Monday, October 18, 2021

October 2021 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The OCTOBER 2021 Downtown Dimension is now available for download.
 
This month's newsletter highlights:  
  • The next step to our economic recovery -- big events extending to weekdays
  • The return to the stage has not been easy.  Lisa Mallette of City Lights Theatre Co. explains.
  • The Colbeck brothers of San Jose get inside a 19th Century home where their mother was born.  Google has plans to save the house by moving it to the Creekside Walk section of its Downtown West development.
  • The fourth version of SJdowntown.com is launched and active. Take a look.
  • Groundwerx' Employee of the Month Joel Ramirez loves his job, downtown and his Groundwerx family.
  • New businesses include Gameshop Downstairs, Cash Bar and Punch King Fit.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

September 2021 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The SEPTEMBER 2021 Downtown Dimension is now available for download.
 
This month's newsletter highlights:  
  • SJDA provides an overview of how it has responded to the Stabilization Plan released in August 2020 and meant to navigate the COVID crisis into economic recovery.
    Deemed most essential to recovery: Continued clean and safe services and the renewal of the Property Owners Business Improvement District.
  • In August, SJDA hired a new Business resiliency Manager, Omar Torres, who will assist businesses with their economic recoveries.
  • Groundwerx' Employee of the Month is Angelina Lopez.
  • New businesses include Western International Securities, Rec Room, and Health Carbon
  • An 87-unit affordable housing project breaks ground at Almaden Boulevard and Balbach Street.
  • Newly named Barack Obama Boulevard will be part of Downtown West, surrounded by SAP Center, Diridon Station and Los Gatos Creek.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Theater is back with "The Great Leap" @ The San Jose Stage Company

The program cover of The Great Leap at The San Jose Stage Company

Program cover of The Great Leap at The San Jose Stage Company.

Manford (James Aaron Oh) making a basketball shot as
Wen Chang (Alex Hsu), Connie (Monica Ho), and
Saul (Tim Kniffin) watches at a distance on the court.
Photograph courtesy of Dave Lepori.
Randall King, the Artistic Director of The San Jose Stage Company, announced that "theater is back!" Yes it is and what a surreal feeling when I realized that the last time I saw a show at The San Jose Stage Company was the musical Chicago in February 2020. Oh, how great it feels to be back in the theater again ... safely!

Kicking off their 39th Season "Resilience" is Lauren Yee's play The Great Leap. Following four characters, an American basketball team travels to Beijing for a "friendship match" in 1989. There is much more to this "friendship" than meets the eye: a deep, yet strained, relationship between the two countries bringing the characters into a collision course. The most common line that shows how deep this "friendship" really goes: "no Chinese team will ever beat an American team."

The set of The Great Leap at The San Jose Stage Company.
Photograph courtesy of John Huân Vu.
On a beautiful and minimal stage centering around a basketball court, we follow two storylines eighteen years apart. This split timeline highlights two major points in our history: renewed relations between the United States and China and the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing, China.

In the past timeline of 1971, we meet the American University of San Francisco basketball coach Saul (played by Tim Kniffin) who convinces a Chinese translator, Wen Chang (played by Alex Hsu), to a "friendship match" that will be played 18 years later in 1989. While in the present timeline of 1989, we follow 17-year-old Chinese-American Manford (played by James Aaron Oh) who pesters coach Saul to play in the "friendship match" against Beijing University. We also meet Connie (played by Monica Ho) who is a university student and is Manford's loving "cousin".

Saul (Tim Kniffin) and Wen Chang (Alex Hsu)
converses on the basketball court in 1971.
Photograph courtesy of Dave Lepori.

Without sharing the details of the story, each of the actors bring a unique dichotomy to their characters delivering comedic relief towards a dramatic, unexpected, and satisfying climax!

When we first meet Saul in 1971, he is an ambitious and confident coach but now struggles personally and professionally in 1989. Ironically, Wen became the opposite of Saul where Wen was a "nobody" in China in 1971 and is now one of the more influential citizens in the country in 1989. Although Manford started out very obnoxious and arrogant, you come to love him when you realize this kid never gives up - especially if it's for the right reason. Lastly, Connie is an extravagant and straight-to-the-point girl but works to embody that family love that was truly missing from Manford's life.

Manford (James Aaron Oh) confronted by his "cousin"
Connie (Monica Ho) on why he's not at school.
Photograph courtesy of Dave Lepori.
Personally, I was very impressed by Tim Kniffin where his body language spoke as loud as his words. As for Alex Hsu, it was personally so great to see him back on stage after last seeing him a decade ago fabulously acting in the musical Tales of the City at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Although I can't play basketball (or any sports) for the life of me, I really appreciate seeing that James Aaron Oh took the time to study up the sport so he can deliver a solid performance on stage. Lastly, the range that Monica Ho delivers during this play foreshadows that she's an actress I'd be on the lookout for in future performances.

Overall, the show delivers a great story through the impressive dramatic and comedic performances of the actors to show that indeed, "theater is back!" Please note that heavy language is used and may not be suitable for all audience members.

Wen Chang (Alex Hsu) facing the tanks at Tiananmen Square.
Photograph courtesy of Dave Lepori.
Catch a performance from Wednesdays through Sundays now until October 24, 2021. You can purchase tickets online at The San Jose Stage Company website at www.thestage.org or at their box office at 490 South First Street, San Jose, CA 95113, (408) 283-7141. Discount tickets are available for students and seniors. To ensure the health and safety of the cast, staff, and those attending, please note that you must adhere to their safety protocols which also includes a proof of vaccination.

Written by John Huân Vu, edited by Greg Ripa.