Hats off to ‘Crowns’ by Center Rep

Hats off to ‘Crowns’ by Center Rep in Walnut Creek

Hats off to ‘Crowns’ by Center Rep
Hats play an essential role in Center Rep’s “Crowns,”at Walnut Creek through Oct. 6. The show features Antonia Reed and Janelle LaSalle. (Photos by James Brian Studio)

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Sept. 13, 2023) — A proud cultural history, a group of lively women and a plethora of gorgeous hats with a rich history of their own come together in playwright Regina Taylor’s moving musical “Crowns.”

Produced by Center Rep, the uplifting and inspirational work runs through Oct. 6 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr.

“Crowns” centers on a community of women who wear brilliant hats for all of life’s occasions. When Chicago-born Yolanda is sent down South, she reluctantly enters their world and finds herself exposed to powerful rituals and a rich history.

For tickets, call 925-943-7469 or go to lesherartscenter.org.


Get ready for Clayton Theatre Company’s exciting October production of the musical “Working,” based on the book by Studs Terkel.

This engaging musical takes Terkel’s interviews with American workers from all lines of work and paints vivid portraits of them as they go about their jobs. Whether its Dolores telling why she loves being a waitress, Kate who gets upset when people doubt her intelligence because she’s a stay-at-home-mom or Tom the firefighter becoming emotional about the lives he has saved, they all give a slice of Americana and the pride taken in doing a good day’s work.

The updated show runs Oct. 13-28 at Clayton’s Endeavor Hall, 6008 Center St., and features new songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda as well as favorites by Stephen Schwartz, Craig Carnelia, James Taylor, Micki Grant and more.
Roxanne Pardi directs, with La Tonya Watts as assistant director and Jess Reyes as musical director. The cast includes Nathalie Archangel, James Bradley Jr., Kevin Coren, Russ Kladko, Megan Larsen, Mary Katherine Patterson, Linda Sciacqua and Gina Yetner.

For tickets, go to www.claytontheatrecompany.com.


Cal Shakes offers a variety of entertainment at its beautiful locale at the Bruns Amphitheater in Orinda. While not producing anything itself this season, the company has asked several other groups to bring their shows to the gorgeous outdoor venue. Shakespeare’s epic romantic adventure “Cymbeline,” produced by SF Shakespeare, runs Sept. 16-24.

Adding to the fun is Sewam American Indian Dance Sept. 30, the Food Bank Players’ “Romeo and Juliet” on Sept. 29, musician Michael Franti performing in Notes for Hope’s concert for breast cancer awareness Oct. 6 and “A Midsummer Night’s D&D” Oct. 7.

The outdoor stage is at 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda. For tickets, go to www.calshakes.org.

Spontaneous Mind

Spontaneous Mind is at it again. The wacky company presents the Improv Partners in crime at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at the Martinez Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St. Back for its 11th installment, the serial production follows the exploits of two partners who use audience suggestions to help create their evolving characters and lead them to their next investigation.

The group has investigated murder, blackmail, jewel heists and kidnapping. Who knows where the two private eyes will go next.

Go to www.campbelltheater.com for ticket information.


James’ Kudelka’s acclaimed “The Man in Black,” danced to the music of Johnny Cash, returns to the Lesher Center Sept. 15-16. (Chris Hardy photo)

Smuin Contemporary Ballet celebrates its 30th anniversary season with Dance Series 1, performing at the Lesher Center Sept. 15-16.

This fabulous dance company always keeps things interesting. This performance features James Kudelka’s “The Man in Black,” danced in cowboy boots to the music of Johnny Cash; Darrell Grand Moultrie’s “Salsa ’til Dawn,” a jazzy world premiere with Cuban music; and Val Caniparoli’s “Tutto Eccetto il Lavandino,” a playful neoclassical work set to Vivaldi.

For tickets, call 925-943-7469 or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.

Young Frankenstein to Sunshine Boys

Pittsburg Theatre Company offers something for everyone with its 2023-’24 mainstage season at the California Theatre, 351 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg.

Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein the Musical” starts things off Oct. 6-22, followed by Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” Feb. 16-25. April 16-May 5 brings something for younger theatergoers with Roald Dahl’s “Willy Wonka the Musical,” and the season closes with Neil Simon’s “The Sunshine Boys” June 14-23.

The company’s Black Box Series, taking place at Steeltown Coffee and Tea in Pittsburg, also offers a host of entertainment beginning with “Medal of Honor Rag” Nov. 10-23. That’s followed by “The White Card” Jan. 26-28 and continuing its run Feb. 2-11 at the Campbell Theatre in Martinez.

The company has two holiday entertainment options: “Frozen Jr.” Dec. 8-9 at the California Theatre and “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Show” Dec. 9-10 at the California Theatre and continuing Dec. 15-16 at the Campbell.
Go to www.ptcca.org for all the details.

Send comments to sallyhogarty@gmail.com

Sally Hogarty
Sally Hogarty

Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to sallyhogarty@gmail.com