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San Francisco Spotlight: October 2008

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The American Musical Theatre of San Jose celebrates the 50th anniversary of Flower Drum Song (October 29-November 9), with a staging of the tuner featuring the revised book by David Henry Hwang and the classic songs by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Paolo Montalban and Michelle Liu Coughlin star as the young lovers Wang-Ta and Mei-Lei. Prepare for a spine-tingling evening with the San Jose Stage Company and its production of Turn of the Screw, October 8-November 2. Adapted from the Henry James novel, this classic tale exposes the ghosts of the past and the skeletons in the closet.

If that's not scary enough for you, check out Ragged Wing Ensemble's northern California premiere of Clive Barker's The History of the Devil (October 3-November 1). Directed by Jeffrey Hoffman, this play asks whether sympathy for the devil is possible, when Lucifer himself is put on trial for wreaking irreparable damage on good ol' planet Earth.

What would happen if John McCain and Barack Obama ditched civilized debating for an all-out smack down in the wrestling ring? Playwright Justin Warner entertains the zany notion in American Whup-Ass, which makes its world premiere at San Rafael's AlterTheater Ensemble (October 16-November 9). Directed by Michael Ray Wisely, the piece has one presidential candidate challenged by the other to a televised wrestling match, meaning he must stop talking and start training, all the while trying to save Nevada from toxic waste.

The Tabard Theatre Company in San Jose stages the world premiere of Antigone in the Oval Office (October 10-November 1). In this updating of Sophocles' classic by Ana-Catrina Buchser and Cathy Cassetta, an unexpected turn of events results in the country's vice president taking over the Oval Office and enforcing wartime martial law. As if that's not enough pressure, his goddaughter Antigone is ready to challenge him at every turn.

Election season takes a darker turn with Stephen Sondheim's Assassins (Solano College Theatre, October 22-November 9). Directed by Daren A.C. Carollow, this notorious musical presents a hard look at America's darkest times, with assassins and attempted assassins explaining what drove them to want to kill a president.

The always clever Marsh theater presents Wayne Harris' The May Day Parade (October 4-November 9), in which the award-winning performer portrays a Baptist preacher, three generations on a porch, a four-man bass and drum ensemble, and an entire drum and bugle corps, among others. Anton Chekhov fans will delight in the Custom Made Theatre Company's production of Orchards (through October 25), where seven contemporary playwrights -- David Mamet, Wendy Wasserstein, John Guare, Spalding Gray, Maria Irene Fornes, Michael Weller and Bay Area scribe, Scott Munson -- present their interpretation of seven Chekhov stories.

TheatreWorks presents the regional premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson's Radio Golf (Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, October 8-November 2), directed by Harry J. Elam, Jr. The play is the final work in Wilson's ten-play cycle, and is a bittersweet look at the forces of change in a rundown neighborhood in Pittsburgh.

Based on the book by Melinda Long and David Shannon, How I Became A Pirate (Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, October 5-November 2) is a musical about a band of pirates in need of a new matey. Jeremy Jacobs is sure he's the kid for the job, but soon learns plank walking and mutiny aren't as easy as you'd think. Great for the whole family, Active Arts Theatre for Young Audiences' production features music and lyrics by Alyn Cardarelli and Steve Goers.


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