An Abundance of Autumn Shows to Enjoy in SF

 By Linda Ayres-Frederick

The fall is here and with it the new season of theatre to enjoy from new work to older chestnuts interpreted afresh.

In the mood for a rock-musical? The Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal plays at Gough Street Playhouse produced by Custom Made Theatre with a cast that brings out the best in both script and lyrics. CMT’s Artistic Director Brian Katz keeps the pace moving on Erik LaDue’s cleverly functional set, remarkably lit by Maxx Kurzunski. Stellar performances abound in the challenging emotional life of the Goodman family that Tom Kitt (Music) and Brian Yorkey (Book & Lyrics) examine. A tale of how one suburban family copes with mental illness (specifically bi-polar disorder) encompasses each family member’s coping mechanisms plus the doctors and friend involved. Life itself is the antagonist who has dealt the challenge. With Musical direction by Armando Fox assisted by Mark Dietrich, actor/singers  Lisa-Marie Newton, Danny Gould, LaMont Ridgell, Mackenzie Cala, Jordon Bridges and Perry Aliado all rise to the occasion. Next to Normal plays Thurs – Sat at 8pm Sundays at 7pm through Oct 27, 1620 Gough (at Bush) SF 94109. Up next: the West Coast Premiere of Peter/Wendy opening Nov. 19. Tickets: or

 Bay One Acts Festival 2013 has two programs playing at The Tides Theatre. Featuring the work of Bay Area Playwrights, Program One’s six plays include work of Tracy Held Potter, Sam Leichter, Daniel Hollowy, Bennett Fisher, William Bivins and a devised piece based on T.S. Eliot’s Love Song of Alfred J. Prufock by Allison Combs. Program Two (which this reviewer saw) features work by seven other playwrights. Nancy Cooper Frank’s Inexpressibly Blue takes on perennial cheer versus the darker view of aging while Ignacio Zulueta’s 3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters cleverly mirrors the Chekhov classic. Jeff Carter’s Pinteresque Break of Day shows two maternally dependent brothers faced with the challenge of what to do with their mother’s recent remains.  Daniel Hirsch’s Shooter examines the psyches of three now incarcerated perpetrators of shootings.  Lauren Gunderson’s Two Pigeons Talk Politics humorously gives two birds’ eyes views of the human dilemma.  In Michael Phillis’ Babes two Moms try their damnedest to remain politically correct giving their infant son his first lesson on procreation. Megan Cohen’s My Year takes us through the surprise party for a very reluctant Birthday celebrant.

Kudos to BOA for offering their audience different voices, perspectives and journeys that resonate no matter what time or place they are set in. For tickets and schedule playing through Oct 5 at 533 Sutter Street, SF or

The Magic Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Buried Child is worth the trip to Ft. Mason just to see Rod Gnapp as patriarch Dodge, Denise Balthrop Cassidy as wife Halie and Lawrence Radecker’s Father Dewis. Family secrets are revealed in this dark American classic that premiered here in 1978. Loretta Greco directs. Plays through Oct 13.

 Coming up:

 Free Reading: Sunday, Oct 6, 7pm. Joy Cutler’s hilarious new play Pardon My Invasion at the Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason Street, (at Geary) SF. Strong Language Advisory.