Summer in The City: music, dance, and theatre around the Bay Area

  • by Philip Mayard
  • Tuesday May 30, 2023
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San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus; Sandra Bernhard @ Feinstein's at the Nikko; <br>Cirque du Soleil's "Corteo"; Anjelique Kidjo @ Stern Grove Festival
San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus; Sandra Bernhard @ Feinstein's at the Nikko;
Cirque du Soleil's "Corteo"; Anjelique Kidjo @ Stern Grove Festival

From unique interpretations of classic plays and musicals, to fusion music that blends different cultural influences, and site-specific performances staged to highlight some of the Bay Area's most iconic landmarks, summer performing arts experiences offer a chance to immerse yourself in the spirit and energy of San Francisco.

Just remember to bring a blanket and dress in layers for outdoor performances. Our "cool, grey city by the bay" can get particularly cool, if not downright chilly, when the afternoon fog rolls in.

ODC/Dance dancers in Brenda Way's 'Something About a Nightingale.' (photo: Robbie Sweeny)  

ODC/Dance Summer Sampler

San Francisco's premiere contemporary dance company presents its annual Summer Sampler at its own intimate performance space in the Mission, featuring world premieres by guest choreographers Sonya Delwaide and Dexandro Montalvo, plus revivals of signature works by Brenda Way and Kimi Okada.

Delwaide has been an active member of the Bay Area dance community for 20 years, having created works for AXIS Dance, Berkeley Ballet Theater and Oakland Ballet, but this marks her first creation for ODC. The piece is currently unnamed, but is a humorous nod to San Francisco's notoriously cold summers. Montalvo, a longtime faculty member at ODC School, is an award-winning choreographer whose works have been performed by Dance Theatre of San Francisco, Robert Moses' Kin, and pop-rap group The Black Eyed Peas.
$25-100, July 20-22, ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street.

La Tania's "Solaz"  

La Tania's "Solaz"
La Tania, an internationally renowned flamenco dancer and choreographer for more than four decades, presents the world premiere of "Solaz," a new multimedia flamenco work inspired by the extraordinary history of the Egyptian Temple of Debod.

For more than four decades, La Tania has set the international standard as an innovator and icon of traditional and contemporary flamenco. The creation of "Solaz" is rooted in La Tania's own lived experiences with displacement, her empathy for others, and the humanity and solace of origin and place.
$15-45, July 21-22, Presidio Theatre, 99 Moraga Avenue.

Amy Seiwert's Imagery  

Amy Seiwert's Imagery
The 13th annual Sketch Series features four world premiere works by Imagery Artistic Director Amy Seiwert, Artistic Fellow Natasha Adorlee, Hélène Simoneau (2021 Choreography Fellow with New York City Center), and Trey McIntyre (Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet).

Siewert, who was recently named Associate Artistic Director of Smuin Ballet, has become one of the dance world's most prolific and sought-after choreographers, having created works for ballet companies across the U.S. Her Sketch series features dancers from the Bay Area and beyond, who come together for an intensive collaborative workshop process, culminating in the performance of four new works. This program is always a major highlight of the San Francisco summer dance season.
$13-65, July 28-30, ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street.

We Players 'The Keeper' (photo: Lauren Matley)  

The Wizard of Oz

Dorothy and her posse of misfits seem to be on the minds of a lot of artists these days, but nowhere else will the classic story come to life on a grander, more unique scale than at American Conservatory Theatre this June. Tony Award—nominated director/choreographer Sam Pinkleton and Tony Award-winning scenic and costume designer David Zinn have reimagined "The Wizard of Oz" specifically for San Francisco, inspired by the aesthetic of our city's cutting-edge underground drag scene. Look for wildly imaginative visual references to local drag icons like the infamous Cockettes, and fashions inspired by 1960s hippies of the Haight, and '90s club-goers at Klubstitute and T-Shack.
$25-$95, June 1-25, A.C.T. Toni Rembe Theater, 425 Geary Street.

The Keeper
With our beloved California Shakespeare Theater on hiatus from producing its own productions this summer, "Cal Shakes" has pivoted to a multidisciplinary season of music, comedy, and theatrical programs at its spectacular Bruns Amphitheatre in Orinda. After a highly popular run last year at Alameda Point, "The Keeper" is a delightful, thought-provoking one-woman show about Caretta, a lighthouse keeper who chooses a solitary existence. The production is presented by nomadic theatre company We Players, known for adventurous, site-specific works around the Bay Area.
$20-$60, August 18- 27, Bruns Amphitheatre, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda.

Cirque du Soleil's 'Corteo'  

Cirque du Soleil's "Corteo"
Cirque du Soleil returns to the Bay Area for the first time in three long years with one of its most beloved, magical productions, "Corteo." The Montreal-based troupe will not be performing under its signature blue and yellow tent this time, but fans can look forward to experiencing Cirque's grandiose blend of eye-popping visual theatrics, glorious live music, and high-flying, heart-stopping gymnastic athleticism at our region's three largest athletic/performance arenas.
$45-$159. SAP Center (San Jose), August 9—13; Oakland Arena (Oakland), August 17—20; Chase Center (San Francisco), August 23—27.

San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus  

San Francisco Symphony

Our hometown symphony's summer season kicks off with their annual "Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular" at Shoreline Amphitheatre, a fun, eclectic program featuring the music of John Williams, Copeland, Gershwin, and Stevie Wonder, as well as a tribute to Aretha Franklin. If you're not up for a road trip to Mountain View, two days later the symphony returns to Davies Hall for a program featuring Dvoƙák's "New World Symphony" and a special appearance by up-and-coming violin prodigy Alexi Kenny.

Don't put away your Pride rainbow drag until after July 19, when the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus joins the SF Symphony at Davies for "Hello Yellow Brick Road," a lively program featuring music from Elton John's iconic "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" album, as well as selections from "The Wizard of Oz," "The Wiz," and the musical "Wicked."
$18-$89, various Bay Area venues.

Anjelique Kidjo at Stern Grove Festival  

Stern Grove Festival
It's been a rough few years for the team at Stern Grove. Losing their 2020 season due to the pandemic, the festival cautiously re-emerged the next summer, only to be devastated by a massive flood in late August 2021 that forced the cancellation of the final concert of the season. Then this past March, intense storms caused a massive eucalyptus tree to fall on the Grove's iconic Trocadero Clubhouse, destroying the 19th-Century landmark. But like the city of San Francisco itself, rising from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake, Stern Grove is back for 2023 with a robust line-up of programs that offers something for every musical taste.

Highlights include the Indigo Girls (June 25), Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (July 9), Angelique Kidjo with Jupiter & Okwess (July 16), San Francisco Symphony with funk/rock band Lettuce (July 23), and legendary rock icon Patti Smith (August 3).
Free, but tickets must be reserved one month prior to concert dates. 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard.

Sandra Bernhard at Feinstein's at the Nikko  

Feinstein's at the Nikko
If you're looking for something a bit more intimate, head to one of our city's last remaining cabaret-style clubs, Feinstein's. The elegant venue has amped up its programming in recent years, bringing in an impressive array of renowned Broadway stars and jazz artists, as well as showcasing local musical and theatrical talents. This summer's highlights include LGBTQ favorites Justin Vivian Bond (June 1-3), The Skivvies (June 9 & 10), Spencer Day (June 16 & 17) Sandra Bernhard (June 22-24) and Adam Pascal (July 7-8).
$65-$135, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street.

Tenor Chance Jonas-O'Toole in the Merola Opera Program Grand Finale  

Merola Opera Program Grand Finale
Widely recognized as one of the world's leading training programs for aspiring opera artists, SF Opera's Merola Program offers a full range of exciting public performances and educational programs each summer, showcasing the next generation of opera stars. This year's finale program will feature a spectacular array of arias, duets and ensemble pieces.
$28-$53, War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Avenue.

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