American Buffalo, Berkeley

David Mamet’s searing 1975 masterpiece about a botched robbery by three Chicago low-lifes fizzled rather than sizzled through its opening night at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre. Not that the play isn’t worth seeing, it is. But this production of "American Buffalo" seems to lack drama and tension and is instead milked  ...

Anya17, SF

Earlier this year a film called “Twelve Years a Slave” walked away with the Best Picture award at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes. The true story of a free American man of color who was kidnapped in Washington D.C. and sold into more than a decade of involuntary  ...

Evita, US tour

The lights are dimmed. On a balcony, a woman comes through a smoky spotlight in a blinding diamond-white gown. As the strings swell, she belts out "Don’t Cry for Me Argentina." It is one of the iconic moments in pop-opera history, and 35 years later, in Tim Rice and Andrew  ...

The Country House, LA

The program for “The Country House” digs its pointy elbow into your ribs to ensure you get “it” — the parallels, that is, between this Donald Margulies play and Anton Chekov’s “The Seagull,” “Uncle Vanya,” and “The Cherry Orchard.” Well, maybe. I’m not, to be honest, well-versed in the  ...

The Pearl Fishers, London

Penny Woolcock’s visually arresting “The Pearl Fishers” returns to the Coliseum in London in a revival of the 2010 English National Opera co-production with the Metropolitan Opera of New York. The original production was praised for its stunning effects and staging, and this updated production proved mesmerizing, beginning with  ...

Hairy Who & the Chicago Imagists:

Do you remember your first look at the so-called Chicago Imagists in Chicago galleries in the ‘60s and ‘70s? Whether you were on your own or in a stroller pushed by your parents, you surely found the art of the “Hairy Who” to be eye-popping, colorful, vulgar and fun.  ...

Madame Butterfly, SF Opera

As a stunning curtain, decorated with modernistic kimonos, rises on an equally striking set, all light and platforms in primary colors, it seems that the new San Francisco production of “Madame Butterfly” is going to be about Jun Kaneko’s production design. And, indeed, the artist, who did the colorful costumes  ...

The Last Confession, LA

Wal-Mart? A mom-and-pop corner store, despite its 2.1 million employees worldwide. Bank of America? A payday loan business, despite its $115 billion in assets. Chicago? A shining city on the hill, despite its long and well-earned history of municipal corruption and scandals. That’s what these organizations are when compared  ...

La Traviata, SF Opera

“La Traviata,” that quintessential tale of a Parisian courtesan-with-a-heart-of-gold-except-she-dies-of-consumption-at-the-end, is one of Verdi’s most beautiful and beloved operas. That’s the first reason to go and see the revival at San Francisco Opera. The second is the production, originally directed by John Copley with lavish sets by John Conklin and period  ...