No Book 

Show tunes without the show

1/9-1/11

What good is sitting alone in your room when you can come hear the music play at Broadway Stars, a Pleasanton Playhouse presentation of its Broadway Chorus winter concert? Although music lovers either adore Broadway musical shows or can't abide them, most of the latter will admit to liking the evergreen songs and choreography. What they don't miss is the story that attempts to justify the characters bursting into song at predictable intervals. That's something they share with bygone producers, who historically regarded Great White Way shows as seasonal goods. They never expected musicals to be revived in their original state, but hoped that some of the songs would live on. To earn royalties. So what better way to showcase showstopping show tunes than without all that filler? Director Rob Campbell and choreographer Michael Sloan join the fifty-member-strong Broadway Chorus with the Rendition jazz ensemble and Cosmopolitan Dancers to perform standards designed to dismiss the cold-weather doldrums. For those who can't help lovin' Jerome Kern, or who get a kick out of Cole Porter -- especially his "Anything Goes," a perfect example of a '30s Broadway hit -- they get the best part of the musicals without having to sit through scenes of plodding plot. Selections from two more shows capture the time when the Roaring '20s were on the cusp of the '30s: Catch the Broadway rhythm of Brown and Freed's "Singin' in the Rain" and enter the Kit Kat Club of Kander and Ebb's Cabaret, where "Life is beautiful, the girls are beautiful, and even the orchestra is beautiful!" If the past glamour of Hollywood and Berlin fails to transport the listener, they might just find the right kind of magic in Simon and Norman's "The Secret Garden."

Show times for "Broadway Stars" are Friday and Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m., at Amador High School, 1155 Santa Rita Rd., Pleasanton. To order tickets, call 925-462-2121 or visit PleasantonPlayhouse.com -- Pat Katzmann

MON 1/12

London Dry

Jack's Big Day

Even though he was born in San Francisco, Jack London is -- along with Oakland's Gertrude Stein -- the secular-humanist version of a patron saint to East Bay literary types. Whether or not he actually spent much significant time in Alameda, he undoubtedly gazed at it occasionally across the Oakland Estuary. Monday is London's 128th birthday (he went to that log cabin in the sky in 1916), and a group of poets is celebrating by throwing Jack London's Birthday Party from 1 to 3 p.m. in the community room of Independence Plaza, Atlantic and Webster streets in Alameda. Listen to a mess of poets. Step up and recite your own. The free event is hosted by Betty Romero. For more info: 510-523-5980. -- Kelly Vance

MON 1/12

A Verse to Love

In October 2000, Hew Wolff wrote the following to commemorate his union with fellow poet Jan Steckel : "A joyful anniversary/my amatory bursary!/(Forgive these lines their skipping feet/and silly nursery-versery)." More than three years later, the pair -- he a mathematician and software engineer, she a pediatrician -- is still at it. Wolff's work has appeared in the anthology Best Bisexual Erotica, and in the magazines Black Sheets and Affaire de Coeur; Steckel has been published in Awakened Woman, Coffy Time Blues, and the anthology WomanPrayers. Mark States hosts them both as his featured readers for tonight's Poetry Express open mic (Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley) from 7 to 9:30 p.m. -- Stefanie Kalem

THU 1/8

The Other Guy

A lot has been made of Tourettes without Regrets cohost Jamie Kennedy -- his relation to L. Ron Hubbard and the trouble that Scientologists have caused him, his awards and accolades as a slam poet, performance artist, and all-around miscreant. But what of Geoff Trenchard, Kennedy's comrade-in-barbs, cocreator of Tourettes' freewheeling, dirty-dealing vaudeville show? The tattooed Trenchard can hold his own, and has done so alongside McSweeney's protégée Chinaka Hodge on the most recent season of HBO's Def Poetry Jam, and as a Bay Area Poetry Slam champion since 2000. Tourettes returns to the Oakland Metro (201 Broadway) tonight at 8:30 p.m. All ages, $6, 510-763-1146. -- Stefanie Kalem

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