Berkeley’s Shotgun Players pull out all the stops for their next production “The Light.” According to Jayme Catalano, the company will be “applying our signature Shotgun Players’ polish and aesthetic as we live-stream a real-life performer couple from their living room. This isn’t your typical static Zoom show. We’re using multiple cameras and energetic staging to capture dynamic, real-time performances.”
“The Light” by Loy A. Webb follows Genesis and Rashad, who receive a surprise proposal gift that puts their relationship at risk. According to Catalano, it’s a 70-minute “rollercoaster ride of laughter, romance and despair.” The show features Leigh Rondon-Davis and Kenny Scott and is directed by Nailah Harper-Malveaux.
The show streams online Dec. 4-13. The pay-what-you-can suggested ticket price range is $8 to $40. Advance reservations are required. Go online to shotgunplayers.org/online/article/the-light for details. Shotgun has also extended the streaming of Josh Kornbluth’s “Citizen Brain” through Nov. 29.
San Francisco: 42nd Street Moon recently presented the latest in its Moonbeam Series, “A Distant Dinner Party with Jaron and Jess.” Conceived, written and directed by Jaron Vesely and Jessica Coker, the show is about a COVID-era virtual dinner party. Vesely and Coker, from their respective homes, invite a group of theater friends. Vesely, in a flashback to former dinner parties, even bakes his famous cheeseballs before realizing he’ll be the only one eating them. While the dialogue was a bit weak at times, the voices were not and lots of special effects and colorful backgrounds kept the visuals interesting as guests arrived for the party.
A nice little bit occurs when Angel Adedokan realizes fellow guest Kamren Mahaney is the man she has been corresponding with on a dating site. Of course, an awkward-yet-sweet duet follows. Many singing and even “dance” numbers follow including Leslie Ivy singing “9 to 5” and harmonizing with herself while video footage of crowded city streets (remember those?) plays all around her. Anthony Rollins-Mullins performs the COVID-version of a musical number complete with backup dancers — all in their own little squares — and a sparkling background.
Marisa and Danny Cozart and their adorable children show the tensions of togetherness in an angst-filled comedic version of “Together Wherever We Go.” The couple come back for a lovely, poignant duet toward the end of the show too. But the highlight occurs when four, uber-talented young teens (Katie Maupin, Anjali Blacker, Tucker Gold and Michael Grasso) sing “Rainbow Connection” (with Gold and Grasso) and “Over the Rainbow” (with Maupin and Blacker) at the same time. Kudos to Music Director Sean Kana for making the overlapping vocals so dynamic.
Next up for Moonbeams is “Home (Literally) for the Holidays, which was scheduled at this writing to begin Nov. 26. Go to 42ndstmoon.org to get your tickets.
Aurora Theatre: Here’s something you don’t see every day — a rap version of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Performed for the Aurora Theatre, Carlos Aguirre brings his unique adaptation of the Poe masterpiece as well as a unique blend of improvised freestyle rap and original compositions. The evening of hip hop theater features an eclectic mix of actors, rappers, poets and theater artists of all descriptions in an evening of “politically-conscious, locally-sourced, community-minded rap, slam poetry, beatboxing and hip-hop theater.”
The show takes place Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. “Sortilegios,” the Spanish word for spells and charms, follows on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. Magician Christian Cagigal invites audiences to an intimate evening of spells, stories and strange happenings. Sounds like a different way to bring in a very different holiday season! Go to auroratheatre.org.
BACT: Who says COVID-19 has to hold you back? The advanced performers at Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT) certainly don’t. These talented sixth- to 12th-graders recently competed in the Junior Theatre Festival in Australia — digitally. The young thespians learned their routines online and recorded their parts individually from their homes. They competed in two groups with one taking top honors for Outstanding Acting Performance for excerpts from “Elf — The Musical Jr.” and the other winning Outstanding Vocal Performance for excerpts from “Madagascar — A Musical Adventure Jr.”
The festival took place Oct. 30-31 in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Student groups performed in person or digitally, depending on public health restrictions. BACT was one of three American student theater groups invited to compete.
“The students had to be much more self-directed and had to work with technology because we weren’t all in the room together,” said BACT Artistic Director Khalia Davis, who directed the Madagascar team. “And we had to lean into the Zoom medium to make the performance better. We had 10 minutes to impress the judges, so we tried to tell the story, showcase different styles of songs and play with the Zoom medium to see what fun we could have.”
Other BACT teaching artists who contributed to the winning performances include Choreographer Tiffany To (with “Elf” excerpts) and Music Director Angel Adedokun (with “Madagascar” excerpts), the same Adedokum who performed in 42nd Street Moon’s “A Distant Dinner Party.”
Sally Hogarty can be reached at [email protected] Read more of her reviews online at eastbaytimes.com/author/sally-hogarty.