Bay Area theater companies adapting to new reality

East Bay theater companies adapting to new reality

Bay Area theater companies adapting to new reality
Bay Area Children’s Theatre canceled a spring production of “You Need a Unicorn” but have given the project new life through on online interactive class.

Columns Sally Hogarty Stage StruckAs we continue the second month of shelter in place, local theater companies apply creative financing and programming day by day.

Changing state and county guidelines have most theater professionals in a constant state of anxiety as shows and classes are postponed or put online. But, as always, the show must go on, and these enthusiastic lovers of the performing arts are doing all they can to be ready to provide the public with much-needed entertainment once larger gatherings are allowed.

Clayton Theatre Company’s (CTC) Summer Stage Camp for children 6-16, scheduled for July 13-31, is currently on hold.

“It will depend on the state and county guidelines regarding COVID-19,” said managing director Roxanne Pardi. “We will post on the CTC website as soon as we make a decision.”

The company has moved its spring production of “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940” to October.

“CTC has been hard hit, as many theater companies have, by the pandemic. There are still bills to pay and no revenue coming in,” Pardi said.

Like all of our other wonderful local theater companies, CTC appreciates any and all donations. It only takes a small amount by many to make a huge difference for these companies. If you’re inclined, please go to the theater’s website. I’m sure the donate button will be easy to find.

May 14 audition workshop

Brentwood’s Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble has canceled its July production of “Big the Musical” but is going ahead with plans for its Youth Academy Productions. An audition workshop will take place 4:30 p.m. May 14 via Zoom. For more information and the Zoom link, go to

The company also plans to present the following shows for its 2020-’21 season: “12 Angry Jurors” (September-October), “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged” (January), “Festival 10: a Treasury of 10-Minute Plays” (March) and “The Pajama Game” (July-August 2021). For more information, go to

While Concord’s B8 Theatre Company has not announced specific dates for its shows, artistic director JanLee Marshall wrote that they will be back once it is safe to do so.

“As I write, I realize this was to be opening night for ‘Waiting for Lefty.’ We will produce this play, but we do not yet know when. In addition, we will not be producing ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ until summer of 2021. We have fabulous actors already cast in these productions, and I think you will be thrilled when you finally get to see them.”

To keep up with the company, go to

Going to online formats

Nina Meehan, executive artistic director of Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT), has been busy translating the 15-year-old company’s live theater classes and touring productions to online formats while also caring for her children, ages 4, 8 and 12.

When COVID-19 became a reality, the troupe had just started rehearsals for the new children’s musical “You Need a Unicorn” with music by Robert Rokicki and book by Kim McDonald. While canceling the spring production and furloughing most of the company was difficult, BACT gave online life to the production through an interactive class.

“The actress cast in our production as Uni narrates, with other characters popping in and out as she teaches the music and dance steps to the children watching,” Meehan said. “We even created a new character called the Unicorn Dancing Queen, which children love.”

The class, along with a host of other offerings, is part of BACT’s Creativity Corner ( A variety of interactive adventures for different ages are available with downloadable activities. The company has also partnered with Outschool to present several fun classes, such as Superhero Journey, Fairytale Fun Time and Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Meme. To learn more, go to

Sally Hogarty is a well-known Bay area actress, editor of the Orinda News and arts columnist for the East Bay Times. Contact her at