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    Fall Arts Preview: Late August–September


    Can You Dig It? – The 60s
    Through September 9
    The Marsh Arts Center
    2120 Allston Way

    Written, performed, produced and directed by Don Reed, this show rewinds to the 60s, going back to Reed’s formative “Stand by Me” years in an Oakland grammar school when his family was “whole.” (He shares that his father later became a pimp before his mother reluctantly became a Jehovah’s Witness.) Along the journey many wonderful, scary, amazing, unnecessary, cool, moving, unbelievably true stories unfolded. From the Beatles to the Black panthers, James Brown to the Jerk, MLK to JFK to KKK—come and see the 60s through the blinking eyes of an awkward kid who was just trying to fit in.

    The Homobiles
    August 26
    Elbo Room Jack London
    311 Broadway

    The queer party punk supergroup Homobiles sings songs about cars and babes, crimes and change, bathhouses and ballot measures. The band features Lynn Breedlove, who is the founder of the nonprofit LGBTIQQ ride service Homobiles ( Messy Lover and Side Pony will also perform.

    Mamma Mia!
    August 31–October 7
    Lesher Center for the Arts
    1601 Civic Drive
    Walnut Creek

    Based on the songs of ABBA, the play was first produced in 1999 at London’s West End, while its U.S. debut was staged in San Francisco in 2000. Subsequently, it has enjoyed multi-year runs on Broadway and internationally. The synopsis has been characterized as: “A mother. A daughter. Three possible dads. And a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget.”


    Sam Smith: The Thrill of It All Tour
    September 4
    Oracle Arena
    7000 Coliseum Way

    Born in Cambridgeshire, England, Smith studied vocals and songwriting in his teens under the mentorship of jazz vocalist Joanna Eden. His big break came at just 20, when he got the opportunity to collaborate with rising British electronic duo Disclosure on their breakout 2012 single “Latch,” a Top 10 U.K. hit and ubiquitous presence at clubs around the world. Smith’s vocal range and depth of tone have brought acclaim to this out and proud artist’s chart-topping singles and solo albums. Smith will be joined at Oracle Arena by special guest Beth Ditto.

    The Phantom of the Opera
    September 5–30
    HN Orpheum Theatre
    1192 Market Street
    San Francisco

    This production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic will feature new staging, scenic design, costume design, lighting design and choreography. Critics are calling it bigger and better than ever with a cast and orchestra of 52, one of the largest productions ever of Phantom. The production also includes new special effects and updates of the favorites, including the legendary chandelier.

    A Doll’s House – Part ll
    September 6–October 21
    Berkeley Rep – Roda Theatre
    2015 Addison Street

    Picking up where Ibsen’s classic A Doll’s House leaves off, Nora is back after 15 years. After leaving her husband, children and the nursemaid, she became a successful feminist novelist. Now she needs to finalize a divorce and needs her hopefully soon-to-be ex-husband’s help. As an examination of rules of society and gender, the Tony Award-nominated play by Lucas Hnath premiered in 2016 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, California, before going to Broadway in 2017.

    Anita Baker Farewell Concert Series
    September 7–8
    Paramount Theatre
    2025 Broadway

    Starting her career with the funk band Chapter 8, Anita Baker released her first solo album, The Songstress, in 1983. In 1986, she rose to stardom following the release of her platinum-selling second album, Rapture, which included the Grammy-winning single “Sweet Love.” She is acclaimed as one of the most popular vocalists of soulful romantic ballads, and played an integral part in helping to launch the “quiet storm” radio format of contemporary R&B. Her career spans over 3 decades and includes 8 Grammy awards, 4 American Music awards, 7 Soul Train awards, a B.E.T. Lifetime Achievement Award, 7 platinum albums and 6 world tours.

    Voices from the Edge
    September 7–22
    Theatre Rhinoceros at The Gateway Theatre
    The Gateway Theatre
    215 Jackson Street
    San Francisco

    This new work by Rhodessa Jones explores issues facing women of color who are incarcerated and/or living with HIV. The show is a world premiere commission developed by Theatre Rhinoceros and Cultural Odyssey/The Medea Project.

    Roberto Devereux
    September 8–27
    San Francisco Opera, War Memorial Opera House
    301 Van Ness Avenue
    San Francisco

    Anglophiles, Tudor era fans and lovers of Queen Elizabeth I will not want to miss this production of the tragic opera by Gaetano Donizetti with libretto by Salvadore Cammarano. First performed in Naples, Italy, in October of 1837, the play was popularized in the U.S. during the 20th Century with performances starring Placido Domingo and Beverly Sills at the New York City Opera. The cast for San Francisco Opera’s production features LGBT community members Russell Thomas as Devereux and Jamie Barton as Sara. (See the interview with Barton in this issue.)

    Linda Tillery’s 70th Birthday Extravaganza: The Blues and More
    September 8 and 9
    Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse
    2020 Addison Street

    LGBT community favorite Linda Tillery will host two nights of celebration at The Freight with special guests including the Cultural Heritage Choir, Venezuelan Music Project and more. Emcees will be comedian and actress Diane Amos (September 7) and Medea Project’s Rhodessa Jones (September 8). Tillery was an Olivia Records artist and producer, a founding member of Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra and is a Bay Area legend known for her exploration into the roots of the African American music experience.

    The Stylistics
    September 10
    Yoshi’s Oakland
    510 Embarcadero West

    The legendary group formed in Philadelphia in 1966 will bring its current show to Oakland at Yoshi’s. Their first album, The Stylistics, spawned six singles, including “Betcha By Golly Wow.” Original members Herb and Airrion have continued their work with the group over the decades.

    Freight & Salvage 50th Anniversary with Mavis Staples
    September 12
    Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse
    2020 Addison Street

    Legendary musician, Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame member and civil rights activist Mavis Staples is a multiple Grammy winner and was named one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Options include a pre-concert light dinner, post-show dessert and wine reception, and preferred seating. Staples will be joined by award-winning DJ Harry Duncan, producer of The Soul Kitchen weekly radio show and who has performed with many noted artists.

    Dianne Reeves
    September 21
    Monterey Jazz Festival – Arena/Jimmy Lyons Stage
    2004 Fairground Road

    At the 2018 Monterey Jazz Festival, five-time Grammy winning artist Dianne Reeves will perform as a Showcase Artist and will receive the Festival’s Legend Award. During her storied career, she has performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic and was the first singer ever to perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. She has performed at The White House and received honorary doctorates from the Berklee College of Music and the Julliard School. This year, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Reeves with a Jazz Masters Fellowship Award, the highest honor our nation bestows on jazz artists.

    6th Annual Musical Extravaganza to benefit Charlotte Maxwell Clinic
    September 23
    Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse
    2020 Addison Street

    Supporting the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Integrative Cancer Care, the concert will feature Amikaeyla Gastron with Elizabeth Sayre, Michele Goerlitz and Mena Ramos, Also, direct from her New York City performances, singer/percussionist Marcelle Davis Lashley will appear with LGBT community favorites Shelly Doty, Vicki Randle, Kofy Brown and Julie Wolf. Emcee for the evening will be Melanie Berzon of KCSM Radio.

    Cris Williamson, Barbara Higbie, Teresa Trull: The Reunion Tour
    September 26
    Kuumbwa Jazz Center
    320-2 Cedar Street #2
    Santa Cruz

    Back momentarily from New Zealand where she now makes her home, Teresa Trull will join the Bay Area’s Barbara Higbie and Seattleite Cris Williamson for a memorable evening of music. This trio of friends composed of gutsy blues/rock vocal dynamo and songwriter Trull, Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist and singer Higbie and the iconic singer/songwriter Williamson will bring a mixture of new material and old favorites to one of their favorite cities, Santa Cruz. Without a doubt, the very real friendship binding these three musicians will bring a powerful mixture guaranteed to delight, inspire, cheer and comfort.

    Mark Morris Dance Group – Pepperland, Sgt. Pepper at 50
    September 28–30
    Cal Performances
    Zellerbach Hall

    Mark Morris celebrates the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with an exuberant new dance work that revels in the eccentric charm and joyful optimism of the Beatles’ groundbreaking album. The production, a smash hit with audiences at its Liverpool premiere last season, features a score by longtime Morris collaborator Ethan Iverson, who leads a unique chamber ensemble through arrangements of iconic songs from the record mixed with imaginative original compositions.

    Neil Patrick Harris
    September 28
    Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Arts & Ideas
    Kanbar Hall
    3200 California Street
    San Francisco

    Tony and Emmy award-winning stage and screen performer Neil Patrick Harris will present the Marcia and John Goldman Lecture: The Magic Misfits: the Second Story. The event celebrates his second book and each ticket includes a pre-signed copy and one raffle ticket entry into a drawing for a VIP meet-and-greet with the author following the event.

    Smuin Ballet – Dance Series 01
    September 28–October 6
    Palace of Fine Arts
    3301 Lyon Street
    San Francisco

    Smuin Ballet launches its 25th Anniversary earlier this year with the Dance Series 01 program that includes Trey McIntyre’s “Blue Until June,” a sultry dance set to the heart-wrenching vocals of Etta James; and Michael Smuin’s “The Eternal Idol” and his timeless “Schubert Scherzo,” an effervescent dance set to Schubert’s sprightly C-Major Symphony. The program also continues the company’s dedication to fostering new talent, showcasing “Merely Players” by Nicole Haskins, “Reflection” by Ben Needham-Wood, and “Sinfonietta” by Rex Wheeler.

    Jay-Z and Beyoncé
    September 29
    Levi’s Stadium
    4900 Marie P DeBartolo Way
    Santa Clara

    Jay-Z and Beyoncé have partnered on stage again for the OTR II stadium tour, which began in the U.K. in June. This dynamic duo performed together during the On the Run tour of 2014, which sold out stadiums across North America and led to an Emmy-nominated HBO special. OTR II has been receiving rave reviews. As Rolling Stone’s Mark Sutherland wrote, “Pop’s number-one power couple reaffirmed their dominance, and the strength of their bond, at a hits-packed, visually stunning show.”

    Matthew Morrison
    September 30
    Bay Area Cabaret, Venetian Room, Fairmont
    950 Mason Street
    San Francisco

    Opening night for Bay Area Cabaret’s 15th Anniversary Season will feature Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe award nominee Matthew Morrison (Glee, Hairspray, South Pacific, Finding Neverland) in his San Francisco solo concert debut. Join founding executive producer Marilyn Levinson at the company’s Sunday performances in the historic Venetian Room where legends such as Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich and more appeared.

    Yo-Yo Ma – The Complete Bach Suites
    September 30
    Greek Theatre
    2001 Gayley Road

    Acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma will return to the majestic Greek Theatre for this special performance of Bach’s cello suites. Ma will play all six of them for solo cello. Writing in the New Yorker in December, Alex Ross described Ma’s performance of the suites at the Hollywood Bowl as: “The loveliest experience of my listening year … it was as if music had stilled the world.”