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Arts & Culture

BD Wong in 'The Great Leap' - Black Eagles - Marie and Rosetta - Bay Area Rainbow Symphony

Kevin Berne

This week on Open Air, KALW’s radio magazine for the performing arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, Host David Latulippe talks with Tony Award winning  actor and San Francisco native BD Wong (above), who plays the lead in the A.C.T production of The Great Leap, by award-winning Bay Area playwright Lauren Yee. 

The Great Leap is set in 1989, when a college basketball team from San Francisco has been invited to Beijing for an exhibition game. The Chinese team is coached by Wen Chang (BD Wong), the former protégé of the smack-talking American coach (Arye Gross). The story is set against the backdrop of the Tiananmen Square student protests. The production runs at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater (415 Geary St.) in San Francisco through March 31. 

From the African American Shakespeare Company, we talk with artistic director L. Peter Callender, about his direction of Leslie Lee’s Black Eagles, telling the story of the Tuskegee airmen, America's first black fighter pilots. The play opens onstage during a reception to honor the airmen and General Colin Powell. As the now-elderly WWII pilots reminisce, their younger selves join them, and the story of the company is retold. Black Eagles runs from March 16 - 31 at the Marine’s Memorial Theatre (609 Sutter St.) in San Francisco. 

We talk to conductor Dawn Harms about the upcoming Spring Concert of the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. The performance is on March 16 (8pm) in the Taube Atrium Auditorium of the Wilsey Center (401 Van Ness Ave) in San Francisco. Composer David Conte joins the conversation; his A Copland Portrait is on the program. 

Also included: Music from 'Our Town' by Aaron Copland; Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez, with guitar soloist Alec Holcomb; and Symphony No. 1 by American composer Florence B. Price (1887 - 1953), who was the first African-American woman to be recognized as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra. 

Plus, from Theatreworks Silicon Valley, we talk with lead actors Michelle E. Jordan (Rosetta) and Marissa Rudd (Marie) about the West Coast premiere of the musical play Marie and Rosetta, which tells the story of gospel singer, songwriter, and guitar player Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915–1973), nicknamed ‘Godmother of Rock and Roll’, and her relationship with singer Marie Knight. Directed by Robert Kelley, Marie and Rosetta runs through March 31 at the Lucie Stern Theatre (1305 Middlefield Road) in Palo Alto. 

Open Air with host David Latulippe; heard live on Thursday, March 14 at 1pm. Listen now or anytime…