In Flames 

Flamenco meets speed metal

Sat 10/30

It's not hard to believe that Benjamin Woods might have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for musical virtuosity. With dark, feral eyes and fingers blurring on the guitar, it's easy to imagine him at a crossroads cutting the deal. But who knew that the roads of flamenco and speed metal even crossed? Woods, noting that both forms can be hard and brutal, is bringing a powerful group of performers and his "guitar luthiered in Hell" to bear on a "tale not to be told to the timid or tender-hearted," this Saturday night at La Peña. The event is Flametal's The Elder, an original horror story told by a 350-year-old Elder, supported by flamenco dancers Fanny Ara and Melissa Cruz and vocalist "the Cricket," El Grillo. Woods himself, who is well known around the area for both his virtuoso flamenco playing and teaching, leads a live band comprised of the equally demonic Uriah Duffy, Thomas Perry, and Brian T. Spalding. Woods swears that his intent is not to dilute either flamenco or speed metal, but to show how the two enhance each other's eldritch beauty while the dancers "slither and pound" their way through a performance unlike any ever before produced. While purists may blanch, the combination makes sense: Flamenco relies on duende, or a deep existential sadness, for much of its emotional impact, while metal is all angst. Why not bring these two tortured forms together and see what dark creature might be born?

Flametal should be the perfect evil brew for the night before Halloween, and will include a special guest set from Jill Parker's Ultra Gypsy Dance Theatre Company (of which this writer is an apprentice member, it should be noted), who will be familiar to East Bay audiences from their close association with the Crucible and last year's stunning Fire Garden event. Tickets for the show are $15 and can be purchased in advance by calling 510-849-2568. For more information, visit -- Lisa Drostova


Autumn Nuts

One Flew Over Chabot

Randle McMurphy, you're wanted in the lobby! That's right, everybody's favorite crazy-like-a-fox rebel-in-a-nuthouse is back. Chabot College's Theater Arts Department has given McMurphy a righteous proletarian look, as performed by San Leandro actor Scott DeMerritt. Chabot's new production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, directed by Michael Mansfield, runs through October 31 at the college's Little Theater, 25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward (near the I-880/92 junction). Tix: $10 from 510-723-6830 -- Kelly Vance

Thur 10/28

Moscow Is Near

Ever wanted to watch one of those energetic Russian folk dance troupes from so close you could watch the sweat drip down their necks and smell the borscht on their breath? Of course you have. Thought it would never happen to you? Think again, boychik. This Thursday evening (6:30 p.m.) at Chabot College's Performing Arts Center (25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward), patrons can actually sit On Stage with the Moscow Ballet. The $125 ticket price ($75 balcony seats for serfs) buys a champagne and hors d'oeuvres reception, an intimate dance performance, and a grand finale dessert buffet. 510-723-6802. -- Kelly Vance


When the Moon Hits Your Eye

Scapino is a trickster, a Neapolitan gadfly whose great delight, in this adaptation of Molière's play (updated in the 1970s by comic Jim Dale and director Frank Dunlop), is to promote the romantic passions of two pairs of young lovers despite their parents' objections. The modern-day commedia dell'arte, directed for Altarena Playhouse by Loretta Janca and starring Jim Hiser as the wily Scapino, opens Friday night (8 p.m.) for a run through November 27, at 1409 High St., Alameda. 510-523-1553 or -- Kelly Vance


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