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San Francisco by Richard Connema

Morris Bobrow's Foodies! the Musical and
The Not Quite Opera Company

Also see Richard's review of Another Way Home

Morris Bobrow's Foodies! The Musical is one of San Francisco's littlest known musical treasures, operating in the basement of the Shelton Theatre on 533 Sutter Street. The newest revue by Morris Bobrow (who wrote and directed Shopping! the Musical, which ran six years at the Shelton Theatre) is billed as "the show for everyone who eats." It is a show for everyone who enjoys hearing lighthearted songs about eating. It is reminiscent of those Upstairs/Downstairs revues in Greenwich Village or the Billy Barnes musicals in Los Angeles in the '50s.

Four very talented singers—David Goodwin, Kim Larson, Brie Martin and Patricia Pitpitan—sing and pontificate about the ubiquitous obsession with food. They skewer eating habits, restaurants, trends, quirks, Yelp reviews, dietary restrictions, cooking shows, overzealous food writers, Groupons, eating in the car, food trucks and food critics, all within one hour and fifteen minutes of rapidly paced skits.

The cast work together as a team, and yet the artists shine in their own way in many of the 22 numbers. All of the songs are hummable. The lyrics by Morris Bobrow are clever and sophisticated. "Organ-ick," sung by Brie Martin with pitch perfect resonance, is about the hang-ups people have about eating certain types of foods, like "tongue, brains and lungs." "Meals on Wheels," wonderfully belted out by Patricia Pitpitan, is about a woman who's so in love with a food truck owner that she hangs out around his truck all day trying to get his attention.

David Goodman rocks in the sidesplitting "The Blue Tulip," doing a Danny Kaye impression of naming various pastas in amazing machine-gun order. Kim Larson and Brie Martin are hilarious playing his customers. In the song "Feathered Friends" David Goodwin and Patricia Pitpitan are farmers who tell their customers, Kim Larsen and Brie Martin, that their chickens are raised with tender loving care and are even given vacations. The show ends with a spoof on opera, with the four members belting "La Triviata", songs about food.

Foodies! The Musical is a tuneful, energetic, beautifully paced little musical that will run forever at the Shelton Theatre, 533 Sutter Street (near Union Square) San Francisco. You will laugh yourself hungry. The show runs on Fridays and Saturdays. For tickets and information contact 800-838-3006 or on line at foodiesthemusical.com.


An Evening with the Not Quite Opera Company

The stated mission of Not Quite Opera Productions is to develop musical theatre using the talented rich Bay Area singers and composers as its proving ground. During the year this innovative company has been presenting Round One Cabaret showcases, allowing the public to hear new songs by San Francisco Bay writers and composers. All of this takes place in the intimate Alcove Theatre located at 414 Mason Street.

NQO Artistic Director Anne Nygren Doherty presents each cabaret, built around a kind of abstract story inspired by the theme that utilizes the songs with roughly the same dramatic purpose as the parent musical. As a result, it is part concert and part musical theatre.

I saw the November 17th revue which was called Taking Charge in a Crazy World and it was a satisfying evening with an eclectic mix of songs using the sophisticated rhythms and melodies of contemporary Broadway. There were ballads, sensual songs and one with a tango beat. Many of the melodies sounded like songs from '50s, '60s and early '70s Broadway musicals. There were no heavy rock songs in the 20 selections presented in this 100-minute revue.

Round One Cabaret featured the works of Peter Alexander, Billie Cox, Paul James Frantz, Richard Jennings, Bill Johnson, Sandy Kasten, Alison Lovejoy, Michael Lunsford and Peter Master, and was smoothly directed by Jonathan F. Rosen with musical direction by Ben Prince. There were songs from upcoming and workshop productions of In the Hands of the Raven (Peter Alexander), a spiritual "dramedy" about coping with loss; The Audi (Sandy Kasten lyrics, Bill Johnson, music), a contemporary American political satire; Left Bank(Paul James Frantz); The Seven Deadly Pleasures (Allison Lovejoy); Laci's Lament (Richard Jennings); Scary, Scary Night(Michael Lunsford), a camp Halloween comedy; The Loving Tree (Peter Master); Damned Holiday (Billie Cox, book by VB Leghorn); and Another Man's Treasure (Ron Lytle).

Director Jonathan F. Rosen assembled six very talented Bay Area singers to present this evening of great entertainment. David Bicha was outstanding singing Michael Lunsford's "A Whole Lot of Crazy" and Paul Frantz's "You Don't Know Nothing About It". He not only had great vocal chops but great moves in "A Whole Lot of Crazy."

Rana Weber was engrossing singing Richard Jennings' "Bitter Song" about a woman who drank a little too much and was very depressed. She also displayed great vocal cords on Michael Lunsford's "Only Once an Hour or So." She showed the sensual side of her when singing Paul Frantz's "Siding Scale." Jihan Sibar did a dynamic version of Peter Master's "Another House" and Paul Frantz's "Taking Charge of My Dreams".

Helen Laroche rocked the small house Ethel Merman style with Allison Lovejoy's "Lazy Girl" and Sandy Kasten/Bill Johnson's "In the Park." Ernie Tovar did a vibrant and uplifting vocalization of Sandy Kasten/Bill Johnson's "Uncle Sam's Lament," with great choral work by the whole cast, and was mellifluous in a duet with Jihan Sibar on Billie Cox/VB Leghorn's "True Forever Love." Rounding out this talented cast was Ted Zoldan with pitch perfect resonance singing Michael Lunsford's "If I Fall in Love." Ernie Tovar, David Bicha and Rana Weber did a tango number by Peter Alexander called "Start and End" that was crowd pleasing. Between each song there was narration by Anne Nygren Doherty.

Not Quite Opera is in the midst of firming up two full length shows for the coming year and are partnering with the Academy for New Musical Theatre in Los Angeles to offer workshops for more advanced practitioners to polish their craft. Jonathan F. Rosen will be directing a reading of Peter Alexander's In the Hands of the Raven in February at the Alcove Theatre. For more information on upcoming productions go to www.TheAlcoveTheatre.com.


Cheers - and be sure to Check the lineup of great shows this season in the San Francisco area

- Richard Connema



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