A.C.T. Christmas Goes Hi-Tech; John Pizzarelli Was a Rush; The ‘It’ List

by Buzzin' Lee Hartgrave on December 14, 2007


“How Dare you talk to me in my underwear!” says Scrooge to the Ghost of Christmas past. Yep, this Scrooge is little more ‘salty’ than we are used to. A.C.T. has changed the traditional Charles Dickens’ story into a fascinating new way to enjoy the time-honored tale. The staging is just dazzling, especially the wonderful hi-tech effects that are used to conjure up the Ghosts of the past. All this is a good thing. The new freshness makes it fun for kids and adults alike.

What we have here is a first class production that pushes the envelope with its near-surreal mix of outrageousness and deadpan humor. The costumes are elegant (Beaver Bauer) and period perfect. The actors are spirited and have great fun with the malicious moments. Like a Broadway Show – this exciting adventure with songs, and an original score by Karl Lundenberg is a surefire crowd pleaser. The dancing vegetables will fascinate the Kids.

There are plenty of great actors in the ensemble cast: Jud Williford (Bob Cratchit) is Extraordinary and warm hearted, Jack Willis is scary (Marley’s Ghost), Sharon Lockwood is winsome as Mrs. Dilber and Mrs. Fezziwig. There is, of course, a huge contingent of Child Actors on the stage with a wide-eyed wonder of it all.

It’s an unqualified Winter Smash — an Xmas Carol for Today’s Generation!



John Pizzarelli – Cool Guitarist


The perfect Cabaret show was in The Crystal Ballroom at the Marines a few nights ago. But this was more than an evening of great music played and sung by two fabulous talents – it had soul and heart. John Pizzarelli and his wife Jessica Molaskey joked around with each other in such an easy-going way that you almost felt like you were in their living room.

The evening was bright and cheery with a swell rendition of “If I Were A Bell (Guys and Dolls) to “Ring-a-Ding Ding”. This was definitely an evening of ‘oldies’ but goodies. Some were from musical comedy shows like “Small World” from Gypsy, a song that you would think would be called “Funny” cause that the way it starts.

Pizzarelli’s Guitar playing is like the 9th wonder of the world. At one point he even makes the Guitar sound like a piano. Completely stunning, or as the young kids would say — “It was Raw.” Pizzarelli is not only a terrific singer and guitarist but is very personable. Waves of friendliness waft from the stage. When he and his brother Martin (Bass) play together – you are in Cabaret heaven. You probably have seen Martin on “The Tonight Show”, “Conan O’Brien show”, and with David Letterman.

Pizzarelli’s wife Jessica Molaskey has performed in many Broadway shows that include Tommy, Chess, Les Miserables, and Oklahoma! She also is a Winner of New York’s coveted 2007 Nightlife Award for Outstanding Vocalist.

John Pizzarelli has garnered International acclaim, and with good reason. You’d have to look far and wide to find a more exciting talent that soars to new heights with classic standards, ballads and Jazz. The Pizzarelli’s even have a syndicated show called Radio Deluxe. They have hosted on air guests like Liza Minnelli, Peter Cincotti and James Taylor among others.

During the evening they got in some great Billy Joel, Johnny Mercer, Bobby Troop and Gershwin. At the very end the crowd pleaser “I Love Jersey Best” by Joe Cosworth has the crowd on the edge of their seats. This song about New Jersey was a huge hit when it first came out – and many still want to hear it today. Pizzarrelli not only sings it as he originally recorded it, but he also does the songs as “The Beach Boys”, “Bob Dylan”, “James Taylor”, and “Lou Rawls”. The song is playful and perfectly performed. The entire evening was effortlessly entertaining.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!! (highest rating) –trademarked-


OK! says: Lindsay Lohan and beau Riley Giles have split. But it’s not all over. “Lindsay still talks and hangs out with Riley” a friend told OK! The friend went on to tell OK!…, that Giles goes over to her place to watch movies.

A Celeb notes: “I’m not falling for it. I always thought that Giles lives in Utah. Gee, what a long way to go to watch a movie.”

Denzel Washington to a group of Reporters: “I’ve always taught [my children], “Do what you gotta do so you can do what you want to do.”

Celebs comment: “How profound. I will cherish that oldie forever.”

In the Gee, we must have missed it department…Reese Witherspoon and her kids along with Jake Gyllenhall (Brokeback Mountain) dined at Boudin at Fisherman’s Wharf this week. So we hear.

A Celeb chimes in: “I wanna see that. Someone must have had a Cell Phone with them that had one of those cheap cameras installed.”

Plastic Anyone? Just when we got rid of plastic bags — stars are still getting some on their bodies. Uma Thurman looks like her nose has been tweaked, but it looks good. They say that Sandy Denton (of 80’s rap group, Salt N Pepa) looks like she got a complete makeover. – so we hear. And…Beyonce is sporting what looks like C cups…so says inthestars.

Gossips are saying that there may be cracks in the Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewifes) Tony Parker Marriage. French Model Alexandra Paressant is claiming a clandestine affair with Parker. –Via Gossip Boulevard.

Celebs say: “I’ve always said…you can’t trust a French Woman.”

Blind Item: Which leading man has aged a bit since his last major starring – and in An effort to freshen up, go a dye job and an eye lift? Studio execds on the sure-to0be-blockbuster movie he’s in – are relieved. – NY Post/Page Six.

Celebs meander: “Well, it could be Tommy Lee Jones, or it could be Harrison Ford. But, of course these are only guesses.” – Celebs would love to have your guess.

And that’s IT!

The Photo of Lee Hartgrave Boy Reporter is by Jim Ferreira – Film Noir & Hollywood Glamour. www.lafterhall.com.

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Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave

Buzzin’ Lee Hartgrave is a longtime theater critic in the San Francisco Bay Area. His reviews appear each Friday in Beyond Chron.

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