The always scrappy and impressive SF Playhouse near Union Square is reemerging with live performances sooner than some of its larger counterparts around the Bay Area, and today they announced their upcoming full season.
The 2021-22 season will be capped off by the big musical production that had been planned for the end of the company's 2019-2020 season, Stephen Sondheim's Follies. The show depicts a reunion taking place in 1971 of former chorus of the fictional Weismann's "Follies," based on the famed Ziegfeld Follies, which had its last performances in the early 1940s. The complicated show, which includes Sondheim classic songs like "I'm Still Here" and "Losing My Mind," was last revived on Broadway in 2011.
The SF Playhouse production will be directed by company co-founder and Artistic Director Bill English.
"We feel passionately that coming at this moment in American history, our 19th Season may well be our most important," says English. "We will joyfully collaborate with artists who speak from widely unique perspectives on universal themes that generate greater empathy and compassion."
The new season kicks off October 12 with The Great Kahn, a world premiere by Michael Gene Sullivan, and a co-production with the SF Mime Troupe. It's the story of two African American teenagers confronting what it means to grow up Black and be forced into certain stereotypes of strength — and then Genghis Kahn gets involved.
Beginning previews November 24 is a new musical adaptation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, set to an original jazz-funk score by Shaina Taub. That's directed by company co-founder Susi Damilano. And beginning January 15 is a production of Heroes of the Fourth Turning, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama by playwright Will Arbery.
The Paper Dreams of Harry Chin, a drama based on the true story of an immigrant who skirted the Chinese Exclusion Act, opens in March, and that is followed by a production of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize winner, Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Follies begins previews June 29, 2022.
First up, SF Playhouse is presenting two productions this summer with limited in-person audiences and a streaming option.
The first, titled The Song of Summer by playwright Lauren Yee, is about a young pop superstar who rises to unexpected fame with a summertime earworm — and escapes a world tour to revisit his childhood home. That runs from July 20 to August 14, and you can find tickets here. (An on-demand video option is available for $30.)
And on August 31, there will be a production of Starting Here, Starting Now, a musical revue using the songs of Richard Maltby, Jr., and David Shire (Big, Baby, Closer Than Ever). "Using songs from their various early musicals (produced or otherwise), this bold, extroverted journey takes a winsome cast of three through the maze of modern relationships with its heart firmly on its sleeve," the theater says. That is also available for in-person or video tickets, which will go on sale soon.