Monday, March 28, 2011

Author of Tales of the City in conversation with Jon Carroll

Best-selling author Armistead Maupin will participate in an evening of lively conversation with columnist Jon Carroll on Thursday, April 14th, 7:00 pm at the Julia Morgan Theatre, 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley. Mr. Maupin is expected to cover a wide variety of topics and engage the audience with his fabled abilities as a storyteller and raconteur. The event will benefit the academic and financial assistance programs of Oakland’s Park Day School.

Armistead Maupin forged the way as one of the first of a new breed of openly gay authors, but his instant widespread appeal resided in his inclusiveness as a storyteller. For over thirty years the characters from his Tales of the City series have blossomed in popular culture—from the groundbreaking newspaper serial, to nine international bestselling novels, to a Peabody Award-winning miniseries starring Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney. A 2006 online poll of British readers named Tales of the City the UK’s all-time favorite gay or lesbian novel. In 2007, Maupin revisited one of the series’ characters with another novel, Michael Tolliver Lives. His most recent novel, Mary Ann in Autumn, was published in the fall of 2010.

This May, the American Conservatory Theatre of San Francisco will present the world premiere of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, a new musical enlisting the talents of librettist Jeff Whitty and director Jason Moore – Tony Award–winning creators of AVENUE Q – and composers Jake Shears and John Garden – the musical minds behind the glam-rock phenomenon Scissor Sisters.

Armistead Maupin’s other works include the New York Times bestseller The Night Listener, which created a sensation in the publishing world when its real-life origins were revealed in an article by The New Yorker and a follow-up investigation by ABC ’s 20/20. The psychological suspense novel was inspired by Maupin’s longtime telephone friendship with Anthony Godby Johnson, a 14-year-old memoirist whose very existence Maupin began to question. “It was like living in the middle of a mystery novel,” Maupin said. “Once it started happening I knew I had to write about it.” He wrote the screen adaptation of The Night Listener, starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by Miramax pictures.

Armistead Maupin is also the author of the bestselling novel Maybe the Moon, which chronicles the misadventures of a dwarf actress working in Hollywood. He wrote the narration for the award-winning documentary “The Celluloid Closet,” and was himself the subject of an hour-long BBC documentary, “Armistead Maupin Is A Man I Dreamt Up.” As a librettist, he collaborated in 1999 with composer Jake Heggie on “Anna Madrigal Remembers” for mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade and classical choral ensemble Chanticleer.

Maupin lives in San Francisco with his husband, Christopher Turner.

General admission tickets are $30. A very limited number (25) of $50 tickets will be available, which include priority seating and a post-show reception with the two speakers.

Click here to purchase tickets on-line: Armistead Maupin

Win a trip to San Francisco and experience the stage debut of "Tales of the City"

San Francisco Tales of the City Sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the contiguous 48 United States and the District of Columbia age 18 and older at the time of entry. 

Sweepstakes begins at 12:01 AM Eastern Time ("ET") on March 18, 2011 and ends at 11:59 PM (ET) on April 18, 2011.

To Enter: Visit and follow all entry instructions to complete and submit the online entry form.

Limit: One online entry per person or e-mail address per week.

Prize & Approximate Retail Value(s) (“ARV”): The prize is to be awarded to one (1) entrant and consists of :
• Roundtrip airfare for two to San Francisco
• Two nights at a Kimpton Hotel in San Francisco
• $100 gift certificate to Garcon French Restaurant in San Francisco
• $50 American Express® Gift Card
• Two VIP tickets to Tales of The City (May 18-July 10)
• Hosted drinks at intermission
• A signed cast poster
• A private backstage tour of the theater (timing subject to the discretion of the theater management).

Will Coviello chats with Tales of the City writer Armistead Maupin

San Francisco Treat
Will Coviello chats with Tales of the City writer Armistead Maupin, who's coming to this week's Tennessee Williams Literary Festival
by Will Coviello

The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival

March 23-27

More than Tennessee Williams, author Armistead Maupin is inextricably associated with a place. Creator of the Tales of the City series, he chronicled bohemian and bustling life in San Francisco from the mid-1970s onward. He also met Williams in San Francisco, though they didn't discuss writing.

Maupin attended an art gallery opening in the South of Market district in the mid-1970s. Williams was inside, attracting attention and being hounded for photos. After escaping the throng of fans, Williams spotted Maupin in the parking lot. Surmising Maupin wasn't smoking a regular cigarette, Williams approached him.

"I can't exactly call it the passing of the torch from one writer to another," Maupin says, laughing. "We just sat on the hood of a car, smoked a joint and had a discussion about the moon."

At the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival, Maupin will read from Williams' work and discuss his own writing. The festival celebrates both its 25th anniversary and the centennial of Williams' birth, and the schedule of events includes readings and discussions by authors, actors who starred in famous productions of Williams' work, literary agents, journalists and others. Theatrical productions include The Glass Menagerie and world premieres of recently discovered one-act plays by Williams. There also are parties, walking tours and the popular Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest on Sunday in Jackson Square.

In tribute to Williams' birthday and his career, actors and writers will read from his work. Maupin will leave dramatic scenes to actors and present an essay titled "Too Personal," which Williams used as an introduction to Small Craft Warnings. In it, he addressed the divide between writing fiction and autobiography. Critics and fans often pick apart his plays, trying to match real people to fictional characters, and Williams protested that his plays exhibited his talent, not his diary. Maupin defends the art of writing fiction, but protests less strenuously about the connection.

"Artists draw from their own lives," Maupin says. "Almost all of my characters are autobiographical to one degree or another."

The distinction stirred debate when he released Michael Tolliver Lives!. At first Maupin said it was distinct from Tales of the City, and it was different in that it was a first-person novel and not about a swirling array of characters like previous books in the series. But Maupin later dropped his defense and said the novel is an extension of the series about one of its central characters, and parts of it are similar to his own life, particularly the manner in which Tolliver comes out as a gay man in a letter to his parents.

"I like the disguise of fiction, but I draw on cultural realities," Maupin says.

Maupin was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Raleigh, N.C. He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and became a reporter afterward. In the early 1970s, he moved to San Francisco, where he worked for the Associated Press. The beginning of his Tales series were short stories he published in the San Francisco Chronicle. The latest installment, Mary Ann in Autumn, was released in 2010.

Maupin adopted San Francisco as his new home almost instantly, in part because some elements reminded him of living in the South.

"It was a tolerant and vibrant city with the qualities of a small town," he says. "It had a respect for tradition that was in perfect keeping with my Southern experiences."

Theatrical productions at the festival offer insight into the development of characters and ideas in Williams' work. Southern Rep premieres three one-act plays that were discovered recently: The Pretty Trap, The Magic Tower and Every Twenty Minutes. The Pretty Trap is a precursor to The Glass Menagerie, but it's a comedy and covers the basic story in 20 pages. Director Aimee Hayes points out that the play is very different from Menagerie. It focuses on Amanda Wingfield, Tom isn't depressed and Laura doesn't limp, Hayes says.

"Everyone knows these roles," she adds. But she told the actors, "We have to think about this as a Saturday Night Live sketch and take it from there."

One of the reasons it has not been professionally performed before may have to do with Williams' feelings about it: He hated it.

"Williams wrote in his notes that he didn't like it," Hayes says. "But for our purposes, it's delightful. We see him working toward the full play."

She also sees elements in the other two works that preview more fully realized themes in the plays Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Sweet Bird of Youth.

Fans can compare The Pretty Trap with a full production of The Glass Menagerie by the UNO Department of Film, Theatre and Communications Arts at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre, starring Janet Shea as Amanda.

Both Maupin and Hayes note that Williams was a dedicated writer who awoke early every morning to work. He wrote many short stories and short plays, and characters in them were plucked for greater roles in his better known works. Hayes says he pushed himself hard to improve his final product.

"He could have written for TV, he could have been a sitcom writer," she says. "If he wasn't ruthless about his own work, he wouldn't have gone on to create characters like Blanche."

With the inclusion of the one-acts, the festival's participants and productions celebrate every facet of Williams' legacy. And, of course, locals can channel their own inner Stellas and Stanleys, comic or dramatic, at the annual Shouting Contest in Jackson Square.

Tennessee Williams Festival: a conversation with Armistead Maupin

Posted by Kevin Allman on Sat, Mar 26, 2011 at 5:06 PM

The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival wrapped up for the afternoon with “A Conversation With Armistead Maupin,” author of the Tales of the City series. Maupin, who said he hadn’t been to New Orleans in 21 years, seemed to be having a fine time, enjoying mint juleps and discussing topics as wide-ranging as Elizabeth Taylor, Jesse Helms, writing about AIDS in the early 1980s and moving to San Francisco after serving in the Vietnam War. The moderator was Ted O’Brien, co-host of “Writer’s Forum” on WRBH-FM. (Will Coviello interviewed Maupin for this week’s paper.)

Maupin, who grew up in Raleigh, N.C., told the audience, “There’s a storytelling tradition in the South; I stay away from calling it an oral tradition, because that’s when the jokes start.”

The Tales of the City novels began as a newspaper serial in the early 1970s, Maupin said, when he was a lifestyle reporter for a small paper in Marin County, Calif. When that paper folded, he was picked up by the San Francisco Chronicle in 1976, which began running his serial five days a week — “800 words a day,” he told the audience gathered in the Royal Sonesta hotel ballroom. The serial ran for many years, covering the 1970s singles scene, the Jonestown massacre, the Reagan years, the gay rights movement and the dawn of AIDS, the advent of yuppies and quite a bit more. The columns were collected in six volumes, and Maupin has written two more, including last year’s Mary Ann in Autumn. A musical based on the books will open in San Francisco, Maupin said.

Maupin compared New Orleans to San Francisco, calling both cities seductive and charming, and was gracious and funny throughout, with one exception: He spoke bitterly about the American Family Association, which protested the miniseries of his Tales books. “But their time is truly over, I believe,” he said, garnering applause from the audience.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Telling 'Tales' for the Musical Stage


Thirty-five years after Mary Ann Singleton moved west to San Francisco, one of the city's most beloved fictional residents has a new home: the musical theater.

In May, San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater will stage an original musical based on Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" series about Ms. Singleton and her community of colorful outcasts. The show features heavyweight talent including writing and direction from the duo behind Tony-winning "Avenue Q" and music by members of the electro-pop band Scissor Sisters. Producers say they hope the $2.2 million production could eventually travel to other cities or even Broadway, but don't have any current plans.

As the artistic team makes final tweaks in advance of rehearsals set for April, the show faces a number of creative challenges. It is difficult to predict how audiences will respond to having well-known nonmusical material transformed into a musical stage production. Also, the two books upon which the musical is based contain many characters and intertwined plot lines, making the adaptation complicated. And the show's creators need to be able to capture the carefree mood of a story set in the 1970s without oversentimentalizing the era.

"Nostalgia is always a danger in a period piece," said director Jason Moore, who directed "Avenue Q" and "Shrek the Musical" on Broadway. The question is, "how do you make the period feel relevant" today?"

Mr. Maupin's original "Tales" paints an eccentric portrait of San Francisco involving Ms. Singleton's mysterious marijuana-growing landlady, Anna Madrigal, who exposed her new tenant to a city built on tolerance and filled with disco dancing and drug use.
The musical version will contain all of those elements, along with polyester clothes and big hair. But the show will focus on what it felt like to be in that time and place, rather than what might be "archaeologically accurate," Mr. Moore said.

For example, Mr. Moore said that he and his lighting designer decided to ditch disco lights authentic to the period. "By today's standards, that lighting might seem really banal," he said. "But the experience of people going to [a disco] was amazing, trance-inducing and exciting."

While gently poking fun at how much has changed in nearly four decades, the play's script also highlights issues that remain controversial, such as the battle over gay rights. The story line features anti-gay rights crusader Anita Bryant, and a key song in which one character writes a letter to his parents to come out of the closet.

Getting the historical balance right has bedeviled many musicals. "Having a specific era, time and setting for a musical can be actually be very helpful because it leads you to what the music itself should sound like," said Joe DiPietro, who wrote the book and lyrics for the Tony-winning "Memphis," about a 1950s radio DJ from that city. Yet "it's always important to remember that you're not trying to make a documentary, you're trying to artistically explore the time period," he said. For example, "Memphis" used chord progressions that weren't common in the original era, but helped to update the sound of the era for modern ears.

Musically, the stage version of "Tales" steers clear of the "jukebox" approach used by recent hits such as "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert" and "Mamma Mia," which featured well-known pop songs for their score. Instead, "Tales" has an original, disco-inspired score written by the Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears and John "JJ" Garden, with references to Elton John and the Bee Gees.

To be commercially successful, the musical likely will have to find a way to appeal to more than just theatergoers who lived through the era or are fans of the "Tales" books and television miniseries based on them. So far, ACT says a little more than half of the available tickets have sold for the San Francisco run that stretches from May 18 through July 10.

Carey Perloff, the artistic director of ACT who brought the production to her theater after seeing a reading of an early script three years ago, said she would like to see it run for a long time in San Francisco—and then possibly tour Broadway and elsewhere.

"Tales," which has been underwritten by ACT's donors, is one of the largest and most expensive original productions that the nonprofit ACT has undertaken.

Write to Geoffrey A. Fowler at

Tales of Armistead Maupin

Monday, 14 March 2011, 2:21 pm
by Evelyn Tsitas

For American author and gay activist Armistead Maupin, there is only one place to call home - San Francisco, the city that inspired his enormously popular social comedy series Tales of the City.
"I cruise other countries, but I come home to San Francisco in my head," he said.

Maupin generously praised Australia's "Victorian buildings and wide open spaces" during his March visit. However, for him, the city that invented the words hippie, beatnik and hoodlum reflect an attitude and a way people live that breathed life into him when he arrived in the 1970s as a conservative, "in the closet" Vietnam veteran.

Maupin is currently on tour promoting his new book, Mary Ann in Autumn, which is the 8th in the Tales of the City Series. The woman in the title is Maupin's much loved character Mary Ann Singleton, whom he has chronicled from her move to San Francisco and her developing relationship with the people she meets, including life in a bohemian boarding house run by the transgender matriarch Mrs Madrigal.

The rest of the world may be a long way from Mrs Madrigal's "comfy old apartment house" on 28 Barbary Lane, but Maupin stressed his Tales series runs concurrent to gay culture. As soon as a country amasses a gay middle class, Maupin said, "my books take off when that rainbow flag starts flying".

Maupin, who started the series as a weekly column in the local newspaper in the 1970s, said he struggled with telling his parents he was gay.

"At that time, homosexuality was a mental illness and a crime, but I was in San Francisco discovering the bath houses and finding myself as a gay man."
But this conflict and duplicity was also helpful in his career. Maupin cheerfully admits that as a writer "it is your job to be a fake."

"I have always been writing about everyone and for everyone, even though I am proud of my activism," Maupin told the largely gay audience at Melbourne's Athenaeum Theatre during his recent Australian tour. His public lecture – hosted by actor Noni Hazlehurst, - was part of the Wheeler Centre's Big Gay Week.

"When it comes to my writing, I am trying to tap into something that is going on in society," he said.

"For me, in the emerging gay culture of San Francisco in the 1970s, I was on a rampage."

It is fitting that a new musical version of Tales of the City, starring Betty Buckley, will workshop at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in June, with music and lyrics by Jake Shears and John Garden of the Scissor Sisters.

"I realised I'd written a love story 30 years ago that made sense to me now," Maupin said.

He said that he looks for "some sort of validation" in his life as a writer. "I tell my worst secrets in fiction. Then I feel less alone because of the response I get from people," he said.

Maupin recalled how he had a "gay quota" of characters he was allowed to insert into his newspaper column.

"At one point I had a character wake up and discover a dog humping her leg, and I argued the dog should be placed in the heterosexual quota," Maupin said.

There was, however, a serious undertone for the gay activist as he spoke of the angst he felt when deciding to come out to his friends and family. He first uttered the words "I think I am homosexual" to a good female friend - on whom he based the character Mary Ann Singleton. Her response? " Big fucking deal."

He said his friend's support, and the burgeoning gay culture of San Francisco in the mid-70s, emboldened him to discover his identity as a gay man. Maupin said he came out at the same time he as he was writing the column, and so wove in his experiences into that of his characters. Like many fiction writers, he said he "hid behind" the people he created.

"I disguise myself in my characters. I point out people's similarities while describing their differences," he said.

"As a writer, your job is empathy. You have to inhabit everyone."

This is exactly what Maupin has done with feisty Mary Ann Singleton. The last time Maupin wrote about her, Mary Ann had left the city, husband, daughter and her best friend, Michael, whom readers had come to love.

Mary Ann in Autumn tracks the now 57 year old Mary Ann down as she returns to San Francisco. She finds that everything has changed – including 28 Barbary Lane. Those she left behind have moved on. It has been called "a tale of long-lost friends and unrealized dreams, of fear and regret, of penance and redemption — and of the unshakable sense that this world we love, this life we live, this drama in which we all play a part, does indeed go by much too fast."(The New York Times, Nov 12, 2010)

"You are not always going to be young," Maupin reminded his Melbourne audience.
Evelyn Tsitas is a PhD student at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email:

Tales of the City Musical Will Star Judy Kaye, Betsy Wolfe, Mary Birdsong and Wesley Taylor

By Adam Hetrick
18 Mar 2011

Tony Award winner Judy Kaye, Betsy Wolfe, Mary Birdsong and Wesley Taylor have been cast as the eclectic denizens of 28 Barbary Lane in the world-premiere musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, which will debut at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco May 18.
Based on Maupin's beloved 1970s San Francisco-set literary series, Tales of the City features a score by Scissor Sisters band members Jason Sellards (lyrics) and John Garden (music), and a book by Tony winner Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q). It will have choreography by Larry Keigwin. The stage adaptation centers on the first book of Maupin's series.

Tony nominee Jason Moore (Shrek, Avenue Q, Steel Magnolias) will direct the musical that will officially open May 31 and play an extended engagement through July 10.

Kaye (The Phantom of the Opera, On the Twentieth Century, Souvenir) will portray pot-smoking landlady Anna Madrigal, with Wolfe (Everyday Rapture, 110 in the Shade) as Midwestern transplant Mary Ann Singleton, Birdsong (Martin Short Fame Becomes Me, "Reno 911") as the free-spirited Mona Ramsay and Taylor (Rock of Ages, The Addams Family) as Michael "Mouse" Tollivar. Both Wolf and Birdsong have been part of Tales of the City since its early development during the 2009 Eugene O'Neill Theater Center Musical Theater Conference.

The premiere cast will also include Tony Award nominee Manoel Felciano (Sweeney Todd) as Norman Neal Williams, Matthew Saldivar (Grease) as Brian Hawkins, Richard Poe (Cry-Baby) as Edgar Halcyon, Kathleen Monteleone (Legally Blonde) as Dede Halcyon-Day, Andrew Samonsky (South Pacific) as Beauchamp Day, Josh Breckenridge (Scottsboro Boys) as Jon Fielding, Diane J. Findlay as Mother Mucca and Alex Hsu as Lionel.

The ensemble will include Keith Bearden, Kris Cusick, Kimberly Jensen, Stuart Marland, Pamela Myers, Julie Reiber and Josh Walden.

Here's how ACT bills the work: "On the bustling streets of 1970s San Francisco, neon lights pierce through the fog-drenched skies, disco music explodes from crowded nightclubs, and a wide-eyed Midwestern girl finds a new home — and creates 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 their beloved but mysterious landlady Mrs. Madrigal, his iconic San Francisco saga comes home as a momentous new musical."

"Tales of the City" has also been adapted into several television miniseries featuring performances by Olympia Dukakis, Laura Linney, Chloe Webb, Parker Posey, Marcus D'Amico, Donald Moffat, Thomas Gibson, Barbara Garrick, Nina Foch, Paul Gross, Stanley DeSantis and Philip Moon. Tony winner Betty Buckley appeared as Anna in a recent workshop of the musical but is not moving forward into the world premiere.

For tickets call (415) 749-2228 or visit ACT-SF.

Restaurant insult shocks gay author

Lindsay Murdoch
March 18, 2011

BEST-SELLING gay author Armistead Maupin says he could not believe what he heard when he and his husband Chris Turner walked into Bojangles Saloon in Alice Springs for lunch last Friday.
Turner asked a staff member if he could use the rest room.

"The guy said, 'Sorry, we don't have one in here but you can go across the street and use the public facility,'" Maupin said.

Maupin, who had used the toilet in Bojangles the day before, said he had pointed in the direction of the toilet and asked, "What's that over there?"

"The barman gave me a very pointed look and said, 'That's reserved for real men,'" said Maupin, the San Francisco-based author of nine novels, including the Tales of the City series.

"Neither of us could quite believe he said it and he actually repeated it."

Maupin, 66, told ABC radio in Alice Springs that he and his partner left the restaurant after the comment was made and reported it at a tourist information booth.

Later, a tourism official sent him an email saying the owner of Bojangles had been as "shocked as we were, and the man had extended his apologies".

A representative of Bojangles management could not be reached for comment.

Maupin said he was happy with the response from Tourism Central Australia and the incident would not make him avoid Alice Springs in the future, hinting that he might make it the backdrop for one of his future books.

He said that when he posted an account of what happened on his Facebook page, he had received many messages of support.

Some said they had contacted Bojangles to express their outrage.

"The reaction to it was quite extraordinary and it took the bad taste out of our mouths, that's the best part of it," Maupin said.

"As a gay man I look at this as progress, that there is a lot of reasonable folks out there that don't think that acceptable behaviour any more."

Despite Alice Springs's reputation as a hard-drinking, rough-and-tumble desert town, it is home to dozens of lesbian couples, some of whom proudly describe it as Australia's lesbian capital.

With saloon doors, a life-size replica of Ned Kelly and a stuffed wedge-tail eagle suspended from the ceiling, Bojangles is one of the best known restaurants in Alice Springs.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Armistead Maupin Radio Interview

The acclaimed author Armistead Maupin, creator of the 'Tales of the City' series explains why he once hated his name, now loves it and declares that the rumour it's an anagram of "a man I dreamt up" is false!

click the link for the interview

Armistead Maupin on Australian Television

Thanks to Youtube user auspete for posting!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Opening Night Gala "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City , A New Musical" June 1, 2011

Join us for a dazzling event celebrating the must-see show of the season!
Enjoy specially priced $250 tickets for a limited time only.
After March 4, the price goes up to $350.

Three decades after Armistead Maupin mesmerized millions with his daily column in the city's newspapers, 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. Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City unleashes an exuberant celebration of the irrepressible spirit that continues to define our City by the Bay.

Experience the magic of this epic event—right in the heart of San Francisco.

Your $250 Disco Party Ticket includes:

•  A preshow cocktail reception at the American Conservatory Theater
•  A ticket to the opening night gala performance of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City
•  Access to the private disco afterparty, featuring special guests

Want even more from your evening? Visit us online to reserve a table at our black-tie cocktail reception and opening night gala dinner in a tented Union Square.

Tickets are going fast—act now!
Buy tickets online or call 415.439.2470.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Larry Keigwin: Moving Between Mediums

The esteemed choreographer discusses his new full-length piece EXIT, working on the new musical Tales of the City, and getting ready to tackle Rent.

By: Brian Scott Lipton · Mar 2, 2011  · New York

The worlds of modern dance and musical theater have long been interconnected, from pioneers like George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins through such modern masters as Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, and Bill T. Jones. The latest choreographer to make this leap -- and in particularly spectacular fashion -- is Larry Keigwin.

On March 8, he will formally debut his first full-length dance-theater piece, Exit, for a week-long run at New York's Joyce Theater. After that engagement, he will turn his focus to choreographing the world premiere musical Tales of the City, which bows at San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre on May 19, and the new Off-Broadway production of Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Rent, which begins previews at New World Stages on July 11. "My goal in life has always been to move between these mediums," says Keigwin.

Exit is an hour-long piece that deals, in part, with the nature of addiction. At one point, Keigwin was going to call the work, Bad Habits, but decided to go in a different direction. "I think the title Exit has a larger scope and more room for interpretation," he says. "I actually love titles and I think a good title is a great asset. I find it frustrating to go to an art museum and see something called 'untitled,' because then I don't have a way in to the work."

The genesis for Exit was a 15-minute piece he did last year in a large theater in Santa Barbara. "Everything on the stage had been stripped bare, and I noticed this exit sign in a corner of stage and that was my inspiration," he says. "A lot of people can relate to exiting a bad situation or a bad relationship."

Over the past year, Keigwin has worked with his troupe to expand the piece, which he admits was quite intimidating. "Since I've usually done shorter dances, I wasn't able to put the puzzle pieces together at first. But ultimately, I realized this is just a lot of short dances put together - an hour is really six 10-minute dances. The most challenging part was sifting through all the material I created and finding what really resonated. I wanted to tell a non-linear story about dependency, but I didn't want people drinking beer or shooting heroin on stage."

One of the most unusual aspects of Exit will be the music, which was composed by Chris Lancaster for the acoustic cello and which will be mixed and manipulated live each night by pianist Jerome Bergin. "It is like a ride with many peaks and valleys; in some ways, it's like being on drugs: there's anticipation, climax, and withdrawal. It sounds very urban, but the strings will give it a more emotional, melodic line. It's very different for me; it's more environmental, atmospheric, and collage-like than what I usually use."

For Tales of the City, which is based on the series of books by Armistead Maupin, Keigwin will be working with a score by Jake Shears and John Garden of the glam-rock band Scissor Sisters. The show had an in-depth workshop last year, but there's plenty still to be done, he notes. "We only staged four songs out of the whole score. The workshop was much more about double-checking how the story and music fit; the choreography was just there to find a palette," he says.

Since much of the story is set in the 1970s, Keigwin will be incorporating some disco dancing into the show -- but his job is much more than recreating the Hustle. "Choreography is about more than just the moves," he notes. "I think I'm good at creating human traffic and behavior on stage, and I look forward to working with Jason Moore [the show's director] on implementing my ideas."

As for getting the chance to work on Rent, he says he couldn't be more excited. "I know it's not a traditional dance show, but this music and material is my generation," he notes. "I can't wait to look at the work again and then create choreography that will work in this intimate setting. And because the book and music are already done, there will be a lot of time to focus on the staging. I already have so many ideas in my head."

Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney Chair Gala For TALES OF THE CITY 6/1

Tuesday, March 1, 2011; Posted: 03:03 PM - by BWW News Desk

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.)'s Opening Night Gala celebrating the world premiere of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City will take place Wednesday, June 1, 2011.

The black-tie event begins with a cocktail reception and gala dinner in a tented Union Square, followed by the performance at the theater and a dance party with the cast and special guests at Ruby Skye nightclub after the show.

The gala is the culmination of A.C.T.'s two-year effort to bring Armistead Maupin's famous San Francisco stories to the stage as a new musical. The Opening Night Gala is chaired by A.C.T. Trustee Marilee K. Gardner and Barbary Lane Committee Chairs JaMel Perkins and Roselyne C. Swig.

Honorary chairs include Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney, who both starred in the television miniseries adaptation of Tales of the City on PBS, and author Armistead Maupin. Gala tables at the $12,000 level are already sold out, and prices for the Opening Night Gala now start at $15,000 for tables and $1,250 for individual tickets. A limited number of performance-and-party-only tickets are available for $250 through March 4. For more information and to purchase tables or tickets, please visit or call A.C.T. Manager of Special Events Luz Perez at 415.439.2470.

"A.C.T. has brought us amazing stories for more than 40 years, and I can think of no better place to stage this musical production of Tales of the City," says celebrated author Armistead Maupin. Longtime A.C.T. supporter Marilee K. Gardner adds: "Tales of the City is the quintessential San Francisco story, and we want to celebrate this production with a classic San Francisco party. Attendees will experience this once-in-a-lifetime event beginning with dining in a tented Union Square, then attending the amazing production, and finally celebrating our success into the night. All proceeds go to support American Conservatory Theater-the quintessential San Francisco theater company."

In addition to those who purchase tables and tickets to the gala, members of The Tales of the City Circle, an exclusive group of theater lovers who have already contributed more than $1 million to bring this momentous new musical home to San Francisco, will be A.C.T.'s special guests at the gala celebration. Chaired by Ambassador James C. Hormel, A.C.T. Board Chair Nancy Livingston, and trustee Lorenzo Thione, the Tales Circle has provided vital support for the development of the production and the world premiere of the musical based on Armistead Maupin's celebrated books. A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff speaks to the resources needed to bring an ambitious project like Tales of the City to life: "This new musical is going to be an extraordinary valentine to our entire community, and it will take the support of the entire community to make it happen. A.C.T. is a nonprofit organization, and we are shouldering a considerable financial risk by taking on this enormous and truly thrilling new production. But we believe that Tales will be a major addition to the American musical theater canon, as well as the theatrical event of the season in the Bay Area. Supporters will get a wonderful inside look at the unique and complex process of bringing a new musical to life, as well as the opportunity to celebrate our city by giving Armistead Maupin's moving and hilarious stories new life for new generations. We hope you will all join us on this adventure!"

With their tax-deductible contributions, Tales Circle members will get a chance to revel in the spark of the creative process, going behind the scenes to witness the creation of an epic theatrical event. Exclusive benefits include invitations to attend rehearsals-all leading up to a thrilling walk down the red carpet as A.C.T.'s honored guest at the opening night gala celebration. Those who give $1,200 or more will be recognized in the performance program and enjoy numerous other benefits, including a ticket to the opening night gala. The Tales Circle gives A.C.T. supporters a unique chance to get inside access to the creative process of a production truly conceived in celebration of San Francisco, where, as Maupin reminds us, "everyone-gay, straight, and traveling-has learned to recognize . . . the infinite possibilities of humanity." For more information and to join The Tales of the City Circle, visit

The world premiere musical production of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City features a book by Tony Award-winning writer Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q) and music and lyrics by Jake Shears and John Garden of the glam-rock band Scissor Sisters; is directed by Tony Award winner Jason Moore (Avenue Q and Shrek: The Musical); and is choreographed by Larry Keigwin. The world premiere production takes over the American Conservatory Theater May 19-July 3, 2011. The press and subscriber opening for Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City will take place Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at 8 p.m.

A.C.T.'s production of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City is sponsored by American Airlines, The Fairmont San Francisco, Foggy Bridge, the Koret Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City is also made possible by commissioning sponsors Priscilla and Keith Geeslin, Ambassador James C. Hormel and Mr. Michael P. Nguyen, Nancy Livingston and Fred Levin, The Shenson Foundation, Kathleen Scutchfield, and Jeff and Laurie Ubben; production sponsors Ray and Dagmar Dolby, Burt and Deedee McMurtry, and Susan A. Van Wagner; music sponsors Lesley Clement, Lorenzo Thione and David Palmer, Jack and Susy Wadsworth, and Carlie Wilmans; choreography sponsors Stephen Belford and Bobby Minkler, Marilee K. Gardner, Jo S. Hurley, Byron R. Meyer, Mr. Milton J. Mosk and Mr. Thomas E. Foutch, David and Carla Riemer, Laila Tarraf, Larry and Robyn Varellas, and Nola Yee; and casting sponsors Lucia Brandon, Carlotta and Robert Dathe, Jerome L. and Thao N. Dodson, Drs. Caroline Emmett and Russell Rydel, Mr. and Mrs. Kirke Hasson, Toby and Sally Rosenblatt, Frank Stein and Paul May, Bert Steinberg, Jack Weeden and David Davies, and Beverly and Loring Wyllie. A.C.T. would also like to acknowledge its 2010-11 season company sponsors: Ray and Dagmar Dolby, Priscilla and Keith Geeslin, Ambassador James C. Hormel and Mr. Michael P. Nguyen, Nancy Livingston and Fred Levin, The Shenson Foundation, Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Patti and Rusty Rueff, Kathleen Scutchfield, Mary and Steven Swig, Jeff and Laurie Ubben, and Susan A. Van Wagner. Development of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City was supported by the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center during a residency at the National Music Theater Conference of 2009.

Armistead Maupin in San Francisco

01 March 2011
Luke Malone

Long after establishing itself as a centre of countercultural creativity, San Francisco retains a fiercely liberal heart. US author Armistead Maupin is its number-one fan.

Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City series helped cement San Francisco’s position on the literary map. The books, which started as a serial in The San Francisco Chronicle, tell the story of naive Ohio native Mary Ann Singleton as she makes a new life for herself in the city. For many readers, the characters’ friends and neighbours formed an introduction to life in the magnetic bayside city during the swinging 1970s.

Maupin’s latest book, Mary Ann In Autumn, sees her returning from two decades in New York, to modern-day San Francisco, seeking comfort from old friends, as demons from her past collide with those of her present.

Maupin, speaking from his home office in a wooded area high above Golden Gate Park, on the eve of a visit to Australia, is excited about his latest offering and the opportunity to talk about his beloved metropolis. He, too, moved to the city from somewhere else – South Carolina,  in 1971 – and never left. In his writing he made San Fran a character as integral as any other. He has been witness to the changes it has undergone, from being a drawcard for hippies, artists, gays and runaways, to the more gentrified environment of today. But the successful author is sanguine about the changes.

“It’s changed in the ways that most cities have changed,” he says. “There’s a faster pace, the traffic is worse, people are a little more harried than they used to be. But it has also improved a great deal in terms of its physical beauty.”

Along with his fellow San Franciscans, he’s been active in the city’s upkeep. “We’ve torn down freeways because we didn’t like the way they looked. We’ve renovated a number of wonderful old buildings. We’ve made the place more habitable for its residents and even more attractive for tourists.”

Now 66, Maupin says he doesn’t long for what others might see as the city’s heyday. “There’s nothing to miss. I’m sitting here in my office right now looking over the same city. If anything, I have to remind myself that time has passed because most of my adult experience has been here. I’ll sometimes ask myself who that old guy is in my reflection when I pass a shop window because, in many ways, I still feel like I’m 27 and I’ve just arrived in town.”

He concedes that the dot-com boom of the ’90s changed the urban demographic. “I’m very lucky I bought a house here 17 years ago when the market was low. I suspect if I sold my house and left town I’d never be able to afford to move back. It’s easier for people with money to live here now than young, struggling artists. I suppose that contributes somewhat to a loss of colour.”

But that doesn’t mean the city is no longer vibrant. Long after establishing itself as a bastion of countercultural creativity, it retains a fiercely liberal heart. Maupin points to the thriving and varied arts scenes. “There’s a poetry scene and we have a literary festival here called Litquake, where people travel around from bar to bar to recite poetry and drink. There’s always something interesting if you keep your eyes open. I still hear from young people who come here with a dream in their pocket and stay.”

What is it that makes San Francisco so universally loved? Other cities have equal amounts of fans and detractors; for every rapt visitor to New York or LA, another will complain about the noise or pollution. But San Francisco is a deeply comforting place.

“That character seems to be immutable,” agrees Maupin. “It’s physically beautiful, to begin with, and quite seductive. The fog rolling in from the sea and over these hills is quite magical and lends it a certain ethereal quality. It’s also a very small place. We have only about 750,000 inhabitants, so it manages to be a small town and cosmopolitan at the same time.”

Though he once had a summer home on New Zealand’s South Island – now a B&B run by his sister, Jane – Maupin and his husband, Christopher Turner, have never thought seriously about relocating. “We used to consider the suburbs because we were fantasising about a big green lawn and a place for our dog to run. But I’m not sure that would ever outweigh the beauty of living here in the heart of all this humanity.”

Armistead’s city

Thirsty:  440 Castro
440 Castro Street. +1 415 621 8732.
An easy-going neighbourhood bar with hot guys of all ages.

Grab a snack: Café de la Presse
352 Grant Avenue. +1 415 398 2680.
A charming spot near the Chinatown gate that also happens to be in the heart of our French Quarter. Yes, we have a French district! This place offers newspapers from all over the world.

Wine & dine: The Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building #3. +1 415 861 8032.
The Slanted Door specialises in cleverly updated Vietnamese food. The Shaking Beef is not to be missed. Elegant atmosphere and a great view of the harbour from the Ferry Building.

La Mar
Pier 1½. +1 415 397 8880.
A Peruvian seafood restaurant in one of the old piers (just to the left of the Ferry Building). More great views and every imaginable kind of ceviche.

Koh Samui & The Monkey
415 Brannan Street. +1 415 369 0007.
Delicious Thai food in a stunning second-floor room with big casement windows overlooking the street.

Worthwhile tourist spot: Ferry Building
1 Ferry Building. +1 415 983 8030.
Pretty much the core of all that’s wonderful on the waterfront. It has a farmers’ market and a lot of artisanal foodstuffs. Don’t miss the Cowgirl Creamery and its many delectable cheesy treats. It’s all made an hour north of the city – by cowgirls, of course.

Locals only: The Ramp
855 Terry Francois Street. +1 415 621 2378.
A great burger joint on the waterfront in a semi-industrial neighbourhood. Tourists almost never find it.

Culture vulture: The de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive. +1 415 750 3600.
Our new pride and joy, smack dab in the middle of Golden Gate Park. The building, resembling a giant, rusting aircraft carrier, is striking and beautiful in that green setting. The Sculpture Garden is worth exploring.

Go green: Crissy Field
1199 East Beach (Crissy Field Center). +1 415 561 7690.
Where we walk our dog on special occasions. It’s a reclaimed tidal marsh with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Kids and dogs and sailboats and kites – heaven on a sunny day.

Source Qantas The Australian Way March 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An Evening with Armistead Maupin

Everything I’ve ever written is based on something in my life.

Armistead Maupin, best-selling author of the Tales of the City novels, is back with the latest story in the series. Mary Ann in Autumn continues his exploration of ‘alternative’ lifestyles in the city by the bay.

The popular series broke new ground with its open reflection of San Francisco’s gay community in the 70s and 80s as well as its frank discussion of AIDS. Maupin’s willingness to broach this subject, at a time when many wouldn’t, has ensured his place in literary history.

Audiences can hear him read aloud from his latest novel before watching him take part in a lively interview with Julie McCrossin. Fans will then have the opportunity to question him about his life and work. As a best-selling author, social commentator, gay soldier in Vietnam, and advocate of homosexual rights, Maupin has led a fascinating life which has earned him a place as a literary icon.

"My hope is that we're close to the time that homophobia takes on the status of racism today -- normal, mainstream people don't accept it." Armistead Maupin

“Tales, the phenomenon that started in 1976 has evolved into a pop cultural phenomenon that has come to define a San Francisco era and ethos.” Los Angeles Times

As part of this event, Armistead Maupin be available for you to meet and personally sign your ‘Tales in the City’ book directly after the event in the Concert Hall foyer.

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View Armistead Maupin’s website

Part of the 2011 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

 Please note this performance will be filmed for broadcasting.

Venue: Concert Hall
Dates: 3 March
Duration: 75 minutes including Q&A

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