Local tribute shows – from Fats Waller to Edith Pilaf

Local tribute shows – from Fats Waller to Edith Piaf

Local tribute shows – from Fats Waller to Edith Pilaf
Benjamin Rafael Garcia and Griffin Davis Bier in Synergy Theater’s improvised “The Mating Game” at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center through April 23. (Photo Courtesy of Synergy Theater)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (April 19, 2023) — A lot is happening at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts, including Synergy Theater’s world debut of the improvised romantic comedy “The Mating Game” through April 23.

According to artistic director Kenn Adams, three eligible contestants, a hopeful bachelor and a powerful game show host keep the action coming fast and furious as the ups and downs of romantic love play out on stage.

Meanwhile, Contra Costa Musical Theatre performs one of my favorite musicals – “Ain’t Misbehavin’” – April 24-29. Set in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, this toe-tapping musical review is a tribute to Fats Waller.

The Lesher Center is at 1601 Civic Dr., Walnut Creek. For tickets, call 925-943-7469 or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.

No Regrets

Local tribute shows – from Fats Waller to Edith Pilaf
Consummate performer Christine Andreas returns to the Live at the Orinda! concert series with her new show, “Piaf – No Regrets” April 23. The multi-media presentation includes slides and video as well as Andreas’ soaring vocals with husband Marty Silvestri, Grammy nominated composer and pianist. (Cliff Lipson photo)

Broadway and cabaret star Christine Andreas brings “Piaf – No Regrets” to Live at the Orinda! on April 23. The concert series at the art deco Orinda Theatre offers first class talent in an intimate venue.

A consummate performer, Andreas starred on Broadway in “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” “Oklahoma!,” “My Fair Lady” opposite the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Ian Richardson, “Light in the Piazza” and “La Cage Aux Folles” with Kelsey Grammar. Her concert work has taken her to such venues as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and London’s West End.

“At first, I had a misconception about Piaf. Many people think of her as this poor, tragic soul, but she was so much more than that. She was magnificent,” said Andreas. “Yes, her life was crazy and eccentric, but she lived it on her own terms. She broke through so many barriers as a woman and as a performer. As a composer, she wrote over 100 songs. What a soul.”

In the show, Andreas adds slides and videos – some featuring Edith Piaf herself singing.

“It’s really more of a theater piece than a cabaret show. I added four to five beautiful speeches by poet and writer Drew Harris. They help put you in Piaf’s world,” she said.

I’ve been to several in the concert series and enjoyed them immensely. Where else can one enjoy champagne and popcorn?
The theater is at 4 Orinda Theatre Square. Go to www.orindamovies.com to reserve a seat.

Ah Wilderness

Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness!” is next up at Pittsburg Theatre Company. Unlike O’Neill’s grittier works, this one paints a more tender portrait of small-town family values, teenage growing pains and young love. It is set in 1906 over the July 4 weekend. Michael Wilson directs.

“Ah Wilderness!” performs April 21-30 at the California Theatre, 351 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg. Go to pittsburgcommunitytheatre.org for more information and tickets.

Attention high school juniors and seniors, the Eugene O’Neill Foundation’s free master class in acting and playwriting takes place June 14-25. Reservations for the 10-day retreat are available at www.eugeneoneill.org.

Registration is also open for Clayton Theatre’s Summer Stage camp, which takes place in June and culminates in a showcase performance June 23. For details, visit www.claytontheatrecompany.com/summer-stage.

Send comments to sallyhogarty@gmail.com

Sally Hogarty
Sally Hogarty

Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to sallyhogarty@gmail.com