Elizabeth Craven Creates Exceptional Live Theater
by Jennifer Ann Charron
Grinding through life as a single mom of two teenagers in the East Bay—you know the drill—underpaid, overworked, I’m lucky enough to spend many weekends in West Sonoma County. A beautiful piece of the North Bay, West Sonoma juxtaposes new vineyards, old hippies, amazing vistas, and great food.
There’s a lot to love: Hog Island Oysters, Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt Tam cheese, the steak frites at Graton’s Underwood Bar and Bistro. Okay, I like to eat. Food aside, one of my favorites, Sebastopol’s Main Stage West provides knock-out professional live theater in an intimate setting at great prices.
The company was founded in 2011 by a group of veteran and emerging performing and visual artists and they’ve turned it into something magical. Artistic Director Elizabeth Craven spins gold out of an old town storefront turned theater space. Craven has an amazing eye for talent, changing the tenor of live theater in the North Bay.
Past season performances like “Eurydice” and “Outside Mullingar” blew my socks off, but this season’s opener “Savage Wealth” took my breath away. The world premiere comedy by the gifted local playwright Bob Duxbury had me hanging on every line.
Director John Shillington led a trio of actors—Matt Cadigan, Peter T. Downey, and Ilana Niernberger—through flawless performances. Two wildly different brothers try to unload their late father’s Tahoe house. Trouble arises when New Age neighbor Beenie throws a wrench into the works. The hilarious comedy joins perfect timing with a thought-provoking real estate conflict between brothers.
Main Stage West’s 2018-2019 season offers seven remaining bold productions. On October 12, Director David Lear offers “The Night Alive,” Conor McPherson’s prize-winning poetic play about down and out Dubliners finding rays of light in life’s darkest times.
Opening November 23, Wendy MacLeod’s “The House of Yes” will offer a timely brother/sister comedy about a family obsessed with Jackie and JFK.
If the rest of Main Stage West’s 2018-2019 season rises to the same high standard, we can anticipate more wonderful comedies and dramas.
Now Playing: “The Night Alive” by Conor McPherson, at Main Stage West, Sebastopol, California, October 12 – October 28, 2018. Info: mainstagewest.com
Main Stage West’s 2018-2019 Season:
“Savage Wealth” by Bob Duxbury, Aug 31-Sep 16, 2018
“The Night Alive” by Conor McPherson, Oct 12-Oct 28
“The House of Yes” by Wendy MacLeod, Nov 23-Dec 16, 2018
“Swallow” by Stef Smith, Jan 11-Jan 22, 2019
“After Miss Julie” by Patrick Marber, Feb 14-Mar 3
“Heathen Valley” by Romulus Linney, Mar 29-Apr 14
“Crossroads” by John Shillington & Janice Wilson, May 10-26
“Lungs” by Duncan Macmillan, Jun 14-30, 2019