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The San Francisco theatre scene is one of the most vibrant and experimental in the country. With the Bay Area's liberal-friendly freedom, relished diversity and Pacific Rim influences, San Francisco theatre companies are the gateway to so many new fusions of art forms. So don't drag you feet--drag your butt to a San Francisco theater and get inspired. Find out about what San Francisco has to offer in the Arts and Theater. So much to see so little time.Travel to the San Francisco Theater Disctrict to find out more about San Francisco Theater. The San Francisco theater details below provide information on several performance theatres.
Actor's Theatre of San Francisco
533 Sutter St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.296.9179
The Actor's Theatre of San Francisco was formed in 1989 by a collective of writers, directors and actors who wished to stage quality ensemble pieces dealing with the human condition. The reparatory that resulted has debuted works by Eric Bogosian and David Mamet, while constantly exploring the classic plays of Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee and Arthur Miller.
American Conservatory Theatre
415 Geary St., San Francisco CA 94109; Tel. 415.729.2ACT
Average Ticket Price: $16-$66
American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) is San Francisco 's flagship theatre and boasts a national reputation. Going to the newly restored, post-earthquake Geary Theatre between Taylor and Mason is a grand affair and can easily be a dress-up occasion on a Friday or Saturday night. The American Conservatory Theatre does British comedies extremely well, but the acting is pretty white bread. This is great San Francisco theatre to impress the folks with. Good seats are expensive, parking is a drag, but performance art patrons really get the theatre experience. The American Conservatory Theatre seats 1000.
San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center
401 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
The San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, one of the largest performing arts centers in the United States, covers seven and one-half acres in San Francisco 's Civic Center Historic District. Opera, symphony, modern and classical dance, theatre, recitals, plays, lectures, meetings, receptions, special screenings and gala events all have a place at the Center. Each of the Center's facilities is unique and has special characteristics that enhance every event.
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
99 Grove Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Complementing its aesthetic charm, Civic Auditorium has long been recognized for its versatility. Whether your event is a corporate meeting, sporting event, concert or tradeshow, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium offers a unique versatility unparalleled anywhere in the Bay Area. San Francisco 's Civic Auditorium is a landmark in the Civic Center neighborhood, San Francisco 's special events district. The Civic Center neighborhood is located on Market Street halfway between the city's downtown Financial District and the stylish Castro neighborhood. Civic Center is a short distance from the Union Square neighborhood. Civics' immediate surroundings include beautiful buildings of classic proportions and exciting contemporary structures in a lively, urban setting. Illustrious neighbors include the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, the War Memorial Opera House, the New Main Library, the Asian Art Museum and San Francisco City Hall.
445 Geary St., San Francisco CA 94115; Tel. 415.551.2000
After extensive renovations in 1993 - made to accommodate the five year engagement of Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega hit musical, The Phantom of the Opera - the Curran Theatre continues to thrive under the direction of Carole Shorenstein Hays and Scott E. Nederlander. Their Best of Broadway series brings the highest quality musical theatre productions and award-winning plays to the Bay Area. Over the years, Best of Broadway subscribers have enjoyed everything from the Tony Award-winning play Fences to the spectacular historical musical Les Miserables. This year the Curran Theatre will host the 2001 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play Proof in its first stop on its North American Tour. Not merely a memory or a monument, the Curran is still what it was intended to be - a living piece of history and enjoyment in San Francisco.
215 Jackson St., San Francisco CA 94111; Tel. 415.788.1125
Recently revived and refurbished, the Eureka Theater concentrates on drama and discovery. In its original incarnation Bay Area audiences were introduced to "Angels in America " by Larry Kramer, as well as the works of David Mamet, Dario Fo and Anna Deavor. With the renovation finally complete, the theater crowd has ecstatically embraced it again.
156 Eddy St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.931.1094
The experimental EXIT theatre in San Francisco has a Bohemian flare, often serving as a launching board for successful, larger productions. Unlike many San Francisco theaters, the EXIT is neither stuffy nor staid, and has more in common with the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival than it does "Phantom of the Opera."
Golden Gate Theater
1 Taylor Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
In 1922, when the Golden Gate Theatre first opened, its president Martin Beck stated, "The Golden Gate is a good theatre. It will stand where it is for a long time. It is built of the best materials and it will be conducted to please the people who patronize it." On March 22, 1922, the Golden Gate Theater opened with much fanfare, including lines that wrapped around the block. Protocol necessitated that gentlemen wear top hats and that ladies be dressed in formal gowns when attending the Golden Gate. The grand opening was a highlight on the social calendar in San Francisco. As a key player in the Best of Broadway seasons since 1979, the Golden Gate Theatre has hosted show-stopping musicals like A Chorus Line, which re-opened the theatre on December 27, 1979 followed by Camelot with Richard Burton, Sweeney Todd with Angela Lansbury, My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison, Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Woman of the Year with Lauren Bacall, 42nd Street, Cabaret, Zorba with Anthony Quinn, Fiddler on the Roof with Topol, Stomp, Grease, Tap Dogs, Chicago and Rent, among many more. A theatre with a grand and complicated past has survived numerous renovations and uses to emerge as a house full of theatrical memories.
401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco CA 94115; Tel. 415.621.6600
Performances at the Herbst Theatre, located within walking distance of San Francisco City Hall, the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Symphony, have some stiff competition. Undaunted, the theater lures first-class classical musicians in search of a more personal performance space.
Intersection for the Arts
446 Valencia (at 15th St.), San Francisco CA 94103; Tel. 415.626.2787
A crossroads for San Francisco's performance art and one of the oldest alternative art spaces in San Francisco, Intersection for the Arts is a community-based showcase for new and experimental works of literature, music, theatre and more.
Fort Mason Center, Building D, Third Floor, San Francisco CA 94123; Tel. 415.441.8822
Average Ticket Price: $22-$37
Magic Theatre, around for nearly three decades, is dedicated to new plays and got its reputation from producing Sam Shepard's premieres, namely True West, Fool for Love and Buried Child, all of which are now in the canon of American post-modern dramatic literature. The Magic still puts up some intriguing new works, but it's always good advice to read the reviews before calling the Box Office. Also, the Magic has a beautiful view from Fort Mason of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay, free parking in a big lot, although the theatre is relatively inaccessible by public transport. The Magic has two theatres: North is a proscenium, South is a Thrust.
Marines Memorial Theatre
609 Sutter St., Suite 200, San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.771.6900
Few San Francisco theater venues have as rich a history as the Marines Memorial Theater in downtown San Francisco. As the sometime home for the renowned Actor's Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.), the Marines Memorial Theatre has housed cutting-edge productions, including the debut of Larry Kramer's "Angels in America." Imogene Coca, Sir Ian McKellen, Charlene Tilton, David McCallum and Cyd Charisse have all graced the stage, as have the most reputable reparatory companies in the San Francisco Bay area.
New Conservatory Theatre Center
25 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.861.8972
A small San Francisco theatre near the San Francisco Opera and boasting a company that turns out first-rate productions.
1192 Market St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.551.2000
The Orpheum Theatre consistently debuts performances by national touring companies of successful Broadway shows. "Phantom of the Opera", "Cats," "Rent" and "The Lion King" have all made San Francisco 's flagship Orpheum Theatre their home.
Off-Market Theater & Studio
965 Mission St. (between 5th & 6th Sts.), #205 & 250, San Francisco CA; Tel. 415.896.6477
A new San Francisco theater just South of Market--don't mind the somewhat sordid stretch of SoMa, its surface degradation actually weeds out the mewly and fills nearby (pre- and post-theater) bars like Anu and Arrow with iconoclasts and adventurers. Off-Market's two spaces will show multimedia productions for their new January 2004 season and are ideal for smaller casts, improv acts, stand-up comedy and acoustic music groups.
Post Street Theatre
450 Post St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.362.9065
Refurbished as a playhouse for the whimsically avant-garde, the Post Street Theatre was originally built as as lodge and meeting hall for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Now a 729-seat theatre, the Post Street Theatre of San Francisco (PSTOSF) has premiered hit after hit, including Steve Martin's "Picasso At The Lapin Agile," "Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde," " Forever Tango," "Dame Edna: The Royal Tour" and most recently, Lily Tomlin in "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe."
Theatre on the Square
450 Post St., San Francisco CA 94102; Tel. 415.433.9500
The Theatre on the Square is one of San Francisco's favorite theaters, often mounting one-person productions headlined by stars in their twilight years. Caroll O'Connor, Bea Arthur and other touring types are sure to make their appearances at the Theatre on the Square.
2926 16th St., San Francisco CA 94103; Tel. 415.552.4140
Theatre Rhinoceros is the West Coast's premiere Gay and Lesbian theatre, and, though it's in a sleazy (albeit colorful) part of town, the Rhino is very accessible (a block from 16th St. BART station) and their new artistic director, John Fisher, is bringing plays that address life in San Francisco and the whole spectrum of sexual orientation instead of just breaking sexuality down into men's and women's categories. The Rhino is a true San Francisco treat, and de rigueur pilgrimage for the Queer set, but the productions are worthwhile for the straight set as well, simply because the humanistic plays are often heart-warming. The Theatre Rhinoceros rents their downstairs studio to other groups who put on some bare bones, if worthwhile, drama. The Theatre Rhinoceros seats 117 and the studio seats 54.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theatre
700 Howard St., San Francisco CA 94103; Tel. 415.978.2787
Like the intercultural Center which houses the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts Theatre, the nine-year-old newbie space in the Metreon complex is dedicated to bringing the best in the performing arts to the Bay Area. While its wide array productions makes it difficult to pigeon hole, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theatre boasts a terrific history of modern dancers and neo-classical musicians.
Marin Theatre Company
397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley CA 94941; Tel. 415.388.5200
Average Ticket Price: $28-$45
If you want to head across the Golden Gate Bridge, the North Bay theatre to see is Marin Theatre Company. Lee Sankowich runs a professional show in Mill Valley. The Marin Theatre Company seats 300. (Personalities plus: Remember television's L.A. Law? Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker will do a two-person show this season!)
Berkeley Repertory Theatre
2025 Addison St., Berkeley CA 94704; Tel. 510.647.2900
Average Ticket Price: $38-$54
The Berkeley Repertory Theatre won a Tony for best regional theatre, and this East Bay Theatre has the best show in the East Bay, bar none. The "Rep" is purely professional, with two theatres, parking garages for $5, great restaurants all around in the Berkeley 's new arts and business district and located just two blocks from the downtown Berkeley BART station. The actors are professional, theatre artists from around the country contribute and the Berkeley Rep's Artistic Director, Tony Taccone, is a master at play selection. This East Bay Theatre should be at the top of any theatre lover's list, and it is worth the trip across the Bay Bridge to catch a show. The Berkeley Rep's RODA Theatre seats 600 and the Rep's smaller Thrust Theatre seats 400.
2081 Addison St., Berkeley CA 94704; Tel. 510.843.4822
Average Ticket Price: $28-$38
Right next door to the Rep is a small house run by Barbara Oliver and Tom Ross, who run a close second to the Rep for being the best show in the Bay Area. Aurora Theatre does the classics well, Shaw in particular, while managing to successfully mix the well with modern pieces. For such an intimate space, the acting and direction are exemplary. The Aurora Theatre, along with the Berkeley Repertory, is a thinking person's theatre. After all, it is Berkeley. The Aurora Theatre seats 150.
Impact Theatre and the Shotgun Players
Average Ticket Price: $15-$20
Two little hotshot companies in Berkeley deserve mention: Impact Theatre and the Shotgun Players. They are hit-and-miss in productions and nomadic in place (sometimes in the 8th St. Studio below San Pablo, sometime in the Julia Morgan on College Ave., or in La Val's Pizzeria basement' where theatre patrons can eat and drink while watching a show). But, in all, these two East Bay theatre companies are adventuresome and showcase gifted production and talent. Read the reviews first, but these companies offer cheap tickets and sometimes present some of the best shows in town. Impact Theatre and the Shotgun Players productions seat around 100.
1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek CA 94596; Tel. 925.943.SHOW
Average Ticket Price: $25-$30
Two East Bay theatres, beyond Berkeley and Oakland, deserve mention. Walnut Creek 's Center Rep hires very good actors and directors (two Bay Area Critics Circle award winners are directing and acting in the Center Rep's current production of Pygmalion). Walnut Creek has grown up into a great place to party before and after a show, with lovely restaurants, chic shops, and the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts (the East Bay 's answer to the Lincoln Center ). Add to this the climactic fact that Walnut Creek has warm, beautiful evenings and suddenly the drive is even more worthwhile.
1975 Diamond Dr., Concord CA 94520; Tel. 925.798.1300
Average Ticket Price: $25-$30
Another East Bay Theatre, even further out than the Center Rep, is the Willows Theatre in Concord. Somehow Richard Elliott, the boy from West Virginia who heads it, keeps turning out excellent plays with a lot of support from the city. Willow Creek produces excellent musicals as well as hosting the outdoor John Muir Mountain Days Summer Festival. The Willow Theatre seats 300.
California Shakespeare Festival
Shakespeare Festival Way, Orinda CA 94563; Tel. 510.548.9666
Average Ticket Price: $13-$55
For summer in the East Bay, the California Shakespeare Festival is mandatory for all lovers of Shakespeare and the outdoors. Getting to be the best in the West for outdoor Shakespeare, the California Shakespeare Festival offers wonderful seating outside at the Bruns Amphitheatre. Even though it gets chilly at night, the buoyant festival atmosphere is warming. There is gourmet food available and many fans choose to bring a romantic picnic. Take the bridge to Route 24 toward Walnut Creek, go through the Caldecott Tunnel, and exit on Shakespeare Festival Way. For fans of the Bard, this is the place (they do other classics, as well). The Bruns Amphitheatre seats 545.
The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
3301 Lyon St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
The Palace was the last of the major buildings of Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915 to be started; construction began December 8, 1913. The original columns and Rotunda were framed in wood, and covered with "staff, a mixture of plaster and burlap-type fiber. It was the largest building ever to be made of that material. When the ashes of the Exposition were cleared, all that was left was the Palace of Fine Arts. Then, in the late 1950's, a group of dedicated citizens, led by philanthropist Walter S. Johnson, initiated a drive to rescue the Palace from planned demolition and restore it to its former glory. On July 20, 1964, a contract was awarded and the reconstruction began. Workers carefully removed original design elements from which molds were made. The rotunda, colonnade and all except the steel framework of the gallery were torn down and replaced with concrete castings. In September, 1967, work was completed of a stripped-down version of the original. The addition of the remaining original colonnades was completed in January, 1975 - a gift from Walter S. Johnson to the city and the people of San Francisco. The gallery area now houses the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre and the Exploratorium. The theatre, which seats 1,000 in a continental-style configuration, was added in 1970. The Palace of Fine Arts Theatre is operated by the Palace of Fine Arts League, Inc., a non-profit corporation.
Other San Francisco Theatres
Florence Gould Theatre
100 34th Ave. ( Lincoln Park ), San Francisco CA 94121; Tel. 415.750.3638
The Argent Hotel San Francisco
Chancellor Hotel on Union Square
Comfort Suites San Francisco Airport
Commodore Hotel, a Joie de Vivre Boutique Hotel
Hotel Cosmo, A Kimpton Boutique Hotel
Courtyard by Marriott Fishermans Wharf
San Francisco hotels