New York playwright Kim Rosenstock hits San Francisco with gusto 

Playwright Kim Rosenstock is a rising star in the American theater scene, and local audiences are about to get a double shot of her unique brand of comedy-drama.

With two of her shows going into production in the Bay Area, the New York-based Rosenstock has just arrived for a busy schedule of rehearsals, previews and openings.

First up is Rosenstock’s play “Tigers Be Still,” making its West Coast premiere Saturday at the San Francisco Playhouse under the direction of Amy Glazer. Then in July, TheatreWorks presents the world premiere of “Fly By Night,” a musical co-written by Rosenstock, Will Connolly and Michael Mitnick. Bill Fennelly directs.

“Tigers,” which had its first performance in New York last year, is ready to go, Rosenstock said in a recent phone call. “Fly By Night,” developed at TheatreWorks, is still very much “a work in progress.”

Set during New York’s legendary 1965 blackout, the musical follows a group of characters on the cusp of life-changing choices. Rosenstock said she, Connolly and Mitnick — who met while attending the Yale School of Drama — wanted to write about “ordinary lives that become extraordinary.”

“It’s the idea that there’s great adventure — and great romance — in everyone’s life,” she said.

Because it’s a musical, she said, each character has a “real attachment” to music.

Connolly said the indie score incorporates “traditional rock ’n’ roll themes, in the classic rock, even paranormal, Pink Floyd or Radiohead vein.”

Connolly and Rosenstock said the process of writing “Fly By Night” was unusual — instead of dividing duties between music, book and lyrics, all three writers worked on each aspect of the show.  

For Rosenstock, who is accustomed to writing alone, the collaboration was thrilling.  

“It’s so great to have other people around to rely on for brains, eyes and ears,” she said. “It’s a lot less lonely.”

Critics across the country have praised Rosenstock’s ability to blend light and serious themes — The New York Times called “Tigers Be Still” a “quirk-addicted but heartfelt comedy” — and the playwright said “Fly By Night” has some of both.  

“It’s a bittersweet story,” she said. “Those are the kinds of stories I like to tell. I do believe there’s nothing like laughing with a group of people at the same thing.

“But there’s also nothing quite as satisfying as creating characters you can really invest in. Hopefully we’ll have that mix.”


Tigers Be Still

Presented by the SF Playhouse

Where: 533 Sutter St., San Francisco

When: Previews 8 p.m. today-Friday; opens 8 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays; 3 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; closes July 30

Tickets: $30 to $50

Contact: (415) 677-9596,

Fly by Night

Presented by TheatreWorks

Where: Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

When: Previews 8 p.m. July 13-15; opens 8 p.m. July 16; 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays; closes Aug. 13

Tickets: $19 to $69

Contact: (650) 463-1960,

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Georgia Rowe

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