Geneva Anderson digs into art

Cinnabar’s Young Repertory Company and their amazing “Annie,” through Sunday, December 15, 2013

Laura Sandoval, 13, is one of two local actors playing the adorable orphan, Annie, in Cinnabar Theater’s Young Rep production of the family musical “Annie,” on stage through December 15, 2013.  Image: courtesy Cinnabar Theater.

Laura Sandoval, 13, is one of two local actors playing the adorable orphan, Annie, in Cinnabar Theater’s Young Rep production of the family musical “Annie,” on stage through December 15, 2013. Image: Nathan Cummings, Cinnabar Theater.

In case you haven’t heard, Cinnabar Theater’s Young Repertory Theater has the holiday musical that everyone north of the Golden Gate is buzzing about—Annie.   Featuring local youth, who sing and act with gusto, the superb show is delightfully staged in Cinnabar’s intimate hill top theater just down the road from historic Petaluma.  The heartwarming musical sold out within hours of being announced and Cinnabar’s new Executive Director, Terence Keane, reports they’ve been hounded like crazy for tickets.  That’s no surprise as all of Cinnabar’s performances in their 41st season, both professional and youth, have been slam-dunks—from The Pavilion to La Cage Aux Folles in their professional company, to Rent, from their youth corp.

I was lucky enough to buy a ticket to Thursday’s performance, added earlier this week, and it was so worth the extra effort.  From the moment I entered the cozy theater and saw rows of kids perched in the front rows awaiting the show, my heart leapt…the energetic vibe was palpable. No doubt part of their enthusiasm was due to being out late on a school night and the super-sized brownies and rice crispie treats available in the lounge.  Once the show began though, they were quiet as mice, discovering the thrill of theater and immersing themselves in the original 3-D, high-definition style of storytelling.  Kudos Cinnabar!

Set in the 1930s, during the gloom of the Great Depression, Annie is a story of hope and optimism that was first staged in 1977 and went on to become one the world’s most beloved family musicals.  Based on Thomas Meehan’s book, with music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin, Cinnabar’s production is under the helm of directors Dezi Gallegos and Brain Bryson with music direction by Sandy and Richard Riccardi and Choreography by Nancy Rush. Cinnabar’s entire youth rep program is in the capable hands of Nathan Cummings who has plenty to be proud of—Petaluma may be far from Broadway but, thanks to the training they receive at Cinnabar, some of them may be Broadway bound.

An adorable cast of orphans, who auditioned for their roles in August 2013, complete the cast of Cinnabar’s “Annie,” on stage at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater through December 15, 2013.  Image: courtesy Cinnabar Theater.

An adorable cast of orphans, who auditioned for their roles in August 2013, complete the cast of Cinnabar’s “Annie,” on stage at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater through December 15, 2013. Image: Nathan Cummings, Cinnabar Theater.

Annie, a true spuntress, is a whip-smart orphan who is on a mission to find her birth parents who abandoned her years ago on the doorstep of a New York City Orphanage run by the cruel Miss Hannigan.  Despite her loneliness, Annie is all light and sunshine, delivering positivity and kindness to everyone she encounters.  When Annie meets the industrious billionaire, Mr. Warbucks, she helps him realize that having all the money in the world means nothing unless you have someone to share your life with.  Of course, when big money is involved there are always a few plot twists, and Annie deliver them in spades, along with a blossoming love story.

While each young actor brings something special to Cinnabar’s production, I was bowled over by thirteen-year-old Laura Sandoval who played Annie on Thursday.  There are two casts and Sandoval is part of the “Leapin’ Lizards” cast and splits the lead with Lucy London, part of the “Oh Boy cast.”  It was obvious from Sandoval’s first solo, “Tomorrow”—that famous sing-when-you-are-down-in-the-dumps tune, that she had the voice and acting talent and charisma sufficient to anchor this core of young performers.  As her infectious optimism spread, and the song caught on to include more and more of her fellow tousled orphans on stage, it was clear that these kids had really worked hard on this production.  Half of the fun though is in watching them move around the stage in Diana Banas’ rag-a-muffin orphan costumes attempting to stay in sync and in tune at the same time.  “It’s a Hard-Knock Life” was delightful.  Cast stand-outs were Marvin Roca as the tycoon Warbucks, Maryanne Boas as FDR, Bashya Terronez as the orphanage supervisor, Miss Hannigan, and Ian Purcell, as Rooster, Miss Hannigan’s no-good brother and Samantha Royall as Grace, Mr. Warbuck’s kind-hearted secretary.  And I wouldn’t be ARThound if I didn’t mention the adorable Grace Miguel as the stray dog, adopted by Annie.

Laura Sandoval, 13, is one of two local actors playing Annie, in Cinnabar Theater’s Young Rep production of the family musical “Annie,” on stage through December 15, 2013.  Image: courtesy Cinnabar Theater.

Laura Sandoval, 13, is one of two local actors playing Annie, in Cinnabar Theater’s Young Rep production of the family musical “Annie,” on stage through December 15, 2013. Image: Nathan Cummings, Cinnabar Theater.

You know a performance has worked its magic when the people leave humming the last tune they heard and are polite to each other as they all try to exit Cinnabar’s rubric parking lot at the same time.  Annie’s message bears repeating again and again…families come in all shapes and sizes and there’s always hope for brighter days ahead!

Cinnabar’s “Annie,” on stage at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater through December 15, 2013 includes an insanely cute cast of talented local actors, all in Cinnabar’s Young Rep Program.  Image: courtesy Cinnabar Theater.

Cinnabar’s “Annie,” on stage at Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater through December 15, 2013 includes an insanely cute cast of talented local actors, all in Cinnabar’s Young Rep Program. From Act II, set in FDR’s oval office where, Annie, surrounded by Roosevelt’s cabinet of advisors, inspires the President to be optimistic through rough times. Image: Nathan Cummings, Cinnabar Theater.

More about Cinnabar’s Young Rep Theater:  Founded in 1983, Cinnabar Theater’s Young Repertory Theater is Sonoma County’s largest and longest-running program for youth in the performing arts, serving hundreds of students annually from Sonoma County and beyond. In addition to several fully-staged youth productions each year, Young Rep includes year-round classes and summer camps, adult choruses and concerts as well as opportunities for students to perform in Cinnabar’s professional season. Young Rep is open to youngsters aged 4-18, who benefit from the instruction provided by working theater professionals. No child is turned away due to inability to pay.

Details: Annie runs through Sunday, December 15, 2013.  The show is completely sold-out.  Best chance for tickets is to show up 30 minutes before the performance and wait for no-shows or audience members selling tickets.  Remaining performances:  Dec 13 & 14th at 7:30 PM  and Dec 15th at 2 PM.  For more information, visit, or call 707.763-8920 from Monday through Friday between 10 AM and 3 PM.  All seating is general admission and the theatre opens about 30 minutes prior to each performance.

Cinnabar Theater is located 3333 Petaluma Blvd. North, at the intersection with Skillman Lane, Petaluma, CA 94952.

December 13, 2013 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Tis the Season”—San Francisco Ballet’s “Nutcracker” opens Wednesday at War Memorial Opera House

Dancers perform in a snowstorm on stage in Tomasson's “Nutcracker,” at San Francisco Ballet December 11- 29, 2013. © Erik Tomasson

Dancers perform in a snowstorm on stage in Tomasson’s “Nutcracker,” at San Francisco Ballet December 11- 29, 2013. © Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet’s magical production of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker opens Wednesday, December 11, 2013, at War Memorial Opera House, and is always a special treat with its distinctive bow to San Francisco.   Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson’s production of the Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov classic, now in its 10th offering at SF Ballet, is set in San Francisco on Christmas Eve during the 1915 Pan Pacific International Exposition and features SF Ballet’s world class dancers in top form.  The 1915 world’s fair was an extraordinary event that transformed San Francisco into a dream-like city of magical domes and pastel-colored buildings, the romance of which is captured beautifully in the gorgeous period sets by Michael Yeargan and James K. Ingalls’ projections.  The ballet opens with a stunning collage of black and white photos from the actual world’s fair, with shots of the Palace of Fine Arts, the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, and the famous “Painted Lady” Victorians of Alamo Square.  It gradually narrows in on 100 painted Victorian windows until landing at the toymaker Drosselmeyer’s window and the mysterious world of magic and wonder contained therein.   The photos on the fireplace wall at the home in Act I are family photos of the founders of San Francisco Ballet, the visionary Christensen Brothers.  And, in the Act I battle scene (between the mice and the gingerbread soldiers), the giant fireplace stands 22 feet tall and 19 feet wide, about the size of two SF cable cars stacked on top of each other.  The gorgeous combination of dance, Tchaikovsky’s romantic music and the beautiful costumes are punctuated by real magic tricks, orchestrated by the production’s own magic consultant, Menlo Park illusionist Marshall Magoon.  He has made sure that Uncle Drosselmeyer, who makes toys change size and come to life, is unforgettable.  Of course, the very best trick up Drosselmeyer’s sleeve is when he commands the Christmas tree to grow and grow and GROW and it does!  And under SF Ballet music director and principal conductor Martin West, the gorgeous Tchaikovsky score, played by the SF Ballet Orchestra, should pop with color.  Mesmerizing in all respects, SF Ballet’s production is the granddaddy of all the Bay Area productions and an excellent opportunity to see professional ballet at its finest.  Plan on taking the family, or someone very special, to this delightful holiday classic.

Family Performances: free treats! and photo ops—  For five performances only, the first 500 children to arrive receive a special gift and everyone enjoys complimentary beverages and sweet treats by Miette, the official bakery of SF Ballet’s Nutcracker, at intermission. For 30 minutes only, starting one hour prior to curtain, Nutcracker characters are available for photos, so arrive early and bring your camera! Family Performance Dates: Thurs/Dec 12, 7pm, Buy Tickets; Fri/Dec 13, 2pm; Buy Tickets; Fri/Dec 13, 7pm, Buy Tickets; Sun/Dec 15, 7pm, Buy Tickets; Tues/Dec 17, 7pm, Buy Tickets

Stop off before the performance or at intermission for delectable sweet treats at Candyland, now located in the North Grand Tier Lobby. Only $5 per box!

Attending a matinee performance on Sunday, December 15, 22, or 29? Make it a full day of holiday celebration with Breakfast with Santa before the show!

The History of SF Ballet’s “Nutcracker”

Nutcracker Details: 

Nutcracker opens Wednesday, December 11, 2013 and runs through Sunday, December 29, 2013.

Tickets: $25 to $315, purchase online here  or through Box Office (415) 865-2000.  For more information, visit or phone (415) 865-2000

Parking:  Civic Center Garage (on McAllister Street between Larkin and Polk); Performing Arts Garage (on Grove between Franklin and Gough streets); Opera Plaza Garage (valet only, 601 Van Ness, enter on Turk). .  Traffic delays are common particularly on 101 Southbound and parking can be time-consuming, so plan adequately.

Arrival Time:  Plan to arrive early to enjoy the sumptuous atmosphere and to ensure that you are seated.  The theater enforces a no late seating policy and guests will not be seated after the lights have dimmed. Latecomers will be asked to stand until there is a break in the program, and will be seated at management’s discretion.

Run-time: Two hours—Act I (47 min); Intermission (20 min); Act II: (57 min)

Bringing Children:  San Francisco Ballet recommends that children attending Nutcracker be at least 5 years old.  Any child who can sit in his own seat and quietly observe a two-hour performance without questions is welcome.  Booster seats for children are provided free of charge for use on the Orchestra level.  No infants may be brought to a performance.  Parents should take children creating a disturbance during the ballet out of the performance hall.

SF Ballet’s 2014 Season


Adam/Tomasson after Petipa/Melbye/Pinkham

Performances: Jan 25 eve, 26 mat, 28 eve, 29 eve, 30 eve, 31 eve, Feb 1 mat & eve, 2 mat





Cadbury, Stoney/McGregor/Carter

Performances: Feb 18 eve, 19 eve, 21 eve, 23 mat, 27 eve, Mar 1 mat & eve




Minkus/Makarova after Petipa



Performances: Feb 20 eve, 22 mat & eve, 25 eve, 26 eve, 28 eve, Mar 2 mat



Performances: Mar 11 eve, 12 eve, 13 eve, 14 eve, 15 mat & eve, 16 mat, 22 mat & eve, 23 mat


Shostakovich/Ratmansky/Tsypin/Dekker/ Tipton

Performances: Apr 2 eve, 3 eve, 5 mat & eve, 8 eve, 11 eve, 13 mat




Stravinsky/Possokhov/Pierce/Woodall/ Dennis

Performances: Apr 4 eve, 6 mat, 9 eve, 10 eve, 12 mat & eve, 15 eve





Performances: Apr 29 eve, 30 eve, May 2 eve, 4 mat, 8 eve, 10 mat & eve





Brahms, Schoenberg/Balanchine/after Karinska



Performances: May 1 eve, 3 mat & eve, 6 eve, 7 eve, 9 eve, 11 mat

December 10, 2013 Posted by | Dance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kneehigh’s “Tristan & Yseult” at Berkeley Rep—playful, profound, high-energy

Based on an ancient tale, Tristan & Yseult is an epic love triangle between two men—the warrior Tristan and his uncle Mark, the King of Cornwall—and the beautiful young Irish woman, Yseult.  Britain’s Kneehigh Theatre, under the direction of Emma Rice, brings the story to glorious life at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre where it has its West Coast premiere.   This beautifully choreographed and staged performance sealed Kneehigh’s reputation a decade ago and the revised show is now touring internationally.  With a script by Carl Grose and Anna Maria Murphy and a score by Stu Barker, the production is so fresh and inventive that it extends the very boundaries of theatre while expanding the dialogue between past and contemporary culture.  The performance stars Andrew Durand as Tristan and Patrycja Kujawska as Yseult and features a phenomenal young cast.   In constant churning, beat-bopping motion, they do it all—act, sing, dance, fly through the air, play instruments—and are a delight to behold.  Creative touches include Yseult’s maid, Brangian, in drag, some very acrobatic love scenes which transpire on the mast of a ship, a riotous crew of Love spotters as the chorus, and a cabaret that above the stage called the Café of the Unloved from which Ian Ross and a small band of musicians deliver a musical mash-up featuring tunes from sources as divergent as Nick Cave, Roy Orbison, Bob Marley, Irving Berlin and Wagner.  You’ll be blowing up balloons, dancing at the intermission, singing along and wishing there was a CD to buy afterwards of all the great music.

Adapted and directed by Emma Rice
Writers: Carl Grose and Anna Maria Murphy
Running time: 2 hours and 15 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission

Details: Tristan & Yseult runs through January 6, 2014 at Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison Street @ Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94704. Performances are Tues-Sun with matinees on Sat, Sun and some Thurs.  Tickets: $29 to $99.  Discounts:  Half-price tickets available for anyone under 30 years of age; $10 discount for students and seniors one hour before curtain.  Tickets and info: 510 647–2949 ·

Parking:  Paid parking is readily available at over 5 parking garages as close as one block from the theatre. The Allston Way Garage, 2061 Allston Way, between Milvia and Shattuck, offers $3 parking Tuesday–Friday after 6 PM or all day on Saturday or Sunday when your garage-issued parking ticket is accompanied by a free voucher ticket that is available in the theatre lobby.  These new tickets accommodate the newly automated parking garage’s ticket machines and are available in a pile located where the ink stamp used to be.

December 2, 2013 Posted by | Theatre | , , , , , | Leave a comment