Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Debut Set for ‘Tales of the City’ Musical

March 31, 2010, 10:51 am

The world premiere of the musical “Tales of the City,” adapted from two books by Armistead Maupin, will take place next spring at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, the theater has announced.

Drawing on the exploits of the characters Mary Ann, Mouse, Anna Madrigal, and others from “Tales of the City” and “More Tales of the City,” set in 1970s San Francisco, the musical features a score and lyrics by Jake Shears and John Garden of the rock band Scissor Sisters and a book by Jeff Whitty (a Tony Award winner for “Avenue Q”), and will be directed by Jason Moore (“Shrek the Musical,” “Avenue Q”).

The production is scheduled to run May 17-July 10, 2011. According to a statement from the theater, the creative team has been working on the musical for more than two years, with Mr. Maupin’s blessing.

“I’ve always believed that a theatrical version of Tales should be homegrown in San Francisco, just the way the story itself was back in 1976,” Mr. Maupin said in the statement. “I trust this company to be faithful to the spirit of the material and to transfer it to another medium with charm and inventiveness.”

“Tales of the City” is the first musical project of Mr. Shears, the front man of Scissor Sisters, who said in the statement that the books are a rite of passage for many teenagers and that “I so identify the ‘Tales’ with my youth.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

World Premiere "Tales Of The City - A New Musical"

Based on Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City and More Tales of the City
Libretto by Jeff Whitty
Music and lyrics by Jake Shears and John Garden
Directed by Jason Moore
Amid the fog-drenched glow of disco lights, bathhouses, and the bustling soul of 1970s San Francisco, a wide-eyed Midwestern girl finds a new home—and a new kind of family—with the characters at 28 Barbary Lane. Three decades after Armistead Maupin mesmerized millions with his daily column in the City's newspapers, detailing the lives and (multiple) loves of Mary Ann, Mouse, Mona, Brian, and the beloved but mysterious landlady Mrs. Madrigal, his iconic San Francisco saga comes home as a momentous new musical from the Tony Award–winning creators of Avenue Q and the musical minds behind the glam-rock phenomenon Scissor Sisters. The capstone of the 2010–11 season, A.C.T.'s world premiere musical adaptation of Tales of the City is an irrepressible celebration of the spirit that still defines our City by the Bay.

Visit Armistead Maupin's official website.

Check out the official website for the Scissor Sisters.

Friday, March 26, 2010

ACT to give 'Tales of the City' world premiere

Robert Hurwitt, Chronicle Theater Critic
Friday, March 26, 2010

"Tales of the City," a new musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin's famed stories - created with veterans of "Avenue Q" and members of the rock band Scissor Sisters - will receive its world premiere in the American Conservatory Theater's 2010-11 season. Bill Irwin, Harold Pinter, and a new take on Sartre's "No Exit" are also featured in the ambitious lineup to be announced today by Artistic Director Carey Perloff, along with the previously announced, three-theater staging of Tarell Alvin McCraney's "The Brother/Sister Plays" trilogy.

"It's a wonderful valentine to the community in which we live," Perloff says of "Tales," noting that Maupin began his opus as a series of columns in The Chronicle. It's the kind of San Francisco story, like her own "The Tosca Project" this season, "that's a big part of the kind of work we want to make at ACT."

Perloff acknowledges that "Tales" has Broadway aspirations, with the participation of "Avenue Q" librettist Jeff Whitty and director Jason Moore, and Scissors songwriters Jake Shears and John Garden. But the premiere "is an ACT production for ACT's audience," she says. "Clearly it's an extraordinary team, and it would be surprising if it didn't have a longer life. But that isn't the first imperative, which is to do a fantastic production for a fantastic city."

"Tales" is also such a large undertaking that it will occupy the last two slots of the season, to allow for added tech rehearsals, two weeks of previews and a possible summer extension. That means ACT is selling a six-play subscription season instead of its usual seven. But patrons will "have other opportunities to see the company" in a series of "alternative programming," Perloff says. Those shows will be announced later.

The season opens in September with Irwin directing and starring in his own (with Mark O'Donnell) adaptation of Molière's "Scapin," in a production that will reunite him with his former Pickle Family Circus clown and co-star Geoff Hoyle. November brings McCraney's "Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet," the third part of the "Brother/Sister" trilogy. The first two plays will open the Marin Theatre Company and Magic Theatre's seasons.

After ACT's annual nonsubscription outing with "A Christmas Carol" and a still undetermined play in January, Perloff will direct Pinter's "The Homecoming." She hopes to use the occasion for an overdue "main-stage memorial celebration" of the work of the playwright, who died at the end of 2008. Though she's staged many of Pinter's plays, this will be her first time with what she terms his "master play. It's outrageous and funny and dangerous and really trenchant, just an uncompromising play."

Vancouver's Electric Company Theatre arrives in April with Kim Collier's live-cinematic take on "No Exit," a piece Perloff compares to the Kneehigh Theatre's buoyantly theatrical "Brief Encounter," which opened the current season. "Tales" opens in May 2011 to close the season. Subscription and other information is available at (415) 749-2250 or

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ACT’s 44th season boasts big heart, big ideas

By: Janos Gereben 

Special to The Examiner
March 26, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — American Conservatory Theater Artistic Director Carey Perloff has one answer to two questions about the company’s upcoming 44th season, which was announced today.

The questions are: What is different about the season — running Sept. 16 through July 10, 2011 — and how does the current vitriolic political climate influence her choice of plays?

Her purpose, Perloff says, is to confront “our fractured and hostile climate by producing plays with big heart, big ideas, rich language and as large casts as possible, so that we can see ourselves reflected back in lovely, complex, fully realized ways.”

She cites highly theatrical plays, filled with music, such as Moliere’s “Scapin” directed by and starring Bill Irwin (Sept. 16 to Oct. 17); a world premiere musical by the “Avenue Q” team based on Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” (May 17 to July 10, 2011); and Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet,” part of the “Brother/Sister Plays Trilogy” (Oct. 29 to Nov. 21).

There also are mystery plays on the order of Harold Pinter’s “The Homecoming” (March 3 to 27, 2011) and Jean-Paul Sartre’s “No Exit” (April 7 to May 1, 2011).

Calling the plays “international” and “intensely local,” Perloff says they offer opportunities for the core company and talented recent alumni to collaborate with major artists.

She’s particularly thrilled about the “Tales of the City” musical. “I love Armistead’s stories so much and have wanted to bring them to the stage for a long time,” she says.

The Pinter play is of great personal interest to her. “He is a favorite writer of mine and this, his greatest play, is the one I have been waiting to direct,” she says. Her interest in Pinter goes back to when, at 19 years old and a Stanford freshman, she took Martin Esslin’s class on theater of the absurd.

“No Exit” — the play with the famous line “hell is other people” — comes in a production by Canada’s Virtual Stage and Electric Co. Theatre combining film and theater.

American Conservatory Theater 2010-11 season
Where: 415 Geary St., San Francisco
When: Sept. 16 through July 10, 2011
Tickets: $60 to $513 for subscriptions, on sale now; single tickets for most shows on sale in August
Contact: (415) 749-2250 for subscriptions,