Viewing post categorized under: News

Jan. 30, 2015

Announcing our 15th Season!

Leave a comment

We’re thrilled to announce our 2015 season. Buy a season pass for guaranteed access and benefits!

Jesus Christ Superstar
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Book and Lyrics by Tim Rice
May 22-June 13
Victoria Theatre, San Francisco

The iconic rock opera and Ray of Light come together for an explosive telling of the classic story. Based on the Gospels’ accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, Jesus Christ Superstar imagines the humanity of the man at the center of the movement — and Judas’ role on the sidelines. The timeless score and a hard look at fame, faith and power make this Jesus Christ Superstar a 2,000-year-old story fit for today.

Music by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Alan Stevens Hewitt
Lyrics by Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer and Tim Maner
Book by Tim Maner
Bay Area Premiere
September 25-October 16
Victoria Theatre, San Francisco

Lizzie Borden took an axe, Gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done, Gave her father forty-one…
America’s favorite axe-wielding double-murderess comes to the Ray of Light stage for a rocking Bay Area premiere. In 1892, Lizzie Borden was the primary suspect for her father and stepmother’s brutal murder. Though eventually acquitted, Lizzie became a tabloid sensation–and the most controversial figure of her time. Did she do it? And if so, why? LIZZIE imagines the story behind the legend with a cast of four women and a driving rock score, melding this infamous 19th century story with a modern-day twist.

The Rocky Horror Show
Special 15th Anniversary Event: one week only! Season passholders get early access to discounted tickets for this event.

Book and Music by Richard O’Brien
October 28-31
Victoria Theatre, San Francisco

Come on up to the lab…again. Just in time for Halloween, Ray of Light’s 15th season closes out with a reprise of one of our favorites: Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show, live at the Victoria Theatre. Join us for a special engagement full-scale production of the original hit musical that will have you shivering in antici…
Tickets on sale soon


Take Me to Church
March 22, 7pm, Martuni’s Piano Bar
Love it or hate it, almost everyone has wrestled with religion’s role in their lives. Our performers share their own hilarious, bizarre, and occasionally moving religious experiences in the best way: with singing, over cocktails.
Tickets on sale soon

They Had It Coming
July 26, 7 pm, Martuni’s Piano Bar
True crime, urban legends and a combination of the two are the inspiration for this evening of songs. Find out who did it–and why–from Ray of Light performers past and future.
Tickets on sale soon
Dec. 28, 2014

2015 Season Auditions: Sign Up Now!

Leave a comment

We haven’t announced our season yet, but it’s not too early to get involved! Reserve your audition slot here.

February 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th
The Victoria Theatre: 2961 16th Street, San Francisco
Requirements: Headshot/Resume, one song (strict 32 bars)
Reserve your audition slot here

If no time slots are available, please email your headset/resume for consideration to:

February 18th, 19th, 21st
Callback information will be posted on

Show #1: Rehearsals begin in April. Performances run through May/June 2015.
Show #2: Rehearsals begin in August. Performances run through October 2015.
Both shows will perform in San Francisco and will be announced on our website prior to auditions.

Nov. 12, 2014

Triassic Parq Wins Three Theatre Bay Area Awards!

Leave a comment

We’re thrilled to have won three TBA Awards for Triassic Parq at the first annual ceremony on Monday:

Outstanding Lighting Design: Joe D’Emilio
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical: Alex Rodriguez
Outstanding Performance by the Ensemble of a Musical

The Triassic Parq team celebrates at the TBA Awards.
Nov. 02, 2014

Thank you for a great 2014 season!

Leave a comment

We thank our audiences, actors, crew and designers for joining us for our 2014 season of premieres. We literally could not do this without you and your support.

We’ll be announcing our 2015 season shortly, so stay tuned!

Oct. 16, 2014

#TBT “How do you make five guys and a cast of sixteen sound like a thirty-piece orchestra with full chorus?”: Robbie Cowan on Orchestrating Sweeney Todd

Leave a comment
"Did someone say 'impossible task?' I got this"
Robbie “Did someone say ‘impossible task?'” Cowan

This week’s #TBT comes from Robbie Cowan, who music directed and orchestrated our 2012 production of Sweeney Todd, transforming the original thirty-piece orchestration into a five-piece chamber version. His work on the show was called “luminous” and “in the same class as the best of Ligeti, Part, and Adams,” and earned him a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award nomination. Robbie also music directed our Triassic Parq this summer, and is currently the conductor and music director on the second national tour of Anything Goes.

Sweeney-Todd - long
Swing your razor wide.

When I saw ROLT’s Tommy, I was impressed with the production values. A small, regional theatre with practically no outside funding put on a show whose spectacle rivaled that of most touring productions I was seeing come through town? I just couldn’t fathom how they managed.

A short time later, I found out first-hand. When I was asked to music direct Sweeney Todd, I was tasked with creating an orchestration that sounded as rich and full as audiences would expect but was made of only five players. How do you make five guys and a cast of sixteen sound like a thirty-piece orchestra with full chorus?

This scrappy theater company taught me the value in embracing your limitations. Instead of lamenting a lack of resources, you instead use those boundaries as creative inspiration. The director Ben Randle and I created an orchestral design that was intimate and kept people on the edge of their seats, where fewer players made for a more transparent interpretation of the score. At the end of the experience it wasn’t the reviews and accolades that I appreciated–it was the understanding that with the right people and the right attitude, almost anything is possible.


And just because we can’t resist, here’s Robbie “auditioning” for our production of Into the Woods last year:

Sep. 18, 2014

“Frank N. Furter is like the Hamlet of musical theatre roles:” A Rocky Horror Throwback

Leave a comment
Jef Valentine as Dr. Frank N. Furter. Photo by Kevin Whittaker.

Jef Valentine played Dr. Frank N. Furter in Ray of Light’s 2008 production of The Rocky Horror Show. Here, he recalls the highs of performing a cult classic for a rabid audience.

When Jason Hoover asked me to contribute a “Throwback Thursday” for Ray of Light Theatre, I was happy to oblige.  We met on their production of The Rocky Horror Show in 2008 and it remains among my favorite theatrical experiences.  The only thing I knew about the company prior to that was the buzz from their production of “Bat Boy”, which was apparently incredible.  Frank N. Furter is sort of the Hamlet of musical theatre  roles for any actor with a hedonistic streak and a penchant for high heels, so I strapped mine on and auditioned at a Filipino community center at 10am in a full face of warpaint.  Aside from Leanne Borghesi, who made her drag king debut as Eddie, I didn’t know a single person involved with the show, but many enduring friendships were about to be formed.  ROLT had always wanted to produce RHS and the excitement was running high. Artistic director Shane Ray oversaw the show with vision, enthusiasm and impressive tact.  Musical director Ben Prince and his kick-ass band brought the music to life.  The cast was packed with extraordinary singers and after Cate Caplin had choreographed the show within an inch of its life, it ran like a scantily clad machine (gloriously underdressed by Mark Koss).  The contribution of Dustin Snyder’s rock star lighting cannot be overstated.  A former vaudeville house and intimate movie palace, the Victoria Theatre was the perfect venue.   The crazy talented cast dove in and quickly made these iconic characters their own.  I made my entrance five numbers in, but I was always in the wings in time for the opening number.  The pyrotechnic vocals of our usherette trio never failed to produce goosebumps and listening to what the audience shouted out during “Science Fiction, Double Feature” would tell me who we were dealing with that night.  Was the audience here to experience the play?  Did they have fresh wisecracks to yell or had they learned their part from the participation album?  Were they drunk?  We got some of each.  The call-outs were sometimes hilarious, often annoying.  I had a bitchslap for the chatty ones early in the evening.  Beyond that, the story took over and the train was just moving too fast.  As Brad Majors, Jason must have had the worst of it.  How many times can you be called asshole while you’re just trying to play your part? (Who knew this would be his last stage appearance with ROLT and he would soon be artistic director of the company?)

Though a longtime fan of the film and Richard O’Brien’s fantastic score, I gained a new appreciation for just how clever and economical the script is.  The show dispenses with the obligatory applause that divides most musicals into predictable chunks, keeping the action moving at a fierce pace.  Except for a moment in the middle of “Sweet Transvestite”, Frank is too busy dashing off to his next destination to wait for signs of approval.  His second song is interrupted by the entrance of a motorcycle.  He terminates the following song with a chainsaw.  His floorshow is cut short by a ray gun.  The message?  Keep up people, this ride ain’t stopping until he’s “Going Home”! I compare being in The Rocky Horror Show to participating in a Nativity scene at Christmas.  The archetypes are in place for a religious experience and most attendees arrive full of the spirit, ready for a catharsis.  I have to admit I’ve learned more relevant life lessons from these characters than most found in the bible.  Though the cross-dressing has largely lost its shock value since Tim Curry’s highly original and genuinely transgressive performance, quaintness does not diminish the message.  Don’t dream it, BE it.  The character is now about as easy to reinvent as Santa Claus or Stanley Kowalski, but it demands to be revisited.   I’ve seen many productions of the play and the best ones honor the traditions, while making the interpretation feel personal.  Looking into the faces of these sexy, hilarious people I was sharing the stage with, the “classic” line readings went out the window as we talked to each other.  The spell was cast and it felt like it was happening for the first time.  I didn’t go out of my way to be shocking.  I just meant to relish every operatic gesture, chasing every shiny object in sight and expecting constant gratification.  Gloria Swanson when it suited me, a lumbering dude in underwear when it didn’t.  Here is a self-absorbed Dionysus whose passion is so contagious that those burned by coming too close don’t seem to regret the experience.  Of course, Eddie isn’t available for comment and those insubordinate servants have gone to a distant planet.

Since our production, I’ve become friends with original cast member Patricia Quinn, who has indulged my every nerdy question about the show’s genesis and phenomenon.  I agree with her that the spirit of the delivery should always be earnest, never vulgar.  Despite the elaborate sexual subtext, the show is a surprisingly kid-friendly romp with B-movie inspirations and high-stakes.  Garter belts or not; the gun is still THE GUN!  For me, the show is ruined when Brad and Janet are played like idiots.  This is a comedy of manners.  How does one behave correctly in the laboratory of a transvestite scientist?  And how can you not love a play that answers existential angst with “don’t get hot and flustered, use a bit of mustard”?  This followed by a dose of mystery substance, which incapacitates its target with pleasure.  In our show, Kit Farrell as Columbia managed a two-minute orgiastic exit under its influence, which never failed to get a hearty round of applause.  Waste not/want not, I ran a finger across the end of the “mustard” dispenser and rubbed it on my gums, which got a laugh.  Then one night my nostril got close enough to the barrel of the futuristic looking device that our sound designer Sharon Boggs shot the gun off, sending it up my nose and me off on a trip of my own.  I have never laughed that hard onstage before or since.  We kept that bit.

Other cherished moments include sitting up in bed after the seduction scene with Janet and seeing a perfect imprint of my eyebrows left on Rebecca Pingree’s inner thighs.  I guess we went there.  I can’t forget Jessica Coker’s dry and exquisitely timed “How sentimental”.  There was the night the “transit beam” in Riff Raff’s mutinous hands failed to go off at the appointed moment during the final scene.  The silence was deafening.  Manuel Caneri and I locked eyes, tried not to crack up and weighed the options. The play can’t end ‘til I’m dead!  Just as I was about to remove a shoe and stick the stiletto through my heart so the curtain could come down, the zap came and down I went.  The sound reminded him to point the gun at me.  Now, I could die for hours and some nights I sort of did.  I took my time crawling into the better light and arranging myself  before my last gasp.  Shameless.  But wait, milkman’s on his way.  Scott Gessford as Rocky then rolled UP a flight of stairs to die by my side.  Son of a bitch.

There was a Goldstar review during our run from a patron who expressed their disappointment that the producers had cast an actual transvestite as Frank N. Furter.  What the hell?  Had I failed because I was believable?  I knew going in that some people would never be happy with anyone in this part but it’s creator.  And yet, it’s the role that most people want to play.   I’m still thinking of things I wish I’d tried, but a great role is like that and art is never finished, it just stops in interesting places.  And this company brought the experience to many interesting places.  It was a dream come true and I’ll always be glad that Ray of Light trusted me with the part.

Sep. 04, 2014

“It all just felt right”: Founding Artistic Director Shane Ray on our 2005 Bat Boy

Leave a comment

#TBT! Founding Artistic Director Shane Ray reminisces about ROLT’s 2005 production of Bat Boy, the show that redefined the company.

It was almost ten years ago. Ray of Light had just completed its fourth season with a critically acclaimed production of Grease (I think one critic saw it..and he liked it…very much!). The show had sold out. It wasn’t much of a surprise–we only ran for four performances and the cast included nearly 50 actors! That, and the fact that we were doing Grease, was a solid recipe for a sell-out performance!

Hold me, Bat Boy.
Hold me, Bat Boy.

To date, we had only produced “family theatre.” We had done You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Wizard of Oz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat–your standard community theatre shows. We had a core group of performers and staff and it was expanding each year. The company’s name was beginning to be recognized. We were happy to be producing musical theatre in a city where that alone had been proven difficult to sustain. Still, we weren’t feeling fulfilled artistically. We had begun to build up enough of a base to make us feel confident about taking a risk with our next season: producing our next show at the Victoria Theatre in the Mission. The company started its first two seasons in an elementary school auditorium, and had moved to the theater at USF for the last two, so this was a much larger space than we had performed in previously. It was also about 20 times the rent we had previously paid (literally!).

We felt we needed to do a show that had a bit more edge than the shows we had previously done. Somehow, it didn’t seem that Oklahoma would play well at a theater in the heart of SF’s Mission District! We decided on Little Shop of Horrors. It wasn’t a big step away from the classic fare we had been producing but we thought that it had enough darkness that it would make for a good transition show. We set about casting the show and had even secured James Monroe Iglehart (now the Tony Award-winning Genie is Broadway’s Aladdin!) to play the plant. Then, we were hit with a bomb. The national tour was adding San Francisco to its run and our rights were immediately pulled. We were only a month away from starting rehearsals and we already had starting assembling a cast. We had to make a change quickly.

We started brainstorming options to replace Little Shop. James had previously appeared in Bat Boy in TheatreWorks, and the show had done well and there had been a lot of talk about bringing the show to San Francisco. It never came to fruition, even though it seemed like a perfect fit for San Francisco audiences. The content was similar and, conveniently, so was the cast breakdown. In what seemed like a matter of days, things began to take shape. We got the rights to Bat Boy, James moved from playing the plant in Little Shop to directing, and Eli Newsom moved from directing to starring as Bat Boy. Christy Newsom went from playing Audrey to playing Shelley Parker. Everything was falling in to place so perfectly that we barely had time to stress about the fact that we were about to do a largely unknown show in the largest theater that we had ever performed in. And it wasn’t a family show! Where was our audience going to come from? But, we felt really excited. It all just felt right.

The show was a huge success. Artistically, we started to form a true identity. It was also the beginning of our residency at the Victoria. And, most importantly, it was the beginning of Ray of Light being recognized as a leader in producing edgier musical theatre in San Francisco. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jan. 31, 2014

Triassic Parq Production Team Announced

Leave a comment

Ray of Light is pleased to announce the production staff for their first show of 2014, Triassic Parq.

Director: Alex Kirschner
Music Director (and Pianosaurus): Robbie Cowan
Choreographer: Dane Paul Andres
Technical Director: Daniel Cadigan
Set Designer: Annie Dauber
Lighting Designer: Joe D’Emilio
Costume Designer: Wendy Kaufman
Sound Designer: Anton Hedman
Props Designer: Kevin Pong
Assistant Director: Erik Scanlon

Learn more about the team and subscribe to see their work this summer!

Nov. 29, 2013

Our 2014 Season

Leave a comment

Ray of Light Theatre Announces Its 2014 Season of New Musicals

San Francisco company will produce Bay Area premiere of Triassic Parq and West Coast premiere of Yeast Nation (the triumph of life)

SAN FRANCISCO, November 29, 2013 — Ray of Light Theatre, San Francisco’s non-profit musical theatre company, announced its 2014 season, a lineup of fresh new musicals that explore the distant past.

Slated for June, Triassic Parq follows a pack of sexually evolving dinosaurs in a certain prehistoric, Spielberg-inspired amusement park as they struggle with love, faith and science. Triassic Parq, written by Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz and Steve Wargo, won Best Musical at both Los Angeles’ Ovation Awards 2013 and the New York Fringe Festival 2010. Yeast Nation (the triumph of life) follows in October and imagines the hopes, hardships and political turmoil of the world’s first life forms: salt-easting yeasts. Writers Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, whose smash-hit Urinetown set ticket sales records at American Conservatory Theatre in 2003, will work in-residence with Ray of Light to further develop this story of one dreamer’s curiosity and its colossal impact on the yeasts–and our history.

“Producing cutting-edge musical theater has always been part of our company’s DNA, so we’re delighted to produce two local premieres this season,” said Jason Hoover, artistic director of Ray of Light. “While Triassic Parq and Yeast Nation use stories and characters from ages past, the themes they present are still applicable to our modern lives. These shows are bold and exciting, and we can’t wait for Bay Area audiences to experience them, likely for the first time ever.”

“Ray of Light is exactly the kind of dynamic, imaginative, passionate, and fearless company needed to make Yeast Nation work,” said Greg Kotis, writer and lyricist for Yeast Nation. “It’ll be great to have the show on its feet in San Francisco.”

Season subscriptions will go on sale in December at Single tickets will be available in March.

About the Shows

Triassic Parq

Bay Area Premiere

June 2014 at the Eureka Theatre, San Francisco

Music by Marshall Pailet; Book by Marshall Pailet, Bryce Norbitz and Steve Wargo

Dinosaurs, showtunes and sex changes come together in this inventive new musical that will leave you laughing and crying all the way back to the prehistoric era. When one female T-Rex suddenly turns male, the entire pack must question their identity, gender, and what is possible. Winner of Best Musical at LA’s 2013 Ovation Awards and NY Fringe Festival 2010, Triassic Parq examines love, faith and science through a hilarious lens. And singing. Singing dinosaurs.

“Flat-out ingenious”-New York Times

“Monstrously funny”-Time Out New York

Yeast Nation (the triumph of life)

West Coast Premiere

October 2014 at the Victoria Theatre

Music and lyrics by Mark Hollmann; Book and lyrics by Greg Kotis

Ray of Light teams up with Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann, the brains behind the smash-hit Urinetown, to develop the West Coast premiere of this bizarrely hilarious rock musical. In the year 3,000,458,000 B.C., the salt-eating yeasts are the only living creatures on earth, and they’re up against a food shortage, a strange new emotion called “love” and the oppression of a tyrannical king. When the king’s dreamer of a son ventures out of the known yeastiverse, the yeasts’ story–and ours–is changed forever.

“This is the rare satire that knows exactly what it’s doing and commits to it.” -New York Times

“When you’ve stopped laughing from this yeast infection, you can tap your toes and clap your hands to a wholly lovable score.” -Chicago Tribune

About Ray of Light

Founded in 2000, Ray of Light has grown quickly and developed a reputation for fresh interpretations of the classics and bold new musicals that push boundaries. Show highlights include CARRIE the Musical (West Coast premiere, 2013), Into the Woods (2013), Sweeney Todd (2012), Assassins (2011), Jerry Springer the Opera (West Coast premiere, 2010), The Rocky Horror Show (2008) and Bat Boy (2005, 2006). In addition to full productions, Ray of Light presents exciting new cabaret talent in its Cabaret Spotlight Series, a partnership with Martuni’s piano bar. For more information, visit us at, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Press contact:
Eliza Leoni

Nov. 13, 2013

Season Announcement On Its Way

Leave a comment

This year, we went Into the Woods, got Carried away and shone the spotlight on some great local talent. Every step of the way, we’ve counted on the support of our incredible audience. With your continued involvement, we’ve provided opportunities for local artists to explore their craft, reached out to new audiences and continued to prove that high quality theater can be accessible and affordable to everyone. Thanks for sharing another year of theater with us and stay tuned for a season announcement previewing what’s in store for 2014!