Bay Area Children’s Theatre has shut, ending 19 a long time of joyous theater for families

Cricket (Gabrielle Smith) performs in Bay Region Children’s Theatre’s “Giraffes Just can’t Dance.” The clearly show was to have run by June. 

Picture: Jay Yamada/Bay Space Kid’s Theatre

Bay Place Children’s Theatre is ceasing operations powerful immediately, the 19-yr-old organization introduced Thursday, Might 18. 

All performances, courses and camps are canceled. The Berkeley-dependent organization explained it would source information and facts about ticket and tuition refunds at a later on date.

The closure will come much less than a few weeks following the theater, known for adapting beloved textbooks into limited musicals and for devising dance events and demonstrates for toddlers and even infants, canceled one particular manufacturing and announced an emergency fundraising campaign with the intention of boosting $750,000 by July 1. 

Director Khalia Davis retains a duplicate of Chelsea Clinton’s inspirational e-book as she rehearses “She Persisted, the Musical” at Bay Location Children’s Theatre’s Osher Studio in Berkeley in 2019.

Picture: Michael Short/Particular to The Chronicle

In launching the generate earlier this month, Inventive Director Khalia Davis advised The Chronicle that the business did not have strategies to near. The notion then was to just take “a strategic pause” immediately after it had completed a operate of “Giraffes Just cannot Dance: The Musical” in June and see how the fundraising generate went just before announcing any programming for autumn and outside of.

Now those hopes are dashed. 

Leah Sanginiti (remaining) and Iyana Colby conduct very last July in Bay Space Children’s Theatre’s “Llama Llama Crimson Pajama Live!” The theater, which started operation in 2004, has ceased operations.

Picture: Alessandra Mello/Bay Location Kid’s Theatre

“We really necessary a Hail Mary,” stated Board President Christina Clark Bloodgood.

In two weeks, the firm raised scarcely 15% of its target. When leaders appeared at how considerably far more they’d continue to have to scrape collectively, “we didn’t sense like there was automatically the depth in donors,” she stated. Then the staff commenced to wonder, “What if we can not get by summer camp, and youngsters are midway by way of?”

Bloodgood put blame on climbing expenses compounded by ongoing complications of rebuilding a corporation and relationships from scratch right after a two-yr hiatus brought about by the pandemic. As just one illustration, she reported BACT is paying out to dwelling out-of-city actors simply because some expertise it used to rely on can no for a longer time afford to pay for to stay in the region.

Nina Meehan, who co-started the enterprise in 2004 and departed very last year, put it this way to her two boys, both equally avid avid gamers: “Imagine if, for two several years, the whole video recreation business just stopped,” she said. “They had been like, ‘What? But then there’d be no new games, and there wouldn’t be persons to make games, and the individuals who understood how to make game titles would have located other jobs.’ And I was like, ‘Yes, that’s what happened to theater.’ ”

Understudy Jackie Kappes (left) arms a xylophone mallet to Adia Smith, 4, during a overall performance of Bay Space Children’s Theatre’s of “Splish Splash” at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland in 2016.

Picture: Gabriella Angotti-Jones/The Chronicle

Since its creation, the organization has distinguished itself with deep comprehending of and compassion for the creative needs of young children and their people. Its variations of guides — “A Calendar year With Frog and Toad,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Web site,” “Don’t Enable the Pigeon Generate the Bus!” — gave youthful audiences new strategies to engage with stories they now know and appreciate, serving as an inviting gateway into theater as an art type. The company’s lobbies ended up even child-friendly, with coloring tables for kids to take a look at whilst mother and father picked up tickets. 

The company’s productions boasted small operate times of fewer than an hour, with displays that commenced in the morning and early afternoon, the far better to accommodate nap periods. Its toddler theater, staged at Children’s Fairyland, devised a shush-no cost way to relieve the youngest audiences into new environments stage by step — all in a nation wherever so-termed theater for the pretty young is really exceptional. Its Little one Raves, all-ages dance events, have been creative and communal retailers for babies and their caregivers.

BACT’s system of operate also showed that inventive innovation is not constrained to theater for adults. It premiered a musical adaptation of “She Persisted: 13 American Females Who Altered the World” by Chelsea Clinton, and an adaptation of “Where the Mountain Satisfies the Moon” by Alameda playwright Min Kahng, which then went on to gain a number of Theatre Bay Area Awards. 

Actors Carolina Morones (left), Cassie Grilley, LeighAnn Cannon, Angel Adedokun, Loreigna Sinclair and Gabriella Momah rehearse in 2019 for Bay Region Children’s Theatre’s “She Persisted, the Musical.”

Picture: Michael Quick/Exclusive to The Chronicle

The company’s closure is only the latest blow to nearby theater’s wrestle to recover from the pandemic. PianoFight held its final display in March, and the Exit closed its Eddy Road doors at the close of 2022. Personalized Created Theatre Co. past developed a present in December and has not announced any  productions given that. 

“It was me and my 4 co-founders and an thought,” Meehan recalled of all those early times developing BACT. “We grew due to the fact of the community. They desired arts. They desired creativity. They needed creativity for their children.”

Pondering a Bay Location theater scene with out BACT, Meehan claimed, “Kids aren’t going absent. They even now want theater and encounters exactly where they can categorical them selves and truly feel safe and sound. My hope is that gap will be filled in means that we haven’t imagined but.”

Attain Lily Janiak: [email protected]


  • Lily Janiak

    Lily Janiak joined the San Francisco Chronicle as theater critic in May possibly 2016. Earlier, her writing appeared in Theatre Bay Place, American Theatre, SF Weekly, the Village Voice and HowlRound. She retains a BA in theater research from Yale and an MA in drama from San Francisco Condition.