Thursday, August 30, 2007

Review: Aaah! Rosbud

Aaah! Rosebud: Citizen Kane Redux
By Albert Goodwyn
Published: August 30, 2007

Peter Finch’s comic retelling of the Citizen Kane story uses broad humor and satire to address – or maybe mock – some of the more pretentious aspects of the Orson Welles film. AaahI Rosebud, now at New Langton, makes the character from the film, a thoughtless, arrogant, morally bankrupt mogul, even more despicable. Here William Orson Kane is a maniacal murderer in his quest for power. He is aided by a magic sled that can turn people into zombies. The characterization, and the references to the film, are so overdone that the play becomes a farce in an enjoyable, manic hour and forty minutes.

Curling is an ice sport, and references to snow, ice and winter abound, so as to put the constant threat of contact with the malevolent sled Rosebud more in context. Curlers with their stones and brooms discover Rosebud in the snow, and one takes it to the top of the hill for a tragic downhill. The other actors watch the offstage action with a great sense of miming that artfully forgoes any pointing. When Kane discovers the evil sled, he decides to use it in his own quest for world domination.

As in the movie, a reporter is researching the meaning of the word Rosebud, and comes no closer than in the movie. But Kane keeps dragging his sled out to beat up enemies. Jason Harding’s portrayal of Kane is well focused and single-minded. His large stage presence gives great dramatic weight to the part on a simple two-level set in this black-box theater. When he affirms the powers of his sled at a Christmas fair, his snickering vividly illustrates the inflation of his ego. He even dances with it. Once he has killed two people with it and turned them into his zombie slaves, he begins to make plans to build his Xanadu palace.

The cast of twelve takes many entrances. The quick scene changes are sometimes heralded by the entrance of a shouting Newsboy (Z’ev Jenerik) holding up a newspaper, and sometimes by the entrance of Matt Gunnison as an ex-wife in a wheelchair, being interviewed by the reporter. Gunnison makes a couple of onstage quick changes into the character Jebidiah Stanford by doffing his wig as he leaps out of the wheelchair and onto the upper level of the set. His shift of characterization is flawless. The zombies turn into restaurant personnel without exiting, very convincingly. There Kane is involved in a fight with breadsticks and a very stale baguette. The zombies get to eat corpses.

The only character who seems in any way normal is Kane’s clerk Goldfarb (played this night by Jeremy Cole; usually by Dirk Echols). In the end, as Kane gets his comeuppance by the use of an H. G. Welles time machine and a curling stone, a superior being condemns him to going through the rest of his life with a snow-globe stuck to his hand, another movie reference. The superior being brings everyone back to life and seeks to cure them, even offering to turn the fey, achingly funny Goldfarb into a heterosexual. He refuses, saying, “Sorry. It’s who I am.”

Some post-modernists could see this as a morality play, with the zombies as a metaphor of vicious corporate slaves eating the fallen bodies after a business takeover, but there is such great, obvious fun being had by all the actors in this send-up of an American movie classic, that enjoyment is paramount in the viewing.

Aaah! Rosebud continues through September 8 at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco, then moves to Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Avenue, Berkeley, Sept. 21-22. Tickets ($20 to $25) are available by phone at (415) 289-6766 and online at

Also by the Bay Area Times: Review of Serve by Expiration!

Review: Aaah! Rosebud

SF Chronical

**Aaah! Rosebud New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom;
289-6766, $20-25.
Thurs-Mon, 8pm. Through Sept 8. Also Sept 21-22: Julia
Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk. It
might seem impetuous to take on a revered classic of
the magnitude of Citizen Kane, which regularly polls
at the top of all-time-greatest-movie lists more than
60 years after its release, but desecrating sacred
cows is what Thunderbird Theatre does best. In
addition to Orson Welles's cinematic masterpiece, this
year's sacred cow lineup includes zombies, Cats, the
works of H.G. Wells, and the underrated precision team
sport of curling. Written by Thunderbird regular and
radio personality Peter Finch and starring ubiquitous
T-bird villain Jason Harding as William Orson Kane,
Aaaah! Rosebud! explores the crude machinations with
which Kane would take over the world — all with the
aid of his bloodthirsty sled Rosebud, a vessel capable
of turning the slavishly ambitious into the freakishly
slow undead. If you're looking for a deeper metaphor,
you might be at the wrong show. But if you've ever
pondered the best use for stale baguettes, yearned to
dominate the known universe, or just have an agile
adoration for alliteration, you'll glean plenty of
enjoyment from Thunderbird's latest homage cum
send-up, and you won't even have to watch the movie
first (though it wouldn't hurt). (Gluckstern)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Review: Aaah! Rosebud

Even if you haven't seen Orson Welles' film Citizen Kane, you probably know that it centers on a quest to find out what a rich and powerful man's dying word, "Rosebud," means. Thunderbird Theatre Company's Aaah! Rosebud gets the whole who-is-Rosebud thing out of the way early so that it can get to the heart of the story — one man's thirst for power, aided by an evil sled that possesses people and turns them into an army of zombies. Really, isn't that what America is all about?

Directed by Dylan Russell and written by KFOG news director Peter Finch, who also plays a Canadian curling aficionado and a towering hired goon, Rosebud takes a little while to build up but just gets funnier and funnier. There's actually less about zombies than curling, in which stones are swept down a rectangle of ice with brooms. The forces of good are represented by intrepid reporters, dedicated curlers, and the prewidowed fiancée of a curler cut down by a murderous sled.

On opening weekend the sound system's hum often drowned out accompanying music, but some of the best elements of the show lie in technical workarounds such as a remote-controlled curling stone and using a strobe to suggest a flickering newsreel.

Jason Harding is a delight as Kane, with a hilarious fiendish smile, maniacal laugh, and a resonantly retro delivery with more Sydney Greenstreet in it than Welles. Faith Aeryn also has a great old Hollywood look and sound as ingénue Margaret. Nathan Tucker and Maria Ross make amusing zombies, and Emma Fassler is adorable as the littlest curler, Shemp.

Pretty much everybody gets a priceless moment, from Shay Casey as curler-with-a-secret Buddy to Rob Herrmann as the obit writer who opens this can of zombie worms. Matt Gunnison looks younger in his bad gray wig as the elderly narrator than he does in flashbacks as his youthful self, rattling off tongue-twisting alliterative phrases with rat-a-tat-tat ease. Jeremy Cole's bitchy queen Goldfarb starts as stereotype but gradually becomes a highlight of the show.

The script is packed with great lines poking fun at its own gaping plot holes, and includes some great pseudoprophetic digs at some of the low points of Kane inspiration William Randolph Hearst's legacy. After three weeks at SF's New Langton Arts, the show moves to the Julia Morgan Center for Thunderbird's Berkeley debut. It'll be an adjustment from its current tiny black box, but appropriate in its way: Morgan was the principal architect on Hearst Castle, after all.

Review: Aaah! Rosebud

Review from:

"AAAH! ROSEBUD” By Peter Finch,directed by Dylan Russell, produced by Thunderbird Theatre Company at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom St., San Francisco

Thursdays-Mondays, 415-289-6766 or

Aug. 23rd - Sept. 22nd Curtain: 8:00pm.


Alliteration is an interregnal part of the humor in "AAAH! ROSEBUD”, the latest comedic production from San Francisco's Thunderbird Theatre Company now in their ninth year having produced hits including the pirate romance spoof "Lusty Booty" and last year's mythological offering, "Release the Kraken." They have another semi-hit to add to their production in this comic retelling of Orson Welles’ Academy Award winning movie “Citizen Kane.”

If you have seen the movie you will instantly recognize three major characters: Thompson, the reporter (well portrayed by Rob Herman), Jebidiah (Leland) Stanford (fine acting by Matt Gunnison) the former confidant of Kane, William Orson Kane (an overly large performance by Jason Harding) as the maniacal, millionaire mogul whose last dying word was “Rosebud.” If you are unfamiliar with the movie, you may want to skip this show.

The plot line of the movie starts as a reporter tries to track down the people who worked and lived with Kane. They tell their stories in a series of flashbacks that reveal much about Kane’s life but not the riddle of his final word. “Aaah! Rosebud” starts in a similar mode but author Peter Finch who gets up at 3AM every weekday morning to bring you the news on KFOG radio, takes us through a hilarious romp giving us a solution to the riddle. “The sled made him do it.”

Rosebud, the sled, is evil personified used to turn those with ambition and desire into zombies under Kane’s control as his newspaper enterprise justifies his nefarious motivations. He must be stopped and this chore is assigned to competitive, Canadian curlers (Shay Casey, Nathan Tucker and scene stealing Emma Fassler), an aspiring actress (Maria Ross) who (horrors) is going to give up acting to become a Civil Servant and her Svengali mustached director (good comic timing Max Bernstein). Dirk Echols plays the flamboyant Goldfarb, assistant to Kane, with panache, fantastic eyebrow elevation and gay flying limbs bringing spontaneous applause. The journey to the answer involves the evil sled Rosebud, a time machine for the flashbacks and newspaper headlines carried across stage by newsboy Zev Jenerik.

The Thunderbird is comprised of unpaid writers, directors, actors, technicians and volunteers. They have wisely brought in Dylan Russell, a professional director, actor and playwright who has directed productions for the A.C.T. Conservatory, TheatreFirst, California Conservatory Theatre and many others to direct the show. She has done a magnificent job keeping the action moving and the actors under control through multiple scene and costume changes. Only an overly long and repetitive script hampers her.

That being said, alliteration can be used to describe partially the over all evening: Very vivacious, vital, vicarious and vociferous. TV’s Saturday Night Live should snap up an option to produce “Aah! Rosebud.”

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Come see..."Aaah! Rosebud"

Matt and I are working...AGAIN! Come see Matt star in "Aaah! Rosebud" (and see my name in the program as production manager).

More information below. But you got to reserve your tickets now! Just call up (415) 289-6766 to reserve your tickets. Take a look at the information below.

It's a really great show, we've worked hard and we would really like you to be there to celebrate and have fun with us. If you never see us in another show this year, this is the one to see. Why? Because we've had such a good time putting the show together.


Thunderbird Theatre comedy on stage; “Aaah! Rosebud”

“Behind every great man there is an evil sled.”

The Thunderbird Theatre Company presents the comedic pre-quel to Citizen Kane:

“Aaah! Rosebud”

Thunderbird shows tend to sell out; buy or reserve your ticket today!

"Aaah! Rosebud" is the latest comedic production from San Francisco 's Thunderbird Theatre Company. Now in it's ninth year, the Thunderbirds have produced numerous shows for Bay Area audiences, including the pirate romance spoof, "Lusty Booty" and last year’s mythological offering, "Release the Kraken."

WHERE: 13 performances in SF at New Langton Arts, 1246 Folsom Street

WHEN: Thursdays through Mondays, August 23rd until September 8th 7:30pm doors, 8:00pm curtain

HOW MUCH: $20-$25 sliding scale

WHAT AGAIN? “Aaah! Rosebud” by Peter Finch of KFOG radio.


What about the East Bay?

Glad you asked! 3 performances in Berkeley !

Friday, September 21st at 8pm and Saturday, September 22nd at both 2pm and 8pm.

Performed at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave , Berkeley .


Never been to a Thunderbird Comedy? Come see why we are known as; “the gateway drug to theatre.”

You all saw the AMAZING two-page article in the pink section of the chronicle yesterday, yes?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Load in...

Yes, my friends. It's that time in the production when we hitch up our jeans, buzz those saws, and get our paint on. We've loaded in, we've hacked at the boards, and we've altered the speaker system. My back is tired and my legs are sore from standing around and watching everyone else work hard. There were plenty of people who knew what they were doing, and there was no need for me to make things worse.

Below is an awful outline of our day. Do not feel compelled to read it. Reading it will be a disappointment. But, you can read our article in the pink section. Hurray for us! This is great, hopefully it will be reflected in ticket sales.

9am: The loaded truck parked itself in front of New Langton Arts, where our troupe had to ask the person sleeping in the doorway to find a new local. Already we are unpopular in the neighborhood.

10am: Everything is off the truck and the building can begin in earnest.

11am: Building has begun! But don't have as much wood as we would like. But, after some trouble at Teatro de la Esperansa, where we've been having rehearsals, all the props are moved to NLA and we can go shopping!

12am: Kathy and I have shopped and now it is time for eating!

1pm: Kathy and I finally find a place to park, so our lunch break is late, but other people are working again.

2pm: The speaker issue comes up again. Time to move them to a new local.

3pm: Are we done yet!

4pm: Painting time! The set is up and now we can paint it.

5:30pm: Time to take our weary asses home.