Big stars, new classics on Bay Area stages 

Classics return, potentially classic new works are born and Academy Award-winning performers will be live on Bay Area stages this fall.

‘Why We Have a Body’

Memory, lust and “hammering doubt” are the three sections of a lesbian brain, according a character in Claire Chafee’s surreal comedy, which returns to the theater that first made it a hit nearly 20 years ago. One of the longest running shows in Magic Theatre history, “Body” is back for another laugh-filled intellectual workout. [Aug. 31-Oct. 2, $30-$75, Magic Theatre, Building D, Fort Mason Center, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F., (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org]

‘Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup’

If Rita Moreno were in the military, her uniform would be adorned with every medal and ribbon imaginable. The highly decorated entertainer, a legend of both stage and screen (large and small), roams through her 79 years in this world-premiere autobiographical show filled with stories, song and dance as she talks about arriving in a not-too-friendly America from Puerto Rico before embarking on a storied career in show business. [Sept. 2-Oct. 30, $14.50-$73, Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley, (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org]

‘Clementine in the Lower 9’

Jazz, blues and the legacy of Hurricane Katrina permeate Dan Dietz’s world-premiere drama about a family rebuilding their lives in a devastated New Orleans. An onstage jazz band helps score this story of a saxophone player and his wife reconciling the ghosts of the past with the logistical and emotional challenges of the present. [Oct. 5-30, $29-$49, TheatreWorks at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View, (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org]

‘Bellwether’

Steve Yockey is a playwright to watch. His productions at Berkeley’s Impact Theatre and San Francisco’s Magic and Encore theaters combined a wild sense of humor with a zesty taste for the bizarre. His latest world premiere is set in a seemingly placid gated community, but all is not what it seems when a little girl goes missing. [Oct. 6-30, $34-$55, Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org]

‘Richard III’

Academy Award-winner Kevin Spacey headlines this Shakespearean drama, a production of Sam Mendes’ celebrated Bridge Project. The deformed king who would famously trade his kingdom for a horse once again throws his nefarious deeds into a winter of discontent. [Oct. 19-29, $35-$150, Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., S.F.,
(888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com
]

‘Race’

David Mamet’s most recent Broadway scandal magnet is set during a highly charged case involving a white man accused of assaulting a black woman. With a trio of attorneys tripping over themselves to represent the defendant, Mamet engages every trick in his ample playwright’s supply to find searing laughs in our supposedly open-minded views on race in contemporary America. [Oct. 21-Nov. 13, $10-$85, American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St., S.F., (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org]

‘The Soldier’s Tale’

Collaboration is the name of this theatrical game, which combines the music of Igor Stravinsky with a book by Ferdinand Ramuz based on a Russian folk tale with hints of Faust, as a soldier trades his violin to the devil for a book with the ability to predict the future. Aurora Theatre Company Artistic Director Tom Ross shares the directing duties with Muriel Maffre, a former principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. As a treat for audiences, Maffre also performs in the show alongside three actors and a life-size puppet. [Nov. 11-Dec. 18, $34-$55, Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley, (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org]


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Chad Jones

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