PER­FORM­ING ARTS

Cal­i­for­nia cel­e­brates ev­ery fla­vor of live per­for­mance

2017 Travel Guide to California - - CONTENTS - BY JEFF GREENWALD & LAURIE WEED

On with the Show

HOL­LY­WOOD BOWL

The Hol­ly­wood Bowl dates to 1922 and is home to the Hol­ly­wood Bowl Orches­tra and sum­mer home for the Los An­ge­les Phil­har­monic. Hun­dreds of mu­si­cal events are held ev­ery year in this am­phithe­ater with its sig­na­ture band shell, where a ca­pac­ity of 17,500 peo­ple can gather be­neath the fa­mous Hol­ly­wood sign on the hill be­yond. Above, the USC march­ing band per­forms with the sym­phony and fire­works. Per­for­mance is the lifeblood of the arts, es­pe­cially in Cal­i­for­nia. From the Bar­bary Coast docks to the Para­mount stu­dio lots, drama, dance and music have al­ways been an in­deli­ble part of the “Left Coast” spirit. The state’s scores of concert halls, sym­phony or­ches­tras, the­aters, jazz clubs, dance com­pa­nies, comedy troupes, cabarets, op­eras and fringe fes­ti­vals lay waste to the no­tion of spend­ing a quiet evening (or even an af­ter­noon) at home. A full ac­count­ing is im­pos­si­ble, but here are some sug­ges­tions to con­sider.

Re­gional The­aters

San Diego’s ven­er­a­ble La Jolla Play­house has seen 26 of its pro­duc­tions move to Broad­way, earn­ing 35 Tony Awards. The Old Globe The­atre presents the plays of Shake­speare (of course), as well as works by the likes of Arthur Miller and an an­nual Christ­mas pro­duc­tion penned by a late lo­cal res­i­dent: Dr. Seuss.

Los An­ge­les fea­tures dozens of small the­ater com­pa­nies—such as the Open Fist, the Ac­tor’s Co-op, the di­verse Cor­ner­stone and the Blank The­ater (which hosts the an­nual Young Play­wrights Fes­ti­val). The city’s star at­trac­tion is the Cen­ter The­atre Group, with ev­ery­thing from top-shelf clas­sics to cut­ting-edge solo per­for­mances on three stages: the Mark Taper Fo­rum, the Kirk Dou­glas The­atre and the Ah­man­son The­atre.

San Fran­cisco’s leg­endary Amer­i­can Con­ser­va­tory The­ater (A.C.T), the Eureka The­atre, the Magic The­atre, Z Space and Aurora are just a few of the city’s beloved na­tive com­pa­nies—not to men­tion the po­lit­i­cally charged San Fran­cisco Mime Troupe, now in its 59th year. For solo per­for­mance, check out both In­ter­sec­tion for the Arts and The Marsh, which has lo­ca­tions in San Fran­cisco and Berke­ley. A ter­rific ad­di­tion to the Bay Area the­ater scene is We Play­ers, “con­nect­ing peo­ple with place through site-in­te­grated the­atre.”

Across the Bay Bridge, Berke­ley Reper­tory The­atre con­tin­ues its tra­di­tion of in­spired ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. And don’t over­look “Cal Shakes”—the Cal­i­for­nia Shake­speare Com­pany—with its gor­geous open-air venue in the Orinda hills. Other ex­cel­lent Cal­i­for­nia the­aters in­clude the South Coast Reper­tory in Costa Mesa, San Jose Reper­tory and the Sacra­mento The­ater Com­pany. Fi­nally, the state hosts no less than five cut­ting-edge Fringe Fes­ti­vals.

Sym­phonies, Opera & Bal­let

Frank Owen Gehry de­signed the Walt Dis­ney Concert Hall, home of the renowned Los An­ge­les Phil­har­monic, to be one of the most acous­ti­cally per­fect per­for­mance spa­ces on earth. Cal­i­for­nia’s other pre­em­i­nent orches­tra is the San Fran­cisco Sym­phony, di­rected by the leg­endary Michael Til­son Thomas, at home in the Louise M. Davies Sym­phony Hall. San Diego, Sacra­mento, Oak­land, Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara all sup­port su­perb or­ches­tras as well.

Opera still main­tains a huge fol­low­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, with nearly thirty com­pa­nies across the state. The San Fran­cisco Opera and Los An­ge­les Opera are two of the largest in North Amer­ica, with global rep­u­ta­tions for set pro­duc­tion and ex­cel­lence. Ku­dos as well to the renowned Long Beach Opera, now in its fourth decade.

Bal­let in the Golden State has an equally im­pres­sive pedi­gree. The San Fran­cisco Bal­let, founded in 1933, was the first pro­fes­sional bal­let com­pany in the coun­try. The Cal­i­for­nia Bal­let Com­pany in San Diego, largest in the re­gion, has a stel­lar in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion. The Los An­ge­les Bal­let is a rel­a­tive new­comer to the scene, while the rein­vig­o­rated Oak­land Bal­let re­cently marked its 50th an­niver­sary.

Jazz & Blues

Here’s a quick sam­pler of the state’s best jazz and blues clubs. Oak­land is a hot­bed of jazz with Yoshi’s in Jack London Square, Ge­of­frey’s In­ner Cir­cle and quirky Bird­land. In San Fran­cisco, don’t miss the SF Jazz Cen­ter, and visit The Sa­loon and Club Deluxe for blues. In Santa Cruz, it’s the Ku­umbwa Jazz Cen­ter; in Fuller­ton, Steam­ers; the Baked Potato and Catalina in Hol­ly­wood; Char­lie O’s in Van Nuys; and The Torch Club (for blues) in Sacra­mento. In LA, find the hottest new of­fer­ings at the Jazz Bak­ery.

Rock ’n’ Roll ’n’ More

From the Doors to the Dead, Cal­i­for­nia has long been Ground Zero for great live music. In San Fran­cisco, check out what’s on at the Fill­more, the Warfield, the In­de­pen­dent and Great Amer­i­can Music Hall. Some of the best venues in the East Bay in­clude the Fox and glo­ri­ous Para­mount The­ater in Oak­land, as well as Berke­ley’s Greek The­atre—known sim­ply as “the Greek.” In Marin County, Sweet­wa­ter Music Hall of­ten hosts well-known artists.

Look­ing to rock it in LA? Check out the Troubadour, the Roxy and Whisky a Go Go, an LA in­sti­tu­tion since 1964. Some other leg­endary Cal­i­for­nia venues in­clude the Cat­a­lyst in Santa Cruz, the Cas­bah and “the Brick” (Brick by Brick) in San Diego.

THE SAN FRAN­CISCO OPERA stages Tosca, op­po­site bot­tom; Maria Ko­chetkova and Vi­tor Luiz in Sym­phonic Dances, San Fran­cisco Bal­let, left; Jackie Greene per­forms at The Cat­a­lyst in Santa Cruz, be­low.

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