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San Francisco Spotlight: May 2009

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Danny Scheie in You, Nero
(© Henry DiRocco)
That Nero was such a character. Not only does he go and fiddle while Rome burns, he fills the Colosseum with a mix of sex and decadence. Get a closer look at the world premiere of You, Nero by Amy Freed at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, May 15-June 28. Danny Scheie stars in the title role, with Broadway veteran Jeff McCarthy as Scribonius.

The same zaniness and one-of-a-kind sense of humor that fueled the popularity of the film Monty Python and The Holy Grail, has also fueled the wild success of Monty Python's Spamalot, which comes to the Golden Gate Theatre, May 22-July 5. Winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical, Spamalot tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they embark on their quest for the Holy Grail. Hamster insults, flying cows, and killer rabbits are once again part of the mix in this touring production, directed by Tony Award-winner Mike Nichols, with a book by Eric Idle and music and lyrics by the Grammy Award-winning team of Mr. Idle and John Du Prez.

In OBIE Award winner José Rivera's Boleros for the Disenchanted (American Conservatory Theater, May 7-31), the Academy Award-nominated screenwriter of The Motorcycle Diaries returns to his native Puerto Rico to explore the ineffable dreams of lovers. Directed by Carey Perloff, this lush and very personal new work reverberates with the gorgeous sounds of Latin love songs, or boleros, written by master composer Fabian Obispo. Also at A.C.T., the theater's Young Conservatory presents the world premiere of Bright Young People: The Words and Music of Noel Coward by Noel Coward (May 8 -23), directed by Craig Slaight. Staged at the Zeum Theater, the revue showcases scenes and music from Coward's greatest hits.

If there is one sound that has become a universal annoyance, it's the endless ringing of a stranger's cell phone. Written by Sarah Ruhl, Dead Man's Cell Phone (SF Playhouse, May 9-June 13) is the story of a stranger who answers an incessantly ringing cell phone in a quiet café, only to discover a dead man -- with a lot of loose ends. Memories aren't always what we expect them to be. That's what one man discovers when on his 69th birthday, as he replays a tape recording he made 30 years earlier. Krapp's Last Tape is written by Samuel Beckett and presented by Cutting Ball Theater, May 22-June 21.

Intersection for the Arts and Resident Theatre Company Campo Santo present the world premiere of Fukú Americanus (May 14-June 21), a simultaneously epic and intimate tale about family histories, ancient curses, migration and ill-starred love. It is inspired by Junot Díaz's Pulitzer Prize Winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Berkeley's Shotgun Players presents Mark Jackson's Faust Part 1 (May 20-June 21), adapted from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and telling the comic/tragic story of how the bored, famous Faust finds renewed life in his "love" for a young commoner.

Start warming up your vocal cords. The Wedding Singer, the feel-good musical about Robbie Hart, the best wedding singer in the business, makes its Bay Area debut at the Willows Theatre Company, May 11-June 14. In Ron Hutchinson's comedy Moonlight and Magnolias -- inspired by actual events -- movie producer David O. Selznick shuts down production of Gone with the Wind in 1939, summoning the director and screenwriter to a five-day retreat to make a new story. The play runs May 15-31 at the Douglas Morrisson Theatre. Finally, the13th annual Best of PlayGround Festival (May 7-31) presents full productions of the seven winners of PlayGround's Emerging Playwright Award.


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