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San Francisco Spotlight: February 2008

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Athol Fugard
The American Conservatory Theater presents South African playwright Athol Fugard's Blood Knot (February 8-March 9), the gripping story of two brothers living in 1960s South Africa during apartheid. Packed with star power, the production features A.C.T. core actors Steven Anthony Jones and Jack Willis. Grammy Award-winning musician and composer Tracy Chapman provides the production's score, marking the musician's first time composing and recording music for live theater.

A.C.T. is also presenting Jose Rivera's Brainpeople (through February 16), directed by Chay Yew and starring René Augesen, Lucia Brawley, and Sona Tatoyan. The play exposes the desperation of three women as they cope with isolation and violence in an apocalyptic future.

Carrie Fisher stars in Wishful Drinking at Berkeley Rep, the play she's penned about the days when battling hangovers occupied the bulk of her life (February 8-March 30). Princess Leia at age 19, manic depression and alcoholism in between, Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmom, and Paul Simon as an ex-husband, Fisher's life story has had more twists than a martini.

Speaking of martinis, My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra is on stage February 15-March 16 at the Douglass Morrison Theatre. Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson, this jukebox musical features more than 50 of Old Blue Eyes' beloved hits, such as "Fly Me to the Moon," "The Best is Yet to Come," "Witchcraft," "The Way You Look Tonight," and "Strangers in the Night."

Music also takes center stage over at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre with the world premiere of Sonny's Blues (February 8- March 2), the story of a young pianist and his older schoolteacher brother in 1950s Harlem, and their struggle to find harmony within their contentious relationship. Written by James Baldwin, it features original music composed by acclaimed Bay Area musician and composer Marcus Shelby.

On another musical note, award-winning playwright and performer W. Allen Taylor grew up not knowing who his father was until his college graduation party, when his mother revealed his father was none other than Bill Hawkins, Cleveland's first black disc jockey. AfroSolo Theatre Company presents Taylor's solo show, Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins . . . In Search of My Father (African American Art and Culture Complex, February 14-March 2), which illustrates that colorful and emotional journey.

Here's something fun for Valentine's Day. For one day only on February 14, How We First Met plays at San Francisco's Herbst Theatre for its eighth consecutive year. Created by Jill Bouroque, the show lets real-life couples take the stage to tell the often hilarious tales of how they met their significant other.

The Phoenix Theater presents the West Coast premiere of Ross Howard's dark comedy Arthur and Esther, the story of a small town librarian whose world falls apart when his beloved library is turned into an office space. Things don't improve much when Arthur finds out his best pal Chuck chases his wife Esther around the museum dressed as a cave man (February 1-23). A run-down Victorian house is the setting for Cutting Ball Theater's production of Samuel Beckett's Endgame, which follows the attacks and parries of the world's last four remaining inhabitants, two of whom dwell in trash cans.

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