Review: Surf’s up with ‘Point Break Live!’ 

It’s not every day that the opportunity to step into the meaty role of Johnny Utah, the former college football star turned surf narc played to perfection by Keanu Reeves in the absurd 1991 action-adventure flick "Point Break," presents itself.

Thanks to the folks behind "Point Break Live!" that day has finally come.

Started in Seattle in 2003 as part of a bar bet between creators Jaime Keeling and Jamie Hook, the full-immersion stage production has invaded the likes of New York and Los Angeles — and now San Francisco, until June.

Essentially, "Point Break Live!" plucks one lucky member from the audience — after a rigorous round of auditions, that is — and transforms said individual into a wetsuit-wearing undercover FBI agent for the night.

To capture the essence of Reeves’ raw, unparalleled acting chops, the fresh-faced player is fed lines via cue cards, which are displayed on the small screen courtesy of a "Keanu Kam."

Now, the idea of shelling out $25 to watch an untrained, unrehearsed audience member take the stage for roughly two hours has more than enough potential to be painful, but that’s pretty much the shtick behind the show — the worse it gets, the more the hilarity ensues.

While the Keanu stand-in does carry a lot of weight on his shoulders, he’s certainly in good company. Of the low-budget production’s cast of characters, James Cotner stands out as FBI Agent Angelo Pappas, played by the ineffable Gary Busey in the film, as well as Ted Harvey’s intensely mesmerizing performance as Patrick Swayze’s surf king Bodhi Sattva.

The appeal of "Point Break Live!" extends far beyond the novel idea of the casting Johnny Utah within the first 10 minutes of the show; the fact that the movie is a surf saga and doesn’t necessarily lend itself to an adaptation for the stage is what makes the show all the more ridiculous and a must-see.

That said, "Point Break Live!" isn’t devoid of the extreme surfing and skydiving antics that make up the movie’s tag line: "100 Percent Pure Adrenaline."

Blood, beer and bodacious 50-year storm surf are very much a part of the production; folks seated in the first few rows should expect to feel the elements.

It’s highly recommended that show-goers purchase the $1 survival kit, which comes complete with poncho, napkin and bogus cash to stave off the bank-robbing criminals Agent Utah is after. Things do get down and dirty.


Point Break Live!

Where: Xenodrome, 1320 Potrero Ave., San Francisco

When: 9 p.m. Friday; 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday; closes June 21

Tickets: $25

Contact: (866) 811-4111 or

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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