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Bad Dates

Written by Theresa Rebeck
Directed by Molly Noble


$9  for junior-high and high-school students (Feb 5 only)
$15  for youth 21 and under
$25  for adults
$30  February 14th Valentine Special performance (adults)
$20  February 14th Valentine Special performance (youth)
Seniors:  subscribe for a huge discount!

One of the theater’s most widely produced contemporary playwrights has created a hilariously idiosyncratic journey of self-discovery involving the Romanian mob, a Buddhist rainstorm, a teenage daughter, lots of shoes, and a few very bad dates.

Jennifer King, who directed last season’s I Am My Own Wife, stars in this charming and slyly sweet one-woman play.

Make a great date on Valentine’s Day!
Yes, Bad Dates is a GREAT date show! Get a cupcake for your cupcake, then snuggle up and share the laughs at our final performance.

Our production was chosen by the Bay Area Theatre Critics’ Circle as a GO SEE! event.

Title Sponsor: Mike & Karen Bergin


Haley Walker

Jennifer King


Scenic Designer

Wayne Hovey

Costume Designer

Skipper Skeoch

Lighting Designer

Robin DeLuca

Sound Designer

Jim Peterson

Stage Manager

Ingrid Emming

King Jennifer King (Haley Walker) is an international theater artist. She recently returned from five months in Europe where she created and performed her own work, co-directed and acted in the medieval play Mankind and began work on A Midsummer Night’s Dream with world renowned artist and Move the World founder, Maximilian Magnus, who she met last year when she was in Berlin researching I Am My Own Wife, which she directed at Cinnabar last season. Her regional acting, directing and teaching credits include work for the California Shakespeare Theater, Dallas Theater Center, Aurora Theatre Company, Shakespeare Napa Valley, SF Playground, Napa Valley Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Playhouse, Sonoma County Repertory Theater, 6th Street Playhouse, Napa Valley Playhouse, Lucky Penny Productions, The White Barn, the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, Napa Valley College, and Richland, Foothill, and Solano Colleges, as well as Sonoma State University and the University of California, Davis. Locally, she was the Executive and Artistic Director of Sonoma County Repertory Theater and now serves as Professor of Theater Arts/Artistic Director at Napa Valley College where she founded Shakespeare Napa Valley and Napa Valley Conservatory Theater. As an actor, favorite roles include Mankind (Mankind), Blanche (A Streetcar Named Desire), Nora (A Doll’s House), Sylvia (Sylvia), and Emma (Betrayal), among many others. In addition to her work on stage, Jennifer is a voice over artist, voicing national and local commercials and documentaries and can be heard in the Reduced Shakespeare Company production of The History of Comedy (abridged).

Noble Molly Noble (Director) is delighted to return home to Cinnabar Theater. She last appeared here in Enchanted April in 2007. Other shows here include Mad Forest, Our Country’s Good and House of Blue Leaves (all directed by Elizabeth Craven). She has directed for PlayGround, Porchlight Theatre Company, Word For Word, West Marin Players, Ross Valley Players and College of Marin, where she teaches. Next up: The Kepler Story by Nina Wise for Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, CO. and Dancing at Lughnasa at Main Stage West.

DeLucaRobin DeLuca (Lighting Designer) is a busy little stagehand/designer, jumping from the Wells Fargo Center to Diversified Stage to her active life in freelance lighting. She graduated from SSU in 2013 with a technical theatre degree and works hard to make that degree work for her. She is a regular designer at the Raven, at San Domenico School and for Cardinal Newman High School. When she finds time off, it is usually spent gaming.

Ingrid Emming (Stage Manager) began stage managing in 2007, for Cinnabar Theater’s production of Cosi fan tutti. Since then she has stage managed for all the operas and most of the musicals at Cinnabar, including last season’s Falstaff. She  most recently stage managed for The Rocky Horror Show at 6th Street Playhouse. She has also worked on productions with Raven Performing Arts Theater, Pegasus Theater, Main Stage West, and Narrow Way Stage Company. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University’s Department of Design and Merchandising, and 2016 marks her 18th year of private professional practice specializing in architectural and interior design. She is delighted to be working with Cinnabar Theater again.

Hovey Wayne Hovey (Set Designer) has been working in the technical side of theater for more than 40 years, doing everything from backstage work to set, sound and lighting design and stage management. He has provided lighting design for more than 15 shows at Cinnabar, including Woody Guthrie’s American Song, Shirley Valentine, La Cage aux Folles and Of Mice and Men. He also designed sets for Cinnabar’s Jacques Brel is Alive and Well, The Marriage of Figaro and others.

Jim Peterson (Sound Designer) has performed in Sonoma County as a musician and actor for over 35 years. He has been the musical director on many shows, most recently Mother Jones in Heaven at Main Stage West and A Couple of Blaguards at Cinnabar, and was nominated for a Bay Area Theater Critics Circle Award for each of these productions. Jim was also music director/actor in productions of Always…Patsy Cline, Hank Williams’ Lost Highway, and Woody Guthrie’s American Song. He portrayed George Jones in Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story and was “The Man with the Guitar”, the sound designer and the music director for a production of The Grapes of Wrath produced at 6th Street Playhouse. Jim was a founding member of Western Union Theatre Company and appeared in productions of True West, Blue Window, A Lie of the Mind, Reckless, and Better Days among others. He is a guitar, mandolin, and trombone player and a singer performing in many local bands over the years. He currently plays with local roots-rock band Stony Point, who have just released their second album, and also with the jump-swing band Miss Kitty and the Big Dogs. Jim has designed sound for many productions at Cinnabar including Of Mice and Men, Enchanted April, Heartbreak House, The Clean House, Philadelphia Story and We [Heart] U, Nosferatu. He is most grateful to once again be offered the opportunity to work with such a fine director, a stellar actor, and top production crew.

Skipper Skeoch (Costume Designer) is very excited to be back at Cinnabar, after costuming The Creature. Recently Skipper has been the resident costume designer for Napa Valley College, designing productions of Sweeney Todd, Much Ado About Nothing, Taming of the Shrew, Lydia and Kalos Kai Agathos to name a few. In addition Skipper had the pleasure of designing the last three of Reduced Shakespeare’s premiere productions: Christmas Abridged, Comedy Abridged and most recently Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play Abridged. Other credits include work with the Magic Theater, South Coast Repertory, Sonoma County Repertory, Sacramento Theater Company, and Summer Repertory Theater in Santa Rosa.


Haley Walker is living a rather binary life. At work (she manages a trendy New York restaurant), she’s in charge and firing on all cylinders. But at home in her apartment (where all the action in Bad Dates takes place), things are quite a bit more chaotic. The bed is unmade, dresser drawers are half open with clothes spilling out, her vanity is a mess and there are shoes everywhere: on the bed, under the bed, in boxes and hampers. Everywhere. Her life is laid out for us to see. Almost nothing is hidden.
In this insightful and hilarious comedy, playwright Teresa Rebeck has created a character who is open and loving and hospitable, one who demolishes the theatrical fourth wall, drawing the audience deep into her world—so much so that the audience feels open to answer back to her not-so-rhetorical questions, and it doesn’t feel the slightest bit wrong. As Haley, the excellent Jennifer King treats the audience with the same familiarity and friendliness that she offers to her friends and family members—who remain offstage and unseen, for this is a solo performance.
After a long period of singleness, when she was laser-focused on her job, Haley has decided to come out of her social shell and put herself back into the romantic swing of things. As we watch her choose outfits for a series of the titular bad dates, one can’t help but think that Rebeck intended the shoes and clothes to be a metaphor for the many roles a person plays in their life. Who is Haley now? Mother? Restaurant manager? Lover? All these and more? She certainly has the shoe wardrobe for it.
Regardless of the underlying themes, the most important thing happening on stage is the connection between character and audience. There really is no fourth wall here, only a mostly one-sided conversation that is true enough to be both funny and touching. As Haley, Jennifer King is a perfect choice. She imbues the character, a sassy thing from south Texas, with tremendous heart and palpable sincerity. Though I think King could have milked even bigger laughs from the packed house at Cinnabar Theater by allowing a few of the setups to breathe a bit before she hit the punch line, that shouldn’t in the slightest keep you from making the trip to Petaluma, for everything about this production is top notch.
The set by Cinnabar regular Wayne Hovey is marvelous. It’s capacious enough to allow King the space she needs but cramped and chaotic enough to lay bare the tumult in Haley’s life. Lighting by newcomer Robin DeLuca is lovely: both bold and delicate in just the right balance. Music and sound design—a collaboration between sound designer Jim Peterson and director Molly Noble—sets the appropriate mood and even reveals character. As director, Noble deserves significant praise for this production, bringing all elements together in a seamless and entertaining whole.
Bad Dates is anything but, so grab a loved one (or a hoped-to-be loved one) and get yourself to Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater. My suggestion? Get your tickets soon, as I predict word of mouth on this winner is already spreading across the North Bay, and you’ll be sorry if you miss this delightful February fare. Oh—and come early and sit down front, where Haley Walker can truly welcome you into her world.
—Patrick Thomas, Talkin’ Broadway

Dating sucks. At least that’s what they tell me. Since I’ve been happily married almost 30 years, I scarcely remember. But “Bad Dates,” a comedic one-woman show at the Cinnabar Theater in Petaluma, acts as a reminder. Amusingly.Texas transplant Haley Walker is first met in a rent-controlled Manhattan apartment that’s almost as disheveled as her life. Her main décor seems to be clutter. This ‘n’ that spill from opened dresser drawers. A closet and clothes rack overflow with garb that doesn’t make her happy. And she visibly worships at the altar of the shoe gods, owning about 600 pairs of footwear. The divorcée bemoans her 35-year-old feet having swelled so that many shoes don’t fit anymore — and that the most comfy undoubtedly would be a pair she couldn’t be caught dead in: her 13-year-old daughter’s flats.
Complicating her life is a Romanian mobster jailed for laundering money at the restaurant she runs, a thunderstorm with Buddhist overtones and napkins used for raingear, and her gay brother. Plus failed dinners with a guy who endlessly chatters about cholesterol and his colon, a law prof who’s aloof (for good reason), and a wannabe lover superb at vanishing.
Maybe men and women are put on earth just “to torture each other,” she opines at one dramatic juncture.
Opening night, both genders laughed often. The women more loudly. Especially at Haley’s recurrent dressing and undressing and dressing and…
The 80-minute “Bad Dates,” an off-Broadway success in 2003, pays homage to yesteryear. Imelda Marcos’ shoe obsession is alluded to (although Carrie Bradshaw’s in “Sex and the City” is ignored). And Mildred Pierce, the title character in a 1945 Joan Crawford potboiler about a long-suffering mother and her ungrateful daughter, becomes a major plot point. The play, however, could be taking place today.
Jennifer King — who directed “I Am My Own Wife,” last season’s one-man tour de force at Cinnabar starring Steven Abbott in playing 36 characters — excels as Haley.In a pre-show briefing, director Molly Noble, who has worked with the Ross Valley Players, the College of Marin and Word for Word, labeled King (who’s acted and directed at the California Shakespeare Theater, the Aurora Theatre Company, and the Berkeley and 6th Street playhouses) “a dynamo” willing to be vulnerable as an actor. Noble’s description is accurate. King’s stage demeanor, countenance, and accent never ring false.
—Woody Wiengarten, Marin Scope Newspapers

Cinnabar Theater celebrated the opening of Theresa Rebeck’s comedy “Bad Dates” with a contest asking the audience to share their worst dates. The winner was a woman who described going out on a first with a man who, midway through a meal, told her he was sure his wife wouldn’t mind his dating her.
“Tell you what,” this woman replied. “Give me her phone number, and I’ll call her up and ask her.”
At least this woman won a pound of coffee for her pains. And the audience shared a good empathetic laugh. It is, after all, a truth universally acknowledged that anyone bold and mad enough to venture into the world of dating is going to have at least one experience that will make them consider a pet rat as a preferable companion.
This laughter continued with the production, a one-woman performance by Jennifer King, directed by Molly Noble.
King, who is a director and professor of theater at Napa Valley College, has just returned from a European sabbatical, and is brimming with energy as she portrays Haley Walker,  a transplant from Texas who arrived in New York City, as a single mom with a 5-year-old daughter. Seven years later, she decides it’s time to start dating.
In the meantime, she has progressed from waiting tables to managing a restaurant for the Romanian mafia, turning it into a Manhattan success and even quietly paying taxes without her bosses realizing it.
She is, she explains, a sort of “idiot savant” when it comes to restaurants. For the first time in her life, she doesn’t have to worry about money every minute; she has a box of cash stashed in her closet, along with about 500 pairs of designer shoes.
These are only a few of the many things Haley confides when she invites the audience into her bedroom, where the play takes place, beginning as she is preparing to go out on her first date in 13 or so years.
What has inspired it, she tells us, is a recent Buddhist fundraiser she attended, where she was condemned to sit outside in a thunderstorm, holding a napkin over her head, as advised by the hostess, and listening to a conversation about being one with mosquitoes. She notes that one of the dinner companions is attractive. “And when you start thinking that a Buddhist bug guy is cute, it’s time to start dating again.”
She does not have good experiences. This she shares in vivid, tragic, comic detail as she decides which shoes to wear for her next assay, in her clothes-filled room in her rent-controlled apartment.
King gives a rich and sparkling performance as the dauntless Haley, whose soliloquies are filled with wry humor, epicurean insights, and down-to-earth charm. She is, by turns, wistful, wise and not-so-wise, a mirror of that collective part of humanity that, against the odds, keeps believing in, as Oscar Wilde so admirably puts it, “the triumph of hope over experience.” She may end up dating a man who worries about butter and cheese (“and it’s a French restaurant”), one who tells her she looks old and then describes his colonoscopies as dinner conversation, or one who would prefer to be dating her brother, but she doesn’t give up.
Is it worth it? That’s for her to say, but just as the world she’s worked 13 years building for herself and her daughter is threatened with collapse ( the Romanians want to look at the restaurant’s books), hope arrives in a most unexpected form, causing her to ruminate:
“Maybe men and women weren’t put on this earth to torture each other.”
King infuses the role with energy, and notes that this is a great play for a group of women to attend together. Afterward they can repair to a bar and compare their own bad date stories. Equally, it’s not a bad idea for a date, and certainly will be a better one than any described onstage.
—Sascha Paulsen, Napa Valley Register

— David Templeton, North Bay Bohemian

Jennifer King as Haley Walker in Bad Dates.

Photo by Eric Chazankin

Jennifer King as Haley Walker in Bad Dates.

Photo by Eric Chazankin

Jennifer King as Haley Walker in Bad Dates.

Photo by Eric Chazankin

Jennifer King as Haley Walker in Bad Dates.

Photo by Eric Chazankin

Jennifer King as Haley Walker in Bad Dates.

Photo by Eric Chazankin

Jennifer King as Haley Walker in Bad Dates.

Photo by Eric Chazankin

Jennifer King as Haley Walker in Bad Dates.

Photo by Eric Chazankin

Jennifer King as Haley Walker in Bad Dates.

Photo by Eric Chazankin

Valentine’s Day Special

Great Date on Valentine’s Day!
February 14 at 2:00pm

Yes, Bad Dates is a GREAT date show! Get a cupcake for your cupcake, then snuggle up and share the laughs.

Buy tickets