Stage listings

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Stage listings are compiled by Guardian staff. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, and Nicole Gluckstern. Submit items for the listings at listings@sfbg.com.

THEATER

OPENING

Echo's Reach Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St; 665-2275, www.citycircus.org. $14-35. Opens Fri/30, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 4pm); Sun, 4pm. Through May 30. City Circus premieres an urban fairytale by Tim Barsky.

Geezer Marsh MainStage, 1062 Valencia; 1-800-838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Opens Sat/1, 8:30pm. Runs Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm (May 9 show at 8pm). Through May 23. Geoff Hoyle presents a workshop performance of his new solo show about aging.

Hot Greeks Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 Tenth St; 1-800-838-3006, www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-69. Opens Sun/2, 7pm. Runs Thurs, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 27. Thrillpeddlers work their revival magic on the Cockettes' 1972 musical extravaganza.

BAY AREA

Terroristka Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; (415) 891-7235, www.brownpapertickets.com. $12-20. Previews Fri/30-Sat/1, 8pm. Opens Sun/2, 5pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through May 16. Threshold: Theatre on the Verge performs Rebecca Bella's drama, based on the true story of a Chechen woman trained as a suicide bomber.

The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston Wy, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $10-50. Opens Sun/2, 11am. Runs Sun, 11am. Through June 27. The Amazing Bubble Man, a.k.a. Louis Pearl, performs his family-friendly show.

ONGOING

An Accident Magic Theatre, Bldg D, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org. $25-55. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2:30pm); Sun, 2:30pm; Tues, 7pm. Through May 9. Magic Theatre closes their season with Lydia Stryk's world premiere drama.

Andy Warhol: Good For the Jews? Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida; 292-1233, www.tjt-sf.org. $15-45. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through May 16. Renowned monologist Josh Kornbluth is ready to admit his niche is a narrow one: he talks about himself, and more than that, he talks about his relationship to his beloved late father, the larger-than-life old-guard communist of Kornbluth's breakthrough Red Diaper Baby. So it will not be surprising that in his current (and still evolving) work, created with director David Dower, the performer-playwright's attempt to "enter" Warhol's controversial ten portraits of famous 20th-century Jews (neatly illuminated at the back of the stage) stirs up memories of his father, along with a close family friend — an erudite bachelor and closeted homosexual who impressed the boyhood Josh with bedtime stories culled from his dissertation. The scenes in which Kornbluth recreates these childhood memories are among the show's most effective, although throughout the narrative Kornbluth, never more confident in his capacities, remains a knowing charmer. But the story's central conceit, concerning his ambivalence over presenting a showing of "Warhol's Jews" at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum, feels somehow artificial. It's almost a stylized rendition of the secular-Jewish moral quandary and neurotic obsession driving Kornbluth works of the past — or in other words, all surface, not unlike the work of another shock-haired artist, but less meaningfully so. (Avila)

The Diary of Anne Frank Next Stage, 1620 Gough; 1-800-838-3006, www.custommade.org. $10-28. Thurs/29-Sat/1, 8pm. Custom Made performs Wendy Kesselman's modern take on the classic.

"DIVAfest" Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy; 673-3847, www.theexit.org. Check website for dates and times. Through Sat/1. Small town girls, they're all so tragically alike: dreaming eternally of escape, whether by land or luck or love. For stranded sisters Finn and Sarah in The Wind and Rain (part of DIVAfest), the seasons slide slowly past, like the river that powers the dead-end mill-town they bide their time in, waiting for an elusive something to change their lives. Acerbic tomboy Finn (Brynna Jourdan) leads the action and their relationship — pushing her timid sister Sarah (Jeanna Bean Veatch) to swim in the river, all the while admonishing her to remember there "is no such thing as a river." Meanwhile a mysterious fiddler (Rebecca Jackson) moves quietly about her isolated office on the periphery of the stage, occasionally underscoring the unfolding story with a mournful pull of her bow across strings. The plot is thin, and slightly scripted, but the delicately structured buildup to the presumptive murder is gently compelling. As summer fades into fall and winter into spring, so does Sarah's budding romance with Finn's ex (the nameless Miller's son of the ballad on which the play is based) blossom quite literally in an explosion of petals sprinkled across the stage, followed closely by the predetermined dose of sororicidal rage and a stirring musical dénouement. (Gluckstern)
Eat, Pray, Laugh! Off-Market Theaters, 965 Mission; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Wed, 8pm. Through May 26. Off-Market Theaters presents stand up comic and solo artist Alicia Dattner in her award-winning solo show.

*Master Class New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $22-40. Wed/28-Sat/1, 8pm; Sun/2, 2pm. Terrence McNally's lovingly clever and thoroughly engaging portrait-play about opera icon Maria Callas takes the inspired notion of post-career Callas (Michaela Greeley) teaching a Julliard master class of eager young singers, while naturally finding herself unable to resist dominating the stage once more. Through a set of arias performed to piano accompaniment (by Kenneth Helman) by a cast of actor-singers (Alyssa Stone, Holly Nugent, Gustavo Hernández), Callas's unselfconsciously curt and even brutal interactions with the students finally evoke for this deeply proud yet insecure woman both past theatrical glories and backstage heartaches. The play receives an impressive, all-around satisfying production at New Conservatory Theatre under Arturo Catricala's astute direction. Of course, even with decent to excellent work on and off stage by the entire production team — including a stately mood-setting scenic design by Kuo-Hao Lo — it would no doubt amount to little without a formidable lead actor to fill Callas's elegant but slightly over-the-top shoes. Here a marvelously imposing yet charming Greeley delivers the part as if she were born to play it, and all goes swimmingly as a result. (Avila)

"A Night of Funny Firsts" Shotwell Studios, 3252A 19th St; www.brownpapertickets.com. $10-15. Fri/30-Sat/1, 8pm. A sharp and consistently amusing trio of short plays makes up this Footloose-sponsored "night of funny firsts," which actually leads off with a welcome return: the encore run of Cynthia Brinkman's Evolution of a Kiss, a clever and charming trans-autobiographical solo flight that builds on the writer-performer's incarnation of three first-kisses across three generations of Latina women, beginning with her Mexican grandmother's 1934 snog and ending with her own wayward gropings in the late-80s. Brinkman is a competent, confident and charismatic talent who lets nothing, including the fourth wall, stand between her and a good story. She also proves an able director in the second part of the evening, given over to two expert comedic sketches by playwright Wayne Rawley — Controlling Interest and Happiness Is Like a Beautiful, Bright, Shiny Red Apple — both pretty brilliantly manifested by actors Nick Dickson, Matt Gunnison, Maria Leigh, Tavis Kammet, Jason Pienkowski and Holly Silk. (Avila)

Pearls Over Shanghai Hypnodrome, 575 Tenth St.; 1-800-838-3006, www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-69. Fri-Sat, 8pm, through June 26; starting July 10, runs Sat, 8pm and Sun, 7pm. Extended through August 1. Thrillpeddlers presents this revival of the legendary Cockettes' 1970 musical extravaganza.

Peter Pan Threesixty Theater, Ferry Park (on Embarcadero across from the Ferry Bldg); www.peterpantheshow.com. $30-125. Previews Wed/28 and May 5, 2pm; Thurs/29, 7pm; Fri/30-Sat/1, 7:30pm (also Sat/1, 2pm); Sun/2, 1 and 5pm. Opens May 8, 7:30pm. Runs Tues and Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 7:30pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed, 2pm; Sun, 1 and 5pm. Through August 29. JM Barrie's tale is performed in a specially-built 360-degree CGI theater.

The Real Americans The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $18-50. Wed-Thurs and May 28, 8pm; Sat, 5pm; Sun, 3pm. Through May 30. The Marsh presents the world premiere of Dan Hoyle's new solo show.

Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show Marines' Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter; 771-6900. $30-89. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through May 23. From somewhere before the Beatles and after Broadway "Beatlemania" comes this big band cigarettes-and-high-ball nightclub act, recreating the storied Vegas stage shenanigans of iconic actor-crooners Frank Sinatra (David DeCosta), Dean Martin (Tony Basile), and Sammy Davis Jr. (Doug Starks), and sidekick comedian Joey Bishop (Sandy Hackett). The excuse, if one were needed, is that god (voiced in mealy nasal slang by Buddy Hackett, appropriately enough) has deemed a Rat Pack encore of supreme importance to the continued unfurling of his inscrutable plan, and thus unto us a floorshow is given. The band is all-pro and the songs sound great — DeCosta's singing as Sinatra is uncanny, but all do very presentable renditions of signature songs and standards. Meanwhile, a lot of mincing about the stage and the drink cart meets with more mixed success, and I don't just mean scotch and soda. The Rat Pack is pre-PC, of course, but the off-color humor, while no doubt historically sound, can be dully moronic — and the time-warp didn't prevent someone in opening night's audience from laying into Hackett's opening monologue for a glib reference to suicide. Though talk about killing: thanks to the heckler, the actor — son to Buddy and the show's co-producer (alongside chanteuse Lisa Dawn Miller, who sings a cameo as Frank's "One Love") — got more life out of that joke over the rest of the evening than any other bit. (Avila)

SexRev: The José Sarria Experience Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission; 1-800-838-3006, www.therhino.org. $10-25. Wed/28-Sat/1, 8pm; Sun/2, 2pm. Theatre Rhinoceros presents John Fisher's musical celebration of America's first queer activist.

Shopping! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $27-29. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. The musical is now in its fifth year at Shelton Theater.

Tartuffe Studio 205 at Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission; 377-5882, http://generationtheatre.com. $20-25. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through May 16. Generation Theatre performs a new English translation of Molière's classic, in Alexandrine verse.

Tell It Slant Southside Theater, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, Marina at Laguna; www.tixbayarea.com. $20-40. Fri-Sun, 8pm (also Sun, 2pm; no 8pm show May 16). Through May 16. BootStrap Foundation presents Sharmon J. Hilfinger and Joan McMillen's musical about Emily Dickinson.

"Wanton Darkness: Two Plays By Harold Pinter and Conor McPherson" Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason; 335-6087. $24-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through May 8. Second Wind and Project 9 Productions co-present a double-bill of twisted and mysterious little-big plays under the umbrella title, "Wanton Darkness." The evening begins with Harold Pinter's Ashes to Ashes, a pas de deux between a fortysomething couple, Rebecca (Lisa-Marie Newton) and Devlin (Lol Levy), wherein Devlin closely questions Rebecca about a certain sadomasochistic relationship and accompanying dreams, in vaguely menacing tones. The scenic design (by Fred Sharkey) suggests a psychiatrist's office as much as "a New York penthouse apartment," which speaks to the ambiguity in the dialogue but also to the slightly heavy-handed approach taken here by the actors under Ian Walker's direction. The touch is far more apt overall in the second play, St. Nicholas, also directed by Walker. An early effort by Irish playwright Conor McPherson (Shining City; The Seafarer), the play unfolds as a two-part monologue by a cynical drink-sodden theater critic (tell it, brother) who follows a spiral of self-loathing right down into the company of a set of fetching young vampires. With something like the quality of a gothic-styled AA testimonial, it proves a somewhat roving but intriguing yarn, nicely delivered by the capable Fred Sharkey. (Avila)

What Mama Said About Down There Our Little Theater, 287 Ellis; 820-3250, www.theatrebayarea.org. $15-25. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through July 30. Writer-performer-activist Sia Amma presents this largely political, a bit clinical, inherently sexual, and utterly unforgettable performance piece.

BAY AREA

*East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-35. Fri, 9pm; Sat, 8pm. Through May 8. Don Reed's solo play, making its Oakland debut after an acclaimed New York run, is truly a welcome homecoming twice over. (Avila)

Equivocation Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org. $34-54. Wed/28, 7:30pm; Thurs/29 and Sat/1, 8pm (also Sat/1, 2pm); Sun/2, 2 and 7pm. Marin Theatre Company presents playwright Bill Cain's award-winning hit, a sparksy drama that steeps itself in the history of Shakespeare's life, labors and times to, among other things, draw pointed references to a barbaric period of fear, witch-hunting and state-sponsored torture ("Politics is religion for people who think they're god," as one character has it). As staged by artistic director Jasson Minadakis, the play is nervously kinetic and pitched rather high by a cast of first-rate actors delivering surprisingly lackluster performances. The fact is Cain also bites off quite a bit in Equivocation, including "Shagspeare"'s (Charles Shaw Robinson) fraught relationship with his morosely clever daughter (Anna Bullard), neglected twin of the beloved son he lost — which is perhaps why some of it seems only half chewed by the end. The play — set in designer J.B. Wilson's metallic two-tiered semi-circle representing the storied Globe Theatre, where the Bard wrote and occasionally acted alongside his fellow King's Men as co-proprietor — has also a wearying tendency to spell its morals in block letters. Some genuine insight into the plays and their meaning then and now lifts interest in the fictionalized action, which otherwise skirts by on mild amusement, somewhat strained dialogue and familiar post-9/11 indignation. (Avila)

Girlfriend Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $27-71. Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Sat and Tues, 2pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through May 9. If you like Matthew Sweet's songs you'll probably like the spirited renditions in this new boy-meets-boy musical, which borrows its title from Sweet's famous 1991 album. The songs, backed by a solid band in a recessed fake-wood-paneled den at the back of the stage, underscore the fraught but exhilarating emotional bond between two Nebraska teens at the end of their high school careers and the cusp of an anxious, ambiguous independence. The performances and chemistry generated by actors Ryder Bach and Jason Hite under Les Waters' sharp direction are marvelous, delivering perfectly the inherent honesty and feeling in Todd Almond's book, while Joe Goode's beautifully understated choreography adds a fresh, youthful insouciance to the staging. But the story is a small one, not just a small town story, and its short, predictable arc makes for a slackness not altogether compensated for by the evocative tension between the lovers. (Avila)

John Gabriel Borkman Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $34-55. Tues and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm); Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through May 9. A former bank manager (James Carpenter) who did time for illegally speculating with customer accounts to the ruin of all now paces like a lone wolf (in the operative metaphor) in his upstairs study, planning a return to respectability, as his estranged wife (Karen Grassle) occupies the rooms below along with a testy housekeeper (Lizzie Calogero), where her sister (Karen Lewis) competes for the love and loyalty of the patriarch's grown son (Aaron Wilton), who contrary to the designs of all his elders is determined to marry a charming widow (Pamela Gaye Walker) and "live," as he is compelled to reiterate. Ibsen's play has an enduring topicality that is hard to miss of course, but Aurora's production, directed by veteran hand Barbara Oliver, also inadvertently suggests why this leaden, slightly ridiculous work is so rarely produced, despite some solid acting, especially from an imposing yet slyly comical Carpenter in the title role. (Avila)

Oliver! Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $24-33. Fri, 7:30pm; Sat, 2 and 7pm; Sun, 1 and 6pm. Through May 16. Berkeley Playhouse performs the Dickens-based musical.

To Kill a Mockingbird Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. $27-62. Tues-Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through May 9. TheatreWorks performs Christopher Sergel's adaptation of Harper Lee's literary masterpiece.

PERFORMANCE/DANCE

"Bombshell Betty's Burlesque Bailout" Glas Kat, 520 Fourth St; 495-6620. Wed, 8pm, $10. Burlesque, dance, comedy, and more to raise money for Bay Area performers hit hard by the economic crisis.

"City Solo" Off-Market Theaters, 965 Mission; www.brownpapertickets.com. Sun, 7pm. Through May 23. $15. This showcase features works by Monica Bhatnagar, Susan Ito, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Sarah Weidman, and Nicole Maxali.

"Columbia Chasing" Garage, 975 Howard, SF; 518-1517. May 4-5, 8pm, $10-20. Dance Ceres performs a work-in-progress.

"Men Think They Are Smarter Than Grass" Project Artaud Theater, 450 Florida; 267-7687. Fri-Sat and May 6, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through May 9. $20-25. Deborah Slater Dance Theaer performs a world premiere.

"Queerification" Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission; www.therhino.org. Sun, 3. Donations accepted. Theatre Rhinoceros and Grooviness Productions present this afternoon of "playlets and musings in progress" by Mercilee Jenkins and Jerry Metzker.

"Toe to Toe: The Grand Slam" Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna; www.slimstickets.com. Thurs, 6:30pm. $25-125. Dancers from ODC/Dance and student athletes from UC Berkeley engage in a series of physical challenges to raise money for ODC Dance Commons and Cal Athletics.