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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"  ...

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  ...

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.”  ...

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  ...

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  ...

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  ...

Dog and Pony, San Diego

A man and a woman work for years as a creative team. One is married; the other single. What if suddenly the deck is cleared and they had a shot at romance. Would it ruin their professional relationship? That’s the  ...

Marry Me a Little, Mountain View, CA

It’s a very slender branch on which to hang a show. But the leaves are songs by Stephen Sondheim and the roots are anchored in the longing for love, so what can be bad? Playwright Craig Lucas (“Light in the  ...

Maestro, Berkeley

One of my favorite Stephen Sondheim lyrics is sung by a stripper with the improbable name of Mazeppa (he rhymes it with “shleppah”) in, of course, “Gypsy.” The song is titled “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” and it reminds me  ...