Swirling with magical realism, a brand-new musical work with its roots in an Andean folktale premieres this month.
"Journey of the Shadow" combines the music of composer Gabriela Lena Frank and the words of playwright Nilo Cruz. It's the tale of a boy who sends a letter to his soldier father in Afghanistan, only to have his own shadow slip into the post as a stowaway.
The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra commissioned the piece, and will perform it on Saturday, April 27, at the First Palo Alto United Methodist Church. The group is conducted by Benjamin Simon, who also leads the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra.
Nilo Cruz's name has been heard a few times in Palo Alto as well. His play "Anna in the Tropics," which won the 2003 Pulitzer for drama, came to TheatreWorks in 2006. Frank is a Berkeley native who often draws on her Peruvian/Chinese/Lithuanian/Jewish heritage. Frank and Cruz previously wrote the song cycle "La Centinela y La Paloma," a "re-imagining" of Frida Kahlo's afterlife, for soprano Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Frank will perform the narration at the April 27 concert. The program will also include music by Samuel Barber and Mozart, with singers from the San Francisco Opera Center's Adler Fellows program.
Admission is free. The concert begins at 8 p.m. at 625 Hamilton Ave. in Palo Alto. Go to sfchamberorchestra.org or call 415-692-3367.
Two Ellens, a Cole and a Cy will join forces April 27 to present a show of cabaret, the timeless art that's part music, part acting and part storytelling.
Singer Ellen Ciompi, who will be in town from North Carolina, will take the stage with Oakland pianist Ellen Hoffman to perform an evening called "Let's Misbehave!" Songs by Cole Porter and Cy Coleman will be in the mix to create a program that extols the virtues of healthy vice.
Ciompi is a registered nurse and longtime singer, with a master's degree in music and a history of creating and putting on cabaret shows for the last decade. A fan of classic show tunes, she also has been known to throw in a little Paul Simon and Lady Gaga. Hoffman directs the chamber orchestra at Contra Costa College, where she's a faculty member, and serves as music director of the 75-member Berkeley Broadway Singers.
The April 27 concert, which starts at 7:30 p.m., is in a private home in Palo Alto; email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat and get directions. Tickets are $15.
Two-year-old local dance company Menlowe Ballet has found a home of its own: the spacious Performing Arts Center at Menlo-Atherton High School. This weekend, the company of 15 dancers, directed by Atherton resident Lisa Shiveley, will present the first performances in Menlowe's new home.
The program "Reverie" features the world premiere of guest choreographer Viktor Kabaniaev's "Sweet Sadness," set to Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor. The Russian native has said the work reflects his poignant memories of life in Russia and Germany.
Also on the program are "Chuntian" and "Surfside," choreographed by Menlowe's artistic director, Michael Lowe.
Performances at 555 Middlefield Road in Atherton are scheduled for 8 p.m. April 19 and 20, and 2 p.m. April 21. Tickets are $28-$45. Go to menloweballet.org or call 800-595-4849.
'Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!'
Poor Bartholomew Cubbins. Every time he tried to take off his hat in respect to the king, another hat appeared. Fortunately, the classic Dr. Seuss tale "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" has a happy ending. And things are looking pretty good for the late author's hats. These days, they're getting to see the country in a new traveling exhibit called "Hats Off to Dr. Seuss!"
The author (whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel) loved the magic powers of hats, and collected scores of them, according to a press release. Now his widow, Audrey S. Geisel, has allowed many treasures from the hat closet to go on tour, in honor of the 75th anniversary of "Bartholomew Cubbins." The exhibit also includes newer artwork adapted from the good doctor's paintings, drawings and sculptures, authorized by his estate.
The show opened at the New York Public Library in February. Later this month, it comes to Peabody Fine Art at 603 Santa Cruz Ave. in Menlo Park. It will commence with an opening event from 5 to 8 p.m. April 27, and continue through May 12, with artwork for sale.
For more information, go to peabodyfineart.com or call 650-322-2200.
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