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Theater - Performing Arts

Theatrical entertainment is alive and well in Sonoma County, with over 23 venues offering everything from musicals to one-man shows, drama, comedy, new works, and more. Our region is blessed with an abundance of live performance, including community, educational, and professional companies. With so much to choose from, Jeanie Smith provides previews and features for our print edition to showcase upcoming productions, and posts reviews on the website all month long of shows currently running. See the most recent reviews on this page, or search JEANIE SMITH.

For past reviews, search ALEXA CHIPMAN (2018-2019) or HARRY DUKE (2017-2018).

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2020-01-27Jan 27, 2020

The Play Enchanted April provides heart-warming trip to sunny Italy to escape a dreary winter, replete with the promised wisteria. Elizabeth von Arnim’s 1922 novel spawned several stage adaptations including this one from 2003 by Matthew Barber. The plot centers on Lotty Wilton (here played by  Katie Kelley), whose marriage has gone stale, leaving her without purpose or hope for the future.

2019-12-12Dec 12, 2019

Cinderella is such an enduring and endearing character. We all know about her wicked step-mother and those grasping conceited step-sisters, and of course, her mishaps involving novelty footwear. So watching Cinderella’s Christmas by Devin McConnell, now on stage at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center, seems like spending time with an old friend.

2019-12-11Dec 11, 2019

It may not seem like a holiday show at first, even though it takes place on Christmas Eve, with its tough characters and setting. Irish playwright  Conor McPherson  concocts a darkly comic tale designed to stop us in our holiday-making tracks and invite consideration of the season’s deeper meaning. Evoking laughter and somber thought in equal measure, The Seafarer  shines in an exceptional staging at  Main Stage West  through December 21, providing a welcome change of scene for the holidays.

2019-12-09Dec 9, 2019

How is it possible that, year after year, Transcendence Theatre Company creates a one-of-a-kind, rousing, heart-filled and touching holiday extravaganza, taking all of us on a joyful musical journey that can’t fail to generate seasonal spirit? It’s a show I look forward to each December, knowing not only will it be truly “spectacular” for a theatrical experience but also move my heart with positivity and warm sentiment.

2019-12-07Dec 7, 2019

The theatrical theme this holiday season seems to be Fun with a capital F, with shows that chase away melancholy and anxiety in favor of warmth, charm, and laughter. A Christmas Story, the Musical presented by Sonoma Arts Live is no exception, delivering as much fun as it can muster, adding a dose of nostalgia and impossibly cute (and talented!) children.

2019-12-05Dec 5, 2019

It might be true that everyone who grew up with a Christmas tradition can remember the precise moment when they quit believing that Santa Claus was real. It’s equally true that parents can remember when their child found out, or was told, that Santa is not an actual person and those presents under the tree didn’t magically appear courtesy of a chimney-hopping bearded old man. But there’s no manual to say exactly when that should happen, and the father in  Polar Bears  does everything he can to delay disbelief as long as possible.

2019-11-27Nov 27, 2019

The tradition of hunting goes back many generations for the Soady clan, and stories of epic hunting adventures are recorded in a small journal kept in the Soady’s cabin located deep in the woods of Escanaba forest, especially noting when someone bags their first buck. Daughter Ruby Soady (Paige Picard) arrives as Alberta tells us that Ruby is the only one of the family who has yet to get her buck, and, at her age, that’s not good. Tomorrow’s opening day of deer-hunting season, and Ruby is determined to make this her “buck” season.

 

2019-11-25Nov 25, 2019

How many ways can I say “delightful” and “charming,” or “funny” and “sweet”? All those and all their synonyms apply to the wonderful production of  Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley  currently playing at Spreckels Performing Arts Center. A terrific cast and sprightly staging liven up the intimate Condiotti theater, for a thoroughly entertaining show that will put you in the holiday spirit without corn or treacle.

2019-11-24Nov 24, 2019

Sonoma County Holiday theater Shows: Miracle on 34th Street playing at Lucky Penny Productions, Sonoma Arts Live presents a musical version of the hit comedy film A Christmas Story. Transcendence Theatre Company production,Broadway Holiday Spectacular the performers hail from Broadway’s biggest hits likeWicked and Chicago. Polar Bears opens Dec. 4 at Left Edge Theatre in Santa Rosa, and might be just the date night you need to escape holiday treacle this one is strictly for adults.

2019-11-17Nov 17, 2019

Is there anyone whose holiday heart won’t be warmed by Charles Dickens’ classic tale of young Oliver, the orphan boy who endures many trials before finding his true home? 6th Street Playhouse creates a bold and richly entertaining staging, with innovative elements and two actors rotating in the title role. Featuring excellent principal performances and an energetic ensemble, this is a production not to miss this season.

 

2019-11-08Nov 8, 2019

Holiday Performances for 2019 Compiled by Elisabeth DeGoff-Pedroza check out our list of the many amazing performances this Holiday season, from Transcendence’s Broadway Holiday Spectacular, to Cirque de Bohème, The Nutcracker by Petaluma School of Ballet and more. 

2020-01-20Jan 20, 2020

If you love the music of Buddy Holly, you’ll love this musical biography. If you’re one of the rare people who knows nothing about the iconic rock star whose work influenced countless others and changed the face of rock’n’roll forever, you’ll still love this tribute, if you’re ready to party on with a whole theatre full of happy people. Kyle Jurassic is the real deal as Holly, definitely a Don’t Miss performance. Get your tickets now, as the show is sure to sell out its limited run through February 16.

2019-11-08Nov 8, 2019

The holiday season in Sonoma County is a magical time! Enjoy holiday music, tree lighting celebrations, performances and more!

2019-10-28Oct 28, 2019

Three musicals launch the season: 'Sweet orphan Oliver!' At 6th Street Playhouse,  'Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley' at Spreckels Theatre Company, 'The Sound of Music' at Evert B. Person Theatre and finally 'The Seafarer' at Main Stage West.

2019-10-23Oct 23, 2019

Sonoma County Fall Festivities - Festivals, Events, Parties. Your 2019 to all things Fall in Sonoma County. Festivals, Events, Parties, Trick or Treat Trails, Octoberfest, Pumpkin Patches, Dias De Los Muertos, Cemetery & Ghost Tours, Haunted Houses, Library Halloween & Pumpkin Fun, Shows & Performances.

2019-10-22Oct 22, 2019

The 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama, Between Riverside and Crazy tops a long list of remarkable, edgy plays by American playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis. The current production at Left Edge Theatre manages to capture some of the comedy, but fails to bring forth the heart or the magic that enables Pops’ redemption. Embedded in the play is a beautiful ode to resilience and random acts of healing, all but buried in this interpretation. The talented actors are fully capable, and occasionally connect with the deeper veins of humanness offered in the script.

2019-10-20Oct 20, 2019

They say it takes a village, so, as a gift to our own little villages, Pegasus Theater Company will be performing a staged radio version of the movie, along with tunes from the 30’s and 40’s sung by some of our finest local vocalists.The show will take place Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 29 and 30, and Dec. 6 and 7, at the Blue Door Gallery in Guerneville.

2019-10-19Oct 19, 2019

There are only a few performances left in the run, but I encourage you to make the trip to Petaluma to see the outstanding production of Luna Gale at Cinnabar Theater. A thoughtful concept by a talented director, an affecting script (a Pulitzer finalist by award-winning American playwright Rebecca Gilman), creative production elements and a superb cast make for a riveting, engaging evening of theatre— definitely one of the best I’ve seen so far this season. Pick up your phone now to reserve your seats for one of the remaining shows.

2019-10-14Oct 14, 2019

The North Bay premiere of this raucous gem currently plays at Spreckels Theatre Company, making a ghoulish treat of murder and mayhem for the spooky season. Launched in 2013, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder swept the 2014 Tony awards and is now showing up in regional theatres to the delight of audiences everywhere. The cast and production team at Spreckels do a bang-up job with this one, delivering laughs and outstanding vocals alongside impressive special effects and staging.

 

2019-10-01Oct 1, 2019

Merman’s Apprentice, the brain-child of Stephen Cole andDavid Evans,  has enjoyed sold-out concert readings elsewhere, including New York City, but this is the first full staging with all the trimmings. Both Cole and Evans joined the team for a week of rehearsals, making changes and adding to the challenge and excitement.Sonoma Arts Live does themselves proud with this latest venture, pulling out all the stops with a strong cast and excellent production values for the premiere of a brand new musical right in our own region.

2019-09-30Sep 30, 2019

If you haven't had a chance to see Brad Pitt in “Ad Astra” it's still in theaters, and I have many other film reviews. TheMill Valley Film Festival starts October 3rd with “Just Mercy” starring Jamie Foxx. For my live theater fans you still have time to see the fabulous “Gypsy” at 6th Street.

2019-09-28Sep 28, 2019

Face it, we all need a distraction right now. Forget politics and the insanely hot summer we’ve been having and head on over to the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center for a really good laugh. Their current production,The Kitchen Witchesby Caroline Smith, is fast and funny and just what the doctor ordered.

2020-01-14Jan 14, 2020

The play Mary’s Wedding  starts off simply but finishes with a powerful emotional impact that lingers long after it ends. The play sings an ode to young love while simultaneously pitching Charlie into perilous war, and the battle scenes are as fierce as the courting scenes are tender. Drawn headlong into the conflict through Charlie’s letters home to Mary, we dread each battle and his potential demise. The promise of a wedding keeps hope alive

2019-09-25Sep 25, 2019

Spreckels Theatre Company brings us the North Bay premiere of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, a delightful and hilarious new musical comedy. The show earned a slew of Tony Award nominations when it first hit Broadway in 2014, winning four, including Best Musical.   SRJC’s Theatre Arts department mounts The Good Doctor based on the short stories of one of Russia’s greatest writers, Anton Chekhov. a charming piece as a gift to the community, saying farewell to and honoring the use of the Newman Auditorium on campus while the Burbank Auditorium undergoes renovation.

 

2019-09-24Sep 24, 2019

“Sing out, June! Sing out, Louise!” “Let me entertain you, and we’ll have a real good time, yessir…” Gypsy, one of the biggest, brashest, boldest and best-loved musicals of all time, features a Broadway star and an excellent ensemble in its current incarnation at 6th Street Playhouse. The vaudeville show-within-a-show promises entertainment, and you’ll no doubt find the show delivers on that promise in a big, bold way.

2019-09-12Sep 12, 2019

All these years of seeing Transcendence Theatre Company shows, and I’d never been to a Gala, the last show of every summer that runs only three performances and caps off the season. Thankfully, after last weekend I can now say I’ve remedied that error, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s definitely TTC’s signature style, with outstanding song and dance in original arrangements, but specifically featuring Broadway hits both classic and new, making it an end-of-season gift for patrons.

2019-09-08Sep 8, 2019

There’s a great story in the program of how the play Nuts took Santa Rosa by storm in 1983 when presented by the new Actors Theatre in a downtown storefront. It’s a warm tale of a populace hungry for meaningful art, rewarding a fledgling theatre company with sold-out performances and acclaim. Left Edge Theatre, the later stepchild of that same group, chose to revive Nuts, defying their own rules to share a play about rules-breaking, fitting in the context of their current season. 

2019-09-04Sep 4, 2019
Brilliant. That’s the word that popped into my head at the end of Eureka Day, presented by Spreckels Theatre Company in Rohnert Park. Absolutely brilliant, timely, prescient, smart, and utterly captivating is this relatively new play by Bay Area playwright Jonathan Spector. It’s also touching, heart-wrenching, and even unsettling in its unsparing observations of current times. Spreckels’ production features a terrific cast and crisp staging to match, and is a definite Don’t Miss.
 
2019-09-01Sep 1, 2019

Little Shop of Horrors, the musical that put Howard Ashman and Alan Menken on the musical theatre map in 1982, has been around long enough that chances are you’ve seen it before— but don’t let that stop you from seeing the superb production at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma— a truly refreshing, entertaining and superior production of this zany and lovable show.

2019-08-30Aug 30, 2019

For a real blockbuster, there’s the classic Gypsy, filled with memorable songs and Broadway performer Kathy Fitzgerald. See what all the fuss was about with that icon of the Broadway belt and head to Sonoma Arts Live for Merman’s Apprentice. Left Edge Theatre breaks their own rules (and why not?) regarding age of play and prior stagings in order to present the contemporary classic Nuts. At Main Stage West, see Body Awareness, one of American playwright Annie Baker’s earliest plays (2008). This year’s festival at Pegasus Theater Company running September 13-28 features six plays, with six local actresses playing all the roles.

2019-08-26Aug 26, 2019

This is one very funny play— aided by a group of excellent actors who know how to deliver comedy and are nicely suited for their roles, keeping the audience laughing throughout the two hours.6th Street Playhouse scores big with their season opener in the newly named and refurbished Monroe Stage (formerly the Studio). Start your September theatre binge with a contemporary comic riff on identity, secrets, and truth— oh, and books, too.

2019-08-12Aug 12, 2019
The hallmark of Transcendence Theatre Company since their earliest shows has been the musical revue, that they do so extremely well— mixing Broadway and Pop, standards and the newest hits, in modern and fresh arrangements and staging. Add triple-threat performers from professional stages around the country, and you have a sure-fire formula for a thrilling success of a show. Those Dancin’ Feet is another notch in the TTC belt, emphasizing dance and choreography alongside superb vocals, with energetic and entertaining effect. 

 

2019-08-12Aug 12, 2019

Tucked away in a converted warehouse in a Napa business/industrial area is a gem of a theatre producing quality shows for those willing to make the short hop. Lucky Penny Productions, the brainchild of co-founders Barry Martin and Taylor Bartolucci, has been going strong for ten years now, mounting classics, contemporary works and musicals for delighted audiences. The Tasting Room, a revival from 2018 written by Martin himself, showcases some of the company’s associate artists and delivers happy hilarity that locals will especially appreciate.

2020-01-12Jan 12, 2020

When you focus on where something is, you can’t tell where it’s going; and when you observe something moving, you can’t tell where it is— that’s the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle in a nutshell, and from the world of science it supplies the central metaphor for Simon Stephens’  latest play concerning an unlikely, unpredictable and uncommon relationship.  Left Edge Theatre serves up this delightfully different comedy with zest, featuring two first-rate talents and attractive staging.

2020-01-09Jan 9, 2020

I was able to see over 40 productions this year, even with being out of the country for two months— that included some amazing shows that truly challenged my search for superlatives to describe their excellence. I also witnessed again the depth of the artistic community across the County, the tremendous efforts by all involved to create enjoyable and memorable entertainment. Do yourself a favor and make 2020 the year you discover some of these terrific companies, right where you live. Theater deserves your attention in this age of screen-device entertainment— its real-life magic makes all the difference.

 

2020-01-05Jan 5, 2020

Pegasus Theater Company welcomes your submissions for its annual Tapas New Short Play Festival, now in its 14th year. Tapas’ enthusiastic reception by our audiences to seeing 7 short plays in one evening’s performance is due to the high quality of the plays we receive from you. Please remember that we need minimalist sets for each play and, in fact, literally use black boxes that can quickly be moved around between plays.

2019-12-27Dec 27, 2019

Our Sonoma county January 2020 theater review includes: Heisenberg, presented by Left Edge Theatre opening January 24, then the theatrical treat Enchanted April presented by Sonoma Arts Live and  More entertainment options  in  the “Good Bets” department: In various venues,The Buddy Holly Story, Mary’s Wedding,  The Wolves and Ripcord.

2019-12-26Dec 26, 2019

There are four movies you should see in theaters this month. First is “Just Mercy” starring Jamie Foxx and Michael B Jordan. Second is “1917” George MacKay,  Dean-Charles Chapman,  Mark Strong, Andrew Scott,  Richard Madden,  Claire Duburcq,  with Colin Firth, and  Benedict Cumberbatch. Next is  “Dolittle” with Robert Downey Jr.  Finally the much anticipated return of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in  “Bad Boys For Life”.

2019-12-16Dec 16, 2019

You’re bound to know  John Kander  and  Fred Ebb’s oeuvre for film and theater, and may not realize it.   The World Goes ‘Round  presents a marvelous collection of their songs, big hits and less well-known numbers, from  Cabaret  and   Chicago  and more in a revue arranged by Broadway talents Scott Ellis, Susan Stroman and David Thompson. Witty, touching, or blockbuster, the tunes set your feet tapping and lighten your mood. Five excellent performers grace the   Cinnabar Theater  stage in order to spice up your holiday with some of the best music theater ever written.

 

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