A few questions:
What's your budget? If you can afford it, I would strongly recommend you go with an m4/3 camera (Oly E-P1/2, Pany GF-1) because, with the right lens (i.e. Pany 20mm f1.7), you will get much better low-light performance in a package that's not a heck of a lot bigger than the FZ35 that you're considering.
What video res/frame rate do you need? If you can't afford the any of the above m4/3 cams, I would recommend the Canon S90 (f2.0 and 1/1.7 sensor) over either the ZS3 (f3.3 and 1/2.33 sensor) or FZ35 (also 1/2.33 sensor but f2.8 lens) for low-light situations. However, max video is 640x480@30fps.
Why the interest in a superzoom (10x+)? In a typical (small-ish) high school theater, the 300mm zoom of the ZS3 will probably be overkill, and the 400mm FZ35 moreso.
HTH - Mark
Can anybody recommend a decent point and shoot camera for stage photos. Got two kids and occasionally they have performance on stage. My current Canon A610 just can?t do the job. Don?t like the DSLR because they are too bulky. Also it would be nice if the camera can do optical zoom in video recording.
Is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 or a FZ35 good? They have > 10x optical zoom but not sure if they can take stage photos.
Thanks a lot.