Theater: Show Boat – San Francisco Opera

Opened: June 1, 2014

Book & Lyrics by: Oscar Hammerstein II

Music by: Jerome Kern

Original San Francisco Opera Cast: Bill Irwin, Heidi Stober, Michael Todd Simpson, Patricia Racette, Angela Renée Simpson, Harriet Harris, Morris Robinson, Kirsten Wyatt, John Bolton, Sharon McNight, James Asher, Kevin Blackton, Patrick Cummings, Matthew Piatt, Carmen Steele, Tracy Camp, Kathleen Bayler, Sally Mouzon, Mary Finch, Samantha McElhaney, Erin Neff, Simone Paulwell, Rachelle Perry, Christopher Jackson, Anthony McGlaun & Phillip Pickens

Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern’s groundbreaking 1927 musical is presented in its wonderful glory by the San Francisco Opera.

Magnolia Hawks (Heidi Stober) falls in love with river gambler Gaylord Ravenal (Michael Todd Simpson) upon first sight. When Cotton Blossom star Julie La Verne (Patricia Racette) leaves the showboat due to issues with her race, Magnolia takes over the lead in the show.

Show Boat is memorable for its tale of undying love and commentary on racism in a time when it was still prevalent. Both themes are still held strong here, and Morris Robinson’s rendition of “Ol’ Man River” and its reprises is emotionally grasping.

Despite the dark material, the show balances its comedy well with Kirsten Wyatt & John Bolton’s Frank and Ellie having some of the most memorable scenes.

Final say: An epic production. ★★★★☆

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