ENTERTAINMENT BRIEFS – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY, FALSETTOS, and ZANNA, DON’T!

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY – Superb Performance In Only West Coast Appearance at Davies Symphony Hall

Dmitri Hvorostovsky is the consummate dramatic baritone of our time. In an all-Russian program Saturday night at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, Mr. Hvorostovsky featured songs of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Nikolay Medtner. He was brilliantly accompanied by pianist Ivari Ilja who recently joined him for recitals at Carnegie Hall and the Edinburgh Festival. The concert was a rare meeting of extraordinary musicianship, lyrical poetry, and simple glamour.

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DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY, Baritone. Photo, Pasha Antonov

Dmitri Hvorostovsky is the ideal leading man in the classical repertoire. His commanding vocal prowess and vital dramatic range are matched by an elegant valiance and ingratiating presence. The ease with which he glides from heroic fortes to gentle volumes of wistful fantasy and colorful expressions of pathos and pride have garnered international acclaim since his 1989 debut as “Prince Yeletsky” in THE QUEEN OF SPADES. The first half of Saturday’s concert being devoted to the songs of Tchaikovsky, the Siberian-born baritone demonstrated his complete ease in expressing the passionate ardor, unending longing, and troubled reflections of the composer’s poetic heroes and unfulfilled lovers. The mood was set in the first song, “Otchego” – “And why am I ever more sad each day? Why – tell me quickly – did you forget me?” Much of this set can be heard in the 1995 recording, MY RESTLESS SOUL. In “Lubov Mertvetza” (“The Love of a Dead Man”) he sings of eternal desire – “If someone else’s breath touches your hair, my soul shudders in mute torment.” For the capacity crowd and within the lofty spaciousness of Davies Symphony Hall, Dmitri Hvorostovsky is unmatched in his ability to inspire intimacy and romance – and to sustain it with the fires of a brief encounter.

FALSETTOS – At Theatre Rhino

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CHRISTIAN BOHM (Marvin), SCOTT GESSFORD (Whizzer), LEANNE BORGHESI (Trina). Photos, David Wilson

William Finn and James Lapine’s extraordinary musical work continues until Sunday, February 8th at Theatre Rhino. The show is essentially an opera and an amalgamation of Finn’s 1979 In Trousers and later productions of March Of The Falsettos and Falsettoland. The opus is now referred to as, “The Marvin Trilogy”. The cast is an exceptional group of Bay Area talent. Christian Bohm is ideal as “Marvin”, the somewhat bland not-so-ideal husband and father who suddenly springs to life in a hot affair with a younger out-and-about Gay man, “Whizzer”, portrayed by very appealing Scott Gessford. They are perfect foils to the awesome talents of Leanne Borghesi as Marvin’s former wife, “Trina”. Young David Kahawaii is “Jason”, the precocious 13-year-old offspring of Marvin and Trina, who is in the throes of puberty, petulance, and an obligatory Bar Mitzvah. His father’s lover has brightened his troubled world by turning him on to baseball. Christopher M. Nelson portrays the family psychiatrist, “Mendel”, who was always turned-on to and eventually marries “Trina”. Laurie Bushman is the low alto-voiced “Dr. Charlotte” who discovers that “Whizzer” has AIDS. She lives next door with her girlish lover, “Cordelia”, played by Amanda Dolan. She is developing a nouvelle Kosher cuisine and passing out not-so-desirable samples for Jason’s very tenuous coming of age celebration. The production is directed by Hector Correa with musical direction and piano accompaniment by Mark Hanson.

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FALSETTOS – Now at Theatre Rhino until February 8th. Photo, Kent Taylor

Theatre Rhino’s Executive Director John Fisher is to be praised for his timely scheduling of Falsettos. William Finn’s musical is extremely complex in its historical setting and amazingly challenging in today’s whirlwinds of change. The musical is intended for the smaller Off-Broadway type setting and has been wonderfully adapted to the design of Theatre Rhino. The score is fabulous and superbly realized by the performers. Click here to order tickets on-line: FALSETTOS

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ZANNA, DON’T! – A Musical Fairy Tale
Extended at New Conservatory Theatre until Sunday, February 1st

NCTC is happy to announce the extension of its Bay Area premiere of Zanna, Don’t!. In this musical fairy tale set at Heartsville High, the school’s magical matchmaker, Zanna, is as determined as ever to make sure everyone in town is happily paired up. On the Heartsville High School campus, same-sex pairings are the norm and intolerance for heterosexuals is rampant; chess champs trump football quarterbacks in popularity and sex appeal, and a school musical about straights in the military sparks major small town controversy.

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ZANNA, DON’T! – Extended at NCTC through February 1st. Photo, Lois Tema

The production is directed by F. Allen Sawyer with musical direction by G. Scott Lacy and choreography by Stephanie Temple. The cast features Timitcio Artusio, Stephen Foreman, Cindy Im, Rodney Earl Jackson, Katrina McGraw, Brian J. Patterson, Miquela Sierra, and Price Troche Jr. as Zanna. Zanna, Don’t! captured the 2003 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding New York Theatre Production and Drama Desk Nominations for Best Musical, Best Lyrics, Best Book, and Best Music.

Zanna, Don’t! plays Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm. All performances will take place at The New Conservatory Theatre Center (Decker Theatre), located at 25 Van Ness Ave. near Market Street in San Francisco. Tickets range from $22 – $34, and are available at the NCTC Box Office 415-861-8972, or online at: NEW CONSERVATORY THEATRE CENTER.

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See Related: FINE ARTS CRITIC SEAN MARTINFIELD

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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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