Thursday, November 27, 2008

Katya - A Red Christmas

Katya Ludmila Smirnoff-Skyy, Ladies, Gentlemen, and those who are a little of both:

For those not yet in-the-know, Katya is a Russian Opera Diva with a fascinating life story. She is also the creation of J. Conrad Frank, a San Francisco countertenor who received his vocal training at The University of Oregon.

Katya's act is a combination of her own unique blend of Opera, Popera, and Broadway standards - musical parody and comedy with strong cabaret sensibilities. Praised for her “rich and moving mezzo voice” (San Francisco BAR) and her “wicked comic timing,” Katya’s shows are not to be missed, and regularly play to sold out houses.

Meeting Katya

I caught Katya at Martuni's for the first time a few weeks ago, and was both laughing at her hysterical parody of the famed Dreamgirls song "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" and in AWE of her amazing mezzo voice. Her vocal gymnastics (which normally I am not a fan of, but when they are this f**ing amazing, you don't really have a choice) are unparalleled, and had my mind swinging around the uneven bars just trying to keep up.

A few weeks later, I was most charmed to meet her creator, J. Conrad Frank - whom I immediately recognized from his Facebook photo. I had seen this photo because we have mutual friends on Facebook, and I was so entranced by it that I sent him a friend request, not having any idea that he was Katya. I soon found out, however, and when I recently caught sight of him in the audience at Martuni's, sitting at a table adjacent to mine, I was again entranced by that familiar, oh-so-photographical visage. As I watched his responses to the show, I found him to be utterly adorable. Naturally, I talked to him at the first opportunity, and found him to be as quite friendly and as easy to talk to as he is easy on the eyes.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Justin Bond is in town

and headlining a show that is a veritable who’s who of the queer entertainment world!

Thanksgiving Eve (Wednesday, November 26) at:

Tingle Tangle Club @ Café du Nord

Doors 8pm; show 9ish

Bond’s co-host for the evening is Leigh Crow – lead singer of the Whoa Nellies and The Mighty Slim Pickins, and former Elvis Herselvis

Also on the bill are:

Veronica Klaus

Connie Champagne with Trauma Flintstone

SF Boylesque

And many more!

Where you there? Do comment about your experience using the comment link!

Did you miss it? Well, I took notes, and can provide some details if you're interested. Let me know, using the comment link.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

C'mon Boys and Girls - it's Connie's Birthday!!

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23rd 7pm (Doors open at 6:30)
THE WHOA NELLIES in concert at MARTUNI'S (at Market and Valencia)

Special Birthday Concert for Connie Champagne
$5 cover (only $3 if you dress in 60s/70s garb).

From the band's website:
"The Whoa Nellies are an outta-sight new [sic] vocal group that features the incredible talents of Leigh Crow and the legendary Miss Connie Champagne. We are an ultra-mod quintet specializing in classic three-part harmony pop songs from the mid-to-late 60's and early 70's. We take great pride in resurrecting the lost art of vocal harmonizing as a tribute to our ultra-fab faves: The Mamas and The Papas, The Hollies, The Partridge Family, The Monkees and The Cowsills. We are San Francisco's very own "Bubblegum Preservation Society". Our groovy performing outfits are also from the flower-power era."

Connie Champagne is one of San Francisco's entertainment treasures. A versatile singer who performs solo shows as well as fronting a variety of bands, Connie is equally at home performing big band, swing, standards, 1960's pop, rock - she started out in punk bands. She is also a gifted actress, best known for her portrayals of Judy Garland. Her Garland persona has been described as "a subtle masterpiece of parody and homage", and is in high demand.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Rocky Horror Show ... Live at the Victoria!


See it while you ca-ha-han!

This is the original musical that spawned the longest-running film of all time. It's a fully staged rock show with a live band, scenery, lighting and special effects...

Friday and Saturday at 8pm at the Victoria Theatre

ng with a special "unrated" performance Saturday at 11pm
(wardrobe malfunctions and who knows what else!)

Starring the multi-talented Jef Valentine as Dr. Frank N Furter and featuring San Francisco stage veterans Rebecca Pingree, Jason Hoover, Sarah Kathleen Farrell, Manuel Caneri, Jessica Coker and Leanne Borghesi. It is directed and choreographed by Los Angeles-based Cate Caplin, with musical direction and original arrangements by Ben Prince.


"In Ray of Light's joyously sleazy production at the Victoria, the near-perfect cast manages to pay tribute to the film while out-pacing it in almost every way.... the beautifully executed production numbers render audience participation more or less irrelevant. The whole thing is brilliant proof that "Rocky Horror" doesn't need a cult following to be a smash."

"Valentine rocks that Frank-n-Furter corset magnificently"
- SF WEEKLY, All Shook Down

"Valentine is charismatic as the barmy transvestite... he embraces the role with an almost fanatical gusto. His vocal chords on the songs are vigorous and bell clear...there is a bit of Marilyn Manson menace in his portrayal."
- Richard Connema TALKING BROADWAY

"ROCKY HORROR is a pretty amazing theatrical experience and one of the best live productions of anything I've seen in a long Long LONG time: true to the original but not slavishly recreating the film, with fairly lavish production values, awesome projections, kickass costumes and cool choreography, a great director, fantastic music direction and rock solid perfect casting in every role."
- award-winning lyricist and performer Tom Orr

"... an enjoyable cast, headed up by a formidable Jef Valentine"

Spotlight on Jef Valentine

The current star of Ray of Light Theatre's production of The Rocky Horror Show has been impressing audiences for some time. He recently played the title role in Charles Busch’s "Theodora; She-Bitch of Byzantium" with Thrillpeddlers, San Francisco's unique theatre company specializing in 'Grand Guignol' horror plays. Of that performance, SF Weekly declared "Valentine commands the stage like a true empress". For a slideshow of that play, see the bottom of this page.

Other credits include Christina in "Christmas with the Crawfords" at Theatre Rhinoceros/Artfull Circle, Miss Texas in "Pageant" at Oregon Cabaret Theatre in Ashland, "Dirty Little Secret" at the Empire Plush Room, Midnight Mass Players and countless appearances at the legendary Trannyshack. Incidentally, he holds the Guinness World Record for Longest Distance Tap Dance (9.6 miles).

Last March he performed another song from Rocky Horror at the legendary Trannyshack. See the video near the bottom of this page for a view of that thrilling performance. "Hot Patootie", indeed.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cellar Door Theatre brings back Charles Busch's cult classics - with finesse and flair

October 2 through November 1
at Stage Werx

Mark McCleese
(Choreographer/Fauna Alexander/Girl/Madeleine Astarte) was a knockout in the roles originated by actor/playwright Charles Busch. The choreography was fresh and fun, and McCleese's dancer's body lended itself well to the form-fitting and revealing costumes. I was happy to see that this production stayed true to Busch's original style of drag, which involved no padding whatsoever. Mark's voice and mannerisms were amazingly feminine, and he commanded both leads in a manner which would have made Busch proud.

Celeste Russi
(Enid Wetwhistle/Succubus/La Condesa) was another standout in the roles originated by actress Julie Halston. She appeared to handle the difficult roles with equal parts vim and abandon, and was truly a delight to watch.

Kudos should go Artistic Director David Stein. According to Charles Busch, Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Sleeping Beauty or Coma are very tricky to pull off.

I was not privileged to see the original productions, or any other production until this one, but I felt that every decision that went into this production was right. The proof was in the audience enjoyment of these two plays. The laughter flowed freely throughout, people smiled in unison as if we were all friends at a party, and there was a general feeling of fun and goodwill. I saw it with two friends who were under a lot of stress as well as dealing with painful physical ailments - and was happy to see that both forgot their troubles and enjoyed themselves. Stein truly did reach his goal to "
give each and every audience member a small vacation from everyday reality".

I want to thank all involved in this production for giving us that small vacation, as well as for giving a new audience, myself included, the opportunity to see two legendary plays done with great style and finesse. As a friend of the playwright, it was truly a treat for me to finally see his early works come alive onstage.

Sleeping Beauty or Coma

Vampire Lesbians of Sodom

Ray of Light Theatre's "Rocky Horror" - FINAL WEEKEND! Feature by Comcast:

Valentine at Trannyshack performing "Hot Patootie"

Thrillpeddlers' production of Charles Busch's "Theodora, She-Bitch of Byzantium" (2008)