Announcing Hillbarn Theatre's 2016-2017 Season!

ITS 2016–17 SEASON!

The seven-production season includes the fabulously fun LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL, Aaron Sorkin’s award-winning drama A FEW GOOD MEN, Stephen Adly Guirgis’ dark comedy THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT, the magical family musical MARY POPPINS, the Kander and Ebb masterpiece CABARET, Neil Simon’s Tony Award-winning farce RUMORS and the smash-hit musical comedy SISTER ACT!

Hillbarn Theatre also announces the launch of its brand-new

Season subscriptions available now!
FOSTER CITY, CA (February 10, 2016) – Following another record-breaking season, Hillbarn Theatre, the Peninsula’s premier theatre company, announced last night the seven ambitious productions that will comprise the lineup for its 76th Anniversary season. Highlights include the fabulously fun LEGALLY BLONDE THE MUSICAL (August 25–September 18, 2016), Aaron Sorkin’s award-winning drama A FEW GOOD MEN (October 13–23, 2016), Stephen Adly Guirgis’ dark comedy, THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT (October 2016), the magical family musical MARY POPPINS (November 25–December 18, 2016), the Kander and Ebb masterpiece CABARET (January 19–February 5, 2017), Neil Simon’s Tony Award-winning farce RUMORS (March 9–23, 2017), and the smash-hit musical comedy SISTER ACT (May 4–28, 2017). All performances will be held at Hillbarn Theatre, 1285 East Hillsdale Blvd. Foster City, CA. Subscriptions ($80 – $240) are on sale now at or by calling 650.349.6411 x2.

“The theme of this season embraces the self-affirming ideas expressed through Brené Brown’s quote, ‘Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.’” said Executive Artistic Director Dan Demers. “I have chosen a season that highlights the extraordinary courage it takes to find acceptance and belonging in places that present challenge and elicit fear. From an artistic perspective, all eight projects give voice to Brown’s quote no matter gender, race, religion, age or ethnicity.”

In addition to the seven-production season, Hillbarn Theatre announced its brand-new New Musical Workshop. Scheduled to take place in March 2017, the New Musical Workshop will feature a staged reading and sing-through of a world premiere musical written by Bay Area composers and musicians. Greatly aligning with Hillbarn Theatre’s 2016-2017 theme, “Season of Belonging,” this is an opportunity for patrons to engage, participate and collaborate on a work-in-progress musical.

Hillbarn Theatre celebrates its 76th Season as the Peninsula’s premier community theatre company with new opportunities and performances to showcase its artistic vision throughout the Peninsula and the Bay Area. Hillbarn Theatre hopes to see another exciting year of possibilities and growth as well as uphold its timeless mission statement, “To create theatre with the community, for the community, striving always for excellence in production and education.”

2016–17 SEASON

August 25–September 18, 2016

Hillbarn Theatre kicks off its 2016–2017 season with Harvard’s most beloved blonde who will take the stage by pink storm in this fun, upbeat story of self-discovery. A fabulously fun international award-winning musical based on the adored movie, Legally Blonde The Musical, follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes, snobbery, and scandal in pursuit of her dreams. This action-packed musical explodes on the stage with memorable songs and dynamic dances. Equal parts hilarious and heart-warming, this musical is so much fun it should be illegal.


October 13–23, 2016

In the fall, Hillbarn Theatre will feature Aaron Sorkin’s award-winning drama A Few Good Men. This Broadway hit about the trial of two Marines for complicity in the death of a fellow Marine at Guantanamo Bay sizzles on stage. The Navy lawyer, a callow young man more interested in softball games than the case, expects a plea bargain and a cover up of what really happened. Prodded by a female member of his defense team, the lawyer eventually makes a valiant effort to defend his clients and, in so doing, puts the military mentality and the Marine code of honor on trial.


October, 2016

Hillbarn Theatre continues its “Season of Belonging” with Stephen Adly Guirgis’ dark comedy, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Set in a time-bending, darkly comic world between heaven and hell, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot reexamines the plight and fate of the New Testament’s most infamous and unexplained sinner.


November 25–December 18, 2016

Hillbarn Theatre brings in the holidays with one of the most popular Disney movies of all time capturing hearts in a whole new way: as a practically perfect musical. Based on the books by P.L. Travers and the classic Walt Disney film, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins has delighted Broadway audiences for over 2,500 performances and received nine Olivier and seven Tony Awards nominations, including Best Musical.


January 19–February 5, 2017

Hillbarn Theatre brings Kander and Ebb’s masterpiece, Cabaret, to the stage to kick-off 2017 in style. The scene is the Kit Kat Klub, a night club in Berlin, as the 1920s are drawing to a close. The Master of Ceremonies welcomes the audience to the show and assures them that, whatever their troubles, they will forget them at the Cabaret. The entire orchestra is onstage, and the actors play along with it when they are not part of the dialogue. Cliff, a young American writer, meets Ernst, a German who surprises Cliff by putting his briefcase among Cliff’s luggage at the German border. Musical numbers include “Willkommen,” “Cabaret,” “Mein Herr,” “Maybe This Time,” “The Money Song” and “Two Ladies.”


March 9–23, 2017

Hillbarn Theatre celebrates the coming of spring with Neil Simon’s classic farce Rumors. At a large, tastefully appointed Sneden’s Landing townhouse, the Deputy Mayor of New York has just shot himself. Though only a flesh wound, four couples are about to experience a severe attack of Farce. Gathering for their tenth wedding anniversary, the host lies bleeding in the other room and his wife is nowhere in sight. His lawyer, Ken and wife Chris must get “the story” straight before the other guests arrive. As the confusions and mis-communications mount, the evening spins off into classic farcical hilarity.


May 4–28, 2017

To close out its 2016–2017 season, Hillbarn Theatre announces the Peninsula premiere of Sister Act. This brilliant play centers around a woman hiding in a convent helping her fellow sisters find their voices as she rediscovers her own. Sister Act is the feel-amazing musical comedy smash based on the hit 1992 film that has brought audiences to their feet for years. Featuring original music by Tony and eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (Newsies, Beauty and the Beast, Little Shop Of Horrors), this uplifting musical was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Musical.


Ron Lopez
Today, we shine the spotlight on Ron Lopez, Jr., who is part of the incredibly talented ensemble in our upcoming production of Sweet Charity.

Ron is thrilled to be returning to HillbarnTheatre. He was last seen here in Fiddler on the Roof. Other credits include Erronius in A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum, Tito Morelli in Lend me a Tenor, Roger De Bris in The Producers, the Knight of Ni in Spamalot, Franz in The Producers, Man in the Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone, and John Wilkes Booth in Assassins. Ron has received Subscriber Choice Awards for both directing and acting. He is a graduate of the Boston Conservatory of Music.

What inspired you to accept a role in Sweet Charity?
I have always wanted to be in Sweet Charity. I love her optimistic outlook on life.

What do you think the audience will be discussing on their way home after seeing Sweet Charity?
I think they will be wondering why nobody really produces this show. It is rarely done.

Who would you most like to be stuck in an elevator with? Why? 

When did you discover your love for the theatre?
I started performing at an early age. I loved getting dressed up and being on stage.

How did you get started in theatre?
I believe I was in second grade and the show was “Oliver”

What do you love about performing on stage?
I think I love telling the story. Finding out about characters lives and relationships.

What is your favorite and most memorable role you ever played? Why?
I would have to say Man in the Chair in The Drowsy Chaperone. His love of the theater and everything about is just wonderful. There are many levels to him and he is just a lot of fun.

If you could pick one actor/actress to perform with on Broadway, who would it be?

Do you have any wacky rituals you do before curtain call?
Not really. I am pretty boring back stage. I do crosswords or I read. My script is always at my station. Does that count?

What is one thing you are incredibly proud of?
Hmmm Not sure I will have to think about it.

What is one fact or fun thing or special/hidden talent that we don’t know about you?
I can fold my ear inside of itself.

Don’t miss your chance to see Ron Lopez, Jr., in Sweet Charity May 5-29, at the historic Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City.
Tickets available at


BeccaToday, we shine the spotlight on Rebecca Carteris, who is one of the featured dancers in our upcoming production of Sweet Charity.

Rebecca Carteris was born and raised in the Bay Area and has been a part of the Hillbarn family since she was 13 years old. She grew up dancing full-time at various studios, and quickly started teaching students of all ages. Her journey in musical theater began as a featured dancer for Steamed Heat in The Pajama Game. Rebecca also performed in Grand Hotel at Hillbarn when she was 15, and unfortunately hasn’t been on the stage since. In the years that passed, Rebecca worked behind the scenes in different areas of theater — from choreography to stage management and worked at Hillbarn for the Conservatory as choreographer, director and dance teacher. After a ten year hiatus from the stage, Rebecca is thrilled to rejoin the theater community!

What inspired you to accept a role in Sweet Charity?
When I heard that Erica Wyman was directing this show I had to be in it. She has always been my inspiration ever since I was young. She is the reason I am in theater and to work with her again would be an honor. I knew she had worked on this show in Michigan two years ago and had done nothing but rave about how wonderful and funny it is. I wanted to be in a show that was familiar to me and that had a lot of dancing in it. Sweet Charity provides all of that and I cannot wait to be in front of an audience and show them what this fabulous cast can do.

What do you think the audience will be discussing on their way home after seeing Sweet Charity?
After seeing Sweet Charity the audience will most likely talk about how funny and witty it is. The one scene I feel the audience will talk about the most and I hope they do is the elevator scene, this is my favorite scene in the show. It is when Oscar and Charity first meet and they are stuck in an elevator. Oscar has major claustrophobia and they way he impersonates it can bring you to tears it’s so hilarious. Both David (Oscar) and Monique (Charity) bring such life to their characters and the chemistry that runs between them is electric.

When did you discover your love for the theatre?
When I was 15 years old and I was given an ensemble role in my first main stage show, Grand Hotel. I fell in love with the choreographer and the  magic the theater brings. I also loved the comradery of the cast and the relationships I made that I still have til this day.

How did you get started in theatre?
At the age of 13 Erica Wyman asked me to be part of her performing group Broadway Bound. I started as a performer and then moved onto become one of her choreographers. Since then I have worked for Erica and other directors throughout the years and have loved every minute of it.

What do you love about performing on stage?
My favorite thing about performing on stage is the energy that flows between the performers and their audience. When the lights go up and I can see the chairs filled with people, I get excited and jittery and cannot wait to entertain those that have come to see the magic that is theater.

If you could pick one actor/actress to perform with on Broadway, who would it be?
This is a hard question, I would say for an actress I would have to say Kristen Chenoweth because she is little and bubbly like me. I just know we would get along fabulously! For an actor I would choose Harry Connick Jr. I think he is so handsome and I love his voice, I could listen to him any day.

Who would you most like to be stuck in an elevator with? Why? 
I would most like to be stuck in an elevator with the people in my family that have passed away. We lost all my grandparents and a few uncles within a few years of each other a few years ago. I would give anything to be stuck in a confined space with them again to ask questions and have them tell me stories of their lives and their parents before them.
If you could wake up tomorrow and be in the body of someone else, who would you pick and what would you do?
If I could wake up tomorrow in the body of someone else I would have to pick my aunt Fran Mottie. She has such a positive outlook on life not matter what she has gone through. She is a true role model for optimism and living life to the fullest.

What is one thing you are incredibly proud of?
One thing I am proud of is getting up the guts to get back on stage. When you have not been on stage after so many years, it is daunting to get back on the horse. I am proud that I have taken the advantage of this wonderful opportunity and cannot wait for more in the future. One last thing I am proud of is this wonderful cast and the hard work they have all put into make this show as fantastic as it is.

What is one fact or fun thing or special/hidden talent that we don’t know about you?
If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life and survive I would eat chocolate cookie dough anything. I love chocolate cookie dough ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and more. One more thing, secretly… I’m Tinkerbell 😉

Don’t miss your chance to see Rebecca Carteris in Sweet Charity May 5-29, at the historic Hillbarn Theatre in Foster City. Tickets available at




S-I-Z-Z-L-E * R-E-E-L (definition): “A sizzle reel is a fast paced video that is short and incorporates creativity with sounds and engaging sights to advertise or promote a product, concept or person. The purpose is to capture attention.” Watch our incredibly F-U-N sizzle reel for a sneak preview of THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE. Videography by the amazingly talented Tracy Martin: Mark & Tracy Photography


A Peek Behind the Curtain with Fiddler On The Roof

Hillbarn Theatre presents one of the greatest musicals of all time, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. Please take a peek behind the curtain with our special orchestra and cast music rehearsal featuring songs like Tradition, If I Were a Rich Man, and more.  Bring your family and friends to this fantastic show that celebrates family, music, community, love and traditions.

Order your tickets today – there are only 150 seats left and they are going fast!!!

Tickets may be purchased online, by phone at 650.349.6411 ext. 2 or in person at the Box Office. The Box Office is open Tuesday – Friday from 11:00am – 3:00pm. Holiday Hours Vary.

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“Sitzprobe” video courtesy of Tracy Martin:

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How to Purchase Tickets — All seating is reserved seating except for our Preview Performances which are General Seating. Tickets may be purchased online 24/7 or by calling our Box Office at 650-349-6411 ext. 2 Tuesday – Friday 11am – 3pm. All sales are final, no refunds.

Credit Cards — For tickets and donations, Hillbarn Theatre accepts Visa, MasterCard.

Additional Fees — It is Hillbarn’s goal to keep the cost of attending our shows affordable. Where necessary, certain per-ticket fees are added onto ticket prices. There is a $4.00 Credit Card processing fee on applicable Credit Card Orders.

All sales are final. There are no exchanges or refunds.


High bar raised for roles at Hillbarn Theatre

By Robert Hurwitt in the San Francisco Chronicle

“I don’t believe this,” the little girl says, with the exasperated indignation of a citizen of the world. “What do you mean the doctor only treats domestic animals? You mean dogs and cats have more rights than wild animals do? That’s — that’s so unfair! It’s prejudice, that’s what it is! What makes a guinea pig more important than a squirrel?”

920x920Even the presumably jaded directors at Hillbarn Theatre’s general season auditions Wednesday sat up and took notice. No sooner had 10-year-old Emily Mannion launched into her “Chipmunk Emergency” monologue than the auditorium seemed to light up. Smiles broadened as she stood up for the rights of chipmunks in the veterinarian’s office, got other waiting pet owners (unseen, except through her acting) to let her go first and rued having run over the tiny rodent with her bike (“I’ll probably hear that noise in my sleep for the rest of my life”).

As well as she did, and as experienced as she already is — “I started in first grade,” she later told a reporter in the lobby — Mannion is no shoe-in for the prize role of Scout in Hillbarn’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” next spring. Wednesday was only the first of four days of auditions for Hillbarn’s next season. Mannion has been in “Funny Girl” and “White Christmas” with Hillbarn, but there’ll be more potential Scouts to come.

As Wednesday’s stint moved into its third hour, 8-year-old Piper Sperske was lining up with the next batch to audition, looking at “Mockingbird” and/or possibly “Fiddler on the Roof.” She’d appeared in the San Francisco Opera’s “Show Boat,” the one with Bill Irwin, whom she remembered from “Elmo’s World” on “Sesame Street.” “We only met him at the cast party,” she says, “but he always said ‘hi’ to me backstage.”

Hillbarn is a far cry from the Opera. A nondescript building, even by Foster City standards, the 179-seat theater sits on a broad suburban thoroughfare with the roar of Highway 92 traffic just outside its back doors. At 75 (next season), Hillbarn can claim to be the second-oldest community theater in San Mateo County, behind the almost 85-year-old Palo Alto Players. Hillbarn does six shows a year and is one of the relatively few that produce both plays and musicals, and the even fewer — the only one in its county nowadays — that hire Actors Equity (the actors and stage managers union) guest artists for some shows.

Most of those waiting in the lobby Wednesday — scanning scores, chatting, breathing rhythmically to calm their nerves — were adults. It was a school night, after all. There were many more women, of all ages, than men, though presumably enough of the latter will show up to fill the necessary roles in “Fiddler,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “The Odd Couple,” “The Last Five Years,” “Sweet Charity” and “Mockingbird.”

920x9201Waiting inside were Executive Artistic Director Dan Demers; Managing Director Amanda Roccuzzo; stage manager Danielle Santana Combs; and directors Erica Wyman, Dennis Lickteig and, making her directorial debut, Dawn L. Troupe, a notable performer with TheatreWorks and other professional companies — rarely tipping their hands, no matter how deft or inept the performer. All of those with scores had the advantage of conferring first with pianist Sam Cisneros, whose careful consideration of their other needs seemed a calming influence before they approached the painted X on the stage.

“He’s the best,” says Vanessa Alvarez, a veteran of many South Bay shows (“I average four to five a year” — at Hillbarn, Los Altos Stage, Cabrillo Stage) and, therefore, auditions. “Whenever I see Sam behind the piano, I know I’m in good hands.”

A graduate of San Jose State University, Alvarez says she’s been on the South Bay audition circuit “a little over 10 years.” And no, singing for a scattered few people taking notes in an otherwise empty auditorium doesn’t make her nervous.

“I love doing it,” she says. “I always view it as my time. It’s your three minutes. It’s what you chose to show yourself and your talents off the best that you can. When it’s callbacks, that’s when I get nervous.”

One wonders if the directors share her enthusiasm about the process. After the first two dozen, they greet each new performer with the same air of polite anticipation, while Santana Combs passes out her or his head shot and resume. But there are probably that many more to come this evening alone. At times, the process seems like a protracted lesson in how many ways to mess up a song: The woman who attacks a tune with a large, bright personality and an impossibly small voice. The man with a lovely baritone and strong projection who swallows every third word of the lyrics. The men and women who haven’t been told to avoid their gratingly shrill falsettos. The good voices that can’t seem to stay on tune.

Alvarez was one of a few who lit up what had been a fairly desultory, if earnest, proceeding at first — selling a wry “I Love You Because” and channeling Ethel Merman on “Arthur in the Afternoon.” Amanda Farbstein was another, nailing her number from “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Currently playing Persephone in FaultLine Theater’s “Trailer Park Gods” at PianoFight, Farbstein, has been busily auditioning for everything from San Francisco Shakespeare to “Beach Blanket Babylon,” working on the early steps of building a career.

A Peninsula native, Farbstein has only been working the local audition circuit since she finished college and graduated from the two-year Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts program last May. But she’s been in Bay Area showbiz since she was younger than even Mannion or Sperske. Her parents met while working in a musical at Broadway by the Bay, she says. “And I did my first show there when I was 8 weeks old, carried onstage in a basket.”

140 White Christmas costumes

unnamed-4Costume Designer Kate Schroeder made her Hillbarn Theatre costume design debut last winter, assembling and distressing the earthy-toned, world-weary clothing that punctuated the hardscrabble characters of Steinbeck’s classic Grapes of Wrath. Now she’s draping satin and sequins into gowns and pulling WW II uniforms, suits and hats from local theatre costume stock rooms, all with an eye to satisfying the audience’s well-tuned knowledge of the look and feel of our  beloved, iconic holiday musical White Christmas. Kate has assembled a ton of period clothing from sources around the Bay Area that will be fit, altered and/or rebuilt to withstand the high-energy demands of a musical. Clothing and accessories are information for the audience, props for the actor and moving decor for the lighting designer!

The costume plot, an ever-shifting puzzle-because it does change throughout the rehearsal process, includes a list of every item to be worn by each actor, when they change, how long they have to make the change and details about how quick changes will be handled by the backstage crew and the magic of Velcro!

unnamed-3Kate is attending rehearsals and anticipating choreography needs, figuring out how to hide the microphone packs and addressing the concerns of the performers. There are lots of dance moves that incorporate costume elements such as the large shell shaped fans in the song and dance number “Sisters.” All of this work is happening in collaboration with the actors, director, choreographer, musical director, set and lighting designers, wig and make-up experts and the over all show coordinator, the stage manager.

It’s unrealistic to dream of celebrating a white Christmas in Foster City, but our talented design team will make your holiday dreams come true when the red curtain opens to reveal a winter wonderland.


Costume Designer Kate Schroeder graduated from Willamette University in Salem,Oregon, in 2013 with a degree in Art History and a passion for costume design. Mentored by a professor in the university costume department, Kate landed a summer internship in costuming with an Arkansas company before returning to her home in Oakland to study fashion pattern making and draping. Kate will join Hillbarn’s Mae Matos to costume Curtains this coming spring.

Opening Night for The 39 Steps!

It’s opening night for The 39 Steps! Our season is off and running and we can assure you that this show will be nothing like you have ever seen! There are over 150 characters played by four actors; they change costumes, dialects, and scenes at the drop of a hat and weave a story of mystery and humor. The New York Post calls it “the most entertaining show on Broadway!”

We want to tell you about some of the exciting changes coming to Hillbarn very soon. The bathrooms and lobby are getting remodeled! Yes, that’s right! With the construction underway, there are a few things we need to make you aware of:

Access to the Theatre
Since the main entrance and lobby are under heavy construction, the only way to gain access to the lobby is through the parking lot behind the building. There is a pathway from the back, through the courtyard, and into the lobby.

Parking for performances is the same as usual, with the main section of parking being in the back of the building.

Box Office
The temporary Box Office will be located in the lobby during construction. The Box Office will be located on the right as soon as you walk through the lobby doors.

Lobby Layout
The lobby will be a bit smaller during this show, but will still house the Box Office and Concessions. The Box Office will be located on the right when you enter and Concessions will be in its usual location.

During the construction, portable bathrooms have been placed in the courtyard for patron use. There is a handicap accessible portable and there are also sink stations so that hands can be washed.

Time Frame
The bathrooms are scheduled to be finished during November. So by the time you join us for White Christmas in December, the new facilities will be open and normal use of all spaces will resume.

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 650.349.6411 ext. 2.

Our bathrooms and lobby will be new and improved by the time you join us for White Christmas. Thank you for your understanding as we remodel this gem of the Peninsula.

I hope you will join me as we continue our 74th Season with The 39 Steps; and AWAKEN yourself to the beauty, magic, and masterful art that is, and will continue to be Hillbarn Theatre!

See you at the show!

Dan Demers
Executive Artistic Director