From the return of the Temptations musical “Ain’t Too Proud” to the S.F. Girls Chorus and a different take on “Frankenstein,” there is a lot to see and hear in the Bay Area this week. Here is a partial rundown.
Tempted by the Temptations
It was a little more than six years ago that prize-winning playwright Dominique Morisseau, known for her Detroit-based works, debuted the rollicking musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations” at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. The show was part of a long Bay Area tradition of launching musicals bound for Broadway, including “Wicked,” “American Idiot” (the Green Day musical) and “Legally Blonde.” And while some so-called “jukebox musicals” throw together a string of related songs with a threadbare story line, “Ain’t Too Proud” stays faithful to the songs and storyline of The Temptations. And it should. The group remains one of the most impactful R&B/soul bands in pop music history, with 42 Top 10 hits (14 of which hit No. 1) and an exhilarating stage show featuring dance moves that other groups have been copying for years.
Plus while the band’s storyline might not be unique – boys form band, band makes it big, personality clashes and drug issues ensue – it is certainly compelling and dovetails with the arrival of the civil rights era. But basically, it’s all about the songs – “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Cloud Nine,” Ball of Confusion,” “My Girl” and on and on – and those killer dance moves. Now the musical is on its first national tour and is stopping for a short run this week about 45 miles south of where it all started, at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts.
Details: Presented by Broadway San Jose, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1-3, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4 and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Nov. 5; $39-$104 (subject to change); broadwaysanjose.com.
Classical picks: Bach, SF Girls Chorus, Day of the Dead
From Bach to new music, the Bay Area’s classical music scene presents a wide variety. Here are some highlights coming our way.
“Inspirations: Art/Music”: Under conductor Ludovic Morlot, the San Francisco Symphony explores the intersection of visual and aural realms in this program, which features the U.S. premiere of the Symphony-commissioned “Latest” by Betsy Jolas. Also on the program: Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” and Dvorak’s Violin Concerto, with Augustin Hadelich as soloist. Details: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2-5; Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco; $25-$75; www.sfsymphony.org.
Singing Bach: American Bach Soloists launches its 35th season with a concert featuring the superb countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as soloist in Bach’s beloved cantata, “Ich habe genug.” More Bach, and works by Biber and Schmelzer round out the program. Details: 8 p.m. Nov. 3 in Belvedere, 7 p.m. Nov. 4 in Berkeley and 4 p.m. Nov. 5 in San Francisco; $39-$106; americanbach.org.
“Dia de Los Muertos”: The San Francisco Symphony returns to this annual family-friendly event celebrating Latin American music and culture. This year’s program is conducted by Miguel Harth-Bedoya; guest artists include Mexican vocalist and musician Edna Vasquez and Casa Círculo Cultural. Details: 2 p.m. Saturday; Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco; $29.50-$150; sfsymphony.org.
“This is What It Means”: That’s the title of the new program by the San Francisco Girls Chorus, celebrating its 45th anniversary season as part of the statewide California Festival. Teaming up with the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, they’ll perform works by women composers including Pauline Oliveros, Gabriela Lena Frank, Caroline Shaw, and others. Details: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, Berkeley; 4 p.m. Sunday at San Francisco Conservatory of Music; $35 general, $15 students; sfgirlschorus.org.
— Georgia Rowe, Correspondent
‘Frankenstein’ comes calling
Halloween has come and gone, but one can enjoy the visceral thrill of being spooked out by a live performance all year round, right?
That’s in the offing this weekend when the Chicago troupe Manual Cinema brings its one-of-a-kind adaptation of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece “Frankenstein” to Stanford University.
The dialogue-free production combines shadow puppetry, cinematic video images, sound effects and live music in an immersive production that combines the traditional tale of a scientist and his monstrous creation with elements of Shelley’s life story. Reportedly, more than 500 puppets are employed in the show, and Manual Cinema’s patented interaction of live actors and video effects has been described as nothing less than spell-binding.
After the show, audience members are invited on stage to get a closer look at the puppets employed and interact with cast members.
Details: Presented by Stanford Live; 7:30 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday; $16-$64; live.stanford.edu.
— Randy McMullen, Staff
Tiny things make big impact
The miniature arts movement has set up shop in the Bedford Gallery.
“Bits + Pieces: Contemporary Art on a Small Scale,” a new exhibit showing through mid-December at the Walnut Creek gallery, features miniature paintings, sculptures, needle-works, installations featuring re-created landscapes and domestic scenes and more from 16 artists.
What so we mean by miniature? There is some variation in the definition recognized among the scores of groups in the U.S. dedicated to the art form — but in general it means that the work can be no more than one-sixth the size of the actual object. The artistry is in the precise re-creation of an item’s design and others details, and often in the imaginative way a sense of perspective is established. Hence, Andrea Fábrega’s tiny porcelain pots are displayed on a full-sized pottery wheel; and Kendal Murray’s mini-installation “Tantalize, Synchronize, Exercise!,” depicting a women lining up a golf shop atop a Volkswagen, is mounted on a compact mirror.
While some art displays are full of grandeur and demand to be seen from a distance, “Bits + Pieces” is all about intimacy — and it might just change what you feel about art.
Details: Through Dec. 17; Bedford Gallery inside Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; noon to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays; pay-what-you-can admission; www.bedfordgallery.org.
— Randy McMullen, Staff
Fiesta Alameda returns
Alameda Point is known for being the former home of the Naval Air Station Alameda, its amazing Bay and San Francisco views and its teeming birdlife, among other things. It’s also home to a fledgling arts scene. Spearheaded by the West End Arts Project, the community has plans for a 500-seat Performing Arts Center and has launched the Radium Runway Project, with the goal of a year-round series of arts events and performances.
Some performances and festivals are already taking place at the Performing Arts Center site, including the annual Blues, Brews and BBQ, as well as Fiesta Alameda, which returns this weekend for its second year. Besides being located at a site known for its eye-popping beauty, the celebration of Latin art, music, dance and culture has much to offer. There will be a wide array of Latin delicacies as well as high-end cocktails as well as offerings from Building 43 Winery and Del Cielo Brewery. There will be arts and crafts projects for kids and adults offered by Rhythmix Cultural Works. As for entertainment, there will be a full slate of live music and dance performers, including percussionist Mio Flores and his Salsazz Allstars, Costa de Oro Ballet Folklorica, the Brazilian band Namorados da Lua, Central American dance group Chavalos Danzas por Nicaragua, and salsa outfit Julio Bravo y su Orquesta Salsabo. And DJ Rockin’ Raul Castro will also be spinning tunes throughout the festival.
Details: Noon to 5 p.m. Nov. 4; Alameda Point Taxiway, 2151 Ferry Point; free; www.westendartsdistrict.org.
Desi Comedy Fest is back
South Asia’s deep economic and cultural impact on the Bay Area has enriched life here in many ways. And one of those ways – which is probably not known to many people – returns this week with the Desi Comedy Festival. Billed as the largest South Asian comedy show in America, the touring event born in the Bay Area is back for the ninth year with stops in Santa Clara and San Francisco.
The typically deep and impressive lineup includes L.A. standup comedian Abhay Nadkarni; Indian/Haitian comedian Aurora Singh; Bay Area comedian Imran G, a former rocket scientist; Bay Area comedian Kavita Singh, whose act has been billed a “vagina monologue”; former Upright Citizens Brigade member Omid Singh; Bay Area comedian and founder of the Cougar Comedy Collective Priya Guyadeen; Sunnyvale comedian Priya Puram, a finalist in the Alameda Comedy Club’s New Faces competition; Raj Suresh, whose new special “Break the Leg” is available on Apple TV+, YouTube and other streaming platforms; Rubi Nicholas, a veteran of several network and cable appearances; and Samson Koletkar, who’s the founder and organizer of Desi Comedy as well as the long-running Oakland Comedy series, and who describes himself as the world’s only Indian/Jewish standup comedian.
Details: 7 p.m. Nov. 4 at Santa Clara Convention Center, 7 p.m. Nov. 5 at Cobb’s Comedy Club, San Francisco, $40; www.desicomedyfest.com.