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Market St., San Francisco, CA 94102Tel: 415.551.2000
The Orpheum Theatre consistently debuts performances by national touring companies of successful Broadway shows. Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Rent and The Lion King have all made San Francisco’s flagship Orpheum Theatre their home.
Actors Theatre of San Francisco
Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94102
The Actors Theatre of San Francisco was formed in 1989 by a collective of writers, directors and actors who wished to stage quality ensemble pieces dealing with the human condition. The reparatory that resulted has debuted works by Eric Bogosian and David Mamet, while constantly exploring the classic plays of Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee and Arthur Miller.
American Conservatory Theatre
Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94109
American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) is San Francisco’s flagship theater and boasts a national reputation. Going to the newly restored, post-earthquake Geary Theatre between Taylor and Mason is a grand affair and can easily be a dress-up occasion on a Friday or Saturday night.
The American Conservatory Theatre does British comedies extremely well, but the acting is pretty white bread. This is great San Francisco theater to impress the folks with. Good seats are expensive, parking is a drag, but performance art patrons really get the theater experience. The American Conservatory Theatre seats 1000.
Geary St., San Francisco, CA 94115
The Curran Theatre has a long history of staging successful runs of Broadway powerhouse touring companies. Perhaps the best stage outside of New York to catch chart-toppers like Phantom of the Opera (which opened to packed houses for years before moving on to the Orpheum Theatre) and experimental works like the Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks.
Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94115
Performances at the Herbst Theatre, located within walking distance of San Francisco City Hall, the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Symphony, have some stiff competition. Undaunted, the theater lures first-class classical musicians in search of a more personal performance space.
Jackson St., San Francisco, CA 94111
Recently revived and refurbished, the Eureka Theater concentrates on drama and discovery. In its original incarnation, Bay Area audiences were introduced to Angels in America by Tony Kushner, as well as the works of David Mamet, Dario Fo and Anna Deavere Smith. With the renovation finally complete, the theater crowd has ecstatically embraced it again.
Eddy St., San Francisco, CA 94102
The experimental EXIT Theatre in San Francisco has a bohemian flare, often serving as a launching board for successful, larger productions. Unlike many San Francisco theaters, the EXIT is neither stuffy nor staid, and has more in common with the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival than it does Phantom of the Opera.
Intersection for the Arts
Valencia (at 15th St.), San Francisco, CA 94103
A crossroads for San Francisco’s performance art and one of the oldest alternative art spaces in San Francisco, Intersection for the Arts is a community-based showcase for new and experimental works of literature, music, theater and more.
Fort Mason Center, Building D, Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94123
Magic Theatre, around for nearly three decades, is dedicated to new plays and got its reputation from producing Sam Shepard’s premieres, namely True West, Fool for Love and Buried Child, all of which are now in the canon of American post-modern dramatic literature. The Magic still puts up some intriguing new works, but it’s always good advice to read the reviews before calling the box office. Also, the Magic Theatre has a beautiful view from Fort Mason of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay, free parking in a big lot, although the theater is relatively inaccessible by public transport.
Marines Memorial Theatre
Sutter St., Suite 200, San Francisco, CA 94102
Few San Francisco theater venues have as rich a history as the Marines Memorial Theater in downtown San Francisco. As the sometime home for the renowned Actors Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.), the Marines Memorial Theatre has housed cutting-edge productions, including the debut of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Imogene Coca, Sir Ian McKellen, Charlene Tilton, David McCallum and Cyd Charisse have all graced the stage, as have the most reputable reparatory companies in the San Francisco Bay area.
New Conservatory Theatre Center
Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102
A small San Francisco theater near the San Francisco Opera and boasting a company that turns out first-rate productions.
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
Lyon St., San Francisco, CA 94123
The 1000-seat Palace of Fine Arts Theatre lends itself to larger than life performing art pieces with a greater touch of accessibility than some of the more obscure San Francisco venues. From children’s musicals to jazz exhibitions and film retrospectives, one never knows what’s going on behind the buildings gorgeous French facade; one just knows it’ll be worth stopping in.
Post Street Theatre
Post St., San Francisco, CA 94102
Refurbished as a playhouse for the whimsically avant-garde, the Post Street Theatre was originally built as a lodge and meeting hall for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Now a 729-seat theatre, the Post Street Theatre of San Francisco (PSTOSF) has premiered hit after hit, including Steve Martin’s Picasso At The Lapin Agile, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Forever Tango, Dame Edna: The Royal Tour and Lily Tomlin’s The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe.
16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103
Theatre Rhinoceros is the West Coast’s premiere gay and lesbian theater, and, though it’s in a sleazy (albeit colorful) part of town, the Rhino is very accessible (a block from 16th St. BART station) and their new artistic director, John Fisher, is bringing plays that address life in San Francisco and the whole spectrum of sexual orientation instead of just breaking sexuality down into men’s and women’s categories. The Rhino is a true San Francisco treat as the humanistic plays are often heart-warming. The Theatre Rhinoceros rents their downstairs studio to other groups who put on some bare bones, if worthwhile, drama. The Theatre Rhinoceros seats 117 and the studio seats 54.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theatre
Howard St., San Francisco, CA 94103
Like the intercultural Center which houses the Yerba Buena Center of the Arts Theatre, the nine-year-old newbie space in the Metreon complex is dedicated to bringing the best in the performing arts to the Bay Area. While its wide array productions makes it difficult to pigeon hole, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theatre boasts a terrific history of modern dancers and neo-classical musicians.