Independent Theater Reviews for the San Francisco Bay Area



Alexandra Garfield uses her life-long love of theater, fifteen years of experience on stage and behind the scenes and two journalism degrees to bring you the best information about theater in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Recent Reviews

November 17, 2019

Since its debut in North America over 28 years ago, Miss Saigon  continues to delight audiences. The story is based on Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and cleverly places it in war-torn Vietnam, just before the fall of Saigon.

May 12, 2019

The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical is a rare musical that combines all of the magic of an epic fantasy with the fun of a children’s show. This musical hits the sweet spot, perfectly catering toward kids of all ages. Laugh-out-loud funny moments mix perfectly with realistic emotional turmoil and a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. With a fantastic cast and a production that uses blackbox theater techniques and mainstage lighting design, this show will blow you away.

December 8, 2018

Dear Evan Hansen is a show about now. About every person who has ever felt lonely or left out or insecure—it’s about all of us. Deftly bringing the social media age to the stage, this show feels modern and real in a way that few other musicals have been able to capture. If you only see one show in 2018, make it Dear Evan Hansen.

April 20, 2018

Get ready to go-go mad for Head Over Heels, the new Go-Go’s musical currently running a pre-Broadway engagement at San Francisco’s Curran Theater. This show is an enchanting romp through Elizabethan language and ‘80s girl-power anthems. That may seem like an odd combination, but it all works thanks to the show’s killer mix of a fabulous script, great acting and never taking itself too seriously.

April 7, 2017

If you’re willing to use your imagination, you’re in for a real treat with The Fiasco Theater's Into the Woods. This minimalistic production is proof that any show can be done with less and still be a wonderful experience. Performed by only 11 actors who also play all of the musical accompaniment and sound effects live on stage, the show seems like something you would see in a small black-box theater. Generally, all of the set pieces and actors stay on stage throughout the show and change characters effortlessly with small changes of costume and demeanor. Audiences used to the large-scale touring productions SHN usually picks may find The Fiasco Theater’s version a little underwhelming. Rapunzel’s tower is r...

December 9, 2015

Heart-wrenching with a sprinkling of hope and a healthy serving of laughter, Burning Bluebeard intertwines two stories in one spine-chilling show.

Actors portraying actors from the infamous 1903 Iroquois Theater fire attempt to finish their performance of the holiday pantomime, Mr. Bluebeard. Only this time, they hope it won’t end in another tragedy.

The show is a deep narrative dive into the 1903 matinee fire, with the performers returning to finish the show amid the ruins the day after it took place. The performers explain that a spark from the artificial moonlight  started the blaze.  The lack of viable emergency exits, exit doors that opened inward, blocked shut as the panicked crowd packed against them, an...

December 2, 2015

You may not think that a musical can start out with six deaths and still be uplifting and funny without negating the tragedy of loss.

But Ride the Cyclone manages that emotional feat. This vaudevillian musical from Chicago Shakespeare Theater keeps you guessing until the very end.

A broken roller coaster track frames the stage in a black-box theater on the top floor of Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier. The sharp chemical smell of atomized mineral oil saturates the air as mist wafts from fog machines throughout the atmospheric performance.

Bittersweet and uproariously funny, Ride the Cyclone forces audiences to consider life and mortality. The highs and lows of life swirl together in one musical number af...

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