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San Francisco by Richard Connema

Tapestry the Concert at the New Conservatory Theater Center in San Francisco

Also see Richard's recent review of Car Man


The New Conservatory Theatre Center opened its In Concert season with Tapestry, featuring the songs of Carole King. I confess I have never been a big fan of Ms. King's songs; however, there are many people in the '60s and '70s who grew up with and enjoyed her music and lyrics. Some have said that her songs changed their lives. She wrote both music and lyrics to many pop rock songs of that era and many big artists sang her songs.

King's Tapestry album sold over 20 million copies in 1970. It was the number one album on the charts for 15 weeks and won her a Grammy for Album of the Year and three additional Grammys in 1971. In 1990 Gerry Goffin, who wrote some of the lyrics, and Ms. King were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and were given a Lifetime Achievement award by the National Academy of Songwriters in 1987.

Earl D. Weaver, with Alan Fricke as musical director, has assembled a talented cast of three women and three men who sing and move gracefully on a very small stage with few props.

I was surprised at the number of songs that this composer wrote during the '60s and '70s. The songs move from one theme to another in quick order. There is no narration and at times it was difficult to tell where one song ended another began. They segue from love to humor and there is even a timid satire as the group sings "Looking Out for Number One" and "Chain" which the Beatles sang.

"I Feel the Earth Move", "You've Got a Friend", "Up On the Roof", "Natural Woman" and "One Fine Day" are songs that defined one generation and became classics of succeeding generations. The ensemble cast presented some of the songs in ways both familiar and unexpected in this rock and roll review.

Many of the lyrics are intriguing, the lovely lyrics in the song "Beautiful", for example:

"You've got to get up every morning.
with a smile on your face.
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You're gonna find, yes you will.
That you're beautiful as you feel."

There is no doubt that the lyrics and melodies appeal to women more then men. These songs are successful because of Ms. King's warmth and artistry and perhaps they offer security against our present day angst and nervous tension. They are songs of our times.

On the whole, the production is good, though there are some rough spots. Of the six singers, Beth Elliott's voice stands out as she makes each song her own with a sensitivity to the lyrics. She is very impressive and very professional in her moves. Lara Bruckman uses her vocal talent and comedic skills on "Smackwater Jack." She also displays her comic talents on the song "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" Thena Yacap-Zaragoza particularly shines in the bang out number "Take Good Care of My Baby."

The three male vocalists work well together in ensemble numbers but some of their numbers come over weakly. Sean Ray, Jorge Hernandez and Wade Crosson have good rhythm on "Chains", "The Locomotion" and the finale, "You Got a Friend". Wade does an outstanding rendition of "Hey Girl" and Sean is extremely funny on "Go Away Little Girl." Jorge does a nice reading of "Every Breath I Take." Alan Fricke on piano does a creditable job with the accompaniment for the singers. It is a pleasant 2 hours with intermission. For all of you Carole King's fans, I recommend it.

Tapestry runs through December 2 at the New Conservatory Theatre at 25 Van Ness Ave. Tickets range from $15 to $25. All tickets are available from the NCTC box office at (415)861-8972 or on line at www.ticketweb.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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