reviews

Twelfth Night, Shotgun Players

"Under the direction of Shotgun veteran Jon Tracy, Shakedown reinvigorates “Twelfth Night” with an original and musically diverse score as well as aptly arranged songs collaged from lines in the play combined with extratextual lines from Shakespeare’s sonnets. In this tour-de-force production, the multi-talented Shakedown actors play every part, sing every song and make all the music." - Jennifer Wong, The Daily Californian

"... the effect of a director who appears to create his own box — not just think outside of one — and a cast whose bodies and vocalizations sing, is unexpected, blissful theater." - Lou Fancher, SF Weekly

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Gidion's Knot, Aurora Theatre Company

"Masterfully constructed" George Heymont, My Cultural Landscape

"Director Jon Tracy is especially adept at re-creating a version of real life for the stage that is unflinching, even if that means it’s sometimes hard to watch. This two-person play is, as you might expect of Tracy, so finely calibrated that there’s hardly a pause or a body movement that doesn’t feel at once natural or directly part of the playwright’s vision." Chad Jones, theatredogs

"Insightfully directed by Jon Tracy in its regional premiere at Berkeley's Aurora Theatre, "Gidion's Knot" is a one-act debate play, a taut 80-minute mystery that keeps us guessing about where to lay blame when children go astray." Karen D'Souza, San Jose Mercury News

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strangers, babies, Shotgun Players

Best of 2013: San Jose Mercury News, SF Bay Guardian

"beautifully directed" Karen D'Souza, San Jose Mercury News

"Easily one of the Bay Area’s best directors, particularly for his signature use of space, sound and physicality, in Strangers, Babies, Tracy’s use of minimalist staging is beautifully rendered." Mordecai Cohen Ettinger, Body Electric

"In essence, strangers, babies is a ghost story without a readily identifiable ghost; a way of frightening an audience into going home and worrying if (once they've turned out the lights) a contemporary monster is still lurking underneath the bed... The result of the McLean/Tracy collaboration is the kind of chilling, deeply disturbing evening of theatre that leaves one marveling at the work of certain actors while being spooked by their characterizations of deeply dysfunctional souls." George Heymont, My Cultural Landscape

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Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol, Marin Theatre Company

“A triumph… clever and cutting-edge; unique and amusingly dark holiday treat.” Mill Valley Herald

"Tracy's riveting, not-to-be-missed staging... is a triumphant achievement in theatrical storytelling." George Heymont, My Cultural Landscape

“A truly original experience; enchanting; hyper-kinetic; dazzling; highly creative; thrilling; truly exceptional.” Sonoma County Gazette

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Terminus, Magic Theatre

Best of 2013: San Jose Mercury News, KQED, Theatre Dogs
 
"It's uncomfortable and exhilarating, pared-down but full to bursting of linguistic, emotional, and imaginative riches, and executed pitch-perfectly by Tracy and the cast. It's not just a welcome reminder of what theater can do; it feels like what theater is for." Sam Hurwitt, KQED
 
“I go to to a lot of plays, 40 per year at least, and I have for years. There are certain—and few—truly outstanding memorable moments in the theatre. If you want to have one of the memorable moments, call the Magic Theatre box office today and get a ticket to the first American production of Mark O’Rowe’s Terminus. Stacy Ross, Marissa Keltie, and Carl Lumbly are the performers, and Jon Tracy directs. All consummate theatre artists, they go beyond any performance of theirs which I have previously witnessed. Witness is the right word; it’s something you want to be able to say, I was there, then.” John McMullen, Examiner
 
"A sepulchral light glimmers throughout Jon Tracy’s menacing-taut production... I staggered out of the theatre after close to two intermissionless hours feeling profoundly frightened and moved." Chloe Veltman, lies like truth
 
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Guys and Dolls, Berkeley Playhouse
 
"Berkeley Playhouse and director Jon Tracy are staging "Guys and Dolls" with a more timeless, animated-film feel that heightens interest without changing much of the script or any of the songs. Berkeley's historic Julia Morgan Theatre is a great place to see the show in a fairly intimate setting and discover, or rediscover, there's a reason "Guys and Dolls" remains vital after more than 60 years. It's a gem of a show, well-cast for this production and masterfully directed by Tracy." Pat Craig, San Jose Mercury News
 
"This one has it all. Every aspect of the production comes together so smoothly, it’s easy to forget the magnitude of work that goes into creating such a top-notch show. Kudos to the whole team, on the stage and behind the scenes. You don’t want to miss this one." Elizabeth Warnimont, Benicia Herald

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It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Marin Theatre Company

"Director Jon Tracy keeps the action buoyant. (He) knows how to showcase the actors many skills. "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" dazzles." Jean Schiffman, San Francisco Examiner

"In Jon Tracy's clever staging, the nostalgic frame for a nostalgic story yields a counterintuitive impact... it's heartwarming and good for the soul." Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

"Watching this excellent production brought back memories of the 1950s "radio plays" in the Los Angeles area that used contract players from major movie studios to present radio adaptation of movies. Director Jon Tracy has faithfully produced an exact replica of this type of play." Richard Connema, Talkin' Broadway

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Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, San Francisco Playhouse

Best of 2012: The Idiolect, Talkin' Broadway, Bay Area Reporter

"In a dynamic staging by Jon Tracy, the cast doubles as the rock band and they're impressively tight." Sam Hurwitt, The Idiolect

"BBAJ is robust, profane, bold, edgy, everything goes. Jon Tracy's direction is a seamless and faultless." Janos Gereben, San Francisco Examiner

"Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson is a fantastic history lesson Led Zeppelin-style, presented by 14 rocking musicians. Director Jon Tracy and musical director Jonathan Fadner navigate the script's many anachronisms and seductive flourishes with operatic flair." Richard Connema, Talkin' Broadway

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The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Aurora Theatre Company

"Aurora scores a smackdown with Chad Deity. Jon Tracy's production is enormous... the Aurora opens its season with a theatrical ass-whoopin'." Chad Jones, Theatre Dogs

"Director Jon Tracy keeps the story moving briskly and gets fine work from his cast." Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

"Aurora Theatre Company’s Bay Area premiere production is dazzling, sharply staged by Jon Tracy... it’s awfully entertaining in the writing, the performance and the production elements...it’s a win." Sam Hurwitt, The Idiolect

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Any Given Day, Magic Theatre

Best of 2012: San Francisco Chronicle, The Idiolect, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Theatre Dogs, TheatreStorm

"What's important is that director Jon Tracy's skillfully staged and sumptuously performed American premiere of this beautifully bifurcated 2010 drama is a special occasion for lovers of strikingly original character-driven theater." Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

“Any Given Day, superbly directed by Jon Tracy, features excellent actors in this unusual drama... another hit at the historic Magic Theatre."  Carol Benet, Arts SF

"Director Jon Tracy has given each half of this dramatic diptych its own flavor and pacing, yet the combination eventually makes sense, even as our brains get shifted into higher gears. Any Given Day is not the kind of play that will send you back into the world with the satisfaction of a neatly drawn drama. But you will think. And think again. And still again." Richard Dodds, Bay Area Reporter

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The Tempest, Marin Shakespeare Company

"Jon Tracy adds electricity to Shakespeare’s antique storm. The new production of The Tempest, now at Marin Shakes, updates Duke Prospero of Medieval Italy to a post-Tesla world, where electrical devices and a flock of enchanted spirits dominate the stage. This production adds dimensions to the original while remaining true to the inspired story of a man consumed by the power of intellect, a Victorian fetish. By bringing the story nearly up-to-date – compared to the original – Director Jon Tracy has made the timeless tale more immediate." Albert Goodwyn, Bay Area Reporter

“One of the most exciting things in the theater world is when a director makes the bold attempt of radically changing a well established and loved play. When the performance actually lives up to the hype and expectations, it is a glorious and magical event that can totally alter your perception of what theater can accomplish. The Tempest, currently in production by the Marin Shakespeare Company, has accomplished the aforementioned feat, in a marvelous display of the Steampunk genre." Paul Webb, Paul Webb Reviews

"Director Jon Tracy holds the audience spellbound with his bold and imaginative realization. His “Tempest” is a brilliant achievement. This is not just any play, and certainly not just any Shakespearean play. It is an uncommon adventure to a brave new world, an experience not to be missed, or forgotten." Suzanne Angeo, For All Events

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Grapes of Wrath, TheatreFIRST

"Anyone familiar with Jon Tracy's style might wonder how he'd apply it to Steinbeck, an author whose rich descriptions of Depression-era America don't necessarily lend themselves to beat-box operas or high-concept set pieces. Yet, Tracy's new production of Steinbeck's 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath has all of the director's signature flourishes. Although the basic story line remains intact, it's still a thoroughly modern and thoroughly Tracyian endeavor. Tracy consigned himself with representing an epic cross-country journey on a small stage. He does it in beautiful, simplified shorthand." Rachel Swan, East Bay Express

"The actors are first-rate, not only in the characterizations but in the pinpoint timing demanded by Tracy to make the whole thing work." Pat Craig, Contra Costa Times

"Director Tracy’s scrappy aesthetics are a perfect match for this hard-up but upbeat family. He makes a jalopy from a bed frame, a stream from a few long coils of metal and a pregnancy from a dollhouse and a belt. In our own world of uncertain futures, director Tracy does well to remind us where we’ve been." Lily Janiak, SF Bay TImes

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The Salt Plays: In the Wound, Shotgun Players

Best of 2010: San Francisco Chronicle, The Idiolect

"In the Wound, Jon Tracy's liberal rewrite of Homer's Iliad, pulsates to the drums of goddesses and throbs with the combat, tedium, confusion and carnage of extended war. Not that this ambitious project, the first part of Tracy's two-play Homeric "The Salt Plays," is anywhere near as gory as the average war movie. The swords are drumsticks. The carnage is choreographed and the bloodshed left to your imagination. Which may make it more intense. The "Salt" Tracy rubs in this "Wound" becomes a remarkable drama. It's damned good theater." Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

"A vibrant new piece of theatre that is relevant, accessible, and consistently thrilling… Tracy has created a rollicking, walloping epic about the evil and stupidity of war." George Heymont, My Cultural Landscape

"It’s a dazzlingly dynamic, highly stylized staging of a lyrical, tragic, funny, challenging, fragmented, and fresh take on the well-worn ground of the battlefields of Ilium." Sam Hurwitt, The Idiolect

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The Salt Plays: Of the Earth, Shotgun Players

Best of 2010: San Francisco Chronicle

"In the final chapter of Jon Tracy's two-play Homeric epic, Odysseus' long voyage home is as engrossing and suspenseful as the entire Trojan War was in the first. Author-director Tracy sticks more closely to the events of "The Odyssey" than he did to "The Iliad," but "Earth" is a retelling of one of Western civilization's foundational myths through contemporary eyes... the action becomes so thickly layered that you may want to see the play more than once. That's also true of the story Tracy so vividly tells." Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle

"A well-done, delightfully off-kilter and highly entertaining interpretation" Pat Craig, The San Jose Mercury News

"Theatrical productions these days have been encompassing other media such as film, the internet, and even smart phones to attract audiences of today. Shotgun Players current undertaking of The Salt Plays Part 2: Of the Earth is certainly one that succeeds in utilizing these new tools and is a kaleidoscope journey through a modern adaption of Homer's Greek Classic The Odyssey written and directed by Jon Tracy. It is must see entertainment." Percival Archibal, San Francisco Examiner

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The Farm, Shotgun Players

"Rap and beatbox rhythms intertwine with gospel and country blues stylings in adapter-director Tracy's "remix" of Orwell's 1945 farmyard parable of the corruption of a popular revolution. The fast flow of percussive rhymed couplets and the energy of the large ensemble in Tracy's stagings make the Shotgun Players' annual outdoor show exciting and provocative. Some of the novel's details have been changed, and characters and events omitted. But Tracy remains remarkably true to the story and its spirit. Shotgun's impressively ambitious "Farm" is a cautionary tale with showbiz pizzazz." Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“A seething hip-hop, postapocalyptic, dystopian fantasy — and it works” Nathaniel Eaton, SF Weekly 
 
"Using a combination of beat box, spoken word, acrobatics, and dance, writer/director Jon Tracy has crafted a new stage adaptation of George Orwell's classic, Animal Farm, that is so fucking brilliant I can only hope it gets performed by companies large and small all over the world -- from local theaters with educational outreach programs to annual Shakespeare festivals (where it would fit beautifully on an indoor thrust or outdoor stage). One often witnesses theater and opera companies trying to update the classics in an effort to revitalize them or make them more relevant to younger audiences. Many such efforts fail miserably. The Farm, however, is a shining example of what happens when someone (a) knows the material upside-down, inside-out, backwards and forwards, (2) has a genuine artistic vision, and (3) can make his concept come alive onstage in a way that will not merely thrill audiences, but make them want to run out and read the original text." George Heymont, My Cultural Landscape
 
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Bug, San Francisco Playhouse

"Bug — at least as brought to life by director Jon Tracy for SF Playhouse — exerts a powerful effect. The production makes us itch." Chloe Veltman, SF Weekly

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Richard III, Lupine Events

"Director Jon Tracy's production of Richard III is anything but subtle and nothing but brilliant. It sets forth bold questions that are relevant and prevalent in our current and enduring season of discontent, and it provokes the audience to think about where we are, from where we've come, and where we're going... this play proves groundbreaking. This is a thinking-person's play. It is meant to provoke thought. It provides bold images and imagery that leave its audience with something more than entertainment. Tracy provides relevance." Denise Battista, The Shakespeare Review

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First Person Shooter, San Francisco Playhouse

Best of 2007: San Francisco Chronicle

"...strikingly performed in director Jon Tracy's sharp, smart and energetic staging." Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle 

"Director Jon Tracy’s production is lean and powerful" Chad Jones, Theatre Dogs

"Jon Tracy is directing a razor-sharp, intelligent and vigorous production. This is an in-your-face production of one of the most intense dramas I have experienced." Richard Connema, Talkin' Broadway

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Trainspotting, Darkroom Productions

"San Francisco companies, take notice: The most ballsy and edgy theatre I've seen all year hasn't been in the Tenderloin or in the Mission, it was last night in Vallejo. Under artistic director Jon Tracy, Darkroom Productions presented a loose adaptation of Trainspotting... a pure, in-your-face production, yet stripped of any artsy pretensions and certainly stripped of any amateurish, just-out-of-theatre-school tricks. Jon Tracy and Darkroom Productions is the real deal, a much-welcome alternative to fringe theatre that has turned safe over the years." Karen McKevitt