Bay Area fall stage season off to a busy start — here’s what’s playing

Bay Area fall stage season off to a busy start — here’s what’s playing

It’s no secret that these are challenging times for theater companies in the Bay Area and across the country, with many troupes shutting down, cutting back or struggling to stay afloat.

Still, there is an impressive array of shows to see in Bay Area theaters right now, from City Lights Theater Company’s world premiere of “Toxic,” a drama centering on survivors of a school shooting; and “Born With Teeth,” a play that finds Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe working together.

Here’s a partial rundown of what else is playing on Bay Area stages.

“Hadestown”: Anaïs Mitchell’s retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story began as a musical in Barre, Vermont, then became a concept album and then a musical again that finally landed, 13 years later, on Broadway in 2019. After winning eight Tony Awards and embarking on a successful national tour, “Hadestown” is on the road again and returns to the Bay Area for runs at the Orpheum Theatre Sept. 12-17 and the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts Sept. 26-Oct. 1.

Details: San Francisco, $70-$290 (subject to change); www.broadwaysf.com; San Jose, $44-$219 (subject to change); broadwaysanjose.com.

“Crowns”: The celebratory musical by Regina Taylor centers on a young Chicago woman who is sent to stay with relatives in the South and is introduced to a group of strong-willed women known for their stunning church hats and love and pride for their rich African American heritage. Known for its dynamic soundtrack featuring everything from traditional gospel to contemporary hip-hop; “Crowns” kicks off Center Repertory Company’s new season.

Details: Through Oct. 6; Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; $45-$70; lesherartscenter.org.

“Bald Sisters”: Vichet Chum’s dark comedy/drama has been drawing attention since it debuted at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre last year. It follows two feuding sisters forced to come together after the death of their spitfire mother. Lurking in the background of all this strife is the family’s Cambodian heritage. The play is getting its area premiere at San Jose Stage Company, directed by Jeffrey Lo.

Details: Sept. 13-Oct. 8; San Jose Stage; $34-$74; www.thestage.org.

“Dog Man: The Musical”: Based on Dav Pilkey’s insanely popular graphic novel series about a hero with the head of a dog and the body of a police officer (“he loves to fight crime and chew on the furniture”), the touring kid-friendly 70-minute show comes to San Francisco’s Curran Theatre for a brief, two-day run.

Details: Five performances Sept. 16-17; 445 Geary St., San Francisco; $46-$80; www.broadwaysf.com.

“Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus”: Stage sensation Taylor Mac’s 2019 play is, as its title suggests, a bizarro sequel to the blood-soaked Shakespeare tragedy. But as always, the setting of a Mac play is just a springboard for a unique and often jaw-dropping exploration of a range of hot-button themes and topics. Oakland Theater Project is presenting the West Coast premiere of the show, directed by Emilie Whelan.

Details: Through Oct. 1; FLEX Art & Design building, 1501 Martin Luther King Jr., Drive, Oakland; $28-$55; show will be live-streamed Sept. 23 and available on Video on Demand Sept. 24-Oct. 1 ($15-$25); oaklandtheaterproject.org.

The Marsh: The theater company that grew out of a performance series and now operates venues in San Francisco in Berkeley is known for its solo and small-group productions. Current productions include Wayne Harris’ historical/civil rights-themed show “Train Stories” (through Sept. 29; Marsh Berkeley; $25-$100); and Brian Copeland’s heartfelt solo show “Grandma and Me” (through Oct. 20; Marsh Berkeley; $25-$100). Copeland also performs his autobiographical work focusing on depression, “The Wait Period,” at noon on Sept. 17. Admission is free although visitors are invited to purchase reserve-seat tickets as a form of donation.

Details: Tickets and more information is at themarsh.org.

“Anna Christie”: Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1921 play centers on a woman who fights back against a patriarchal system that had forced her into a life of prostitution. The production is part of Danville’s Eugene O’Neill Festival.

Details: Through Sept. 23 in the Old Barn at the Tao House, Danville; $60. Note:  most tickets are sold out; eugeneoneill.org.

“Cruel Intentions”: Ray of Light Theatre, which specializes in unusual adaptations and musical productions, presents this 2015 musical based on the 1999 cult favorite film about high school sexual politics. The book is by Roger Kumble, who created the movie. The show is jam-packed with such iconic ’90s tunes as “Bittersweet Symphony,” “Bye Bye Bye” “Candy” and “Genie in a Bottle.”

Details: Through Oct. 1; Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., San Francisco; $20-$70; www.rayoflighttheatre.com.