As ever, so many interesting things going on in Bay Area theater:
– The Oakland East Bay Symphony is gearing up for a glittery concert production of Follies, May 16 and 18 at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. The cast includes Val Diamond (Beach Blanket Babylon), Sharon McNight, Rita Moreno, Clark Sterling and the Berkeley Broadway Singers (among others). You won’t want to miss that (visit www.oebs.org for info). But before then, there’s going to be a “Forum on themes of Follies“ from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3 at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, 200 Grand Avenue, Oakland. Admission is free, and it’s sponsored by the OEBS and Stagebridge and the City of Oakland Life Enrichment Programs. The keynote speaker is Ted Chapin, author of Everything was Possible: The Birth of the Musical Follies (a fantastic book and must reading for anyone who cares about musical theater) and the president and executive director of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization. Panelists include Lucha Corpi, Bill Bell, Bonnie Bell, Glen Pearson and Barbara Oliver. John Kendall Bailey serves as moderator, and there will be performances and live music.
– The Eugene O’Neill Foundation, Tao House (the wonderful national park on the grounds of the Danville home O’Neill shared with his wife Carlotta around the time he was writing, among others, Long Day’s Journey Into Night — if you’ve never been to this park, you owe it to yourself to make a visit and take a tour) is launching the 2008 Playwrights Theatre series. Opening the series is a new work by San Francisco writer/director/actor Jeffrey Hartgraves: Blood Mirage, the story of three adult sisters called together by their aging mother to attend a funeral and experience some shocking revelations. Blood Mirage is at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 4 in the Old Barn at Tao House. Also on the May 4 bill is Revelations, a series of scenes from O’Neill plays in which women are the principal characters. Local actor Karen Grassle (of “Little House on the Prairie” fame) is featured.
O’Neill’s Welded is at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 18. The play was written in 1922-23 and concerns a successful playwright and his wife, each seeking comfort in another relationship (he with a prostitute, she with a family friend). O’Neill wrote about the play: “I feel that I’m getting back as far as it is possible in modern times to get back, to the religious in the theater. The only way we can get religion back is through an exultation over the truth, through an exultant acceptance of life.”
Tickets are $25 (price includes transportation from Danville to Tao House — there’s no parking in the park). Call 925-820-1818 or visit www.eugeneoneill.org for information.
– Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre Company holds its annual fundraiser, Aurora Borealis, on Monday, May 5 at The Pavilion at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant in Oakland’s Jack London Square. Tickets (from $216 to $316) include cocktails, a three-course dinner and live entertainment by Maureen McVerry and Billy Philadelphia (co-stars in the Aurora’s recent musical romp Sex). The live auction includes a December holiday trip to Puerto Vallarta, lunch with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik, a week in New York, a private cabaret night with Philadelphia and his singer wife Meg Mackay. Funds raised at the event support mainstage productions, education programs and the Global Age Project new works program.
Call 510-843-4042 ext. 378 or visit www.auroratheatre.org for information.