There’s a lot of great stuff to see and hear in the Bay Area this weekend (and beyond) — here’s a partial rundown.
It’s always a big deal when star comedian Anjelah Johnson-Reyes plays San Jose.
After all, the talented stand-up star grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley, and she has said being surrounded by the South Bay’s diverse community is reflected in her storytelling-based comedy. She is known for creating hugely popular characters, like those in her famously viral 2007 routine “Nail Salon,” and her beloved “MadTV” character Bon Qui Qui.
“I grew up around a lot of cultures, ethnicities,” she told the Bay Area News Group in a 2021 interview. “I feel that I am able to relate to a lot of different people because of my upbringing in San Jose. I think that reflects in my comedy, when I am onstage and I am able to connect with a lot of people on a human level because San Jose is so diverse and celebrated in that way.”
Her character portrayals, by the way, are delivered with a wink, not a snarl. Nasty put-downs and expletives are not a big part of Johnson’s act. You can see for yourself when she brings her “Who Do I Think I Am” tour to San Jose Civic Auditorium, 135 West San Carlos St., for two shows. The tour’s name is taken from the title of Johnson’s new memoir, which features stories about everything from her fear of dying to her Mexican-American heritage.
Details: 7 and 9:30 p.m. Jan. 14; $40-$65; sanjosetheaters.org
— Randy McMullen, Staff
‘Living Paper’ back in S.F.
Imagine if origami creations could come to life and perform charmingly goofy routines on stage.
That is kind of like what a performance by Ennio Marchetto, aka “The Living Paper Cartoon,” is like. The famed Italian-born entertainer is back in the Bay Area with his quick-change theater/comedy show for the first time in 11 years for a 3½-week run at Club Fugazi in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood.
Blending his longtime love for dance and theater and unique knack, developed in his childhood, for creating evocative paper cut-out costumes, Marchetto’s 70-minute, family-friendly show involves him humorously morphing into more than 60 famous characters. These include Marilyn Monroe, Adele, Freddie Mercury, Beyoncé, Lizzo, Harry Styles, Lady Gaga, Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Justin Bieber, Dolly Parton and even the Mona Lisa.
Most impressively, he changes his characters and his paper costumes directly in front of the audience, without ducking behind a curtain. It’s all part of a high-energy show that Time Out London calls “a sustained hour of heaven from an entertainer touched by genius.”
Details: Through Feb. 5; performances are 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2 and 7:30pm Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays; 678 Green St., San Francisco; $35-$69; clubfugazisf.com.
— Randy McMullen, Staff
Beauty from horror
Fiber art is the medium of choice for East Bay artist Robin Bernstein. It’s a process that involves pressing thousands of strands of string in a mixture of resin, wax and vaseline and arranging them in a pattern that from a distance resembles a painting or a mosaic but which, on closer look, takes on a greater texture.
It is with this painstaking assemblage of delicate, colorful strands that Bernstein addresses one of the most horrifying chapters in history. “Beauty and Terror,” Berstein’s exhibit on display in Livermore Jan. 12 through Jan. 29, consists of 18 works reflecting on the Holocaust. Each work focuses on a different aspect of the Nazis’ systematic murder of Jews, disabled people, gay men and women, Romanis, activists, artists and others who ran afoul of the Germans’ quest for a perfect race.
One work, for example, is titled “T4,” a reference to the Nazis’ 1939-’45 practice of “involuntary euthanasia” of young prisoners (from infants to those aged 17) selected by German physicians as being too feeble to keep alive. The work shows a circle of colorful flowers ringed by lifeless, brittle branches. The works are not subtle and, as organizers put it, “Viewers of Bernstein’s pieces can expect to be provoked, awakened, moved, and propelled.”
Details: Jan. 14-29; UNCLE Credit Union Art Gallery, Livermore Valley Arts complex, Livermore; hours are 1-5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays; a talk and demonstration by Bernstein is slated for 1 p.m. Jan. 14; exhibit and artist talk are free; livermorearts.org
— Bay Area News Foundation
Classical picks: final concerts for Gold Coast
Here are two weekend concerts classical music fans should know about.
Gold Coast bidding adieu: After 35 years of excellence in the Bay Area’s chamber music community, the Gold Coast Chamber Players, directed by Pamela Freund-Striplen, has announced its new season will be its last.
This weekend’s concert, the first of three, is titled “Connections in Time.” It features the New York-based Horszowski Trio, performing with Freund-Striplen on viola. The program includes Louise Farrenc’s Piano Trio No. 1 in E-flat Major, Op. 33, Dmitri Shostakovich’s Trio No. 1, Op. 8, and Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15.
The final Gold Coast programs are scheduled for March 11 (“Cello Extravaganza,” featuring the Sakura Cello Quintet) and April 15 (“Souvenir,” featuring Brendan Speltz and Connie Kupka, violin; Luke Fleming and Pamela Freund-Striplen, viola; and Brook Speltz and David Speltz, cello).
Details: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 14; Don Tatzin Community Hall, Lafayette Library; $15-$45; ticket-buyers can also stream the performance any time during the season; gccpmusic.com.
Chan debuts at S.F. Symphony: Conductor Elim Chan, chief conductor of the Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, comes to Davies Hall this weekend to lead the San Francisco Symphony in Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2, featuring James Ehnes as soloist. The program also includes Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2, and the world premiere of Elizabeth Ogonek’s “Moondog,” an S.F. Symphony commission.
Details: 2 p.m. today, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; $20-$145; www.sfsymphony.org.
— Georgia Rowe, Correspondent
Dinos bust a groove
Wawk! Who let the dinos out?! Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum et. al scurry around the greenery trying to dodge the rampaging T. rex and his ilk in Steven Spielberg’s award-winning “Jurassic Park,” an epic scarefest from 1993. Could it get more terrifying? Well yes, if you’re watching it on a big screen overhead while a full-scale symphony orchestra plays John Williams’ harrowing score live. That’s exactly what will happen when Guest Conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos leads the San Francisco Symphony through performances in Davies Hall Jan. 13-14.
Details: 7:30 p.m. each concert; $175-$275; www.sfsymphony.org.
A “Never to Late” show
A new show by Bay Area comedian, writer and actor Don Reed is always a welcome addition to the Bay Area entertainment scene. Reed has in the past delighted viewers with his outlandish-but-true tales of his Oakland upbringing. In his new offering, “The Never Too Late Show,” which opens this weekend in Berkeley, Reed recounts his days in Los Angeles trying to break out as a national entertainer.
The multimedia show, written, performed and directed by Reed, includes tales (enhanced by video clips) of appearances on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” HBO specials, and other TV and film programs. Like those of countless talented other entertainers, Reed’s Hollywood resume is full of exhilarating successes and agonizing rejections, and he ventures into both ends of the spectrum with his trademark energy, humor, pathos and world-class storytelling talent. Reed has performed snippets of the show in the past and he workshopped it last fall, but it’s the final (for now) version that he will perform at The Marsh Berkeley Jan. 14-Feb. 19.
Details: Performances are 8:30 p.m. Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays; $25-$100;themarsh.org.
— Bay Area News Foundation
4 world premieres from Sarah Cahill
Berkeley-based pianist Sarah Cahill, also a faculty member of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the host of the weekly classical music radio show “Revolutions Per Minute,” is a well-known champion both of new music and especially, through her “The Future Is Female” project, music by women composers from around the globe and down through the ages. She brings both those passions to bear on her upcoming recital for Old First Concerts, which takes place Friday night in the Old First Church at 1751 Sacramento St. in San Francisco.
On her program are four world premieres, including “Humanitas,” which she commissioned from her frequent collaborator, the late Frederic Rzewski, before he died in 2021. The piece was composed in honor of his friend and fellow composer Terry Riley’s 85th birthday. The other world premieres are Carolyn Yarnell’s “Nocturne,” Arlene Sierra’s “Birds and Insects” Book 3 and excerpts from Robert Pollock’s “Enneagram.” Cahill will also perform Rebecca Saunders’ “Shadow” and Peter Garland’s “Walk in Beauty.”
Details: 8 p.m.; $5-$25, also available for live-stream ($20 suggested donation); oldfirstconcerts.org.
— Bay Area News Foundation