A round-up of all the great shows coming to Bay Area theaters this year.

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January 10, 2020

Must-See Theater in San Francisco in 2020

In a city known for its ground-breaking culture and trend-setting performances, it should come as no surprise that 2020 offers visitors to San Francisco a number of can't-miss theatrical gems. Here are just a few highlights coming to Bay Area stages this year.

Ongoing

Hamilton

Through May 31

Orpheum Theatre (1192 Market St.)

It's the theatrical juggernaut that forever changed our idea of what musical theatre could be. The high-energy, hip-hop history lesson makes debt plans, The Federalist Papers, and matters of congressional approval enthralling. The lauded musical has won 11 Tonys, a Grammy, a Pulitzer and a MacArthur genius grant for its creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda. "Hamilton" is slated to end its San Francisco’s run in May.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Through July 12

The Curran (445 Geary St.)

The big-screen magic of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world comes to life on stage at the Curran in this brand-new, live-action tale that carries the adventures of Harry Potter and friends into a new generation. This is the only west coast production of the in-demand show, meaning your visit to San Francisco is your best chance at making your fellow Muggles back home very jealous.

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January

Groundhog Day: The Musical

Through Jan. 18

San Francisco Playhouse (450 Post St.)

This musical comedy based on the delightful 1993 film opened on Broadway in 2017 and now comes to San Francisco. Arrogant, cynical weatherman Phil Connors finds himself in a time loop following a small town Groundhog’s Day celebration in Punxsutawney, PA. Will he learn from his mistakes?

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Becky Nurse of Salem

Through Jan. 26

Berkeley Repertory Theater (2025 Addison St., Berkeley)

This world premiere from prolific playwright Sarah Ruhl is a dark comedy about the legacy of the Salem witch trials. The play follows a descendent of a woman convicted and executed for witchcraft in 1692 coming to terms with her family’s legacy and finding her voice in our post-Obama, “lock her up” era.

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The 19th Annual SF Sketchfest

Through Jan. 26

Multiple venues in San Francisco

This comedy festival is chock full of everything from skits, sketches, and improv to stand-up, celebrity tributes, and anniversary film screenings. This year, The Monkees, Molly Shannon, Tony Shalhoub, and Busy Phillips are receiving tributes. Also performing are Fred Armisen, Sandra Bernhard, Patton Oswalt, Rachel Dratch, Macaulay Culkin, Kristen Schaal, Tony Hale, Crispin Glover, Andy Richter, Beth Lisick, and Brad Paisley.

Wakey Wakey

Jan. 23 - Feb. 16

A.C.T. Geary Theater (405 Geary St.)

Obie Award­-winner Will Eno’s new play, "Wakey, Wakey" starts A.C.T.’s 2020 season. Starring Tony Hale ("Veep" and "Arrested Development") and Kathryn Smith-McGlynn, this intimate work is a remarkable combination of the everyday and the extraordinary that invites you to share the pleasure, humor, and beautiful mystery of life.

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Tiny Beautiful Things

Jan. 28 - March 7

San Francisco Playhouse (450 Post St.)

Based on the acclaimed 2012 book by Cheryl Strayed—which was itself based on Strayed’s advice column— this play follows Sugar, an online advice columnist who uses her personal experiences to help the readers who pour their hearts out to her. "Tiny Beautiful Things" is a play about reaching when you’re stuck, healing when you’re broken, and finding the courage to take on the questions that have no answers.

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The Children

Jan. 31 - March 1

Aurora Theater (2081 Addison St., Berkeley)

Lucy Kirkwood’s Broadway and London hit is having its West Coast premiere at The Aurora Theater. In this menacing and funny play, characters live near the edge of a nuclear disaster that recalls the 2011 Fukushima catastrophe. Kirkwood’s play is a beautifully written puzzle about personal responsibility, guilt, and what today’s elders owe the young.

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Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live

Jan. 31 and Feb. 1

Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor St.)

The hilarious Peabody Award-winning TV comedy is coming to San Francisco with an all-new live show, The Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour. Joel Hodgson, the show’s creator and host, celebrates his final live tour performing the unique comedic art form he created. In the hit TV show, now on Netflix, he and his robot friends, Tom Servo, Crow, and Gypsy, riff on some of the cheesiest, so-bad-they’re good films ever made.

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February

Born in East Berlin

Feb. 6 – 29

San Francisco Playhouse presented at The Creativity Theater (Yerba Buena Gardens, 221 Fourth St.)

This world premiere play from Rogelio Martinez is set in 1988 East Berlin, when Bruce Springsteen played a legendary concert to an audience of 300,000. The play reveals the contrast between the freedom of a rock concert and the captivity of an oppressive government during a great historical and cultural shift.

Gatz

Feb. 13–23

Berkeley Repertory Theater (2025 Addison St., Berkeley)

Using the text of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s "The Great Gatsby" verbatim, the theater ensemble Elevator Repair Service stages this nine-chapter, six-hour play. It sounds grueling, but has been hailed by The New York Times as “the most remarkable achievement in theater not only of this year but also of this decade.” This Obie, Lucille Lortel and Elliot Norton Award-winning play begins when an anonymous office worker at a shabby small business finds a copy of the book on his desk one morning and starts to read aloud.

The SpongeBob Musical

Feb. 12 - 16

Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor St.)

The little sea sponge that could has launched a Tony Award-winning musical set to the songs of John Legend, Cyndi Lauper, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Lady Antebellum and They Might Be Giants. Since TV fans first visited Bikini Bottom 17 years ago, "SpongeBob SquarePants" has remained the number-one kids’ animated TV series. Following its Broadway opening in 2017, the musical garnered twelve Tony Award nominations and has commanded countless smiles. As Spongebob is wont to sing: “We're all goofy goobers!”

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Gloria

Feb. 13 – Apr. 12

A.C.T. Strand Theater (1127 Market St.)

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2016, this scalpel-sharp dark comedy explores how we cope with trauma and the tales we tell each other to escape. In the dog-eat-dog office of a New York magazine, twentysomethings Ani, Dean, and Kendra compete for a book deal to kick-start their careers. But after tragedy strikes, which one of them will write the story? Shocking, satirical, and viciously funny, "Gloria" is a thought-provoking work from a powerhouse playwright.

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Culture Clash: (Still) in America

Feb. 20 – Apr. 5

Berkeley Repertory Theater (2025 Addison St., Berkeley)

Culture Clash once again bring their subversive satiric version of documentary theatre to Berkeley Rep. In this irreverent, thought-provoking social satire, using monologues and sketch comedy, Culture Clash skewers American culture through the lens of the Latino experience.

The Last Ship

Feb. 20 - Mar. 22

Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor St.)

This autobiographical musical by and starring rock legend Sting draws on the artist’s own childhood experiences growing up in a historic shipbuilding town in Northern England. This personal and political musical features original music and lyrics, as well as a few of Sting’s best-loved songs.

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Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure 35th Anniversary Tour with Paul Reubens

Feb. 28

Masonic Theater (1111 California St.)

The 35th anniversary of the classic cult film is being celebrated in San Francisco. The event will include a special screening of the 1985 film, followed by stories about the making of the movie told by Paul Reubens. Or will it be Pee-Wee himself who shows up?

John Cameron Mitchell: The Origin of Love Tour

Feb. 29

CalPerformances (Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley)

The one-and-only John Cameron Mitchell takes the stage for an evening of songs and stories from and inspired by the Tony-winning, groundbreaking cult-rock musical "Hedwig and the Angry Inch". The now-classic show premiered off-Broadway more than 20 years ago, with Mitchell portraying the "internationally ignored" East German transgender singer fronting a struggling rock band. Featuring brilliant music and lyrics by co-creator Stephen Trask, the program draws in both "Hedheads" and newcomers alike, as Mitchell and guest artist Amber Martin connect stories from their own lives to Hedwig's search for self-awareness and acceptance.

March

Toni Stone

Mar. 5–29

A.C.T. Geary Theater (405 Geary St.)

This new play about trail-blazing Bay Area athlete Toni Stone, who became the first woman to play professionally with men as a member of the Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns. Based on Martha Ackmann’s book “Curveball: The Remarkable True Story of Toni Stone,” the play show’s Stone’s challenges with hostile crowds, ruthless team owners and aggressive players.

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School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play

Mar. 19–May 3

Berkeley Repertory Theater (2025 Addison St., Berkeley)

A Miss Universe pageant competition gets catty in this 2018 Lucille Lortel Award winner. School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play is a biting comedy that tackles the universal issues of beauty and self-worth that face teenage girls across the globe.

Grandma & Me: An Ode to Single Parents

Mar. 20 – Apr. 25

The Marsh SF (1062 Valencia St.)

Brian Copeland received kudos and acclaim for his one-man show, "Not a Genuine Black Man”, which is the longest-running one-man show in San Francisco history. Now, in his highly anticipated new play, he examines the issue of single parenting through a very personal story. After Brian’s mother died in 1979, his 57-year-old grandmother raised him and his four siblings by herself. 22 years later, the end of Brian’s marriage leaves him in a similar predicament, raising children as a single parent. In this new solo show, Brian compares and contrasts single parenting in the 1970s and the dawn of the 21st century as he tries to answer the question, what does it truly mean to be a father?

The Book of Mormon

Mar. 31- Apr. 26

Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor St.)

"The Book of Mormon" returns with its cast of loveable missionaries and Ugandans to tell the comically inaccurate story of Joseph Smith and the angel Moroni. This outrageous musical comedy follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of Mormon missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word.

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April

Loot

Apr. 3 - May 3

Aurora Theater (2081 Addison St., Berkeley)

Joe Orton’s masterpiece black comedy follows the fortunes of two young thieves in swinging 60s London. Dennis works for an undertaker and Hal’s old Mum has just died. Having robbed a bank, the lads need a place to stash the loot and Mum’s coffin seems like the perfect place – but where to stash poor Mum? Playing roughhouse with the conventions of popular farce, Orton creates a world gone mad, hilariously examining hypocritical mores still percolating in our current time.

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Matzofied: A Mortified Live Show!

Apr. 16

Jewish Community Center of San Francisco (3200 California St.)

"Get Mortified" goes Jewish in the JCCSF’s second annual Mortified Live Show. This is a special Passover version of “Get Mortified,” the cultural phenomenon in which adults relive their awkward adolescence by reading their embarrassing and hilarious teen diaries, poems, letters and more in front of total strangers. What makes tonight different from all other Mortifieds is that this event will feature tales of awkward holiday celebrations and embarrassing family gatherings. The breaking of bread, noshing of pizza, and imbibing of beer is included.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Apr. 23–May 17

A.C.T. Geary Theater (405 Geary St.)

A.C.T. invites everyone to do the time warp again in an outrageous celebration of sex, drag, and rock ’n’ roll. With a dazzling mix of sequins and fishnet stockings, director-choreographer Sam Pinkleton reimagines Rocky Horror as a swirling, sci-fi world for 2020 San Francisco.

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May

Scott Joplin's Treemonisha

May 2 and 3

CalPerformances (Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley)

Famed ragtime composer Scott Joplin’s story of black female empowerment explores the aspirations of African-Americans, telling the tale of an abandoned former slave who grows up to lead her community. The landmark work, written more than 100 years ago, never reached the stage during Joplin's lifetime; but the Toronto-based Volcano Theatre Company is resurrecting the opera and bringing Joplin's fictional African-American town to vivid life in this reimagined and fully staged production.

The Ruler

May 8 - June 21

Aurora Theater (2081 Addison Street, Berkeley)

Known for his plays that probe the layers of reality, Obie Award-winning local playwright Christopher Chen questions our beliefs about power and authority in this world premiere play commissioned by the Aurora Theater.

Happy Days

May 26–July 5

Berkeley Repertory Theater (2025 Addison Street, Berkeley)

Academy Award winner Dianne Wiest plays Winnie in Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece "Happy Days". With her husband Willie (Michael Rudko) increasingly out of reach and the earth itself threatening to swallow her whole, Winnie’s buoyant optimism shields her from the harsh glare of the inevitable in this absurdly funny and boundlessly compassionate portrait of the human spirit. The New York Times declares Wiest is “extraordinary,” capturing both the humor and the heartbreak of one of Beckett’s most popular plays in this stunning Yale Repertory Theatre production.

The Band's Visit

May 26 - June 21

Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor St.)

A revelation when it opened on Broadway in the fall of 2017, "The Band’s Visit", based on the 2007 Israeli film of the same name, is about the border-busting power of music to heal and unite. When an Egyptian band accidentally ends up in an Israeli desert town for a night, the characters experience a shared humanity that makes this one of the most uplifting musicals in recent memory. With a book by Berkeley-born Itamar Moses and music and lyrics by David Yazbek, "The Band’s Visit" is both an important message for our polarized times and an eternal story for the ages.

June

Swept Away

June 14–July 26

Berkeley Repertory Theater (2025 Addison St., Berkeley)

Featuring original music and lyrics from the Avett Brothers, Swept Away is a seafaring story of a wrecked whaling ship and its survivors. This world premiere is directed by Michael Mayer with a book by Tony Award-winning stage and screenwriter John Logan. This haunting musical tale of the sea, sacrifice, and salvation follows the survivors of a 19th-century shipwreck. Their story is set to the wonderful music of the Avetts, an Americana/bluegrass duo from North Carolina that Rolling Stone Magazine called “America’s biggest roots band.”

Mean Girls

June 30 - Aug. 2

Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor St.)

This teen musical comedy is based on Tina Fey’s cult movie. Fey wrote the book for the musical and her husband, three-time Emmy Award-winner Jeff Richmond wrote the music.

July

The Oresteia

July 8-26

Calshakes - Bruns Amphitheater (100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda)

This West Coast premiere of Ellen McLaughlin’s adaptation of “The Oresteia” is freely adapted from the Ancient Greek plays of Aeschylus. The stories chronicle Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, and their children—Iphigenia, Electra, and Orestes—and the tragic tale of the fall of the House of Atreus. Called “heart-stopping” by The Washington Post, this graceful and tragic drama asks us all: how do we disrupt generational tragedies of war, power, and sacrifice—even within our own families?

August

My Fair Lady

Aug. 5 - 30

Golden Gate Theatre (1 Taylor St.)

Boasting such classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “On the Street Where You Live,” Lerner & Loewe’s "My Fair Lady" arrives from Lincoln Center Theater in “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time” (Entertainment Weekly). Based on George Bernard Shaw’s "Pygmalion," this 1956 Broadway show presents the marvelous transformation of uncouth Eliza Doolittle into a “proper lady” thanks to Professor Henry Higgins.

September

Romeo and Juliet

Sept. 23 - Oct. 11

Calshakes - Bruns Amphitheater (100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda)

Shakespeare’s most iconic tale of young, ill-fated love will be presented in a bilingual adaptation by Karen Zacarías. Director KJ Sanchez returns after a national tour of their 2018 hit "Quixote Nuevo" to imagine these star-crossed lovers in a world steeped in the music and mores of Latinidad.

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