January 15, 2021
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The Play’s the thing in Sonoma County

By: Janet and Lanny Lowery
November 9, 2018

We are blessed with so many choices of local performances, especially in Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Santa Rosa. Summertime performances of Shakespeare outdoors and the Summer Repertory Theatre at Santa Rosa Junior College provide theater lovers with a full menu of dramatic choices. Community theatre also prospers during the other three seasons and this year’s exciting offerings will fill weekends of entertainment until school ends.

Rohnert Park’s Spreckels Performing Arts Center, as always, takes on traditional as well as modern presentations. The Tailor of Gloucester, which opens Nov. 23 and continues through Dec. 16, is a musical based on Beatrix Potter characters. Serious and dark, but also filled with comedic comments and observations, one of the world’s greatest dramas, William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, runs from Feb. 1 through Feb. 17. Modern drama, the everyman story developed by Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, arrives March 29 in the form of a middle class get-together on a deck of a very modest suburban home. Three couples demonstrate inadequacies and neuroses through their interpersonal squabbles in Barbeque Apocalpse. The season ends on a light and musical note with the production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella being performed between May 10 and May 20. Spreckels offers something for everyone.

Cinnabar Theater’s 46th season provides similar diversity in its productions. Beginning Dec. 14 and running through Jan. 6, 2019, Love Linda the Life of Mrs. Cole Porter presents the great songs of Cole Porter and the story telling by his beautiful and captivating wife. Underneath the Lintel follows with a comedic tale of a reclusive librarian’s quest to find the borrower of a book that’s 113 years overdue. This light-hearted story begins Feb. 1, 2019, and runs through Feb. 17. A Perfect Ganesh invites the audience to join plain middle-aged friends as they tour India, March 29-April 14. Keeping in its fine musical tradition, Cinnabar closes its season with The Barber of Seville, June 7 through June 23, when a savvy young woman must outsmart a pompous old lecher who stands between her and her true love. Music, psychology, and comedy highlight Cinnabar’s season.

6th Street Playhouse, another great Sonoma County venue, plans to serve up eight wonderful productions between Nov. and June. Annie, billed as the perfect holiday musical for the whole family, follows Little Orphan Annie from poverty to riches while the performance will have everyone singing “Tomorrow,” “Maybe,” and “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from Nov. 23 through Dec. 16. Another season-appropriate but not a traditional Christmas tale, the 12 Dates of Christmas, a one woman show, follows Mary, a thirty something actress who sees her fiancé’ making out with a co-worker and then spends the next year moving through the single life in New York City. Critics have found the play to be hilarious, realistic, and hopeful.

Ken Ludwig, best known for his fast paced Lend Me a Tenor, packs more situational comedy, sexual innuendo and old school slapstick in Moon Over Buffalo, a play which opens Jan. 11 and runs through Feb. 3. A Streetcar Named Desire, the classic American drama, begins Jan. 25 and finishes Feb. 17. Want to be at a seminal moment in rock and roll? Want to see Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash meet in a recording studio on Dec. 4, 1956? Don’t miss this impromptu jam session when Million Dollar Quartet begins Feb. 22nd and ends in mid- March. From four great rock and roll male musicians, the 6th Street moves to four beautiful, badass females in a comedy, The Revolutionists set during the French Revolution, these women, involved in violence, feminism and terrorism, Marie Antoinette and her girlfriends try to change the world. Between April 26 and May 12, everyone’s favorite twentieth century American novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, takes the stage. The season ends with another courtroom drama, Faceless, which has two young women face off in tense psychological moments. Faceless runs from May 17 through June 2 which caps a very diverse and challenging season for 6th Street Playhouse.

Of course, Santa Rosa Junior College’s Theater Arts Program presents high quality productions throughout the year. This month Shrek the Musical opens a week before Thanksgiving and closes on Dec. 2nd. All the Great Books premieres in March offering a whirlwind ninety-eight-minute spin through great literature. A reprisal of Jesus Christ Superstar, timely scheduled for April and May, will have audiences replaying “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” in their heads all spring. The Spring Dance Concert will close the season during the first weekend in May. The junior college’s program spans dancing, musicals, great literature and even popular animation.

Local audiences, blessed with these twenty shows, need travel no further than Petaluma, Santa Rosa or Rohnert Park to find great entertainment. No bridge toll, no parking fee and not much driving hassle, twenty fine shows await spectators of all ages.