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“Paradise Square” Celebrates Song & Dance in Civil War Manhattan, at Berkeley Rep

“Paradise Square” Celebrates Song & Dance in Civil War Manhattan, at Berkeley Rep

World Class Musical Shows Black & Irish Lives Matter by Jennifer Ann Charron It’s rare to witness a momentous new musical.  My shoulders clench and my jaw drops, like a dumb-struck child. That’s me watching “Paradise Square: A New Musical” that tells the history of Black and Irish people living together in Manhattan—just before the Civil War. “Paradise Square” explores the little-known history of New York’s Five Points neighborhood through the eyes and music of Stephen Foster (touching Jacob Fishel),…

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“Dear Evan Hansen” Challenges Millennial Myths, at The Curran, S.F.

“Dear Evan Hansen” Challenges Millennial Myths, at The Curran, S.F.

Benj Pasek & Justin Paul Make Music for Harsh Times by Rachel Norby and Barry David Horwitz The plot of “Dear Evan Hansen” could be a teenie bopper movie: boy makes up story, the lies spin out of control, he comes clean. But this multiple Tony Award winning musical phenomenon has a Dickensian theme: Poor, invisible Evan ingratiates himself with the wealthy family of a classmate who has committed suicide. With a top-notch cast and a flashing backdrop of floating…

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“The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley” Lights Up a Revolution, at MTC, Mill Valley

“The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberley” Lights Up a Revolution, at MTC, Mill Valley

Gunderson & Melcon’s Comedy Transfigures Pride & Prejudice   by Barry David Horwitz In this sequel to Pride and Prejudice, the clever playwrights take us downstairs into the vast basement kitchen underneath a great English manor. The rich people upstairs keep sneaking down the heavy duty wooden staircase to get some of the housekeeper’s Christmas cookies. But wicked, witty George Wickham (delightful Kenny Toll) bursts into the kitchen and the whole household goes into an uproar. George argues eloquently for…

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“Sweat”—A Passionate Portrait of U.S. Workers, at ACT, S.F.

“Sweat”—A Passionate Portrait of U.S. Workers, at ACT, S.F.

Millennial Notes Lynn Nottage’s Masterpiece Shines Bright Light on Rust Belt by Beau McGlasson Battered billboards loom over a local watering hole, a caustic picture of America’s Rust Belt. Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat,” winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, brilliantly paints a stark contrast between the warm wood-paneled local bar and the harsh, worn-out billboards hovering overhead. It’s spring of 2000, and her Reading, Pennsylvania steel workers cling to hard, dangerous jobs and dwindling pay—tinder waiting for a spark. Steel-workers celebrate…

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