A Christmas Carol; Lemony Snicket; Rrazz Room: David Campbell, Barb Jungr

by Buzzin' Lee Hartgrave on December 10, 2010

A CHRISTMAS CAROL SHINES BRIGHTLY AT A.C.T.

The Current version of Act’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ keeps up the interest by making slight changes each year to the script. The age-old story about Scrooge and the Cratchit family is at the core of the delight. It’s like someone dropped free Lotto Tickets and candy canes from the top of the stage. This lovely soufflé never deflates. I really do enjoy the musical numbers in the show – it gives the play a new feeling with the singing and dancing. Plus, the children get to show off their talents.

You know what I would like for next years “Carol”? I would like to see them turn the next version of “Carol” into a full-fledged Broadway style musical. New musical numbers could be used – interspersed with some of Irving Berlin’s Xmas songs. The play could really show off the story if it became a musical or an Operetta.

This story about Greed and Ghosts from Christmas past still intrigues audiences, year after year. This version, was adapted by Carey Perloff and Paul Walsh in 2005.

Here is one of my favorite scenes in the show: Scrooge grumpy as usual, shouts at a bunch of kids singing Xmas songs outside his business – “What Right do you have to by Merry?’ He’s such a nice guy.

Again this year is the marvelous James Carpenter as Scrooge as he goes from ‘mean’ to warm and fuzzy. Nicholas Pelczar is the perfect Bob Cratchit. Love Sharon Lockwood as Mrs. Dilber. She takes a small part and makes it seem like it’s the main event. This is a huge undertaking. On the stage, the cast looks to be at least 30 people or more. Each and every one brings some exciting twinkle to the stage.

This Carol is funny, warm action with lots of heart. I know that you and the kids will enjoy it.

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

LEMONY SNICKET — NOT MUCH TO SNICKER OVER

GEOFF HOYLE – THE SUPREME COMIC IS ENOUGH FOR ME TO WANT TO SEE THE SHOW. But, alas – it was a disappointment. Hard as Hoyle tries to pry laughs from the audience, his presence just wasn’t enough. This play was dead on arrival. And that’s funny since the story is about a Dead Composer.

There are Grand Marionette’s on the stage. They are so realistic looking – however they don’t do much. A hand is raised now and then, but that’s it. All those strings held by humans were kind-of useless.

The show is a combination of music, theater, hand puppetry, Marionettes and film. There is an inept inspector. The Orchestra is all puppets. The dead composer on the stage – stays dead along with the show.

It’s supposed to be a little over one hour long. But, you will feel like you have sat down for two hours. It’s an interesting concept – the film part was interesting. The sets are gorgeous. A lot of effort went into every detail. But – everything is a gamble – and this one was a bad bet.

AT THE BERKELEY REP

RATING: TWO GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!! –trademarked-

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

DAVID CAMPBELL LIGHTS UP THE RRAZZ ROOM

Campbell has an extensive Theatre Career (Best Actor in ‘Sunset Boulevard). He also got the award for Male Artist in a leading role in (Carousel. It would take all afternoon to list all the Awards that he has won or been nominated for. In addition to his recording career – Campbell has been in many T.V. shows (a contestant on ‘Dancing With the Stars). He has even performed with his father on numerous occasions – including an episode of “Dancing With Stars”.

On his New C.D – David Campbell On Broadway never sounded more assured and magnetic. I was especially overwhelmed with everything on the C.D — songs like “When I Get My Name in Lights” is wonderful. Here’s a lyric “I’d do anything To Get My name In Lights.” And you know what? – I think he’s already done that.

Also on the Broadway C.D is the beautiful “Bring Him Home” from Les Miz. Oh, My God – is that ever touching. His voice on this one is like a Four Lane Highway. The guy sure has dazzling and gripping musical pipes.

The old Chestnut from Oklahoma “Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin’” is always good to hear – but Campbell turns it into a masterpiece. Hayride anyone? I had an Uncle Frank that sang that song on every corner in the neighborhood to anyone that would listen.

“Some Other Time” is another tearjerker. Here’s a goodbye lyric: Oh well – we’ll catch up some other time.” If this doesn’t break your heart – then nothing will.

Campbell is magnetic. Not only is he a terrific entertainer – he has stunning good looks. In between the songs he keeps us laughing on the edge of your seats with his funny asides during the show. And hey – those seats, at the Rrazz Room? They are very comfortable. Watch for his return. He’s Hot!

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

INFO AND TIX: http://www.therrazzroom.com/

BARB JUNGR IS AS GOOD AS IT GETS

BARB JUNGR SINGS THE NEW AMERICAN SONG BOOK

We’ve heard “I’m a Believer” many times lately. Neil Diamond’s song still shines and every version always keeps me mesmerized. For Heavens sake – you must hear this song. Jungr’s voice really raps around it to a different beat. It’s obvious that she literally puts her all into this moment.

This is kind of like a traveling story in song. Her “Once in a Lifetime” is sublime. On this intriguing song — written by David Byrne and Brian Eno — Jungr digs deep to bring us an outstanding complete fusion of song and score. It’s really luscious.

“Everything I own” is a very intriguing ‘Set Me Free’ song …followed by that great break-up song “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” written by Bob Dylan. It’s the break-up song that trumps all others.

Then there is the “Sultry” “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” (Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman). She even asks the audience to sing the lyrics with her. What can I say? It’s beyond soaring.

Jungr gives us an extremely emotional “Everything I Own”. Better order another drink – you’ll need it. Also loved her Rendition of Paul Simon’s “My Little Town.” If you grew up in a small town – you’ll really dig this.

I had a chat with Jungr before the show. I asked her what was the funniest thing that every happened to you on stage? – “The funniest thing was in Tanzania. I was doing an afternoon performance way, way out in the bush, in a small open air amphitheatre, when suddenly the stage was invaded by dancing audience members with their chickens and goats!” Yeh – I would say that is funny – even terrifying.

I also asked Jungr what her top three favorite songs would be: “Oh, I can’t do that. There are some songs that stay in year after year, and they are a long list – but I would include “I Want You.” (Dylan) – “Suzanne” (Cohen) and Marieke – (Brel and Jouannest). Good choices Barb.

One of the most wonderful things about an evening with Barb Jungr is that you hear every note and every lyric. She gives the kind of performance that we go to a Cabaret for. Oh, and she is so funny with her stage patter. Being English it’s a little hard to get all the jokes – but she has some good zingers.

RATING: FOUR GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!!!

AT THE RRAZZ ROOM. http://www.therazzroom.com/
There may still be some Tickets available for Tonight.

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and produced and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))

SHREK CAST WILL ENTERTAIN AT THE UPCOMING ‘ONE NIGHT ONLY CABARET AT PIER 39

The wonderful touring cast of “Shrek” the musical will swim their way to Pier 39 (Don’t believe everything I say) – including Eric Peterson (Shrek) and Haven Burton (Fiona). Also joining the cast will be the 80’s pop princess and Broadway star Debbie Gibson and San Francisco’s vocal sensation Jason Brock.

This is a “One Night Only Cabaret” event that will feature cast members from the touring cast. They will perform song selections of their own choice. You can count on hearing and seeing many music genres – including high energy music, dance and comedy.

I don’t think you will want to miss this fantastic evening. It’s bound to be spectacular. THE DATE: Monday, Dec. 13, 2010 at Pier 39. The “K” Streetcar line drops you off right in front of the Theatre. How convenient can that be? More Info: Ken@richmondermet.org.

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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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