Best Bets: ‘Women of Art Rock,’ ‘King Liz,’ and violinist Ray Chen

A 1967 poster by late artist Bonnie MacLean promoting a Cream concert at the Fillmore is on display at the Haight Street Art Center. (Courtesy Haight Street Art Center)

Freebie of the week: With notable and worthy exceptions, attention in the early days of rock and roll was largely paid to men. The same holds true when it comes to iconic rock concert posters. Now the Haight Street Art Center in San Francisco is looking to change that.

In the new exhibit “Women of Art Rock: 1965-2023,” the art center is hosting what it calls “the largest exhibition of its kind devoted exclusively to rock and music posters designed by women.” The collection includes more than 200 posters, flyers and other works by some 50 female artists, many with connections to the Bay Area. One such artist was the late Marin County Bonnie MacLean, whose trippy, iconic works advertised shows at the Fillmore auditorium through the 1960s, especially during the summer of love.

Also represented are Mari Tepper, Ruth Garbell, Gina Papen, Donna Herrick, Samantha Sirdofsky, Helen Hersh and Catherine Weinstein, as well as 1970s-1990s artists including Helena Rogers, Arlene Owseichik, Lynn Porterfield and Tara McPherson. Besides shining a light on some wonderful (yet overlooked) artists, the exhibit delivers a colorful look at the evolution of musical and artistic tastes through the decades.

“Women of Art Rock ” runs through April 14 at 215 Haight St. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is free. For more information, go to      

Damaris Divito stars as a high-powered sports agent in “King Liz” Courtesy Christian Pizzirani/City Lights Theater Company)

Bucking the odds: Mexican-born playwright Fernanda Coppel graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a writing degree in 2007, dropping a plan to become a lawyer and pivoting toward playwriting. And with works such as “King Liz,” “Chimichangas and Zoloft” and “The Leak,” she has gained acclaim as a creator of lively, insightful plays populated by determined, if not feisty, Latina characters. Now “King Liz” opens this week at City Lights Theater in San Jose.

The drama centers on a Latina sports agent who’s holding her own in a male-dominated landscape. But things could go South in a hurry if her latest client, a hot-headed if supremely talented teen basketball star, blows up his career. El Teatro Campesino veteran Kinan Valdez directs the production, which stars Damaris Divito as Liz.

“King Liz” is in previews through Friday, then opens Saturday and plays through April 1 at the theater in downtown San Jose. Tickets are $28-$67. Go to

“Larry the Musical: An American Journey,” a show about the influential Filipino labor leader Larry Itliong, plays at the Brava Theater in San Francisco through April 14. (Courtesy Christopher J. Soleto/Brava Theater Center)

Labor of love: Larry Itliong might not be a household name, but he’s an iconic hero in the Filipino and farmworkers’ communities. The Philippine-born labor leader (1913-1977), who settled in Stockton after serving in World War II, was an influential force in the movement to bring rights and better benefits to American farmworkers, and instrumental in the pivotal Delano Grape Strike.

With an eye toward increasing awareness of Itliong, as well as celebrating their heritage, writers and theater-makers present “Larry the Musical: An American Journey” at the Brava Theater Center in San Francisco’s Mission District. With an entirely Filipino cast and creative team, the plays tells the story of the influential leader, incorporating a wide range of musical styles, reflecting the melting-pot nature of Filipino culture. The musical is drawn from the book “The Life of Larry Itliong” by Dr. Dawn Mabalon and Gayle Romasanta; with the script written by Kevin Camia and Romasanta and music composed by Bryan Pangilinan and Sean Kana.

“Larry the Musical,” now in previews, opens Saturday. It plays through April 14. Tickets are $25-$150 at 

Violinist Ray Chen will be featured in a San Francisco Symphony Great Performers recital at Davies Hall on Sunday evening. (Courtesy John Mac)

Another Great Performer: In addition to its main concert series, the San Francisco Symphony plays host throughout the season to a long string of superb instrumentalists, including (so far) pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Daniil Trifonov, violinist Lisa Batiashvili, cellist Gautier Capuçon and the members of its own stellar brass section. Next up on the Great Performers series is Taiwanese-Australian violinist Ray Chen, a Yehudi Menuhin Competition winner, who will be accompanied by Bay Area pianist Julio Elizalde in a Sunday night recital in Davies Hall. On their program are works by Beethoven, Bach, Antonio Bazzini, Giuseppe Tartini, Antonín Dvořák, and Chick Corea.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance, $75-$225, are available at and (415) 864-6000. To get a sample of their collaborative style, see them perform together on YouTube.  

Hollywood composer Danny Elfman’s Violin Concerto, with Sandy Cameron as soloist, will be a centerpiece on Symphony San Jose’s two “From Screen to Stage” concerts this weekend. (Courtesy Megan Wintory)

Moving movie music: Erich Wolfgang Korngold was a child prodigy in Austria who produced his first opera at the age of 11. He fled Europe in 1934 as the Nazis were rising to power and wound up in Hollywood, where he enjoyed great success as a composer of music for the movies, winning Oscars for “Anthony Adverse” (1936) and, more famously, the swashbuckling score for “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” starring Errol Flynn, in 1938.

But it is his Overture to “The Sea Hawk,” also a vehicle for Flynn, that will open Symphony San Jose’s “From Screen to Stage” programs this weekend in the California Theatre. Sarah Hicks, well-known for her lively leading of movies with live music concerts, will be at the podium, conducting the Korngold work and Hollywood composer Danny Elfman’s Violin Concerto, written specifically for Sandy Cameron, who will be the soloist at these performances. Also on the program is the Symphony No. 1 by Dmitri Shostakovich, written as an academic exercise when he was just 18. Like Korngold, Shostakovich was also a prolific contributor to film music, composing scores for 34 movies in Russia.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Find tickets, $55-$115, at or by calling (408) 286-2600. 

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