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Motown, jazz, Broadway and G&S - all in the Bay Area this week

Krisha Marcano (Florence Ballard), Allison Semmes (Diana Ross) & Trisha Jeffrey (Mary Wilson) in 'Motown the Musical'
Krisha Marcano (Florence Ballard), Allison Semmes (Diana Ross) & Trisha Jeffrey (Mary Wilson) in 'Motown the Musical'
Joan Marcus

Motown the Musical has hit San Francisco with a blast - and what a show it is! The sensational score whips up a storm - full of some of the wonderful numbers that have set pulses racing since the 1960s. The choreography and dancing are simply stunning, and it’s a dazzling, high-energy, thoroughly professional performance, delivered with infectious joy, exuberance and style - by cast and orchestra alike.

If you belong to the generation that benefited from this tremendous musical legacy, you won’t want to miss it. If you’re coming to the Motown Sound as a relative newcomer, don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience what this fabulous cultural revolution was all about.

Motown the Musical is playing at the SHN Orpheum Theatre in Market Street until September 28. For more information, visit, and for tickets visit the SHN website.

SHN has another new production for San Francisco audiences this week, Jonathan Tolins’ Buyer & Cellar, starring Michael Urie (of Ugly Betty fame). Described by The New York Times as an “outrageous new comedy about the oddest of odd jobs”, the action centers on Alex, a struggling actor in LA, who takes a job in Barbra Streisand's Malibu basement. The Chicago Sun-Times says it’s “Too good to pass up!” and LA Weekly hails it as “Spellbindingly hilarious!”

Buyer & Cellar is at the Curran Theatre until August 31. For more information visit, and for tickets, visit

SFJAZZ winds up its summer season this week with four great performances. The first, on August 21, pairs celebrated New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott with a group led by Sean Jones - bandleader and former horn star of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

Friday’s performance, Colors of a Dream, features trumpeter and composer, Tom Harrell in what’s described as “an expanded version of the Tom Harrell Quartet”, with the addition of bassists Esperanza Spalding and Ugonna Okegwo.

The Miles Electric Band takes the stage of the Miner Auditorium on Saturday, August 23. This 11-piece improvising ensemble specializes in the music which Miles Davis created during the late 1960s through to the 80s, and is led by his nephew, drummer Vincent Wilburn, Jr.

The final concert of the season, on Sunday August 24, features GRAMMY-winning trumpeter Doc Severinsen - regarded as one of the most famous jazz musicians in the world - with the Tommy Igoe Big Band.

For more information on all these performances, and for tickets, visit

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival presents Let's Go Salsa@Jessie Square on August 21. Admission-free, this open-air salsa dance party features Congolese-born salsero Ricardo Lemvo, and his dance partner Makina Loca, who will be giving salsa lessons before the performance which takes place at Jessie Square in Mission Street from 6.00 to 7.30 pm.

For further information visit

Transcendence Theater Company presents the final three performances of The Music of the Night, in the Company’s current Broadway Under the Stars series at Jack London State Park this week. The Music of the Night features popular songs and favorite numbers from Broadway, performed by a cast of performers from productions in both New York and Hollywood.

For more information visit the Transcendence Theatre Company website.

Society Cabaret at Hotel Rex presents two performance this week. On Friday, August 22, Paul Araquistain, Stephanie Lundin and Stephanie Lynne Smith feature in a cabaret entitled Lush ‘n’ Roulette which shows what happens “when you take a sassy school teacher, a mild-mannered corporate guy and a pianist with an attitude, add cocktails and stir”.

On Saturday, Society Cabaret presents Yes Dear! (A Marital Cabaret). Husband and wife duo Scott Grinthal and Laren Mayer deal with the ups and downs of married life, blending anecdotes, humor and advice with show tunes, rock songs, favorite numbers and original comedy songs.

For more information on Society Cabaret at Hotel Rex (562 Sutter Street) and tickets, visit

The San Francisco Playhouse season is drawing to a close, but there’s still time to catch its two end-of-season productions - Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods at the Playhouse (running until September 6), and From Red to Black at A C T Costume Shop, which closes on August 30. These two productions couldn’t be further apart in content - Into the Woods is a merry romp, until reality sets in and it adopts a more contemplative tone - and From Red to Black portrays a powerful, gritty murder enquiry. Both are absolutely first-class in terms of entertainment, production and performance, and neither should be missed.

Further information and tickets from

The Lamplighters’ production of The Pirates of Penzance moves to Livermore for its final performances this weekend. One of the most popular comic operas of all time, this Gilbert and Sullivan classic is wonderfully entertaining, with an enduringly popular songbook.

The Pirates of Penzance is at the Bankhead Theater, 2400 First Street, Livermore, with two performances on Saturday August 23 and a matineé on Sunday. For more information and tickets, call 925-373-6800 or visit

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