PREVIEW: Princess’ 2012-1013 Season Arts Picks

There are lots of reasons to get excited about the local arts scene. Some are logical reasons, favorite shows, pieces of music, artists or venues. Others are less traditional reasons as you’ll discover below. No matter how or why you get excited, the fact that there are literally hundreds of arts experiences waiting to be had in the next 12 months is well worth getting the calendar out and making advanced plans.  The following are just a few of the amazing arts events that have caught my eye and made it on the Princess Arts Radar (PAR).
Mamet. I think my heart rate increase and my stress level triples when I hear the name.  His plays are intense, uncomfortable, dark, real and if done right, epic. San Jose Stage’s 2008 production of Mamet’s Glengarry, Glen Ross holds the high honor of being one of the most powerful, spot on productions I have seen of any play anywhere. Mamet’s play Race starts the Stage’s 30th season and though I haven’t seen this play before, I anticipate a great production. The bar is unmistakably high, but Mamet and the Stage are all about pressure and I am very much looking forward to being in the opening night audience. I’ll be nervous for them of course, but anticipate a victorious production.

You know how sometimes you judge a book by its cover? You just like the way the title sounds or the cover art looks? Well, that’s kind of how I feel about South Bay Guitar Society’s February guest artist Vladimir Gorbach. Now, I know three things exactly about guitar: 1) I like it 2) despite three very good lessons, I’m pretty sucky at it myself and 3) I’ve never been disappointed by a SBGS Concert. This limited knowledge maybe doesn’t qualify me to pick out a real talent, but I like this guys title and cover art.  I know, that sounds wrong, but here’s what’s right. He happens to be award-winning, critically acclaimed, accomplished guitarist. And, in my opinion, he’s easy on the eyes.  I don’t expect to be anything but thrilled with Vladimir’s concert.

I am an unabashed fan of Renegade Theatre Experiment. With few exceptions the work they do are plays I wouldn’t see done anywhere else. They are edgy, unique and as their namesake claims, an experiment. I know in advance of an RTE show that I will have a reaction to the work I see. It may not be positive, but they are okay with that. And, I’m okay with that too. It gets me talking, thinking, feeling and many times I quite enjoy the results. This year’s season in its entirety is compelling and captures my interest. I can’t wait to see how these pieces, which all somehow relate to an “end of the world” theme, turnout. I have never hoped the Mayan’s were more wrong about the whole end of the world thing. Please just let the dates be off by a few months so I can at least make it through the last show of Renegade’s season.

No Shostakovich (my favorite) programs this season for San Jose Chamber Music Society, but a double dose of Dvorak (close second in my book)  with the appearance of the  Trio Solisti and the  Prazak Quartet in October and November 2012 respectively. Education is such a big part of my own personal enjoyment of any arts experience and I learn more and more each SJCMS concert I attend, with an informative, light and often surprisingly humorous lecture prior to each on the artist, composers and pieces. What can sometimes be dry and even more intimidating than the concert, has always been a pleasant relief, taking the fear and exclusiveness out of classical music for one such as myself who appreciates, but is not terribly knowledgeable about it.  Internationally acclaimed artists headline this season (as always) and the Petit Trianon venue provides the perfect environment for a great night of music for those newer to classical and super fans alike.

With hundreds of performances a year, there are groups that somehow, despite being around for years, and giving concerts blocks away from my home and work, I never seem to fit them into the schedule. Lyric Theatre is one of these. This season I’m setting out to complete a double never. Never seen a Lyric performance and never seen the classic Brigadoon, which Lyric is mounting in April.

As the owner of two 3-legged cats I have often been asked if they have little prosthetic legs. I answer no. I have even been asked if I DID get them replacement limbs would I bedazzle or decorate them. I have pled the fifth with regard to that question. On exhibit now (and FREE to attend) is an exhibit I shall now send all such people who ask me these questions to. Jeweled Prosthetics at the De Saisset Museum is probably the most personally intriguing arts experience I have come across for this season.   For me, to say attending this is a moral imperative is probably an understatement.

My inner rock star is so head-banging this season with Broadway San Jose’s Rock of Ages and Green Day’s American Idiot. If I could sing, I would belt out a power ballad about how amped I am. Theatre and Rock are two of my favorite combinations and these two shows are kind of at the opposite ends of the rock musical spectrum. Rock of Ages makes quite a bit of fun of its big hair metal genre while American Idiot uses popular music to tell a compelling story.  Dude, it’s gonna be awesome. Totally rad. Totally bitchin’. F@$* Yeah!

I like Tom Stoppard. I think his plays are great and his screenplays are even greater. That being said, I’ve walked out of a performance of The Real Thing not too long ago. I didn’t like the play. I didn’t get the play. I was disappointed with everything about it. So, I’m curious and a bit excited to see if I’m different, if the play is different and if I’ll like it better this time when it comes to The Pear Avenue Theater in Mt. View. I’m all about second chances and as we all know sometimes something as little as if you had a big dinner before a show can affect your enjoyment, so I’m eager to see if this play has a second act this time destined for me to stay and watch it.
The ever elusive Christmas Ballet presented annually by Smuin Ballet is like that New Year’s resolution that comes back to haunt you every dang year.  Clip after clip, article after article, review after review and I have yet to attend.  I can tell from what I’ve seen over the magical interwebs that this is exactly the kind of Ballet and modern fused dance made for the closet dance addict. This company and this ballet specifically is like the gateway drug. It’s the ballet that will make you a fan and have you buying season tickets.  A whole lot of skill, good music, creativity, humor and heart goes into all of Smuin’s pieces but just like live and recorded music, I think attending in person could be transformative. This year, maybe I’ll be brave enough to cross the threshold.

Sunnyvale Community Players is just one of a few companies producing Legally Blonde the Musical this year. I’m not completely enamored by the show, though I did see the Broadway tour and liked it more than I expected. Every now and then a single artist can sell a show for me.  I won’t name names, but this cast has one of those actors/actresses.  Suffice to say, if the other production decisions are as inspired as this casting decision, this show could prove to be one of the best this year.

The Christmas my family got an Atari 2600 was the birth of a new kind of memory for me. Video game theme songs. From then on, every gaming upgrade that was made, allowed that years hot game song to serve as the marker for the era. I can hum them all. Frogger, Pacman, Mario Brothers and my absolute favorite music, the Legend of Zelda. I was over the moon when I heard that the entire four movement symphony of Zelda was going to be played live at the Civic in December. Live music, gaming, a great local venue…and during the holidays.  This is one of those magical only in Silicon Valley kind of events, where the attendees are likely to be just as much a part of the spectacle as the performance itself and I’m very stoked about this event.

Coming off a brilliant production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Foothill Music Theatre has announced Spring Awakening for their February 2013 Show. This show is a stunning work in and of itself and I really can not recommend it more for Junior High to College aged kids and their parents. It’s a riveting piece and maybe one of the most relevant, critical, heartbreaking and moving musicals out there. It’s poetry and even a “meh” production of it is worthwhile. I’m beyond thrilled that this show will be done in the more intimate Lohman Theatre. This show almost always “discovers” the next big thing in local talent, the roles are juicy and challenging and test the actors/actresses in their craft to the max. If that first note and visual don’t give you goose bumps…well. I’m counting down the days.

23 years ago my 7th grade drama teacher Mr. Stockman died from complications of AIDS.  It was my first real experience with death and one that I still think back on. It was about that time that I also first heard about the AIDS Quilt. The AIDS quilt, which marks its 25th anniversary this year is now composed of 1.3 million square feet.  This tremendous piece of textile art is infused with the stories of those who live with, those who have passed from and family and friends who have been impacted by the disease.  The AIDS Quilt Interactive at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles allows us the opportunity to glimpse electronically at every patch of the quilt from the small but fascinating Santa Clara museum.

This JUST in, the Children’s Musical Theatre San Jose Marquee (alum 19+) Fall production has been announced.  It’s revolutionary. It’s classic. It’s huge. It’s Les Miserable. A stunning show with tons of awesome roles and so much potential with our local talent I have already been dreaming about the greatness that could be. Excited? Not even close to describing my anticipatory state. Hurry up CMTSJ! Hurry up and get here Les Mis.

One word: Frankenstein. Broadway West in Fremont opens this show in mid-September and I’m really curious how this is going to go off. I have a lot of confidence in the small theatre’s technical capabilities and the set, props, makeup, costuming and lighting, as well as any special effects should be impressive. It’s a solid and capable cast too. Can a script about a monster and a small intimate stage raise the goose bumps like a good gothic production should? Only one way to find out!

Live music Programming at the Theatre on San Pedro Square and the San Pedro Square Market are high on my lists too. About  1 out of every 3 music performances I see at these great, welcoming, comfortable venues are real standouts and get me hooked on a band or musician. Jazz, folk, Rock you name it, they play it and concerts are announced monthly.

Putting on a show can be a nerve-wracking experience. All the details that go into a single show can keep you up at night for sure. Now, add in being the owner of that theatre company with your money and your own reputation solidly on the line. Now add in renovating an entirely new space from scratch, in a new city and moving your theatre company to the space at the beginning of a new year. Exhilarating and terrifying I imagine, but exactly what Dragon Productions Theatre Company is doing. After Ashley, a dark satire will open the new season and the new space as Dragon takes a huge leap from their 42 seat theatre in Palo Alto to their 72 seat theatre in Redwood City. I can’t wait to see how they transform their performance venue and what doors are opened by a larger space. Also, walking distance from hands down the best Italian food I’ve hand in the Silicon Valley, the exquisite Donato Enoteca.

Though no dates have been announced on the website, I’ve been watching like a hawk to see the dates and line up for Left Coast Live. Dozens of bands throughout the day with craft beer to boot in San Jose makes for a great few days of chillin’ while supporting an ever-increasing in quality and quantity, live music scene.

On the comedy front, keep an eye out for any time Tim Lee or Andrew Norelli play any of the local comedy clubs like the Improv (Tim plays September 23rd) in San Jose or Rooster T. Feathers in Sunnyvale. I know comics can be hit or miss, Tim and Andrew are hit and hit every time.

About Artsalot

Your personal Princess, spreading her love of the Silicon Valley Arts and Culture Kingdom! Your former Princess of Artsopolis, welcomes you to Artsalot!
This entry was posted in Princess Pick and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to PREVIEW: Princess’ 2012-1013 Season Arts Picks

  1. Hi Princess – I nice round up – lots of things to make note of. I’m frequently impressed by what they have at the De Saisset Museum and this exhibit had escaped my attention.

    Thanks for all the notes .

  2. J.K. Smith says:

    OMG how did we NOT know that we both had Mr. Stockman for drama teacher?!?!? I had him much before you, of course, but still…. 🙂 Time to share stories…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s