SF FOLLIES at Pier 39 a San Francisco Treat

Brett Hammon as Gavin Newsom is joined by 4 beauties to open SF Follies playing at Pier 39.

SF FOLLIES: A Musical Revue. A John Bisceglie production (Author, director, producer and costume/set designer) with coauthor JasonTarshis. Theatre 39 at Pier 39, Beach Street and Embarcadero, San Francisco. 1-800-838-3006 or www.sffollies.com. May 6 - June 5, 2011.

SF FOLLIES at Pier 39 a San Francisco Treat

In 2009 SF Follies wowed audiences when it was staged for a limited run at an intimate Actors Theatre on Sutter Street. Because of its success multi-talented author-director-producer-designer John Bisceglie moved the show to a larger venue at Pier 39 on Fisherman’s Wharf for another short run that I did not have the pleasure of seeing. This time around it is back on Pier 39 with the best skits from previous shows and new material update to keep it topical. A number of the original casts are back and the new additions form a cohesive unit. The production and performance values remain high and while the large cast remains impressive, the loss of intimacy detracts from the over-all pleasure.

Be assured that pleasure abounds and the exuberance of the cast is contagious. Bisceglie and staff have written clever new lyrics to old songs, created outrageous costumes and the cast seems to have a ball belting out their numbers. This San Francisco specific 90 minute revue explodes with satire, wit and sight gags. It is an ambitious undertaking that lampoons The City’s history and personalities using adjuvant slides and movie clips for emphasis. The authors are equal opportunity skewers of tradition and personalities and there are no sacred cows.

Senators Diane Fienstein and Barbara Boxer, Willie Brown, Father Junipero Serra, Jan Wahls and on and on strut their stuff upon the stage to be shared with physical attractions of the city such as Coit Tower, the Exploratorium and of course the Golden Gate Bridge. Brett Hammon is pitch perfect returning as Gavin Newsom in his new position as Lieutenant Governor and is still allowed to take the innocent mid-western couple on a tour of the city neighborhoods as they search for an “affordable” home. This is one of the best, and the most extended, skits of the show. His rendition of “Popular” from the musical Wicked with altered lyrics is a showstopper.

It is a truly ensemble performance with 15, count them 15 talented actors giving their best. Individual accolades would do disservice to those not mentioned but each and every one of them has their moment upon the stage to shine. The glittering costumes are fantastic and allow you to overlook the one-two-three-kick-turn-extend your arms choreography.

The period depicted begins in the 1800s to the present including the gold rush, the Great Earthquake, the hippies, the flower children, up to and including our loveable 2010 World Champion Giants baseball team. Some of the zany, irreverent, scary, boisterous laugh out loud skits/characters include: a deranged sea lion, hysterical/historical Laughing Sal from Playland at the Beach, hippies, a bag lady mermaid, an almost naked gold miner, Britney Spears, Mary Poppins, Girl Scouts, Saloon Girls, SF Brown Twins, 1800's Mother with Doll, Patty Hearst, Muni Driver, Pot Show Girl, Bush Man, Meter Maid, Muni Thug, Harvey Milk, Gay marriage male couple, bearded man, a swan that will not be cast in “Swan Lake” and Tom Ammiamo.

The 90 minutes flies by and it is eye-boggling to see costume after costume appear from the wings with this excellent ensemble group, all with great-good voices, singing and dancing up a storm.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com