Wiley Naman Strasser gives a fierce star turn in Crowded Fire’s West Coast Premiere…[The] four-person ensemble…makes multiple roles into distinctly different people. Strasser, in particular, taps into a joyous, possessed energy that endows his performances, controlled and professional as they are, with a wild streak. At the end of the play, he delivers a monologue that’s as unhinged as he is.
In rehearsal for Our Town, Photo: Chesire Isaacs
A show stopper is Strasser’s performance as the affable physical therapist, Jerry. He is the only character who is not somewhat larger than life, which is quite perfect. His grounded approach ends up being the most powerful aspect in Mike’s life. He’s the deceptively wise every man who puts all the chaos in perspective, and he nails it.
Chimney sweep and jack-of-all-trades Bert functions as an omnipresent observer, providing musical narration to the tune of an oddly gloomy version of ‘Chim Chim Cher-ee’. Wiley Naman Strasser in the SF Playhouse production is the first Bert I’ve seen make this melancholy take on Bert really work, playing the role with empathic intensity, like someone who sees the world’s pain and longs to make things better.” -Sam Hurwitt (on Mary Poppins), The Mercury News, December 11, 2018“This Mary Poppins clearly takes sides, and she … is clearly more on the side of the scruffy, working class, possibly homeless street artist and chimney sweep Bert (played with great charisma and conspicuously eloquent dancing by Wiley Naman Strasser)... While there is a hard queer edge to these two characters … there is no shortage of charm and magic either.” -Charles Kruger (on Mary Poppins), TheatreStorm, November 25, 2018“The show looks fantastic, from the opening with narrator/jack of all trades Bert (versatile Wiley Naman Strasser) serenading on a rooftop, playing an accordion, warning about dark clouds gathering at the home of the upper-class Banks family, to the close, after the group has been touched by nanny Mary Poppins’ (appropriately enigmatic yet sassy El Beh) enchanting powers … Beh and Strasser provide just the right amount of nuance to their supernatural characters (and dance and sing up a storm).” -Leslie Katz (on Mary Poppins), SF Examiner, November 24, 2018“If you’re going to produce the show with Bay Area actors right now, it would be hard to top San Francisco Playhouse’s leads El Beh as the “practically perfect” nanny and Wiley Naman Strasser as plucky chimney sweep Bert. Both actors burst with innate charm. No matter what roles they play, you can’t help but root for them.“ -Lily Janiak (on Mary Poppins), San Francisco Chronicle, November 19, 2018
Ascencio as Jamila bears much of the story’s weight, and she’s marvelous, as is Strasser as Jul. There’s humor and depth and passion in all the performances, making Mansour’s intimate family drama all the more personal, all the more powerful.
[Wong’s] work is well matched by Wiley Naman Strasser playing Kreon’s son (and Antigone’s fiance) Haemon. Their scene together, in which Haemon pleads with his father to reconsider the death sentence, is masterful.
Whether spewing the partially comprehensible jargon of a postmodern artist making a film about Mao, heckling an Orientalist play-within-a-play as a grade schooler, or wrestling his scene partner as if both were caged feral animals, actor Wiley Naman Strasser exudes commitment and passion. He plunges deep where other actors might take more measured steps, losing himself fully in a part in a way that looks personal and painful.