Besties announcedin Arts & Culture
by Roberto Friedman
Before we get to our regular programming, Out There is proud to present five fine winners from the Arts & Entertainment entries of the Bay Area Reporter's 2014 Besties, the LGBT Best of the Bay.
Best Live Music Venue
Tie: The Fillmore, The Warfield
The Fillmore, at the corner of Fillmore St. and Geary Blvd., began life as a dance hall in 1912, and operated as one under many names (The Get Acquainted Society was one, which has a nice ring to it) through the 1930s, and as a roller rink in the 1940s. In the 1950s, it served as the venue for West Coast tours of the biggest names in black music, including James Brown and Ike & Tina Turner. The Fillmore's immortal place in music history dates from the tenure of legendary promoter Bill Graham, who launched the careers of the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, Santana and others there. Its stage has been graced by Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, The Who and other icons. The 1970s-early 80s found punk luminaries like Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys thrashing on stage. Recent years have brought Prince, Sonic Youth, Radiohead , The Cure and others. Upcoming shows include Gary Numan (April 6-8) and Boy George (April 28).
The Warfield, which also won the Bestie in this category last year, opened in 1922. A list of the acts that have been presented there is a veritable Who's Who of great entertainment, from Al Jolson , Louis Armstrong and Charlie Chaplin in its early days to Bob Dylan , The Clash, U2 and David Bowie. Scenes from the 1991 film The Doors were filmed at the theater. Upcoming shows include Emmylou Harris (April 5) and Lauryn Hill (May 12).
(Runner-up in this category: Yoshi's SF.)
The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco. www.thefillmore.com.
The Warfield, 982 Market Street, San Francisco. www.thewarfieldtheatre.com.
Best Theater Group
San Francisco's premiere nonprofit theater company has enjoyed a national and international reputation beginning with its first season on the Geary (now ACT) Theatre stage in 1967. Longtime artistic director Carey Perloff and company present a mix of contemporary stagework, classic repertoire and global fare. Playwright David Ives' Venus in Fur is currently onstage (through April 13: see review in this issue), and still to come this season are master director Peter Brook's The Suit (April 23-May 18) and James Fenton 's The Orphan of Zhao, featuring BD Wong (June 4-29). Alumni of the ACT MFA Program include Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, and Benjamin Bratt . Out with ACT, celebrating its 10th year this season, was the first dedicated LGBT night at a Bay Area arts organization, and proved a great success.
(Runner-up in this category: New Conservatory Theatre Center.)
American Conservatory Theater, Box Office: 405 Geary Street, San Francisco, (415) 749-2228. www.act-sf.org.
Best Movie Theater
No surprise here, as the Castro District's very own Art Deco movie palace wins this category for the fourth consecutive year. Architect Timothy Pflueger's masterpiece was built in 1922, and has hosted classic repertoire, film festivals, concerts and more ever since. Coming up on April 11-12, the Castro Theatre will present a tribute to the late comedy writer-director Harold Ramis : a double feature of Groundhog Day and Caddyshack (4/11); and a triple feature of National Lampoon's Vacation, Stripes and National Lampoon's Animal House (4/12). Also this month, the Castro Theatre brings back the sing-along screenings of Disney's Oscar-winning Frozen for three weekends of matinee shows and one evening show on Easter (April 12, 19-20, 26-27 at 1 p.m., April 20 at 5 p.m.). Frozen fans are invited to don their best Anna, Snow Queen Elsa, Kristoff , and reindeer-inspired costumes, and sing out with the show. And let's not forget the Castro's Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, played by stalwart Castro organist David Hegarty before the evening shows. It's a true San Francisco tradition.
(Runner-up in this category: Sundance Kabuki.)
Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415) 621-6129. www.castrotheatre.com.
At first glance, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art seems an odd choice for the 2014 winner in this category, since its main attraction is currently closed through early 2016 while the flagship SoMa building undergoes extensive expansion and renovation. But in the meantime, SFMOMA is offering a robust roster of off-site programming, exhibitions jointly organized with other Bay Area arts institutions. These include Public Intimacy: Art and Social Life in South Africa (through June 2014) on view at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts; Matisse from SFMOMA (through September 7, 2014) on view at the Legion of Honor, of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; and Mark di Suvero at Crissy Field (through May 26, 2014), a site-specific installation of large-scale steel sculptures that "rhyme" with the nearby Golden Gate Bridge. Coming up this summer will be the much-anticipated collaborative show Gorgeous (June 20-September 14, 2014) on view at the Asian Art Museum.
(Runners-up in this category: the de Young Museum of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the GLBT Museum.)
SFMOMA, 151 3rd Street, San Francisco (closed for expansion), (415) 357-4000.
Best Dance Company
ODC/Dance, formerly Oberlin Dance Collective, founded in 1971 by Artistic Director Brenda Way, relocated to San Francisco in 1976, and is now a Bay Area arts institution with three resident choreographers (Way, Co-Artistic Director KT Nelson and Kimi Okada). Its sparkling new ODC Theater is one of the major centers for new and emerging performance in the Bay Area. ODC Theater presents over 120 events a year, including commissions. In its current season are two upcoming festivals: the return of the Walking Distance Dance Festival-SF in May; and, spanning four weeks from July into August, the first Music Moves Festival, a celebration of music and dance. Curated by Theater Director Christy Bolingbroke, highlights of Music Moves will include performances by ODC/Dance, Joe Goode Performance Group, the West Coast debut of Dance Heginbotham, Kate Weare Company, Paufve Dance, Holcombe Waller , Zoe Keating , Pearl Marill, Keith Terry & Friends and San Jose Taiko with DJ Bangerz.
(Runners-up in this category: San Francisco Ballet and Smuin Ballet.)
ODC, 3153 17th Street, San Francisco, (415) 863-6606. www.odctheater.org.
Mo' better news
Congratulations to all Besties winners and runners-up. Of course, as the editor of the B.A.R.'s arts section, Out There does not play favorites with theater companies, movie theaters, or any arts groups. In fact, we love them all for their incredible fortitude in the face of a society that by and large doesn't support the arts. But we know from experience that certain arts institutions and venues are destined to get more press than others. For example, the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Symphony belong in the big leagues of their respective arts disciplines. Just ask anyone who aspires to belong to their companies. We could no sooner run an arts section without coverage of the SFO, the SFB and the SFS than a sports editor could run a sports section without covering the San Francisco Giants and the San Francisco 49ers . Nor would our readers want us to.
This weekend's SF Symphony's concerts, for example, featuring SFS Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt and SFS Principal Clarinet Carey Bell , promise to be enticing (April 3-6). Bell will be performing great Danish composer Carl Nielsen 's jazz-inspired Clarinet Concerto with the orchestra, and it's always a special treat when one of the symphony's own musicians gets to take center stage in a concerto. Blomstedt will be leading Schubert 's Symphony in C Major, The Great. "This ninth and final Symphony," SFS materials remind us, "was ignored for more than a decade after the composer's passing, but once heard, was immediately hailed for its majesty and nobility."
Maestro Blomstedt is having a celebratory spring. In conjunction with the SFS concerts (his two-week stay continues through April 11), Decca has just released a 15-CD set entitled Herbert Blomstedt: The San Francisco Years on March 31, featuring a selection of the conductor's greatest SFS recordings, some of which have not been available for some time. Schubert's Great Symphony and the Bruckner Symphony #4, Romantic, which Blomstedt will be conducting during concerts on April 9 & 11, is part of that set. It's a nice opportunity to recognize the contributions Blomstedt made while he was Music Director in San Francisco, both in concert and through recordings.
Finally, here's advance word of an event that Alexander Book Co., 50 Second St. in SF, is having on Thursday, April 10, from Noon to 1 p.m., for author Emma Donoghue and her new book set in San Francisco in 1876, Frog Music. The event will feature live music from the era. Patrice Haan, on Celtic harp, and Tony Marcus, on banjo and guitar, will play a lullaby that the character Blanche sings to the world's most pathetic, ugly baby; a love song (both in French); and popular tunes like "Frog Went a-Courtin'" and "Young Man on the Flying Trapeze."
Donoghue's novel is based on a true story, the murder of a cross-dressing woman, Jenny Bonnet, who caught frogs for local restaurants. She and Blanche Buenon , a burlesque singer-dancer and whore in a bordello on Sacramento St., become friends after Jenny knocks Blanche down with her big-wheel bicycle. Sounds like just another day in traffic on the streets of San Francisco!