Early on in the show, Bell X1 plays “Velcro”. “I’ll be your positive. You’ll be my negative…. I’ll be your Velcro!” sings along everyone happily. It’s such a joyous and fun song. Later on is “Out of Love” from their new album, Arms. It shows a new development of their sound. It’s a great sign of a band that is continuing to grow and explore new territory.
In a tribute to all the great artists that passed in 2016, they play “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie. As soon as those first chords are played, everyone starts to move. It’s a great cover choice and it’s very well done. To close out the set, they choose “The Great Defector”. The lead singer, Paul Noonan, sets up a great call and response with the audience responding “love the color of it all” each time. It sounds fantastic.
At one point, Noonan catches an audience member leaning to try and read the setlist. “Don’t do that; you’ll break the fourth wall!” There was a lot of funny little banter like this which provides a great transition between songs and strengthens the live performance. They close with “The End is Nigh”. It’s a beautiful end to a fantastic night of music!
You and your fellow pirates are locked up to the wall and you must escape and find the treasure before time runs out. It’s an exciting adventure as you search the room for clues. Be sure to bring your reading glasses, as the writing and numbers can be quite small. The clues include cool features like a black light, magnets, a sword. The music played sets the scene well as you try to solve riddles which will reveal the combination to a variety of locks (numbers, letters, directional, and keyed).
The game is for 2 to 6 players and the success rate is currently at 23%. Nobody is in the room with you, but you do get clues from the screen. With only 2 people, Team Delaney came up just short with two puzzles still left to solve. Being able to extend the time would be an exciting option.
It’s a full house tonight at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix. “We took a year off,” said the lead singer, Alaina Moore. “We weren’t sure anyone would show up when we came back!” Nobody forgot about Tennis and they all danced and sang along to songs new and old. “Never Work For Free” was one of the best songs of the night. It’s such a fun and catchy tune to sing: “I fell in love with a traveling man. I’ll make him mine, do whatever I can!”
Tennis played several songs from their new LP, “Yours Conditionally”. They played “In the Morning, I’ll be Better,” “Fields of Blue” and “My Emotions are Blinding.” The new songs are fantastic.
“Whenever we are in Phoenix, we have to give a shoutout to Grandma Jean!” exclaimed Alaina. Patrick Riley’s grandparents live in town and attended the performance. Before the performance, Riley was spotted getting them seated comfortably with a great view of the stage. Their music is appreciated by fans of all ages, from grandparents to grandkids.
Alaina confessed that “This is our first show with our new band.” The crowd couldn’t tell as the drummer and bass player performed all the songs perfectly while being led by Riley on guitar and keyboard.
“Needle And A Knife” and “I’m Callin’” also had everyone dancing. The melodies are infectious and showcase Moore’s great voice. Plainly, they are energized after their break and Tennis looks to have a great year ahead of them.
Fool for Love is a legacy revival at Magic Theatre. It first premiered there in 1983 with Ed Harris and Kathy Baker in the lead roles. This play is more than worthy of a revisit. It’s a timeless story of love and betrayal. Eddie meets May at a motel after having not seen each other for quite a while. She wants him to leave, but at the same time she can’t bear to see him go. The history of their relationship is revealed as they struggle to figure out their future.
Jessi Campbell’s performance of May is incredible. It’s a roller coaster of a ride for her character and she is literally brought to tears by the end of the play. She makes the struggle of the relationship so real that the audience can feel her pain.
Andrew Pastides as Eddie is a force. He feeds off Campbell and his eyes are welling up by the end of the show as well. His frustration of not knowing what May wants is laid bare and makes him very emotional.
Rod Gnapp as The Old Man is a powerful presence. His role may be a supporting one, but every word he says is meaningful. His strong character is felt throughout the play, even when he isn’t speaking.
Patrick Russell plays Martin perfectly. He is thrown into this crazy situation with very little idea what is happening. He represents the audience searching for answers.
All of the actors come out to discuss the play afterwards. It was a true delight to see their take on the story and to see how much their work moves them.
The light and the sound design are excellent. The audience can feel the cars outside as they pull up with their headlights on and engine roaring and then they hear the squeal of the tires when they pull away. It’s truly a fantastic production all around and a must-see.
Opposing Forces is part of the Clas/sick hip hop series. Upon entering, a hip hop dance party is taking place on the stage and the audience is invited to participate as DJ WD4D plays.
The show features 5 talented b-boys break dancing and exploring the fear of feminine qualities in the culture. They also explore the boy band culture through dancing with mic stands and forming photo shoot poses. During this portion, female underwear is thrown on stage to further portray their boy band fame. Then, more underwear falls from the ceiling! It’s a very humorous moment. Later on, they return with their hoods up and a black cloth over their face making them anonymous. This very interesting piece is like watching silhouettes dance.
The stage is covered in white lines forming various geometric shapes. The lighting excellently highlights these shapes in different ways. At one point, it highlights a square as a performer imagines being trapped in a box. At another time, a red X glows along the lines marking the spot for a dancer’s performance. It really elevated this strong production.
Antigona is the flamenco interpretation of Sophocles’ classic play. These two emotional art forms come together and create an extremely intense production. The entire performance is in Spanish, except for one brief monologue. Surtitles are displayed above and they contain as few words as possible so it can be read quickly, however, this results in a loss of detail about the story.
The opening scene is exceptionally theatrical. A giant silk sheet is waved as the actors come in to it and then retreat backwards. When the actors finally exit the silk, they have masks on the backs of their heads and are moving in unison.
Soledad Barrio is incredible as she spins and stomps across the stage. Soledad designed the choreography for the show and the dancers display her influence throughout the emotionally powerfull performance.
The music is extremely moving. The score was created by Eugenio Iglesias, Salva de Maria, & Martín Santangelo for this show. The quick classical guitar playing produces an energetic mood that perfectly synchronizes with the dancing.
The performance runs for a few minutes over an hour and half. The length of this powerful show is a bit of an exhausting experience; an intermission would be helpful in allowing the audience to catch their breath.
“This is a bit of a homecoming show for me,” says Harry McVeigh, the lead singer. The capacity crowd looks a bit confused, as the band is from London. “I just moved here 7 months ago!” and San Francisco is happy to have him. His vocals are solid and his guitar playing is on point. In addition, Charles Cave on bass is fantastic. His fingers appear to be running as they pluck the strings rapidly on the expertly crafted bass lines. Also, Jack Lawrence-Brown on drums is rocking. The crowd can’t help but air drum along at many points during the night. Tommy Bowen on the keys rounds out the lineup. His sound really gives the band their 80’s styled sound.
The Chapel is the perfect place for this singalong on Valentine’s Day. It’s an old mortuary turned into a music venue in the Mission district. “This fear’s got a hold on me!” sings everyone along to one of their best tracks, “Death”. How fitting indeed.
Where All Good Rabbits Go may be listed as a comedy on PianoFight’s website, but is it definitely a drama with some light heartedness mixed in. The newly married couple struggles with a terminal illness. The husband is becoming a rabbit. It seems very silly, but the actors play it straight and earnestly. Thus, the audience takes it seriously. Also, both Ed Berkley and Charlie D. Gray’s performances are fantastically real. They draw us in emotionally to the story. The less than 50 capacity theatre is a perfectly intimate space too.
The sound design by Evan Wardell is excellent. It perfectly sets the melancholy mood. The electric guitar sound on “Getting Bigger” greatly expresses the anger over dealing with the illness. It also accompanies the dancing interludes between scenes which are a good theatrical touch.
The concept of becoming a rabbit at the end of life is an interesting one. It could be used to help young children deal with death. Instead of their parent being dead, tell them that their parent has transformed into a rabbit which will now live in the house. And then, after the rabbit passes away, say it goes Where All Good Rabbits Go.
The Potrero Nuevo Project is a collection of eight short plays about the history of the Potrero Hill neighborhood. They are comedic, dramatic, emotional, and informative.
The funniest play is Full Steam Ahead, the story of Fritz Maytag and the birth of the craft brewing movement. It describes how Prohibition lead to the consolidation of brewing for decades after its repeal. Jessica Bates does a fantastic job portraying an old-timey bartender being introduced to the new beer. The only thing missing was beer flowing for the audience as they could practically taste if from watching the great performance.
In a very close second place is Tent City, which compares the current homeless situation to the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake. When talking about the tent on the sidewalk in front of his home, the husband, excellently played by Soren Oliver, says it is unacceptable here in Potrero Hill. “After all, this isn’t The Mission!” The audience cracked up at this shot about their closest neighbors. The scene then changes to 1906 with the homeowners offering food and support to the person living in the tent who just lost their home to the natural disaster. It effectively makes the case to be more humane to the homeless population.
The finale, Potrarium Unbound, is a vision of the city demolishing buildings in Potrero Hill to make way for a new hyperloop. It brings back characters from the other plays in the form of holograms for an aquarium of Potrero’s past, aka, a Potrarium. It’s a funny examination on the politics and effects of economic growth at the expense of the current population.
The choice of “Changes” by Bowie is a great choice to close out the show.
Wit is staged around Dr. Vivian Bearing, who was asked to go through a controversial chemotherapy treatment to battle cancer. This Pulitzer Prize winning play is smart, emotional, and at times, very funny. In other words, it’s a roller coaster ride of a story.
Lisa Tejero’s performance as Vivian is impressive. Other actors come and go, but she is always on stage. Just like Dan Waller in Spinning, she bounces from scene to scene between the present and the past. She goes through a wide range of emotions as she battles cancer and the treatment of her cancer. It’s an extremely realistic portrayal of the effects of chemotherapy. In her case, the audience can’t help but wonder if all the pain of chemotherapy will be worth the results.
This production excellently builds the drama up to the very climactic finale. After the play ends, the audience stays still in their seats as they process what just occurred. It’s a truly powerful performance that will have everyone thinking about it long after they leave the theatre.
Catch Wit now at The Den Theatre through February 19!