Thrillingest Theater 

Berkeley Rep

Gritty blues. Fluffy Paris. A liquid underworld. A haunting Secret in the Wings. The Berkeley Rep has given us a shimmery, beautiful year so far, especially notable for musical and visual pyrotechnics. Maybe because artistic director Tony Taccone wisely asked Les Waters to join the team, and Waters' theatricality is infusing the programming choices; maybe because there's so much interesting new stuff going on that the company is wisely tapping -- a Zora Neale Hurston musical that languished forgotten for sixty-plus years, brought to life by a powerful (and, sadly, largely imported) cast; not one but two tearjerkers (The Secret in the Wings and Eurydice); a rarely touched Ibsen given the star treatment (Ghosts) with a triumphant homecoming for Emily Ackerman. Not to mention the pleasurably silly Fêtes de la Nuit, which inspired Taccone to defend his feelings about stage nudity in the program notes. The Rep has given us more spectacle than usual over the past twelve months, as befits a company with its artistic resources, and it's been anything but empty.

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