At a glance ……

The Birthday Party

Goldberg (Scott Wentworth) and Meg (Judith Ivey) play blind man’s bluff, in Harold Pinter’s ‘The Birthday Party’, playing at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater

“Delicious, impalpable and hair-raising” is how The Sunday Times describes Harold Pinter’s  somewhat surreal and sinister The Birthday Party, currently running at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater.

This darkly comic play is set in a boarding house in a rather unremarkable English seaside town. The sole lodger in Meg and Petey Boles’ residence is a pianist, Stanley Webber, who becomes the focus of attention of two strangers – Goldberg and McCann – who arrive one day to take up lodgings at the boarding house, and who have an unsettling effect on him. A birthday party thrown for Stanley turns into a fiasco, and from there the plot turns darker and more menacing.

Directed by Carey Perloff – in her final season as artistic director – The Birthday Party stars Tony Award winner Judith Ivey, Stratford Festival star Scott Wentworth, Marco Barricelli and Firdous Bamji. It’s on at the A.C.T Theatre until February 4th.

For more information and tickets, visit the A.C.T. website.

PIVOT Festival

Also at A.C.T. – but at the Strand Theater – this week, San Francisco Performances presents the PIVOT Festival 2018. Created for “adventurous audiences interested in truly unique arts experiences”, PIVOT was launched in 2016, presenting its performances in informal and intimate settings.

The L.A. Dance Project  features in the first of this week’s performances (January 23rd), with three works choreographed by Benjamin Millepied – a sensuous pas de deux entitled Closer, the film Hearts & Arrows, which was also directed by the choreographer, and Sarabande, a showcase for a small male ensemble.  Pianist Sarah Cahill, violinist Kate Stenberg, the Alexander String Quartet and the William Winant Percussion Group pay tribute to the late California composer Lou Harrison as part of his Centennial Celebration on January 24th.  Contemporary classical composer and pianist Timo Andres performs works by Janáček, Caroline Shaw, Eric Shanfield and Christopher Cerrone, on January 26th, and on the final evening of the festival, the Joe Goode Performance Group  presents Still Standing (a work in progress) and selections from Hush, on January 27th.

For more information visit the SF Performances website.

Met Opera’s ‘Tosca’ Live in HD

Vittorio Grigolo as Cavaradossi and Sonya Yoncheva as Tosca in rehearsal for David McVicar’s new production of ‘Tosca’ – Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera’s  new production of Puccini’s Tosca is Live in HD this Saturday, and will be transmitted to cinema screens around the country. Hosted by Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano, Isabel Leonard, this production by Sir David McVicar stars Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva  in the title role, and Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo  as her lover Cavaradossi. Serbian Baritone Željko Lučić is the depraved police chief Scarpia, and the performance is led by French conductor Emmanuel Villaume.

Transmitted live at 12:55 pm ET, Tosca will be screened on Saturday January 27th. To check the time of your local broadcast, visit the Metropolitan Opera’s Live in HD website , where you can also see clips of other Live in HD performances.

Meow Meow and Thomas M Lauderdale

The San Francisco Symphony makes way for international cabaret star Meow Meow (Melissa Madden Gray) this week as she takes the stage at Davies Symphony Hall on Saturday evening. Appearing with Meow Meow is pianist Thomas M Lauderdale  – founder of Pink Martini.

True to Meow Meow‘s style, details about this concert are sparse, but her performances are always unique, including elements of song, comedy and dance. You can find out more about this extraordinary artist on her own website.  Meow Meow held audiences spellbound when she appeared at SF Soundbox in December 2015, and here she gives her own cryptic introduction to this week’s show:

Meow-Meow and Thomas M Lauderdale are at Davies Symphony Hall for one performance only – January 27th. For more information and tickets visit the San Francisco Symphony website.


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