Get thee to a show to see outdoor theater this summer 

Dancing boys, singing Shakespeare and women dressed as men dressed as donkeys — it’s all business as usual on Bay Area stages. The summer months bring a bountiful bevy of outdoor productions, even though the weather doesn’t always cooperate. Fog can chill the air as often as the sun warms it, so be prepared.

2012 — The Musical!

It’s the end of the world as we know it … again.

Raptures come and go, but the buzz about 2012 being the end of the line persists. So why not turn a potential doomsday into a show-tune opportunity?

Leave it to the San Francisco Mime Troupe to find political rants, zany comedy and catchy tunes in the demise of the human race. It’s mass distraction at its best, and it’s touring Bay Area parks all summer in a free production that cries out for organic lunches and fists in the air.

If we’re all going down, at least we’re going down singing.  

  • July 2- Sept. 25
  • Free
  • Bay Area parks
  • (415) 285-1717


The Verona Project

There’s no shortage of Shakespeare this summer, but for modern twists on classic texts, the choices are slimmer.

Director Amanda Dehnert is taking a minor Shakespeare comedy, “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” and turning it into a unique hybrid of play and concert featuring eight actors playing three times as many instruments.

At last we’ll have an answer to the age-old question: Can Shakespeare really rock?

  • July 6-31
  • $35-$66
  • California Shakespeare Theater’s Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda
  • (510) 548-9666


Lend Me a Tenor

Livermore Shakespeare Festival has one of the more interesting summer seasons.

The company’s Shakespeare production is the dark, wicked “Macbeth,” but running in repertory with the murderous king and queen is a rollicking farce set in the highbrow world of opera.

Ken Ludwig’s “Lend Me a Tenor,” complete with pratfalls and slamming doors, is just the right show for anyone who’d rather laugh under the stars than cower amid tragedy.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In Shakespeare’s day, women were not allowed on the stage, so men had to don wigs and bosoms.

Woman’s Will, the all-female Shakespearean troupe, is making up for lost time.

Ladies play all the parts, so in this summer’s show, that means Oberon, king of the fairies, and Bottom, the weaver who becomes an ass, will likely be prettier than usual.

Director Victoria Evans Erville is setting the show in the swingin’ ’60s, so this “Dream” will bring a little psychedelic free love (family friendly, of course) to parks in the East Bay and San Francisco — McLaren Park on Aug. 20-21 and Dolores Park, Aug. 27-28.  


Twelfth Night

For Shakespeare lovers with a sense of adventure, AtmosTheatre audiences hike through redwoods to get to the performance, and are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy before the show.

Stuart Bousel’s take on the bittersweet comedy, set in Colonial New England, features weathered, heartbroken adult lovers seeking to end the love games and settle down into real happiness.

The Complete History of America (abridged)

Reduced Shakespeare Company, the guys who turned a parenthetical (abridged) into an empire are attacking America.

Well, not attacking, but throwing themselves headlong into history.What Adam Long, Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor did with the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible, they’re now doing to 235 years of American history.

Expect zany, irreverent comedy as actors Darren Bridgett, Cassidy Brown and Mick Mize ponder questions about why Lincoln really freed the slaves and who really discovered America.

It’s all part of the Marin Shakespeare season performed in a lovely amphitheater on a beautiful campus.

  • July 22-Sept. 25
  • $15-$35
  • Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University of California, San Rafael
  • (415) 499-4488



Plot doesn’t come much thicker than it does in this rarely produced Shakespeare play.

Stolen children, faked adultery, women pretending to be men, ghostly appearances and more disguises than a Marx Brothers convention — it all factors into this wild tale of love, deception and heated battle.

All the twists and turns lead to the question: Can Imogen ever marry Posthumus, her true love? And you thought “Days of Our Lives” was complicated.

This free San Francisco Shakespeare Festival production tours Bay Area Parks; performances in The City are weekends in September at the Presidio’s Main Post parade ground lawn.  

  • July 23-Sept. 25
  • Free
  • Pleasanton, Cupertino, San Francisco
  • (415) 558-0888

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Chad Jones

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