Some Men – “Frothy!”; Mauritius — “Jaw Dropping Good!”; Albee’s Zoo Story – “First Rate!”; Love, Humiliation & Karaoke; REAF Cabaret – Pier 39

by Buzzin' Lee Hartgrave on June 12, 2009

MAURITIUS: TREMENDOUS, THRILLING … A MUST SEE!

Jackie has discovered a stamp collection that her late mother had in the house. She is not sure if they are worth anything, but is hopeful. A comic book shop employee refers her to a ‘stamp expert.’ When Jackie gets there she, is greeted with indifference. The Stamp expert doesn’t even want to look at her collection. Over in the corner reading a book is Dennis, a young man who is observing the whole thing …

“Why won’t you look at her stamps, Asshole?’ – he asks. The older Stamp Expert tells him in so many words to mind his own business. Dennis gets up and looks at the collections. He comes across something very tantalizing, two very important, sought after stamps. They are important and worth tons of money, because the stamps have errors in the printing. Apparently in the Stamp world, errors are a good thing. But he doesn’t tell Jackie. He has other plans for those stamps.

Dennis has a contact — Sterling (who reminds of the great character actor Dan Duryea), a silver tongued and maybe dangerous man to do business with. He’s not only been around the block – he’s been around the world carving out deals. And when he wants something, he goes after it tooth and nail. Theresa Rebeck, the playwright has written terrific dialogue. The language takes this play to new heights. The characters are tough – and they will go to any lengths to get those stamps. Jackie’s half-sister who had a better education thinks that she can out fox Jackie, She is up to some under handed tricks to get her hands on the stamps.

This is a volatile play that will make your socks roll up and down. This isn’t just a Page Turner – it literally is ‘pages on fire’! You will be emotionally drained.

THE MAGNIFICENT ACTORS ARE: ROD KNAPP (Sterling) pulls off an “unqualified triumph!” ZOE WINTERS (Jackie) is “amazing and remarkable!’ JAMES WAGNER (Dennis) takes over the stage as if he owns it. “He’s charming, sly and downright terrific!” ARWEN ANDERSON (Mary). Plays the upper crust highly educated bitch like she was eating Pheasant under glass. “She is sensational!” WARREN DAVID KEITH (Philip, the Stamp Expert) – keeps us guessing about what he is up to next. His acting is ‘Stamp Sharp Brilliant!”

EXTRA: DIRECTOR LORETTA CRECO MADE THIS PLAY ONE OF THE BEST PLAYS OF THE YEAR. AND SHE HAS PUT THE MAGIC THEATRE BACK ON TOP!

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


Rene Augesen, Anthony Fusco, Manoel Felciano. Home at the Zoo. Photo: Kevin Berne.com

ALBEE’S AT HOME AT THE ZOO – “MESMERIZING!”

ALBEE ADDS ‘AT HOME’ TO HIS FAMOUS ‘ZOO STORY’ TO MAKE IT A COMPLETE PLAY. In interviews he has said that he always had the prequel in his mind and now, some 50 years after ‘Zoo’ he has written it. Albee now demands that all professional theaters that decide to mount the play must do both acts as one play. And this is what is now on the ACT stage.

And was I ever surprised. It works. The prequel makes sense and builds on the personal longings, guilt and anger that comes to a crescendo in the second act where grudges lead to shocking results. The first act is completely mesmerizing. I wanted to savor each word as a seemingly cozy, happy married couple with children begin to want more in their staid, but pleasant lives. ‘Pleasant’ is now, not quite enough. They both are looking for something more stimulating. This leads to a potential volatile cocktail of bruised feelings. In other words – “Is that all there is?” But as we find out – being home in a cozy environment is much safer than sitting on a park bench in Central Park New York. Danger lurks there and home never looked better.

‘At Home’ there is a calming effect with the modern white sofa and chair. Everything is in place. A beautiful White Orchid is the focal point. The room is strictly minimalist. The man of the house, Peter is reading. “This is the most boring book we’ve ever published.” – Peter says. Ann, the wife says: “And you know our reputation.” Peter works for a Text Book publisher. Of course, Peter is kinda boring himself. Out of nowhere – Peter blurts out: “I think my circumsion is going away.” His wife snickers: “I can just see your foreskin waving at you.” Peter is not amused. He is convinced that his penis is retreating. Peter gets up and announces that he is going to the park and read.

IT’S A ZOO OUT THERE. Peter is sitting on his favorite park bench. He begins to read his book and then. Out from the trees comes this not quite homeless looking young man, who is little out of shape. To look at him, you get the impression that he might have been an attractive young man at one time. He seems agitated – and runs up to Peter: “Is that 5th Avenue that way?” he asks. Peter says that it is. And now the game begins.

There are two park benches. Peter is sitting on one of the benches. All of a sudden the intruder blurts out “I’ve been to the zoo!” Peter is so engrossed in his book that he doesn’t hear the boy (Jerry). Jerry says: “Can I talk to you”. Peter agrees that it’s O.K. But points out to him that he has just been asking questions and not talking. More and more the irrational Jerry becomes more agitated and the questioning becomes more bizarre. We begin to realize that this young man is bright, but probably nuttier than a fruitcake. Peter begins to get that feeling also. Jerry is beginning to win this war of the words and things take a dramatic turn. Suddenly the park does not seem so tranquil. Shoving and pushing escalates the tension. Suddenly Jerry’s persona becomes a threat. A big threat. The ending is totally unexpected.

THE ACTORS: IF THIS WAS! THE TONY AWARDS – THEY WOULD ALL BE WINNERS. ANTHONY FUSCO (Peter) is “Magnificent.” RENE AUGUSON (Ann) – “Devilishly Terrific!” MANOEL FELCIANO (Jerry) – “impeccable and powerful acting!”

EXTRA: STUNNINGLY DIRECTED BY REBECCA BAYLA TAICHMAN.

AT A.C.T. ON GEARY STREET

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


Matthew Vierling/Patirck Dukeman. Some Men. Photo: Lois Tema.

SOME MEN

Terrance McNalley has written a way-back then look at 40 some years of Gay life. The stories are told with short vignettes starting with the Greenwich Village rebellion in New York. It was a time when Police took bribes, you were not allowed to face each other at a Bar and both hands had to be above the bar where everyone can see them. Oh, and no bumping of knees together. It was both a dangerous time and an exciting time. It was a secret society that had an underlying Buzz.

‘Some Men’ with its light-hearted travels down the Yellow Brick Road and various views of Gays — highlight mostly the giddy side of Gay Life. Oh, some of it was fun then. It was a time when every word that came out of a Gay Person’s mouth was “Get you Mary!”

The problem with this play is that it has “no heart.” There is only one story that gets to the soul of the era. And that is when two older Gays are being interviewed about what it was like to grow up in the restrictive and mean spirited years. I was really looking forward to this McNalley play. Perhaps his heart just wasn’t into it. But on the other side – some people like ‘Some Men’ and just adored it. They thought that it was just hysterical. It’s that kind of play. There is no in-between. You will either love it or hate it. Or, like me – you will find yourself in the middle … liking some and not liking some.

What I did like about the play was some of the performances. P.A. Cooley and Patrick Michael Dukeman who played the older couple being interviewed gave the play some of the heart that was missing. They were terrific together. Then there is Matthew Vierling who plays a multitude of roles (a Soldier etc.) He is absolute Dynamite! Whether as a Soldier boy or one of the other characters, he crackles with genuine persona.

One last thought. There is some wonderful singing in the show, such as George Patrick Scott with his wonderful soul searching “Angel Eyes.” I would go all the way with that and make it a complete musical review. Less talk and more singing that tells the story would probably do the trick. Shoot, I’ll even re-write it.

AT THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER

RATING: TWO GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!! –trademarked-


Enzo Lombard (Karaoke).

LOVE HUMILATION AND KARAOKE

BRIGHT AND FASTMOVING ‘WAY COOL’ SHOW

ENZO LOMBARD PLAYS ABOUT ELEVEN OR TWELVE VARIOUS CHARACTERS IN THIS SHOW AT STAGEWERX. The talented actor goes from Wendy, his psychic classmate to Shirley Bassey. Loved Enzo’s transvestite, karaoke-competitor neighbor. It was a hoot.

There are many, many clever lines in the play and they bring many laughs. As psychic Cher — “I’m getting my shit together tighter than a nuns ass!” Also lots of fun for me was the songs from different timelines. There is Hollywood 1999 – and he sings” “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” From Amsterdam 1981-85, Enzo sings Shirley Bassey — “I Want To Know What Love Is?” It is really clever the way he weaves pertinent music into his story.

Although extremely amusing, there are some rough spots. The show is a little rough around the edges. But before it gets to New York, I’m sure that they will get that tighter than a Nuns Ass. Let’s hope so.

There is a new show in town that is similar. It’s the new Terrance McNally show about Gay Life as it progressed from before the Gay Revolution to present. Enzo’s show is somewhat like that. We watch him travel through his life and loves. However, the big difference is that the McNally show has a bevy of actors on the stage, whereas, Enzo does all the characters. You know what? Enzo’s show is better. It has sharper writing than the McNally show and the material is fresher. And of course it has the songs that bring out the vision of the various time lines. And it does all this by himself. Amazing!

RATING: THREE GLASSES OF CHAMPAGNE!!! – trademarked-


Cast of Spamalot. Some may appear at the Reaf Gala at Pier 39.

REAF PRESENT A SPECIAL ONE-NIGHT-ONLY CABARET WITH ALL-STARS
Cast Members of “Wicked” and “Spanalot” and special guest ‘Top Shelf’.

This One Night Cabaret Gala event will be an evening of upbeat, high-energy music, dance and comedy. It’s an exclusive evening of fun on the town – and remember it all benefits worthwhile charity organizations. To date, REAF has distributed well over $2 million to AIDS service agencies. To steal a line from a Broadway show: “It’s a Great Night for Singing.” Lets ad to that Dancing, laughter and clever lyrics from special material that the cast has put together. These shows are always great and original. The Talent is always endlessly surprising. You’re gonna love it. I always do!

WHEN YOU GO:
At J’LaChic Theatre 39 at Pier 39.
DATE: JUNE 55, 2009
SECRET: Ask about special Tix for the after party at Hard Rock downstairs.
GET TICKETS: www.helpisontheway.org.

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

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME HERE: leehartgraveshow@yahoo.com

PRESS STUFF: buzztatler@aol.com

Podcasts, blogs, vblogs: web.mac.com/buzzmixer/

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.

More Posts

Filed under: Arts & Entertainment