Bay Area Plays Notebook

News and nuggets for the weekend of August 3 – 5…

The much anticipated Bay Area premiere of “War Horse,” featuring (L to R)Andrew Veenstra, Christopher Mai, Derek Stratton, Rob Laqui, runs through Sept. 9th in San Francisco. (Photo by Brinkhoff/ Mögenburg)

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley presents “Noises Off!” through August 18th at the Live Oak Theatre. (Photo by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley)

A BOY AND A HORSE – With Les Miserables still showcasing a totally reinvented production through Shorenstein Hayes Nederlander of San Francisco (SHNSF) at the Orpheum Theatre, the next big show of the summer finally moves in Friday night. “War Horse,” the story of Albert and his quest to bring home his beloved horse Joey during the outbreak of World War I, plays at the Curran Theatre through Sept. 9th. The show won five 2011 Tony Awards, in addition to a special Tony for puppetry. Call (888) 746-1799 or visit

KEEPING OUT THE SUN CLASSICALLY – Shady Shakespeare Theatre Company in San Jose has kicked off their summer season, currently running “King Lear” and opening “Pericles” on Friday night. All shows take place at Sanborn-Skyline Park in Saratoga, and most tickets are in the extremely affordable $10 – $15 range, with children free with a paid adult. The company has been providing affordable access to classic William Shakespeare plays since 1999 in the South Bay.  Call 408-264-3479 or visit

WICKETS EVERYWHERE – Foothill Music Theatre runs “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” through August 11th at the Lohman Theatre on the campus of Foothill College.  Even San Francisco Giants and national baseball broadcaster Jon Miller is involved, lending his smooth voice to the show. For a preview and how to buy tickets, click here.

A PERFECT PLAY – Robert Falls, the artistic director of one of the leading regional companies in the country, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, said this on twitter: “Always thought ‘Noises Off!’ was a perfect play…” I had the opportunity to direct the show at my school, and it was indeed a fast-paced thrill ride, full of fun and farce. Tons of sardines too. Actor’s Ensemble of Berkeley is currently running the show through August 18th. For tickets and more information, visit

PROJECT HOME! – The good news is that Crowded Fire Theatre of San Francisco has finally got themselves a new home for their offices and a rehearsal space. But there is still much work to be done. In order to sustain their space, Crowded Fire needs donations. Creating theatre in such a cost-restrictive city like San Francisco is extremely difficult, and the smaller houses contribute so much to the artistic fabric of any cosmopolitan city. If you would like to donate, please visit this website and learn more.

AWESOME BABY NAMES: PISH-TUSH, KO-KO AND NANKI-POO – San Francisco based Lamplighters Music Theatre, a company dedicated to producing the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, is currently on a Bay Area tour of classic work “The Mikado,” a show that spoofs Victorian Society. It is running in Napa this weekend, and then travels to Mountain View, San Francisco and Livermore over the next three weekends.

MY BARBER IS A DEMON – Ray of Light Theatre Company is entering its final two weekends of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” The show must close on August 11th. It features Stephen Sondheim’s masterfully haunting score, a macabre thriller that snagged eight Tony Awards after its 1979 Broadway Premiere. Tickets range from $25 – $36.

WE’VE BEEN DOING THIS SO LONG FOR YOU GUYS! – Comedysportz San Jose, the ubiquitous downtown company, has revamped their lineup of shows and showtimes. The company, which is marching towards its huge 25th anniversary weekend in mid- September, now has a total of four different shows. In addition to their traditional, all-ages Comedysportz show, they offer three adults-only performances: “The Midnight Show” (not at midnight though), a Shakespearean themed show entitled “Much Improv About Nothing,” and their newest show called “Down in Front,” an improvised tribute to bad “B” movies. Comedysportz plays every Friday and Saturday night. Call (408) 985-LAFF(5233) or visit

THOSE HORSES JUST WON’T LEAVE! – Cavalia,” the oft-advertised experience that features a stunning array of horses in a dazzling show, is working on its third extension, now running through Aug. 19th. Click on my preview of the show to get more information.

ALL THAT JAZZ – South Bay summer musicals are an important tradition for San Jose’s City Lights Theatre Company. This summer they are taking on the John Kander/Fred Ebb/Bob Fosse classic “Chicago,” the cynical story of our fascination with celebrity. The stage play, which I saw on Broadway back in 2004, is very different than Rob Marshall’s Oscar-winning film. Hits such as “All That Jazz,” “Roxie,” and “Mr. Cellophane” make this a timeless piece. Through August 26th. Call (408) 295-4200 or visit

WINNING (NOT REALLY) – Last week I received two odd emails from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Daily Deals Department. The first said that I was a winner of two tickets for some show called “Her Rebel Highness.” An hour and eight minutes later, I received another email saying I did not win at all. So I guess I was a winner for 68 minutes, and not one of those “you won an Ipad” kinda winners. Felt kinda good.

Got any items to be considered for the weekly notebook? Send an email to for review.