Outdoor theater is back in the Bay Area – here’s a recap

Outdoor theater in the Bay Area is back (mostly) this summer and as diverse as ever, from Shakespeare in the park to musicals on the mountaintop.

There are new works ranging from the San Francisco Mime Troupe’s agitprop musical comedy to We Players’ site-specific show about a lighthouse keeper. There are circus acts, a crazy Lord of the Rings adaptation and multiple same-sex versions of Romeo and Juliet.

The parks, wineries and amphitheaters offer enough outdoor entertainment that just about everyone can find something to enjoy.

Remember, it’s a good idea to check a venue’s latest health and safety protocols before attending a show. Also note that some outdoor theaters can be downright sparkling at sunset; dress appropriately.

Actors company from Berkeley

From where: John Hinkel Park Amphitheatre, 41 Somerset Place, Berkeley

On stage: “Fortinbras,” a comedy described as “what happens after Hamlet” from July 2-17.

Tickets: Free; www.aeofberkeley.org

The facility: Open seating in the amphitheater with small cushions and food and drink for purchase.

old theatre

From where: Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, off Hwy 24, Orinda

On stage: “Pure Native,” new track by Vickie Ramirez; 15-24 July

Tickets: prices according to scales; www.altertheater.org.

Configuration: Amphitheater seating with refreshments available.

California Shakespeare Theater

From where: Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, off Hwy 24, Orinda

On stage: “Romeo y Julia”, bilingual adaptation by Karen Zacarías, May 25 – June 19; “Lear,” Modern Translation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” by Marcus Gardley, Sept. 7-Oct. 2.

Tickets: $30-$70; 510-548-9666, www.calshakes.org

Configuration: Reserved chair seating with blankets available and a good selection of food and beverages available for purchase.

Circus Bella will be bringing its high-flying circus show to several Bay Area parks this summer. (Daisy Rose Coby/Circus Bella)

Circus Bella

From where: The touring production will visit various parks in the Bay Area

On stage: “Flip * Flop * Fly *”, June 16-July 17 (additional performances may be added).

Tickets: Free; www.circusbella.org

Configuration: open lawn seating; Picnic blankets or low folding chairs are welcome but not provided.

curtain theater

From where: Old Mill Park Amphitheater, 375 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley

On stage: “Two Gentlemen from Verona”, Aug. 13-Sept. 5

Tickets: Free; www.curtaintheatre.org

Configuration: Open seating on chairs and benches in a shady grove of redwoods behind the Mill Valley Public Library; a few refreshments available for purchase.

The mountain game

From where: Cushing Memorial Amphitheater, Mount Tamalpais State Park, Mill Valley

On stage: “Hello, Dolly!”, May 22 to June 11

Tickets: $25-$185; 415-383-1100, www.mountainplay.org

Configuration: Early afternoon performances in a sunny historic amphitheater high atop Mount Tamalpais with floor seating; a variety of refreshments are available for purchase; very limited parking, shuttle service available.

The Peripatetic Players

From where: Production tour visiting various parks in the Bay Area.

On stage: “The Lord of the Rings in a Suitcase: The Two-Part Trilogy (The Extended Edition)”, Satire on “The Lord of the Rings”, 16-31. July.

Tickets: Free; www.peripateticplayers.org

Configuration: Open lawn seating, blankets and food are welcome but not provided.

Plethos Productions is performing Once on This Island June 3-12 at Twining Vine Winery in the Castro Valley. (Cathy Breslow/Plethos Productions)

Plethos productions

On stage: Once on This Island, June 3-12 at Twining Vine Winery, 16851 Cull Canyon Road, Castro Valley; “Tiny Beautiful Things” 16-25. September at Heirloom East Bay, 9990 Crow Canyon Road, Castro Valley

Tickets: $15-$20; www.plethos.org

Configuration: open lawn picnic seating and row seating; Refreshments available for purchase.

Alicia MP Nelson, left, and Keiko Shimosato Carreiro star in ‘Back to the Way Things Were,’ the political satire from San Francisco Mime Troupe which is touring this summer. (David Allen/San Francisco Mime Troupe)

Mime troupe from San Francisco

From where: Production tour at various parks in the Bay Area

On stage: “Back to the Old Run”, political satire; July 2-Sept. 5.

Tickets: Free; 415-285-1717, www.sfmt.org

Configuration: Open lawn seating, blankets and food are welcome but not provided.

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

From where: Touring production at parks in Cupertino, Redwood City and San Francisco.

On stage: “Much Ado About Nothing,” July 23-Sept. 11

Tickets: Free; 415-558-0888, www.sfshakes.org

Configuration: Open seating on lawns, with blankets and low chairs welcome but nonexistent; Basic refreshments available for purchase.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare

From where: The Grove at DeLaveaga Park, 501 Upper Park Road, Santa Cruz

On stage: “The Formula,” world premiere inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” July 15-Aug. 28; “Twelfth Night,” July 15-Aug. 28; “The Tempest”, July 28th – 8th 27 “Enslaver’s Isle”, August 17th and 23rd.

Tickets: $24-$64; 831-460-6399, www.santacruzshakespeare.org

Configuration: Seating is a mix of reserved benches and chairs and general floor seating, with ceiling and low chairs available for hire. Paid parking available.

Silicon Valley Shakespeare

From where: Willow Street Park, 1320 Willow St., San Jose, and Sanborn County Park, 16055 Sanborn Road, Saratoga

On stage: Romeo and Juliet, June 3-19 at Willow Street Park; “Measure for Measure,” July 29-Sept. 2 at Sanborn Park; “Sense and Sensibility,” Aug. 5-Sept. 4 in Willow Street Park.

Tickets: Shows at Willow Street Park are free; Sanborn Park shows $20 to $50, free for children 17 and under accompanied by a paying adult; 408-289-1901, www.svshakespeare.org.

Configuration: General seating, on the floor in San Jose and in folding chairs in Saratoga; Basic discount possible.

Sonoma Shakespeare Avalon players

From where: Buena Vista Winery, 18000 Old Winery Road, Sonoma

On stage: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, 3.-14. August

Tickets: $20-$35; www.sonomashakespeare.com

Configuration: Performed in a picturesque fountain courtyard in a historic winery.

SPARC Theater

From where: Darcie Kent Vineyards, 7000 Tesla Road, Livermore

On stage: The 39 Steps, June 23-July 10, Life Is a Cabernet (musical revue), June 26-July 31, The Comedy of Errors, July 15-August 8. 7

Tickets: $18-$56; 925-443-2273, www.sparctheater.org

Configuration: Formerly the Livermore Valley Shakespeare Festival; Performances on a vineyard lawn with reserved seating and refreshments.

Theater Rhino

Where: Salesforce Park, 425 Mission St., San Francisco

On stage: “Macbeth”, 28th-30th May

Tickets: Free; www.therhino.org

Configuration: An itinerant production that runs through the rooftop park at the Salesforce Transit Center.

Theater group Transcendence

From where: Jack London State Historic Park, 2400 Jack London Road, Glen Ellen

On stage: Let’s Dance (Broadway-themed musical revue), June 17-July 3; “Hooray for Hollywood” (musical revue); 29 Jul-Aug 14; “The Gala” (music revue), 9.-18. Sept

Tickets: $25-$165; 877-424-1414, transcendencetheatre.org

Configuration: reserved seating; Refreshments available for purchase and home picnics welcome.

Vallejo Shakespeare in the park

From where: Parks in Vallejo, Benicia, Martinez and Oakland

On stage: “Much Ado About Nothing,” July 30-Aug

Tickets: Free; www.vallejoshakespeare.org

Configuration: outdoor seating on the floor; Basic refreshments available for purchase.

We players

From where: Alameda Point, 950 West Mall Square, Alameda

On stage: “The Keeper,” comedy-drama about a lonely lighthouse keeper; May 27 – June 26

Tickets: $20-$60; www.weplayers.org

Configuration: open seating; layered clothing recommended.

Woodminster Amphitheater will be back up and running this summer with three musical productions beginning in June.  (Stephen Woo/Woodminster Summer Musicals)
Woodminster Summer Musicals returns to live shows with three productions from June. (Stephen Woo/Woodminster Summer Musicals)

Woodminster Summer Musicals

Where: Woodminster Amphitheater, Joaquin Miller Park, 3300 Joaquin Miller Road, Oakland

On Stage: “Something Rotten,” Oct. 10-19 June, “Man of La Mancha”, 8-17. July, “On Your Feet!” 5-14 August.

Tickets: $35-$77; 510-531-9597, www.woodminster.com

Configuration: Reserved seating and refreshments available for purchase; Use metered parking or walk up a long flight of stairs from street parking.

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