Theater: Hershey Felder brings ‘Our Great Tchaikovsky’ to life

The chameleon-like Hershey Felder has made an astonishingly successful career of turning himself into highly acclaimed composers. Over the years he has become a reasonable facsimile of Irving Berlin, Chopin, George Gershwin, Beethoven, Leonard Bernstein and Franz Liszt. Peninsula audiences have thronged to Felder’s interpretations of Berlin and Beethoven at TheatreWorks Silicon Valley in previous years, and with his production of “Our Great Tchaikovsky,” which opened last Saturday, the venerable theater company has already set a new record for tickets purchased before opening night. (Even that night had few, if any, empty seats.) “Tchaikovsky” runs through Feb. 11 at the Mountain View Center of the Performing Arts in Mountain View.… Read More

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Theater: Pear’s former, current artistic directors travel ‘Road to Mecca’

The ardor for creating art is one of the key elements of Pear Theatre’s production of “The Road to Mecca.” And the company’s founder, Palo Alto’s Diane Tasca, who has just departed as artistic director, and Sunnyvale’s Betsy Kruse Craig, who has succeeded her in the position, can certainly relate to that theme. Tasca takes on the lead role; Kruse Craig is directing. Presented in Mountain View, Jan. 18 through Feb. 11, the play tells of elderly Miss Helen (Tasca), who has lovingly created a sculpture garden. Using cement, stones, mirrors and colorful paint, she has generated cattle, people, mermaids, peacocks, owls and a little mosque. The widow has lived… Read More

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Influential publication The Awl shuts down amid a downturn in web publishing

After a nine-year run, the small but influential website The Awl is shutting down, along with its sister publication The Hairpin. The sites are the latest in a string of small publications to struggle amidst a changing digital-media landscape. “It is with a mixture of disappointment and relief that we are announcing the cessation of editorial operations on The Awl at the end of this month,” co-founder Alex Balk wrote in a post. “For nearly a decade we followed a dream of building a better Internet, and though we did not manage to do that every day we tried very hard and we hope you don’t blame us for how… Read More

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Darren Criss makes radical transformation in ‘Assassination of Gianni Versace’

Brace yourself, “Glee” fans: You’re about to see a radically different side of Darren Criss. In “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” the actor who gained fame as the cute, preppy singer Blaine Anderson, transforms himself into a cold-blooded serial leader. Criss, a Bay Area native, plays Andrew Cunanan, the man who murdered five people over a three-month span in 1997. One of his victims was Versace, the iconic fashion designer who was gunned down on the steps outside his mansion in Miami Beach. “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” is producer Ryan Murphy’s nine-episode follow-up to “The People v. O.J. Simpson” and Criss’ mesmerizing performance is at the… Read More

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How Electric Dreams updates Philip K. Dick’s Cold War stories

Between his first published story in 1952 and his death in 1982, Philip K. Dick produced dozens of novels and more than a hundred short stories. Moving past famous works like A Scanner Darkly or The Man in the High Castle, Amazon Video’s anthology show Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams delves into the author’s extensive back catalog, adapting 10 of his lesser-known works for television — and collecting the original stories in a new book. Electric Dreams is full of classic Dickian themes: psychic connections, absurd consumer technology, and the blurry line between artifice and reality. But the show’s creators — Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ronald D. Moore, Justified producer Michael… Read More

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Interview: Vijay Iyer on Bay Area ties and how he’s not really that famous

Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 50 best albums of 2017 includes 49 pop, rock, hip-hop, country and R&B outings. And one jazz album — “Far From Over” by the Vijay Iyer Sextet. And that’s just one of the high-profile thumbs up for this album, which just might be the most universally acclaimed jazz recording of the year. Read all the glowing press clippings and you might think that the accolades for “Far From Over” would be overwhelming for Iyer. And you’d be wrong. “Oh, it’s not overwhelming,” says Iyer, the former Bay Area resident who now calls New York home. “Those are still isolated things. There happens to be… Read More

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