Hillbarns "Secret Garden" blooms 

by Keith Kreitman San Mateo Times


The "Secret Garden" at Foster City's Hillbarn Theatre is the company's most impressive production in recent years. It's also a tribute to the rise in quality of the 64-year-old Penisula institution under the artistic direction of Toni Tomei. Squeezing a large Broadway musical (book, lyrics and music by Marsha Norman and Lucy Simon) into limited space is a challenge, but with stage directecion by Karen Byrnes, Hillbarn has pulled it off--visually, dramatically and musically. The quality of the singing touches upon the operatic.

November, 26, 2004  

Hillbarn Theatre's 'Defying Gravity' a touching tale

by Pat Craig  East Bay Times

Jane Anderson's "Defying Gravity" could easily have become the orchid on the bus--far too fine and delicate for the rough-and-tumble ride. But deftly, Anderson takes her tribute to teacher/astronaut Christa McAuliffe, who died in the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster, just to the edge, allowing us to relish the fragile sensibilities without once tripping into the maudlin. She created a tough row for herself in this play, which used the death of McAuliffe as inspiration for all of us to literally and figuratively reach for the stars. 

That the characters could be so evocative is a triburte not only to Anderson, but to the actors and director Karen Byrnes, who keeps the show moving at a speedy pace to maintain interest and move the tale along. 

March 16, 2009 

karen byrnes

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Pen Goddess: SAN FRANCSICO GHOST PLAYS. MORE THAN SPOOKY. FROM THE HEART. 

I was taken aback at the excellence of GhostPlays. It tells the sad tale of six short stories about the spirits of those who died tragically in San Francisco and continue to seek answers and loved ones. "Remember me. Don't forget me, " says one ghost. The acting was truly superb. My two friends and I were brought to tears a few times as the sad tales unfolded. Each play, different  ghosts, shows historical places in San Francisco. Karen Byrnes, not new to putting on stage plays, but from the comments of her fans this play is her finest play, contributes her writing the stories with the help of her brother, Bob, who passed away two years ago. 

SF GHOST PLAYS performed at Magic Theatre July 28, 29 & 30 2017.  

Hillbarn Theatre wins again with "Holes"

by Cynthia Corral  

I found it to be a touching, heartwarming story fit for an audience of all ages. I'll admit I had my doubts about what I had thought was a children's show, and it is always risky to produce a play that relies heavily on a young cast. But I was absolutely delighted with the show that Hillbarn is presenting, Don't miss this outstanding performance at Hillbarn Theatre. 

February 12, 2011