Fall Preview: Old favorites, new works take to the stage 

The Bay Area theater scene is shifting into high gear as companies large and small launch their 2013-14 seasons with offerings spanning award-winning comedies and searing dramas, tuneful musicals and Shakespearean romances. New works, as always, play a key role. Read on for the season's hottest tickets.

Other Desert Cities

TheatreWorks kicks off the fall season with Jon Robin Baitz's incisive drama about long-held secrets surfacing at a Palm Springs family reunion. Richard Seer directs. [Saturday through Sept. 15. $19-$73. Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Mountain View, (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org]

After the Revolution

The limits of family allegiance are tested when a young woman discovers revelations about her blacklisted grandfather in this new play by Amy Herzog ("4,000 Miles") staged by Joy Carlin. [Aug. 30-Sept. 29. $32-$60. Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org]

Buried Child

Sam Shepard and the Magic Theatre have been inextricably linked since the playwright introduced his early dramas there. The company opens its season with a revival of one of his finest, "Buried Child," staged by artistic director Loretta Greco. [Sept. 11-Oct. 6. $20-$60. Magic Theatre, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F.; (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org]

1776

The Founding Fathers sing, dance and set the course of America. American Conservatory Theater presents the Sherman Edwards-Peter Stone musical in a spiffy new staging by director Frank Galati. [Sept. 11-Oct. 6. $20-$140. ACT, 415 Geary St., S.F., (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org]

Cabaret

Broadway by the Bay presents the John Kander-Fred Ebb-Joe Masteroff classic about tumultuous times in Berlin at the Kit Kat Klub as the 1920s close and a new era begins. [Sept. 13-Sept. 29. $35-$55. Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City; (650) 579-5565, www.broadwaybythebay.org]

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

The absurd comic genius of Christopher Durang takes center stage in this rollicking homage to Chekhov. It is a Tony Award winner for best play of 2013. [Sept. 20-Oct. 20. $29-$89. Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org]

Beautiful

Expect the Broadway-bound musical based on the life of Carole King to come well-stocked with the acclaimed singer-songwriter's greatest hits. [Sept. 24-Oct. 20. Tickets available to SHN subscribers only. Curran Theatre, 445 Geary St., S.F.; (888) 746-1799, www.shnsf.com]

A Winter's Tale

Patricia McGregor, whose vibrant staging of "Spunk" was the hit of Cal Shakes' 2012 season, returns to direct a new production of Shakespeare's magical late-life romance. [Sept. 25-Oct. 20. $20-$72. Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda; (510) 548-9666, www.calshakes.org]

Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo

In Rajiv Joseph's surreal and affecting drama, a tiger haunts the streets of war-torn Baghdad seeking the meaning of life. [Oct. 1-Nov. 16. $40 and up. San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post St., S.F.; (415) 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org]

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman!

42nd Street Moon celebrates The Man of Steel's 75th birthday with the musical by Charles Strouse-Lee Adams, creators of "Annie" and "Applause." Lucas Coleman appears in the title role and Jen Brooks plays Lois Lane. [Oct. 2-20. $25-$75. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., S.F. (415) 255-8207, www.42ndStMoon.org]

I & You

The poems of Walt Whitman spark an alliance between two seemingly incompatible students in this world premiere by San Francisco playwright Lauren Gunderson. [Oct. 10-Nov. 3. $20-$58. Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org]

Once Upon a Dream

A hybrid of rock concert and Broadway show, the production marks the first time the original members of the pop-rock band the Rascals — known for hits such as "Good Lovin'," "Lonely Too Long" and "Groovin'" — have played together since 1970. [8 p.m. Oct. 11-Oct. 12. $65-$350. Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F.; (888) 929-7849, www.axs.com]

Sidewinders

Cutting Ball Theater launches its 15th season with the world premiere of Basil Kreimendahl's absurdist comedy on gay and transgender themes. [Oct. 18-Nov. 17. $10-$50. Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor St., S.F.; (415) 525-1205, www.cuttingball.com]

Driving Miss Daisy

Veteran actor L. Peter Callender reprises his role in Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama in the African American Shakespeare Company production, originally staged by Scott Fryer for Diablo Actors' Ensemble. [Nov. 2-Nov. 17. $10-$35. Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton St., S.F.; (800) 838-3006, www.african-americanshakes.org]

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Georgia Rowe

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