.Stages of Love: Local Theaters Offer Virtual Romance

Love is in the air this week, but so is the coronavirus. Eleven months after the North Bay went into lockdown, Valentine’s Day is the last social holiday to fall victim to the pandemic. 

This year, the usual romantic outings and festive gatherings that come with Valentine’s Day will have to largely remain socially distant. In that spirit, several North Bay theater companies are offering an entertaining night for at-home audiences, with plenty of virtual Valentine-themed plays and productions coming up.

Novato Theater Company—already committed to an online season of shows for 2021—opens the year with a special Valentine offering, “Celebrate Love!”, which will feature intimate performances by 10 couples familiar to NTC audiences. The online showcase goes live on NTC’s Youtube page on Saturday, Feb. 13, at 7pm.

“We are blessed at NTC for having so many couples involved in the theater,” Marilyn Izdebski, NTC board president, says. “What better way to start our season than to celebrate Valentine’s Day? More than any other year, we need this time to smile and be happy.”

Like many other theater companies, NTC is still unable to produce in-person plays and continues to operate in survival mode. While “Celebrate Love!” is free to watch, NTC is gladly accepting donations at Novatotheatercompany.org.

“We are trying hard to pay the rent so we can reopen,” Izdebski says. “That is our goal, to stay alive and produce as much [online] content as we are able to. All of these shows are such a collaborative effort and we have such a supportive Board of Directors. Everyone is involved, just like producing a show on a stage.”

Sonoma Arts Live, which performs on the Rotary Stage at the Sonoma Community Center, is also fighting to stay afloat financially and creatively during the pandemic.

“It seems like years since we’ve been able to put on a production,” Larry Williams, longtime director at SAL, says in a statement. “We theater folk are resilient and determined though.”

With that determination, Williams is directing a live-streaming performance of “Pinky,” a popular play by North Bay playwright (and this paper’s former theater critic) David Templeton. Loosely based on Templeton’s first high school crush, “Pinky” is a love story involving treasure hunts, sword fights, monsters and a buried treasure hidden in a shopping mall food court.

“Pinky” stars Sonoma County husband-and-wife team Julianne and Mark Bradbury, who will perform the play live from their home Friday to Sunday, Feb. 12–14 and Feb. 19–21. Admission is by donation, though pre-registration is required at Sonomaartslive.org.

“‘Pinky’ is our Valentine’s gift to the audience we miss so much,” Jaime Love, SAL executive artistic director, says in a statement.

6th Street Playhouse also gets romantic when it hosts “Love Is: A Valentine’s Day Cabaret” streaming on demand Feb. 12–15. The online show includes musical performances by beloved 6th Street Playhouse artists and guest appearances by stars Chris Noth (Sex & the City) and Tony-nominated actor Patrick Page (Hadestown). Get tickets at 6thstreetplayhouse.com.

The Raven Players are also feeling the love this weekend with the “Valentine Virtual Variety Show,” streaming live Feb. 12–14 and featuring songs about love lost—and won. Reserve your date at Raventheater.org.

Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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