Tag Archives: Berkeley Rep

Ambitious and dramatic: ‘Head of Passes’ at Berkeley Rep

l to r) Cheryl Lynn Bruce (Shelah) and Michael A. Shepperd (Creaker) perform in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Head of Passes, a poignant and poetic new play about the journey of family and faith, trial and tribulation at Berkeley Rep.

Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com
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We often wonder why tragedies occur, particularly when they affect good people. It’s a question as old as the story of Job or Jesus’s cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In Head of Passes, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, a 2013 MacArthur “genius” grantee, presents us with the deeply religious widow Shelah, who, when faced with personal tragedy, prays, pleads, and confronts her God with a biblical fervor worthy of Job.

Shelah (great performance by Cheryl Lynn Bruce) lives in a remote marshy area of Louisiana where the Mississippi River divides and meets the Gulf of Mexico, known as the Head of Passes. Before the play begins, we see a man (Sullivan Jones) in a tuxedo sitting on the stage. From the cast list, we glean that he may be the Angel. He didn’t add much to the drama, except perhaps a misplaced sense of the supernatural. … Continue reading »

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Molière’s ‘Tartuffe': A dark comedy at the Berkeley Rep

Tartuffe caption. Photo: Courtesy of kevinberne.com
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Berkeley Rep, and the talented actor, writer and director Steven Epp, have been enjoying a 20-year love fest, resulting in productions including “The Green Bird” (2000), Molière’s “The Miser” (2006) and “A Doctor in Spite of Himself” (2012), and “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” (2014).

In the latest work in the collaboration, Molière’s “Tartuffe,” director Dominique Serrand presents a serious take on the moral tale of the wealthy Orgon (Luverne Seifert), who falls under the sway of the counterfeit man of God, Tartuffe (gifted Steven Epp). First presented in 1664 at the Palace of Versailles, “Tartuffe” was found so offensive to religion that the Archbishop of Paris threatened excommunication for anyone who watched, acted or even read the play. And it still packs an anti-religious punch.

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Tartuffe caption. Photo: Courtesy kevinberne.com
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TARTUFFE AT THE REP Molière’s Tartuffe, a satirical attack on religious hypocrisy, still has its sting after 350 years. Berkeley Rep’s production, adapted by David Ball and directed by Dominique Serrand, was acclaimed as “revelatory” by the Chronicle. Actor Steven Epp stars in the title role. If you go on Friday, March 27 (as in tonight!), you can also enjoy the “last call” reception after the play, sponsored by Berkeleyside. Tartuffe is in repertory at the Berkeley Rep through Apr. 12. Tickets from $41 at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St.    … Continue reading »

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Events

The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Amanitarita
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PALLADE MUSICA A young early music quartet from Montreal will have its West Coast debut in a series of concerts by the San Francisco Early Music Society this weekend. Pallade Musica will play instrumental works from the 17th century, including compositions by Sweelinck, Castaldi and Buxtehude. The program “journeys from the beginnings of the Stile Moderno in the breathtaking sonatas of Dario Castello to the pinnacle of the Stylus Phantasticus with Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s ‘Mystery Sonatas’ for violin.” Pallade Musica will perform at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 17. Call the box office for ticket availability on 510-528-1725.  … Continue reading »

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‘Red Hot Patriot': The kick-ass wit of Molly Ivins at the Rep

At Berkeley Rep, two-time Tony and Academy Award nominee Kathleen Turner stars in Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, a one-woman show about beloved journalist and satirist Molly Ivins.

Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com
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Molly Ivins (1944-2007) was a beloved Texas newspaper columnist, political commentator, author and humorist. And her perspicacious wit comes through loud and clear, despite Kathleen Turner’s somewhat mixed performance in this one-woman show at the Berkeley Rep.

Ivins was famous for her bright and brash personality, her acerbic sharpness, her liberal leanings, and her continued amazement and amusement with the folly and foolhardiness of Republican politicians in general, and Texas Republican politicians in particular. She was the first to call our 43rd president, George W. Bush, “shrub.”

Early in her career, Ivins was hired by the New York Times (1976-1982), when it sought a writer who was not as staid and dull as its normal hires. Her two claims to fame there were her 1977 obituary of Elvis Presley, and her article about a “community chicken-killing festival” in New Mexico, which she referred to as a “gang-pluck.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Rep’s production of ‘Party People’ is electrifying

At Berkeley Rep, Jesse J. Perez (Tito, center), performs in Party People, a high-wattage fusion of story and song that unlocks the legacy of the Black Panthers and Young Lords.

Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com
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You’re in for an exhilarating evening at Berkeley Rep’s production of Party People, a super- energetic theatrical experience recounting the 1960s-1970s Black Panther Party and Chicago’s Young Lords, a civil rights organization for Puerto Ricans and Latinos.

Creators UNIVERSES (Steven Sapp, Mildred Ruiz Sapp and William Ruiz, a.k.a. Ninja) have developed an organized chaos of poetry, monologue and dialogue, with hip-hop, blues, and salsa songs and dance, all of which artfully come together to explore the heart, soul and politics of these two transformative, though now historical, American revolutionary movements. … Continue reading »

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There’s more to Berkeley’s Uncharted festival than ideas

There's more to Uncharted pic
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Discussion, debate, insights, revelations, laughter and inspiration — all of these are a given at Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas which is happening on Friday Oct. 24 and Saturday Oct. 25 in downtown Berkeley. You wouldn’t expect anything less when participants engage with speakers like these.

But Uncharted is a festival. So there is much else to enjoy. Here’s the ‘beyond ideas’ line-up:

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Meow Meow does sophisticated cabaret at Berkeley Rep

International singing sensation Meow Meow is flanked by her two dancing boys Michael Balderrama (left) and Bob Gaynor (right) in the world premiere of An Audience with Meow Meow at Berkeley Rep.

Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com
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As the curtain opens, the Australian multitalented and internationally admired artist, Melissa Madden Gray, known as Meow Meow, sparkles and shimmers sitting high above the stage in an elaborately feathered get-up. Then, in the first few minutes, as smoke from her cigarette amusingly wafts out of the cigarette-less side of her face, we understand that we’re witnessing much more than a traditional song and dance act.

An Audience with Meow Meow is more like a comedy of the absurd, a burlesque, with physical comedy at the beginning and some sober and somber moments at the end. A large part of the charm of the performance is trying to figure out where Meow Meow is heading. So I don’t want to give too much away. … Continue reading »

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Uncharted Berkeley Ideas Festival: What’s it all about?

Uncharted: The Berkeley Festival of Ideas is coming to downtown Berkeley on Oct. 24-25.

You may have heard about Uncharted, either recently, or last year, when the inaugural festival was held to much acclaim.

But what is an ideas festival? What happens there? Why should you come? Check out the snappy video above which was created to answer those questions, and more. … Continue reading »

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Hershey Felder captures Chopin at Berkeley Rep

Hershy Felder as Frederick Chopin Photo :  John Zich
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Berkeley Rep theatergoers and critics, myself included, have already sung the praises of Hershey Felder, the gifted concert pianist, composer and actor, who wrote and performed the first-rate one-man show “George Gershwin Alone” (2013), and the recent exciting “Maestro about Leonard Bernstein. He has now reappeared, barely one month later, with a similarly structured biographical and musical performance, “Monsieur Chopin,” about the creative genius, Polish composer Fryderyk Chopin. So, is this too much of a good thing? … Continue reading »

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SF Jewish Film Festival: The Berkeley highlights

The Sturgeon Queens
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The 34th San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the first and still the largest of its kind, returns to the Bay Area July 24-August 10 with 67 offerings from 17 countries, as well as festivities, special discussion programs and international guests in Berkeley, as well as in San Francisco, Palo Alto and San Rafael. Tickets and passes are now on sale.

Berkeley is well-represented in this year’s festival, with four films by Berkeley filmmakers and a “Berkeley Big Night” event at the Berkeley Repertory Theater.

This year, the “Berkeley Big Night” will be a screening of Julie Cohen’s The Sturgeon Queens on Sat. Aug. 2. The film follows four generations of the Jewish immigrant family that founded Russ and Daughters, a Lower East Side lox and herring emporium that survives and thrives. Produced to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the store, this documentary features an extensive interview with two of the original daughters, now 100 and 92 years old, and interviews with prominent enthusiasts of the store, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, actress Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chef Mario Batali, New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin, and 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer. … Continue reading »

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Hershey Felder: A master entertainer’s food journeys

Master entertainer and virtuoso pianist Hershey Felder returns to Berkeley Rep with his popular and critically acclaimed one man show Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro.

Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com
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By Aleta George

Hershey Felder’s hands are small considering what he asks of them. In his one-man show, Hershey Felder as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, now playing at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, they glide across the keys of a baby grand, conduct an orchestra with grace, and accentuate Bernstein’s father’s scorn.

Felder uses his hands just as ably offstage, especially in the kitchen. He’s known for his cooking, a passion that he inherited from his mother, Eva, while growing up in Montreal.

“My mother was a foodie of sorts,” says Felder. “She loved to prepare a beautiful table and make a beautiful warm home. I was there as a kid over her shoulder and learned to have a great deal of love for food.” … Continue reading »

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Felder reaches new depths in ‘Maestro’ at the Rep

Hershey Felder in Maestro. Photo: Kevin Berne
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Even before it opened, Berkeley Rep extended the run of Hershey Felder’s brilliant new one-man show about the life of the renowned 20th century American music wunderkind, Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990).

Berkeley Rep theater-goers and critics have already sung the praises of Hershey Felder, the talented concert pianist, composer and actor, who in 2013, wrote and performed the first-rate George Gershwin Alone, as well as adapted and directed the wildly popular The Pianist of Willesden Lane.

With direction by the multi-talented Joel Zwick, in 105 uninterrupted minutes, this new show ably accomplishes the challenging task of recounting Bernstein’s career from Jewish American prodigy to internationally celebrated composer, conductor, author, music lecturer and pianist, while delicately exploring Bernstein’s thorny private life. … Continue reading »

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