THE NEW CONSERVATORY THEATER CENTER – Bases are loaded with LEGENDS, WILDE BOYS, and TAKE ME OUT

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

LEGENDS – by James Kirkwood plays until July 14th in the Walker Theatre at NCTC.

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CARLA VAUGHN (as Leatrice Monsee), P.A. COOLEY (as Martin Klemmer) and ELEANOR JACOBS (as Sylvia Glenn)

“Martin Klemmer” (played by P.A. Cooley) is an archetype comic theatrical producer. At home Klemmer works in his bathrobe. On the prowl he brandishes alleged success in flamboyant business drag. On the phone he vocally personifies whatever anyone needs to hear. What Klemmer needs? Cash. Financial backing. If he could just sign the once-popular film legends “Sylvia Glenn” (played by Eleanor Jacobs) and “Leatrice Monsee” (played by Carla Vaughn) for a new show – almost co-starring Sidney Poitier? – then the bucks will fall down like rain. The major problem? The nearly-forgotten divas despise each other.

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LEGENDS at NCTC – Carla Vaughn and Eleanor Jacobs

Director Andrew Nance clearly has the upper hand in balancing the fire & ice exchanges between his temperamental divas, Carla Vaughn and Eleanor Jacobs. Nance demonstrates a fine and sophisticated touch with this essentially drawing room comedy. Playwright Kirkwood (co-author of the book for A Chorus Line) wrote a successful account of his out-of-town adventures with the original 1986 production of Legends. In The Diary of a Mad Playwright, Kirkwood offers an amazing backstage view of how “everything that could go wrong/went wrong” in his teaming of Mary Martin and Carol Channing, the “Legends”. As remembered by this author when it played San Francisco, it was an eye-popping disaster. Two decades later the play’s not-so-thin veneer of the poignant sadness often experienced by many a performing artist has been deftly polished-up under the direction of Andrew Nance. NCTC’s Walker Theatre is the perfect setting – its intimate environment beautifully lighted by John Kelly and surprisingly accommodating to designer Bruce Walters’ creations of a rich living room that suddenly transforms into a familiar New York subway platform and then to the pathetic digs of a desperate theatre huckster. Costume designs by Prem Lathi punctuate the vanity of the Leading Ladies and their producer, and accentuate the comely charms of Gloria Belle (“Aretha”, a classic soubrette chambermaid), Kai Brothers (a hunky no-nonsense cop), and Dorsey Dyer (“Boom-Boom Johnston”, a surprise guest-stripper).

To order tickets on-line: LEGENDS

WILDE BOYS – Written and Musical Direction by Richard “Scrumbly” Koldewyn. Now until June 23rd in NCTC’s Theatre 3.

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WILDE BOYS – (Back Row) Casey Bair, Alex Kirschner, Brandon Finch (Front Row) Benjamin Pither, Richard Scrumbly Koldewyn, Steven Satyricon

Directed by Michael Mohammed, WILDE BOYS takes place in Victorian England. We are in a unique “House of Leisure”, where gentlemen drop in and chat with the boys, lavish them with gifts, and cavort the night away. As was the custom of the time, the boys sing for each other and for the clientele.

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WILDE BOYS

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” – Oscar Wilde

To order tickets on-line: WILDE BOYS
[Mature themes. Male nudity.]

TAKE ME OUT
Held Over Through July 15th at the Decker Theater.

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TAKE ME OUT – At The New Conservatory Theater Center, San Francisco. Photo by Lois Tema

Winner of the 2003 Tony Awards for Best Play, TAKE ME OUT is a complex meditation on several themes suffused with a genuine passion for baseball. Darren Lemming, the star center fielder of the world champion New York Empires is young, rich, famous, talented, handsome, and so convinced of his popularity that when he casually announces that he is gay, he assumes that the news will be readily accepted by everybody. No! Thus, the drama begins.

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TIM REDMOND – as Toddy Koovitz, and BRIAN J. PATTERSON – as Darren Lemming Photo by Lois Tema

TAKE ME OUT strikes deep into the inner-sanctum of America’s most American of rituals – the Game of Baseball. With straight pitches, curving pitches, fastballs and spitballs flying high/wide/and handsome, Under the direction of Ed Decker, TAKE ME OUT arrives just in time to stoke-up San Francisco’s cool season of summer theatre and moves the New Conservatory Theatre Center solidly into the Major Leagues of The City’s cultural arena.

To order tickets on-line: TAKE ME OUT
[Mature themes. Male nudity.]

See Seán’s recent articles and reviews:

DAVID GOCKLEY’S “DON GOVANNI” – Semper Fi!
ELIAS ESCOBEDO & JOHN HUTCHINSON – An Interview with The Stars of NCTC’s TERRA HAUTE
JOAN of ARC – Dolora Zajick, A Simmering Success!
SAMSON vs DELILAH at AT&T Park – Can Stadium Survive Biblical Shearing?
NORMA SHEARER – Headlines the 12th ANNUAL SILENT FILM FESTIVAL
$55 MILLION – This Pacific Heights Mansion Is YOURS!
LE PETIT TRIANON – San Francisco Artists Exhibit at Her Majesty’s Pleasure
LA VIE EN ROSE (La Môme) – Biography of Edith Piaf – A Sensation at the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival
JERSEY BOYS – Earth Angels invade Curran Theatre! Cast #2: Their Eyes Adore You!
TAKE ME OUT – At The New Conservatory Theater

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San Francisco Sentinel’s Fine Arts Critic 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. Ask 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: seanmartinfield@att.net.

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