A Rich Mix of Late Spring Diversions

American Conservatory Theater will continue staging the highly-acclaimed new production of Vanity Fair through May 12.

Rubens’ Head of Medusa. Image courtesy of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.

BY PAUL DUCLOS

 

American Conservatory Theater  will continue staging the highly-acclaimed new production of Vanity Fair through May 12.

 

Playwright Kate Hamill’s rollicking new stage adaptation of William Thackeray’s classic 19th-century novel speaks to 21st-century concerns. Ambitious Becky Sharp may not have been “to the manor born,” but she’s bent on achieving such comfort at any cost. Armed with fierce wit and calculating charm, Becky forges her own path through London’s high society, dealing herself into a game she was never invited to play.

 

Displaying the celebrated audacity and verve that she brought to her adaptation of Sense & Sensibility, Hamill seeks to conjure an inventive and lively period drama combining a fierce contemporary edge with the theatricality of Victorian Burlesque. The New York Times described the play as “a gift to actors and a goody bag for its audience.”

 

More information at www.act-sf.org.

 

 

Beach Blanket’s Swan Song

 

With the San Francisco skyline coming into sharp relief as your ferry approaches for docking, one can hardly blame you for thinking how closely this all resembles a hat designed for Beach Blanket Babylon. All the elements of the confection are there, of course, including our TransAmerica Building and the monolithic Bank of America. The jewel box we know as City Hall can also be seen looming just in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

Two years ago, Bay Crossings conducted an exclusive interview with Beach Blanket Babylon producer Jo Schuman Silver, which can be found on the website at www.baycrossings.com/dispnews.php?id=3454.

 

Beach Blanket Babylon, which began in 1974, is sadly coming to end at the end of this year. If you have not seen this show, or wish to revisit Club Fugazi before it’s closed, get down there for the sendoff.

 

For more information, see www.beachblanketbabylon.com.

 

 

San Francisco Opera Prepping Rusalka

 

With the San Francisco Ballet having successfully staged its production of The Little Mermaid, the San Francisco Opera is preparing to replicate the magic in June with Rusalka, a story about a water nymph, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen and featuring the popular aria “Song to the Moon.”

 

We look forward to our interview next month with Jamie Barton, who will be performing the role of the sea witch, Ježibaba. There is an entertaining clip on YouTube of her performing the role at the Met.

 

 

Rubens Exhibit at Legion of Honor

 

Finally, now on exhibit at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor through September 8 is Early Rubens.

 

In 1608, after a period of intense artistic study in Italy, Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) returned to his hometown of Antwerp. He found a city eager to renew its visual culture and ready to support him, a bold artist who worked at a rapid pace and dramatic scale that could satisfy the demand for religious images while also supplying private collectors with works of ancient history and mythology.

 

Early Rubens is the first exhibition dedicated to the pivotal years between 1609 and 1621 when the Northern Baroque master established his career. In approximately 30 paintings and 20 works on paper, the exhibition traces Rubens’s early development as a master painter with a unique gift for depicting seductive and shocking narratives. Rubens was not only a sought-after artist, but also a diplomat, shrewd business man, and a friend to scholars and monarchs.

 

Early Rubens explore the artist’s meteoric rise to the first rank of European painters through a series of social and artistic choices that laid the groundwork for his international fame.

       

Approximately 50 works from private and public collections in Europe and North America have been brought together for the exhibition. Many are exhibited in North America or on the U.S. West Coast for the first time. The exhibition is arranged thematically, thereby revealing Rubens’s mastery of a broad range of visual styles and subject matter, both historical and mythological.

Adam Magill as Rawdon and Rebekah Brockman as Becky Sharp. Photo by Scott Suchman