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    Fall Arts Preview

    Fall has always been the favorite season of San Francisco Bay Times publisher and “Betty’s List” founder Dr. Betty Sullivan. She came from a family of educators, so this time of year always marked the busy start of the school season … and a full calendar of events to look forward to attending. In that spirit, we bring you this Fall Arts Preview highlighting select shows from September–November. Unless noted, the events are in San Francisco.

    Watch for our Holiday Season Preview coming out in mid-November!


    * Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot
    September 8–December 9

    San Francisco Opera, War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue

    Puccini’s true masterpiece from 1924 features a lush score, including the famous tenor aria, “Nessun Dorma.” The SF Opera production will be presented on a stage designed by celebrated LGBT painter David Hockney. Diva Martina Serafin will perform the title role and Nicola Luisotti will conduct the orchestra through September. In November, conductor Christopher Franklin and acclaimed Swedish soprano Nina Stemme will head up the cast and creative teams. If you are a real opera buff, consider seeing both versions of this classic work.

    * Dee Dee Bridgewater: The Music of Josephine Baker
    September 10

    Miner Auditorium, SF Jazz Center, 201 Franklin Street

    As an African-American artist who found acceptance in France before her native U.S., Bridgewater has had a career that closely mirrors that of 1920s singer and dancer Josephine Baker. For this night, Bridgewater will perform music closely associated with Baker as well as the popular French chanson singers of the era including Edith Piaf, Mistinguett, and Charles Trenet—music she released as an homage to Baker and her adopted France on her 2005 album J’ai deux Amours, named for the song Baker made her own.—the-music-of-josephine-baker/

    * Taylor Mac’s A 24 Decade History of Popular Music
    September 15,17, 22, 24

    Curran Theater, 450 Geary Street

    The groundbreaking art concert is Mac’s subjective history of the United States told through 246 songs—everything from World War I ditties to The Mikado to a mash-up of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”—told with the help of radical drag queens and other special guests.

    * Blame Sally
    September 16

    Freight & Salvage, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley

    Indie pop meets Americana with this popular San Francisco group of four women solo artists who have performed together since 2000 and record currently on the Ninth Street Opus label. They have toured in Europe and across the U.S., but are beloved here in the Bay Area. or

    * The Legend of Pink
    September 15–30

    Theatre Rhinoceros, The Gateway Theatre (formerly Eureka), 215 Jackson Street

    Theatre Rhino’s 40th Anniversary Season begins with the world premiere of the story of a West Oakland transgender womwna, Pink, and the changing landscapes of desire and real estate. Drug wars rage, yet Pink does her best to bring a bit of beauty to the harsh environment. But people are watching her as she tries to form a connection with a beautiful young man, and they don’t like it. Things turn dangerous and deadly.

    The Legend of Pink

    * Hamlet
    September 20–October 15
    A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, 415 Geary Street

    Obie Award winner and 2017 Tony Award nominee (Best Featured Actor in a Play, Jitney) John Douglas Thompson returns to The Geary to take on one of theater’s most iconic roles: Hamlet. Two seasons ago, Thompson dazzled Geary audiences in the virtuoso one-man show Satchmo at the Waldorf. Now, to kick off the 2017–18 season, Thompson comes back to San Francisco to portray one of Shakespeare’s most complex and heartbreaking characters. In the story of a man who wakes up to find his world upended and his closest friends unworthy of trust, Shakespeare shows us how quickly change can happen—how an orderly kingdom ruled by a loving king can, in one stroke, become unrecognizable. Featuring stage and screen star Carl Lumbly, Hamlet will mark A.C.T.’s first Shakespeare production since The Tempest reopened the Geary in 1996.

    * San Francisco Symphony – Celebrating Bernstein with MTT
    September 22, 23 and 24

    Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Avenue

    Michael Tilson Thomas will conduct the Symphony in a celebration of the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein. The program will include Bernstein favorites from Candide, West Side Story, The Age of Anxiety and more in a tribute to one of the great composers, conductors and educators of the 20th Century.

    * Smuin Ballet – Dance Series 01
    September 22–23, Walnut Creek – Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek
    September 29–October 7, San Francisco  – Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon Street

    Smuin kicks off its 24th season with Dance Series 01, a program that includes the West Coast premiere of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s critically lauded and transcendent piece Requiem for a Rose, set to what many consider to be Schubert’s most romantic string adagio, from the Quintet in C. Also on the program is Michael Smuin’s joyful tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes, Fly Me to the Moon. This blend of ballet and popular dance is the embodiment of the smooth and stylish melodies that have inspired generations, including Sinatra’s renditions of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “The Lady is a Tramp.” Rounding out the bill will be the return of Garrett Ammon’s bold Serenade for Strings. Set to Tchaikovsky’s score of the same name, this work is a vibrant new interpretation of a piece inexorably tied to the iconic 1934 Balanchine ballet.

    * Ella Fitzgerald: A Centennial Celebration
    September 24

    Venetian Room at the Fairmont San Francisco, 950 Mason Street

    Bay Area Cabaret’s season opening night presents Lillias White, Janis Siegel, Freda Payne, Sony Holland and Amanda King with music director Larry Dunlap in an all-star evening honoring the woman who helped make the Venetian Room famous.

    * San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
    September 30

    Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street

    Artistic Director/Conductor Dr. Tim Seelig will lead the Chorus to launch their 40th season in a “Send Off” performance marking the start of their Lavender Pen Tour to five southern states in the South. The program will present a preview of music to be performed in nine cities over seven days in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina and North Carolina. Performing with the Chorus will be the award-winning Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir.

    * Pictures at an Exhibition – San Francisco Lesbian Gay Freedom Band
    September 30

    Everett Middle School, 450 Church Street

    Artistic Director, Pete Nowlen, and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band are proud to present a rich mosaic of concert band music, including Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, McBeth’s Of Sailors and Whales, Giroux’s Riften Wed, and Ehitacre’s Noisy Wheels of Joy.

    Pictures at an Exhibition – Fall 2017 Community Concert

    * Neil Sedaka at Sunset
    September 30

    Sunset Center, San Carlos Street at Ninth Avenue, Carmel-by-the-Sea

    Sunset Center’s Fifth Annual Gala brings the remarkable Neil Sedaka to Carmel for a performance followed by a Meet and Greet with VIP treatment. Sedaka’s sixty-year career includes his role as an early teen pop sensation in the 50s, a successful songwriter in the 60s and superstardom in the 70s followed by his continuing artistry through the 90s and to the present. (LGBT Trivia: Sedaka’s song “Should I Begin the Dance” is said to be a steamy tango about gay seduction.)



    October 4

    Fox Theatre, 1807 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

    MisterWives is the latest in a long line of genre-defying bands to break out of New York City and gain recognition on a global stage. Every pair of tickets purchased online comes with a digital download of the group’s new album Connect the Dots.

    * Janet Jackson: State of the World Tour
    October 5

    Concord Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord

    The State of the World Tour will be the eighth concert tour by recording superstar Janet Jackson. The tour is in support of her eleventh studio album, Unbreakable (2015), and is a renamed continuation of the Unbreakable World tour which was postponed in 2016 due to Jackson’s pregnancy. Her son Eissa is super cute and doing well, so Jackson is back!

    * Well-Strung at Feinstein’s at the Nikko
    October 5,6,7

    Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street

    Well-Strung—the all-male string, quartet—will return to Feinstein’s at the Nikko for San Francisco Fleet Week for three performances. Hailed as “the hottest thing with a bow since Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games” by the New York Daily News, the classically trained foursome will perform pop/classical mashups featuring hits by Stevie Nicks, Rihanna, The Outfield, Queen, The Beatles, Lady Gaga, Jules Massenet, Henry Mancini and Pasek & Paul.

    * Barbara Higbie and Friends
    October 7

    Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley

    Windham Hill recording artist and legendary Women’s Music star Barbara Higbie is a master of piano and violin who combines technical brilliance with the pure joy of playing. Her unique compositions weave together elements of jazz, folk, and classical with the music of Ghana and Brazil. She will be joined at The Freight by a group of other guest performers for a night that you won’t want to miss.

    * boulders and bones – ODC Dance
    October 11

    Cal Performances, Zellerbach Hall, 2425 Bancroft Avenue, Berkeley

    “A colossal triumph of the imagination,” (The Huffington Post) boulders and bones traces the shifting light, changing landscape, and raw natural materials of an Andy Goldsworthy installation and transforms these images into an exploration of the process of creation. Co-choreographed by ODC artistic directors Brenda Way and KT Nelson, the performance will be set to a driving electro-acoustic score composed and performed live by cellist Zoë Keating.

    * An Evening with Armistead Maupin 
    October 11
    Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (JCCSF), 3200 California

    Each year on October 11, the LGBTQ community celebrates National Coming Out Day, a holiday grounded in the philosophy that coming out of the closet and living openly as an LGBTQ person is a form of activism. In honor of the 29th anniversary of this holiday, the JCCSF is honored to present the incomparable Armistead Maupin (Tales of the City) for a conversation about his long-awaited memoir Logical Family, which chronicles his odyssey from the Old South to freewheeling San Francisco, and his evolution from curious youth to groundbreaking writer and gay rights pioneer. Appearing in conversation with Armistead Maupin will be Peter Stein, arts and media producer and a compelling onstage interviewer.

    * Margaret Cho: Fresh off the Bloat
    October 12

    The Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street

    Local favorite Margaret Cho says, “It’s my sickest show to date.” She also quotes her grandmother who said, “You look bloated, as if you’ve been found dead in a lake after several days of searching.” Cho says she will be talking about being fresh off drugs and drinking, and being on the brink of suicide after having come back to life following being fished out of the river Styx.

    * The Eva Trilogy
    October 19–November 12

    Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina Blvd, Bldg D

    Magic Theatre will present Barbara Hammond’s The Eva Trilogy, a three-play cycle presented for the first time in a single production at the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. Each play in the trilogy will have its own perspective, landscape, and atmosphere. The three plays—Eden, Enter the Roar and No Coast Road—form a lyrical Irish epic spanning 30 years in the life of a rebellious Irish expatriate named Eva. The plot centers on Eva’s return to Ireland from Paris when her ailing mother begins to falter. She makes a fateful decision about her mother that cannot be undone. The choice Eva makes achieves legendary status in her community, and haunts her for the rest of her life.

    * Walter Isaacson, Leonardo da Vinci
    October 24
    Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (JCCSF), 3200 California

    Walter Isaacson—author of the acclaimed bestsellers on Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin—offers a fresh look at Leonardo da Vinci. Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo’s notebooks and new discoveries about his unconventional life, Isaacson tells the story of how Leonardo’s wide-ranging passions, combined with his ability to stand at the crossroads of art and science, make him history’s most creative genius. Most historians believe that he was LGBT too!

    * Magic, Mysteries & Music: Costume Party 
    Saturday, October 28
    Osher Marin JCC, Kanbar Center for the Performing Arts, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael

    This third annual costume dance party at the Kanbar Center will offer the chance for guests to create mystery, add magic to their attire and dance the night away with a costume contest, cocktails and more.

    * Dracula: Philip Glass & Kronos Quartet
    October 31

    Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland

    Called “one of Glass’ most lyrical, moving works” by Billboard, this Dracula score will be performed by Glass himself and the Grammy Award-winning Kronos Quartet during a live screening of the 1931 classic film at Oakland’s Art Deco palace: the Paramount Theatre. The event will be part of Philip Glass’ 80th birthday celebration, matching him with Tod Browning’s iconic 1931 horror classic, Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. Easily one of the most prolific and influential artists of 20th Century, Glass rose to prominence as one of the so-called “minimalist” composers in the late 1960s. His seminal long-form composition Music in 12 Parts, electric chamber opera Einstein on the Beach, and score to Godfrey Reggio’s groundbreaking 1983 film Koyaanisqatsi brought his singular approach to the mainstream. Glass’ current work encompasses solo piano, chamber music, opera, and increasingly, soundtracks.

    * The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer
    November 3–25

    Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson Street

    The Normal Heart is a largely autobiographical play by AIDS activist Larry Kramer. It focuses on the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York City between 1981 and 1984, as seen through the eyes of writer and activist Ned Weeks, the gay founder of a prominent HIV advocacy group. Ned prefers loud public confrontations to the calmer, more private strategies favored by his associates, friends, and closeted lover Felix Turner. Their differences of opinion lead to frequent arguments that threaten to undermine their mutual goal.

    * Oakland Ballet – Luna Mexicana
    November 3

    Paramount Theatre, Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland

    Luna Mexicana is a dance and music celebration of the iconic Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). In Luna Mexicana, a young woman’s dreams revive her relatives and friends, who all dance back to life in the forms of teetering skeletons, skirt-swishing girls, a high flying “deer dancer,” and a deathly Bride and Groom. This family-friendly performance will be filled with festive dancing, colorful costumes, and vibrant music including traditional Mexican folk tunes and witty electronic fusions. Audience members are encouraged to attend in Day of the Dead attire and to arrive early to participate in the Dia de los Muertos festivities in the theater lobby prior to the performance.

    * The Joffrey Ballet
    November 17–19

    Cal Performances, Zellerbach Hall, 2425 Bancroft Avenue, Berkeley

    With this program of new and recent works by some of the most exciting choreographers working today, The Joffrey Ballet stays true to its 60-year reputation for innovation and eclecticism. Performed to a live Philip Glass score, Justin Peck’s In Creases showcases his keen eye for manipulating bodies to form complex geometric structures. Annabelle Lopez Ochoa creates a spellbinding depiction of a turbulent cloud formation in Mammatus, and Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s Joy, a Cal Performances co-commission, will receive its West Coast premiere.

    * Community Women’s Orchestra Concert
    November 19

    Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1333 Lakeshore Avenue, Oakland

    The Community Women’s Orchestra’s 33rd season opens with its Fall Family Concert Sunday on November 19 @ 4 pm. Featured works will include CWO resident composer June Bonacich’s Rumpelstiltskin, with award-winning young adult fiction author and CWO violinist Anne Nesbet narrating. Nesbet’s Cloud and Wallfish recently won a California Book Award.

    * The Spinners
    November 24–26

    Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland

    One of the biggest soul groups since the 1970s, The Spinners are known for a hit list including “Then Came You,” “I’ll Be Around,” “Mighty Love,” “Games People Play,” “Working My Way Back to You Babe” and much more. The classic sound of this legendary group, which has sold millions of records, will come to Yoshi’s in Oakland for six shows over three days during Thanksgiving Weekend. The run at this great venue—with delish food and drinks in both the performance space and adjoining restaurant—is sure to sell out.