2022/23 Season Family Guide

Parenting is different for everyone, and we want to keep that ball in your court. We always welcome parents to do their own research, but we've also taken the liberty to create a handy guide for each one of our shows in the 2022/23 Mainstage Season. Our aim is to provide you with more information and guidance to help you make informed choices you're comfortable with for your whole family, and prepare you for what to expect when you come through our doors.

Because education is central to our mission, we have also provided some questions that can be discussed after the performance. We encourage you to check back periodically as opening day approaches for updates on possible staging choices that could change the content of these guides. We hope this guide will enrich the learning experience of all our patrons both young and seasoned.

—Melissa Rivera
Producing Director of Education & Mainstage



May 26, 2023 - June 25, 2023

At a Glance:
This new musical comedy was specifically written with our Berkeley Playhouse community in mind! Berkeley locals and teaching artists, Laura Marlin and Phil Gorman, put their own spin on the classic tale of Robin Hood. This story tells the story of how the mysterious Robin Hood came to be. New and familiar characters discover what it actually means to be a hero and the value of teamwork. A bow and arrow are used, and there is a brawl towards the end of the show, however the fight is featured as slapstick comedy and lacks real violence. The strongest use of language is imbecile, damn, and some belittling phrases, yet the bullying is mild and the bullies eventually get their comeuppance. Becoming Robin Hood is an excellent choice for groups with varied interests and age ranges. Some patrons will recall that this title was performed by our Kidstage actors last year. Although the spirit and overall storyline of last year’s show will remain the same, there have been several edits made to better suit the wider Mainstage community we serve.

Discussion Questions:
1. Is it right to take something that is not yours?
2. What was the benefit of Wren and Cooper combining forces?
3. What does this tale teach us about assumptions and stereotypes? Have you ever made an assumption about someone before knowing them? How can we practice NOT judging someone based on their looks?
4. In what ways can you help people in need without violence?

YouthStage Spotlight Show presents:

Disney's NEWSIES

July 15, 2023 - July 23, 2023

At a Glance:
Newsies the Musical is based on the 1992 Disney movie by the same name, which was inspired by the real-life Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City. The story follows a group of homeless and orphaned newsboys who decide to strike after a greedy publisher decides to raise the newspaper prices. These children are forced to grow up quickly as they learn to lead themselves and stand up for the few rights they have. There are scenes that depict physical violence between the kids and members of authority figures, including law enforcement, as well as short romantic moments between two older teens. The characters often refer to a juvenile correction facility, The Refuge, as an abusive and filthy place. The details of the horrific conditions are vividly spoken of, but not shown. The kids overcome betrayal and injustice with the use of teamwork and determination, and discover that anything is possible if they stick together! This is a wonderful show for kids to learn about the satisfaction that comes from achieving something as a team. As our Youthstage Spotlight Show, all roles will be played by youth actors.

Discussion Questions:
1. What is a union?
2. What are some other ways that Mr. Pulitzer could have dealt with the profit loss that resulted from selling fewer newspapers?
3. Why do you think Katherine lied about who she really was?
4. Do you think kids should be allowed to have jobs? How old should someone be before they can have a job and why?
5. What are some things you can do if you hear someone is being treated unjustly? 


September 9 - October 16, 2022 / 9 de septiembre - 16 de octubre

Family Guide / Guia Familiar

At a Glance:
In the Heights (2008 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical) chronicles three days in the life of Washington Heights, a predominantly Latinx community
in Upper Manhattan. This is Lin-Manuel Miranda's first hit musical before Hamilton and Encanto. Its Latin beats, rap flows, and pop vocals are great for both seasoned and new theater goers!

The story highlights several members of this tight-knit group as they explore what it means to be an immigrant or the descendant of immigrants in modern day America. These hardworking humans dream big and navigate the odds to persevere and build a strong, supportive community in the face of adversity and gentrification.

There are a few romance scenes that include kisses and references to spending the night together. There are also some wink-wink references ("he's got a big ... taxi!"), and social drinking by adults that are likely to go over young audience members' heads. Mild off-color language such as "s--t," "ass," "gd," is lightly peppered throughout the script, and there is a brief bar fight (no one is seriously injured) that takes place at the end of the first act.

This beloved show joyously celebrates the different people who make up the Latinx and Hispanic communities and uplifts the spirits of those traditionally marginalized. Families who love Hamilton will want to see this salute to the idea that "immigrants get the job done."

De un vistazo:

In the Heights (ganador del Premio Tony por Mejor Musical en el 2008) crónica tres días en la vida de Washington Heights, una comunidad predominantemente Latina en el área norte de Manhattan (Nueva York).

Este fue el primer éxito musical de Lin-Manuel Miranda antes de Hamilton y Encanto. Los ritmos latinos, rap, y vocales pop son perfectos para atraer a cualquier tipo de público!

La historia refleja varios miembros de una vecindad unida mientras exploran lo que significa ser inmigrante o familiar de inmigrantes en los Estados Unidos. Estos humanos trabajadores tienen sueños grandes y navegan dificultades para perseverar y construir una comunidad fuerte que apoya a su gente en la cara de adversidad y gentrificación.

Hay algunas escenas románticas que incluyen besos y referencias sexuales pero es probable que los niños pequeños no entiendan estas frases. También se ven adultos consumiendo bebidas alcohólicas en un club de baile. Esta presentación también incluye unas groserías en inglés, por ejemplo "sh-t," "ass," y "goddamn" y una escena al fin de la primera parte con una pelea de golpes en un bar, pero no hay heridos.

Esta historia alegremente celebra la gente diferente que son miembros de la comunidad Hispana y Latina y eleva los espíritus de la gente que tradicionalmente es marginada .

Discussion Questions:
1. What is gentrification? Did you see any examples of it in the show?
2. How do you think Abuela Claudia learned English? How long did it take her? How long do you think it would take you to learn a new language? 
3. What would you do with $96,000? Do you think that is a lot of money? Why or why not?
4. Pick a character. What do you think happened to them after the story? For example; Did Usnavi and Vanessa end up together? Did Nina graduate from college? What did the Rosarios do for work after they sold the Limo company?

Preguntas de Discusión:
1. ¿Qué es la gentrificación? ¿Viste algún ejemplo de esto en la presentación?
2. ¿Cómo crees que Abuela Claudia logró aprender inglés? ¿Cuánto tiempo le tomó? ¿Cuánto tiempo crees que te tomaría a ti para aprender un idioma nuevo?
3. ¿Qué harías con $96,000? ¿Crees que eso es mucho dinero? ¿Por qué?
4. Escoge un personaje. ¿Qué crees que le pasó después del final de la historia? Por ejemplo; ¿Usnavi y Vanessa se quedaron juntos? Nina se graduó de la universidad? ¿Qué tipo de trabajo tiene la familia Rosario ya que vendieron su compañía?


(Last updated 10/18)

November 4 - December 23, 2022

At a Glance:
Matilda is a surreal musical based on the classic book by Roald Dahl . The story explores themes of youthful independence and personal identity in the face of bullying and neglect. Matilda's parents berate and verbally abuse her, and her father misgenders her by insisting on addressing her with incorrect pronouns. We even find out that the school principal, Miss Trunchbull, carried out a murder in her past. Students who provoke Miss Trunchbull are put in "the chokey." However, unlike the 1996 movie, our stage adaptation does not physically display the iconic closet, but rather uses lighting design to create the effect of this chamber.

The depiction of over-the-top violence perpetrated by the adult villains is exaggerated to help lighten what would otherwise be a very dark narrative, but even so it could still be disturbing to audiences. Matilda sees the wrongdoings of some of the adults and decides to punish them. Yet, her behavior comes from a place of love and compassion as she stands up for herself and the other victims, and empowers them to do the same. In the end, the bullies are served with their comeuppance and youthful joy is finally achieved.

*Note: The role of Miss Trunchbull is played by a woman in the movie, but is traditionally cast as a man in the Broadway adaptation. Either may be seen on our stage.

Discussion Questions:
1. Is there a moral to the story? What do you think the message is?
2. What was problematic about the way some of the adults spoke to the kids?
3. Where did Matilda's magic come from?
4. What are some practical and safe ways you can stand up for yourself and other people that are being bullied (without the use of magic)?


February 24, 2023 - April 2, 2023

At a Glance:
Content Warning: This musical explores heavy themes and contains topics of sexuality, suicide, extra-maritial affairs, and strong language. Most suitable for adults and teens.

Fun Home is a musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel's 2006 coming of age graphic memoir with music by Tony nominated composer, Jeanine Tesori. The story is narrated by Adult Alison with the use of non-linear vignettes and is predominantly set in her family's funeral home (Fun Home,...get it?) It focuses on her relationship with her closeted gay father, Bruce, and how the complications of that relationship impacted her own feelings about coming out as a lesbian. Medium Alison is elated to finally express her excitement and joyfully sings about her first sexual encounter, yet graples with how to tell her parents. There are extra-martial affairs, repeated mention of suicide, heated arguments between the parents, and an implied sexual encounter with a minor (Note: The latter is not staged.) But despite the family tension and struggles of growing up gay, Alison is able to reconcile with her past and embrace who she truly is. This is a story about family, acceptance, and courage. 

Discussion Questions:
1. Does family affect how you grow up and experience life? If so, in what ways?
2. Why was Alison hesitant to come out to her family?
3. Do you think Alison always knew she was a lesbian? Why or why not?
4. What kind of mental health support could Bruce have sought out?