Everyone knows the big boys of the SF theater scene, your Orpheums, your Currans. The theaters that have big broadway shows you have to sell a kidney or your firstborn to afford to go to. And sure, those theaters are great and big and nice, but there are tons of amazing, unique, haunted (all theaters are haunted), San Francisco theaters playing fantastic shows at prices you don’t have to take out a large insurance policy on yourself and fake your own death to see.
1. The Great Star Theater
This Chinatown landmark is deceptively large. With 540 seats, this theater is a hidden gem among the local markets and bustling, confused, fanny-packed in tourists. Located on Jackson St, The Great Star Theater regularly showcases performances such as Frank Olivier’s Twisted Cabaret, a circus-y variety show, and Dark Kabaret, it’s like a regular cabaret, but darker, and with a K.
2. PianoFight Theater
Every night at PianoFight Theater, witness two adult Grand Pianos fight to the death in the ultimate battle for musical supremacy. JK, JK, the PianoFight Theater, SF’s newest live performance venue, does not hold actual piano death matches (yet) but it does play host to new local work, established comedy groups, live podcasts, film screenings and much more. Located downtown, this theater also contains a full service restaurant and bar, dinner and a show. Bam.
3. The Victoria Theater
Built in 1908 as a vaudeville house, The Victoria theater is San Francisco’s oldest (and most haunted) operating theater. Located in the Mission district, this 480 seat theater (and its ghosts) shows everything from movie screenings to musicals. Legend says, if you look into a restroom mirror at the Victoria Theater and say “tapioca pudding” 5 times with one eye closed, standing on one foot, facing north, the ghost of Victoria will appear and tell you a household cleaning tip. Be a part of San Francisco’s theatrical history every time you enter this big ole red building.
4. Stage Werx
If the Orpheum and the Curran are the mommy and the daddy of San Francisco theaters, than Stage Werx is their cool rebellious kid in their early 20s who ran away to the circus and now is making a living traveling the world juggling flaming blowing pins and charging $5 a piece for personalized limericks on the street. This intimate 70 seat theater showcases solo shows, sketch comedy performances, but is best known for its improv jams and shows. Located in the Mission, Stage Werx is BYOB so you can bring bundles of booze-a-hol for you and your buddies.
5. 533 Sutter St.
This building holds not one, but four theater spaces, it’s like a mini mall of theaters. There’s Un-Scripted, where long form, short form, and medium form improvisational theatre take place in front of a 49 seat audience, Tides, a 99 seat, innovative performance space that has shown everything from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche” (that’s a real play not a performance art piece where you watch people eat for 2 hours), and the Shelton Theater, which is really two intimate theaters (74 and 60 seats respectively) in which performances from readings to concerts take place.
533 Sutter St. was also home to our old RushTix office. Where we worked tirelessly to bring live entertainment to culturally starved couch potatoes everywhere. And where we ate popcorn and had lip-synch battles, NBD…