Saturday, July 21, 2012

Triads : Post:Ballet : A Capsule Review

If one wants to experience something new and intriguing in the world of contemporary dance, one has to look no further than our own backyard to find artistic director and choreographer Robert Dekkers' brilliant Post:Ballet company based in San Francisco.

Dekkers' bold compositions incorporate not only innovative choreography, but also original music and multimedia content.

His Triads program, the company’s third home season presentation, showcases several world premiere pieces, including When in Doubt, a marvelous collaborative effort with composer Jacob Wolkenhauer, featuring very personal vocal and design contributions by the wonderful performers themselves.

Saturday night’s performance at the Herbst Theatre did not disappoint the enthusiastic crowd, with each sequence exploring a wide spectrum of themes, form and movement that were both inspired and a genuine delight to experience - even for the uninitiated.

I can’t recommend this young and exciting troupe more highly.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Sweeney Todd : Ray of Light Theatre : A Capsule Review

Stephen Sondheim’s wonderfully macabre Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has had a number of interesting interpretations of late, from the Tony Award-winning reimagining by John Doyle, to the cinematic offering by Tim Burton, with varying degrees of success.

Ray of Light Theatre’s magnificent current treatment eschews any fancy staging or overblown production values and adroitly places the emphasis upon strong acting and skilled vocalizations. The superb cast is certainly up to the task and -  for the most part - delivers on both counts, led by outstanding performances by Adam Scott Campbell (Sweeney Todd) and Miss Sheldra (Nellie Lovett), and scene-stealing supporting turns by Michelle Jasso (Beggar Woman) and J. Conrad Frank (Beadle).

Director Ben Randle cuts to the chase and utilizes what would appear -- at first blush -- to be the acoustic advantage of the smaller environs and opts not to electronically enhance the actors’ voices. It’s a reasonable choice and one worth making given the vicissitudes of sound design at this venue. Of course, it presupposes that all members of the company remember to adequately project.

Unfortunately, some of the performers do forget there’s a back row. Moreover, the lack of amplification has the unintended and unforeseen consequence of lessening the visceral impact of the musical numbers and some simply fall flat. It’s by no means a fatal flaw, and perhaps more vigorous singing can remedy the problem. But it did serve to undermine what was otherwise an exemplary presentation.

That solitary reservation, however, should not dissuade one from taking a trip soon to the Eureka Theater in San Francisco and experiencing this first-rate production.