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San Francisco Spotlight: September 2008

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Blake Bashoff in Spring Awakening
(© Joan Marcus)
The days of summer may be cooling down, but that just means the theater season is heating up. First, the steamy and controversial Spring Awakening kicks off its national tour at the Curran Theatre, September 4-October 12. Frank Wedekind's 1891 play -- originally banished from the stage due to its racy and explicit depiction of three teenagers coming to grips with puberty and growing up -- has been turned it into a Tony Award-winning rock musical by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater. Despite its nostalgic underpinnings, this is a work with strong language, brief nudity, intense themes, and very adult topics, so keep that in mind if kids are a consideration. The show stars Kyle Riabko as Melchior and Blake Bashoff as Moritz , who come directly from the Broadway company, along with Christy Altomare as Wendla.

American Conservatory Theater kicks off its 2008-2009 season with Tom Stoppard's fist-pumping Rock 'n' Roll (September 11-October 12). Directed by A.C.T. Artistic Directory Carey Perloff, the play focuses on Prague's rock revolution as seen and experienced through a Marxist professor and his earnest protégé -- played by Manoel Felciano -- who happens to be a die-hard Rolling Stones fan.

Itamar Moses brings his latest play, Yellowjackets, to Berkeley Repertory Theatre, through October 12. The piece is set at his alma mater, Berkeley High, and involves a racial controversy that has both students and faculty up in arms. Teacher-student relations are also at the center of the Tony Award-winning play The History Boys (New Conservatory Theatre Center, September 19-October 26), as eight boisterous -- yet talented -- school boys hope to gain admittance to England's most prestigious universities.

foolsFURY theater company presents All You Can Eat (September 19-October 12), an indulgent, excessive exploration of the puritanical lens through which so many envision the "American Dream." Written and directed by Steve Morgan Haskell, audiences are given "backstage access" (from their seats) to witness the debauchery unfold as the titular band celebrates the first night of its comeback tour. Those hoping to experience the softer side of the American Dream can check out Chazz Palminteri's heartwarming solo A Bronx Tale (September 23-October 19), playing at the Golden Gate Theatre. Directed by Jerry Zaks, this touching story is inspired by the writer/performer's childhood, and is a lively jaunt through a cast of characters populating the rough-and-tumble streets of the Bronx.

Even if you aren't a fan of George Lucas' iconic Star Wars trilogy, it's no excuse to miss Charles Ross' One Man Star Wars Trilogy, playing at the Post Street Theatre, September 25 through October 12. Brilliant and clever, Ross condenses the world-renowned cinematic endeavor into an absolutely hilarious 90 minutes -- with Ross acting out every character, sound effect, and even the music score. Looking for something even stranger? Well, check out Bat Boy: The Musical playing at the Altarena Playhouse, September 26-November 1. Directed by Phil Lowery, see what happens when an unsuspecting family takes pity on a half-bat, half-human creature living in a cave and tries to raise him as their own.

Broadway West Theatre stages Henry James' spine-tingling story The Turn of the Screw (September 12-October 11), about a young governess who in addition to taking care of two children, must battle a house seemingly overtaken by spirits. Are they real or fake? Adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, this creepy favorite is sure to keep audiences guessing.

Finally, Renegade Theatre Experiment stages The Book of Liz (September 5-20), the quirky comedy written by sibling sensations David and Amy Sedaris about an Amish-like community that gets turned upside down and inside out when one of their own ventures out into the outside world.

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