What people are saying about our shows

Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

“A thoroughly charming comedy with an uncanny re-creation of Austen’s wry wit.”  The Mercury News

“Light as a feather, with a sneakily subversive message about the charm of brainy women.”  -KQED

Stupid Fucking Bird

“An entertainingly cheeky take on a classic.”   –The Mercury News



“This is one killer musical, and the City Lights cast totally slays it.”  -Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News

“City Lights Theater Company has a knack for picking interesting, timely, and downright fun stories to bring to the stage, and LIZZIE is no exception. All in all, LIZZIE is a dark, intense and acerbically funny exploration of the fine line between female empowerment and murder.”  -Tad Malone, Metro


Rapture, Blister, Burn

“The funny side of feminism.”  -Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News

“Witty, excellent play delivered with panache by fine cast.”  -John Orr, Regarding Arts

Lights Up! Three Days of New Plays

“Actor/playwright breathes new life into his characters, scripts.”  -Anne Gelhaus, in a Bay Area News Group feature about Max Tachis and our new-play festival


“Everything from the fantastic lighting and overwhelming music to the movielike pace of the narrative is sewn together in a creepy, thought-provoking package.”  -Tad Malone, Metro



“The team in the play is a close-knit group of collaborators who work together like a well-oiled machine, and that aspect is mirrored in the casting.”  -Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News

“A funny, horrifying Ideation that cannot help but engender timely, follow-up discussions that need to occur.”  -Eddie Reynolds, Talkin’ Broadway


Calendar Girls

“Heartwarming … the charm of the piece really lies in the strong sense of camaraderie between these women.”  -Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News

“Queue up and brew a cuppa … more humorous than salacious, and ultimately touching.”  –Metro‘s Hit List


Other Desert Cities

“Bitingly funny, heartbreakingly gripping. … This powerful script is brought to exciting, moving life by this fine cast under incredible direction.   -Eddie Reynolds, Talkin’ Broadway

“A lively and cerebral cast … acidly funny.”  -Tad Malone, Metro


Green Day’s American Idiot

American Idiot does Green Day proud in San Jose.”  -Randy McMullen, The Mercury News

“Boy, did they deliver at City Lights. From the very first moment our senses were assailed with a stage full of dancing, prancing actors gyrating and singing to the sound of a rock band playing the title track, ‘American Idiot.’ And the raucous energy lasts for the whole show.”  -Tony Lacy-Thompson, Regarding Arts

I and You

“City Lights’ production of I and You is a deeply personal and gratifying exploration of the sacred, with a pleasantly surprising twist on how far intimacy can take a person.”  -Tad Malone, Metro

“Once again, City Lights Theater Company has chosen a winning script, a superb production team, and an exciting duet of actors to present to its audience a gift that will continue to give for a long time. Not only will I and You lead to both self-reflection and conversations about life, death, and relationships, my guess is it will lead to a rush on Amazon to order a copy of “Leaves of Grass.”  -Eddie Reynolds, Talkin’ Broadway


The Elephant Man

“Within minutes of the play’s beginning, it is clear to the hushed audience that City Lights Theater Company has cast a John Merrick who can stand up to the best of those who have won accolades and awards in the past 25+ years for this most difficult stage role. … George Psarras commands the stage and the awed attention of all.”   –Eddie Reynolds, Talkin’ Broadway


Tigers Be Still

“Fiercely funny … real and relatable … uniformly endearing.”  -Karen d’Souza, San Jose Mercury News

“All the characters are damaged and flawed, but the audience truly roots for them to break through the depression, anger and anxiety to become their better selves. … Charmingly offbeat.”  -Karla Kane, Metro


Handle With Care

“One would have to look far and wide to find a more enjoyable, funny, and heartwarming way to kick off the holiday season this year—whatever holiday that person might be planning to celebrate.”  -Eddie Reynolds, Talkin’ Broadway

“A surprisingly witty and touching comedy, nimbly directed by Kit Wilder for City Lights Theater Company, this Hanukkah/Christmas story is a sweet way to kick off the holiday season.”  -Karen d’Souza, Mercury News

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

“There is no part of this show that is not fascinating and excellent. At its best moments, it is electrifying. … The play is an exquisite examination of the good and the bad inside the heart of an intelligent, humanist man.”  -John Orr, Regarding Arts

“A stylish atmosphere and exuberant performances that will get you in the mood for the dark spirit of Halloween.”  -Karen D’Souza, San Jose Mercury News


West Side Story

“Remains one of the best musicals ever written. Arthur Laurents’ story, Leonard Bernstein’s music and Stephen Sondheim’s libretto are unparalleled for their blend of musical sophistication and beauty, teenage urgency and social commentary. But give City Lights credit. Director Lisa Mallette and her cast of 26 seem not the least bit intimidated by the scope of the work and tackle it with a winning combination of exuberance and efficiency that reminds you that great songs, an iconic romance and pointless tragedy on any scale can thrill an audience.”  -Randy McMullen, San Jose Mercury News

“Staging a musical as huge as West Side Story in as small a venue as City Lights in San Jose qualifies as a bit of a nutty idea, but, happily, the theater world tends to embrace nuttiness, and the production that opened there on Saturday night is well worth seeing. Actually, it is a must-see, for the choreography by Jennifer Gorgulho, and the dancing and singing … It is thrilling to see all those talented young performers strutting and dancing and sweating (in some cases, copiously) for us, to Leonard Bernstein’s magnificent score. There are 100 seats for the audience, and the view is good in every one.”  -John Orr, Regarding Arts


Exit, Pursued by a Bear

“Fast-paced fun … Gunderson’s dialogue is clever and snappy.”  –Sam Hurwitt, San Jose Mercury News

“Director Steve M. Boyle has this cast and show ticking like a fine Swiss watch.” –John Orr, Regarding Arts


M. Butterfly

“Extraordinary play being given an excellent production at City Lights … Kit Wilder (gives a) tour de force performance.”  –Paul Myrvold’s Theatre Notes

“Hwang’s twisty writing and ambitious tackling of big themes, and the powerhouse performances of Wilder and Louie make City Lights’ M. Butterfly a standout.”  -Karla Kane, Metro



“Quite simply, Build is excellent. It shines with a well-written, intriguing script and superb acting, and is a must-see for local theater lovers.”  -Karla Kane, Metro

“Hits pretty darn close to home, deftly zeroing in on this region’s most unique, quirky, and captivating elements: wealth, greed, compassion, ego, narcissism, and desire for community.”  -Clinton Stark, Stark Insider

“Yes, there are a lot of geeky things in this play, but you don’t have to understand all the tech to be in on the warm wit and humor of the play, or all the feels it has either. … It’s a relevant, fun, and surprisingly moving story, told really, really well.”  -Susannah Greenwood, Artsalot


Truce: A Christmas Wish from the Great War (world premiere)
“City Lights should take great pride in Truce: A Christmas Wish from the Great War. It’s a perfect and poignant offering for this holiday season and an excellent commemoration of both humanity’s capacity for destruction and its fervent desire for peace on Earth, elusive but occasionally within reach.”  -Karla Kane, Metro Newspaper

“It makes beautifully powerful points about our shared humanity and the profoundly unnatural nature of war.”
-Brad Erickson, Executive Director, Theatre Bay Area

“Wilder and Bracco’s play works so well because of the obvious lengths they’ve gone to make this historically accurate – to make it less of a fairy tale and more of a real-life miracle.”  -Cy Ashley Webb, Stark Insider

“I was amazed at how the playwrights packed so much into a fairly short play … they managed to correctly interpret the wide vacillation of emotion that the soldiers had on both sides. If you have a chance to see this play, please do … You will come away feeling hopeful about the human spirit and how it shines through such carnage.”  -Richard Hagan, a patron and Vietnam veteran


“The show is captivating in the hands of three actors of wide experience, practiced stage speakers of great skill who, under the brisk, nuanced direction of Virginia Drake, flesh out a lean script that gives only minimal stage direction, with telling moments and hilarious business developed, honed and burnished to perfection.”  –Paul Myrvold’s Theatre Notes

“These are three superb actors on their game, playing off each other in impressive counterpoint, demonstrating precise jockeying for Alpha dog.” -Jeanie K. Smith, Talkin’ Broadway

Monty Python’s SPAMALOT
“None shall pass up this delightful stroll down daffiness lane.” -Karen D’Souza, San Jose Mercury News

The Language Archive

“Sweetly funny and surprisingly affecting … Virginia Drake’s energetic, smartly paced production takes the audience on a beguiling trip through the linguistic minefield of romantic love.” -Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News


“An absolutely brilliant production … crowned by two incredible performances in the lead roles.” -Jeanie K. Smith, Talkin’ Broadway