Curtain calls - Page 3

YEAR IN THEATER 2011: Memorable food fights, biggest dicks, inscrutable triumvirates, George Clooney jumps ... It's the return of the Upstage/Downstage Awards

A moment from "Beardo" with Anna Ishida

Another polarizing moment in Bay Area theater occurred this summer when Boxcar Theatre's ambitious remix of the cultish Alan Menken and Howard Ashman musical Little Shop of Horrors was shut down by Music Theatre International due to admitted violations of its licensing agreement. The debate inspired by both the violations and the show's subsequent closure was as passionate and considered as the production that inspired it, from both perspectives of the situation. Without taking sides, I found the conversation about artistic freedom vs. artists' rights to their own works to be as stimulating and thought-provoking as any night in the theater could strive to be. It seems unlikely that Boxcar Theatre knowingly set out to become the vanguard for open-source theater-making, but here's hoping it's a banner they are willing to carry a little longer. (Gluckstern)


Best Part of Getting Old

Geezer at the Marsh

I'm glad I lived long enough to see Geoff Hoyle live long enough to produce this solo piece extraordinaire. (Avila)


Best Couch-Surfing Opportunity

"Home Theater Festival"

Sometimes it's hard to leave the comfort of one's home to gamble on the capricious vicissitudes of a theater outing. Gambling in the comfort of someone else's home was, on the other hand, really easy. (Avila)


Best Ostentatious Design Overload

The Lily's Revenge

Watching the four-and-a-half-hour epic performance mash-up that was Taylor Mac's The Lily's Revenge at the Magic Theatre was in parts harrowing, exhausting, and transcendentally fabulous, but what stuck with me long after the vague twists of plot and character had mostly faded from my memory were indelible images of the seriously overwhelming design. From dazzling, sequined flower costumes by Lindsay W. Davis, to four complete sets built to accommodate five acts designed by Andrew Boyce, to the extravagant lighting by Sarah Sidman, The Lily's Revenge could have been subtitled The Tech Crew's Revenge, which would have been a fitting description of the glorious fantasia created by the uniformly top-notch production team. (Gluckstern)


Best Jump on George Clooney

Farragut North

North is better known to multiplex crowds as The Ides of March. But Bay Area theatergoers were first to get a former Howard Dean speechwriter's fictionalized story of real-deal electoral politics in a so called democracy — and in a nimble low-budge production from OpenTab Productions at Noh Space that made it all the sweeter for not being Hollywooden. (Avila)


Best Planned Revitalization of a Theater District Linchpin

PianoFight at Original Joe's

When the venerable, family-run Original Joe's at 144 Taylor burned down in 2007 it was a catastrophic blow to the neighborhood — especially to all the theaters in the area who had adopted it over the years as a go-to post-show hang-out. It even served as a San Francisco Fringe Festival off-site venue for several years, hosting the likes of RIPE Theatre and Dan Carbone. So it was wonderful news on many levels when the turbo-charged PianoFight theater company signed a ten-year lease with the Duggan family to turn the old Original Joe's into the new home of PianoFight. In addition to rebuilding the restaurant and bar, PianoFight plans to house two theaters, offices, and rehearsal spaces under the same roof — a huge boost to the neighborhood and greater theatrical community both. (Gluckstern)


Worst-Attended Theatrical Gem

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