February 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 24th, 25th 8pm
Jazz Legend Chet Baker Comes Back to Life in ‘The Cool’
set in 1954 at the Hollywood jazz club The Haig, on the night when the young Chet Baker first took to the microphone and unleashed his iconic singing voice, "The Cool" is the barn-door opener for Amado's, the new name of the fabled past venue, Viracocha, in the heart of the Valencia corridor in San Francisco's Mission District.
Occurring within two sets of Baker's breakout hits, featuring Russ Freeman's "Maid in Mexico", Russ Job", and "Happy Little Sunbeam", among other tunes, the band features the City's hottest young jazz musicians, including Jack Tone Riordan on guitar and James Gallagher on drums, Ollie Dudek, bass. Philip Watt on trumpet leads the quartet, playing, for the most part, Chet's solos note for note.
The cast for this production features a fine assembly of acting talent. Mr. Kevin Johnson (BoBo "A Raisin in the Sun" Indiana Rep) plays Bennett Haig, and Mr. Irving Schulman (Mario in "Chetty's Lullaby") returns to the jazz play world as booking agent Herb Luscious.
Jazz vocalist Lori Carsillo is featured in the bemused yet nostalgic role of Mary. Also, Eddie Esqueda (fresh from Capitol Stage Co.'s "How to Use a Knife") appears as Mary's boy toy Ray, and East Bay favorite Freddie Webre, a Hollywood set designer, watches the two sets, as Anthony.
Lanise Mckenzie (Jazz Camp West) and Terrance Smith (Joe in "Loner" at Berkeley Black Rep) fill out the cast, along with Justin Viz (recent SF State grad) as Johnny.
SMITH DOBSON V as co-producer brings the heft of the jazz tradition to "The Cool". Many know him and his father as Bay Area jazz stars, the younger Smith having played at Monterey Jazz Festival multiple times. A prolific presence on Bay Area bandstands, Smith grew up in the jazz tradition, and as co-director, shares with Watt the true aims of the production.
Watt and Eitel brought an earlier production to The Back Room at Jimmys No. 43, (another amazing venue, featured in the most recent Woody Allen film) in New York City in 2015, hiring a quintet of young working musicians, connections Watt made through meeting local tenor titan Danny Brown. Prior to this, Watt worked with playwright Stephen Delbos to stage an entirely different play about Baker, archived at www.chettyslullaby.com.
PHILIP WATT is a SF-based actor, musician and teacher, (recipient of the TBA 2015 Titan in Acting). A working observer of Actors Studio West, he spent nearly 6 years in Los Angeles. Breaking out as a musician at 23 with Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett of Rilo Kiley, Watt performed at The Roxie, The Troubadour, The Henry Fonda, The El Ray and The Satellite, and good old Silverlake Lounge. Chet Baker in "Chetty's Lullaby". Dylan Thomas in "Dylan Thomas, 19". He has recorded with Elliott Smith, Mike Bloom, James Goode and Cody Chesnutt. Second trumpet, NYC Teachers Big Band. Screen debut in Michael Jacksons "Stranger in Moscow", 1996. "Dandelion Wine" at Burbank Center Stage (Colony), Crookfinger Jake in "The Threepenny Opera" at The Freud (Reprise!), w/Theodore Bikel. "Dessalines", Greenway Court, Robey Theatre Co. Off-Broadway: "Much Ado About Nothing" at the Beckett, Theatre Row. SF: John Merrick in "The Elephant Man", Brava Theatre.
BARRY EITEL is a San Francisco playwright and a recipient of the 2016 TITAN Award for playwrights from Theater Bay Area. His play "The Ice Cream Sandwich Incident" was produced in August, 2016 and considered the Best New Play of 2016 by Theatre Arts Daily. He is the original Head Writer for Boxcar Theatre's "The Speakeasy", leading a team of nine to create a breathing novel set in a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Published by Smith & Kraus, Barry is a founding member of 6NewPlays, a Bay Area playwright collective, with Christopher Chen and others, and is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago. His work has been produced by Shotz, SF Theatre Pub, Arabian Shakespeare Company and Pan Theatre.Theatre Pub, Arabian Shakespeare Company and Pan Theatre.