Arts & Entertainment

Live theater

Dying to see Broadway shows? Well, skip out on the airfare and catch plays in j. readers’ favorite live theaters. The shows more often than not end up in New York, anyway.

Two of the Berkeley Repertory Theater’s most recent shows, “Wishful Drinking” and “In the Next Room (or the vibrator play),” are heading to Broadway, bringing its count to four in the last four years. “We started in a storefront in Berkeley that had been a fruit shop and in the course of 40 years we have become a nationally renowned theater,” says director of public relations Terrence Keane. On tap for BRT is “American Idiot,” a show based on Berkeley-born rock band Green Day’s popular album.

The Marin Theatre Company does not believe big cities mean better shows. “You don’t have to go to New York or San Francisco to see top theater,” says communications director Kathie Ganes. “We pride ourselves on presenting challenging plays for our audiences.” With 40 years of history in Mill Valley, the MTC offers an intimate theater experience, as the largest of the two theaters only seats 240.

The American Conservatory Theater is one of the oldest San Francisco institutions. ACT is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary with plays from Noel Coward, David Mamet and Bertolt Brecht, among others. “We put on really great shows,” says public relations manager Evern Odcikin, “a unique mix of classics and contemporary plays.”

TheatreWorks has a simple goal: reflect the diversity of its community. Since 1970, TheatreWorks has had 52 world premieres. “Silicon Valley, where people resonate with what’s new, resonate with TheatreWorks,” says managing director Phil Santura. With both a small, intimate theater and a large, modern one, TheatreWorks provides a unique theatergoing experience.

In second place were Cal Shakes in Orinda, San Jose Repertory Theatre and the Jewish Theatre, San Francisco.

First Place

San Francisco

American Conservatory Theatre

(415) 749-2ACT

East Bay

Berkeley Repertory Theatre


(510) 647-2949

South Bay/Peninsula


Mountain View

(650) 463-1960

North Bay

Marin Theatre Company

Mill Valley

(415) 388-5208

Second Place

San Francisco

The Jewish Theatre, San Francisco

(415) 522-0786

East Bay

Cal Shakes


(510) 548-9666

South Bay/Peninsula

San Jose Repertory Theatre

San Jose

(408) 367-7255



Looking for a place where kids can run around and burn off some energy? How does a 7.5 acre–wide children’s museum in a national park sound? That’s exactly what the Bay Area Discovery Museum offers.

Located in Fort Baker in Sausalito, the museum offers active exhibits for its 300,000 visitors each year. “Everything we do is hands-on interactive,” says communications director Jennifer Caleshu. “It’s all about nurturing creativity.” Currently, the featured exhibit is Children of Hangzhou, which allows childtren to experience life in China by recreating schools, theaters and homes.

Time is running out to visit the Judah L. Magnes Museum at its historic mansion residence before it moves to a new building in downtown Berkeley. For the past 45 years, the Magnes has presented the history of the Jewish diaspora from a pastoral Berkeley street. “It’s the only museum that tells the story of the Jewish experience in California, and particular the San Francisco Bay Area,” says Alla Efimova, the museum’s chief curator and director.

It’s been open for just over a year, but the Contemporary Jewish Museum is quickly becoming a San Francisco institution. “[We] present and create exhibitions and programming that are both timely and relevant to today’s society,” says marketing and communications director Jen Morris. One of the more unique exhibits is the Yud gallery, which consists of a 65-foot ceiling, 36 skylights, surround sound, and resembles the inside of a diamond. “There isn’t anything like it in San Francisco,” Morris says.

Nestled in the middle of Stanford University’s campus, the Cantor Arts Center boasts the largest collection of Rodin bronzes outside of Paris. “We present art from around the world and over 4,000 years,” says Anna Koster, head of communications for the museum. With programs such as Metaphysics of Notation (based on a musical score by professor Mark Applebaum) and Mix (entertainment geared for young professionals), Cantor has a little something for everyone.

In second place were the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, the Oakland Museum of California and the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.

First Place

San Francisco

Contemporary Jewish Museum

(415) 655-7800

East Bay

Judah L. Magnes Museum


(510) 549-6950

South Bay/Peninsula

Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University


(650) 723-4177

North Bay

Bay Area Discovery Museum


(415) 339-3900

Second Place


San Francisco

M.H. de Young Memorial Museum

(415) 750-3600

East Bay

Oakland Museum of California

(510) 238-2200

North Bay

Charles M. Schulz Museum

Santa Rosa

(707) 579-4452