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Bright Star, San Diego

Steve Martin once said: “When you’re playing the banjo, everything’s OK.” And that may be what ultimately saves “Bright Star.” Despite some pretty glaring deficiencies, the music is so good you almost don’t care about lyrics, dialogue or plot. This  ...

Affluence, LA

Affluence is a major issue in American society today — a few people have a lot of it while a lot of people have none and probably never will — so it’s not surprising that some playwrights are drawn to  ...

Choir Boy, LA

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to win a MacArthur genius grant? I mean, aside from the fact that a sweet stipend would come to you for five years, no questions asked, no forms to be filed,  ...

The Trip to Bountiful, LA

"The Trip to Bountiful" is an old-fashioned story mounted with old-fashioned style. Not that that is all bad. It is what passes as a classic in the 21st century. Horton Foote's first iteration of this memory tale was as a  ...

Marjorie Prime, LA

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" was the mantra of my youth, but that mantra does not serve a critic well. Looking forward to the opening night of "Marjorie Prime," I thought, "At last Michael  ...

Old Hats, SF

To say something is “old hat” is to say that it is passé, out of style, yesterday’s news. And, indeed, clowning and mime have seen a gradual decline in popularity since the glory days of Charlie Chaplin, Emmett Kelly and  ...

La Traviata, LA Opera

The question: To be or not to be faithful to the original setting of an opera is known to evoke passions as intense as those expressed by the originalists fighting with the rest of us who think the Constitution should  ...

An Audience with Meow Meow, Berkeley, Calif.

A pussycat she’s not, in spite of the name. (And who knows what her real name is?) No, she can purr on occasion and preen and lick her fur, but Meow Meow has claws, and she’s not afraid to show  ...

Susannah, SF Opera

“Ain’t it a pretty night,” sings the soprano and, whenever “Susannah” is in town, the night is more than pretty. It’s gorgeous. Carlisle Floyd’s 1955 work, written when he was only 27, may be the quintessential American opera  ...

Norma, SF Opera

Bel canto means “beautiful singing” and that’s what you get in San Francisco Opera’s new production of Bellini’s “Norma.” With the fantastic American soprano Sondra Radvanovsky in the title role, once utterly owned by the likes of Maria Callas  ...