The Drinks: After the show we walked up the hill to Bloom’s Saloon. The place seemed like an ordinary, neighborhood dive bar, but we found out it has an extraordinary view of the Bay Bridge. We ordered two Angry Orchard ciders, because we know George Washington would be angry if he saw what’s going on in Washington, and enjoyed the view while beaming from a fun night of theater.

The Taming runs through 10/26 at The Thick House, and tickets can be purchased through Crowded Fire Theater’s website, tickets range from $20-$35.

There are also tickets available on Goldstar for $10-$12.50.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Hush

Fall is a great time for seeing live theater, as the Indian Summer winds down and temperatures drop into that horrible 50-60° range, warm theaters are a welcome sanctuary. Katie & Brittany are on a roll, seeing all kinds, even though they’ve been overall less impressed than they hoped to be, but more on that later. Here they are with a report from Hush at Z Space:

Andrew Ward (top) and Felipe Barrueto-Cabello (bottom) perform in Hush; photo by Margo Moritz

Z Space is one of our favorite live performance venues in San Francisco, not just because it’s a beautiful warehouse theater, with not a bad seat in the house, and an art gallery in the lobby but also because there is always something new and different. Last week they premiered Hush a dance-theater piece created by the Joe Goode Performance Group. It had been featured on the cover of Theatre Bay Area and has been generally buzzed about, so we were very excited at opening night . . . maybe too excited.

Brittany: There were a lot of good things about this show. They were all really talented dancers. The foley and music was awesome. I loved watching the sound effects happen live. The set was pretty cool. The problem was the story was disappointingly trite, so the piece didn’t live up to the hype.

Like any play, once the plot was established I felt like the relationships between the characters should be driving the piece, but that didn’t happen. They established that there were specific relationships between specific actors, and that those people were playing the same roles throughout the play, but they were so focused on dancing they didn’t let the relationships develop. Great dancers don’t necessarily make great actors I guess. It felt like the piece lacked an emotional through line.

If this same story was told in 30-40 mins, instead of an hour fifteen, I would have probably walked away feeling like this was a perfect dance-theater piece, but for me it dragged.

Katie: Right! Wow, I couldn’t have said it better . . . so I won’t even try.

The Verdict: Do you love, love, love dance pieces? You need to see this show! Are you more into a well told story that happens to have beautiful movement and awesome music, then we don’t think you will be blown away by this piece as a whole.

The Drama Talk: All the elements to make an amazing dance-theater piece were there: talented people, a very awesome space, insane cool music and sound effects, however this was one time the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts. Falling short on the storyline, and indulging in few too many artsy repetitions of dance movements, made the show a little long and as a whole get a little . . . [we so don’t want to say it, because we HATE this word] boring.

The Drinks: Since the characters worked a dive bar we thought it would be best to go to the Homestead a few blocks away. We got our usuals and poured one out for unrealistic expectations.

Hush runs through 10/5 at Z Space, and tickets can be purchased through their website. Ticket prices vary. You can get seats way in the back for $15-20, but the best seats in the house will run you closer to $65-70.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Buried Child

Yet another Drama Talk that I was bummed to miss. I love Sam Shepard, murky and complicated as I am. Brittany and Katie sent in this report of Buried Child at Magic Theatre:

Bradley (Patrick Kelly Jones, right) prepares a rude awakening for his father Dodge (Rod Gnapp) in Sam Shepard’s Buried Child at Magic Theatre through October 6. Photo: Jennifer Reiley

It was a rare beautiful sunny Sunday in San Francisco. America’s Cup festivities had Fort Mason abuzz with the kind of exuberance that can only come from the carefree joie-de-vivre of rich people and their fancy hobbies. After strolling along the waterfront and looking at all the beautiful things and people, we ascended the stairs into Magic Theatre to see their recently opened revival of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child. As we entered the theater we were transported to a decaying gray house in farm-town Illinois on a desperately rainy day. We knew we were in for some Drama Talk & Drinks.

Brittany: I’m a little confused, but I think that ‘s the intent of Shepard. It’s supposed to be a play you come away from feeling uncomfortable and confused. Like “OMG what did I just see? I just saw a family, or the remains of a family, crumble on stage”.  There’s something about watching something so raw, so uncomfortable, and so unhappy. I don’t know if I’d tell people to run out and go see it, unless they’re really up for a depressing evening, but I do think it was a good production. Although, I couldn’t stand the actor who played Halie (Denise Balthrop Cassidy).

Katie: Right, it felt like she was reading directly from the script half the time. Other than her, I thought all the actors were very good. Like the actor who played Dodge (Rod Gnapp), he was really remarkable. The set was really good too. I loved the porch and the real rain.

Brittany: Yeah, loved the set. Magic is such a small space, the way they built out the stairway into the wings made the space look huge, and really gave it the feeling of a big old decaying country house. The sound design was on point too. That sad guitar at the beginning had such a lonely harsh sound. With the rain, and dirty decaying set, it set the stage for the rest of the play which is just a raw look at an American family destroyed.

The Verdict: What a depressing show. Shepard really knows how to ruin a beautiful Sunday. It was a good production, with some really strong actors, great design, and good direction, but MAN. Wear a cup because Shepard is going right for the balls with this play, and the Magic cast led by Rod Gnapp as Dodge, shows no mercy.

The Drama Talk: This show is not for everyone. If you like Sam Shepard, and therefore like having your guts wrenched, you’ll probably enjoy it. Otherwise be forewarned. As the name implies, think of the most messed up depressing things that could be buried within a family. Those will be dug up and thrust in front of the audience throughout the show.

The Drinks: After watching that much desolation on stage we needed a strong drink. Since we were in the Marina, we decided to follow the advice of Mission Mission friend, Stuart Schuffman, and head to Horseshoe Tavern. There were thankfully very few Marina folk, just 49ers fans, so we could wallow freely without the company of too many crisply starched polos and gaily printed Lilly Pulitzer frocks. The whole first act transpired during a massive on-stage thunderstorm, so Katie appropriately ordered a Dark and Stormy. Brittany contemplated ordering whiskey straight up, but it was only 5pm and we had one more show to see that day, so whiskey ginger it was.

Buried Child has been extended through October 13th, so you have a few weeks to catch this show before it closes. Tickets are available on the Magic Theatre website and are $45-55 on Tues-Thurs, and $50-60 Friday-Sunday. There’s also a senior and “educator” discount available, so if you’re either of those just bring an ID.

We couldn’t find anything on GoldStar yet, and there’s no mention of student or under 30 discounts, but Magic does say “Keep checking our Facebook page, blog and website for updates and announcements on rush tickets, discounts and special promotions.” so there’s that.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Bay One Acts Festival

For this installment of the good old drama talk with Katie & Brittany, the duo went to see the 12th Annual Bay One Acts Festival – Program 1. Here’s their report.

When we heard that there was a festival going on that brings together local artists and many different theater companies we were really excited to check it out. So, this past Sunday night we headed to the Tides Theater in Nob Hill for the 12th Annual Bay One Acts Festival to see 6 different short form plays. Since there are so many pieces we decided to break it down a little differently than usual, just giving you our first thoughts on each of the plays. Jump to the verdict if you don’t care about our initial reactions to the specific plays.

#1: Modernizing the Afterlife – A dead Google developer gets recruited by St. Peter’s nephew to optimize their afterlife processing.

Katie: It made me think of the time I went on an online date with a guy that developed apps for a living . . . and just like this piece I left that date slightly intrigued, slightly confused and wanting more.

#2: Desiree – A woman copes with the aftermath of ten years in captivity.

K: One word – Awkward. All I could do was compare it to the Cleveland woman tragedy. It was the one piece that no one knew when it ended.

Brittany: There were a number of pieces that fell short because of the acting, this one fell short because of the writing more than anything else.

#3: Write Dirty to Me – Dead writers operate literary phone sex lines.

B: This show is what an english major, who is crazy nerdy, thinks is funny. But if you are not deep into english major land you have no fucking clue was is going on.

K: Which was me.

B: This show also reminds me of the time I saw the Vagina monologues during high school and afterwards we said “cunt” over and over again because we thought it was funny. Dirty words just aren’t that funny when you’re an adult.

Intermission

#4: Love Song of Aflred J. Prufrock – A T.S. Eliot poem set to movement.

B: This show made me think of the time I was at a bar when I was 21 and a 50 year old hit on me.

K: Awkward.

B: Yeah.

#5: Red All Over – In the wake of a school shooting tragedy, new relationships begin.

B: Remember that thing we said last time about story arcs . . . there wasn’t one.

K: There wasn’t even a story . . . to be arced.

B: Also, why does a lesbian romance have to happen at a child murder scene…I don’t get that.

#6: Last Couples Therapy Session on Earth – The Zombie Apocalypse has happened, but that doesn’t mean that this couple is done working through their problems.

B: Well written, cute, vignette. It was the best piece in the series.

K: It would have been hilariously bizarre, Modern Familyish, if not for The Walking Dead.

[pic of The Royal Tug Yacht Club by Rose Garrett for Eater SF]

The Verdict: We really, really, really wanted to love this festival. It’s a great idea executed in a really cool space. We wanted to walk away feeling like we saw some fresh, innovative, well developed, entertaining theater, unfortunately we did not. We did only see Program One, so we can’t speak to the festival as a whole, but if Program One was any indication of what Program Two will be like, this festival is best left for an audience of friends of the artists and/or other artists that want to learn from watching artists, the general public might be disappointed.

The Drama Talk: Bay One Acts is a great platform for local directors, writers, and actors to collaborate, but when it comes down to it people are paying $15 to be entertained and moved and we just really weren’t. We want to bring new audiences to the theatre, not just support art just for the sake of supporting art. We don’t think a new audience would be that impressed by what should be some of the best new works in the SF theatre scene. At least for Program One, the writing itself is really what fell short for us.

The Drinks: We heard of a new bar that opened a couple months back just a few blocks from the theatre. The Royal Tug Yacht Club was the perfect place to discuss the evening, a small, almost empty, interestingly decorated (there’s a huge octopus on the ceiling, what is better than that) dive bar with great, strong cocktails. Brittany had the “Seek and Destroy”, which was what she was hoping this festival was going to do (you know, just “kill it”) and Katie got the “Washed Up”, which was what she felt she was after seeing this show.

Bay One Acts Festival

Drama Talk & Drinks: Porchlight

For the this installment of Drama Talk & Drinks, Katie & Brittany went saw some live storytelling at the Verdi Club after I had to forfeit my own ticket because of work. Here’s their drama talk:

Porchlight has been going on for ten years, but we hadn’t reviewed it yet. We figured you might not have seen it yet either, so we did what any dedicated reviewers would do: we sacrificed our Monday night Mahjong to kick off our week the most raucous way late 20-something non-profit employees can, with bawdy stories, Drama Talk & Drinks.

Brittany: I was really into storytelling shows, like The Moth and Mortified, maybe 2-3 years ago. So I went to a bunch of them. For the first half dozen I was all wide-eyed and like “real-life people are more funny than professionals.” And then I went to enough of them and realized there’s a reason to have professionals. There can be really funny, really talented people who aren’t professionals, but not always, and that’s what came to mind tonight.

Katie: I’ve never been to Porchlight. I’ve only been to a few storytelling events and they can be awesome but they can also not be. They are very hit and miss events. I love stories, but I am very particular about how they’re told. The idea to me is great, but the execution rarely is. But when you hit a good night it’s so, so fun. Have a little party, have a drink, have people who live in your community tell some funny stories . . . But it just fell short to me.

B: Verdi Club is such an old man space. It feels kind of dingy, like you said earlier, it looks like a Lions Club. If you’re a performer you have to realize it looks like you’re at a retirement party, so you need to bring the energy to make it feel young, hip, edgy, fun, and that first storyteller kind of retirement mixer-ed the whole thing, even though she was young.

K: It was just a hard start. Especially after that bizarrely beautiful musical opening. I didn’t really understand it, but regardless I was very entertained. To go from that to the soft spoken, low energy “Um, hi guys, so uhhh . . . I used to be a writer . . .” was rough.

B: Yeah, it started well with the musical performance, but then the bottom fell out and it killed the momentum. The second act was pretty funny, I mean I LOL’ed. But the fact that the first act was low energy, then they started the second act with someone who didn’t even know she was going to tell a story that night, it made it that much harder for the 2nd act storytellers, who were really talented, to pull it up. They tried, they had some really funny points, but they had a lot to work against.

The Verdict: As a friend who saw the show with us said, “The point of Porchlight is to tell a funny story. In order for a story to be a story there should be something like a fucking story arc.” To put it simply, some of the storytellers fell short, but there were some funny moments, and the MC’s were fun. Maybe with a better prompt, or different performers it could be great, but Monday night was not.

The Drama Talk: Tickets were $16 once you paid the processing fee. You can find tickets on Goldstar to watch professional comedians do a show for $10, so part of the high-expectations came from the high price (I know, we’re cheap). We couldn’t find discount tickets to Porchlight anywhere, so it looks like you’re stuck with the full-price ticket. The Porchlight “Open Door” night, their open mic night which happens monthly, is only $5 and is arguably as funny, if not funnier, than these more curated performances. That may be a good place to start if you want to give Porchlight a shot, same funny MC’s, lower prices and expectations.

The Drinks: We went to Mission Hill Saloon, which was formerly The-Bar-With-The-Long-Name-Involving-Some-Chick-Named-Evelyn. It’s old school Mission [Ed. note: Maybe on the Potrero Avenue side of Potrero Hill, unless you go by 101 boundaries, but feels like old school Mission just the same], a little too far for Mission gentrification to reach, so it still feels a little like a real dive, despite The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and other black and white movies they’re screening. We imagine this is where the old men from Verdi came after their Lion’s Club meeting to get sloshed, so it seemed like a good fit. After a super strong daiquiri at Verdi Club, Brittany opted to slow things down with a hard cider. Katie, never one to call it early, stuck with her signature rum and coke.

Porchlight has two shows monthly, their curated show and their Open Door night. Themes change monthly so check out their website for their upcoming show topics and dates – Heck, if you’re feeling ballsy you can even tell your own story at one of their Open Door events. If you know what a story arc is you just might win $50.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

As we mentioned last week, our theater reviewers, Katie & Brittany, got to check out Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at The Orpheum. Here’s their review:

After our fun conversation with Scott Willis we were excited to head over to SHN’s Orpheum Theater and catch the biggest gay ticket in town, the national tour of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. A party like Priscilla warrants popping a few corks, so we headed to Blackbird in the Castro for some after-show Drama Talk and Drinks.

Brittany: I feel like this show is a drag queen, Disney, fever dream, right down to koalas coming out at the end. So fantastic that it didn’t (well, very, very little of it) ring true to me, but it was so amazing to watch. It’s like our generation’s form of vaudeville. The plot wasn’t important, what mattered was being transported to somewhere glamourous. It was a spectacle, and sometimes that’s what theatre is supposed to be.

Katie: Yeah, or it could also be described as a soft porn . . . drag show style. There was a storyline, but it didn’t matter, or make any sense. The point was the ejaculation of sequins, costumes, dancing and gayness – which is great!

B: Which is so fun.

K: I do wish we had 2 or 3 drinks before the show because I think I would have been in a more “let’s watch a party” mode and not my usual “lets analyze and look for meaning” mode. I would have been more in the spirit of what this show is, which is basically just a big, fabulous, party on stage. Those costumes were ridiculously amazing though, right?!

B: They were crazy – absolutely insane, they didn’t make any fucking sense. I don’t understand why people were dressed in what they were dressed in most of the time, but they were fabulous.

K: But what’s the deal with the accents though? Other than Scott (Bernadette) who did an english accent the whole time, everyone else went between an Australian accent to something else I didn’t understand. As always, my wish for any piece of theater is either learn the accent or don’t do it. Just do it or don’t.

B: Yeah, there was no consistency. I can totally willfully suspend my disbelief and believe you all are in Australia, and no one has an Australian accent, and that’s fine. That fact that some of you are trying it, and others aren’t, it’s like what’s going on guys? It was an awesome big gay party though – not necessarily a great piece of theatre – but really, really fun.

K: Fun it was.

The Verdict: Do you like pretty people and things? Are you into 70s/80s hits? Do you want more confetti in your hair? If you answered yes to any of those you should probably see Priscilla. Do you go to theatre to wrestle with your ongoing existentialist crisis? Probably not for you. But if you’re looking to get-away-from-it-all, it might do the trick (or it might make you punch one of those koalas).

The Drama Talk: Priscilla is very old broadway, just with more drag queens. Lots of chorus girls and boys, huge dance numbers, lots of sequins. It is a spectacular spectacle, those 500+ costumes won a Tony for a reason. It has a Disney ending, and problems are solved with a swift kick to the balls. To be honest, it’s far from a favorite play, but this is an impressive production. Priscilla is like cotton candy, very sweet not much substance.

Priscilla is here for a very short run, so if you want to go snag tickets on Goldstar for $55. Once those are gone, for tickets go to SHN’s site or call 888-746-1799.

The Drinks: We heard Blackbird had just had a fabulous makeover, so we headed there for some cocktails. Brittany got the Stratosphere #2, to tame her bubbly craving after watching bottles of champagne consumed during the play. Katie got a Rye-n-Gosling, which tasted as delectable as the name implies. Within minutes the cute boys seated next to us started making out, and we knew we had come to the right place.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert runs August 21-31 at the SHN Orpheum Theatre.

Pre-Show Cocktail with Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Our theater reviewers, Brittany and Katie, got the chance to sit down with an actor in the production of the SHN show, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The musical, which opened last night, is based on the 1994 Australian movie of the same name. The film starred a young Guy Pierce, a young Hugo Weaving and relatively young Terrance Stamp.

The touring show now playing at The Orpheum stars Scott Willis as Bernadette, the Terrance Stamp character. Read their interview from El Rio after the jump, and their review of the show next week.

[Scott as Scott, by Katie]

[Scott, center, as Bernadette via SHN]

(more…)

Drama Talk & Drinks: How to Make Your Bitterness Work for You

Time for another theater review by Katie and Brittany. Look, we do these because the three of us love theater and want to get more people under 50 interested in getting out and seeing something. This review may not do that, but don’t be turned away! Theater can be “dope” and “fresh”! Anyway, here’s their review:

Stage Werx often has fun shows. We can often be bitter. So when we heard about How to Make Your Bitterness Work for You, a solo comedy written and performed by Fred Raker, we figured we should check it out. The small theatre was packed with eager audience members ready to be brought along on this self help guru’s seminar journey. Over drinks after the show we discussed if How to Make Your Bitterness Work for You worked for us…

Katie: That show, and it’s bitterness, wasn’t really working for me. Was it working for you?

Brittany: It was working for me in so far as, I totally believed we were at some sort of a self-help guru talk. But I didn’t know how I had found myself there, because I thought I had gone to see a piece of theatre. Which I understand was the point of the spoof, but I found it equally compelling to a self help guru talk (which is to say not compelling).

K: I wish he had more interaction with the audience. Like when that audience member left, I wish he had called it out, but instead he got really awkward.

B: Right, at least in the portrayals I’ve seen of these sorts of seminars, the self help guru people do shit like making the audience repeat after them. And some of the audience was naturally doing that, and he didn’t react to that audience feedback.

K: I think it was humor and a piece for older folks. The older people in the audience were laughing and having a good time, and then I looked at people closer to our age in their 20s and 30s and they were as lost as we were. Some words that indicated it was humor not meant for us; “Buxom Blonde”. WHO SAYS buxom blonde? “Smarmy,” isn’t that from the 40s or 50s? There were others too.

B: I felt like I was watching something that was written 20 years ago, but then bizarrely he would drop a reference to Facebook or text messaging which seemed totally out of place. Most of the references I did not get, or at least they didn’t resonate with me.

K: The way he said “I wanted to plant a big wet one on her,” it sounded like my grandpa! I mean, not really because my grandpa didn’t speak English, but he’d have said something like that.

B: It felt like he was talking about a mid-life crisis, and was approaching these issues the way a 50+ year old would, which I couldn’t relate to.

K: The older audience, which was 90% of the audience, seemed to really like his impersonations and were laughing a lot. It’s hard to judge this play, because I don’t think it was written for us. He was a very believable self help guru though. He did that well.

The Verdict: How old are you? Over 50? Great, you’ll probably love it. Under 40? Do you have parents in town for a summer visit? Great, take them! It’s totally parent friendly, and they’ll probably think this show’s a “hoot”. Otherwise save the $15.

The Drama Talk: Fred Raker makes an incredibly believable struggling self help guru. If you’re not into self help gurus, you probably won’t like this show. We wish he had gone farther and turned it into a fully interactive seminar, but as it was it fell short for us, especially since much of the humor seemed geared towards an audience born before 1960. If you were born before 1960, or are into self help gurus, and decide to see this show, get there early if you want a good seat. Also, there’s no intermission, so just be prepared to hold it if you decide to get drinks at their adorable concessions nook.

The Drinks: We went to Thieves Tavern and wanted drinks with bitters, to match the bitterness theme of the evening. Katie got a Sazerac. She learned she doesn’t like Sazeracs. Brittany got a Manhattan (for the cherry of course) and remembered that Manhattans are a great way to banish bitterness.

How to Make Your Bitterness Work for You runs every Monday and Tuesday night at Stage Werx Theatre through August. Tickets are available on Brown Paper Tickets.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Dirty Dancing Live

Hello folks, here’s the newest installment of our feature where two local theater lovers go see some live performance and discuss it over drinks. Here they review Dirty Dancing Live at The Dark Room:

Last Saturday night we donned our leg warmers and beige iridescent lipstick, and headed to one of our favorite Mission live performance venues, The Dark Room, for their newest show, Dirty Dancing Live! Neither of us had been to one of The Dark Room’s live performances of “classic” films, but we were intrigued by the concept, and had the perfect bar to match the 80s chick flick set in the 60s vibe, Beauty Bar. One of us was pumped, the other skeptical, but both of us were ready for Drama Talk and Drinks . . .

Brittany: When we decided to go see Dirty Dancing Live, I was soo excited. To the point I nearly texted my college roommate to brag. We were the kind of dorks that watched the movie literally over 50 times, in the two years we lived together, so I was expecting to love the show because I LOOOOVE the movie.

Katie: I don’t have any real connection to the film, but was really hoping to be pleasantly entertained, but I don’t even know what to say about what we just saw . . . There were some people laughing, the kids in front of us were having a ball . . . (struggles to find words)

B: Just say it . . . it was awful.

K: It’s just that they didn’t make a clear choice of what it was. Was it a movie reenactment . . . was it an interpretation?

B: Was it a spoof?

K: One moment it would be straight up word for word, moment by moment reenactment. Then they would skip over tons of shit and suddenly be a spoof. It just seemed they didn’t know exactly what they wanted it to be. It had potential to be good if they just made a clearer choice.

B: I love Dirty Dancing the movie – it’s cheesy and corny. If they had taken it far enough, and made it really spoofy, it could have been funny. But you’re right, they didn’t take anything far enough. It felt to me like, if I was trying to study for a test on Dirty Dancing, this was the not as good cliff notes version.

Also, Dirty Dancing is a summer coming of age movie. The actress who played Baby was super adult the whole time, and played the whole being naive thing as just an act, which totally killed the plot.

K: One thing we gotta give her, is that she’s a dead ringer for the actress in the movie (Jennifer Grey). I mean body shape, hair, face I was shocked – looks wise she was amazing. You could tell she’s capable, but maybe just needed better direction? Also, doing a show like this in that space seemed kinda awkward.

B: The Dark room is a hard space – I get that – it is super small. Doing any big dance number is really hard – but that’s what people love about Dirty Dancing! The first time that Baby goes to the staff living area, and sees them dancing, that’s supposed to be a big game changing scene.

K: They didn’t make a moment out of that at all.

B: However, I did think they did the scene where Baby and Johnny lip sync and dance really well. That was spot on and cute. Besides that moment, I just wasn’t with them.

K: I really do love the Dark Room though – it’s such a cool performance venue.

B: Me too, I’ve seen such great stuff there. I’ve enjoyed The Business, other comedy shows, sketch comedy. It’s just this staged movie piece didn’t really know what it wanted to be, so unfortunately it wasn’t much of anything.

 
The Verdict: Unless you’re friends with one of the actors don’t waste your money. Even if you are friends with the actors, get them to give you comps. Tickets are $15 advance and $20 at the door, even $5 would be a stretch for this mediocre performance.

The Drama Talk: We didn’t know when to laugh and the awkwardness of some of the acting made us want to cry. Although the two leads seemed like they may have had talent, nothing about this performance let them show it. But don’t give up on going to shows at the Dark Room, they always have cool stuff going on!

The Drinks: Unnamed Summer-y deliciousness from the creative mind of the awesome Beauty Bar bartender. Brittany had an Absolute Hibiscus cocktail, and Katie had an Absolute Citrus cocktail. Both were a high point of the evening.

Dirty Dancing Live runs through the end of May, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm.