Articles by Sean Conwell

Stage Review: Next Fall

Stage Review: Next Fall

A couple divided by faith and separated by a deadly accident is the basis for Next Fall, the topical drama by Geoffrey Nauffts that was well-received on Broadway a few years ago. Though it never quite merits the praise lavished upon its initial runs, the skillfully staged Bay Area premiere of Next Fall at San Jose Rep, directed by Kirsten Brandt, is nonetheless something to behold.

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Stage Review: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

Stage Review: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity

One doesn’t have to be a wrasslin’ fan to enjoy the The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, but it wouldn’t hurt. This play by Kristoffer Diaz stresses both the artifice and artistry of pro-wrestling, and its spectacle is fully utilized by San Jose Stage in a production directed by Jonathan Williams.

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Animals Out of Paper at City Lights

Animals Out of Paper at City Lights

The folds and creases of life—those indelible marks that make us who we are—are traversed in City Lights Theater’s season-opening production of Animals Out of Paper. Written by Rajiv Joseph, whose play The North Pool saw its world premiere in Palo Alto two years ago, and whose Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Animals is a delicate exploration of three people, the marks the world has left on them and the marks they leave on each other.

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One Night With Janis Joplin at SJ Rep

One Night With Janis Joplin at SJ Rep

This musical promises “One Night With Janis Joplin” and, thanks to Clanton’s near-perfect impersonation, it delivers. The raspy voice, the earthy stage presence and the passionate, bluesy wailing are gloriously impressed into songs like “Down on Me,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Me & Bobby McGee” and, best of all, a scorching rendition of “Ball and Chain.”

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The Rocky Horror Show at City Lights Theater Company

The Rocky Horror Show at City Lights Theater Company

The 1975 film version of Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show has proven such an enduring cultural phenomenon that, at least in the United States, it has overshadowed the original stage musical. With the film still appearing regularly at many cinemas (like the Camera 3 and Guild Theatre here in Silicon Valley), it’s easy to forget that the musical was quite a phenomenon in its own right and in some places (the U.K., for instance) can actually be easier to find than a midnight screening of the movie version. However, once you’ve seen a live production of the musical, like the one currently at City Lights Theater Company, it’s not so easy to forget.

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Review: A Minister’s Wife at San Jose Rep

Review: A Minister’s Wife at San Jose Rep

On the heels of San Jose Rep’s embellished, extravagant Doctor Faustus comes the intimate and understated domestic portraiture of A Minister’s Wife. In this sterling musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s Candida, Christopher Vettel plays the Reverend Morell, a firebrand minister championing social justice in Victorian England.

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Spacebar at City Lights

Spacebar at City Lights

Spacebar, written under the auspices of his drama teacher, Mr. Ramirez, is finished and, in his estimation, ready for the Great White Way. In a letter addressed to “Broadway,” Kyle explains that Spacebar isn’t about the space key on a computer—that would be ridiculous. No, it’s about a bar in outer space, in the year 9013.

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Persuasion at The Stage

Persuasion at The Stage

Jane Austen’s novels are so noted for their insight into the manners and domestic proprieties of their age that it’s easy to forget how lively, indeed funny, her work is. An element of danger also arises: those idyllic country settings are really battlefields in which lone heroines square off against an array of Willoughbys, Wickhams and Crawfords.

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Disconnect at the SJ Rep

Disconnect at the SJ Rep

The indian call center has become an unfortunate racist cliche, the place where robotlike workers perform outsourced American jobs, and even for many who don’t partake in churlish vitriol about “stolen” jobs, there is something undeniably surreal about being connected with a service person in South Asia.

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Hedda Gabler at City Lights

Hedda Gabler at City Lights

With Hedda Gabler, playwright Henrik Ibsen created one of the stage’s most psychologically complex, morally aberrant and profoundly enigmatic characters. Critics were disgusted by the play and its eponymous heroine when Hedda Gabler premiered in 1891, but later it would be regarded as a classic.

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