Bay Area Theater makes for a great date

By Caitlin McGuire bayareatheatreInterested in a Bay Area theater night you won’t soon forget? Though opportunities are nearly endless in the art-filled cosmopolitan area, a few stand-outs come to mind. Check out the Bay Area theaters below for fun in Baghdad by the Bay. For a San Francisco classic, try Club Fugazi in North Beach. With thirty-five years under their belt, this Bay Area theater has put on hundreds of performances of Beach Blanket Babylon, the musical that the New York Times raved was “no less a part of San Francisco than the Golden Gate Bridge and Coit Tower.” If you have a taste for old classics, try the Civic Center district of San Francisco. Home to the War Memorial Opera house and the San Francisco Ballet Association, your appetite for high culture can be satisfied by the upcoming season, featuring Salome, Faust, Swan Lake, The Little Mermaid and Romeo and Juliet. John Bisceglie’s SF Follies is a perfect example of what San Francisco Theatre brings to both locals and visitors who want to end or begin their evening with hilarious jaw-dropping comedy, glitzy costumes and talented singers and dancers. For those interested in world premieres rather than tried and true Bay Area theater, visit the San Francisco playhouse. Focusing on bold productions of new works, this intimate venue’s season includes The Full Monty, Billy Aronson’s First Day of School and Allison Moore’s Slasher, the hit of the Humana festival. The Nederlander group, in partner with SHN, is bringing the best of Broadway to the bay on all fronts, with a new investment in San Jose theatre. After the fall of the American Musical Theatre of San Jose, James A. Nederlander partnered with Team San Jose to book showings of Legally Blond the Musical, puppet comedy Avenue Q, the farewell tour of Riverdance, Spring Awakening and Monty Python musical Spamalot at the San Jose Center for Performing Arts.  This Bay Area theater will bring new sophistication to the south bay arts scene. Also in San Francisco Bay Area is the New Conservatory Theatre Center. Currently producing My Life on the Craigslist catalogues the life of a lonely and sexually frustrated man who discovers the craigslist personals. Life becomes sordid as Jeffery Self begins to live “on the Craigslist.” The theatre itself is intimate, but comfortable, with four small stages and three studios. The New Conservatory Theatre Center is the perfect place to go for LGBT plays, and is an excellent community service contributor to San Francisco Bay Area theater. For a more cinematic approach to Bay Area theater, try the Metreon in the Yerba Buena Gardens district of downtown San Francisco. Home to the West Coast’s largest IMAX, the Metreon’s the perfect place to go for Pixar animated features and high definition action. Looking for East Bay Area theater? The caliber of the Shotgun Players can’t be met. With both old favorites like King Lear and The Jungle Book in the same season as Academy Award nominated The Reader writer’s play Skylight and The Farm, a play adaptation of Orwell’s Animal Farm, the Shotgun Players cater to a wide audience. The perfect group to see during summer, this Bay Area theater company holds free showings and pay-what-you-can performances of every production. Check in Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera rounding out the season. Also an East Bay Area theater favorite, the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek is outfitted with three stages, so the venue is sure to have something for everyone any day of the week. With entertainment ranging from The Producers to speeches by Naomi Judd and Jeff Corwin, the diverse venue will be putting on productions of Faust to finish out the ’09 season. When looking to buy tickets to Bay Area theater, visit the Tix Bay Area in Union Square, which sells half-priced tickets to some of San Francisco’s favorite musical revues. Also, check out for more great deals on tickets to San Francisco’s concerts, plays and musicals.