Broadway by the Bay

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Broadway by the Bay, is a musical theatre company in San Francisco, California. It began as the San Mateo Community Theatre, a community group established by the San Mateo Recreation Department, with Dr. Randolph Hunt as music director and Robert Lynch as drama director in June 1963 at Hillsdale High School in San Mateo, California. After beginning with productions of three Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the company shifted its focus to modern musicals in 1966. Since then, it has produced musicals continuously in San Mateo County. The group changed its in 1983 name to Peninsula Civic Light Opera, and again in 1999, to Broadway by the Bay.


Broadway By the Bay is an outgrowth of a San Mateo Recreation Department program that originated in the 1950s as "La Honda Music Camp", in Jones Gulch, near La Honda, California in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Each summer, that program employed the talents of young musicians, singers, and actors to produce primarily Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas, which were staged at the camp site in Jones Gulch near La Honda, California. The program grew to become the "San Mateo Community Theatre".[1]

First productions: Gilbert and Sullivan[edit]

Dr. Randolph Hunt and Robert Lynch were the directors for the first two summer productions at Hillsdale High School, both of which were Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Hunt had directed a number of the Savoy operas when he taught at Capuchino High School in San Bruno, California, from 1950 to 1960. After earning his doctorate, Hunt taught at Crestmoor High School from 1962 to 1963. He was also on the staff of the La Honda Music Camp, and his success with the camp encouraged the City of San Mateo to establish a non-profit community musical theater. Lynch had acted in local productions of the popular Gilbert and Sullivan operas.[2]

The first production was Patience, in August 1963 in the little theatre at Hillsdale High School, with an additional performance at La Honda Music Camp. The cast of high school and college students included a future international opera singer, soprano Luana De Vol.[3] Hunt conducted a small orchestra of musicians from San Mateo County.[citation needed] In the summer of 1964, Hunt and Lynch collaborated on The Mikado, again at Hillsdale High School with an additional performance at the camp.[citation needed] Citing increasing responsibilities at Merritt College in Oakland, California, Hunt did not return for the summer 1965 production. Instead, Anthony "Duke" Campagne, the band director at Hillsdale High School, worked with Lynch on a production of H.M.S. Pinafore, which played at Hillsdale and one performance at La Honda Music Camp.[4]

Move to musical theatre[edit]

Members of the cast of the 1966 production of Oklahoma!

After presenting the three Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the San Mateo Community Theatre moved in a different direction. Although Campagne returned, he was joined by a staff that included Kenneth L. Ton, the drama director at Capuchino High School, and Ben Denton, the choral director at Aragon High School. For the first time, in 1966, SMCT presented a classic Broadway musical: Oklahoma! by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Once again, the cast and orchestra were drawn from high school and college students throughout San Mateo County. The performances were moved to the little theater at the College of San Mateo. The production was a success and encouraged SMCT to produce more musicals.[5]

Hunt returned as a director for the 1967 production of West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. The performances were given at the auditorium at San Mateo High School, later known as the San Mateo Performing Arts Center. This remained the home of the company until 2011. The company continued to produce musicals each year, and later productions mixed professional and semi-professional talent with amateur singers and dancers, increasing the quality of the shows.[6]

The San Mateo Community Theatre became a non-profit organization in 1978. In 1983, the Board of Directors expanded the focus of the company and changed the name to Peninsula Civic Light Opera. In 1999, a decision was made to gradually change the name to Broadway by the Bay to more accurately reflect the group's focus on Broadway-type musicals instead of light operas.[1]

Broadway by the Bay today[edit]

Broadway by the Bay is a not-for-profit corporation that produces four full-scale musical theatre productions each year. Most productions are appropriate for family entertainment. All shows are performed at the Fox Theatre located at 2215 Broadway Street in Redwood City, California. The Actors, ushers and some of the musicians are volunteers.[1]

The 2014 season included performances of Evita, In the Heights,[7] Dreamgirls, and Anything Goes. The 2015 season is scheduled to include Kiss Me, Kate, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, and an additional show that is to be announced.[6] A review in San Jose Mercury News called the company's 2009 production of The Full Monty "strong and fast-paced ... typical of Broadway by the Bay. [Its choreography was] smooth, clever, and wonderfully funny. There is much good acting, singing and dancing."[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Broadway by the Bay",, accessed September 12, 2014
  2. ^ Interviews with Randolph Hunt and Robert Lynch, 1963–64
  3. ^ Luana De Vol website
  4. ^ Eyewitness account by Robert E. Nylund, member of SMCT, 1963–66
  5. ^ Robert E. Nylund
  6. ^ a b|Broadway by the Bay website
  7. ^ Webb, Cy Ashley. "Broadway by the Bay: In the Heights (Review)",, July 1, 2014
  8. ^ Grant, John Angell. "Theater review: The Full Monty at Broadway by the Bay", San Jose Mercury News, September 2009, accessed September 12, 2014