My Continuing Adventures As A San Francisco Entertainment Journalist
By Kimberlye Gold
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Greetings Heraldonians and alohhhhhh-HA from your recently sun-kissed golden child. This column will cram in a virtual mish mash of dis ‘n dat from the Mainland and that tropical paradise known as Hawaii.
Caught a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre on opening night to get a dose of nostalgia and see my old pal Corey Glover from the band Living Colour’s take on the role of “Judas”. He did a fine job, although not quite as much of a show-stopping powerhouse performance as I would have expected from this electrifying rock icon. He admitted after the show that he had just come off tour with Living Colour and was a bit under the weather, but he still kicked ass in my good book. I always envisioned him doing musical theatre and this was a great vehicle for him. Original cast member Ted Neely reprised his film role as “Jesus”, looking more like the grandfather, rather than son, of God. He sang as well as I remember from my hours of listening to the Original Cast Album as a kid, with that high, tenor rock voice, but his face barely moved! Too much Botox or something, I guess. The rest of the unknown cast was stellar, although Christina Rea Briskin’s “Mary Magdalene” looked and sounded a bit too “cabaret/pagenty” for my taste, especially her modern hair-do. Still love all those great Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber songs – they just don’t write ‘em like that anymore, as Greg Kihn would say (even Tim & Andrew don’t!).
Jersey Boys at the Curran Theatre was abso-f**kin-lutely terrific - fuggtedaboudit! Telling the story of the rise of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, the show was like a musical version of The Sopranos, with undeniable great song after song of their greatest hits like “Sherry Baby” and “Walk Like A Man”. Hilariously funny, brilliantly staged and cast, the show brought the audience to its feet too many times to count. My only minor disappointment was Christopher Kale Jones’ “Frankie” – his falsetto, while very good, did not hit the high notes quite the way the original Mr. Valli did. That said, after all these months of the show’s extended run and wild, critical acclaim, no one else seemed to notice, I guess. The high point of the night was at curtain call, when the remaining living members of the Four Seasons, including Frankie Valli, took bows with the cast members. We even walked next to Frankie and his son, leaving the theatre. Priceless!
Legally Blonde-The Musical at The Golden Gate Theatre was a shear (get it?) delight from start to finish. Staying true to the film of the same name starring Reese Witherspoon, whether or not you saw the movie about a, like, total Valley Girl from UCLA who becomes a Harvard Law student in order to win back her cad of a boyfriend, you were in for a fabulous time. As if! From the opening number, the set design, infectious staging, choreography, brilliant casting, memorable, catchy songs, and hilarious dialogue had the audience laughing and rooting for “Elle” to get her man and ultimately discover her own true path. Laura Bell Bundy particularly hit all the right notes as “Elle”, but there was not a weak link in the whole “she-bang”.
I had to see Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf at The Golden Gate because film star Kathleen Turner and her sultry voice were playing “Martha”, who could miss that? Those who saw the film from the sixties starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton as scarily sparring spouses hosting a late-night horror show of insults and mean games for a young, unsuspecting married couple they just met, might have been surprised at the different type of impact this stage version had, for a myriad of reasons. First, I had to get past the shock of seeing Kathleen Turner, once the definition of femme fatale sexpot, now bloated and beyond middle-aged, take on this role. It was more than a bit unnerving. Bill Irwin reprised his Tony-award winning “George”, and was in fine form. David Furr did well, as “Nick”, but Kathleen Early’s “Honey” was annoyingly cartoonish. After awhile, seeing these miserable people get progressively drunker and uglier just got tedious, even with the play’s devious twists and turns. Glad I went, glad it’s over.
Bill Clinton at the KCBS Health, Etc. Expo – Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Why attend a Health Expo early on a Saturday morning? To see and hear my favorite president, Bill Clinton, give the keynote speech, ‘natch! Opening the Billy Show was the Eyewitness Blues Band, comprised of anchors, reporters, and videographers from KCBS radio and sister TV station CBS 5. Kinda like a band at some small town club or your cousin’s wedding, they did their best to entertain and hoped to coax Bill to sit in on some swingin’ sax, the way he did on the Arsenio Hall Show all those years ago.
The place was packed with Clinton supporters, who hung on his every word about health care reform in America, a subject he is extremely passionate about. Charismatic and articulate as ever, Babe Bill had a lot to say about the ridiculous state of health insurance cost and coverage, the lack of care for everyone regardless of income, and how obscene it is compared to every other superpower country in the world. One of the most interesting points he brought up was the fact that medical records are not automatically Internet accessible in an age when that should be a given. He also commented upon administrative costs forcing health insurance rates to skyrocket and how the average low income family just cannot afford any kind of insurance anymore. During the Q&A, reporter Mike Sugarman decided to ask Bill about Iraq, which pushed Clinton’s buttons big-time and then some. When Sugarman tried to steer the conversation back to health issues, our man Bill pointed a stern finger at him and said, “Now wait a minute. You asked me a question and I’m going to answer that question.” Go, Bill! He had much more to say, but you’ll have to Google it, because space is tight and I need to get to MY agenda. (This is “Almost Famous”, after all, dear readers. You may already have read about it in our pal Ben Fong-Torres’ Radio Waves column in the San Francisco Chronicle Pink section some weeks back – where he mentioned me. Thanks, Ben!)
After the Q&A, the captivating and illuminating Bill spent over?an hour signing autographs and copies of his book, taking pictures, etc. Ben Fong-Torres was supposed to sing with the CBS?Eyewitness Blues Band and also hoped Bill would blow some sax - but they got booted by the former Pres needing to be with his peeps.?It was a mob scene - like he was a rock star with Secret Service people everywhere. At the last minute I decided to brave the crowd and get my program signed - and give him my Sycamore Street CD (I always carry one in my purse, just in case, as you well know)! Secret service guys were telling everyone to put their pens away, policing everything, but they didn’t see the CD hidden under my program. When I got my chance, I called out, “Bill!” and he took my CD and asked, “Is this for me?” I said, “This is my gift to you for all the gifts you have given us over the years, I hope you enjoy it.” He shook my hand, flashed me that classic Clinton smile said, “Great picture!” - all while hundreds of people were clamoring to get to him and the Secret Service men were watching us like a hawk.?We had a moment. It was my favorite “Almost Famous” moment ever. Then he gave the CD to one of the Secret Service guys and nodded to him. Think he’ll ever listen to it? Hey, maybe I’ll be performing at Hillary’s inauguration! Ya nevah know….
Aloha! When my partner-in-crime David Vaughn planned a trip to Hawaii, he really wanted to get away from it all and dreamed of a remote tropical paradise. Thanks to your golden girl, who doth protested and asked that some nightlife be thrown in, he hooked us up a Honolulu/Waikiki adventure that was more like being dropped down in San Francisco or New York across the street from a beach – even in May! Not exactly what the doctor ordered, but a rental car comes in very handy for quick getaways to parts less inhabited. What nobody could have predicted was that our arrival day unexpectedly coincided with beloved Hawaiian icon Don “Tiny Bubbles” Ho’s Memorial Service & Celebration on Queen’s Surf Beach on Waikiki, two blocks from our hotel (we just thought it was Cinco De Mayo)! Literally thousands of people drove, flew, walked and swam over to pay tribute to “Uncle Don”, who died of heart failure at age 76. Apparently, Uncle Don is to Hawaii what Elvis still is to us mainlanders, and at around 5:00 pm, a massive beach party ensued. After a semi-private service, around 30-50 canoes and boats went out to sea to scatter his ashes and spray them into the sky, as the Royal Hawaiian Orchestra took the stage. The local media was in tow as the Mayor and Governor spoke, all kinds of bands played, hula dancers swayed and the extravaganza ended with his sort-of pop star daughter Hoku Ho singing his other signature song, “I Will Remember You”. It went on till 9:00pm! We toasted the night a top the Tiki Bar across the street with a Cinco de Mayo margarita…
Other fun highlights and suggestions for you future travelers: I sat in with a cool band called Soul Bucket at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort and at the Waikiki Marriot (soulbucket.com). These guys are like human jukeboxes and can play any song you’ve ever heard in your life, along with a few of their own. Check ‘em out….Get out of big city dodge and travel up the North Shore to see beautiful, less congested beaches, witness breathtaking sunsets, turquoise waters, and discover hidden treasures like the Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet Store. After sampling free coffee and tasty treats, take the Ali’I Tour, traveling through the lush gardens on their “Adventure Bus”, hosted by Chief Sielu Avea, a genuine Samoan-born giant, covered in tattoos and (barely) dressed in native garb, who is not only knowledgeable, informative and entertaining, he is absolutely hilarious. The man is like a stand-up comic – with deadpan delivery like Steven Wright. Every other word some kind of sexual innuendo - watch him show you all the nuts - this guy needs a reality show! We shared our tour with five women from Alabama, and he had us all rolling in the isles as he pointed out all the sights and told us how many TV series like Lost and countless movies like 50 First Dates are filmed here. We were also treated to a canoe ride and a fire-making demonstration and dance. We all got fresh flower headdresses and hugs at the end. (808) 237-8508. All this and more for a mere 15 bucks. Priceless!
Stop by Hauula Gift Shop & Art Gallery and meet owner Fawwaz Jubran, a Palestinian (!) transplant who will serenade you on his ukulele and play his original song “Hula Girl”. He told me some publisher from Nashville who stopped by told him “it had a hook”- EVERYBODY is a songwriter - I can’t get away from this stuff! Great Hawaiian shirts and fun stuff at very reasonable prices, plus all his stories. (808) 293-5145.
If you’re looking for a good luau, check out the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Do NOT eat at The Polynesian Cultural Center luau – no alcohol (a Mormon thing – they are funded by the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints) and the food was worse than a bad cafeteria buffet. But do check out the show after – very cool. Lots of fire-dancing – complete with real skin burns to prove it!
Best for last: Turtle Bay Resort – a truly beautiful tropical Shangri-la where you can snorkel (yes, I DID – and saw fish and stuff!) - lie out on the gorgeous beach, or better yet, look at the beach while you hang out at the poolside bar. A film “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” starring some girl from That 70’s Show, some guy from How I Met Your Mother, and Kristen Bell from Veronica Mars (?) was being shot there and they were hanging out, too. The sunset was to die for at Turtle Bay, baby!
I could go on but no space, dear readers. Aloha!
Featured artist of the month: check out Bray’s new CD Pins and Needles (braymusic.com). With his evolving male model good looks, killer hooks and a new production vibe that combines the best of Prince with a new rockin’ singer/songwriter presence previously lacking on his last CD, Bray has truly come into his own and is on his way to becoming the next big thing, a bonafide superstar. “You in That Dress” kicks serious ass. But DO see him live – he is the real deal.
Shameless self-promotion: My song “I Ain’t Tammy” was given an Honorable Mention in the 14th Annual Billboard Magazine World Music Songwriting Contest. My song “Sycamore Street” was featured in the indie film 9:04A.M, which won top honors at the West Palm Beach Film Festival! Please request my songs “Sycamore Street” and “Till We Meet Again” on cyberstormradio.com, vote for “Rope Of Faith” on celticfolkpod.com and buy my CD Sycamore Street at cdbaby.com/kimberlye. You can also download songs off myspace.com/kimberlyegold or at itunes http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?playListId=46745748