War Memorial Opera House and San Francisco Ballet
San Francisco Opera Company is the second largest in the country and
performs from June to January. The excellent San Francisco Ballet, one
of the nation’s oldest, mostly performs at the Opera House, too .
301 Van Ness Ave
415 864 3330
War Memorial Opera House
Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
performances from September to May, under the directorship of Michael
Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra performs in this
modern structure with carefully modulated acoustics. Built in 1980, this
curving, glass-fronted concert hall is loved and loathed in equal
measure by San Franciscans. Its corner placement is set off by a Henry
Moore bronze, which also has its share of detractors.
201 Van Ness Ave
415 864 6000
Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
a Masonic Temple, built in 1957, this attractive structure, with its
3,000-seat auditorium, is used as a venue for jazz performances,
lectures, and readings, as well as conventions and seminars. Mosaics
inside and out depict some of the tenets of Freemasonry.
1111 California St
415 776 4702
in 1922, this is one of the grandest theaters in the city and a
Registered National Historic Landmark. The interior is a fantasy of gold
and carved wood, complemented by a vast chandelier and murals. Shows
tend toward long-running Broadway hits.
Golden Gate Theater
former movie house, designed with Moorish influences in the 1920s, is
one of the larger mainstream theaters. Its usual offerings are traveling
Broadway shows – more recently, hits imported from New York have
included a revival of A Bronx Tale, starring Chaz Palminteri.
smallest of the mainstream houses offers a mix of cabaret, comedy,
dance, lectures, and concerts. It’s really just a recital hall, and the
acoustics are not great, but the beautiful 1930s building is decorated
with eight enormous Beaux-Arts murals that were executed for the 1915
Veterans’ Memorial Building
401 Van Ness Ave
415 392 4400
Originally a vaudeville house and then a movie theater, this is the historic spot where Hair
was given its first West Coast performance some three decades ago –
known locally as “the New York version of what happened here in San
Francisco.” The theater, decorated in 1920s Moorish taste, now mostly
stages Broadway shows.
American Conservatory Theater (ACT)
in the 1960s, San Francisco’s most important theater company is
internationally respected and has produced premieres of a number of
major plays. At the heart of ACT is one of the most acclaimed
actor-training institutions in the nation – former students include
Denzel Washington, Annette Bening, and Winona Ryder.
the 1970s, none other than Sam Shepard was the resident playwright of
the Magic, and its stage has seen performances by the likes of Sean Penn
and Nick Nolte. It specializes in bringing new plays to light, usually
by up-and-coming Americans. It also offers “raw play” readings of as yet
Beach Blanket Babylon
camp and high headdresses, along with jolly good singing by the
veteran ensemble cast make this one of the joys of the city. It’s been
zinging the heartstrings of lovers of San Francisco for more than a
quarter of a century and shows no signs of flagging. The excuse for all
this frivolity is the sending up of various notables, most of whom well
deserve the good-natured ribbing.