December 29, 2007

2007 YEAR IN REVIEW: North Bay Community Theater

By Mark Langton

Article Launched: 12/27/2007 11:52:58 PM PST Marin Independent Journal

THE ALWAYS HOPEFUL, occasionally indignant face of North Bay community theater had good reason to slowly brighten in 2007, despite dire predictions of dwindling audiences and more financial setbacks - and despite the cruel loss in January of one of its tireless champions.

Director, actor, painter, playwright, chef and Realtor, Artie Gilbert - a renaissance man if there ever was one - surprised everyone by succumbing to cancer on Jan. 25. It came as a surprise because no one could imagine the co-founder and artistic director of Marin Classic Theater succumbing to anything. The guy was tough, New York tough, and he loved his life. The way thrushes love the morning.

With Gilbert's death, MCT immediately went dark and stayed that way.

Gilbert was 61.

Things were looking dark, indeed, for local community theater at the beginning of 2007. Apart from the loss of MCT, the Novato Theater Company and Shakespeare at Stinson had lost their home stages and were embarking on their first full seasons in brand-new, untested venues. Ticket sales had been steadily dwindling in 2006, and the various small-to-medium-sized nonEquity houses were reporting far too many empty seats.

Citing an aging population of subscribers and the drying up of traditional funding sources, theater companies were sent scrambling to come with creative ways to survive.

Despite a few admirable attempts by some companies to take a collaborative approach to the problem, it just didn't work. Competition between companies was still as fierce as ever, following decades of turf wars that pitted one against the other, each fighting for a piece of the local audience.

Worst of all was that, with so much focus on survival, almost everyone had been playing it safe, resulting in the true death knell of any community of performing artists: an artistic

But never underestimate the redemptive power of never-say-die, especially the relentless, almost inexcusable, optimism found nowhere else but in community theater.

Some local highlights of 2007:

-"Twelfth Night," North Bay Shakespeare Co. This space gave its first five star-rating to this undeniably superior and innovative production of Shakespeare's most sexually subversive play. Under the direction of MaryBeth Cavanaugh, the company formerly known as Shakespeare at Stinson pulled off an artistic triumph last summer in its spacious new home at the Hamilton Amphitheater, which marks another unexpectedly hopeful turning for this endlessly inventive, unsinkable company of players.

- "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)," Marin Shakespeare Co.: The other five-star production was MSC's umpteenth revival of "Complete Works ..." According to director and MSC co-founder Bob Courier, audiences never tire of the romp through the Bard's canon, starring Darren Bridgett, Jarion Monroe and Ryan Schmidt - but it was Bridgett who ran away with the show, nearly devouring the other two with his raw talent.

- "A Few Good Men," Ross Valley Players: Actually, more than just a few good men made up this Off-Broadway caliber cast. Director and local theater legend Jim Dunn, with polish and snap and crisp military precision, pulled together one of the most riveting RVP productions in recent memory with his new revival of Aaron Sorkin's "A Few Good Men." The year's other RVP highlights, hands down, were Steve Martin's "The Underpants" and Becky Mode's "Fully Committed."

- "She Loves Me," Novato Theater Co.: After an artistically shaky opening season in 2006, by the time NTC's 2007 season kicked in, Novato's spanking new Pacheco Playhouse had gone from matchbox to jewel box, mounting one artistic success after another on its tiny stage, culminating in this delightful and surprisingly complex musical.

Doomsayers (will they never learn?) predicted NTC would never get its new playhouse off the ground, but by golly ol' Wilbur and Orville made it fly - along with more than a few of their friends and neighbors showing up with hammers and paint brushes and saws.Ê

They came. They sawed. They kicked butt.

The Ross Valley Players, in particular, appear to be meeting the challenge of attracting a younger subscriber base by bringing in new blood for the planning of its next season. Exhibit A is the multitalented Ron Severdia, whose own success with his one-man performance of "Christmas Carol" last year was one indication of his firm grip on the pulse of the public.Ê

Across Marin, perhaps as far north as Sonoma and Napa counties, seats in the smaller theaters are filling up again, and it's word-of-mouth that's bringing them in. It's as if the watchful ghost of Artie Gilbert infused the local theatrical scene - perhaps on the day it turned out en masse for his memorial - with a new sense of community.

The debate continues about whether companies should book difficult, challenging, even disturbing classic works, and possibly go broke, or fill their seasons with light comedies that will guarantee ticket sales. With that in mind, we can almost hear Gilbert weighing in vociferously, for substance over lack of style: "I think I'll pass on the trifle," Artie said, in his last local performance, as New York comedian Mickey Fox in RVP's "45 Seconds to Broadway," joking about the blandness of English food. "Given a choice," he said, "I'll order the substantial."

Mark Langton can be reached at

December 25, 2007

MARKO-MARK 'N' LIL' BOW WOW (JR.): Click HERE to hear song.

(Click green link, above, to play song)

Working title:

Lil' Bow Wow (Jr.):

Hair nappy but I'm happy pocket full o' dough,
From the C-O representin' So-So,
the girls recognize and these dudes do to
I'm the flyest thing walkin' through junior high school
So make room next to your little backstreet poster
Cause Bow Wow's here and it is over, ya HEARD?
I'm this, I'm that, I'm all of the above
in the big body shot, writin' on dubs
I've been seen with the baddest
Heard with the best
And I got it like that from the east to the west
Look in my eyes, Yeah, I know, I ain't playin'
That's why all through the streets
All I hear them sayin' is,

Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
Where my dogs at? Bark with me now
Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
And all the girls around the way that love
how its going down,

Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
Where my dogs at? Bark with me now
Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
And all the girls around the way that love
how its going down


Yeah, I’m a Frisco boy,
Old School, Haight-A,
I wasn’t born in your USA,
I been t’ cool school,
but I’ll act yo’ fooley-fool,
I’m already/DEEP into the KOOL-
AID, I’m deep in the MIX
out here in the sticks
with these North Bay, white-boy gangsta hicks,
I’ll even parlez-vous on beh-h-h-alf o’ YOU
with this down-low, don’t-know
cracker crew
in this Jimmy-cracked-corn cracker rendezvous,

(Are you with me, CC?)

Lil' Bow Wow Jr.:
...yeah that's me
that's got your daughter in a frenzy
yeah that's me
that's got her arguing with her friends about
who gonna
get me when they see me
do you?
see him? ooh, he the man
13, game lock
don't trip
all that
and a bag of chips
Hi my name is


America’s changin’, wickety-whack,
ya got t’ change wit’ it or they’ll t’row you back,
there aaaaaain’t nuthin’ to it but a heart attack, yeah.
'Cause if everything is everything
and what it is, is what it is,
then they’re gafflin’ you, dog,
with relativity, see?
You just gotta square up
the E equals MC,


See, that ain’t my M.O.,
I don’t go with the flow,
I NEVER tip up to the
it's either duckityduck or dance,
or get off the floo’,
‘cause I’m yo mama’s pimp,
and you be Daddy’s ho’)
'cause if what it is, is what it is
then the real heartbeat on the Arab streetis not what it is, but what it SHALL BE...Are you D-I-G-G-I-N me?

My auntie was a shannachie
so don't you ever try to gaffle ME,..


Lil' Bow Wow:
Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay Where my dogs at? Bark with me now
Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
And all the girls around the way that love
how its going down say,

Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
Where my dogs at? Bark with my now
Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
And all the girls around the way that love
how its going down....


It's gangsta lite they're tryin' t'o fix
man, they all be talkin' in

peckerwood e-BON-ics,

('wickety-wickety whack,

homeboy's on crack,

he's beatin ' up on cripples

'cause they don't fight back,

whickety-wickety whack,

homeboy's on crack,

he's beatin ' up on cripples

'cause they don't fight back...')

Yeah, I’ll be yo' O.G.B ON THE Q.I.T
with these North Bay M.C wanna-be's,
You better not be givin’ it away for free,

bring yo baby-booty over here to me,

I’ll teach you ALL about


LIke this right here:
Where where you be? Relative to me?
Hell, I'D tap it....I might even....DO IT FOR FREE!

If it was up to me I’d give it all a 3 ,

Shit, that ain’t rhythm, that's O.C.D!!

I got glide in my stride, I got hip in my dip,

Yeah, I'm ALL OVER this Mothership...
So have no fear, my darlin' dear,

your Cap-tain Save-A-'HO' is here,

I'm sick wit' it, I'm on TOP of it,

I'm tippin' off the tip-top of what is

hip about ze HIP HOP, yeah,

Get to THAT...My shit is large, girl,

and I'm livin' it, I'm lovin' it,


Whatchu mean? Watchu mean can I bust out a rhyme?

Can I bust out a rhyme??

Shit, I'm doin' it now,

I do it ALL the time.

Like-a this right here:

This, here, in

triple-decker woody the woopty-woop
peckerwoodpecker laid down in
8-4 TIME, eight-four time, stop on a dime,

do his and yours and hers and mine

check it out, check it out

I can beat my own time......

I loves it when you call me, 'Daddy-O,'
so put your hands in the air
like you got no

Song: San Rafael, 2006
Photo: Oakland, 2000

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