Dear Evan Hansen – You’re Not Alone

Dear Dear Evan Hansen Potential Theatre Patron,

You may cry some tears as the show deals with tough topics like suicide, depression, anxiety, and divorce. Multiple characters explore the feeling of not belonging regardless of their situation and the everyday persona they present to the world. A great show for parents to watch with their teenagers, if you can get them to be seen in public with you. That was a joke.

Dear Evan Hansen PhotoThe story centers around Evan Hansen (Ben Levi Ross), he has social anxiety and can’t help but act awkward around his peers. He’s from a single mom home and one of the feelings explored is his desire to spend more time with her. As young people, we often forget that our parents are human beings. They taught us all that we know so we expect them to be perfect sometimes, they’re not.

When Evan gets an assignment where he has to write a letter to himself, it’s full of feelings of isolation. It also introduces us to his crush, Zoe (Maggie McKenna), the thought of her is what keeps him going. He pins his hopes on her in this letter. Her brother Connor (Marrick Smith), who also has issues of his own that no one knows about, finds it and gets upset. Connor’s parents find Evan’s note after he commits suicide. This leads them to believe that Evan and Connor were friends. Evan sees how happy this makes them given that Connor was a loner, and the lie spirals out of control from there on out.

Dear Evan Hansen PhotoBesides dealing with feelings of isolation, it also delves into social media and the validation that people can become addicted to. It can never be enough since you’re still physically isolated. When things spread mouth to mouth, they often tone down after a week. With the internet, things can be explored further and spread to people outside of your zone. In this case, a lie spreads that brings good, but still, it’s a lie. Although, it can help prolong a cause, story, or provide someone with a few more minutes of recognition, it will also eventually be forgotten.  

It touches a lot of elements that will strike a chord with many. It also has a catchy soundtrack reminiscent of Rent. The stage set and how they present social media is intriguing. They have multiple screens representing different online networks with voice overs for posts that you will see scrolling through.

So, does Evan get found out for lying? You have until December 30th to find out. If you leave the show with anything, may it be knowing that no matter what you’re going through, you’re not alone.  You Will Be Found.

Sincerely,

Me

Details:

Where: Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., San Francisco
When: 7 p.m. most Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1 and 7 p.m. most Wednesdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; closes Dec. 30
Tickets: (415) 358-1220 or sfcurran.com

*There is a digital lottery offering fans the chance to purchase a limited number of $25 tickets. For details and to enter, go to: www.luckyseat.com/dearevanhansen. Good Luck!

Vignettes on Love?

vignettes2The new play Vignettes on Love playing at the Potrero Stage incorporates nine short music videos filmed by Dances with Light and local filmmakers, and music curated by Noise Pop. The play offers a glimpse into the lives of six San Francisco residents who interconnect via long-term friendships and sexual trysts.

The story opens with Jason and Tess having an afternoon delight that is disrupted after her phone rings. As she’s getting dressed to go back to work Jason drops a bombshell on her, he’s been promoted, the job is in New York, and he wants her to go with him. He’s even gone to the extent of finding a position for her. She brings up all the reasons she shouldn’t go like his history of flings and, oh, her husband.

vignettesTess is married to Jonas, he believes in monogamy and wants a point A to point B life. He knows exactly what he wants and when he wants it. Currently, him and Tess are trying to have a baby, or so he thinks. He ignores his suspicions of her relationship with Jason until he finds birth control in her purse. She finally reveals her anxieties and confesses that she’s not ready for a baby. He leaves to a bar and ends up meeting Kat.

Kat likes to make plans with Mia (Tess’s friend) and then disappear on her without explanation. Mia opens up to Kat about wanting more; Kat seems to agree until the end of the night. For whatever reason she tends to sleep with whoever is the last patron in the bar. That ends up being Jason one night.

Jason’s friend with benefits, Carla, is thrown in to the equation towards the end. She’s also Tess’s best friend and has no idea Jason and Tess finally got together after years of him pining over her. Tess also doesn’t know about Carla and Jason’s transactional relationship. More secrets are unraveled and eventually everyone finds out what they need too.

vignettes1The set, multimedia integration, and acting were really good but the story, not so much. If the intention was to make everyone feel that these characters were complex in their dealings with love, it failed. Love doesn’t seem like the correct word for what they’re dealing with.

Featuring performances by Kunal Prasad, Heather Gordon*, Ayelet Firstenberg, Emma Onasch, Colin Johnson, and Rebecca Pingree. Performances are Thu-Sat at 8pm and Sun at 7pm, and tickets are $25-$55. For more information or to purchase tickets online, visit http://playground-sf.org/vignettes.

SMUT: An Unseemly Story (The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson)

SMUT: An Unseemly Story (The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson) Word for Word Performing Arts Company presents their first production of the 2017 Season, SMUT: An Unseemly Story (The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson) by Alan Bennett. The play is directed by Amy Kossow, a founding member of the Z Space Studio and a Charter Member of Word for Word. In The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson (first of the two novella-sized stories in Smut) a recently bereaved widow looks for ways to supplement her time and income.

Up to that point Mrs. Donaldson’s (Nancy Shelby) life has been mundane. She’s very reserved and her daughter doesn’t fall to far from the tree. After seeing a flyer for a job that requires no special skills and a good memory, she decides to apply. She ends up discovering her love for acting as a “patient performer” and unraveling a side of herself she didn’t know she had.

SMUT: An Unseemly Story (The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson)

The other piece of the puzzle involves a young couple Laura (Rose Hallett) and Andy (Andre Amarotico), to whom she rents her spare room. After days of avoiding her because the rent is late, they finally approach her with an indecent proposal. Can they provide her with a visual experience in lieu of rent? She agrees and a hilarious scene ensues with her at the couple’s bedside remembering chores and curiosity about positions her and her husband had never explored.

Her role-playing at the hospital becomes more facetious after the encounter with the youngins, and although the students find it nerve wrecking to find the right answers, they handle the unanticipated challenge successfully. They learn valuable lessons about assumptions. The program director, Dr. Duncan Ballantyne (Soren Oliver), is smitten with Mrs. Donaldson and is often shown acting awkwardly towards his crush. The audience is lead to a scenario of anticipation; will he ever have the courage to tell her his feelings?

SMUT: An Unseemly Story (The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson)

The play is hilarious and not just because of the storyline but the uniqueness of the script. The actors read out their emotions and stage directions. Try it; speak out your movements while you’re doing them. Silly right? Now, imagine it on stage during a play about a middle-aged widow discovering her sexuality. The great thing is, you don’t have to as the show will be going on until June 11th.

Dates: May 13 – Jun 11
Performances; Wednesday-Thursday 7 pm, Friday-Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 3 pm
Location: Z Below at 470 Florida St. San Francisco, CA
Cost: $20, $40-$60

Purchase: 415-626-0453 or at www.zspace.org
Running time: 1 hour 30 min, no intermission

This show contains suggestive material, which may not be suitable for children. Parental Guidance is suggested. On-stage Seating: For this production there is a special on-stage seating opportunity for four patrons at each performance.

Special Nights:
There will be a talkback with the cast and director on Wednesday, May 17 and Sunday, June 4 following the performance!  

 


 

 

 

A.C.T.’s Geary Theater presents Battlefield

A.C.T.’S Geary Theater presents Battlefield directed by Peter Brook and longtime collaborator Marie-Hélène Estienne until May 21st. The play is based on the “The Mahabharata” considered the longest epic in world literature, it’s approximately eight times as long as Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey together.

photo 8Brooks had adapted the full version in the early 1980’s receiving great acclaim at the Avignon Theater Festival in France and then an English version at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In this new adaptation, the 90-year-old theatre director focuses on a single episode for 70 minutes with no intermission, a big departure from the previous 9-hour long play.

Battlefield begins with a newly crowned king as he surveys a post-war battlefield his army has won. He reflects on the morality of it all while surrounded by dead bodies including his own kin. What price do their lives have in relation to his newly minted crown? Is it possible to find tranquility in the midst of all the destruction? What good is power when so much has been destroyed? He refuses to assume the role and photo 4consults with his grandfather, Bhishma.

The audience is treated to tales that conjure up questions of destiny. Do things ultimately happen as they are meant to be? Once the damage is done its inevitable that one has to find the motivation to move on but still questions will remain of whether or not it was worth all the loss.

The stage seemed to big at times with the minimalist presentation and intimacy between the four characters and their storytelling. A few bamboo poles, a single drummer on stage, and different colored clothe draped on an actors shoulders to change characters. The fourth wall is broken for a quick minute and then the audience is drawn right back into another message. It’s bound to leave you thinking about how it relates to present times and how history tends to repeat itself. 

BATTLEFIELD d'apres le Mahabharata et la pièce de Jean-Claude Carriere, adaptation et mise en scène de Peter Brook et Marie-Helene Estienne au theatre des Bouffes Du Nord du 15 septembre au 17 octobre 2015. Avec: Carole Karemera, Jared McNeill, Ery Nzaramba, Sean O'Gallaghan. Musicien Toshi Tsuchitori. (photo by Pascal Victor/ArtComArt)

 

April 26–May 21

A.C.T.’s Geary Theater
405 Geary Street
San Francisco, CA

Tickets: http://www.act-sf.org/home/box_office/1617_season/battlefield.html


 

See Hamilton for $10 at SHN!

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Forty-four tickets will be sold for every performance for $10 each.  Seat locations vary per performance; some seats will be located in the front row. You can enter the digital lottery two days prior to each performance.

HOW TO ENTER

  • Visit https://www.hamilton.shnsf.com or http://www.luckyseat.com/hamilton.html to register.
  • The lottery will open at 11:00 AM PT two days prior to the performance date and will close for entry at 9:00 AM PT the day prior to the performance.
  • Winner and non-winner notifications will be sent at approximately 11:00 AM PT the day prior to the performance via email and SMS (if mobile number is provided).
  • Only one entry per person. Repeat entries and disposable email addresses will be discarded.
  • Tickets must be purchased online with a credit card by 4:00 PM PT the day prior to the performance using the purchase link and code in a customized notification email. Tickets not claimed by 4:00 PM PT the day prior to the performance are forfeited.
  • Lottery tickets may be picked up at will call beginning 2 hours prior to the performance with a valid photo ID. Lottery tickets void if resold.
Hamilton Richard Rodgers Theatre Cast Lin-Manuel MirandaAlexander Hamilton Javier Muñoz Alexander Hamilton Alternate Carleigh Bettiol Andrew Chappelle Ariana DeBose Alysha Deslorieux Daveed Diggs Marquis De Lafayette Thomas Jefferson Renee Elise Goldsberry Angelica Schuyler Jonathan Groff King George III Sydney James Harcourt Neil Haskell Sasha Hutchings Christopher Jackson George Washington Thayne Jasperson Jasmine Cephas Jones Peggy Schuyler Maria Reynolds Stephanie Klemons Emmy Raver-Lampman Morgan Marcell Leslie Odom, Jr. Aaron Burr Okieriete Onaodowan Hercules Mulligan James Madison Anthony Ramos John Laurens Phillip Hamilton Jon Rua Austin Smith Phillipa Soo Eliza Hamilton Seth Stewart Betsy Struxness Ephraim Sykes Voltaire Wade-Green Standby: Javier Muñoz (Alexander Hamilton) Production Credits: Thomas Kail (Director) Andy Blankenbuehler (Choreographer) David Korins (Scenic Design) Paul Tazewell (Costume Design) Howell Binkley (Lighting Design) Other Credits: Lyrics by: Lin-Manuel Miranda Music by: Lin-Manuel Miranda Book by Lin-Manuel Miranda

 Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

ADDITIONAL RULES
Limit 1 entry per person, per performance. Multiple entries will not be accepted. Patrons must be 18 years or older and have a valid, non-expired photo ID that matches the name used to enter. Tickets are non-transferable. Ticket limits and prices displayed are at the sole discretion of the show and are subject to change without notice. Lottery prices are not valid on prior purchases. Lottery ticket offer cannot be combined with any other offers or promotions. All sales final – no refunds or exchanges. Lottery may be revoked or modified at any time without notice. No purchase necessary to enter or win. A purchase will not improve the chances of winning.

HAMILTON is the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary.  Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, HAMILTON is the story of America then, as told by America now.

Hamilton Richard Rodgers Theatre Also Starring Alexander HamiltonLin-Manuel Miranda George Washington Christopher Jackson Aaron Burr Leslie Odom Jr. Eliza Hamilton Phillipa Soo King George Jonathan Groff John Laurens/Phillip Hamilton Anthony Ramos Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson Daveed Diggs Angelica Schuyler Renee Elise Goldsberry Production Credits: Thomas Kail (Director) Andy Blankenbuehler (Choreographer) David Korins (Scenic Design) Paul Tazewell (Costume Design) Howell Binkley (Lighting Design) Other Credits: Lyrics by: Lin-Manuel Miranda Music by: Lin-Manuel Miranda Book by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

With book, music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and music supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, HAMILTON is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.

Performance Dates:
March 10–August 5, 2017

About SHN:
SHN is the preeminent theatrical entertainment company in the Bay Area, bringing live entertainment experiences to San Francisco’s premier venues. SHN presents current hits fresh from Broadway, original Broadway cast productions, pre-Broadway premieres and one-of-a-kind live events that are at the forefront of the national theater scene.

#HAM4HAM


 

Join the Ghostlight Project – Eve of Presidential Inauguration

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) announced today that on Thursday, January 19, 2017 at 5:30 p.m.—the eve of the presidential inauguration—it and over 100 theaters and theatrical organizations across the country will launch The Ghostlight Project, a collective, simultaneous action, together creating “light” for challenging times ahead. Inspired by the tradition of leaving a “ghost light” on in a darkened theater, artists and communities will make or renew a pledge to stand for and protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone—regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Ghostlight Project

The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. in front of The Geary Theater (415 Geary St.) and will include a short program of speakers followed by the ceremonial lighting and photos. This event is open to all. Members of the community should arrive between 5–5:25 p.m. and are encouraged to bring an electric light, flashlight, electric candle, or smartphone.

At the same time that evening, a related gathering of Bay Area theatermakers will take place at Berkeley Rep at 5:30 p.m. in the theater’s central courtyard, located at 2025 Addison Street. This gathering will also include a short program of speakers followed by the ceremonial lighting.

For more information on The Ghostlight Project national action, and to find a theatre near you: https://theghostlightproject.com


 

La Cage Aux Folles presented by BAY AREA MUSICALS!

BAMLaCageThe newly formed theatre organization, BAY AREA MUSICALS! is closing its inaugural season with multiple Tony Award winning play, La Cage Aux Folles. The show written by Harvey Fierstein (book) and Jerry Herman (music and lyrics) revolves around Georges (Clay David), the owner of Saint-Tropez drag cabaret “La Cage Aux Folles”, his lover Albin (Michael RJ Campbell) who is also the clubs headliner as Zaza, and his son Jean-Michel (Jack O’Reilly) who’s recently announced his engagement to Anne Dindon (Bessie Zolno), daughter of hypocrite politician Edouard Dindon (Cameron Weston).

We see the relationship between Georges and Albin/Zaza and how sometimes it affects showtime. Zaza is being begged to go onstage as the other performers are using delay tactics to keep the audience entertained. Georges brings the tenderness level up to a ten to ensure his Albin, that his wishes will be honored and then, Zaza goes on to rounds of applause. We see many loving moments between the two throughout the show which is still taboo for some audience members. A family in front of me had an unpleasant discussion during intermission but luckily stayed to the end. The son was upset by the choice even though he could be seen chuckling many times. Even in theatre it’s rare to have a story center around a couple from the LGBT community. The other element of this story revolves around Jean-Michel and the fact that he was raised by both of them. He’s about to take a big step in his life and doesn’t want Albin (who raised him) there, why?

BAMLaCage242Jean-Michel is concerned with impressing Anne’s parents who portray themselves as a traditional, good, wholesome family. He says that Anne is not like her parents but he’s still eager for their blessings. He requests that Georges invite his biological mother to the family dinner and tell Albin why he “can’t” have him there. He also wanted the decor changed to more “appropriate” ones. When we finally meet Mr. Dindon, we find that he’s extremely disrespectful to his wife Marie (Mary Gibboney). He bosses her around and dismisses her frequently, which is not the definition of a wholesome family in my book. His platform centers around shutting down all places his followers deem sinful and not family-friendly, like a cabaret with drag queens.

BAM_La_Cage_001After much hesitation, Georges finally tells Albin the situation and of course he doesn’t take it well. The boy he raised is ashamed of him and admits to past embarrassments he never mentioned in his youth. Albin has always been there while Jean-Michel’s biological mom has never been and ends up cancelling once again at the last minute. Despite the emotional blow to Albin, he steps up to the plate to help Jean-Michel out but I’ll leave it at that. You have to go watch the show to see what love can sometimes make you do. It’s a story of how we sometimes take for granted those that love us for those that merely surround us. It’s also important to be true to ourselves and live our lives authentically as Albin/Zaza does without question.

I’d also like to mention that David was in character as soon as one entered the door. He welcomed audience members to La Cage Aux Folles and took selfies with a few. He stood out for me, as some of the other actors seem to struggle with their character accents. However, he and Campbell had great chemistry together. I could see them performing together again in a future show! The score includes such songs as “The Best of Times is Now”, “Song In the Sand”, “La Cage Aux Folles”, and “I Am What I Am.” Go watch it! You only have one weekend left. 

Show Details:
Direction and Choreography by Matthew McCoy
Musical Direction by Jon Gallo

Location:
VICTORIA THEATRE
2961 16TH STREET
San Francisco, CA 94103

Showtimes:
Evening Performances: Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays at 8:00PM 

Matinee Performances: Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00PM
Closing: Sunday, July 31st at 2:00PM

Tickets available at the box office or online: http://www.bamsf.org/boxoffice

The Greatest Monkey Show on Earth

The Greatest Monkey Show on Earth presented by Antic in a Drain (as Artist in Residence at Kinetic Arts Center) will make you laugh at times and really uncomfortable the rest. Maitresse Magnificent (Amelia Van Brunt) introduces the audience to Charles the Chimp (Ross Travis). He’s a good little monkey that’s expected to perform on cue for treats. If he’s not on point he’s stunned via a shock collar.

Ross-Amelia-Monkey-Show-Blue-Tent

The bouffon comedy has the audience laughing with sexual innuendos and skits of mischievousness that involve the audience. Maitresse Magnificent flirts and teases the men and sometimes cops a feel. She drinks in between sets from bottles hidden on stage and at one-point slips Charles some tongue. Charles the Chimp awes the audience with his acrobatic skills ranging from back flips and hoop jumping to performing on a Chinese pole.

GreatestMonkey2_Image3-lowres

The tables are flipped when he brings an audience member on stage to serve him a meal. He’s now the ringleader and challenged with training the human. Whenever the audience member, now servant, does something wrong he screams and makes him start over after showing him the correct action he’s suppose to take. The person chosen played along well but couldn’t hide his tinge of nervousness of trying to do it right the first time. He never did.

The show builds slowly and exemplifies the evil that comes with one-sided power. Maitresse Magnificent becomes agitated throughout the show and gets more and more abusive towards Charles. Charles is not allowed to make one tiny error or decision. He can’t take a moment to play with his favorite toy or accidently get stuck in his pajamas or her anger comes out with a vengeance. The audience is just as trapped as him watching this build, leading to an inevitable reverse of power. Charles being childlike is left alone not understanding the finality of what he does in the end. He performs a trick on his tricycle longing for a reaction (and treat) he will not receive. 

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Travis embodies his character to the point where it’s hard to wonder what the man behind the mask is like. The rapport between him and Amelia Van Brunt provides for good comedic timing especially during moments of improv. However, it would’ve been nice if Brunt had a microphone as she was inaudible during many of the non-screaming moments.

Due to the graphic violence this show is not recommended for children. We would also not recommend it for people who suffer from anxiety or claustrophobia. The space is small and the plays theme may have you grasping for air. 

The show is playing at the Kinetic Arts Center located at 785 7th Street, Oakland, CA 94607. Doors open at 7:30 and seats are general admission. Tickets are $20 online at http://monkeyshow.bpt.me


 

BAM! presents HAIR

BAM! (Bay Area Musicals), the newest non-profit theatrical organization in the San Francisco Bay Area is presenting their 2nd show Hair, now playing at the Victoria Theatre until March 12th. A classic choice that exemplifies the diversity in our society, one that many theatre’s so desperately lack.

Hair_018
The story centers on a life-changing decision that Claude (Jeffrey Brian Adams) is wrestling with. He’s received his draft notice for the Vietnam War as many of his new friends have too, but he’s unsure of what to do. His parents want him to follow society’s expectations regardless of whether its right or wrong and his friends want him to dodge it and wholeheartedly believe its an unjust war. They catch him faking the burning of the notice during a bon-fire get together. He just can’t do it, and chooses to go.

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The cultural phenomenon grew out of the 60s era search for meaning. It was developed at New York City’s Public Theatre and in 1968 the musical, written by Gerome Ragni, James Rado, and Galt MacDermot, reached Broadway. You’ll get to experience all the classic hits including,  “Aquarius”, “Hair”, “Going Down”, “Easy to be Hard”, “Good Morning Star Shine” and “Flesh Failures/Let the Sun Shine.”

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The invisible wall between the audience and actors is torn down when the cast interacts directly with them. People are sang to, asked to dance, one lucky person is brought on stage and another has an actor sit on their lap. The entire audience is encouraged in the middle of the show to take a photo they can share on social media. The hippie movement was one of breaking barriers and being allowed to take a photo, even just one, felt a little naughty. No usher came out to scold you or threaten to take away your phone this time. 

HAIR anapines Iphone6

The audience was allowed to take a photo during production. Photo taken via Iphone 6 plus.

50 years later and we’re still grappling with many of the sentiments that this endeavor grew out of, making it the perfect time to bring it to the San Francisco theatre audience.There’s nudity, live musicians, and wonderful choreography. The audio sounded too low at times as some of the actors were hard to understand. Still, it didn’t feel like it was only their second production with that little glitch. The Bay Area has another theatre group to add to their radar. 

Victoria Theatre 
2961 16TH STREET
San Francisco, CA 94103

Show closes on Saturday, March 12th at 8:00PM. Tickets start at $35 on regular show days and can be purchased online, by phone at 415.340.2207, by email box@bamsf.org or in person
1 hour before performance.

http://www.bamsf.org/hair/

Hair_046

One on One with Kevin James from THE ILLUSIONISTS

THE ILLUSIONISTS is coming to SHN Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco to blow your mind from February 16-21, 2016 as part of a 45 city U.S. tour. Seven illusionists from around the world will perform family-friendly tricks and death defying stunts.

I got a chance to interview Kevin James – The Inventor, known for innovative illusions. He’s also a comedian and collector of the strange and unusual. He didn’t start out that way as he remembers his first attempt at magic as being “pretty awful”. He grew up in a small town with a population of 2,000 people. Being pre-internet days his only resources were 6 library books with basic ‘use stuff from around the house’ tricks, “I was the only one checking them out over and over. I remember trying it for my classmates and it was just really bad. It didn’t deter me, I kept moving forward”. We’re glad he did, as he’s one of the most prolific inventors of magic in the world today.

What’s the secret to his success? “The biggest secret in magic is that secrets don’t matter,” he says. He told me about all the work that goes into a great performance including storyline, mood, sound, costumes, the technical crew and timing. “It’s the 1,000s of other things you have to think about that matter. Penn and Teller can show you how something works and immediately fool you with it afterwards.” Magic is about making things interesting, “It’s the artistic interpretation that’s impressive to watch”. Want to know more, continue reading the rest of the interview below.

Kevin James - The Inventor

What inspired you to get into magic?

Most of the magicians all have the same story; we all got hooked when we were a kid. I think most kids are fascinated with magic at some point and, the lucky ones; we never grow out of it. For me it was a love at first sight, I just completely knew that that’s exactly what I wanted to do the rest of my life, instantly. I was so enamored by it and I wanted to share that feeling, that feeling I had when I saw it. I wanted to give that feeling to everyone else, that sense of wonder. I never ever wanted to be a fireman or astronaut or that other stuff that kids really like or think they’re going to do, it was magic the whole time.

What was the first performance that you saw?

Now in hindsight, I realize that the performer was not that great. He was a very average performer but for me, it was just mind blowing seeing it for the first time. He came to our elementary school and did a show for the school.

Has one of your performances ever gone wrong? How did you handle it?

Let’s just say that everything has gone wrong. That’s why you have to do 1,000s and 1000’s of shows to experience all those things that can go wrong. The list is just too huge to mention. You know, you learn each time something happens and make sure it doesn’t happen again and you’re better for it afterwards. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right.

Kevin James - The Inventor

You’ve traveled around the world. Which country seems to have the most enthusiastic audience?

You know it’s funny, I’ve performed in 91 countries so far and the biggest reaction we ever got was in I think, Ecuador, because I don’t think they’ve ever seen a big magic show before or any magic for that matter. We were use to a certain level of reaction and it was double in Ecuador and I think it was just the element of surprise that they had just never had the opportunity to see magic live like that because magic is much better live than on TV.

Which one of your performances gets the most reaction from an audience?

That’s kind of hard to say because I try to elicit a different emotion with each trick, you know sometimes its sweet and innocent, sometimes it nostalgic, sometimes it’s shocking and visually arresting. I just try to elicit all these different emotions. I think, probably the thing I call, The Operation. Cutting a person in half is a classic premise, it was first invented in 1921 but it’s always been done inside a box, put the blades in and separate the box, I decided to try to do it without the box. So, there’s a terrible accident on stage with a chainsaw and the poor guy gets cut in half and falls over like a tree, two pieces, and the two body parts, they animate and they chase each other around. I end up putting them back together on a table using a staple gun to stick him back together. And it dances off stage.

Will this be part of the show?

Oh yeah, this will be part of The Illusionists show.

What’s it like traveling with other magicians? 

Some of these guys I’ve known since I was 12 and 13 years old going to different magic conventions and other ones are new to me. There are no big egos we’re all at the top of our game so we all have mutual respect for each other and we like hanging out with each other.

The Illusionists

How often do you introduce a new magic trick into your performance?

I usually have 10 projects in the pipeline at any given moment in different stages of development. You kind of have to have a break in the show in order to get something new in because that’s when you got all your technicians, lights and sounds and backstage help and that’s when everyone is able to learn new projects and learn new things. The trick is to get your material to a certain level and then say okay, here’s a break coming up, we can try to get it worked in to this next show and plan ahead to get that done. It’s a big machine with a lot of parts and everyone has to be working together on it. Once something is in the show you can tweak it all the time just with little details but, getting a whole new piece in is not quite so easy.

How do you come up with a new trick?

There’s 1,000s of ways to find inspiration and sometimes I have a great method for something and I’m looking for a story and sometimes I have a great story and I’m looking for a way to do it. So, it comes at you from lots of different directions.

There’s a routine in the show where I make it snow on the audience and it’s a direct illustration from my life experience. I grew up in Michigan and I was fascinated with snow every year. For me, it was part of the magic of nature and so I talk about that and I make it snow on the audience and its fun to watch kids just leap to their feet and just play in the snow. Even if you don’t remember the first time you saw snow fall you probably have good memories of building a snowman, sledding. It’s a collective personal journal.

I love hardware stores cause I see all kinds of crazy interesting things. Sometimes. I’ll hear a piece of music and go ‘Oh my god’ I got to use that cause I just feel a certain way, you know.

You’ve been labeled one of the world’s greatest magicians but when did you first realize,’Hey, I’m pretty awesome at this’?

I’m just trying to do good work and trying to use the art form that I love to communicate with people. For me, it’s a lifelong journey and I’m just having a ball, I just think I got the best job in the world.

Why should people go see, The Illusionists?
Instead of seeing one performer for 2 hours where you get the same vibe and the same point of view, you’re seeing 7 magicians who are all at the top of their game. They’re from all over the word, we got magicians from England, Italy, Korea and the US. It’s a big smorgasbord of great magic.

The wonderful thing about magic for me is that it breaks all barriers. There are no age barriers, culture barriers, language barriers, it doesn’t matter who you are you can still enjoy the show. It’s definitely not a kid show but it’s a wonderful, exciting, funny, artful display of magic that kids can absolutely enjoy.

 

Illusionists PosterFor more information on THE ILLUSIONISTS, visit: http://www.theillusionistslive.com.

Performance Dates:
February 16–21, 2016

Tuesday–Saturday at 8pm
Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday at 2pm

Running Time:
2 hours, including one 15-minute intermission.

Age Recommendation:
Appropriate for all ages. No children under 5 allowed.

Ticket Information:
Tickets are available now for current SHN members and to the general public at shnsf.com. Members may call SHN Audience Services at 888-746-1799 (Press 2), or purchase tickets through their SHN ACCOUNT at shnsf.com. Tickets range from $45-$212. Prices are subject to change.

About SHN:
SHN is the preeminent theatrical entertainment company in the Bay Area, bringing live entertainment experiences to San Francisco’s premier venues. SHN presents current hits fresh from Broadway, original Broadway cast productions, pre-Broadway premieres and one-of-a-kind live events that are at the forefront of the national theater scene.