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Fall Arts Preview

A guide to the best theater, music, and dance events of this entertaining season.


Diablo Theatre Company’s Wizard of Oz

Ben Krantz Photography

August 20–September 4

Chicago– The Musical

Firehouse Arts Center
The era of Prohibition is brought back to life on stage and enlivened by celebrity-status criminals, women, money, and murder.

4444 Railroad Ave., Pleasanton, (925) 931-4848, firehousearts.org.

September 2–October 9

A Delicate Balance

Aurora Theatre Company
Winner of the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this is a story about the ups and downs of family, friends, and the challenges of alcoholism.

2081 Addison St., Berkeley, (510) 843-4822, auroratheatre.org.

Rita Moreno // Photo by Michael LaMonicaSeptember 2–October 30:

Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup

Berkeley Repertory Theatre
The actress who starred as Anita in West Side Story and Maria Callas in Master Class now stars as herself, gracing the Berkeley Rep stage for the first time since her sold-out run in The Glass Menagerie.

2025 Addison St., Berkeley, (510) 647-2949, berkeleyrep.org.

September 9–October 1:

The Wizard of Oz

Diablo Theatre Company
Relive the classic journey to Emerald City with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion as they find wisdom, love, and courage along the way.

Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, (925) 944-1565, diablotheatre.org.

September 21–October 16:

The Taming of the Shrew

California Shakespeare Theater
Shakespeare’s most biting romance sheds light on courtship and gender with wit and wisdom sprinkled throughout.

100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda, (510) 548-9666, calshakes.org.

September 22–October 15:

Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Town Hall Theatre Company
Set in a Paris café, Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein talk about the nature of life, love, and creativity.

3535 School St., Lafayette, (925) 283-1557, thtc.org.

September 25:

Fall Free For All

Cal Performances
A full day of free music, dance, and theater, including more than twenty free performances, an “instrument petting zoo,” and CD signings.

Various UC Berkeley campus locations, (510) 642-9988, calperfs.berkeley.edu.

September 24–25, October 1–2:

Smuin Ballet’s Tango Palace // Photo by Kevin SutterRomeo et Juliette

Livermore Valley Opera
One of Shakespeare’s most popular tragedies with a French twist, Romeo et Juliette is the classic story of love, loss, and the ultimate unification of feuding families set to dramatic opera music.

Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore, (925) 960-9210, livermorevalleyopera.com.

October 3–30:

Chess–The Musical

Willows Theatre Company
This story of a love triangle between two top chess players and the woman who manages one and falls for the other is set during the Cold War.

1975 Diamond Blvd., Concord, (925) 798-1300, willowstheatre.org.

October 14–November 13:

The Little Shop of Horrors

Contra Costa Musical Theatre
Don’t miss the ill-tempered, R&B-singing carnivorous plant that offers a down-and-out floral assistant fame and fortune in this affectionate spoof of 1950’s sci-fi movies.

Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, (925) 210-0268, ccmt.org.

October 21–November 5:

Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight

Diablo Actors Ensemble
Set in New York City, this racy comedy questions love, lust, sex, and the balance between intellectual and physical attraction.

1345 Locust St., Walnut Creek, (866) 811-4111, diabloactors.com.

October 22–23, 28–30 and November 4–6:


Tri-Valley Repertory Theatre
The New York Times says eight-time Tony Award-winning Hairspray “succeeds in recreating the pleasures of old-fashioned musical comedy without seeming old-fashioned by taking the infectious hooks and rhythms from period pop and R&B and translating them into the big, bouncy sound that Broadway demands.”

1048 Serpentine Lane, Pleasanton, (925) 462-2121, trivalleyrep.org.

October 29–December 4:


Berkeley Playhouse
Based on the book by Thomas Meehan, Annie is an orphan who warms her way into a rich man’s heart while learning valuable life lessons along the way.

2640 College Ave., Berkeley (510) 845-8542, berkeleyplayhouse.org.

September 16–18:

Dido And Aeneas

Cal Performances
Mark Morris makes his debut as a conductor leading both the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale in his 1989 modern dance creation based on Virgil’s Aeneid.

Zellerbach Hall, near the intersection of Telegraph Ave. and Bancroft Way, Berkeley, (510) 642-9988, calperfs.berkeley.edu.


AXIS Dance Company // Photo by Andrea Basile

October 7–9:

Full of Words

AXIS Dance Company
After being featured on the hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance, the wheel-chair whirling dancers, with and without disabilities, will use movement to convey letters, words, and punctuation, based on the game “You say a word, I say a word, and we will make a sentence.”

Malonga Casquelourd Center, 1428 Alice St. Oakland, (510) 625-0110, axisdance.org.

November 18–19:

New Work, Le Spectre de la Rose, & Fluctuating Hemlines

Diablo Ballet
The first performance of the dance company’s fall season includes three acts with exciting and graceful choreography accompanied by live music. Children under 12 may have their photo taken with the costumed dancers.

Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, (925) 943-1775, diabloballet.org.

September 23–March 3:

World Premiere, Stabat Mater, The Eternal Idol, and Tango Palace

Smuin Ballet
The fall and winter program includes dramatic choreographies by Amy Seiwert and Michael Smuin and responds to the tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks in Stabat Mater; love and embrace in The Eternal Idol; and possession, jealousy, love, and loss in Tango Palace.

Performances in San Francisco and Walnut Creek, (415) 556-5000, smuinballet.org.

August 27–28:

Natalie Cole

Yoshi's Oakland
Natalie Cole proves an everlasting love with fans in the East Bay with routinely sold-out shows. She returns to both Yoshi’s locations this fall after battling hepatitis and recovering from a kidney transplant in 2009. Get your tickets early because you won’t want to miss this energetic, sophisticated lady.

510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, (510) 238-9200, yoshis.com.

September 16:

Thievery Corporation

Fox Theater
While their downtempo albums are fit for a lounge, the electronica band’s live sets invite you to party.

1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, (510) 302-2277, thefoxoakland.com.

September 22:

Bon Iver

Greek Theatre
Hear the sweet, if not sorrowful, voice of front man Justin Vernon that caught Kanye West’s attention and ended up auto-tuned in the hit “Lost in the World” at UC Berkeley’s stunning outdoor concert hall. Opening performance by Other Lives.

Hearst Avenue and Gayley Road, Berkeley, (510) 642-9988, calperfs.berkeley.edu.

September 25:

Carlos Santana

Concord Sleep Train Pavilion
This modern rock guitarist manages to balance his Maria Maria Mexican restaurant with his passion for guitar music with a new West Coast tour. The rocker still gets his kicks playing a mix of Latin, rock, jazz, and soul to thousands of loyal fans.

200 Kirker Pass Rd., Concord, (925) 676-8742.

October 27:

Zellerbach Hall Concert Series Opening Night

Berkeley Symphony Orchestra
A revelatory window into the personal lives of the composers with performances by cello superstar Johannes Moser and the riveting, sonic landscape of China circa 740. A dinner to benefit Music Director Joana Carneiro’s Artistic Initiative Fund will follow the concert on the Zellerbach Hall Mezzanine. 7 p.m. concert, 9 p.m. gala dinner.

101 Zellerbach Hall #4800, near the intersection of Telegraph Ave. and Bancroft Way, Berkeley, (510) 841-2800, berkeleysymphony.org.

November 4:

New World A-Comin’

Oakland East Bay Symphony
Celebrate American music with swing selections by Duke Ellington, bubbly music from George Gershwin’s American in Paris, a piano solo by Sara Buechner from Leonard Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety, and Alberto Ginastera’s Estancia.

Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland, (510) 465-6400, oebs.org.

November 12:

Bach and Beaujolais

Gold Coast Chamber Players
While their normal concert season begins in January, the annual fall fundraiser offers a performance to hold you over. This year, Gold Coast pairs wine and live classical music. Details to be announced soon.

Lafayette, (925) 283-3728, gcplayers.org.

December 3:

Beethoven, Wagner, and Sibelius

Livermore Amador Symphony
Featuring a mix of works by three of history’s finest composers, enjoy the harmony of a full orchestra, the voices of a chorus, and a solo pianist—all in one night.

Bankhead Theater, 2400 First Street, Livermore, (925) 373-6824, livamsymph.org.

December 9:

Joe Bonamassa

Paramount Theatre
At age 12, he opened for B.B. King. Decades later, Bonamassa is still performing, with more than a dozen albums under his belt.

2025 Broadway, Oakland, (510) 465-6400, paramounttheatre.com.


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