Review: “Matilda the Musical” in Napa

Author Roald Dahl’s children’s stories usually feature an exceptional child living in an unexceptional world of abusive adults and oppressive institutions. Whether it’s James traveling in a giant peach or Charlie touring a chocolate factory, the young protagonists usually triumph with the help of a loving grown-up. That formula is at work again in Matilda…

Review: “Bluff” in San Rafael

Writers have been dressing up the “boy meets girl, boy loses girl” trope for centuries now from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to every Hallmark Channel movie. Playwright Jeffrey Sweet took his shot at it twenty years ago with Bluff, running now at The Belrose in San Rafael through November 16. Sweet, long connected with Chicago…

Review: “Sweeney Todd” in Novato

Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Sweeney Todd is an exceedingly difficult show to produce.  More opera than musical (San Francisco Opera actually did a production in 2015), the vocal demands alone create a significant casting challenge for most theatre companies. The complexities of Sondheim’s score and the requirements of the set design add to the…