Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal in Rent
(© Joan Marcus)
Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal in Rent
(© Joan Marcus)
Rent returns to San Francisco when the national tour plays the Curran Theatre (October 6-18). Jonathan Larson's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical follows a group of young bohemians coping with love, art, AIDS, and friendship in 1990s New York. The national tour features original Broadway stars Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal reprising their roles as Mark and Roger.

The American Conservatory Theater presents the West Coast premiere of David Mamet's 2008 comedy November (October 23-November 15), which takes a satirical look at an unpopular president's bid for re-election. Over at Berkeley Rep, Tiny Kushner (October 16-November 29) features a series of short plays by celebrated playwright Tony Kushner.

Four Bay Area theaters will host The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later on October 12 as the new 80-minute play premieres at over 100 theaters nationwide. For this epilogue to the 2000 docudrama about the murder of gay 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, Moisés Kaufman and members of his Tectonic Theatre Project traveled back to Laramie, Wyoming, to re-interview many of the subjects featured in the original play. The new work will be presented by Berkeley Rep in the East Bay, the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, Crystal Spring Players in San Mateo, and Arclight Repertory Theatre at City Lights Theatre in San Jose.

Two plays in repertory by John Kolvenback open the 2009-2010 season at the Magic Theatre. Goldfish (October 7-November 8) looks at college students Albert and Lucy, who must resolve complicated relationships with their parents before they can find happiness with each other. Its world-premiere sequel Mrs. Whitney (October 21-November 22) tells the story of Lucy's mother, a cynic attempting to follow her heart back to her one true love.

San Jose Repertory Theatre presents the west coast premiere of Groundswell (October 10-November 8), a psychological thriller by South African playwright Ian Bruce. On South Africa's diamond coast, three desperate men become locked in a power struggle that begs the question of how to live with each other in a post-apartheid society. Also in the South Bay, TheatreWorks stages The Chosen at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, October 7-November 1. Based on Chaim Potok's bestselling novel, the play by Potok and Aaron Posner follows the unlikely friendship of two Jewish teenagers from very different backgrounds in 1940s Brooklyn.

The Bay Area premiere of The Little Dog Laughed (through November 8) is the season opener in the New Conservatory Theatre Center's largest theater. Playwright Douglas Carter Beane takes on homophobia in Hollywood with this story of a fiery agent trying to keep her movie star client in the closet. Meanwhile, the Exit Theater presents the world premiere run of Zombie!: A New Musical (October 15-31), conceived by playwright/director Anthony R. Miller with a hard rock score by Brendan West. The tuner shares the adventures of two teens from Colma after one of them is brought back to life by a top-secret Army zombie gas.

Other musicals this month include the Royal Underground Theatre Company's production of Jekyll and Hyde (October 8-31) at Fort Mason Center's Southside Theatre featuring a cast of actor/singer/musicians. With music by Frank Wildhorn with book and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, the musical retells Robert Louis Stevenson's story of Dr. Henry Jekyll, who unleashes his dark side to become the maniacal Edward Hyde. At the Victoria Theatre, Ray of Light Theatre presents The Who's Tommy (October 16-November 7), the iconic rock opera about a young man's journey from deaf, dumb, and blind kid to pinball superstar. Finally, 42nd Street Moon stages Destry Rides Again (October 28-November 15) at the Eureka Theatre. This western musical, with music and lyrics by Harold Rome and a book by Leonard Gershe, tells of a new sheriff in town who seeks to keep the peace without using a gun.

The Marsh hosts the International Czech Theater Festival (October 21-28), co-sponsored by Flying Actor Studio and featuring Albert's Fear, Polaris, Brick Circk, and Flush. October at the Marsh also includes Loveland (October 1-November 14), Ann Randolph's new solo comedy that follows the irreverent adventures of Franny Potts, and Rabbi Sam (October 17-November 22), Charlie Varon's one-man play about a rabbi seeking to reinvent American Judaism.

Up at Fort Mason's Building C, Young Performers Theatre presents The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (October 24-November 15) based on the beloved book by C.S. Lewis. The story follows four siblings through a wardrobe to the magical land of Narnia, where they discover a battle between good and evil.