David Harrower
David Harrower
There's a lot of challenging drama on tap this month in the City by the Bay.

An African-American professor's refusal to attend the Million Man March wields an aftermath he never expected in Tanya Barfield's Blue Door (Berkeley Repertory Theatre, April 6-May 20). During a sleepless night, he is visited by three generations of ancestors -- men who fought to be free, to vote, to obtain justice. The production, directed by Broadway veteran Delroy Lindo, stars Teagle F. Bougere and David Fonteno.

The American Conservatory Theater offers the West Coast premiere of Blackbird (April 27-May 27).Winner of the 2007 Olivier Award, David Horrower's two-character play tells the story of Ray and Una, who have a shocking run-in with one another after having engaged in an illicit sexual affair years ago that had damaging effects upon both their lives. Loretta Greco directs the production, which features Steven Culp of ABC's Desperate Housewives and Jessi Campbell.

A Traveling Jewish Theatre delves deep into the human psyche with its staging of Arthur Miller's classic Death of a Salesman (April 5 -June 10). The play performs in three Bay Area locations (San Francisco, Mountain View and Berkeley) during its 10-week run. Taking over the Magic Theatre is Martin McDonagh's dark comedy The Cripple of Inishmaan (April 19-29) about a young boy, known as Cripple Billy, and his hell-bent determination to be cast in a Hollywood film that takes over a neighboring island.

For lighter fare, Otto Nicolai's opera version of The Merry Wives of Windsor (April 27-May 6) plays San Francisco's Legion of Honor. The story concerns Shakespeare's great clown, Sir John Falstaff, who learns a valuable lesson about the pitfalls of plagiarism when he pens identical love letters to two of Windsor's most highly respectable wives. Instead of getting mad, the gals get even, and put a plan in action that will give the bumbling Falstaff pause.

The Actors of Ensemble of Berkeley presents Lysistrata by Ellen McLaughlin, based on the original play by Aristophanes. Directed by Noona Nolan, this version's commentary on the 21st century are acute as McLaughlin injects humor and satire as she explores the theme of gender politics (April 13-May 12).

The Contra Costa Civic Theater steams things up with Tennessee William's perennial favorite, A Streetcar Named Desire (April 13 -May 12), while the Northside Theatre Company presents an adaptation of the great Russian novel Crime and Punishment by Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus (April 19-May 13).

Bring the whole family out to see American Musical Theatre of San Jose's production of Smokey Joe's Café (April 10-22). This revue of the work of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller features a musical menu including such hits as "Kansas City," "Fools Fall in Love," "Poison Ivy," "Don Juan," "On Broadway," and "Charlie Brown."