Arts & Events

AROUND AND ABOUT OPERA: Three Bargain Opportunities This Weekend: Happy End, Lucia di Lammermoor, Summer Eve

By Planet and Ken Bullock
Friday June 22, 2012 - 02:31:00 PM

This weekend opera lovers have three great chances to experience opera live and up close. -more-


EYE FROM THE AISLE: Colorful Cartoon “Magic Flute” at SF Opera—a pedestrian review

By John A. McMullen II
Friday June 22, 2012 - 01:29:00 PM
Nathan Gunn as Papageno

The Magic Flute at San Francisco Opera is a lovely cartoon of an opera which is, in this case, more about the extraordinary designer Jun Kaneko than the work of Mozart. -more-


The Monkey House: Berkeley's New Underground Nightspot

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Friday June 22, 2012 - 01:33:00 PM

Berkeley's got a hip new nightclub. It's so hip, in fact, that most people don't know where it's located.

It's called The Monkey House and it's the home of Ira Marlowe, a multi-talented singer/composer The Planet once dubbed "the love child of Tom Waits and Tom Lehrer."

As a way of boosting Berkeley's music and art community, he's converted the front section of his live/work storefront on University Ave. into a cozy performance space, a maroon-walled mini-club complete with a small, well-lit elevated stage and several dozen folding chairs (interspersed with the occasional small wooden table). Earlier this month, he sent out word to a small universe of friends that a special club-warming party was to take place on June 9. By 8PM, the place was packed and the joint was jumping. In order to gain admission, you need a password. (The Monkey House follows in the tradition of other subterranean cultural treasures like Strings, another "secret," word-of-mouth performance space that has flourished for years.) The Planet uttered the magic phrase "Chim-chim" and was quickly ushered into the nicely lit band-cave. The walls are appropriately fitted with lamps that bear a monkey-tail insignia and a large stuffed monkey presides over one well-upholstered sofa. The front walls are adorned with a tangy assortment of Monkeyabilia—graphics, artwork, and circus posters. (An easy guess is that this collection will continue to blossom as fans begin bringing their own Monkey art to add to the walls. -more-


AROUND AND ABOUT THEATER: Iranian Playwright & Director Bahram Bazai, St. Marks Playreading, A Folkie Bard On Disk ...

By Ken Bullock
Friday June 22, 2012 - 01:16:00 PM

Bahram Beyzaie, celebrated Iranian playwright, film and theater director (his play 'The Death of Yazgird,' performed at Ashby Stage eight years ago by Darvag Theatre in collaboration with Shotgun is the best play by a living playwright I've reviewed in the past dozen years), has been in residence at Stanford. Next week, he'll be staging a shadowplay, from his new play 'Jana & Baladoor,' a story of music, myth and the elements, which the brilliant Larry Reed of Shadowlight Productions consulted on, at Cubberley Auditorium on the Stanford campus. Noted Iranian actres Modeh Shamsaie and famous musician Mohsen Namjoo will participate. With the exception by shows at Cal Performances, Stanford and the annual San Francisco International Arts Festival, we seldom have the opportunity to see the work of major artists and companies from elsewhere in the world. Beyzaie is the genuine article; I urge you to make the trek to Palo Alto to see what he has to show us. With Iran being heaped with opprobrium in the news, it's refreshing to have one of its most eminent artists staging a production here. -more-