Summer Guide 2014

Stage and Theater

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Jupiter AscendingBook of Mormon

Silicon Valley has been called the "cradle of innovation." Indeed, that's true—and not just in regards to high tech. This region is home to some of the brightest artistic minds in the country, and many of them spend their days writing, directing and curating great theater.

This summer, local stage companies from the big-budgeted to the bootstrapped are producing top-notch live entertainment that will have audiences, laughing, crying, contemplating and singing along.

Broadway San Jose will be staging the Tony Award-winning, national sensation, The Book of Mormon at Broadway San Jose and West Bay Opera will produce the classic tale of Faust, while smaller companies, such as City Lights Theater will take on West Side Story and The Pear Avenue Theater will tackle the time-twisting tale Arcadia. College and high school students will also get in on the action. The Foothill College Theater Department is presenting the searing Angels in America and Montgomery Theater will show American Idiot—the rock opera based on the 2004 Green Day album.

There's a little something for everyone.

Broadway San Jose

Book of Mormon

The San Jose Center for Performing Arts will explode with this nine-time Tony Award-winning Best Musical from the creators of South Park, currently on tour across the country. In the story, two giddy naive missionaries head to Uganda in order to convert the locals to scripture, which doesn't appear to work right away. As an evil warlord ravages the population, the locals have no use for giddy dudes in short-sleeve dress shirts. As war, poverty, famine, AIDS and overall destruction seem to topple the land, the Mormons are bent on sharing their talents. In just a few years, The Book of Mormon has evolved into a total fan favorite musical. Even London's equivalent of the Tonys gave it multiple awards, so expect a gorgeous exploration of gutsy religious satire. www.broadwaysanjose.com

Stanford Repertory Theater's Summer Festival

Noel Coward: Art Style, Decadence

For half a century, the flamboyant tongue-in-cheek lyricist and playwright Noel Coward infiltrated many aspects of high culture on both sides of the pond. Many of his plays continue to grace stages all over the world and the hundreds of songs he composed continue to fill songbooks and thrill audiences across continents. In just a few months from now, everyone is welcome to experience Stanford Repertory Theater's 17th summer festival celebrating this high-floating Renaissance man: Noel Coward: Art, Style, and Decadence. You don't need cuff links or a cigarette holder, and you don't need umlauts in your name. For example, Coward's witty masterpiece, Hay Fever, unfolds in Pigott Theater, Memorial Auditorium, while Stanford Rep's second-stage production of Coward Cabaret provides a lurid overview of Mr. Coward's song, dance, style, and general savoir-faire. www.summertheater.stanford.edu

Montgomery Theater

American Idiot

Directed by Kevin R. Hauge and choreographed by Kelly Connolly, American Idiot comes to Montgomery Theater in downtown San Jose as part of CMT San Jose's 47th season. It's also the tenth anniversary of the original Green Day album that launched this whole enterprise. American Idiot originally took home a Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2005 and Green Day was just last month inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. CMT has previously succeeded with similar musicals like Rent, and Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Who's Tommy, so this production is bound to rouse similar emotions for the whole family. Expect a visual and sonic experience exploring youth, love, and loss in an age of overblown media saturation. www.cmtsj.org

Foothill College Theater Department

Angels in America

As the 1980s unfolded, so did Reaganomics, the AIDS epidemic and various flavors of social and political upheaval. Angels in America debuted in 1991, but was set in New York City in 1985, right smack in the middle of the aforementioned scenarios. The original play took home a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize. Last year, playwright Tony Kushner unleashed a new, updated version, recasting the two couples in a similar modern-day struggle. The same riveting multilayered conflicts and tensions anchor the work. How does one deal with a lover who gradually succumbs to AIDS? What does a right-wing Mormon lawyer do with his closet attraction to men while his agoraphobic wife hits the valium jar every single day? The way in which all the characters adapt to diseases, conditions and conflicting views of the world on multiple levels, carries just as much weight today as it did 30 years ago. A powerful work. www.foothill.edu/theatre

Pear Avenue Theater

Arcadia

Jun 19-Jul 12, $10-$35

British playwright Tom Stoppard and the Pear Avenue Theater will bring 19th-century England to Mountain View this midsummer with Arcadia. In this time-twisting tale, the story of a bright teenage resident of a stately home in the early 1800s overlaps with that of the modern-day academics researching previous occupants of the house. Mathematics, biology, literature, romance and one ancient tortoise collide in this century-spanning mystery.

West Bay Opera

Faust

May 22-31, $40-$75

It's a classic tale—man makes a deal with the Devil and gets more than he bargained for. But Charles Gounod's opera F aust, based loosely on the story by Goethe, gets an update by West Bay Opera this summer with a setting in a dystopian future. Sung en Franais, with English supertitles.

Los Altos Stage Company

Urinetown

May 27-Jun 28

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

July 17-Aug 2, $18-$36

Los Altos Stage Company will offer two colorful musical comedies this summer. The first, Urinetown, is a sassy satire and triple Tony winner about a society in which private toilets are banned due to water scarcity. Appropriate for our current state of drought, no? The second, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is based on the old MGM film of the same name, with songs by Disney legends the Sherman Brothers. In it, an oddball inventor and his family battle a bad guy for control of an automobile that can float, fly, and do all manner of magic.

San Jose Stage Company

The Addams Family

Jun 3-Jul 26, $30-$65

They're creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and starring in a new musical. It's Morticia, Gomez, Uncle Fester and the rest of The Addams Family, that gothic and eerie clan from the old television sitcom, on stage in San Jose in a version that puts daughter Wednesday in the spotlight. When she falls in love with a boy from a more, shall we say, traditional household, spook-tacular drama ensues when the families must meet at last.

City Lights Theater

West Side Story

Jul 16-Aug 23, $17-$30

"There's a place for us. Somewhere a place for us," West Side Story's star-crossed lovebirds, Tony and Maria, sing. This summer, that place is City Lights Theater, which will host the beloved musical tragedy with its roots in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and its soul in the mid-century sound of Leonard Bernstein's classic score, Stephen Sondheim's lyrics, and Arthur Laurents' NYC-set Sharks vs. Jets script. Still a tearjerker. Bring tissues and sing along.

Palo Alto Players

Chinglish

Jun 13-28, $17-$42

Chinglish refers to a Chinese-English combo language and it's also the title of the critically acclaimed 2011 David Henry Hwang comedy presented by Palo Alto Players this June. It's about an American man who travels to China, in an attempt to score a contract for his family's sign-making business, hoping to capitalize on the Chinese minister of culture's desire to avoid embarrassing mistranslations. While there, he embarks on some cultural and personal misadventures of his own.

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