A.C.T.'s TOSCA CAFE Heads to Vancouver

American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.)'s Tosca Cafe, the new incarnation of its world premiere dance-theater piece The Tosca Project, was a sold-out hit with audiences and critics at Theatre Calgary, where it played September 13-October 2. Created and staged by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff and San Francisco Ballet's Val Caniparoli and starring Canadian ballet star Rex Harrington, this production was celebrated as "lyrical, elegantly exuberant . . . candy for the eyes and the ears, as gorgeous to watch as it is to listen to" (Calgary Herald).. Along with Harrington, a slew of talented performers reimagined the piece with Perloff and Caniparoli, including new A.C.T. core Acting Company member Annie Purcell and original cast members Gregory Wallace (an associate artist at A.C.T.), Canadian physical-theater actor Peter Anderson (star of The Overcoat at Theatre Calgary and at A.C.T.), former San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Sabina Allemann, award-winning modern dancer Nol Simonse, and A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program alumni Kyle Schaefer and Sara Hogrefe. The production is now moving to its second Canadian stop at Vancouver Playhouse, where it will run October 8-29. For more information and tickets, please visit www.vancouverplayhouse.com.

"I was gratified that Canadian audiences have embraced Tosca with the same enthusiasm as our hometown crowd. It was a surreal experience to arrive in Canada and find the bar we know and love on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco sitting onstage in a totally different context," says Perloff. "A.C.T.'s closest family of subscribers and donors made this play happen, and we're thrilled that it's having such a successful life after its premiere at A.C.T."

The extended world premiere run of Tosca at A.C.T. was an audience and critical favorite and earned rave reviews: the San Francisco Chronicle praised it as "genuine magic . . . a visual feast, a treasure trove of fine performances," while KRON-TV called it "smart, sexy, wild, and fun." In preparation for the new incarnation of the production, Perloff and Caniparoli went back into the studio and made significant changes to the characters and the structure of the piece. Perloff added: "It is such a gift to be able to revisit a production a year after its premiere-a great deal of clarity emerges after some time away, and we were able to create a much stronger emotional storyline to contain all that beautiful movement." Conjuring a world in which love, betrayal, and hope emerge from The Shadows and disappear with the clink of a glass, this gorgeously choreographed and achingly moving dance-theater piece was inspired by San Francisco's legendary Tosca Cafe, which bore witness to every shift in San Francisco's history over the past century. More information about the production can be found at www.act-sf.org/toscacafe.

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