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San Francisco Spotlight: June 2007

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Mike Daisey in Great Men of Genius
(© Ursa Waz)
If anyone out there thought the Bay Area theater scene might be laying low for the summer, think again. June is chockfull of productions that will easily convince folks to leave their lounge chairs for theater seats.

Writer and performer Mike Daisey lights up the stage of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre with Great Men of Genius (June 6-July 1). On consecutive nights, Daisey resurrects the legendary lives of showman and circus performer, P.T. Barnum, controversial playwright, Bertolt Brecht, scientologist L. Ron Hubbard, and brilliant-turned-mad scientist Nikola Tesla. For those who want to see all four shows in one day, there are some special performances available.

Also out in Berkeley, the Aurora Theatre Company presents a new production of John Guare's Bosoms and Neglect (June 15-July 22), which takes the audience back to 1978, when psychotherapy was what doctors prescribed instead of Prozac. The Actors Ensemble of Berkeley presents August Strindberg's A Dream Play (June 9-July 1) the story of an angel who falls to Earth and takes on the strife imposed in everyday life.

In San Francisco, American Conservatory Theatre's Young Conservatory presents the world premiere of Fields of Gold: The Music of Sting (June 1-17). Two groups of teens striving for self-expression and understanding from each other and their elders search for meaning in the American Heartland in this unusual work, featuring the music of the revered pop singer-songwriter.

The Custom Made Theater Company presents Stephen Sondheim's Assassins (June 14-July 21), the legendary composer-lyricist's controversial tribute to nine presidential assassins (and would-be assassins) ranging from John Wilkes Booth to Squeaky Fromme and John Hinckley.

On the other edge of the musical theater spectrum is the national tour of All Shook Up, featuring the music of Elvis Presley, at the American Musical Theatre of San Jose (June 19-24). This rockin' jukebox musical about a vagabond biker who finds love in a small town features such classics as "Heartbreak Hotel," "Burning Love," "Jailhouse Rock," "Blue Suede Shoes," "It's Now or Never," and "Don't Be Cruel."

TheatreWorks company kicks off its season with a revival of the Tony Award-winning play, The Elephant Man (June 20-July 15), directed by the company's founding artistic director, Robert Kelley. This compelling work by Bernard Pomerance is based upon the true story of John Merrick, a horribly deformed man who became a circus sideshow attraction, garnering fame and notoriety. Eventually, a kindly doctor takes the man under his wing and transitions Merrick from freak to chic, making him a favorite and staple of London's Victorian society. Aldo Billingslea, Jason Kuykendall, and Rebecca Dines head the cast.

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