Tag Archives: Tony Taccone

‘Aubergine’ at Berkeley Rep tears at the heartstrings

(l to r) Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Lucien) and Tim Kang (Ray) in Julia Cho’s Aubergine at Berkeley Rep. Photo: kevinberne.com
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Although intellectually we understand that we will die, most of us try to avoid contemplating death — either our own or of those we love. Julia Cho’s poetic new drama, Aubergine, makes us confront the heartrending loss of a parent and the painful grieving process that follows. Interlaced with the theme of loss is food — and its invocation of childhood, memory and love.

An affecting emotional, but fragmented drama, Aubergine begins with a moving monologue by Diane (marvelous Safiya Fredericks) about her deceased father’s favorite food. I was teary within the first minutes.

The scene then shifts to the main story about the death of a stern, elderly South Korean immigrant (Sab Shimono), who struggled to make a life for himself and his son, Ray, after the premature death of his wife. As an adult, Ray (fine acting by Tim Kang, TV’s The Mentalist) and his father had little in common. Ray is a dedicated chef, whereas his father, who seemed to take no enjoyment from food, believed that cooking is a woman’s job. When Ray’s father is released from the hospital to die at home, Ray becomes his reluctant caregiver, guided by a kind and wise hospice nurse, Lucien (first-rate Tyrone Mitchell Henderson). … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Rep to unveil Peet’s Theatre to public Saturday

Photo: Cheshire Isaacs
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Thirty-six years after Berkeley Rep opened its first permanent home on Addison Street in downtown, the theater company will, on Saturday, unveil a comprehensive overhaul of its original stage. (See below for details of the Grand Opening event for the public.)

Those who show up to see the renamed Peet’s Theatre will not necessarily notice any major differences to what used to be known as the Thrust Stage, however. As Artistic Director Tony Taccone put it at a media and donors’ launch event Thursday: “It’s a bit like inviting people over to your home when you’ve put in a new foundation.” Much of the $7.5 million renovation work is invisible.

Arguably the most impressive new feature at the theatre will be heard rather than seen. A state-of-the-art “constellation acoustic system,” installed by Berkeley’s Meyer Sound, provides a much improved sonic environment for the audience, as well as better clarity for actors and more tools for sound designers to play with, according to the Rep’s Managing Director, Susie Medak. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Rep trains the next generation of theater pros

The 2014-2015 class of Berkeley Rep fellows. Photo: Berkeley Rep
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By Michael Berry

For 15 exemplary recipients, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Fellowship program is world-class learning opportunity, a chance to immerse themselves for eleven and a half months in the business and artistry of an award-winning theater company.

Sponsored by American Express and administered through the Rep’s School of Theatre, the program provides hands-on experience in a wide array of artistic, administrative and production disciplines, including development, marketing, dramaturgy, costuming, stage management and scenic design. It has served as a launching pad for exceptionally talented individuals who have forged acclaimed careers in the Bay Area and elsewhere.

One fellowship in particular serves as a reminder of a promising theater career cut off too soon. The Bret C. Harte Directing (Artistic Administration) fellowship, the first of three named fellowships, recognizes the legacy of a young director from Moraga, killed in a car accident in March 2005. Past recipients include Marissa Wolf, Director of New Works at Kansas City Repertory Theatre, and Mina Morita, recently hired as Artistic Director at Crowded Fire Theater in San Francisco. … Continue reading »

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‘Xs and Os’ at the Rep: Stories of a game that can kill

(l to r) Anthony Holiday (Addicott) and Eddie Ray Jackson (Anthony) perform in the world premiere of X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story), a hard-hitting docudrama at Berkeley Rep that examines our country’s passion for a game that is life-giving yet lethal.

Photo courtesy of kevinberne.com
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It’s hard to ignore football, even if one tries. Adored by millions of devoted fans, it’s a huge part of American culture, not to mention a multibillion dollar industry. The versatile, vital 85-minute “docudrama” Xs and Os explores diverse aspects of the game from teamwork to trauma, from fandom to fear, from consciousness to concussion.

Playwright KJ Sanchez (a self-described football fan) with actor Jenny Mercein (whose father, Chuck, played in Super Bowls) interviewed assorted groups connected with the game, including fans, current and former players and their families, as well as doctors and coaches. The real names of a few people are used while many have been changed. The interviewees’ comments are repeated verbatim in the play, artfully arranged in short scenes that alternate among the various constituencies. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Rep’s ‘Ghost Light’ resurrects pain of the past

Ted Deasy (l) and Christopher Liam Moore (r) in a scene from Ghost Light. Photo: Jenny Graham/Berkeley Rep
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The San Francisco political establishment came to Berkeley Wednesday night for the opening night of Ghost Light, Berkeley Rep’s play about the life and legacy of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, whose life was cut short when Dan White assassinated him and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, flanked by earpiece-wearing bodyguards, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, and Moscone’s widow, Gina, were all in the audience. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who once worked for Moscone, was there, too.

If those politicos came to see a play that recounted Moscone’s life and legacy, they were out of luck.  Ghost Light, which was written by the Rep’s Artistic Director Tony Taccone, and directed by Moscone’s youngest son, Jonathan, now the artistic director of the California Shakespeare Theater, is the story of an imagined Jon Moscone and his struggles to come to terms with the loss of his father 34 years after his death. It is a play within a play, for the narrative centers on the fictional Jonathan trying to direct a production of Hamlet. He can’t seem to decide what the ghost in that play should look or act like, in part because his dreams are haunted by the ghosts of the past who just won’t leave him alone. … Continue reading »

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Les Waters to leave Berkeley Rep for Kentucky post

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Les Waters, an Obie-winning Brit who has served as Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s assistant artistic director for eight years, is leaving the theater to take over as artistic director at The Actors Theater of Louisville, Kentucky.

Waters, 59, will assume the role in January, but will not take on fulltime duties until March, after he directs Berkeley Rep’s production of Red, the theater announced Tuesday.

“After eight years together, it is difficult to leave Berkeley – yet it is an honor and a privilege to take up the reins at Actors Theatre of Louisville, an organization I’ve long admired,” Waters said in a statement.

“I’ve had the opportunity to direct twice at Actors Theatre, and I was deeply impressed with the theatre, its staff, and the community at large. I am committed to making theatre there that is passionate and intelligent, funny and heartfelt, and look forward to leading Actors Theatre to new artistic endeavors.” … Continue reading »

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Rita Moreno’s life laid bare in ‘Life without Makeup’

Rita Moreno with Salvatore Vassello (left) and Ray Garcia in Life Without Makeup. Photo by Kevin Berne via Berkeley Rep
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When audiences entered Berkeley Rep’s Roda theater on Wednesday night, they passed by a table with a shiny display: an Oscar, a Grammy, two Emmy awards, a National Medal of the Arts, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The awards, of course, belonged to Rita Moreno, the legendary 79-year old actress who is one of the few people to have won an EGOT, a popular term that describes the winning of all four major American entertainment awards. Moreno accomplished this … Continue reading »

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What happened when Lonely Island trio visited Amoeba

Screen shot 2011-06-29 at 12.38.44 PM
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Back in April, three Berkeley boys made a return visit to their hometown. Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer are the threesome behind Lonely Island, makers of ‘digital shorts” (otherwise known as music videos) for NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

The trio visited Amoeba on National Record Store Day to promote their latest album, Turtleneck & Chain, and chat with their fans, some of whom could not contain their excitement (as in much screaming and one hug request directed … Continue reading »

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‘He’s so hot’ — aka, the Tony Taccone adulation society

Tony Taccone
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It seems the Artistic Director of the Berkeley Rep has something of a “following”. In fact, read the comments on a story we ran about him last week, and it becomes clear a certain group of fans is positively smitten with Tony Taccone, speaking with more than a little hyperbole of his brazen attractiveness, his warm personality, handsome features — even his prowess as a lover.

Berkeleyside has reason to believe these people might know … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Rep’s Taccone: “three shows from the abyss”

Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone
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Tony Taccone, artistic director of the Berkeley Repertory Theater, had a particularly engaging and revealing interview with KQED’s Dave Iverson on this morning’s Forum program.

Under Taccone the Rep has established a strong record of originating works that go on to great acclaim in New York, including the current double-Tony winner American Idiot. In the interview, Taccone spoke frankly about the Rep’s constant struggle to focus on its local audiences rather than the lure of New … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Rep’s Great Game is powerful

Jemma Redgrave in Bugles at the Gates of Jalalabad
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The New York Times ran a front-page story Saturday that said Iranian officials had been slipping money secretly to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The Iranians wanted to try and counter the influence of the west – and make sure they had a foothold when the Americans depart.

This comes as no surprise to those who attended Berkeley Rep’s all-day Friday marathon of Great Game: Afghanistan, a three play production of the history of Afghanistan. For almost 200 years, … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Rep ‘roasts’ Susie Medak

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Susie Medak has served as Berkeley Rep‘s Managing Director for 20 years. In this video produced by the theater company — more of a roast than a celebration — artistic director Tony Taccone compares his relationship with Medak as akin to the one between Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton from The Honeymooners. They were famously combative. Rita Moreno, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, and State Senator Loni Hancock also share their thoughts.

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American Idiot rocks Broadway

American Idiot on Broadway
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“American Idiot” opened last night on Broadway to rave reviews. The New York Times called it  “thrillingly raucous and gorgeously wrought.” USA Today declared it the “feel-good musical of the season.” The Washington Post called it “dazzling” and said the musical had “coolly aggressive dance steps and exhilarating songs.” And the Chicago Tribune said American Idiot “delivers a thick gorgeous head rush of a musical soundscape without current Broadway parallel.”

A group of about 10 … Continue reading »

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