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A.C.T.'s acclaimed, music-infused adaptation of Dickens' beloved tale returns in a sumptuous production that's become one of the Bay Area's favorite holiday traditions. A large, lively cast tells the story of lonely old miser Ebenezer Scrooge, a bah-humbuggy sort who's shown a second chance by four ghosts who visit him one spooky Christmas Eve. A classic story of redemption and forgiveness, A Christmas Carol captures the true spirit and magic of the holiday season, especially in this imaginative version written by A.C.T.'s own artistic director Carey Perloff and alumnus Paul Walsh.
What if, by engaging your imagination and opening your mind, you could alter reality and unlock the door to a world of wonders? Welcome to the realm of KURIOS - Cabinet of Curiosities from Cirque du Soleil. Step into the curio cabinet of an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of time, space and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. Suddenly, the visible becomes invisible, perspectives are transformed, and the world is literally turned upside down in a place that's as beautiful as it is mysterious. Stunning acrobatics blend with unusual curiosity acts, and otherworldly characters spring to life before your eyes. Is this magical, mechanical land real, or just a figment of your imagination? You have to see it to disbelieve it.
On Christmas Eve 1944, Nutcracker made its American debut in San Francisco and instantly became a holiday tradition that spread across the country. San Francisco Ballet artistic director and principal choreographer Helgi Tomasson honors that 70-year history by using the City by the Bay as the backdrop for his Nutcracker. Set in San Francisco during the 1915 World's Fair, Clara's dreamlike journey takes place amidst colorful, larger-than-life scenery, more than 200 dazzling costumed characters and, of course, Tchaikovsky's beautiful score performed live by the world-class San Francisco Ballet Orchestra.
A local hit for more than a decade, The Santaland Diaries returns this holiday season, bringing with it all the laughter you'll need to take the edge of your seasonal stresses. David Sinaiko, nominated for a Critics Circle Award for his performance, reprises his role as Crumpet the Elf, bringing you a twisted take on shopping mall Santalands. Written by best-selling humor writer David Sedaris, who gained legions of comedy fans when he first read the piece on This American Life, The Santaland Diaries is Sedaris' hilarious account of working as a Macy's Christmas elf. Tony-winning Broadway director-actor Joe Mantello (Wicked) adapted what was originally an essay into a now-famous solo show that offers the perfect antidote to endless holiday cheer.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, Speed-the-Plow), penned this shocking drama about one woman who's been put away for life, and another woman committed to her rehabilitation. Centering on a riveting conversation between a radical, lesbian anarchist on her possible day of parole and the warden who aims to make sure she stays locked up, The Anarchist covers topics like freedom, power, money and religion, and was described as a "high-stakes war of wills" by The New York Times. This Theatre Rhinoceros production is directed by John Fisher and stars Velina Brown and Tamar Cohn in the roles that Patti Lupone and Debra Winger debuted on Broadway.
Full of racy puppets and boisterous songs, the Tony Award-winning "fresh and delightful" (San Francisco Examiner) Avenue Q returns to the New Conservatory Theatre Center stage after a sold-out run. Naughty puppets take a hilarious look at life in New York City as they tell the timeless story of a recent college grad who moves to Avenue Q with high hopes and discovers his purpose in life with the help of his new neighbors: the girl monster next door, the Republican, the internet sexpert and Lucy the Slut. "It's like having a couple drinks with the characters of Sesame Street and hearing what they really think about life," writes SF Weekly.
Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon is the world's longest-running musical revue. Since 1974, this San Francisco institution has followed Snow White on a musical comedy quest around the world, where she runs into satirically portrayed pop culture and political celebrities, an impressive array of gigantic hats and one show-stopping musical number after another. Because the show is constantly updated with new costumes, hats and characters, it rewards repeat visits. Among the familiar faces you might see spoofed in Beach Blanket's latest incarnation: Lady Gaga, Barack and Michelle Obama, the cast of Glee, Kate Middleton and Adele. Even after nearly 40 years, Beach Blanket Babylon remains one of San Francisco's wildest evenings of live entertainment.
If you think it's stressful being around your family during the holidays, imagine trying to come up with a totally improvised, three-act play about a different and new family for each and every staging of a show. That's exactly what that risk-taking talents of the Un-Scripted Theater Company do in Beloved Strangers. Though it's a unique show every time it's staged, the troupe approaches each performance with the philosophy that all families, for better or worse, share histories, destinies and, most importantly, stories.
Get your dramatic ducks in a row with a 3-show subscription (for first-time subscribers only) to the upcoming season at the Tony-winning Berkeley Repertory Theatre, one of the most innovative companies in the country. Your package begins with An Audience With Meow Meow, a bravura performance by groundbreaking singer-comedienne Meow Meow, who offers electrifying songs, a blowtorch wit and divine mayhem in equal measures. Next on your subscription bill, X's and O's (A Gridiron Love Story) is an intriguing docudrama that exposes the passion and the pain behind football's pervasive traumatic brain injuries. Based on actual interviews with football players and their families and fans, this world premiere will make you see America's favorite game in a whole new light. Finally, you'll thrill to the beat of One Man, Two Guvnors, a swingin' English farce inspired by A Servant of Two Masters wherein a modern-day British dolt with two jobs struggles to juggle his dual bosses. Backed by a live band that swerves between rockabilly and Beatles-esque pop, this topsy-turvy ride through loony love triangles and mistaken identities caps your subscription off with a delectable mish-mash of splendid comedy, pantomime and music-hall-style revue.
In this hilarious and heartwarming prequel to his hit show Not a Genuine Black Man, beloved actor-playwright Brian Copeland recounts three memorable weeks in his youth when he took to the "mean streets" of Oakland to buy his mom the perfect Christmas gift. Rife with references to 1970s Oakland, The Jewelry Box: A Genuine Christmas Story follows six-year-old Brian's adventures as he scours the help-wanted ads, applies for jobs and collects bottles, inching his way toward the coveted present, a jewelry box at the local White Front store. Not a Genuine Black Man broke records as the longest-running solo show in San Francisco history and brought Copeland critical acclaim as one of the city's most talented and engaging solo performers.
A Bay Area holiday family tradition for nearly three decades, Christmas Revels is a joyous production that welcomes the return of the light back from the darkness of winter with a hearty, vibrant celebration. This year's production tackles an American theme for the first time in many years. The 2014 Revels opens in 1930s Appalachia with stops in Louisiana and westward. It's a crazy quilt of many colors representing the fabric of the holiday traditions many of us still share. Filled with Cajun music, Appalachian clogging, folk tales and holiday rituals, this year's Revels are packed with American carols and folk songs, music and plenty of laughter. As always, the chorus of adults, teens and children will add to the warmth, along with storytelling and performances by accomplished guest artists.
This beloved fairy tale spun with a taste of vaudeville, music, dance, comedy, cross-dressing, over-the-top costumes and audience participation will delight everyone ages 5 to 105. Starring X Factor finalist Jason Brock as Buttons, drag legend Peggy Leggs as the evil Baroness and introducing Juliana Lustenader as Cinderella, this traditional British "Panto" holiday show -- an interactive musical-comedy theatrical treat that has entertained audiences around the British Isles for centuries -- has become a San Francisco tradition. Come cheer the actors and boo the evil Stepmother -- and before or after the show see the holiday lights, grand tree, ice rink and Macy's windows at Union Square!
The Complete History of Comedy (abridged) is your CliffsNotes guide to the funniest people ever to work a room -- or cave, in some cases. You'll see a whirlwind of loving tributes to iconic comedians of stage and screen as the Reduced Shakespeare Company inhabits everyone from prehistoric storytellers to commedia dell'arte performers and the Marx brothers to Chris Rock, boiling down the history of joke making into 90 rollicking minutes. This show is written and directed by Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor, the creators of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) and The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged).
Disney On Ice is throwing the biggest party of the year, and you're invited. The skating spectacular Let's Celebrate! is a magical medley of holidays, celebrations and festivals from around the world. This party on ice features all your favorite Disney friends, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse. They'll host a Very Merry Unbirthday party with Alice and the Mad Hatter, while Lilo and Stitch celebrate Hawaiian-style with a luau. And don't forget the Disney Princesses -- they'll be having a Royal Valentine's Day Ball with Cinderella, Ariel and Tiana on the guest list. There'll also be a winter wonderland with Woody and Buzz Lightyear and a Halloween haunt with the Disney Villains.
ELF is the hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa's bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. Buddy is raised unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa's permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and his step-brother doesn't even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Morris Bobrow, the award-winning creator of Shopping! The Musical, the longest-running original show in San Francisco history, is serving up yet another tasty musical revue. This one's all about food, glorious food -- with a mix of songs and sketches about eating habits and hang-ups, trendy restaurants and food trucks, cooking quirks, menu mania and much, much more. Winner of multiple San Francisco Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Awards for outstanding music and lyrics, Bobrow also created the recent Party of 2 -- The Mating Musical.
When the night air brings a chill, when Barbra Streisand croons Silent Night in dep't. stores and when the Xmas sweaters are taken out of mothballs, it can only mean one thing. It's time for the annual appearance of The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes 2014, starring San Francisco's four top drag luminaries, as we ring in the Holiday with, hilarity and heart. The mise-en-scene is reasonably straightforward. Take 4 talented drag performers, cast them in two classic Xmas episodes of the ground-breaking and uproarious TV show: THE GOLDEN GIRLS, and frivolity will ensue.
Fellowship for Performing Arts, the company behind the acclaimed hit The Screwtape Letters, brings another of C.S. Lewis' fascinating fantasies to the stage. As in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Great Divorce brims with Lewis' signature wit and imagination as it follows several colorful characters on a bus ride from a suburb in hell to the outskirts of heaven, while exploring the vagaries of human nature and the divide between good and evil. Adapted by Max McLean and Brian Watkins with the blessing of the Lewis estate, this production is part of a national tour and stars Broadway actors Christa Scott-Reed, Michael Fredric and Joel Rainwater from the U.S. run of The Lion King.
Big business means big laughs in How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a delightfully clever lampoon of life on the corporate ladder. Set in a Mad Men-like '60s world and written by the Tony-winning composer of Guys and Dolls, this hilarious musical satire follows the rise of window-washer J. Pierrepont Finch. The enterprising young employee tries to make a name for himself in New York City by following the morally questionable instructions of a little how-to manual he always keeps in his pocket. But will his unorthodox business practices jeopardize his career and his blooming romance with a lovely secretary? The production took Broadway by storm, winning both the Tony Award for Best Musical and a Pulitzer Prize.
It's a Wonderful Life, one of the all-time great Christmas stories, comes to life in a live 1940s-style radio broadcast from Tides Theatre. Based on Frank Capra's iconic film starring James Stewart, this holiday favorite tells the story of George Bailey, a down-on-his-luck man whose guardian angel shows him what his town would be like had he never been born. A tearjerker even the biggest Grinch won't be able to resist, It's a Wonderful Life is sure to put you in the holiday spirit. Now you can experience this perennial favorite with the added charm of a vintage radio play, complete with live foley sound effects.
Actress and activist Kathy Najimy reveals (almost) all in Lift Up Your Skirt, a new semi-autobiographical solo show. A true "Queen of Comedy," Najimy has stolen countless shows -- be they movies, sitcoms or stage plays -- with her vivacious and hilarious characters, including a lovable nun in Sister Act, a child-eating witch in Hocus Pocus and a gossipy aunt in the smash-hit stage production, The Kathy and Mo Show. Now Najimy performs some truee stories from her incredible "upside down" life as well as new "Aunt Maddie" piece about marriage equality in this in-progress production. Najimy's musical director, the talented Brian Nash, makes this 80-minute show even livelier with live accompaniment at Feinstein's at the Nikko.
Freely adapted from a farce by the French master Georges Feydeau, Charles Morey's The Ladies Man is a zany comedy, filled with mistaken identities, near misses and wild coincidences. Set in turn-of-the-century Paris, a doctor's innocent lie leads to a series of chaotic events involving his suspicious wife, a grumpy mother-in-law, an assertive female patient, her jealous Prussian husband and a well-intentioned fellow with a serious lisp. The Ladies Man premiered in 2007 and has been a hit at numerous theaters around the country.
One of today's most critically acclaimed and buzzed-about American playwrights, Pulitzer Prize finalist Sarah Ruhl takes an innovative and entertaining look at one woman's search for meaning in all of life's uncertainties in Late: A Cowboy Song. This funny and poignant story follows Mary, a young woman stuck in a claustrophobic marriage. Crick, Mary's passive-aggressive, macho-effeminate sweetheart since childhood, recently spent all their savings on a painting, and Mary's just given birth to a baby of uncertain gender. Then she unexpectedly meets Red, a singing female urban cowboy who opens up Mary's world.
A farce of mistaken identities, cross-dressing and hilariously tangled subplots, Love, Sex, and the IRS centers on Leslie and Jon, two down-on-their-luck male roommates who come up with a brilliant way to save money on their taxes: claim they're man and wife! But the plan quickly goes awry when the IRS comes to investigate. Now Leslie has to put on the performance of a lifetime (with the help of Jon's actual fiancée -- who also happens to be having an affair with Leslie). Add to the mix a nosy landlord, a surprise visit from mom and Leslie's girlfriend, and these two would-be scam artists have their work cut out for them. Love, Sex, and the IRS was written by the Emmy-nominated writing team of Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore, creators of the off-Broadway hit You've Got Hate Mail.
The world premiere of this wacky new comedy follows the adventures of Madame Gufay, a late-in-life French foreign-exchange student, who's become fascinated with Cal Berkeley's historic free-speech movement of 1964. Now, some 50 years later, she arrives on campus determined to experience it all, starting her own student group, Madame Gufay's Free Speech Lovelutionaries, marching on Sproul Plaza, and coming up against the administration and academia as she and her troops push for peace and social justice. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley stages this production of Norah Foster's new play.
More than 25 Marvel superheroes and villains -- including Iron Man, Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor and Loki -- are ready to rumble at SAP Center in this all-new live-action spectacular, complete with state-of-the-art 3D projections and pyrotechnics, movie-style martial arts, mind-blowing stunts and even high-flying motocross. The exciting original story kicks off with The Mighty Thor smashing an all-powerful Cosmic Cube to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. But his villainous brother Loki comes up with a plan to pick up the pieces and destroy the universe. Now Spidey, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk must team up against Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Red Skull, Madame Hydra, Electro and more in an epic battle of good vs. evil. This thrill ride of a show stars the world's top stunt performers and aerial artists, who bring their battles directly overhead to provide plenty of up-close excitement.
PianoFight christens its exciting new home, a beautiful two-theater performance space with a full bar and restaurant, by bringing back its much-loved holiday show. This "choose your own adventure"-style chronicle of the final hours of the annual yuletide shopping frenzy is told through the eyes of a pot-dealing Santa and his partner in crime, an exhausted mall security guard, a jilted bride and a bored mortician who bemoans his lack of business around the holidays. The fate of Christmas itself is left in your hands, as you and your fellow audience members vote at crucial forks in the plot to determine the final outcome, so repeat visits are always encouraged.
Make the 2014-2015 theater season full of discovery, danger and delight by seeing any three of New Conservatory Theatre Center's eight exciting upcoming shows. Selections include Cock, wunderkind playwright Mike Bartlett's elegant modern love triangle that looks at the aftermath when one half of a gay couple falls in love with a woman. Or you might try the over-the-top hybrid of Hollywood glamour and Greek tragedy in Die, Mommie, Die!, Charles Busch's hilarious mixture of whodunits, double-crossings and suspenseful twists. Dead Poets Society meets Romeo & Juliet in Shakespeare's R&J, a play-within-a-play written by Joe Calarco about what happens when four school boys secretly reenact the timeless story of forbidden love. The Tony-winning musical Avenue Q is back by popular demand to prove once again that puppets can have a very adult side, and in Harbor, all hell breaks loose when 15-year-old Lottie and her ne'er-do-well mother drop in unannounced at the beautiful Sag Harbor home of Kevin and his young husband, Ted. Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz brings dysfunctional family drama to new heights in a story that was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer. Timely, touching and empathetic, the 2013 GLAAD Media Award-winning From White Plains explores the far-reaching fallout of bullying and questions if forgiveness is possible. And wrapping up the season, Compleat Female Stage Beauty is a bawdy historical comedy-drama that brings the battle of the sexes to the stage. Hey, we didn't say choosing three from this lineup was going to be easy.
Called by playwright Edward Albee "the greatest American play ever written," this dramatization of small-town life has been adored by audiences ever since its debut. It's the story of young lovers George and Emily -- as well as their families, friends and neighbors -- as they grow up, fall in love and discover the inevitable darker sides of life in Grover's Corners. Narrated by the nameless Stage Manager and performed with minimal props or set, this groundbreaking play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1938. Don't miss Wilder's classic illustration of the value of appreciating life's ordinary moments.
It's like Mad Men for the stage, with office romances colliding hilariously with office politics. Based on the 1960 Academy Award-winning Billy Wilder film The Apartment, Promises, Promises tells the story of the executives of the Consolidated Life Insurance Company and junior employee Chuck Baxter. In an effort to advance up through the ranks, Chuck lends his superiors the keys to his apartment for their extramarital trysts. But things become slightly complicated when the object of Chuck's affection becomes involved with one of his superiors. With Neil Simon's funny and touching book and Burt Bacharach and Hal David's hit-packed score, this gem is infused with the swinging energy of 1968 Manhattan.
Berkeley Rep presents the story of Molly Ivins, the outspoken and sharp-witted Texas reporter whose liberal journalism brought her national fame and a job at The New York Times, where she wrote Elvis Presley's obituary. Two-time Tony and Oscar nominee Kathleen Turner plays the fiery redhead, a self-proclaimed "pain in the ass to whatever powers come to be." Though The New York Times had hired Ivins to bring life to its staid writing style, her political edginess and controversial social commentary eventually proved to be too much, and Ivins moved on to Texas papers that embraced her sharp-tongued humor. This acclaimed show captures Ivins' unique character using personal anecdotes and her colorful take on national politics.
A genius so assured he could write operas faster than secretaries could copy them; a genius so original even Bach cribbed his melodies; a genius so unconventional that his conflicting roles -- Catholic priest and creative renegade, cultural iconoclast and establishment favorite -- still shock people today, Antonio Vivaldi (1678 - 1741) remains an artist without equal. Now he comes to exuberant life in the new drama The Red Priest of Venice at the Pacific Heights Room of the Cartwright Hotel. Today best known for The Four Seasons, Vivaldi was one of the most brilliant figures of the baroque period, a composer whose life was as passionate and stormy as his music. Compelling and humorous, this 90-minute show focuses on a critical period in his life when he began writing his most dazzling masterpiece ... and when he fell under the spell of two equally dazzling ladies.
The 2014 Rhino New Year's Eve Spectacular returns with a special one-performance-only presentation of the Shopping: The Musical. A hit since its 2006 premiere, Shopping is a musical comedy revue featuring hilarious songs and sketches about the frustrations, annoyances and occasional joys of shopping. The show's a winner of the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award. It hasn't been performed in San Francisco for four years, so this unique holiday revival will be your one chance to catch it with the original cast. All proceeds go to Theatre Rhinoceros, one of America's longest-running professional queer theaters, which develops and produces works that enlighten, enrich, and explore aspects of our queer community.
The Bay Area is home to some of the most creative performers on earth, as evidenced by this mash-up of storytelling, visual art, stand-up comedy and more at the Shelton Theater. The second in a series of such evenings, produced and hosted by Spencer Latham and Katie Wheeler-Dubin, Story2: Show and Tell features a dozen of the region's top artists, who're set to spin their yarns in a variety of mediums. Check out the latest in the always-innovative world of storytelling at this new show.
The sordid history of the crack-cocaine epidemic is revealed in the incendiary new play Superheroes from The Cutting Ball Theater. Partially inspired by Gary Webb's groundbreaking investigative journalism into the relationship between the CIA and Nicaraguan drug traffickers, Superheroes follows a journalist unraveling a tangled web of fact and fiction surrounding the epidemic. The drama traces a lyrical labyrinth through churches, courthouses and street corners in pursuit of the shocking truth. Written and Directed by Sean San José, Superheroes was developed as part of Risk Is This, The Cutting Ball's festival of experimental plays.
Imagine coming face-to-face with a giant T-rex, hearing its awesome roar and staring straight into its hungry eyes ... all without worrying about becoming a snack. That's what Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular offers, as you thrill to the sights and sounds of 20 lifesize dinosaurs roaming the arena floor -- feeding, fighting, protecting their young and defending their territory. These amazing creatures might've roamed the earth 65 million years ago, but they've also been stomping into major cities across the globe at this theatrical event, marveled at by millions. Based on the award-winning BBC TV series and developed by scientists and internationally renowned designers, Walking With Dinosaurs is both a fascinating study in natural history and an engaging, innovative piece of live entertainment.
Are you ready for some football? America's favorite sport is intricately woven into our culture and rituals, yet its increasingly traumatic effect on players and their families has us reexamining its place in our country's story. Using interviews with players, their families and their fans, playwright (and football superfan) KJ Sanchez, along with Jenny Mercein, crafts a fascinating and hard-hitting docudrama that examines our country's passion for a sport that's at once generous and dangerous, life-giving yet lethal. X's and O's (A Football Love Story) is as visceral, emotional and theatrical as the game itself.