The San Francisco North Bay is rich with opportunities to see a wide variety of theater—from polished productions in large venues to swashbuckling adventures perched under a bridge by the Russian River. I was unable to cover every company this year, due to the sheer amount of plays opening simultaneously around the counties, but I am grateful for the hard work of the theater community, even if they may not be specifically mentioned. We are lucky to reside in an area filled with the arts, and my hope is that in 2017 companies will continue to experiment, push the boundaries of regional theater expectations, and of course entertain in the North Bay.
Main Stage West maintained a consistently high standard of thought-provoking plays that tug at the heart and filled their small theater with local talent. Save the dates for their upcoming productions; it is always worth a trip to downtown Sebastopol.
Introducing contemporary and premiere works with stunning set designs and riveting direction, Marin Theatre Company shone this year with Anne Boleyn, a unique perspective on the Reformation in England, The Invisible Hand, a suspenseful and timely piece set in the Middle East, and the sparkling holiday play Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.
A significant standout production was The Curtain Theatre’s staging of The Comedy of Errors set in the 1920s. I was suffering Shakespeare fatigue by late summer, and their lively, madcap romp made it exciting again, prompting a second attendance to enjoy the flapper era mayhem under towering redwoods in Old Mill Park.
The far north had a strong year with the roving Pegasus Theater Company, Curtain Call Theatre, and Cloverdale Performing Arts Center. They are accomplishing a great deal with limited resources, and the drive is beautiful through the rolling hills and forests of Sonoma County. I especially enjoyed Cloverdale’s The Importance of Being Earnest and interactive Puss In Boots.
Dedicated, hard-working, and producing an astonishing number of plays that are often elaborate musicals, 6th Street Playhouse and Spreckels Theatre Company remain the backbone of the North Bay. While they may not always have the highest caliber of presentation, they achieved several memorable productions this year, including Titanic: The Musical, The Little Mermaid, Wait Until Dark, and Baskerville from Spreckels and Anna in the Tropics, Animal Crackers, and A Christmas Carol from 6th Street Playhouse.
There were many other phenomenal artists and productions that could be named, such as the students of Sonoma State University and Lucky Penny Productions in Napa. I look forward to what 2017 has to offer audiences in the North Bay.