Should "The Importance of Being Earnest" have an 11 o'clock number? Does Kafka need an "I want" song? We could go on and on applying the eccentricities of musical theater to literature, but maybe we should just let the composers and lyricists do it.
By the way, that's already happening at TheatreWorks, where the 11th annual New Works Festival is in full swing; this is closing weekend at Palo Alto's Lucie Stern Theatre. As always, new plays that have been incubated at least in part at TheatreWorks are being presented in progress, in the form of staged readings and a developmental production. And there's room for audience feedback.
Two performances remain of "The Trouble With Doug," billed as a quirky musical comedy inspired by Kafka's "The Metamorphosis." No, we didn't make that up. Co-playwrights Will Aronson and Daniel Mate did, with Aronson penning the music and Mate writing the song lyrics. This tale of a man-turned-gastropod has reached the developmental-production stage, and will be performed tonight, Aug. 17, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 19, at 2 p.m.
Also on the schedule is "Being Earnest," promoted as ... wait for it ... "A Wilde New Musical." Based on the Oscar Wilde theatrical classic and set in the 1960s, this new musical has book, music and lyrics by the Tony Award-nominated Paul Gordon. He wrote the book for the musical "Emma," a hit at TheatreWorks in 2007; and the score for "Daddy Long Legs," which played there in 2010.
The "Earnest" composer is film and television composer Jay Gruska. "Being Earnest" has one more staged reading, on Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.
Lastly, the time-traveling musical "Triangle," which deals with romance, a high-tech scientist, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, has its last staged reading at 8 p.m. Aug. 18. Its book is by Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore and Joshua Scher, with music by Moore and lyrics by Mizer.
Tickets are $19 for readings and $25 for "The Trouble With Doug." For details, go to http://theatreworks.org or call 650-463-1960.
Litquake in Palo Alto
San Francisco's Litquake Festival is taking a trip down the Peninsula for the first time. On Aug. 26, author readings, writer panels and other activities will be held in Palo Alto at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center as part of the festival. Most events are free.
The afternoon is scheduled to include more than 35 authors sharing their writing and experiences for adults, teens and children. They include: Katherine Longshore, who writes historical fiction for teens; local novelist Ellen Sussman; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Matt Richtel; Palo Alto writer Keith Raffel; and novelist and short-story writer Peter Orner.
Also planned are live music, outdoor readings, food and gift vendors, and a "Blues, Booze and Schmooze" event for attendees over 21 to mingle with authors.
The one ticketed event is "An Evening of Jewish Humor" with Michael Krasny. The author is also the host of "Forum" on KQED radio. Admission to the 8 p.m. talk is $30 general and $25 for JCC members in advance, and $35 at the door. The other events will run from 3 to 8 p.m.
The JCC is at 3921 Fabian Way in Palo Alto. For details about Litquake, an annual San Francisco festival founded by Bay Area writers in 1999, go to litquake.org. Local information is at http://paloaltojcc.org/litquake .
Kids on the square
"Going postal" takes on an entirely different meaning when there's art involved. Kevin Mathieu has turned a U.S. Postal Service mail jeep into LEGOJeep, an interactive artwork that allows people to build their own bricky creations all over its exterior. Kids, as you might imagine, aren't the only ones obsessed with it.
Mathieu grew up in Palo Alto, and he's bringing his LEGOJeep back to the Peninsula on Sunday, Aug. 26. The colorful toy-mobile will be at Courthouse Square in downtown Redwood City as part of one of the Target Family Days organized by the city.
Held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the event is billed as "a walkable assortment of themed family entertainment," with free admission and nearby Broadway closed to vehicle traffic. Activities will include: cookie-decorating; facepainting with a robot theme; pie-plate art; science, engineering and animal-focused activities; a bounce house; and an inflatable slide. Kids' musicians Andy Z & the Andyland Band are also scheduled to perform.
For more information, go to http://www.redwoodcity.org/events/targetfamilydays.htm .
'Teens on the Green'
Palo Alto's annual Twilight Concert Series comes to a close this Saturday, Aug. 18, with "Teens on the Green," a concert that lets young Bay Area musicians play Mitchell Park. Bands had to audition to be part of the show.
Rundown Radio, a San Ramon-based rock band, will open the 6:30 p.m. concert. The musicians, four high school boys, have won Battle of the Bands events in Hayward and San Mateo.
Elana Loeb, a Gunn High School senior and "Teens on the Green" veteran, will perform acoustic pop, rock and jazz tunes. On3, the youngest group to be featured in the concert series, is based in the Napa Valley and will play original alternative-pop compositions.
Remi and Chloe, two Gunn juniors, form an indie-rock duo performing original work. Lastly, Minute 2 Midnight, a pop-punk band from San Ramon, will close out the show.
The concert is at 600 E. Meadow Drive in Palo Alto. Admission is free, and food trucks will offer items for purchase. For more, go to http://cityofpaloalto.org .
Art and music
CSMA open house
This Sunday, Aug. 19, Mountain View's Community School of Music and Arts is hosting an open house to introduce youth and adults to its prolific music and arts programs. The event is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
CSMA will present several demonstrations from its digital arts, ceramics and preschool-music programs. The open house will also include two free workshops: "Fashion Design" and "Manga Mania," as well as instrument, choral and music-scholar performances. CSMA staff and faculty will be available to answer questions.
Meanwhile, guides will lead tours of the nonprofit school's 25,000-square-foot facility every 20 minutes, and Hobee's will serve refreshments. For more information, go to http://arts4all.org or call 650-917-6800, extension 305.
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