Bay Area fall stage season off to a busy start — here’s what’s playing

It’s no secret that theater companies in the Bay Area and across the country are facing difficult times, with many closing, cutting back, or struggling to stay afloat.

Nonetheless, there is an impressive array of shows to see in Bay Area theaters right now, including City Lights Theater Company’s world premiere of “Toxic,” a drama about survivors of a school shooting, and “Born With Teeth,” a play in which Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe collaborate.

Here’s a rundown of what else is on stage in the Bay Area.

“Hadestown”: Anas Mitchell’s retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story began as a musical in Barre, Vermont, then evolved into a concept album, then back into a musical, before landing on Broadway 13 years later in 2019. After winning eight Tony Awards and embarking on a successful national tour, “Hadestown” is back on the road and will play the Orpheum Theatre September 12-17 and the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts September 26-Oct. 1.

Details: $70-$290 (subject to change);; $44-$219 (subject to change);

“Crowns”: Regina Taylor’s celebratory musical follows a young Chicago woman who is sent to visit relatives in the South and meets a group of strong-willed women known for their stunning church hats and love and pride for their rich African American heritage. “Crowns,” known for its dynamic soundtrack that includes everything from traditional gospel to contemporary hip-hop, kicks off the Center Repertory Company’s new season.

Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek; $45-$70;; through Oct. 6.

“Bald Sisters”: Vichet Chum’s dark comedy/drama has gotten a lot of attention since it premiered last year at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. It follows two feuding sisters who are forced to work together after their spitfire mother dies. The family’s Cambodian heritage lurks in the background of all this turmoil. Jeffrey Lo will direct the play’s area premiere at San Jose Stage Company.

San Jose Stage; $34-$74;; Sept. 13-Oct. 8.

“Dog Man: The Musical”: Based on Dav Pilkey’s insanely popular graphic novel series about a hero with the head of a dog and the body of a cop (“he loves to fight crime and chew on the furniture”), the touring family-friendly 70-minute show comes to San Francisco’s Curran Theatre for a two-day run.

Details: Sept. 16-17, 445 Geary St., San Francisco; $46-$80;

“Gary: The Sequel to Titus Andronicus”: Taylor Mac’s 2019 play is a bizarre sequel to Shakespeare’s blood-soaked tragedy, as the title suggests. However, the setting of a Mac play is only a springboard for a one-of-a-kind and often jaw-dropping exploration of a variety of hot-button themes and topics. The West Coast premiere of the show, directed by Emilie Whelan, is being presented by Oakland Theater Project.

Details: Through Oct. 1; 1501 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Oakland; $28-$55; show will be live-streamed Sept. 23 and available on Video on Demand Sept. 24-Oct. 1 ($15-$25);

Tickets and more information are available at

“Anna Christie”: Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1921 play about a woman fighting back against a patriarchal system that has forced her into prostitution. The production is part of the Eugene O’Neill Festival in Danville.

Details: Through September 23 in Danville’s Old Barn at the Tao House; $60. The majority of tickets are sold out;

“Cruel Intentions”: Ray of Light Theatre, known for its unusual adaptations and musical productions, presents this 2015 musical based on the 1999 cult classic film about high school sexual politics. The book was written by Roger Kumble, who also directed the film. The show includes hits from the 1990s such as “Bittersweet Symphony,” “Bye Bye Bye,” “Candy,” and “Genie in a Bottle.”

Details: Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., San Francisco; $20-$70;

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