There are a lot of great shows to see over Memorial Day weekend and beyond; including a collection of humongous dinosaurs, the marvelous Meklit and much more. Here’s a partial rundown.
Super-sized dinos stalk S.F.
Kids (and most parents) love dinosaurs, right? And the bigger the better.
And that’s exactly what we’re getting with a new exhibit featuring plus-sized prehistoric behemoths opening this weekend at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
Captivatingly titled “The World’s Largest Dinosaurs,” the exhibit, organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, goes on a deep dive into the lives of the long-necked and long-tailed sauropods, whose ranks include the famed 60-foot-long Mamenchisaurus. And we’re not just talking about fossilized bone collections and skeletal reproductions (although there are plenty of those). The exhibit also examines how these creatures’ massive sizes were sustained by, and influenced, their metabolism, their bone-and-muscle structure, their diets, even their love lives.
The exhibit will include some relatively recent scientific discoveries.
“As a paleontologist, I’m thrilled that the Academy has this opportunity to share the latest insights about the biggest dinosaurs ever to walk the Earth,” said Academy executive director Dr. Scott Sampson (aka “Dr. Scott” on the PBS kids show “Dinosaur Train.) “From explorations of the pressure needed to pump blood all the way up those crazy-long necks, to understanding how much food was needed to maintain such incredible bulks, awed visitors will come away with a better understanding of how these super-sized beasts lived and thrived.”
Details: May 26-Jan. 21; California Academy of Sciences Forum Gallery, Level 2, Golden Gate Park; San Francisco; $38.75-$44.50; www.calacademy.org.
— Randy McMullen, Staff
Traditional songs with twist
Creating and running a multimedia empire doesn’t always leave much time for gigs, but Ethiopian-born vocalist, songwriter and bandleader Meklit is ready to introduce a new set of tunes.
Fresh off of launching her music and migration-focused podcast “Movement,” which creates radio pieces for the public radio news magazine “The World,” Meklit is set to debut a program of reimagined traditional Ethiopian songs at Freight & Salvage. She’s got one of the best bands on the scene, with tenor sax great Howard Wiley, bassist Sam Bevan, Ethiopian-born keyboardist Kibrom Birhane, drummer Colin Douglas, and percussionist Marco Peris Coppola.
Supported by the Creative Work Fund and Women’s Audio Mission, the project features songs from across the vast East African nation, arranged with the undulating pentatonic spirit of Ethio-jazz. Sudanese songstress Salma Al Assal plays an opening set.
Details: 8 p.m. May 27; Freight & Salvage, Berkeley; $24; www.thefreight.org.
— Andrew Gilbert, Correspondent
Songs for Woody Shaw
San Jose guitarist Jason Keiser casts a wide musical net, enamored equally with bluegrass as with post-bop jazz. Rather than diluting his attention, his varied interests seem to have sharpened his imagination, judging by his impressive new album “Shaw’s Groove.”
Dedicated to the memorable but often overlooked compositions of the late great trumpeter Woody Shaw, who lived in San Francisco in the 1970s, the project effectively explores beautiful pieces like “The Moontrane” and “Katerina Ballerina” with idiosyncratic instrumentation. For an album release celebration Thursday at Mama Kin he’s reassembled the same all-star crew, including trumpeter Erik Jekabson, baritone saxophonist Aaron Lington, bassist Dan Robbins and drummer Jason Lewis. And like on the album, the brilliant Portland guitarist John Stowell joins the fray, steadily coaxing the musicians into unsettled spaces.
Details: 6 p.m. May 24; Mama Kin, San Jose; free; www.mamakinsj.com.
— Andrew Gilbert, Correspondent
A Heggie double bill in San Francisco
Although their evening-length operas such as “Moby-Dick” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” are among the most heralded works by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, two of their shortest operas remain among their most moving.
This week, “Another Sunrise” and “For a Look or a Touch” — both created on Holocaust themes – will be presented in a double bill at San Francisco’s Presidio Theatre. Presented by Seattle’s Music of Remembrance, the performances feature soprano Caitlin Lynch, bass-baritone Ryan McKinny, and actor Curt Branom. Joseph Mechavich conducts, and the director is Erich Parce.
Details: 7:30 p.m. May 24, Presidio Theater, San Francisco; $15-$90; presidiotheatre.org.
— Georgia Rowe, Correspondent
A new take on Robin Hood
We all know Robin Hood, right? Dude who takes from the underserving rich and gives to the poor. Pretty handy with both a sword and a bow and arrow.
Well now Berkeley Playhouse is serving up a new take on the master of resource reallocation. “Becoming Robin Hood” is a new musical getting its world premiere beginning this weekend.
The show is by Laura Marlin (book) and Phil Gorman (music and lyrics), two theater artists with an extended history of work with Berkeley Playhouse. This musical rendition of the iconic swashbuckling hero is presented as a kid-friendly comedic origin story in which, as organizers put it, “the citizens of Nottingham are hopeless…until a few unlikely characters take on the identity of a heroic outlaw who tries to redistribute the wealthy’s riches. But is it right to steal? Sherwood Forest brings mystery and intrigue as accidents beget legends, friendships get tangled, and personal dreams grow to reality.”
Directed by Michael Patrick Wiles and choreographed by Cat Reyes, the show was workshopped with youth actors last year and adapted to the new version debuting this weekend with adult and kid actors.
Details: May 26-June 25; Julia Morgan Theatre, Berkeley; $30-$49, pay-what-you-can performance June 8; tickets.berkeleyplayhouse.org.
— Randy McMullen, Staff
“Bands Beyond Barbed Wires’
One of the lesser-known aspects of the tragic World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans in America is its musical legacy. Many of those who were unjustly imprisoned were musicians and at several camps, they formed groups to play music to ease the despair and monotony. One of these was musician and teacher George Yoshida, who was held at the Poston Incarceration Camp in Arizona and who played drums with a big band called the Music Makers with fellow prisoners. He wrote about the experience as part of his book “Reminiscing in Swingtime: Japanese Americans in American Popular Music, 1925-1960.” Yoshida, who died in 2014, is the inspiration behind a free jazz concert on May 27 at the Presidio Tunnel Tops, 210 Lincoln Blvd.
The concert, organized by the National Japanese American Historical Society and Partnership for the Presidio, will be led by Bay Area drummer Akira Tana, whose father was among those imprisoned during the the internment period, and also features several musicians with Japanese ancestry – including trumpeter John Worley, pianist Ben Stolorow, and bassist John Wiitala – as well as many other musicians including San Francisco singer Kim Nalley.
Titled “Music Makers: Bands Behind Barbed Wires,” the concert will feature top big band jazz and pop classics from the World War II era as well as a performance by taiko drumming master Jimi Nakagawa. The location is also key in that the Presidio was where the the order to imprison some 120,000 Japanese American was issued (you can learn more about that in a special exhibit on display at the Presidio Officers Club, which is open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays)
Details: 1-3 p.m. May 27; free; www.presidio.gov/events.
— Bay Area News Foundation
Visit Lily, if you ‘Dare’
Hollywood’s Pre-Code films of the late ‘20s to mid-30s were so starkly dramatic – with sin and sacrifice fighting for attention – that they remain ripe for satire. One of the more acclaimed recent satires is getting its regional premiere with a new production at San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theatre. “The Confession of Lily Dare” has generated positive buzz since it opened in New York in 2022. The show is by Charles Busch, heralded playwright, author and drag queen who’s famous for his campy melodramatic shows, in which he often appears. His best-known play, “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife,” was a hit on Broadway, but he might be even more adored for such off-Broadway shows as “Psycho Beach Party,” “Die, Mommie, Die!,” and especially “Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.” He adapted “Lily Dare” from his own 2019 book. Set in the Bay Area (the “seedy underbelly of the Barbary Coast,” as NCT puts it) the story is a mashup parody of pre-Code films as it follows the titular doomed heroine whose many pitfalls and predicaments are all tied her desperate quest to help the child she was forced to abandon. The comedy stars well-known Bay Area actor and drag performer J. Conrad Frank and is directed by Allen Sawyer.
Details: Through June 11; New Conservatory Theatre, 50 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco; $25–65; nctcsf.org.
— Bay Area News Foundation
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