A.C.T.’s Geary Theater Has a New Name

The American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) has renamed their historic Geary Theater to Toni Rembe Theater. The change comes after the San Francisco organization received a $35 million donation from an anonymous donor in honor of Toni Rembe.

This donation is the largest single gift that A.C.T. has ever received. To celebrate this unprecedented contribution, American Conservatory Theater has decided to dedicate the former Geary Theater to Toni Rembe, a San Francisco Bay Area arts philanthropist. Rembe currently serves on the Board of Trustees of American Conservatory Theater and is a past President and Chair. Rembe has also served on many other boards for social justice and the arts. She is president of the van Lӧben Sels/Rembe Rock Foundation, a private foundation specializing in the promotion of social justice through legal services and advocacy

“We are deeply grateful to the generous donor for this extraordinary gift,” said Executive Director Jennifer Bielstein. “The funds provided are transformational for the future of American Conservatory Theater and the impact of our programming throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Toni is a role model, and we are honored to recognize her in such a deserving and significant way. The Toni Rembe Theater will forever serve as a reminder of Toni’s decades-long contributions to the arts community.”

The $35 million donation will help protect A.C.T. for future generations. This money is especially critical during a time when supporters and audience members are still slowly returning to the theater after ongoing times of uncertainty and hardship. The gift will also be used for improvements to A.C.T.’s theater venues and an increase in accessibility to performances and programming.

Artistic Director Pam MacKinnon added, “Toni Rembe has been central to the health and well-being of the Bay Area theater scene. Her wide-ranging artistic taste and appreciation of artists and the special act of audiences coming together for a story make her a true theater lover. Her generosity and commitment to Bay Area culture and artmaking is unparalleled. Toni’s involvement with A.C.T. has been historic and long-reaching. She has served as a member of A.C.T.’s Board of Trustees for over 20 years, including stints as Board President and Chair. She was also on the search committee that brought me to A.C.T. I am profoundly grateful for her stewardship and love of theater in her chosen city of San Francisco.”


You can view American Conservatory Theater’s current season on our website.

The Performing Arts Guide Is Here!

We are thrilled to announce that the second annual Encore Performing Arts Guide hits mailboxes today!

Due to its rousing success last year, we are proud to bring back the comprehensive Performing Arts Guide to Greater Seattle Area readers.

The Performing Arts Guide, in collaboration with ArtsFund, will provide arts patrons with information on upcoming events in the area for the entire 2022/23 season. The Guide also includes ticketing information, venue locations and more, all in one convenient place. The beautifully curated Guide highlights the best of dance, theatre, music, and more.

Along with our Museum Guide, the Performing Arts Guide is our latest endeavor in providing the public with a valuable service, while also supporting our local arts organizations. These additional resources play a small role in the larger effort to move forward after the pandemic and the difficult past two years—all in the service of connecting arts, culture, and community.

You can view the digital version of the 2022/23 Performing Arts Guide here. Be sure to peruse and use the Guide to find the perfect show for your next night out!

the cover of the performing arts guide which is pink

Village Theatre’s “Little Shop of Horrors” Cast and Creative Team Is Announced

Far from horrible, the cast and creative team of Village Theatre’s upcoming Little Shop of Horrors is filled with familiar faces and outstanding talent.

The musical comedy-horror will be directed by Brandon Ivie, the associate artistic director of new works at Village Theatre. Aaron M. Davis Norman and Tim Symons will provide music direction. And choreography will be provided by Randy Ford. The rest of the production team is as follows:

Associate Music Director: Aimee Hong
Associate Choreographer: Robbi Moore
Scenic Designer: Tim Mackabee
Costume Designer: Sarafina Bush
Lighting Designer: Robert Aguilar
Wig & Hair Designer: Kaleena Jordan
Sound Designer: Kurt Conway
Stage Manager: Shay Trusty*
Assistant Stage Manager: Stefania Giron Zuluaga
Dramaturg: Jeanette Sanchez-Izenman

headshots of actors Kyle Nicholas Anderson and Shanelle Nicole Leonard
Kyle Nicholas Anderson (Seymour) and Shanelle Nicole Leonard (Audrey) in Village Theatre’s “Little Shop of Horrors.” Photos courtesy of artists

Starring in the production is Kyle Nicholas Anderson as Seymour and Shanelle Nicole Leonard as Audrey. Anderson has previously been seen at Village Theatre in Guys and Dolls, Les Misérables and Stunt Girl. Leonard will be familiar to local audiences from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at The 5th Avenue Theatre; she has also been seen Off-Broadway in Confederates. The full cast is as follows:

Chiffon, Audrey Understudy: Ania Briggs 
Crystal: Belle Shippy
Ronnette: Brandi Birdsong
Mushnik: Eric Polani Jensen*
Audrey: Shanelle Nicole Leonard*
Seymour: Kyle Nicholas Anderson*
Orin Scrivello D.D.S et all: Nick Watson
The Voice of Audrey II: Kennedy Salters*
Audrey II Puppeteer: John David Scott*
Chiffon/Crystal Understudy: Elsa Miller
Ronnette/The Voice of Audrey II Understudy: Jadyn Muralt 
Mushnik Understudy: Josh Krupke
Seymour Understudy: Brad Lo Walker 
Orin Scrivello D.D.S/Audrey II Puppeteer Understudy: Vincent Milay


Little Shop of Horrors will play at Village Theatre’s Francis J. Gaudette Theatre September 14–October 22, 2022. The show will then move to Everett Performing Arts Center October 28–November 26, 2022. Tickets are available online.

TheatreWorks’ 2022/23 Season Will Highlight New Works and Classic Favorites

The 52nd season of TheatreWorks Silicon Valley has been announced. The Tony-winning theatre will present six shows beginning in November 2022 and ending in August 2023.

“We invite audiences to lift their voices with us this season,” said Artistic Director Tim Bond. “In celebration that live, in-person theatre has returned; in awe for thrilling moments of joy and theatricality; in unison as we share these diverse stories of global cultures, people, and perspectives. TheatreWorks’ 52nd Season will include six incredible shows, full of the joy and passion you have come to expect from our Tony Award-winning company.”

The season kicks off in November with the fan favorite musical Little Shop of Horrors (November 30–December 24, 2022). The setting of this campy show will be moved to San Francisco’s Chinatown and the production will highlight a multicultural cast. Little Shop of Horrors features a score by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the Academy Award-winning duo behind Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin.

Next comes the West Coast Premiere of In Every Generation (January 18–February 12, 2023). The winner of the National Jewish Playwriting Content, this multi-generational, multi-lingual, multicultural play takes a time-traveling voyage through four millennia of Passover seders past, present, and future. In Every Generation is written by Ali Viterbi and directed by Michael Barakiva.

In March, TheatreWorks will present Fannie: The Music and Life of Fannie Lou Hamer (March 8–April 2, 2023). Award-winning actor Greta Oglesby, who starred in TheatreWorks’ Gem of the Ocean earlier this year, will return to play Fannie Lou Hamer. Artistic Director Tim Bond will direct this musical which follows the famed civil rights activist in her inspiring gospel journey to justice, from sharecropper to co-founding the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and becoming an outspoken voice for African American voting rights. The musical is written by Cheryl L. West.

Continuing the season will be the World Premiere of A Distinct Society (April 5–30, 2023). This play from Kareen Fahmy was developed during the 2021 TheatreWorks New Works Festival Online. In this moving play, a quiet library that straddles United States and Canada becomes the battlefield for border control. As an Iranian family separated by the Muslim travel ban seeks refuge within its doors, the library’s occupants grapple with the power of the law versus the powers of the heart. TheatreWorks Artistic Associate and Director of New Works Giovanna Sardelli will direct this play that is presented in association with Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Theatre.

Up next is Steel Magnolias (June 7–July 2, 2023), directed by actor and director Elizabeth Carter. Written by Robert Harling, this beloved play follows a tight-knit group of Southern women who flock to Truvy’s beauty parlor, where its occupants dish gossip, do hair, and provide strength and support through life’s joys and tragedies. The comic drama enjoyed high acclaim during its run on Off-Broadway before being adapted into the beloved film.

The season closes with the World Premiere of Alice Bliss (July 12–August 6, 2023). This musical is based on the book by Laura Harrington and was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons and TheatreWorks. Set in upstate New York during the Iraq War, this new musical is an intimate and stunning tale of a family seeking hope in the midst of crisis as headstrong teenager Alice struggles to hold them together.

Season subscriptions are now available online. Single tickets will be available in November 2022.  

Village Theatre Has Appointed New Leadership: Adam Immerwahr as Artistic Director and Laura Lee as Managing Director

Laura Lee comes from a 30-year career in nonprofit service and advocacy for the arts. Adam Immerwahr was the artistic director of Theater J in Washington D.C. for the past six and a half years. They will take over for Executive Producer Robb Hunt who leaves Village Theatre after 43 years.  

After Village Theatre’s Executive Producer Robb Hunt announced his retirement in 2021, the local theater has led a nationwide search for a new leadership team. Village Theatre’s board of directors and Management Consultants for the Arts (a team of seasoned leaders from the arts and culture world that helps organizations fill positions) have filled the managing director and artistic director roles. This dual leadership will be a change from the single leadership model of Robb Hunt.

“Adam and Laura were chosen from an extensive list of qualified candidates and as a team bring a unique energy, experience, and vision to Village Theatre and are positioned to steer the organization soundly into the future,” Board President Jill Klinge said. “We are excited for our community of artists and patrons to meet our new ‘dream team!’”  

Laura Lee has most recently filled the managing director position at ArtsWest, a Seattle theater and gallery, for the past nine years. In addition to arts administration, Lee’s experience extends to finance, marketing, PR and fundraising.

“As a passionate lover of musical theater, a believer that theater needs new works to stay relevant, and as a mom and theater administrator who knows the power of arts education, I am so honored to be joining this organization,” Lee shared.

Joining Village Theater from the East Coast, Adam Immerwahr’s most recent position was the artistic director of Theater J, the nation’s premier Jewish theater. He served as the associate artistic director at McCarter Theatre and as resident director of Passage Theatre, both in New Jersey.

“I am humbled and honored to be the next Artistic Director at Village Theatre,” Immerwahr said. “Musical theater was how I fell in love with theater as an art form, and I’m thrilled to be returning to it. Over the past four decades, Village Theatre has become a leader in arts education, in the development of new musical theater, and in creating productions that delight and enthrall its audiences; I know we will continue to build upon that incredible legacy.”

Laura Lee and Adam Immerwahr will both begin their new positions this month.


Check out Village Theatre’s 2022-23 season here.

Watch “Reunite With the Arts” and Get Inspired Again

A new video created by ArtsFund shares the impact of the arts in times of upheaval and challenges in order to inspire all.

ArtsFund—a local nonprofit that supports the arts through leadership, advocacy, and grant making—is furthering its mission of building a healthy, equitable and creative Washington by producing Reunite With the Arts. This video shares the stories of Washington’s arts and cultural community members throughout the difficulties of the past two years.

“Over the past two years, our communities have been disconnected,” said Michael Greer, ArtsFund President and CEO. “And as we begin to reconnect with our friends and family, we’re using arts and culture in order to do that. Arts and culture are incredibly excited to play that role within our communities.”

The video chronicles the trials, obstacles, and accomplishments that the arts sector has experienced during the pandemic, painting an inspiring picture of how individuals have come together in their time of most need. During the pandemic the arts and cultural sectors have been hit extremely hard, impacting everyone from artists to arts administrators, from the highest level of leadership to the ushers.

Now that we are beginning to see a glimpse of light at the end of this dark tunnel, with the community defying all obstacles and bouncing back, ArtsFund provides this video as a rallying call for all to get involved and participate in new ways. It reminds us of the power and possibility that the arts provide us while we look towards the future.      

Learn more at ArtsFund’s website.

Meet the Cast of “Romeo y Juliet” at Cal Shakes

Romeo y Juliet is a world premiere bilingual adaptation that imagines these star-crossed lovers as two daughters from feuding families before the backdrop of Alta California, as California was known during Spanish Colonial and Mexican rule.

Romeo and Juliet has been adapted countless times, in countless ways for hundreds of years,” shared the playwright, Karen Zacarías. “It is exciting to present this bilingual adaptation of Shakespeare’s rich, colorful language that gives audiences a different way to hear and feel it.”

Romeo y Juliet will play at Bruns Amphitheater May 25 through June 19. Single tickets will go on sale later in the spring.

Cast

Romeo
Sarita Ocón

Juliet
Vero Maynez

Mercutio
Juan Amador

Tybalt / Paris
Hugo Carbajal

Friar Lawrence / Capulet
Orlando Arriaga

Benvolio
Brady Morales-Woolery

Nurse
Wilma Bonet

Lady Capulet
Eliana Lopez

Creative Team

Playwright
Karen Zacarías

Director
KJ Sanchez

Scenic Designer
Tanya Orellana

Costume Designer
Jessie Amoroso

Lighting Designer
Russell H. Champa

Sound Designer
Madeleine Oldham

Assistant Director
Melanie Queponds

Fight Director
Dave Maier

Stage Manager
Deena Tovar

Assistant Stage Manager
Julia Formanek

Production Assistant
Grace Ortega

Dramaturgs
Philippa Kelly & Ken Cerniglia

Cast and Creative Team Announced for “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” at Village Theatre

“As we forge ahead into a more aware and inclusive world, it was of the utmost importance to me for everyone to see a piece of themselves on this stage,” said Director Jimmy Shields. “Not just physically, but emotionally and yes, even mentally. What better production to take on this task than You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown? At first glance, we often recognize Charlie Brown and the gang as simply the iconic Peanuts comic strip and shorts we know and love. In a deeper look, we realized that these kids are parts of all of us, on the cusp of discovering how the world works and how we find and navigate our happiness through it. I hope this production allows you to reconnect with that childlike optimism and steadfastness that was there before your happiness was influenced by the outside world.”

Cast

Charlie Brown
Rafael Molina

Sally Brown
Arika Matoba

Snoopy
Jason Weitkamp

Schroeder
Charles L. Simmons

Linus Van Pelt
UJ Mangune

Lucy van Pelt
Joel Weil

Crew

Director
Jimmy Shields

Choreographer
Cy Paolantonio

Music Director & Conductor
R.J. Tancioco

Associate Director
Lia Fakhouri

Associate Choreographer
Nehemia Hooks

Associate Music Director
Michael Matlock

Scenic Designer
Christopher Mumaw

Lighting Designer
Marcy Barbeau

Costume Designer
Melanie Burgess

Sound Designer
B&H Sound

Dramaturg
Sonja Lowe

Stage Manager
Miranda C. Pratt

Stage Manager
Victoria Thompson

Assistant Stage Manager
Michelle Chesley

Assistant Lighting Designer
Amber Park

Taproot Theatre Announces Three Shows for Their 2022 Season

Taproot Theatre Company has announced they will be bringing three shows to their stage for the 2022 season. The season will feature the comedy The Nerd, Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee, and a new cabaret by the Russell family.

The Nerd

Three’s already a crowd in Willum’s house, but it’s as tight as a game of sardines when Rick unexpectedly arrives. He’s as interesting as quality control at a chalk factory, until his antics jeopardize Willum’s career. Sure, Rick once saved Willum’s life, but now he’s ruining it! Pass the deviled eggs, this party’s about to become a saucer-smashing good time!

May 18–June 18, 2022


Black Coffee

The formula for a secret weapon has been stolen, and that isn’t the only mystery in the Amory house! When Sir Claude discovers the theft, he locks his family in the library. Moments later there’s a dead body, a room full of suspects, and a Belgian sleuth at the door. Witness the famous Hercule Poirot untangle a jumble of deceptions to discover whodunit.

July 13–August 13, 2022


A Night with the Russells: The Legacy of Us

An evening of laughter, love, and unrelenting joy! Seattle’s own Sarah, Be, and Faith Bennett Russell carry on their family’s legacy as storytellers, while celebrating their individual journeys as Black female artists. From their roots in Jamaica to their home in Seattle, this cabaret is filled with songs both new and old. Bring your tissues and party-poppers and prepare to leave with a song in your heart.

September 21–October 22, 2022

Principal Dancer Sarah Van Patten Will Leave San Francisco Ballet After 20 Seasons With Company

San Francisco Ballet announced today that principal dancer Sara Van Patten will be leaving the San Francisco company at the end of the 2022 season, after 20 years with the renowned company. Van Patten will give her last performance with SF Ballet in a special event celebrating her tenure on April 16 at the War Memorial Opera House.

Van Patten joined the San Francisco Ballet as a soloist in 2002 and was promoted to a principal dancer in 2007. During her incredible 20-year tenure she has entertained audiences with stirring performances in Helgi Tomasson’s Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo & Juliet, Don Quixote, and Nutcracker. Her career highlights include principal roles in John Cranko’s Onegin, Wheeldon’s Cinderella, and John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid.

“Sarah is an immensely talented artist who has brought to this Company a diverse range of abilities, both in her dancing and in her dramatic interpretations of some of the great roles of classical ballet,” said Tomasson. “She has been integral to the creation of some of my own ballets, as well as ballets by numerous other choreographers who have worked in our studios throughout the past two decades. It has been a pleasure to work with her and we will miss her dearly.”

Van Patten, beyond dancing with the San Francisco Ballet, is a choreographer, producer, and director. As founder and artistic director of Tahoe Dance Camp she gave a place for artists to safely create and work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nonprofit has been a haven for dancers, choreographers, and other artists, giving them a space to work, create, collaborate, and perform before returning to their studios.

“It has been an incredible 20 years dancing for San Francisco Ballet,” said Van Patten. “I feel so fortunate to have been given the opportunity from Helgi when I was 17 to join the company as a soloist. I never could have imagined then what has ended up being such an amazing journey. Thank you to so many people behind the scenes and in the audience who have supported and helped me along over these years. I will forever cherish this chapter in my life and I look forward to what is next!”


Tickets for Sarah Van Patten’s farewell performance will go on sale March 4, 2022.