BEST OF BAY AREA LIVE THEATRE 2019 Top 10 by Vince Mediaa

December 27, 2019

TEN BEST PLAYS/MUSICALS and Actors FOR 2019 -

 IN Memory of the Icon 21-time Tony winner HAROLD PRINCE  who at 91 died this past year he dominated Broadway

for over sixty years

Composing my “Top Lists of the Year” is not easy since so many outstanding productions are part of the greater Bay Area Theatre in a region with so many wonderful companies - with 300 stages plus in the Bay Area.  And of course I can not get to all of them. Here is my list of Plays, Musicals and Actors - 20 in all for Best of 2019  

My Favorite Play of 2019 -

NUMBER ONE -  “THE JUNGLE” EXPLODES AT THE SF CURRAN AS THE BEST PLAYS OF 2019. THE JUNGLE IMMERSES YOU INTO A WORLD OF HOMELESS IMMIGRANTS THAT HAVE CREATED ITS OWN NEW WORLD UNIVERSE, A BRILLIANT THEATRE EXPERIENCE  by Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, Directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin

NUMBER TWO -  THE FLICK - SHOTGUN PLAYERS - continues to be the powerhouse of innovative Bay Area Theatre - The Flick takes place in an Art Cinema house with workers sweeping up the popcorn of movie icons. Annie Baker builds dark humor from awkward conversations, workplace crushes, and three young workers discontent with dead-end jobs. Written by Annie Baker and Directed by local favorite Jon Tracy.

NUMBER THREE -  KING OF YEES  - LAUREN YEE’S HEARTWARMING MILLENNIAL LOOK AT ASIAN AMERICA IN ‘KING OF THE YEES’, A FATHER DAUGHTER TALE. YEE’S LOVE LETTER TO HER FATHER IS FINALLY STAGED HERE IN HER HOMETOWN, AND SAN FRANCISCO IS CHEERING LARRY YEE! by Lauren Yee, Directed by Joshua Kahan Brady

NUMBER FOUR - KILL MORE PARADISE - Shotgun Players - A surreal tunnel to death, a white space to holding cell to afterlife Director Darryl V. Jones invites us to feel what they are feeling, to see the black lives through their eyes. Written by James Ijames, directed by Darryl V. Jones, for Shotgun Players, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre

NUMBER FIVE  - THE GREAT LEAP -  American Conservatory Theatre LAUREN YEE CONTINUES TO BE ONE OF OUR BEST AMERICAN PLAYWRIGHTS, ‘THE GREAT LEAP’ BRINGS SF CENTER COURT. A SHOWDOWN BETWEEN TWO WORLD POWER GIANTS, THIS BASKETBALL GAME IS PERFECT RIGHT UP TO THE ENDING BUZZER.By Lauren Yee, Directed by Lisa Peterson  

NUMBER SIX - THE HUMANS - SAN JOSE STAGE- STEPHEN KARAM’S TONY HONORED ‘THE HUMANS’ KEEPS THE HOLIDAY FAMILY DINNER DEEP WITH LOVE AND SUPERNATURAL. THE TONY HONORED PLAY WILL HAVE YOU SINGING “THE PARTING GLASS” By Stephen Karam, Directed by Tony Kelly

NUMBER SEVEN - OLDEST LIVING WAITER, Michael Patrick Gaffney’s original one-man show, THE OLDEST LIVING CATER WAITER, offers up delicious insights into his complicated and hilarious careers as both a professional actor and a high-end waiter to the stars. Gaffney cooks up numerous characters from his past with just the right amount of sauciness, Shakespeare, and a soupçon of self-discovery. Come celebrate one man’s journey of a life in the theater. Written and Performed by Michael Patrick Gaffney, Directed by Ken Sonkin

NUMBER EIGHT -  DIARY OF ANNE FRANK - at Center Repertory Company Tells the Enduring Tale of Hope and Humanity in the Face of Horrific Inhumanity - with a stunning local cast by Wendy Kesselman directed by Tim Near

NUMBER NINE -  HARRY POTTER Curran Theatre San Francisco and New York are the only two cities in the United States where fans can see this, the eighth story in the Harry Potter series, a six-hour production, presented in two parts. With a brilliant cast and eye popping magic Written by Jack Thorne. Adapted from J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. Directed by John Tiffany. 

NUMBER TEN - ‘THE NORTH POOL’ IS AN ENGAGING PLAY BETWEEN TWO BROKEN HEARTS. THE VICE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE BECOMES A DETENTION HALL FOR A KEY TO THE LOST SWIMMING POOL. By Rajiv Joseph, Directed by Lana Palmer With Bruce Avery and Zaya Kolia

OTHERS TO MENTION :

ADIOS MAMMA CARLOTA - SAN JOSE STAGE. Vinegar Tom/Shotgun. “Home” at Berkeley Rep, YOGA PLAY SF Playhouse, California Shakespeare Theater’s “The Good Person of Szechwan”

 

TOP 10 MUSICALS

NUMBER ONE BEST MUSICAL

SWEENY TODD - HILLBARN THEATRE, THE TALE OF BLOODY AMAZING MEAT PIES’ HILLBARN BECOMES FLEET STREET 1785. THE SHOW STOPPING HEATHER ORTH AND KEITH PINTO, TWO OF THE BAY AREA’S BEST, BRING SWEENEY’s GLORIOUS HORROR  by Hugh Wheeler Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim Directed by Joshua Marx

NUMBER TWO -  PRIDE AND PREJUDICE - THEATREWORKS - JANE AUSTEN BRINGS HOLIDAY CHEER TO SILICON VALLEY AS THE BENNET FAMILY CELEBRATES THE SEASON, FOUNDER OF THEATREWORKS, RICHARD KELLY, CONTINUES HIS TONY WINNING CAREER WITH THE WORLD PREMIERE OF PAUL GORDON’S  ‘PRIDE AND PREJUDICE’ Book, Music and Lyrics by Paul Gordon, Based on the novel by Jane Austen. Directed by Robert Kelley

NUMBER THREE -  PARADISE SQUARE - BERK REP- A variety of musical and dance traditions including Irish step-dancing and African traditional forms, as well as new ones created from tap dance, Paradise Square reframes some of the most popular music of the 19th century. Book writers Marcus Gardley, Craig Lucas and Larry Kirwan, Music by Jason Howland and Larry Kirwan. Lyrics by Nathan Tysen. Based on the songs of Stephen Foster. Conceived by Larry Kirwan. Directed by Moisés Kaufman

NUMBER FOUR -  FLOWER DRUM SONG - PALO ALTO PLAYERS FLOWER DRUM SONG BRINGS A STUNNING DIVERSE CAST TO THE PALO ALTO PLAYERS SEASON CLOSER, THE STORY OF IMMIGRATION AND ACCEPTANCE IS A MILLION MIRACLES. David Henry Hwang adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. Directed by Lily Tung Crystal,

NUMBER FIVE - KISS MY AZTEC - BERKELEY REP John Leguizamo’s ‘Kiss My Aztec!’ a splashy and entertaining musical ode that puts a twist on history - “In the Heights” crashing into “The Book of Mormon” somewhere along “Avenue Q.” Written by John Leguizamo, Directed by Tony Taccone

NUMBER SIX -  AMERICAN PSYCHO - RAY OF LIGHT THEATRE PATRICK BATEMAN IS THE RAGE IN THE SAN FRANCISCO MISSION, THE VICTORIA THEATRE IS DRIPPING BUCKETS OF BLOOD AND THE REAGAN ERA HAS NEVER BEEN AS COOL AS IN “AMERICAN PSYCHO” by Robert Aguirre-Sacasa based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis, Directed by Jason Hoover, 

NUMBER SEVEN - ONCE - 42ND STREET MOON THE LOSS OF LOVE “FALLING SLOWLY” KEEPS THIS STORY OF IMMIGRATION AND ROMANCE UPLIFTING AND TOUCHES THE HEART WITH A WONDERFUL CAST Book by Edna Walsh Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglova Based on the motion picture written and directed by John Carney

Directed and Choreographed by Cindy Goldfield.

NUMBER EIGHT - BRIGHT STAR - PALO ALTO PLAYERS A SPIRITED MUSICAL THAT AIMS FOR THE HEART ‘BRIGHT STAR’ SHINES WITH FLARE, COMEDY, DRAMA, AND GOOD OLD FASHION COUNTRY LOVE. Story By Steve Martin, Lyrics, Music, and Story by Edie Brickell, Directed by Patrick Klien

NUMBER NINE - CABARET - SF PLAYHOUSE-  THE KIT KAT KLUB AT THE SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE LETS YOU “LEAVE YOUR TROUBLES BEHIND - Written Joe Masteroff, Music by John Kander, Lyrics by Fred Ebb. Based on a play by John Van Druten, Directed by Susi Damilano.

NUMBER TEN - PHANTOM OF THE OPERA - STAGE1 AND OHLONE COLLEGE  - A NEW HAUNTING IN FREMONT, THE PHANTOM STILL REQUESTS THE SEAT IN BOX FIVE, THIS WAS HIS FIRST VISIT TO AN EAST BAY STAGE. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Book by Charles Hart. Directed by Michael Navarra Zema

Other Musicals to mention
THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX - Berk Rep/ PRISCILLA CCMT, SISTER ACT RHINO THEATRE, PASSION CUSTOM MADE, HAIRSPRAY BAM, GYPSY BAM, NEWSIES WOODMINSTER, BIG BERKELEY PLAYHOUSE, BRIGHTSTAR CCCT, MATILDA CCMT, 

 

 

26 BEST ACTORS/ IN PLAYS AND MUSICALS

Keith Pinto - Sweeny, Rocky Horror

DC SCARPELLI - Gypsy, Best Whoreshop,

DOMINIC DAGDAGAN - Newsies 

 

 

ALLISON RICH - Adios Mama

NIKITA BURSHTEYN - Newsies

RYAN DRUMMOND - GROUNDHOG DAY

Michael Patrick Gaffney - Diary of Anne Frank, Oldest Living Waiter - 

Jomar Martinez - Flower Drum Song 

DAVE ABRAMS - Hairspray, TBA Awards Host

OSCAR TSUKAYAMA - Newies

Danya El-Kurd - HEAD OVER HEELS

HEATHER ORTH - Sweeny, Passion, Sister Act, Pride and Prejudice 

Melissa Mombosse - HairSpray, Newsies 

 BRYAN MUNAR - Once, Monty PythonSpamalot, Dance Nation, Flower Drum Song

EMILY SONG  - Flower Drum Song

ADAM NIEMAN -  BIG Musical, EXIT STRATEGY

 Rebecca Davis PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 

KAMREN MAHANEY  - Hairspray, Newsies

Michael Butler - Diary of Anne Frank

 WILL SPRINGHORN JR  Rocky Horror, Adios Mama

VISHRUT CHAWIA - Newies

DANIELLE ALTIZIO - American Idiot, AMERICAN PSYCHO

 ZAYA KOLIA - Passion, The North Pool, Cloud Nine, Anything Goes

Sofia Costantini - Mamma Mia, Into The Woods

Sean McGrory - AMERICAN IDIOT

BEACH BLANKET SAYS GOOD BYE TO

BAY AREA THEATRE AFTER 45 Years

Beach Blanket Babylon is as a San Francisco institution at 45 years old; it's the world’s longest-running musical revue. But despite its enduring charm, unflappable energy, and strong sales, the show closes for good on Dec. 31. So whether you’re a long-time fan, or one who’s been meaning to go but just haven’t quite made it out, this is your last opportunity to see Beach Blanket Babylon and its camp satire and iconic hats.

 

 

 

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