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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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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.

 

2019-10-01Oct 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.

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.

2019-11-08Nov 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. 

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.

2019-07-29Jul 29, 2019

For those of you who like to see movies in the theater, you will be happy to know there are seven amazing movies opening this month in theaters. Starting with “The Farewell”. It stars Awkwafina as a granddaughter who is devoted to her grandmother who she finds out is dying. Fans of “Oceans 8” and “Crazy Rich Asians” will love Awkwafina in a dramatic role. It opens August 2nd.

2019-07-26Jul 26, 2019

While selecting the shows for next season we noticed a trend. The main characters find themselves in a similar position. They all have a choice to make. Do they abide by the rules, expectations, conventions and traditions or do they break from them? So, we decided to challenge our own rules.As you know by now, Left Edge is committed to bringing the absolute best and boldest plays to Sonoma County. Plays which have never been pro duced here before and are fresh.

2019-07-26Jul 26, 2019

Flynn Creek Circus’ 2019 show, ‘Out of Hat’ brings internationally award-winning performers to an intimate setting for a truly authentic theater experience. The show delivers explosively entertaining acrobatics, aerial stunts and feats of skill that require decades of passionate dedication. 

2019-07-25Jul 25, 2019

Live theatre is alive and well in Sonoma County, with over 20 venues offering quality entertainment, from blockbuster musicals to intimate plays and everything in between. With so much happening, I can only highlight a few of the gems I’m looking forward to seeing on our prolific stages this Fall. So many, so little space!

2019-07-16Jul 16, 2019

Possessing some of the finest hummable songs in musical theatre, My Fair Lady has charmed audiences since 1956, and sometimes been called “the perfect musical.” But anyone who sings “I Could Have Danced All Night” in the shower knows how deceptively difficult Frederick Loewe’s score can be, especially with that high note at the end. Fear not, the production at Sonoma Arts Live has Sarah Wintermeyer as Eliza, who will regale you with her superb delivery of all those “Loverly” songs, with a voice of liquid gold and her spunky charm. 

2019-07-15Jul 15, 2019

The biggest show of the year, the Monte Rio Variety Show will take place at the Monte Rio Amphitheater on Thursday July 25. Join us for a special evening of music, comedy and theater. With a uniquely wide range of acts, from Jazz to Classical, from Country to Rock, the Monte Rio Variety Show has been a Russian River tradition for 108 years.

2019-07-15Jul 15, 2019

Imagine yourself watching an Imaginists show… and enjoy the rare treat of ensemble-devised theatre meant to entertain, engage, and empower you, with timely topics— all for free in Santa Rosa parks during July. Founded by Brent Lindsay and Amy Pinto, The Imaginists have been in Santa Rosa for nine years, intentionally pushing boundaries and providing original theatrical art that interacts with community in new and exciting ways.

2019-11-08Nov 8, 2019

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

2019-07-14Jul 14, 2019

Anyone looking to liven up the midsummer doldrums should head on over to theCloverdale Performing Arts Center for “a hilarious evening of murder and mayhem” in the form of their stage production of The 39 Steps.I’ve used the words “fast” and “fun” more than once in this review. I could change a few to “rapid” and “amusing” but the meaning would be the same. Fasten your seat belts for this play. It’s not a bumpy ride, but a wild one and you’ll be laughing all the way. 

2019-07-03Jul 3, 2019

One of Shakespeare’s so-called “problem plays,”Measure for Measure is not often produced, defying genre classification and posing an enigmatic ending. But the current production in Marin deftly dispels any doubts about the entertainment potential of the play, giving us an amusing, touching, and rousing rendition that is surprisingly resonant for today. Clever staging and excellent performances along with some original elements makeMarin Shakespeare Company’s 30th anniversary something to happily celebrate.

2019-06-23Jun 23, 2019

One of the most difficult musicals to produce, with a challenging score and staging demands, West Side Story still merits the effort, delivering a cautionary tale that resonates all too well in today’s troubled times. The current production at 6th Street Playhouse gives the show an energetic and emotional rendering, reminding us why it continues to be powerful and worthwhile.

2019-06-16Jun 16, 2019

The production represents fulfillment of a long-held dream of the group’s founders Amy Miller, Brad Surosky, and Stephan Stubbins, who seemed to always know, or perhaps hope, that one day their company would reach a point where it would be possible to mount their favorite musical of all time, and do it as only TTC can do it. That means pulling out all the stops with a tremendous cast, nimble orchestra, and a fresh take on staging and choreography, and the result is truly memorable, a fantastic performance full of delights.

2019-06-09Jun 9, 2019

Remember the Men’s Movement, that took American culture by storm in the ‘80s? Men drawn to male-bonding and group drumming would meet in the wilderness somewhere for a weekend retreat, baring their souls and gaining a new perspective on their masculinity, sometimes fueled by drink or drugs and powered by pseudo rituals for self-examination. Well, the Movement is alive and well, sort of, in the world premiere of local playwright David Templeton’s newest play, Drumming with Anubis, currently running at Left Edge Theatre in Santa Rosa.

2019-06-05Jun 5, 2019

William Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ is saturated with a mystical, charged atmosphere of shrouded moors and supernatural omens echoing through castle halls. In this unique adaptation by Avilynn Pwyll, magick takes center stage through the antics of witches and Lady Macbeth’s dark arts. 

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.

 

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