Amélie Charms at Berkeley Rep
Plus geometric prints at Creative growth, Oakland Pride, Grace Jones, and the Garin Apple Festival
Samantha Banks as Amelie
Photo by Kevin Berne
Before the traveling garden gnome became a feature in the Travelocity ad campaign—postcards of a jolly little sculpture in a red cap posed in front of world landmarks—it was a quirky footnote in 2001’s quirkiest film, Amélie. This was just one of the delightfully odd aspects of the well-loved, five-time Academy Award-nominated film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet about a young girl in France who seems to harness magic to improve the fates of everyone around her. The movie production was known for its gorgeous cinematography and saturated color; an impressionistic comic book as eccentric as the neighborhood in which it took place, the Montmarte district of Paris.
Amélie is a lonely child raised by over-protective parents who shield her from the world and homeschool her, leading her to create a rich inner fantasy life. Once she breaks free and sets out, she at once embodies both the excitement of life and a shy naivety. She carries her active imagination with her, and the picaresque tale takes her on several adventures through mystery, friendship, and love.
The big question is, why did it take so long for someone to turn this colorful story into a musical? Thankfully it has happened, and the world premier of Amélie runs now through the beginning of October at the Berkeley Rep. The title role went to Samantha Banks (Cabaret, Chicago!) and the production is directed by Tony Award-winner Pam MacKinnon (Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?). The script is by Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss) and words and music are from Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen.
With dystopian anti-heroes being the flavor of the month, it’s refreshing to find an old-fashioned story with a happy ending. (Spoiler alert!)
Amélie, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, through Oct. 4. $29-$97. Times vary depending on date. Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley. www.BerkeleRep.org
Gallerist and printmaker Jules Maeght and his partner and wife Amélie bring their lithographic brilliance to The Creative Growth Art Center’s printmaking studio, and the Center’s resident artists created bold pieces based on geometric abstraction. Sept. 10-Nov. 14. Creative Growth Art Center, 355 24th St., Oakland. www.CreativeGrowth.org
Garin Apple Festival
Most people think of the Midwest when they think of apple festivals, but we have our very own here in Hayward every year. The Garin Regional Park is home to a legacy of apple varieties, the remnants of which are celebrated with music, games, and eating and drinking apple juice. Saturday, Sept. 12. Free. 1320 Garin Ave., Hayward. www.EBParks.org
Oakland Pride Parade
Far, far from the maddening, over-commercialized crowd, it’s the East Bay’s own gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender party. Sunday, Sept. 13. Parade starts at 10:30 a.m. at Broadway and 14th, Oakland. Festival begins at 11 a.m. and runs until 7 p.m., at Broadway and 20th Street.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
This will be the epitome of a Marsalis performance, combining a world-class orchestra with arguably the most successful living jazz performer on earth. The show will cover the entire traditional American jazz genre, from New Orleans to swing. Friday, Sept. 18, Zellerbach Hall. Tickets start at $40. 101 Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley. www.CalPerformances.org
Art in Nature Festival
Pagan bacchanalia cleverly disguised as an “immersion into art, nature, and the nature of art” amid the Redwoods. A multidisciplinary event. Sunday, Sept. 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Free. Redwood Park, 7867 Redwood Road, Oakland. www.Samavesha.org/Productions/Art-in-Nature-Festival
Jamaican Amazon and new wave icon Grace Jones is making special appearances at interesting venues across the country like Hollywood Bowl and Hammersmith Ballroom to promote her latest album Hurricane. Now she’s bringing her stage show to the Fox, with costume and production design by Eiko Ishioka. She was gender-fluid when gender-fluid wasn’t cool, y’all. Saturday, Sept. 26, 8 p.m. Tickets $55-$75. Fox Theater, Oakland. www.TheFoxOakland.com
Mud Blue Sky
This story is based on a layover near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport and far from the days when air travel was glamorous and one wouldn’t even think of removing one’s shoes in public. Mud Blue Sky is a character-driven play about stewardesses and an errant teenage boy on prom night. Through Sept 27. Days and times vary. Tickets $32 to $62. Aurora Theater, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley. www.AuroraTheatre.org