in the Stone Age
"The Spirit and the Skull" is a fascinating stand-alone from one of our favorite writers, J.M. Hayes, about an indian spirit man who has murders to solve. And who finds himself traveling, in spirit dreams, 15,000 years into the future. Read John Orr's review.
Sequel to "Brilliance"
is, in fact, brilliant
"A Better World" is a terrific science-fiction thriller, with plenty to say about a schism that may already be happening in our own time and society. Plus, it's a fun read. See John Orr's review.
See more reviews and interviews in Books.
THEATER & DANCE
Pear Avenue Theatre
J. Smith / Pear Avenue Theatre
Lucy Littlewood as Pearl, left, and Nicolae Muntean as Warn in "Garden," by Alan Ayckbourn, at Pear Avenue Theatre in Mountain View, September 12 through October 5, 2014.
"House & Garden," by the prolific and innovative Alan Ayckbourn, is getting its San Francisco Bay Area premiere at tiny Pear Avenue Theatre in Mountain View. Why hasn't anybody done it in the area before? Because it is two linked plays, performed at the same time, in two auditoria. The cast runs back and forth while two separate audiences stay seated. Read what John Orr writes about it.
Los Altos Stage Company
Chris Peoples / Los Altos Stage Company
Christina Bolognini as Pickles, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty and Mylissa Malley as Lin, from left, in "The Great American Trailer Park Musical," produced by Los Altos Stage Company at Bus Barn Theatre, September 4-28, 2014.
"The Great American Trailer Park Musical" at Los Altos Stage Company is flat out fun and funny, a story of love, lust, a kidnapped child and general redneck goofiness in North Florida. If you can't make fun of Floridians, who can you make fun of? Read John Orr's review.
Mark Kitaoka / Hillbarn Theatre
The "Cornet Man" number includes a lot of great tap-dancing in "Funny Girl," running August 28 through September 21, 2014, at Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City, California. In front are Jessica Maxey, left, and Paige Collazo. In back are, from left, Christine Baker, Rachelle Abbey, Justin Travis Buchs, Melissa WolfKlain, Jen Butler, Lauren Schneider and pianist Jon Toussaint.
"Funny Girl" is a triumphant, delightful success at Hillbarn Theatre, with Melissa WolfKlain completely fabulous as Fanny Brice, and a great cast around her and even a live orchestra! Read the review, see the show.
Tracy Martin / Hillbarn Theatre
Melissa WolfKlain as Fanny Brice in Hillbarn Theatre's production of Funny Girl," running August 28 through September 21, 2014.
Melissa WolfKlain has starred in dozens of musicals in the San Francisco and elsewhere in California, then moved to New York to take a shot at a career in the Big Apple. But then she happened to visit her home in Foster City, California, and Hillbarn Theatre's Dan Demers met her, and asked her to come home and star in "Funny Girl." She agreed. The show just opened. Read John Orr's story about Ms. WolfKlain.
Broadway San Jose
Joan Marcus photo
Chandra Lee Schwartz as Glinda in "Wicked," playing at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts, August 27 through September 14, 2014. "Well, we can't all come and go by bubble!" Elphaba tells her.
"Wicked," of which you may have heard, since it is hugely popular and has made more money on Broadway and via its road show than the GDP of most nations, is on stage at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, through September 14, 2014, and we review. We liked some of it quite a bit.
Kevin Berne / TheatreWorks
Crack addicts find support and even friendship in an online chatroom in "Water by the Spoonful." The online users are, clockwise from lower left, Zilah Mendoza, Patrick Kelly Jones, Anthony J. Haney and Anna Ishida. TheatreWorks is staging the regional premiere of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, playing August 20 through September 14, 2014, at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.
"Water by the Spoonful" is not without a problem or two in the TheatreWorks staging of Quiara Alegría Hudes' brilliant, Pulitzer Prize-winning play, but it's still powerful and moving. Read John Orr's review.
Caught it on Netflix Dept.
Al Pacino, Christopher Walken, Katheryn Winnick and Alan Arkin in "Stand Up Guys."
"Stand Up Guys" is a gem of a gritty crime comedy that really shines because of the performances of Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. Alan Arkin is fun to watch, too, and there are other good performances, but Pacino and Walken make this one special. Read John Orr's review.
Tower of Power
Courtesy of Tower of Power
Tower of Power in concert, in an undated photograph. In front is vocalist Ray Greene. The horn line includes, from left, Adolfo Acosta, Sal Cracchiolo, Stephen "Doc" Kupka, Tom Polizer and Emilo Castillo. On the riser, from left, are Dave Garibaldi, Rocco Prestia, Jerry Cortez and Roger Smith.
Tower of Power has been around for more than 45 years, and is still one of the funkiest, hottest bands in the biz, with that amazing horn line and the amazing rhythm section. They'll be at Shoreline Amphitheatre on Saturday. Tony Lacy-Thompson talked with tenor sax player Emilio Castillo. Read the interview.
For ears and eyes
Puddles the Pity Clown performs an amazing cover of Lorde's "Royals." Yes, it's a weird act, but ya know, whatever works. This guy's done plenty of interesting work as an entertainer, including under his real name, Mike Geier. Check out his fabulous video.
Judy Garland was an amazing talent, unmatched in many ways. Want the proof? Lend eyes and ears to her singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in a poor quality recording from the ancient days of TV. Fabulous.
Some guys singing "Bad Romance." It's so much fun.
Molly Bell is amazing. We have a profile of her here in Triviana Arts & Entertainment, but here's a favorite video of her performing in Divas for Life. Find out more about Divas for Life.
Lake Street Dive is a band formed by Rachael Price, who is a wonderful vocalist. I love this tune, which I heard on A Prairie Home Companion. Then I found this video.
Johnny Swim. I heard this duo perform "Home" on "A Prairie Home Companion" and was knocked out.
"Laundry Room." Another from The Avett Brothers. Here is another tune that delves deep into emotion and yearning.
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Fabulous band performs in 2004 to honor George Harrison upon his posthumous induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jeff Lynne, Steve Ferrone, Dhani Harrison and Prince. Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers does the early solo stuff. Prince shows up and takes over.
"Deportee." The Kingston Trio version, posted July 14, 2012, in honor of Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday. Thank you, Mr. Guthrie.
Tim O'Brien: "Hey, Joe," at Celtic Connections 2009, Glasgow Scotland.
Trucks & Tedeschi Band: "Midnight in Harlem," at the 2010 Guitar Festival.
Van Morrison: "Real Real Gone."
OK Go: "This Too Shall Pass." Incredible Rube Goldberg machine video.
Willie Dixon: "I'm Nervous." Funny and charming video of the great songwriter, singer and bassist.
Boxing Gandhis: "If You Love Me (Why Am I Dyin')" Hip, funky and hot in every way.
John Lee Sanders: Fabulous musician. Give a listen to "Midnight in New Orleans".