7 cool live shows to catch this weekend and beyond

There are a lot of great live shows in the Bay Area to catch this weekend and beyond. Here’s a partial rundown.

Center Rep reaches the ‘Heights’

“In the Heights” often seems relegated in theater discussions to being “that Lin-Manuel Miranda musical that isn’t ‘Hamilton,’” a designation which unfairly overlooks many of its wonderful attributes.

First off, the music and choreography are beautiful and exhilarating and practically guaranteed to put you in great mood. The show immerses viewers in a vibrant Dominican American neighborhood in northern Manhattan for a three-day stretch with a fascinating cast of characters and storylines. And while it is not given credit, as “Hamilton” was, of rewriting the rules of the contemporary theater, it was groundbreaking in its own ways.

Opening a decade before “Hamilton,” “In the Heights” featured a primarily Latin cast and score heavy on Latin and hip-hop songs — aspects that were certainly forward-looking in their time.

But the main thing is the show is tremendously entertaining, and you can see for yourself in Walnut Creek, where Center Repertory Company is staging the Tony Award-winning show at the Dean Lesher Center for the Arts. The production is helmed by Nicholas C. Avila, with musical direction by Nick Perez and choreographed by Sara Templeton.

Details: Through June 24; 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek; $45-$70; 925-943-7469,

— Randy McMullen, Staff

‘Steel Magnolias’ in bloom

Most people are probably most familiar with “Steel Magnolias” from the 1989 film starring Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton and Daryl Hannah as a tightnight group of Southern women who hang out at a local beauty parlor to dish gossip and stories and guide each other through the joys and tragedies that accompany life. But the film was adapted from Robert Harling’s 1987 play that he reportedly wrote to deal with his grief at losing his sister to diabetes shortly after she gave birth to his namesake nephew. The play was originally written as a short story that Harling intended as a way to tell his nephew about his mother and the close group of friends she had. But the work evolved into a play that eventually enjoyed a successful off-Broadway run before being adapted into the iconic 1989 film and into another hit film in 2012 with an all-Black cast including Queen Latifah, Jill SCott, Condola Rashadm Adepero Oduye, Phylicia Rashad and Alfre Woodard.

Now TheatreWorks Silicon Valley is reviving the stage version with a multi-ethnic cast helmed by Elizabeth Carter in her TheatreWorks directing debut. The more diverse casting is intended, as TheatreWorks puts it, to offer “a deeper look at how women from various backgrounds regard the sanctity of having their hair ‘done.’” It is still likely, however, to serve up the mixture of tears and giggles that have made this timeless portrait of sisterhood such an American classic.

Details: June 7-July 2; Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro St., Mountain View; $29-$82;

— Bay City News Foundation

Circus Bella launches its free summer touring show June 8 in Oakland. (Daisy Rose Coby/Circus Bella) 

Circus Bella summer tour returns

They might not get the attention of the Bay Area’s best known musicians, comedians or thespians, but circus artists have long played a vital part of the Bay Area entertainment scene. These days, you can catch them five days a week in “Dear San Francisco,” a rollicking 90-minute circus show at Club Fugazi performed by The 7 Fingers troupe, led by co-artistic directors Gypsy Snider and Shana Carroll. And when summer comes, we can look forward to the annual tour by Circus Bella, an outfit co-founded and directed by Abigail Munn. Like her counterparts at 7 Fingers, Munn got her start at San Francisco’s legendary New Pickle Circus, a troupe born in the 1970s which hatched the careers of such performers as Geoff Hoyle and Bill Irwin. Circus Bella is serving up its 14th annual free summer show featuring acrobatics, aerial stunts, juggling  and clowning, all backed by live music from Rob Reich and the six-piece Circus Bella All-Star Band. Circus Bella’s new show “Bananas!” debuts 5 p.m. June 8 with a preview performance at DeFremery Park, 1651 Adeline St., Oakland.

Details: Remaining shows are June 18-July 16 at parks in Richmond, San Francisco and Oakland;

— Bay City News Foundation

Concerts in praise of  ‘Femininas’

Fellow devotees of the Latin American Songbook, Venezuelan-born pianist Edward Simon, the longest serving member of the SFJAZZ Collective, and Mexican jazz vocalist Magos Herrera, just released the gorgeous collaboration “Femininas,” an album celebrating the music of epochal women songwriters.

They perform June 8 at Kuumbwa Jazz Center and June 9 at SFJAZZ’s Joe Henderson Lab, ranging across Latin America to interpret beloved pieces by composers such as Chile’s Violeta Parra, Brazil’s Rosa Passos, Peru’s Chabuca Granda, and Cuba’s Marta Valdes (all filtered through a deeply informed jazz sensibility). With bassist Rueben Rogers and drummer Adam Cruz, Simon’s trio is among the best on the scene, and the addition of Venezuelan percussionist Luisito Quintero only raises the bar.

Based in New York City since 2008, Herrera hasn’t performed often in the Bay Area, though last month she livened up Sonoma State’s Weill Hall with the adventurous string quartet Brooklyn Rider singing Latin American standards and settings for Spanish-language poetry.

Simon also performs duo June 18 at Blue Note Napa with SJJAZZ Collective vibraphonist Warren Wolf.

Details: 7 p.m. June 8 at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Santa Cruz; $42;; 7:30 & 9 p.m. June 9; SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco; $30;

— Andrew Gilbert, Correspondent

An operatic “Dream” at SF Opera

With San Francisco Opera’s summer season productions of Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly” and Richard Strauss’s “Die Frau ohne Schatten” (The Woman without a Shadow) already up and running, the company is set to unveil its third opera of the series — “El ultimo sueño de Frida y Diego” (The Last Dream of Frida and Diego), by Bay Area composer Gabriela Lena Frank and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz.

With Alfredo Daza and Daniela Mack in the title roles of husband-and-wife artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, this dazzling, dreamlike new opera examines the enduring power of art and love on the Day of the Dead in 1957 —  three years after Kahlo’s passing.

Frank, a Berkeley native known for her incorporating sounds from her Latin heritage in her works, has had her more than 25 compositions performed by the San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Chanticleer and the China String Quartet, among others, and has collaborated with artists ranging from Yo-Yo Ma to Wu Man. She is a member of the Silk Road Project.

Details: June 13-30, War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco; $26-$410;

— Georgia Rowe, Correspondent

Native culture celebration returns

Many Nations One Land, the day-long festival devoted to Native American culture, is back for its second year, and it’s brought a ton of stuff with it.

For music, the free event has booked Oakland’s The Bobby Young Project (whose namesake guitarist played with John Lee Hooker) and Native American hip-hop artists C-Log, Stewie G and — hailing from the Apsaalooké (Crow) Nation — Rezcoast Grizz. There’s also a country-western singer and a flute-and-storytelling performance.

Demonstrations include beadwork and corn-husk dolls, and there’s a Native artisan market with locally made jewelry, accessories and clothing. For grub, expect Indigenous food tastings and more.

The host for this year’s fest is Oakland stand-up comedian Jackie Keliiaa, who says this “event is so fun. It’s local and it’s summer (well, almost) and it’s educational – it’s just a perfect Saturday outing and so ‘Bay Area.’”

Details: Noon-5 p.m. Saturday; La Escuelita Elementary School, 1050 2nd Ave., Oakland; free; 510-936-1770

— John Metcalfe, Staff

Classic cars in Redwood City: Now that Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, the Bay Area’s fair and festival season graduates from a steady drizzle to an all-hands-on-deck deluge, with more events on tap than any supercomputer could tabulate. We won’t even try to keep up, but we’re happy to spread the word on some fun events that could otherwise pass you by. Like Redwood City’s third annual Car Show on Saturday. OK, maybe they could have come with a snazzier name for it, but who are we to gripe about a free event that serves up a shiny collection of vintage, custom, classic, sports and muscle cars competing for prizes, plus live music from Amanda and The Issues, a wide variety of food trucks and vendors, wine, beer, and non-alcoholic beverages and other fun stuff.

Details: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Redwood City Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway;

— Bay City News Foundation

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