If you love gaudy, bawdy musicals, if you thrill to high energy glitz with amazing chorus lines that dazzle, and if you adore San Francisco, in all of its grime and glory, you owe it to yourself to see this exciting, edgy show that ridicules all the things that drive us wild: the filthy pan handlers, the drug dealers, the crammed busses, vindictive meter maids and littered streets set against a skyline to die for and opulence no one can afford. John Bisceglie has created an exciting phenomenon: he has captured the very essence of San Francisco, its evanescent charm, and irresistible magnetism, its squalor, hypocrisy and contracting values. He has packed an immense volume of outrageous politically incorrect revelation into 90 minutes of rousing song and dance. AND he manages to do all this in the tiny 90 seat Actor’s Theater on a stage no bigger than a postage stamp.
This show is far more than a “must see” event…it is a “must see at least twice and bring everyone you know” happening that no one wants to end. Fifteen talented, enthusiastic performers fill the stage and capture the heart of everyone lucky enough to be in that audience. The plot roasts San Francisco from its beginning 300 years ago to Gavin Newsom (“I’m pop-u-lar in my Prada suit” …… to the tune of Wicked). The tongue-in-cheek score targets every aspect of the city we know, adore and revile. Nothing is sacred. Bisceglie takes on BART, the Community Transit System, Haight-Ashbury and Diane Feinstein. We get spoofs on the Golden Gate Bridge. the adorable Brown Sisters and The Sutro Tower.
The imaginative sets, the glitter and the choreography, not to mention spectacular costumes all enhance but never detract from an hour and a half of pure delight. You don’t want to miss Jessica Payne spoofing Jan Wahl, a beggar woman and a dike on a bike. Jujuana SahRon sings “Cash, Not just Care” as she pushes her overflowing shopping cart across the stage and Jenna Davi steals your heart as Nancy Pelosi and best of the best, an adorably hilarious pink poodle in heat. Ryan McBreaty destroys as the nasty Meter Maid singing a parody of Gilbert and Sullivan: “I am the very model of a modern city meter maid.“
Bisceglie, a San Jose native, he created and produced the long running San Jose Follies in 1995 and San Jose Follies Strikes Back that played for two years at both Bella Mia Restaurant and the Victory Theater in Downtown San Jose. For years, Bisceglie has wanted to create a Follies production for San Francisco. Over the past 12 months, he has been busy developing SF’s own Follies with co-author and friend Jason Tarshis, who also co-wrote both of the San Jose productions. Though both writers had great fun working on the San Jose Follies, they agreed that only a San Francisco setting could do the follies justice. Although the show is risqué at times with definite attitude, it is by no means mean-spirited. Its “Hit List” includes over 300 SF and California personalities, businesses, landmarks and institutions. As an audience member, you may even be lucky enough to run into one of the celebrities that are lampooned since many are being offered special VIP tickets to the show.
The finale injects that touch of nostalgia we all feel about the city: San Francisco may be dirty, filled with corruption, unpleasant odors and off-beat people with attitude, but it is ours, all ours and we would live no where else. A piano solo of “I left My Heart in San Francisco accompanies a slide show of the city, past and present in flickering black and white right before the last song and dance. We see the raising of the Golden Gate Bridge, the opium dens, the 1906 earthquake and all of it brings tears to our eyes as we remember what we‘ve heard, what we’ve felt and what binds us to this magic place called San Francisco.
It takes great genius to pull all this together and pack it into a teensy-weensy theater a couple of blocks off Union Square. Bouquets upon bouquets to John Bisceglie, his impeccable cast, the cryptic, just right script, and funny, yet glorious song and dance that makes you tap your feet while it fills your heart.
I warn you: Do not wait to buy tickets for this show. When word gets out, there won’t be a seat left.
IF YOU GO:
SF Follies plays at the Actors Theatre, 855 Bush Street, San Francisco Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays @ 2 p.m.
Open seating tickets $33-$40 and worth every penny.
800 838 3006
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