Columns Sally Hogarty Stage Struck

Waiting in the wings — East Bay theater companies entertain online as stages stay dark

Waiting in the wings —East Bay theatre companies entertain online as stages stay dark
The award-winning 2017 Town Hall Theatre performance of Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” is available to view online through June 17.

Columns Sally Hogarty Stage StruckMonth three of shelter in place and no live theater in sight. While some businesses are slowly emerging from hibernation, theater and other live performances are still just a hopeful glimmer in audiences’ eyes. Until we can once again meet in a dark theater to enjoy the creativity of the talented performers, crews and theater companies in our community, we’ll have to support them in other ways.

Of course, no non-profit theater in its right mind would turn down a monetary donation, so please feel free to keep our theater community alive that way. You can also show your support, however, by tuning into one of the many streaming and live performances taking place. The advantages to watching a performance on your computer are many. You sit in the safety of your own home with refreshments and the bathroom close by!

Lafayette’s Town Hall Theatre has been streaming plays from its archives for audiences. The productions are free, but donations are always appreciated! Currently playing is the company’s production of Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” which won a TBA award for outstanding production of 2017.

When I saw “An Ideal Husband” at Town Hall in June 2017, I remember being so impressed with director Susan Hovey’s lively pacing and well-thought-out interpretation. While Hovey left the play in its Victorian setting, she added modern music at the beginning and during scene changes to convey how relevant the show is today.  And, thanks to Brian Watson’s gorgeous set, the audience enjoyed one elegant setting after another. Adding color to those sets were Hope Birdwell’s beautifully dressed performers.

Waiting in the wings —East Bay theatre companies entertain online as stages stay dark
Scene from An Ideal Husband.

Wilde’s witty comedy opens on a dinner party at Sir Robert Chiltern’s house in Grosvenor Square, the action quickly goes from the usual witty gosip among the well-heeled guests to moral dilemmas and blackmail. Mrs. Cheveley (a delightfully wicked Dana Lewenthal) has found out the source of Sir Robert’s (Dennis Markam at his best) fortune and threatens to expose him to his very moral wife (a marvelous Heather Kellogg) unless he supports a fraudulent scheme of her own. His best friend, Lord Goring (the brilliant DC Scarpelli), finds himself in the middle of the intrigue as he tries to help his friend. Sound familiar? You might have read something similar recently on social media!

The video of “An Ideal Husband” continues through July 17. Go to

More online entertainment

Brentwood’s Ghostlight Theatre Ensemble plans a July production for its Performing Arts Youth Academy as well as a virtual performance of “Vintage Hitchcock,” a live radio play by Joe Landry Aug. 6-9. For more information on both, go to

Pittsburg Community Theatre, which posts an inspiring message and video regarding the recent violence following the death of George Floyd on its website ( announces its season will resume in February 2021 when the California Theatre reopens. The opening show will be “Once on this Island,” followed by “The Addam’s Family, the Musical” and “Death Trap.” The inaugural season for “PCT@Steeltown” is also postponed until 2021 when the company hopes to kick off with “The Real Inspector Hound” in late March or early April followed by the three-man comedy “The Hound of the Baskervilles” in August.

Meanwhile, Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts hopes to offer outdoor performances of dance, theater and music in its newly renovated and expanded Rudney Plaza, which would allow for social distancing. A recent grant from the Diablo Regional Arts Association of $150,000 will help the center adapt performances to current circumstances and virtual experiences.

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