Best bets for Bay Area stages: New works, Broadway hits and outdoor productions highlight 2012’s summer theater season 

click to enlarge ‘War Horse:’ Produced by Britain’s National Theatre in 2007, “War Horse” galloped from London to New York. It won six 2011 Tony Awards, including best play. Based on Michael Morpurgo’s book (which also inspired the film version) and featuring life-size puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company, the World War I story of a boy and his horse makes its much-anticipated San Francisco debut in August. - [Aug. 2-Sept. 9. $35-$150. Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., S.F., (888) 746-1799, - www.shnsf.com] - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • ‘War Horse:’ Produced by Britain’s National Theatre in 2007, “War Horse” galloped from London to New York. It won six 2011 Tony Awards, including best play. Based on Michael Morpurgo’s book (which also inspired the film version) and featuring life-size puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company, the World War I story of a boy and his horse makes its much-anticipated San Francisco debut in August.[Aug. 2-Sept. 9. $35-$150. Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., S.F., (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com]

‘Bruja’

Playwright Luis Alfaro, whose gripping “Oedipus el Rey” won awards at the Magic Theatre in 2010, returns to Greek tragedy with a new take on Euripedes’ “Medea.” Magic Theatre’s artistic director, Loretta Greco, stages this world premiere based on the myth about a vengeful wife and mother driven to commit an unspeakable crime.

[May 24-June 24. $30-$75. Magic Theatre, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F., (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org]

 ‘The Tempest’

California Shakespeare Theater launches its summer season with Shakespeare’s late-life romance set on a faraway island. Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone directs the production, which features Broadway and TV vet Michael Winters (“The Gilmore Girls”) as Prospero and members of the Margaret Jenkins and Deborah Slater dance companies as the island’s sprites.

[May 30-June 24. $35-$71. Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda, (510) 548-9666, www.calshakes.org]

‘American Idiot’

Set to a vibrant score by the Bay Area’s own Green Day, “American Idiot” got its start at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and rocked all the way to Broadway. The award-winning musical comes home for a limited run in the Best of Broadway series.

[June 12-July 8. $55-$200. Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market St., S.F., (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com]

‘Wheelhouse’

TheatreWorks builds on its stellar reputation for new works with “Wheelhouse,” a musical starring the pop-rock trio GrooveLily. The group’s members — founder Valerie Vigoda along with cohorts Brendan Milburn and Gene Lewin — play (what else?) a trio of traveling tunesmiths touring the country in a Winnebago. Lisa Peterson directs the show, which marks TheatreWorks’ 60th world premiere.

[June 6-July 1. $19-$69. Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View, (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org]

‘Risk Is This’

Cutting Ball Theater is always edgy, but expect the company to push the envelope a little further with its New Experimental Plays Festival. “Risk Is This” includes new works by Christopher Chen and Anthony Clarvoe, and a series of Strindberg chamber plays in new translations by Paul Walsh.

[June 8-July 14. Free general seating, $20 reserved. Cutting Ball Theater at EXIT on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., S.F., (415) 525-1205, www.cuttingball.com]

‘Emotional Creature’

Eve Ensler, the force behind “The Vagina Monologues,” returns with a world premiere for and about young women. Written by Ensler and staged by Jo Bonney, with music by Charl-Johan Lingenfelder, this evening of songs and monologues performed by a youthful cast promises revelations and plenty of girl power.

[June 14-July 15. $14.50-$73. Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley, (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org]

‘Salomania’

The brilliant playwright-director Mark Jackson, who staged Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” at the Aurora in 2006, returns with a world premiere. Jackson links the Salome legend to the story of Maud Allan, a San Francisco native who sparked a media firestorm in Europe during the early 1900s by performing her own sensational version of the “dance of the seven veils.”

[June 15-July 22. $30-$55. Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley, (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org]

‘The Scottsboro Boys’

Broadway hitmakers Kander and Ebb (“Cabaret,” “Chicago”) based their latest musical on a shameful episode in U.S. history. In 1931, nine black teenagers were convicted of raping two white girls on a freight train in Alabama; the youths, ages 13 to 19, spent years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. American Conservatory Theater presents the Bay Area premiere of the 2010 show, which features a book by David Thompson, stage direction by Tony Award-winner Susan Stroman and acclaimed actor Hal Linden in the role of the Interlocutor.

[June 21-July 15. $22-$95. ACT, 415 Geary St., S.F., (415) 749-2228. www.act-sf.org]

Free stuff!

San Francisco Shakespeare presents its 30th season of free Shakespeare in the parks with “Henry V,” featuring Craig Marker in the title role, and performances in San Francisco, Redwood City, Pleasanton and Cupertino; visit www.sfshakes.org for details. And The City’s own San Francisco Mime Troupe opens “The Last Election” at 2 p.m. July 4 in Dolores Park, with repeat performances around the Bay Area; visit www.sfmt.org for more.

About The Author

Georgia Rowe

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