San Francisco Local Spring Theater Preview

April 9, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Maria Baranova / Berekely Repertory)

If spring makes you burst into song or puts some bounce in your step, these comedies and musicals say right back at ya’ this spring, mirroring the feeling from Mount Tamalpais to the flatlands of Berkeley.  If you like to hike, bike, picnic, laugh, swoon or sing, there’s something for you in San Francisco theater this spring.

The Music Man

mountainplaypanorama cindywarner San Francisco Local Spring Theater Preview

View of the Mountain Play (credit: Cindy Warner)

The Mountain Play
Cushing Memorial Amphitheater
Mount Tamalpais
Mill Valley, CA
(415) 383-1100

Dates: May 20 and 27; June 3, 10, 16 and 17, 2012
Hours: All shows begin at 2 p.m.
Price: Tickets $40

The 99th season of The Mountain Play in the spectacular stone amphitheater on Mount Tamalpais brings River City and “The Music Man” to the stage. The story, music and lyrics are by Meredith Willson. Take the free shuttle from Mill Valley, hike up, bike up, drive up.  Pack your favorite picnic foods and beverages or buy at the concession stands. The play involves a con man, a conductor, high and mighty school board members who also sing in a barbershop quartet, a stuffy town librarian, a town bad boy, an Irish mom, gossipy wives and a mayor’s preening wife. The Mountain Play also takes volunteers who help with seating and shuttling.

Spamalot, The Musical and Les Miserables

lesmiserables San Francisco Local Spring Theater Preview


SHN San Francisco
SHN Orpheum Theater
1192 Market Street at Eighth
Civic Center
San Francisco, CA
888 SHN-1799

Dates: Spamalot: April 10 to April 22, 2012; Les Miserables: July 10 to August 26, 2012
Tickets $30 to $100

Monty Python’s “Spamalot, the Musical” comes to the SHN Orpheum Theater April 10 through April 22, 2012.  This comedy comes from Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” from their heyday in the 1970s, with King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table on the trail of the Holy Grail.  Audience members will probably try to relive teenage years and sing along to the cult favorites.

Les Miserables,” a new version by Cameron Mackintosh for the 25th anniversary of the musical by Boublil and Schonberg, comes to the Orpheum July 10 through August 26, 2012 with new staging and scenery, while a film is in the works. It’s a survival story, although there is a suicide and battle scenes so no children under five admitted. The play is about a Frenchman in the 1800s who endured years on a chain gang and upon release ends up becoming a particularly compassionate and self-sacrificing mayor when faced with cruelty and injustice. He vows on a fallen woman’s deathbed to find and care for her daughter.  He does so, but as her guardian angel, keeps her true story a secret from her up until her wedding and his own impending death.

endgameandplay San Francisco Local Spring Theater Preview


Endgame and Play

American Conservatory Theater San Francisco
415 Geary between Mason & Taylor
San Francisco, CA 94102

Date: May 9 to June 3, 2012
Price: $25 to $110; Pay What You Wish Night, May 17, 2012, Ticket stub gets $12 rate for five hours of parking at Mason/O’Farrell garage.

Bill Irwin, the classic clown of San Francisco’s Pickle Family Circus and ACT’s “Scapin” fame, gets direction from ACT’s Carey Perloff in this pair of dark comedies.  “Endgame” has Bill Irwin’s character pondering the end of life as he’s trapped between life and death with his young servant, in a match of wits.  “Play” brings some of ACT’s core acting company on stage for a comedy about marriage and infidelity. ACT offers a pre-performance prologue, a Theater on the Couch Night involving a psychological discussion, and post-performance audience exchanges.  Located several blocks from the Powell Street BART station, off Union Square near lots of restaurants, bistros and cafes.

Related:  San Francisco’s Best Comedy Clubs

The Great Divide and Truffaldino Says No

truffaldino San Francisco Local Spring Theater Preview


Shotgun Players
Ashby Stage
1901 Ashby Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94703
(510) 841-6500

Dates: The Great Divide: May 16 to June 27, 2012
Dates: Truffaldino Says No: June 30 to July 20, 2012
Price: Tickerts $20 to $30, Tickets sold only  by phone or internet except nigh-of during will-call hour

In “Truffaldino Says No,” Berkeley’s young, counterculture and alternative theater stages a new play about an Italian harlequin who escapes to the United States only to find a parallel world.  Ken Slattery wrote this comedy about the roadblocks encountered when running from a traditional world.

The Great Divide,” an adaptation of the Ibsen story “An Enemy of the People,” involves a woman whose hometown experiences economic prosperity only to sacrifice the townspeople.  The woman, a doctor, faces choices between her family and truth or the greater good when jobs in the natural gas industry become a life and death choice, the livelihoods having consequences. The theater stands near the Ashby BART station.

Related: Best Street Performers In San Francisco

In Paris

inparis bw San Francisco Local Spring Theater Preview

Mikhail Baryshnikov and Anna Sinyakina (credit: Anna Akartseva)

Berkeley Repertory Theater
Roda Theater
2025 Addison Street
Berkeley, California 94704
(510) 647-2949

Dates: April 25 to May 15, 2012
Price: $27.50 to $125
Told in French and Russian with English supertitles

Mikhail Baryshinikov stars in this romantic Russian play which only runs three weeks.  Berkeley Rep calls this a love story set in the 1930s in Paris, blending movement but not dance and spectacular design.  It’s written by a Nobel Prize winner, Ivan Bunin.  Dmitry Krymov’s ensemble of five actors and singers perform with Baryshnikov in what reviewers call poetry, with the use of video lending to an eerie tone. Berkeley Rep offers free wine, beer and spirits tastings with local providers for most Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances.  It’s around the corner from the downtown Berkeley BART station near lots of little restaurants, bistros and cafes.

Cindy Warner is a freelance writer and a San Francisco Bay Area native. Cindy has covered SF theater and opera for via her bicycle since January 2009. Check out her work on

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