Category Archives: Real Life

We Swim, We Talk, We Go To War

We Swim We Talk We Go To War

Today I went with a friend to see a preview of the play We Swim, We Talk, We Go To War,  written by Mona Mansour. I knew Mona many years ago in San Diego Junior Theatre during our teen years. I knew she was a playwright, a good one, but this is the first time I’ve seen her work. What took me so long?! Please, if you’re in the Bay Area, support small theatre companies like Golden Thread, and see this play if you can.

I don’t want to spoil anything by sharing too much about the piece, which opens tomorrow night. The description on the Golden Thread website is just the right amount of info to know going in. The piece is timely, human, intelligent, and thoughtful. It’s a serious topic, but there’s some humor as well. Just like life. What more can we ask for from live theatre?

Thank you, Mona!

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Ramin Karimloo & Seth Rudetsky at The Herbst

The Herbst: Ramin Karimloo with Seth Rudetsky

Last night I spent a terrific evening with theatre fans at the Herbst Theatre. It was my first time at this intimate venue in the War Memorial, located on Van Ness Avenue across from City Hall. I read reviews on Yelp that said the balcony was either steamy hot or downright chilly, so I dressed in layers. From my excellent seat in the second row center of the Dress Circle, everything was just right.

I arrived early and caught the last part of the ‘No One Is Above The Law’ protest in front of City Hall, just before protesters started a march to Mission Street. City Hall was all lit up in blue lights. Once I arrived in the lobby of the War Memorial, I had time to study the banners commemorating WWI. The Herbst opened at 7pm, so I spent the next half hour chatting with the folks sitting around me. I laughed with a woman in the first row who loves Phantom of the Opera but can’t stand Les Mis, because I’m the exact opposite. We were happy to agree to disagree. The nice fellow sitting on my left helped me during the concert with songs from shows I didn’t recognize. He also gave me his take on the local production of The Boy From Oz that I’m seeing next week.

I became obsessed with Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser back in 2010, when they appeared as Enjolras and Grantaire in the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert, which aired here on PBS. For many months after, my blog here was taken over by West End guest posts and Les Mis/Phantom screen caps. Ultimately, blogging about West End actors from afar proved more frustrating than entertaining. Fast forward eight years, and Ramin Karimloo finally came to San Francisco. I had to be there for his first ever performance in my city, and he didn’t disappoint.

Seth Rudetsky played host, interviewer, pianist, and sparring partner. Rudetsky and Karimloo sat in chairs and chatted about Karimloo’s life story and career. They’d get up to perform a song, then sit down again for more chat. There were plenty of laughs, especially at Rudetsky’s numerous attempts to get a Valjean/Javert duet going. The women in the audience sang the Sandy part to Summer Loving (Grease), while Karimloo and Rudetsky struggled (and argued) over the lyrics to Danny’s part. Karimloo’s “She went down in the sand” was wrong but awesome.

It was fun to hear Karimloo discuss his life and career, even though I was familiar with most of his bio already. Folks down in the orchestra were calling out comments during the interview, and we couldn’t hear much of what they said from the balcony. It was the only frustrating part of the evening. Rudetsky must have thought everyone could hear, because he kept asking those folks if they were wearing microphones. I was hoping for some mention of Karimloo’s friendship with Hadley Fraser, Sheytoons (Karimloo and Fraser’s bluegrass band), and Anastasia, but they didn’t come up. Karimloo discussed his bet with a teenage friend that he’d one day play the Phantom, his admiration for and friendship with Colm Wilkinson, meeting his wife during an audition for a cruise ship, his brief stint in Sunset Boulevard, and how he was cast in Love Never Dies. He also talked about his initial reluctance to play Valjean (Les Mis).

Here’s the set list, not in strict order, since I was too busy enjoying myself to take notes:

Moving Too Fast (The First Five Years)

Summer Loving (Grease)

It All Fades Away (The Bridges of Madison County) with Ramin on guitar

Sunset Boulevard

Anthem (Chess)

The Pirate King (Pirates of Penzance)

Bring Him Home (Les Misérables)

Music of The Night (Phantom of the Opera)

Til I Hear You Sing (Love Never Dies)

Muddy Water (Big River)

Make Them Hear You (Ragtime)

Ol Man River (Show Boat) with Ramin on guitar

The Confrontation (Les Misérables) with Rudetsky singing Javert

After the concert, I went to the stage door, where a few folks with paid Meet & Greet tickets waited in line. I stayed further back and had a great time chatting to several fans. Eliza was at my Aaron Tveit concert in September, and Elena from Bath told us she was in the audience at the 25th anniversary Phantom at the Royal Albert Hall. Seth Rudetsky stopped to say hello to us. The last fellow in the Meet & Greet line showed us his photos with Karimloo, and we discovered a shared passion for Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis. I was still chatting with Eliza and Elena when Karimloo came out with several others, so we got to thank him for the show. We didn’t ask for photos and autographs; just seeing him up close was enough. When I came out of the building, Karimloo was taking photos of the blue City Hall. I told him to come back soon, then rushed off to catch my late night bus.

Okay, so now it’s time for Hadley Fraser. Come perform in San Francisco, please!

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Grove Street Halloween Festival 2018

My photos from this year’s Grove Street Halloween party in San Francisco. I used my new camera, and I’m happy with the results. I can’t even pick a favorite!  (Click on photos to see them larger.)

 

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Families Belong Together March, San Francisco

Today was the Families Belong Together March and Rally in San Francisco. I missed the beginning, which started at Dolores Park. I joined in on Market Street. At the front of the march, Joan Baez marched behind a large banner. At City Hall, she was one of the first to speak at the rally, and she also sang We Shall Not Be Moved in English and Spanish. I made a sign with Mr. Rogers on it, because he was always kind to children. I met two different women with “What would Mr. Rogers do?” on their signs. Civic Center wasn’t as crowded as the first Women’s March, but it was a good turnout. I met interesting people and lots of great dogs.

I talked to a nice guy from KQED, and he included a photo of my sign here:
https://www.kqed.org/news/11678414/photos-bay-area-cities-join-nationwide-families-belong-together-marches
A video of Joan Baez at the rally:

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Best Tweets: February 2018

February was a hard month. The Parkland school shooting and the unrelenting bizarre news from the White House made my twitter feed more serious than usual. I’m now following some of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas student activists, as well as the US Olympic figure skaters and a few more authors. I’m still relying on Swear Trek for laughs, which gives this post a PG rating. These begin after the “continue reading” link.

Note: several of these are screen captures instead of links to the tweets, to make them easier to read.

Continue reading

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Love, Simon (Advance Screening)

Don’t worry, no spoilers here!

Tonight I got to attend an advance screening of Love, Simon at the San Francisco Cinemark Century 9. I read the book back in August (Simon vs. The Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli) and I’ve loved Nick Robinson since seeing him in The Kings of Summer (2013). I can’t discuss the movie until it opens on March 16th, but I really enjoyed it. My friend who didn’t read the book enjoyed it, too. I’m still smiling!

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San Francisco Women’s March 2018

Today is the San Francisco Women’s March, and based on the sound of helicopters, it’s still going on downtown. I went to the rally at Civic Center Plaza, then started marching down Market Street before 2pm. (It’s so much easier to get home on public transportation when you finish early.) The weather was much nicer than last year when it rained most of the day. Today was bright and sunny without being hot. I believe there were less people, at least at Civic Center. I’m sure the news tonight will be comparing crowd estimates. I saw very few police and the overall mood was genial, in spite of the outrage expressed in many of the protest signs. It was a good mix of ages, races, and genders, with plenty of dogs. A special thank you to Daisy and Tonto for being such good company!

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