Butterfield 8 brightens up October with the opening of "She Stoops to Conquer," running Oct. 11-Nov. 4 at Cue Productions Live, 1835 Colfax St.in Concord.

Oliver Goldsmith's "restoration" period comedy has delighted audiences since it first appeared in the 18th century with its tale of a wealthy Londoner who prefers lower-class women rather than women from his own class, much to the chagrin of family and friends. A crazy cast of characters, lots of miscommunication and mistaken identities ensues as his friends attempt to wed him to a highborn lady.

"It's escapist entertainment at its best -- just in time for election season," says director John Butterfield. "The play is laugh-out-loud funny, a little bit bawdy and a little bit romantic."

For tickets to "She Stoops to Conquer," which features Alan Cameron, Beth Chastain, Kerry Gudjohnsen, Rhianna Taylor and JanLee Marshall among others, call 800-838-3006 or go to www.b8company.com.

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    Young theatergoers and their families won't want to miss Fantasy Forum's production of "The Emperor's New Clothes." In this retelling of the timeless tale, a loving king decrees that he will give his daughter in marriage to the suitor who provides him with the most beautiful new wardrobe. The unusual results will amuse audiences of all ages.

    Directed by Scott Denison, the show features original music by Florence Denison and performances by Kerri Shawn, Scott Strain and Derek Travis Collard.


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    "The Emperor's New Clothes" runs Oct. 11 (9:30 a.m., 11 a.m.), Oct. 12 (9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 7 p.m., and Oct. 13 (10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.) at the Lesher Center for the Arts., where young audience members can even sit on the stage. Call 925-943-SHOW or go to www.lesherartscenter.org for tickets.

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    With so many theaters struggling to keep open and stalwarts like The Willows filing for bankruptcy, it's nice to hear when a theater actually expands its operations. Such is the case for Berkeley Repertory.

    I still remember auditioning for Berkeley Rep in the mid-1970s when the 155-seat theater was little more than a storefront on College Avenue. Now, it is the anchor of Berkeley's Arts District on Addison Street with two beautiful theaters -- The Roda and Thrust Stage -- and a new production facility on Harrison Street in West Berkeley.

    Last week, PR director Terrence Keane proudly led a tour of the new facility. Sure to be the envy of theater companies everywhere, the 62,000-square-foot building allows the costume shop, prop shop, scene shop, storage and administrative offices to be housed under one roof. Previously, the company had rented space in five different locations in two cities. The light-filled space has a Google-like atmosphere, with indoor and outdoor areas to relax and play a game or two in between creative projects.

    The new production space will also be home to The Ground Floor, a summer laboratory for prominent and promising writers, directors and composers to collaborate on new works. Thanks to a $1 million grant from the James Irvine Foundation and a $750,000 grant from ArtPlace, residencies ranging from four days to three weeks have been awarded to local, national and international artists. The residencies begin in July 2013.

    "It's tremendously exciting to gather so many artists of this caliber in one place at one time for one purpose -- to make art," says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. "This is a huge leap for us. By launching The Ground Floor, we're transforming our approach to creating new work. I can't wait."

    For more information on each project and for future announcements of opportunities to interact, watch the website at berkeleyrep.org/groundfloor.

    Back at its Thrust Theatre on Addison Street, Berkeley Rep will open "An Iliad" on Oct. 17 with previews beginning Oct. 12 and shows continuing through Nov. 11. Two-time Obie Award-winner Lisa Peterson, who also adapted the story along with Denis O'Hare, directs, with actor Henry Woronicz capturing the grief and glory of the battle for Troy. Call 510-647-2949 or go to www.berkeleyrep.org.

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    There's still time to catch "Lost in Yonkers" at Contra Costa Civic Theatre in El Cerrito. The Neil Simon favorite runs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through Oct. 14. Call 510-524-9132 or go to www.ccct.org.

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    Local performer LaMont Ridgell performs as a charismatic El Gallo in a thoroughly entertaining production of "The Fantaskicks" currently playing at Alameda's Altarena Playhouse through Nov. 4.

    Under Stuart Lyle's astute direction, this seemingly lighthearted musical reveals a too-seldom-seen depth. The wonderful cast includes two 17-year-olds as the young lovers. For tickets, call 510-523-1553 or go to www.altarena.org.

    Contact Sally Hogarty at sallyhogarty@gmail.com