A night of Tequila and Drag at the Shelton Theater SF
Pancho sat down next to me at the bar, and nodded with a seriousness usually reserved for marine corp officers about to go into battle. He raised one arm and shouted, “Bartender…you’re finest tequila please.”
In reality Pancho is quite the opposite of a soldier. His hair is long, he’s wearing a blue ‘Cheech Marin‘ style beanie, and a hoodie purchased at a punk rock show. But he’s flush tonight, and happy to be drinking in the Tenderloin. “So what are we seeing? Stand-up comedy?” Shot number two goes down. “I havn’t seen that kind of shit in years.”
I explain that we are going to a play, a very weird, and possibly very funny play, at the Shelton Theater.
“Ok,” he says, “what’s it called?
“Strangers with Candy” I say.
“Sounds perverted”, he states while ordering round 3. It most likely is, I thought to myself. The Shelton Theater has been a home for San Francisco performers for over 20 years, it’s a non-profit spawned from the Shelton Studios, a storied school that trains method actors for stage and film. Now it’s run by Matt Shelton, the son of legendary acting coach Jean Shelton, and it sports two nice little stages. We leave the friendly confines of the Owl Tree, and make our way down the narrow stairs to the Shelton, where another warm bar is waiting for Pancho. There are pictures of actors and performers all over the walls, good IPA on draft, and a nice relaxed atmosphere. Pancho orders more tequila, but I decline, “I have to remember this play for posterity”, I say and Strangers with XXXMAS Candy awaits.
Strangers with Candy was originally a tv show on Comedy Central, with Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert. It was dark, strange, and original. It’s protagonist Jerri Blank is a 40-something real old high school freshman with a checkered past full of drugs, sex, and what might be described as ‘kind hearted’ bigotry. The tv show was a play on cheesy after school specials in the 80’s and it lampooned highschool cliches and featured a lot of now very famous actors.
San Francisco’s version of ‘Jerri Blank’ is played by Bob McIntyre in drag, and he’s a dead ringer. The supporting cast including Principle Blackman and ‘the art teacher’ are priceless. The one liners are dirty, fun and the actors are clearly enjoying their roles. The Shelton theater seats are practically right on the stage which almost gives the audience the impression that they are themselves part of the play, the red velvet chairs have small plaques on the armrests, mine said ‘James Woods’. We laughed, and after intermission where Pancho pressed for more tequila, we laughed even harder. If you like the strange and dirty, the light-hearted and quirky, and especially if you were a fan of the original tv show, you’ll really dig Strangers with XXXMas Candy.
Playing Dec 3 – 19th
533 Sutter St. SF