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2019-20 Family Guide

Berkeley Playhouse Professional Season

Berkeley Playhouse understands that every family is unique. In order to help parents or guardians with the sometimes-difficult determination of whether or not a show is appropriate for their family, we have created this handy guide.
Below, you will find a listing for each production in our 2019-20 Professional Season with notes on material that parents may find objectionable as well as reasons why we believe attending the show would be a worthwhile experience for their family.

Education is central to our mission at Berkeley Playhouse and we hope this guide will enrich the learning experience of all our patrons both young and seasoned. As always, we also strongly encourage parents to do their own research into the content of each of our shows.

Scroll down or click on a title below to find notices and discussion topics:

Mamma Mia!

September 20 - October 20, 2019

At a Glance:

ABBA's hits tell the hilarious story of a young woman's search for her birth father. This sunny and funny tale unfolds on a Greek island paradise. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter's quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother's past back to the island they last visited 20 years ago. There is some mildly suggestive language but for the most part, this is a show for all ages.

Discussion Topics:

  • How do the women in this story demonstrate strength and independence?
  • Color plays a central part in design. Can you see a color palette in any of the design elements?

A Christmas Story, the Musical

November 9 - December 22, 2019

At a Glance:

A Christmas Story, the Musical chronicles young and bespectacled Ralphie Parker as he schemes his way toward the holiday gift of his dreams. Chock-full of delightful songs and splashy production numbers, A Christmas Story has proudly taken its place as a perennial holiday classic for the whole family. 

Discussion Topics:

  • How does the modern family compare to the family depicted in A Christmas Story? How and why has this changed?
  • What makes people act like bullies? What makes people befriend bullies? How will the bully's life change after Ralphie fights him?
  • Does your family have any special traditions associated with the holidays?


February 14 - March 15, 2020

At a Glance:

Memphis is set in the places where rock and roll was born in the 1950s: the seedy nightclubs, radio stations and recording studios of the musically-rich Tennessee city. With an original score, it tells the fictional story of DJ Huey Calhoun, a good ole’ local boy with a passion for R&B music and Felicia Farrell, an up-and-coming black singer that he meets one fateful night on Beale Street. Despite the objections of their loved ones (Huey’s close-minded mama and Felicia’s cautious brother, a club owner), they embark on a dangerous affair. As their careers rise, the relationship is challenged by personal ambition and the pressures of an outside world unable to accept their love. Some characters in the story drink al and smoke. There are some mildly sexually suggestive scenes and mild profanity. Some violence is scattered throughout, although not portrayed graphically on stage. 

Warning: Racial slurs are used in this show. Acts of violence, and an act of violence against a woman, is depicted. If the simulated violence is something you or anyone with you would not like to watch, please be advised that it happens near the end of Act I after the song "Radio."

Discussion Topics:

  • How is the racial divide portrayed in this show?
  • What small steps or changes towards justice and equality does this story highlight?

In the Heights

April 3 - May 3, 2020

At a Glance:

In The Heights is an infectiously upbeat Tony-Award winning musical written by Lin Manuel Miranda about the meaning of home in a Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights. The storylines depict the dreams and hopes of each character and are seamlessly interwoven through rapping, music and dancing. There is some mild profanity in the show, along with a few sexual jokes and innuendo.

Discussion Topics:

  • How do the expectations of their home communities and families shape the decisions these characters make?
  • Who feels like a stranger in a strange land in this story and why?

Disney's Newsies

June 19 - August 2, 2020

At a Glance:

Set in New York City at the turn of the twentieth century, Newsies is the rousing tale of Jack Kelly, a charismatic newsboy and leader of a ragged band of teenaged “newsies” who dreams only of a better life far from the hardship of the streets. But when publishing titans Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, Jack finds a cause to fight for and rallies newsies from across the city to strike for what’s right. Newsies is inspired by the real-life Newsboy’s Strike of 1899, when newsboys Kid Blink and David Simons led a band of orphan and runaway children on a two-week-long action against newspaper publishers Pulitzer and Hearst.

Discussion Topics:

  • How did the Newsboys’ Strike of 1899 pave the way for the rights US children enjoy today?
  • Why do strikes take place? What is the goal of a strike? Why do strikes often end in compromise?

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