Edie Flores, left, and Carla Gallardo appear in Word for Word’s “Retablos,” based on playwright-director Octavio Solis’ memoir. (Courtesy Lorenzo Fernandez-Kopec)

Winter 2020 Arts Preview: Theater

Bay Area stages offer musicals, dramas, solo shows, local premieres and bigtime stars, too

From left, Robert Sean Campbell, Mohamed Ismail, Tanya Marie and Michael Sally appear in Los Altos Stage Co.’s “Oslo.” (Courtesy Richard Mayer)

Oslo: Los Alto Stage Company presents the Tony-winning play about how a Norwegian diplomat and her husband planned secret meetings that led to peace accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1990s. Jan. 23-Feb. 16. $20-$39. Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave., Los Altos, losaltosstage.org

Ways to Leave a Body: Experimental troupe Cutting Ball calls the show “a collision of new plays” in which emerging artists “co-create an out-of-body theater experience around disassociation.”

Jan. 23-Feb. 9. $15-$49.50. Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., S.F., cuttingball.com

The Devil’s Music: Katrina Lauren McGraw, joined by a four-piece band, stars as Bessie Smith in Center Repertory Company’s production about the life and career of the Empress of the Blues. Jan. 24-Feb. 22. $35-$85. 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CenterREP.org

Phil Wong plays Seymour in Hillbarn Theatre’s “Little Shop of Horrors.” (Courtesy Mark Kitaoka)

Little Shop of Horrors: Hillbarn Theatre serves up the riotous Broadway musical sci-fi comedy about a nerdy florist looking for love and a giant, out-of-control plant. Jan. 24-Feb. 9. $27-$58. 1285 E. Hillsdale Blvd., Foster City, hillbarntheatre.org

She Loves Me: South Bay Musical Theatre’s second production of the season is the Tony Award-winning romantic musical comedy based on the story “Parfumerie,” also the source for the movies “The Shop Around the Corner” and “You’ve Got Mail.” Jan. 25-Feb. 15. $20-$39. Saratoga Civic Theater, 13777 Fruitvale Ave., Saratoga, SouthBayMT.com

From left, Sal Mattos, Devon Marra, Vaho, Chris Steele, Max Seijas and Robert Kittler appear in “You’ll Catch Flies” premiering at New Conservatory Theatre Center. (Courtesy Lois Tema)

You’ll Catch Flies: New Conservatory Theatre Center stages the premiere by Ryan Fogarty, a comedy about a gay guy whose life changes after his estranged best friend/crush/whatever re-enters his social world. Jan 25-Feb. 23. $25-$55. Walker Theatre, 25 Van Ness Ave., S.F., nctcsf.org

Tiny Beautiful Things: San Francisco Playhouse presents the Bay Area premiere of the play by Nia Vardalos based on the best-selling book by Cheryl Strayed about her experiences as an anonymous advice columnist. Jan. 28- March 7. $35-$125. 450 Post St., S.F., sfplayhouse.org

Translating Selena: The play by Campo Santo’s Richard Montoya describes what happened in Corpus Cristi, Texas, where in the same week that pop star Selena’s life was taken, two homicides also stained the working class suburb. Jan. 29-Feb. 2. $30. Brava Theater Cabaret, 2773 24th St., S.F., brownpapertickets.com

TV’s Tony Hale stars in American Conservatory Theater’s “Wakey, Wakey.”(Courtesy Cheshire Isaacs)

Wakey, Wakey: American Conservatory Theater’s production of Will Eno’s idiosyncratic dramedy raising questions about life and death stars Emmy-winning Tony Hale of “Veep” and “Arrested Development.” Jan. 29-Feb. 16. $15-$115. Geary Theater, 415 Geary St., S.F., www.act-sf.org

The Fantasticks: Guggenheim Entertainment presents longest-running musical in history, a “romantic fable about a boy, a girl, their parents, and the wall that keeps them apart.” Jan. 30-Feb. 23. $45-$55. 3Below Theaters, 288 S. Second St., San Jose, 3Belowtheaters.com

More Guns! A Musical Comedy About the NRA: The show by Philip Labes and Michael O’Konis, a hit at Second City in Hollywood, describes the travails of the head lobbyist for the NRA, whose daughter is a liberal socialist with a granola boyfriend. Jan. 30-Feb. 1. $30. Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F., MoreGunsMusical.com

From left, Julie Eccles, James Carpenter and Anne Darragh appear in Aurora Theatre Co.’s “The Children.” (Courtesy David Allen)

The Children: Aurora Theatre Company stages the West Coast premiere of Lucy Kirkwood’s “eco-thriller” set in the near future, about the aftermath of a catastrophe at a nuclear power plant. Jan. 31-March 1. $35-$70. 2081 Addison St., Berkeley, auroratheatre.org

Living the Shuffle: Robert Townsend brings back his one-man show in which he tells the story of how he made his movie “Hollywood Shuffle” with “a miracle and a credit card.” Feb. 1-29. $40-$100. Marsh, 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley, themarsh.org

Monique Hafen Adams, left, and Allison F. Rich appear in San Jose Stage Co.’s “Chicago.” (Courtesy Dave Lepori)

Chicago: San Jose Stage Co. continues its 37th season with the John Kander-Fred Ebb-Bob Fosse jazz-age set show, winner of 1997 Tony Award for best revival of a musical. Feb. 5-March 15. $32-$60. 490 S. First St., San Jose, thestage.org

Rotimi Agbabiaka’s solo show “Manifesto” comes to Brava. (Courtesy photo)

Manifesto: In the solo show, Rotimi Agbabiaka, asks the audience, with assistance from “a cast of historical iconoclasts” to help a young artist “fashion a manifesto for a 21st century theater of liberation.” Feb 6-15. $25. Brava, 2791 24th St., S.F., brava.org

The 39 Steps: Tabard Theatre Company stages the Tony-winning, fast-paced comedy that mixes a Hitchcock whodunit with Monty Python-style zaniness. Feb. 7-March 1. $35-$45. Theatre on San Pedro Square, 29 N. San Pedro St., San Jose, tabardtheatre.org

Macbeth: Ubuntu Theater Project Artistic Director Michael Socrates Moran directs the company’s “innovative and darkly magical take” on Shakespeare’s Scottish play about political ambition, with witches. Feb. 7-March 8. $18-$48 or pay-what-you-can at door. Flax Building, 1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland, ubuntutheaterproject.com

Youngsters from San Francisco Arts Education Project bring “Matilda The Musical” to the Gateway Theatre. (Courtesy Karen Steffens)

Matilda The Musical: Performers ages 9 to 10 in SFArtsED Players perform in the stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s popular book about a passionate young reader. Feb. 8-16. $15-$25. Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F., cityboxoffice.com

Elevator Repair Service’s “Gatz,” with Scott Shepherd, comes to Berkeley Repertory Theatre. (Courtesy Steven Gunther)

Gatz: Experimental New York theater troupe Elevator Repair Service makes its Berkeley Repertory Theatre debut in its award-winning, more than six-hour production (not including breaks and intermission) in which F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” is read in its entirety. Feb. 13-23. $125 general; $62.50-$112 for patrons under 35. Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley, berkeleyrep.org

Gloria: Eric Ting directs the American Conservatory Theater production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ sharp, dark comedy set in the dog-eat-dog office of a New York magazine. Feb. 13-April 12. $15-$110. Strand Theater, 1127 Market St., S.F., act-sf.org

Memphis: Berkeley Playhouse presents Tony Award-winning musical based on the real life and romance between a white Memphis disc jockey and a black singer in the 1950s. Feb. 14-March 15. $25-$44. Julia Morgan Theatre, 2640 College Ave., Berkeley, berkeleyplayhouse.org

The Full Monty: Bay Area Musicals stages the Tony-nominated show adapted from the charming 1997 British movie about unemployed steelworkers who develop a strip act in an attempt to make money. Feb. 15-March 15. $35-$85. Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., S.F., bamsf.org

History Keeps Me Awake-Queer Voices in Rep: TheatreFirst’s program of two solo shows includes Elaine Magree’s “PussyGrabbingRevenge,” a funny take on what to do when men don’t take women’s no for an answer, and Skyler Cooper’s “A One Man Show” about a Baptist minister’s daughter who desperately wishes to become a man. Feb. 15-March 7. $15-$35. Waterfront Playhouse, 2020 Fourth St., Berkeley, theatrefirst.com

The Human Ounce: Central Works premieres Nicole Parizeau’s play “about art and scandal” in which an admired master painter is revealed to be a monster. Feb. 15-March 15. $15-$38. Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley, centralworks.org

Retablos: Word for Word, the San Francisco troupe that performs stories verbatim, presents chapters from playwright-director Octavio Solis’ coming-of-age memoir in which he describes the culture of the U.S./Mexico El Paso border in the 1960s-70s. Feb. 19-March 15. $20-$50. Z Below, 470 Florida St., S.F., zspace.org

From left, DeMarcello Funesa and Sara Moore perform in “The Supers.” (Courtesy Fernando Gambaroni)

The Supers: Bay Area clown extraordinaire Sara Moore stars in the “science-fiction magical realism human cartoon opera” about the power of everyday heroes. Feb. 19-29. $30-$55. Z Space, 450 Florida St., S.F., circuscenter.org/supers

Sting brings his musical “The Last Ship” to the Golden Gate Theatre. (Courtesy Cylla Von Tiedemann)

The Last Ship: Rock icon Sting stars as a shipyard foreman in the musical he wrote, inspired by his youth in a shipbuilding town in Northern England and the economic crisis it faced. Feb. 20–March 22. $70-$275. Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St., S.F., broadwaysf.com

Maureen Langan’s “Daughter of a Garbageman” returns to The Marsh. (Courtesy Bob Johnson-Bitten By A Zebra)

Daughter of a Garbageman: In her solo show, radio host/comedian Maureen Langan considers whether her family values 1970s upbringing in New Jersey, raised by an Irish Catholic mother and sanitation worker father, helps or hurts in today’s celebrity-oriented, shallow culture. Feb. 21–29. $20-$100. Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., S.F., themarsh.org

On the Periphery: Crowded Fire produces the American premiere of the play by Sedef Ecer, translated from Turkish by Evren Odcikin, focusing on little-told stories of migrants in Istanbul’s urban slums. Feb. 23-April 4. $10-$50. Potrero Stage, 1695 18th St., S.F., www.crowdedfire.org

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder: 42nd Street Moon presents the Tony Award-winning musical comedy of manners about a man who fiendishly plots to gain his place in aristocracy. Feb. 26-March 15. $31-$72. Gateway Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F., 42ndStMoon.org

Julian López-Morillas plays Papi in Magic Theatre’s premiere “Don’t Eat the Mangos.” (Courtesy photo)

Don’t Eat the Mangos: Magic Theatre premieres Ricardo Pérez González’s play set in Puerto Rico, where three sisters take turns caring for their ailing father and a hurricane wreaks havoc. Feb. 26-March 22. $15-$75. Fort Mason, Building D, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F., magictheatre.org

Bay Area Cabaret presents Stacey Kent in the Venetian Room. (Courtesy photo)

Bay Area Cabaret: Stacey Kent sings a concert of bossa nova, jazz standards and originals. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27. $65. Venetian Room, Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St., S.F., bayareacabaret.org

From left, Chloë Angst, Brenna Sammon, John Mannion and Linda Piccone) appear in Foothill Music Theatre’s “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” (Courtesy David Allen)

The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Foothill Music Theatre invites audiences to solve the mystery in the funny whodunit adapted from Charles Dickens’ unfinished novel of the same name. Feb. 27-March 15. $12-$36. Lohman Theatre, Foothill College, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, foothillmusicals.com

Sarah J. Mitchell plays aviator Jerrie Cobb in TheatreWorks Silicon Valley’s “They Promised Her the Moon.” (Courtesy Kevin Berne)

They Promised Her the Moon: TheatreWorks presents the Northern California premiere of Laurel Ollstein’s play about Jerrie Cobb, a pioneering female aviator who trained to go into space at the same time as NASA’s Mercury Seven astronauts. $30-$95. March 4-29. Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, theatreworks.org

Toni Stone: American Conservatory Theater Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon directs the company’s West Coast debut of Lydia R. Diamond’s play about the first woman to play professional baseball with men as a member of the Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns. March 5–29. $15-$110. Geary Theater, 415 Geary St., act-sf.org

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: Pear Theatre stages the Tony Award-winning play by Simon Stephens based on the novel by Mark Haddon about a socially awkward, math genius teen boy on a mission to determine who killed his neighbor’s pet. March 12-April 5. $20-$34. 1110 La Avenida St., Mountain View, thepear.org


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