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Some fine entertainment in the Bay Area this week - Part I

'From Red to Black' - Detectives Mitchell (Charles Shaw Robinson) and Flanagan (Matthew Baldiga) interrogate William (Isiah Thompson)
'From Red to Black' - Detectives Mitchell (Charles Shaw Robinson) and Flanagan (Matthew Baldiga) interrogate William (Isiah Thompson)
Jordan Puckett

San Francisco Playhouse has just opened a new production in its Sandbox Series. A world premiere, From Red to Black hits you with the force of the New York subway train which is central to the plot of this remarkable play by Rhett Rossi.

Powerful, gritty and thought-provoking, it pulls no punches. A man is killed in a New York subway by an oncoming train. A suspect is being ruthlessly interrogated by two detectives. A colleague of the dead man is drawn into the action. Each of these four characters is a victim of his own personal set of circumstances, each of which has an influence on the progress of the interrogation.

The dialogue is blunt, hard-hitting and fast-moving, but the language is not for the faint-hearted. Susi Damilano once again demonstrates her consummate skill for direction - focused, pacy, never missing a beat - drawing a simply stunning performance from each of the four members of her cast.

Plaudits, too, for the team behind the design and special effects - most impressive, and well executed - on a stage the size of a postage stamp.

If a gutsy drama is your thing, this one has to be seen.

From Red to Black runs at the A C T Costume Shop, 1117 Market Street, until August 30th. For further information and tickets visit the San Francisco Playhouse website.

This week, SFJAZZ presents a tribute to legendary San Francisco saxonophonist, Joe Henderson, with the dedication of the space in the Center which bears his name. The Joe Henderson Hotplate Festival features some of his greatest moments, presented by some of the Bay Area’s finest jazz artists.

On Thursday, saxophonist Mel Martin presents the music of Henderson’s 1963 debut, Page One. Friday sees Bay Area pianist, Matt Clark and his band with The Real McCoy - the 1967 Blue Note debut by pianist McCoy Tyner, whose band included Joe Henderson. The Saturday performance features San Francisco pianist Adam Shulman and his group with a performance of Horace Silver’s 1964 Blue Note release, Song for My Father, an album which includes Henderson’s The Kicker.

The Festival winds up with a performance by Bay Area saxophonist, Michael Zilber, of Henderson’s Grammy-winning 1992 album Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn - which The New York Times described as being “as close to artistic genius as jazz gets nowadays”.

Demand for tickets is high. August 16 and 17 are already sold out, with few tickets left for the August 14 and 15, however it’s always worth checking for cancellations on the day. For further information, visit www.sfjazz.org.

Transcendence Theatre Company opens the third concert in its Broadway Under the Stars series at the Jack London State Park this week. Entitled The Music of the Night - inspired by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s unforgettable hit from Phantom of the Opera - the production presents some of the greatest numbers in the musical theater repertoire.

It also features a cast of performers who have appeared on Broadway, in films and on television, in productions such as Wicked, West Side Story, Young Frankenstein, Mary Poppins and Hairspray.

The mission of Transcendence Theatre Company is “to create transcendent experiences that inspire others to go beyond the usual limits and change the world in extraordinary ways”, and the Company specializes in producing Broadway concerts and musicals in the open-air ruins of an historic winery in Jack London State Park, as well as in venues throughout Sonoma County.

Transcendence Theatre Company was named San Francisco’s 2013 Theatre of the Year by Broadway World, also winning the awards for Best Special Theater Event, Best Production for Youth and Best Choreographer for its 2013 season. It also won the Broadway World award for Best Special Theater Event in both of its first two seasons - an impressive series of accolades from the world’s largest theatre website which honors the theatrical arts right across the United States.

The Music of the Night will be held in the winery ruins at Jack London State Historic Park on August 14, 15 and 16, and continue with a further three performances next week (August 22, 23 and 24). All concerts begin with a pre-show picnic at 5:00 pm, with food and wine for sale on site, from local Sonoma vendors. For tickets visit www.TTCsonoma.org or call (877) 424-1414.