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San Francisco Spotlight: September 2010

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Moya Angela in Dreamgirls
(© Joan Marcus)
High flying and adored by San Francisco audiences, Wicked ends its 19-month run at the Orpheum Theatre on Labor Day weekend, leaving the national tour of Dreamgirls at the Curran as the major musical in the City proper, but only through September 26. However, a week before the Dreams get back on the road, the company touches its roots when the original Deena Jones, Sheryl Lee Ralph, joins them at the Marines Memorial Theatre for a One Night Only AIDS benefit concert on September 20.

Musicals will still fill Bay Area stages this month. Broadway San Jose plans to Burn The Floor (September 21-26) at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts; all sorts of words will be defined and used in a sentence at The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (September 3-26) as presented by California Conservatory Theatre in San Leandro; they'll call the wind Maria when they Paint Your Wagon (September 3-12) in the Woodminster Amphitheatre in Oakland; and music, murder and all that jazz are at the double-crossing heart of Chicago (September 3-26) at the Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City.

Emmy- and Tony Award-winning actor Mandy Patinkin stars in Rinne Groff's Compulsion at Berkeley Repertory Theatre (September 13-October 31), inspired by Meyer Levin, the journalist and screenwriter who helped publicize the existence of Anne Frank's diary, and who came to believe that the chance to adapt it for the stage had been stolen from him. Two-time Tony Award winner Bill Irwin directs and stars in Moliere's classic comedy Scapin (September 16-October 17), at the American Conservatory Theatre.

The EXIT Theatreplex becomes the flurry with the Fringe on tap as 250 performances of 40 shows over 12 days mark the 19th annual San Francisco Fringe Festival (September 8-19). Notable entries include playwright Joe Besecker, a three-time "Best of Fringe" award winner, returning with Zinnia Rosenblatt, a dark comedy about a double suicide; Magnum Opus Theatre presenting "scrupulously faithful readings" of terrible, unproduced screenplays in Star-Crossed Lovers; James Schneider's Man On Sex, a show-within-a-show set in a radio station where host Dick Schmuckley ponders the modern male experience; and over a half-dozen LGBT-themed works by Shaun McCarthy, Ryan Hayes, Karen Ripley and others.

Singer and lyricist Mark Winkler -- of Naked Boys Singing and Play It Cool fame -- teams up with Manhattan Transfer chanteuse Cheryl Bentyne for two evenings of hipster cool tunes entitled West Coast Cool at The Rrazz Room (September 7-8). Also on the intimate Rrazz stage this month are Steven Brinberg, still channeling Barbra but this time with guest David Burnham in Barbra and Burnham (September 1-5); An Evening with Leslie Jordan (September 14-19); Matthew Martin breathing uncanny life into Bette Davis, Kate Hepburn and other divas with All Singing, All Dancing, All Dead (September 25); and The Legendary Miss Janis Paige reflecting on her half-century stage and screen career (September 26-27).

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival resident director Kenneth Kelleher returns for his eighth season of crowd pleasing Shakespeare in the Park and mixes mod music, miniskirts and a misbehaving dog for a freewheeling Two Gentlemen of Verona (September 4-26) at the Presidio's Main Post Parade Ground Lawn. More gender-bending laughter can be found in Ken Ludwig's Leading Ladies (September 3-26) at the Douglas Morrisson Theatre in Hayward when two down-on-their-luck actors decide to impersonate the long-lost heirs-to-be of a wealthy matron only to discover that her nephews are actually nieces.

At the New Conservatory Theatre Center's Decker Theatre, Dennis Lickteig directs Marie O'Donnell, Harry Breaux, Justin Dupuis, Cory Tallman and Michael Doppe in Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins (September 17-October 24) by Brian Christopher Williams. Across the hall at Theatre Three, Darlene Popovic continues her evenings of Kander and Ebb in How Lucky Can You Get? (through September 11).

The Eugene O'Neill Foundation celebrates their 11th annual festival of the Nobel-winning playwright with a production of The Hairy Ape (September 10-25) directed by Eric Fraisher Hayes in partnership with The Role Players at Danville's Village Theatre. Also part of the festival are gallery exhibitions, lectures and special performances of Kurt Weill Cabaret (September 11, 18 & 25).

For comic relief, Oakland's TheatreFirst presents Anton in Show Business (September 2-26), Jane Martin's comedic romp at the Marion E. Greene Theatre about the trials and tribulations of three actresses cast in an ill-fated production of Chekhov's classic, The Three Sisters; the Palo Alto Players take a look at what might happen if you answer a Dead Man's Cell Phone (September 10-26) with Lennon Smith directing the new work by Sarah Ruhl; Janis Stevens teaches a Master Class (September 3-26) at the East Sonora Theatre directed by Dennis Jones; and five very mature prostitutes attempt to eke out a living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in Paula Vogel's The Oldest Profession (September 3-26) at Pegasus Theatre Company in Rio Nido.

Finally, Silver Moon Theatre, in association with Sonoma StageWorks, presents Murder on the Nile (September 9-26), adapted by Agatha Christie from her eponymous novel and originally presented on Broadway in 1946 as Hidden Horizon, starring Diana Barrymore.

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