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Theater Dates

North Bay theater companies unveil their upcoming seasons

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For certain North Bay theater addicts, late summer is a very special time, a little cluster of weeks in which promise and excitement build with each new delivery of the mail. By now, every major theater company in the North Bay has announced its next schedule, featuring several plays that instantly leap to the calendar with must-see urgency.

First out of the gate with a season-starting production are the Santa Rosa Players, now fully and legally joined with Actors Theatre at their new Sixth Street Playhouse (www.6thstreetplayhouse.com). With their ambitious new home still under construction in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square, it appears that the two companies will be staging their first few productions at the old Merlo Theater location at the Luther Burbank Center.

A political, colorfully set-in-the-sixties spin on the musical Godspell (in which I must treacherously confess to playing Judas) opened Aug. 20. Following in November is Alfred Uhry's (Driving Miss Daisy) Tony-winning romantic comedy The Last Night of Ballyhoo. The rest of the schedule includes some familiar musicals--The Fantastiks, Mame and Guys and Dolls--and three newer "straight" plays: David Lindsay-Abaire's wacky Wonder of the World (to be directed by Sixth Street Playhouse executive director Argo Thompson), Melissa James Gibson's fresh new comedy [sic] and the two-person movie-making satire Stones in His Pockets, set in Ireland.

Petaluma's Cinnabar Theater (www.cinnabartheater.org) launches its 31st season on Sept. 10 by turning the famous theater-on-a-hill into a vaguely sinister 1930s Berlin-era Kit Kat Klub with a new production of Cabaret. The season continues in October with Christopher Durang's Laughing Wild, a two-person satire that begins with reports of a man pummeled in a supermarket over a can of tuna, and includes such weirdness as characters invading one another's dreams.

Opera, as always, plays a part in Cinnabar's season. Lee Hoiby's unusual comic opera Something New for the Zoo, opening in late December, will be followed in 2005 by Mozart's classic Marriage of Figaro and John Millington Synge's Playboy of the Western World.

Pacific Alliance Stage Company (www.spreckelsonline.com/performingarts/stageco.cfm) opens its five-show season in late September--this is artistic director's Hector Correa's first season as programmer, though he directed most of last season's shows--with Michael Healey's 2001 comedy-drama The Drawer Boy, the story of two reclusive bachelor farmers whose lives are turned upside down when a young actor appears seeking information about authentic farm life.

Correa will be directing. In fact, he'll be at the helm of all PASCO's plays this year, except for November's production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple: The Female Version, to be directed by Gene Abravaya. The season's other shows are Tennessee Williams' Streetcar Named Desire, Terrence McNally's Perfect Ganesh and George and Ira Gershwin's seldom-seen musical Oh, Kay!

The Santa Rosa Junior College's award-winning theater arts program (www.santarosa.edu/theatrearts) kicks off its season in October, beginning with Agatha Christie's Appointment with Death, followed by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in November, The Colored Museum in January, Neil Simon's Rumors in March, and finishing up with Chicago, if performance rights can be obtained for that show. The standout in that lineup is George C. Wolfe's The Colored Museum, an acclaimed 1986 satire about race and identity taking the form of several "exhibits," each a short vignette exploring various aspects of what it means to be black in America.

Sonoma County Repertory Theatre (www.the-rep.com), which runs a January-to-December season, still has a few plays on line in its current run: The Mystery of Irma Vepp, Renaissance and A Christmas Carol. Next summer, the Rep's Shakespeare in the Park series will expand to three plays, beginning with the new melodrama Bad Day at Gopher's Breath, Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

In Marin, the Novato Theater Company (formerly the Novato Community Players, www.novatocommunityplayers.com), launches its new season in September with Sylvia, followed in October by The Sound of Music, Over the River and through the Woods and Mame.

The daring, chance-taking Marin Theatre Company (www.marintheatre.org) in Mill Valley offers some of the most intriguing productions of the season, beginning Sept. 9 with a rare staging of Beggar's Holiday, Duke Ellington's only full-length musical (with book by Dale Wasserman). The company's other shows this season are Yasmina Reza's Life X 3, the world premiere of Deborah Zoe Laufer's Fortune, William Inge's ever-popular Bus Stop and the charming love-and-death fantasy Running with Scissors by Michael McKeever.

To be included on the mailing list of any of these companies, check their websites for information on signing up.

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From the August 25-31, 2004 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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