ASR Theater ~~ North Bay Theater’s September 7-8th Debacle

By Barry Willis

September 7-8th is shaping up to be problematic for the North Bay theatre community.

At least five new productions are scheduled to open over those days: The Sound of Music at Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma, Dames at Sea at Sonoma Art Live, Fiddler on the Roof at Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse,  An Enchanted Evening at Transcendence Theater Company, and The Addams Family Musical at Napa’s Lucky Penny Productions.

This last one will overlap with a production of the same show opening the following week at Novato Theater Company.

This cluster of openings presents a plethora of choices for theater fans, and possibly a substantial problem for both theater companies and reviewers. Even with a big team of reviewers, it will probably be a tough chore for us to cover all these shows on opening weekend.

That means that some shows will get reviewed late—or not at all, a real injustice to hard-working performers, tech crews, and theater lovers alike.

….Our purpose at Aisle Seat Review is to provide expert guidance for potential ticket buyers…

Clustered openings make this difficult.

Bay Area theater critics have long complained that problems like this could be minimized if theater companies would just communicate with each other to the extent that they could stagger opening weekends. That would guarantee more review coverage and better ticket sales for all companies, but every time we have suggested this to company directors, the response has been “That’s a great idea, but it’s impossible.”

At Aisle Seat Review, we don’t think it is “impossible”.

Hard, yes, to be sure. But “impossible”, no.

Theater companies seem to think that they exist in independent bubbles, but the fact is that they are all drawing from the same talent pool and all selling into the same market. We know this is true because we see many of the same faces at the many diverse theaters that we visit.

For theater companies, failure or refusal to communicate with each other is a self-defeating lack of practicality. ASR apologizes in advance for what may be incomplete coverage in early-to-mid September.


ASR NorCal Executive Editor Barry Willis is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and president of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. Contact: