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When the mysterious and sultry Vanda walks into playwright Thomas Novachek's office, he thinks the search for the perfect lead in his latest production might finally be over. But her audition quickly turns into a seductive and erotic power play that'll make you wonder who's really running the show. Among the most acclaimed -- and most provocative -- new plays in recent Broadway history, David Ives' Venus in Fur blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, seduction and power, and love and sex.
The New York Times once described Dario Fo, the madcap writer-performer who stunned the world by winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1997, as "a cross between Bertolt Brecht and Lenny Bruce." That mix of bitter brilliance and black humor is at the (dark) heart of Accidental Death of an Anarchist, his comedic masterwork, now at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. Following a deadly bank bombing, the police pick up a professed anarchist for questioning. While being interrogated, he "accidentally" falls out of a fourth floor window, with tragically funny results. Actor Steven Epp, who previously wowed audiences as Figaro and The Miser, stars in this inspired production directed by Yale's Christopher Bayes.
The San Francisco Playhouse presents the world premiere of award-winning playwright Lauren Gunderson's (Exit, Pursued by a Bear) intriguing new production: Bauer. Rudolf Bauer -- a German artist celebrated for his avant-garde, nonobjective work -- was a genius so driven to create that he continued to sketch his drawings on scavenged scraps of paper even while jailed by the Gestapo for his "degenerate" art. And his passionate affair with Hilla Rebay (director and curator of the Guggenheim Museum) was the stuff of legend. So why did he stop creating? This provocative production delves into the life of this brilliant artist, exploring the power struggle and intrigue that ultimately led to Bauer's disappearance from the art world.
Julia's never bought a baby before. OK, she's adopting, but the agency makes her feel like she's buying in the new comedy Children are Forever (All Sales are Final!). Just five days after signing the (non-refundable) contract, Julia and her partner Amy are chosen by a birth mother to raise her baby daughter. That is, until it all falls apart. While this play deals with some heavy topics, writer and star Julia Jackson -- a semifinalist at the San Francisco International Comedy Competition -- keeps the laughs coming as the drama increases.
Crystal Springs -- a thought-provoking new drama inspired by true events -- tells the story of a suburban mother who loses herself in her own daughter's online social circle. As much a commentary on the modern challenges of parenting in an increasingly digital society as it is a tense tale of the occasionally vicious consequences stemming from online immorality, Crystal Springs begins at its story's conclusion and navigates backwards in time through many winding paths to reach a startling starting point. Don't miss your chance to see the world premiere of this intriguing new drama on the intimate stage of The Eureka Theatre.
San Diego native Scott Dreier stars in Doris & Me: A Sentimental Journey, a musical exploration of his sweet, yet admittedly neurotic, long-time obsession with Oscar-nominated actress, singer and TV host Doris Day. Along with telling rare stories from the music and movie icon's life and career, Dreier serenades the audience with some of Day's greatest hits, including her first hot-seller and signature song, "Sentimental Journey," as well as "Secret Love," "It's Magic," "Que Sera, Sera," "Everybody Loves a Lover" and more.
Liberal-leaning artist Nicole and her conservative Republican boyfriend Mark are struggling to make their relationship work in the Age of the Emoticon. Writer-director Allen Barton's world-premiere drama takes aim at our social media-obsessed society while highlighting in horrifying detail the decline of human communication. Listen, relate and laugh at this talented cast of passionate and flawed characters, as one rants about the growing infrequency of face-to-face interaction and another complains about being unfriended on MySpace.
The original Desperate Housewives, best friends Julia and Jane are two "wretchedly happy married women" who stir up all kinds of sexy trouble -- and many, many cocktails -- in NoŽl Coward's naughty comedy Fallen Angels. Bored silly by high society, Jane and Julia (think Lucy and Ethel) are elated when a shared ex-lover drifts back into town, bringing with him hints of adventure. Written when Coward was just 25, this Jazz-Age jewel sparkles with some of his best lines and craftiest jokes. Witty and charming, Fallen Angels arrives at the Napa Valley Playhouse in a glittering production directed by Sharon Winegar.
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.
The Marsh presents Geoff Hoyle's one-man show Geezer, a look at growing old filled with Hoyle's trademark comic physicality. Geoff Hoyle trained with Marcel Marceau's teacher, Etienne Decroux, in Paris, developing his unique physical bravura comic style, a combination of the court jester, vaudeville and English music hall. He was a member of the Bay Area's Pickle Family Circus, and has gone on to work with Cirque du Soleil and Teatro ZinZanni. He also originated the role of Zazu in the Broadway production of The Lion King.
Kids will be kids -- and adults will too -- in the dark comedy God of Carnage, which finds two sets of high-strung, upscale parents meeting to work things out after their young sons get into an incident on the playground. But as the evening progresses and the alcohol flows, the couples' behavior deteriorates from stoically civilized to outrageously juvenile as accusations are hurled and secrets are revealed. A hit on Broadway, this sharp-witted play by Yasmin Reza (Art) won the Tony Award in 2009.
Like an episode of The Jerry Springer Show set to song, this irreverent Southern-fried musical comedy covers all the bases of stereotypical trailer park living -- adultery, bad perms, spray cheese, road kill, strippers and more. When Pippi, a stripper on the run, arrives at Armadillo Acres trailer park to hide out, it doesn't take long for her to come between fellow trailer park residents Jeannie, a Dr. Phil-loving housewife, and her toll-collector husband, Norbert. To save their neighbors' marriage, the whole trailer park must pitch in and work together. This raucous off-Broadway smash by Betsy Kelso features a country, rock, R&B and disco score that'll have you hootin' and hollerin'.
Written by Britain's Alan Bennett, whose works include the award-winning Broadway hit The History Boys, this poignant yet raunchily funny play tells the story of the shattered friendship between poet W. H. Auden and composer Benjamin Britten. Examining the unsettling desires of two difficult men, and the ethics of biography itself, it reflects on growing old, on talent and inspiration, and on persisting when all passion's spent. Met with wild acclaim upon its London debut in 2009, The Habit of Art is a complex and fascinating play about the intersection of creativity and desire.
With soaring vocals, frenetic rhythms and joyful choruses, Hundred Days is a hybrid of music and theater for a new generation. Created by married couple/NYC music duo Shaun and Abigail Bengson, the show tells the story of Will and Sarah, whose relationship is cut short by a terminal illness. They take the 100 days they have left together to live to the fullest, creating a lifetime of memories. You'll follow their crazy adventures, pain and sorrow, and their eventual path to peace. The Bengsons are joined by a full band and choir, plus the production features visually stunning sets and surreal staging.
Described as "Seinfeld set to music," I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change is a playful musical about love in suburbia. The talented cast plays over 40 roles as they explore the ups and downs of different types of relationships. From single life to dating to marriage to the bitter end, I Love You, You're Perfect ... explores the whole cycle with humor, emotion, and insight. When it closed in 2008, the New York production had played 20 previews and 5,003 performances, making it the second-longest-running musical in off-Broadway history.
If you think you know this classic fairy tale, you don't know Jack. Shinny up a giant beanstalk and into entirely new world of fun and fantasy in Jack and the Beanstalk (and the Giant, and the Goose, and the Really Truly-Uly Rotten Day). A world premiere from East Bay Children's Theatre, this musical comedy will delight children and adults alike with its upbeat attitude, clever comedy and Broadway-style musical numbers. Writer-composer Ron Lytle, creator of enduring hits like Oh My Godmother! and The Man Who Saved Christmas, has enriched the original story with a cast of lovable oddballs such as an overworked golden goose and a diminutive giant with a Napoleon complex. Leave humming and happy from this soon-to-be classic take directed by Sue Ellen Nelsen.
If you think you know this classic fairy tale, you don't know Jack. Shinny up a giant beanstalk and into an entirely new world of fun and fantasy in Jack and the Beanstalk (and the Giant, and the Goose, and the Really Truly-Uly Rotten Day). A world-premiere retelling from East Bay Children's Theatre, this musical comedy will delight children and adults alike with its upbeat vibe, clever comedy and Broadway-style musical numbers. Writer-composer Ron Lytle, creator of enduring hits like Oh My Godmother! and The Man Who Saved Christmas, has enriched the original story with a cast of lovable oddballs such as an overworked golden goose and a diminutive giant with an enormous Napoleon complex. You'll leave the theater humming and happy after seeing this soon-to-be-classic take directed by Sue Ellen Nelsen.
Psychologist, inventor of the modern lie detector and creator of Wonder Woman, William Moulton Marston led a fascinating life -- one that also included living with two women at the same time. His two loves, his wife and a former student, would serve as the inspiration for his superheroine. Written by Carson Kreitzer (The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer), Lasso of Truth examines the origin story and lasting impact of this feminist icon. The Hollywood Reporter called this multimedia theatrical experience, "stunning and compelling ... raw and bold, brutal and ironic."
Central Works' 24th season gets off to a roaring start with The Lion and the Fox, an intense political drama that finds Niccolo Machiavelli, the author of the famed "handbook for tyrants," facing off against one of history's great villains, Cesare Borgia. In this prequel to the company's 2009 signature work based on The Prince, Machiavelli can't help but be impressed by the skills and gifts of "the Borgia Bull," even as he threatens to lay waste to Machiavelli's beloved Republic of Florence, and is left to decide whether he should remain loyal to his homeland or support the man who may be his ideal "Prince."
Before Ross traded quips with Rachel on Friends, before Sam and Diane battled wits over beers on Cheers, there was the original bantering couple: Benedick and Beatrice of Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare was at the height of his comedic powers when he created this perfectly mismatched couple whose dialogue ricochets with wit and sizzles with sexual tension. Sparks fly when a "lover's trap" is set for these two long-time romantic adversaries and the consequences are anything but predictable. The Made Up Theatre is the site of this inaugural production from the Savage Wilde Traveling Players.
There's trouble in River City! Berkeley Playhouse presents the heartwarming family favorite The Music Man. The lovable swindler "Professor" Harold Hill attempts to pull a con on the citizens of River City, Iowa. He claims he'll save the town's youth from sin and corruption by selling them instruments and helping to organize a boys' band -- despite the fact that he actually knows nothing about music. The irresistible "Music Man" manages to turn the bickering school board into a barbershop quartet, win the heart of Marian the Librarian, and somehow transform into an honest man in the process. The delightful story is set to a parade of classic Broadway tunes, "including Seventy-Six Trombones," "Ya Got Trouble," "Till There Was You" and "Goodnight, My Someone."
Imagine Lawrence Olivier was combined with William Shakespeare, resulting in a genius who could act as well as he could write. That's the sort of talented powerhouse that Eduardo De Filippo was; his impact on the worlds of Italian literature, theater and cinema was immeasurable. Now, the American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) debuts a fresh translation of one of De Filippo's most beloved comedies, Napoli! Set during World War II, a feisty and cash-strapped Neapolitan mother starts a lucrative black market business ... only to prosper a little too much, prompting hard questions about morality and the state of society. A.C.T. favorite Marco Barricelli (Vigil at A.C.T.) and Stratford Festival star Seana McKenna (Phedre at A.C.T.) return to lead the cast of this wildly entertaining comedy, as dark and robust as a double shot of espresso.
Gilbert and Sullivan's beloved comic musical The Pirates of Penzance tells the story of Frederic, a boy mistakenly apprenticed to a softhearted band of pirates when his hard-of-hearing nurse is told to take him to a ship's pilot. When his apprenticeship comes to its end, Frederic leaves the pirate ship and promptly falls in love with a Major-General's daughter. Just as he starts planning for his future, the pirates return to inform Frederic that since his birthday falls on leap day, he still has another 63 years of apprenticeship left before he's of age. The score features many of Gilbert and Sullivan's wittiest and most engaging tunes, including the immortal "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General."
The Castro Theatre will transform itself into a saucy bathhouse in celebration of the remarkable career of Tony, Grammy, Emmy and Oscar winner Rita Moreno. Expect ushers in towels, a career highlight reel, a "tappy tribute" by Matthew Martin and a live onstage interview with Moreno. The entire evening is capped by a rare screening of The Ritz, Terrence McNally's 1976 farce in which Moreno recreates her Tony-winning performance as the wacky and lovable performer Googie Gomez. The evening is hosted by D'Arcy Drollinger, benefitting Let's KickASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome), a grassroots movement of long-term survivors.
Merge a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta with the gothic world of illustrator Edward Gorey and you get some sense of the silly, spooky atmosphere of Ruddigore. A witch's curse, a hall of talking portraits and a legion of sadistic ghosts make for a delightfully ghoulish romp. Though not as well known as The Pirates of Penzance or The Mikado, Ruddigore showcases some of Sullivan's finest melodies and Gilbert's nimblest lyrics. The lightning speed and ridiculous rhymes of "My Eyes Are Fully Open" make even "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General" seem plodding and slow-witted by comparison.
A modern-day fairy-tale mix-up, Sleeping Cutie concerns a crooked businessman who tries to find a love match for his only daughter while he waits a court's decision. While Lucy spends her days sleeping and nights in clubs pursuing her dream of becoming a rock drummer, her father attempts to get his affairs in order before getting locked up for his shady dealings. If he won't be around to take care of her, then he'd better find a man who will. Written by Diane Sampson with music from Doug Katsaros, this humorous take on Sleeping Beauty features a cast of quality Bay Area actors, including Jesse Caldwell as the father and Marissa Joy Ganz as Lucy.
Celebrate American bars with comedic satire Tipped & Tipsy, winner at the 2013 San Francisco Fringe Festival. You'll meet bartender Candy, three of her hard-drinking regulars, the lascivious bar owner and a collection of other saloon staples. You'll laugh as Candy, with the help of a few cocktails, transforms this collection of lonely drunks into a loving family and feel her pain as she tries to keep her favorite regular from drinking himself to death. Written and performed by Jill Vice, a bartender herself, this production showcases her remarkable physical comedy skills as she transforms into various characters without any help from set or costume changes.
It's hard to believe that Caryll Churchill's Top Girls was written in the early '80s. With the book Lean In making a splash in 2013, the topic of women and success is just as fresh and current as it was when Churchill wrote Top Girls, in response to Margaret Thatcher's ambitious rise to power in the UK. Called "the best British play ever from a woman dramatist" by The Guardian, Top Girls follows Marlene, a ruthlessly ambitious career woman, who has seized every opportunity to make it to the top. In the play's famous opening scene, she celebrates her big promotion at a surreal dinner party whose guests are famous women from history and myth. After this celebratory moment, Top Girls changes course to show the cost of Marlene's ambitions. When a young relative shows up unannounced at her workplace, Marlene must examine what the next generations of women will gain (or lose) from the choices she made in her rush to the top.
Ubu Roi, considered the earliest example of Theatre of the Absurd, led to riots among shocked and offended spectators when it was first produced in the late 1800s. The satirical show pushed the bounds of decency with vulgar language and an appalling central character who's ugly, obese, dumb, cruel and pompous. Using parodies of plot lines from Shakespeare's Macbeth, Hamlet and Richard III, the story of Ubu Roi takes the unlikely hero Ubu on adventures of ignorant ambition and greed. This modern reimagining of Ubu Roi features a wealthy American couple who play out their fantasies of wealth and power to excess, conjuring up the spectacular falls from grace of many a contemporary political leader corrupted by power, from Eliot Spitzer to Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Riffing on The Wizard of Oz but based in Chinese folklore, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is a magical adventure with a lot of heart. It's the story of Minli, the daughter of poor farmers who barely scrape by. Inspired by her father's tales and a magic goldfish, Minli sets off to find the Old Man of the Moon and learn the secret of good fortune. Along the way she encounters royalty, dragons and fantastic stories, and through them she learns what good fortune really means. Min Kahng, writer and composer of Tales of Olympus and The Song of the Nightingale, has transformed Grace Lin's Newbery Honor-winning book into a wonderful (and wondrous) stage musical for all ages. Mina Morita directs this premiere at the Bay Area Children's Theatre.
Award-winning playwright Del Shores is best known for his campy Southern tales, but Yellow pushes drama and family relationships to the front. Set in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the play chronicles a year in the life of what seems to be the perfect family whose foundations are rocked to the breaking point by an unexpected tragedy. Hard-hitting and still surprisingly funny, Yellow dives head-first into the themes of cowardice, intolerance and the damage caused to families by secrets, rejection and the difficulty of forgiveness.