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Rosebud Revisited – Peter Finch & Thunderbird Theatre Production in SF

What do H. G. Wells, Orson Welles, Huey Lewis and Tom Stoppard have in common? “Aaah! Rosebud,” a new play by KFOG News Director, Peter Finch, directed by Dylan Russell and produced by the Thunderbird Theatre Company. A comedy of Evil Dead proportions, featuring an “evil sled” (often referred to as a “she-devil” by multiple characters in the play), the play takes us “Back in Time” to retell the story of Citizen Kane, where a collection of crafty champion curlers fight a killer cabal.

The theme of the play twists the tale on why Kane’s final word was “Rosebud”, taking it in a comedic direction vs. a serious one. Finch, a veteran actor for the Thunderbird Theatre Company, wrote the play with the theatre company and several of their regular actors in mind according to the Chronicle article. He acts splendidly in the two roles he plays. My husband, brought up in Michigan, was cracking up at his Canadian curler accent as Mack.

We signed up for the play to see our friend, Maria Ross as Esther, belting an off-key musical number and taking on some not so pretty new personality traits. (I could tell you, but I don’t like spoilers.) She didn’t disappoint; nor did any of the other actors including Max Bernstein, who, proving the world is always indeed a small place, was a former co-worker of mine at NDA. (I didn’t know he was in the play before perusing the cast list in the program.) Other actors include (in alphabetical order) Faith Aeryn, Shay Casey, Dirk Echols, Emma Fassler, Matt Gunnison, Jason Harding, Rob Herrmann, Z’ev Jenerik, and Nathan Tucker. I was always annoyed when they told us in playwriting classes the rule was to never write more than 8 actors into a play (due to the cost of production); kudos to Finch for ignoring that.

There are some really silly moments in “Aaah! Rosebud”. My favorites included the “Washington Lobbyist” cardboard cut-out’s place in Xanadu, some great newspaper headlines, and a lot of jabs at the musical, “Cats”. And the song adds a feel-good element to the ending. The only problem I had with the plot was when the curlers (ok, so one brief spoiler required for this) are standing over a pristine sheet of ice that is being soiled by a bloody corpse and their first action is to be sad over their friend’s death rather than appalled by the soiling of their frictionless practice surface. I’m kidding, of course, but as a figure skater, I had to make one joke about it.

The play takes many fun twists and turns, breaks the fourth wall on occasion in a Ferris Bueller-esque way, and follows baguette-length tangents toward dramatic and comedic ends. (Trust me, this will mean more when you see the play, which I highly recommend if you’re at all a fan of the stage or comedy.) An easy hop into SOMA for a fun night, don’t forget to stop by Basil for dinner beforehand.

At intermission the night we attended, the company gave away raffle prizes as well as some prizes for a random drawing for getting on their mailing list. My husband won the drawing for 3rd prize and I won first prize which included a photo with the character of my choice. I chose Mack, played by Peter Finch. (See the blurry photo of a Polaroid below.) All in all, it was a good time.

“Aaah! Rosebud” is running August 23rd through September 8th at the New Langton Arts theatre at 1246 Folsom Street and September 21st-22nd at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts at 2640 College Ave. in Berkeley. Don’t forget to support the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club.