SF Bay Area Theatre This Fall

Summer is gone and the fall theatre season is in full swing. Taking time off to chew up the scenery in Custom Made Theatre’s West Coast premiere of Edward Albee’s The Play About the Baby, I’m back now
in the aisle seat corner to report on what I’ve seen and what is worth seeing in SF Bay Area Theatres. Direct from its Broadway revival, A.C.T.’s early autumn run of Larry Kramer’s 1985 The Normal Heart provided a strongly emotional and unapologetic tackling of the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Ianiro Productions just completed Bound By Blood by Eric Inman at the Boxcar Playhouse. While dealing with the same subject, the focus of BBB was narrowed to the impact on the dead youth’s immediate family and friends and their attempt to keep the secret of his homosexuality from his mother (a moving, complex performance by Sally Hogarty) who already knew about her son’s sexual preference. Count yourself fortunate if you’re able to get tickets to Virago Theatre Company’s sellout production of Zombie Vixens from Hell, the Musical by John Byrd directed by Robert Lundy-Paine in which contagion takes its toll on the female population. It closes Nov 3 at the Phoenix Theatre. Their production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni opens in February. www.viragotheatre.org. Continuing through November 24th is the rock musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at SF Playhouse’s newly refurbished venue (the old Post Street Theatre). While Alex Timbers’ script and Michael Friedman’s lyrics (and music) are repetitive to uninspiringly sophomoric, the commitment of the young, talented ensemble is noteworthy. This is an imagined retelling of a hate spewing Jackson and his unapologetic power grab to the U.S. presidency. Earplugs recommended for the aurally sensitive. www.sfplayhouse.org. Now playing through November 18 at Exit on Taylor is Cutting Ball Theatre’s Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep. Directed by Rob Melrose featuring James Carpenter and a cast of Bay Area’s finest acting talent. August Strindberg pioneered theatrical movements in both Realism and Expressionism. strindberg.cuttingball.com Pulitzer winner Tracy Letts’ Superior Donuts plays Nov 2- Dec 2 at the Gough Street Playhouse (Gough at Bush St. SF) Directed by Marilyn Langbehn for Custom Made Theatre, this meeting of aging baby boomer and young millennial dreamer in a donut shop on Chicago’s north side sounds promising as a poignant comedy. Aurora Theatre opens November 9 with Wilder Times, a program of four short plays by this former Pulitzer Prize winner (I knew that) and former Berkeley resident (I didn’t know that) www.auroratheatre.org. For some truly original sculpture, check out the Lush Life Gallery 1320 Fillmore Street at Ellis at the San Francisco Jazz Heritage Center (next to Yoshi’s) while you can still catch the Rhythm Spirit Motion exhibit featuring the amazing work of local visual artist Jerry Ross Barrish. SF treasure Robert Henry Johnson and his 60 Million Plus Theater presents an evening of short plays at the Center Sat Oct 27 at 7pm & Sun Oct 28 at 5pm inspired by the exhibit written by local writers for The Barrish Project. Disney’s The Lion King spectacle of animals returns Nov 1 – Jan 13 at the Orpheum Theatre. www.shnsf.com or www.lionking.com. SHN’s previous Broadway offering of Warhorse shown at the Curran in August suffered from being squeezed into too small a space compared to the powerful drama it was at NYC’s Lincoln Center. You won’t want to miss Cole Porter’s Anything Goes when it arrives in January at the Golden Gate Theatre. Tickets are already available! If it’s half as good as the Broadway production, it will be spectacular! www.anythinggoesthemusical.com. Photo by Maxx Kurzunski Franco (Chris Marsol) tries to inspire disillusioned Baby Boomer Arthur (Don Wood)in Superior Donuts at Custom Made Theatre custommade.org