Sunday, December 11, 2022

As You Like It: 😎 😎 😎

"How do you make the magic real?" sings the cast of San Francisco Playhouse's new musical version of Shakespeare's "As You Like It." There is magic indeed in the sets, especially when Arden forest appears out of nowhere, aided by some impressive lighting and screen projections. Whenever DeanalΓ­s Arocho Resto is on center stage, her beautiful voice and presence make us smile. And Shaina Taub and Laurie Woolery's score gives us three excellent songs, "All the World's a Stage," "When I'm Your Wife," and "Still I Will Love."

But there are sixteen other songs and some of them are doozies. The singing never stops. A character enters Stage Left, meets the first character he/she runs into, falls helplessly in love, faces the audience, sings a song and either exits Stage Right or fights a duel with evil. We get hip hop dancers and lines like "I'll love you when you're menopausalind, Rosalind." 

Michael Gene Sullivan is one of our favorite San Francisco actors. It turns out he can sing! This is a nice surprise.

We do not claim to be exempt from fuddiduddiness. The existential role of every theater in America is to try and encourage a younger audience into the theater. In Shakespeare's day, all female roles were played by men. In our day, gender is fluid. After all, as someone said on Tik Tok, "Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind."


The San Francisco Theater Blog Elizabethan/Tik-Tok Rating System awards "As You Like It" Three Smiling Faces with Sunglasses. San Francisco Playhouse, as always, takes chances with its shows. This one works when it works. Certain characters will irritate some audiences. It's campy, silly and fun. 

 "As You Like It"

San Francisco Playhouse

450 Post St. San Francisco 

(Second floor of Kensington Hotel)

Through Jan. 14, 2023


Monday, December 5, 2022

Little Shop of Horrors ★ ★ ★ ★


You're going to love Naima Alakham, Alia Hodge and Lucca Troutman. They might not be Chinese, but they're great singers and they're neighborhood girls, see, because Mushnik's Flower Shop has switched Skid Rows. He's in Chinatown now. We are happy to report that nothing else has changed. Theatre Works's production of "Little Shop of Horrors" is every bit as weird and wonderful as it has ever been. 

Phil Wong and Sumi Yu play Seymour and Audrey, the two misfits destined for each other, if Audrey 2 doesn't get them first. 

The sadistic and famished plant is played to perfection by puppeteer Brandon Leland with voice by Katrina Lauren McGraw. They don't miss a trick. Every time the plant moves or groans or threatens, the audience howls. 

And of course, the fifties-style music, by the late Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, is both tuneful and funny. Jeffrey Lo's direction moves us forward and never lags. 

A Special shout-out to Nick Nakashima for his most frighteningly sadistic dentist. We suggest you get your teeth cleaned well before you go see this show.

RATINGS:  ★ ★ ★ ★

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants Four Stars to Theatreworks' "Little Shop of Horrors." These days, it feels so good to laugh. And you get to move your feet at the same time. This is a perfect show for everyone during the holiday season. Don't miss it.


"Little Shop of Horrors"

Lucie Stern Theatre

500 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

Through Dec. 24

$35 and up