There’s so much to do in San Francisco that sometimes it requires someone visiting from out of town to pick up the theater listings. Any week of the year will find plenty of touring road shows, our own local symphony and opera, visiting dance troupes, small performing groups, an indie scene, college productions and more. Perhaps a New Year’s resolution to get to the theater more often in 2014 is in order? If so, remember to check out the TIX booth in Union Square for day-of performance discounted tickets. These were some of the wonderful shows that came our way in 2013.

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical”
Curran Theatre
445 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(888) 746-1799

For older baby boomers, it’s magic to the ears. The year was 1960. Singer/songwriter Carole King wrote her first hit song, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” with her college sweetheart at the tender age of 18, already married and with a baby girl. About 400 songs and 1,000 artist recordings later, Carole King’s story comes to the stage, bound to be a hit in the “Buddy” mold. San Francisco saw it first in October 2013, where great reviews and a sell-out crowd fueled the world premiere for its November 21 Broadway preview run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in New York. In SFGate, Robert Hurwitt wrote, “If you’re leery of yet another jukebox musical, all doubts should be blown away!” Tony Award nominee Jessie Mueller stars as King.

(credit: Last.FM)

Feinstein’s at Hotel Nikko
222 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 394-1111’s

Singer/songwriter/performer extraordinaire Michael Feinstein has revamped this into an intimate space for 140, bringing a series of fabulous names to appear on his stage since April 2013. Cabaret room audiences were treated to Tommy Tune, Betty Buckley, Sutton Foster, Christine Ebersole, Jack Jones and more, as well as Feinstein himself. Broadway soprano sensation Barbara Cook, now age 85, belted the roof off the joint in June with her poignant return to the former Rrazz Room. If she comes again, do not walk for your ticket, run for it.

(credit: SF Opera)

San Francisco Opera at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
301 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 864-3330

Not staged at the War Memorial Opera House since 1989, “Mephistopheles” by Arrigo Boito surged back in October 2013 with one of the most impressive stage sets ever seen at Symphony Hall, according to many regulars. Enhanced by the glamour of gowned ladies and tuxedoed gentlemen of the audience, critics called the various voices “ravishing,” “massive” and a “tour de force.” Bringing the house down, from the mighty opening chorus to the “choral grandeur and melodic richness” (the New York Times), this production was San Francisco’s gift to San Francisco.

(credit: Beach Blanket Babylon)

“Beach Blanket Babylon”
678 Green St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 421-4222

Predictably, “Beach Blanket Babylon” absolutely must have a place on this list. Unpredictably, the show never stays the same. As current events change, the show changes and the writers are truly quick to the task of updating material, which explains how it has become America’s longest-running musical revue since 1974. The better you know San Francisco, the funnier the show is, but the out-of-towners seem to be having a great time as well. This show’s got everything: songs, sequins, skits, spoofs, satire, Snow White and the hats!

(credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

“Book of Mormon”
Orpheum Theatre
1192 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(888) 746-1799

With every imaginable compliment thrown its way since opening on Broadway in 2011, this irreverent musical has been called, “the best musical of this century,” by the New York Times and the funniest ever by Entertainment Weekly. The show has been credited with saving the modern musical from a future of strictly revivals. Seven Tony Awards and one Grammy later, the “Book of Mormon” takes San Francisco by storm for eight weeks through January 19, 2014. If the show stayed on for another year, we’d feel better. From the creators of “South Park,” explicit language is cautioned.

Laurie JM Farr is a freelance writer covering all things in her adopted San Francisco. A dedicated urbanite, she’s a transplanted New Yorker by way of a couple of decades in London as a hotel sales and marketing manager. Follow her work on @ReferencePlease, USA Today, Yahoo! and on