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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Les Liasons Dangereuses Redwood Ampitheatre, 30 Sir Francis Drake, Ross; (415) 251-1027, www.porchlight.net. $15-30. Previews Thurs/17-Fri/18, 7pm. Opens Sat/19, 7:30pm. Runs Thurs-Sun, 7:30pm; also June 28, July 7, 7:30pm. Through July 10. Porchlight Theatre Company presents a production of Christopher Hampton's adaptation of the 1782 novel.
Abigail: The Salem Witch Trials Temple SF, 540 Howard; www.templesf.com. $10. July 8, 29, Aug 5, 12, 19, 26, 9pm. Through Aug 26. Buzz Productions, with Skycastle Music and Lunar Eclipse Records, presents an original rock opera based on the Salem witch trials.
All My Sons Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush; 345-1287, www.ticketweb.com. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through June 26. Actors Theatre performs Arthur Miller's masterwork.
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 Sun/20. 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. (Avila)
Bone to Pick and Diadem Cutting Ball Theater, Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor; 1-800-838-3006, www.cuttingball.com. $15-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Sun/20. Cutting Ball Theater closes its tenth season with a pair of plays by Eugenie Chan.
Boys Will Be Boys New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $22-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through June 26. What happens when you realize you have Gay Attention Deficit Disorder? This comedic musical aims to find out.
Die Walküre War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, SF; www.sfopera.com. $15-360. Sat/19, Tues/22, June 25, 30, 7pm. Through June 30. San Francisco Opera presents the second installment of Wagner's Ring cycle, directed by Francesca Zambello.
"Durang Me!" Next Stage, 1620 Gough; 1-800-838-3006, www.custommade.org. $10-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm (no show July 4). Through July 10. Custom Made performs two comedies by Christopher Durang: Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You, and The Actor's Nightmare.
La Fanciulla Del West War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, SF; www.sfopera.com. $15-360. Opens Wed/9, 7:30pm. Fri/18, July 2, 8pm; June 24, June 29, 7:30pm; June 27, 2pm. Through June 17. San Francisco Opera presents Puccini's opera, with Deborah Voigt as Minnie.
Forever Never Comes Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma; www.crowdedfire.org. $10-25. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through June 26. Crowded Fire performs Enrique Urueta's world premiere "psycho-Southern queer country dance tragedy."
Giant Bones Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy; (650) 728-8098, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-50. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/19. Cobbled from the stories of Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn, this frolic into the fantasy genre is a multi-corn misstep from writer-director Stuart Bousel. The only good thing about the convoluted plot—which, in addition to the requisite assortment of wizards, dragons, and whatnot has a play-within-a-play dimension featuring a band of caviling actors—is that it is so convoluted you can safely stop paying attention to it almost immediately. For the rest, you will have to endure two hefty acts' worth of amateurish theatrics, whose look and tone suggest an Interstate mishap between giddy vanloads of Renaissance Fairegoers and Star Trek conventioneers. (Avila)
Gutenberg! The Musical! Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy, SF; www.beardsbeardsbeards.com. $20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through June 26. A Theatre Company presents a musical about two writers who scheme to create a Broadway musical about Johann Gutenberg.
*Hot Greeks Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 Tenth St; 1-800-838-3006, www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-69. Thurs, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 27. On the principle that when you've got it you should really flaunt it, San Francisco's Thrillpeddlers essay their second revival of a musical by the storied Cockettes. Hot Greeks, which premiered in midnight performances at the old Palace Theater in 1972, was the gleefully crazed cross-dressing troupe's only other fully scripted musical besides, of course, Pearls Over Shanghai.
While not the Oresteia or anything, Hot Greeks is more than an excuse for a lot of louche, libidinous hilarity. Okay, not much more. But it is a knowing little romp — supported by some infectious songs courtesy of Martin Worman and Richard "Scrumbly" Koldewyn — wedding trashy high school romance with the trashy ancient Greece of Aristophanes and the Peloponnesian War. (Avila)
*How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Lost My Virginity SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter; www.sfplayhouse.org. $20. Sun, 7pm. Through June 27. A natural born charmer and a comedic actor with hard-won training behind her, Aileen Clark wins over an audience within about ten seconds. But her stories (co-scripted by John Caldon and ably directed by Claire Rice) turn out to be just as solid: all of them loving, irreverent, and unfailingly hilarious autobiographical accounts of coming of age across three cultures. Born to a Nicaraguan mother and a Scottish father and raised principally in Brazil, Managua and San Francisco, Clark's perfectly pitched monologue comes liberally spiced with Spanish and Portuguese, sweetened by an affecting but never maudlin honesty, and stirred with a feisty humor clearly a lifetime in the making. As well paced and energetic as this Guerilla Rep and Ann Marie co-production is, it could probably be tightened further by shaving some 10 minutes off the 90-minute run time. Nonetheless, you are not likely to regret a minute of this frank and funny, wise and sassy visit to Aileen's world. (Avila)
KML Goes Undercover Zeum Theater, 221 4th St, SF; www.killingmylobster.com. $10-20. Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 7pm, 10pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 27. Killing My Lobster returns with a series of comedic vignettes based on the theme of espionage.
Krapp's Last Tape Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor; 1-800-838-3006, www.cuttingball.com. $15-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through July 3. Cutting Ball Theater remounts its strong recent production of Samuel Beckett's hour-long solo play, featuring a full-fledged and satisfying turn by a hearty, slyly comic Paul Gerrior as the titular Krapp, reflecting on the fleeting sense of self recorded on reel-to-reel tapes over the course of a long life. Artistic director Rob Melrose approaches the material with supreme assurance and passionate but never stifling fidelity. David Sinaiko provides the recorded voice of the younger Krapp, expertly balancing a passion and unselfconscious pomposity that has Gerrior's Krapp alternately bemused, euphoric, and wincing through one of Beckett's most autobiographical and surprisingly affirming pieces. Melrose's choice use of scenic elements, meanwhile, including the palpably solid 1950s-era tape machine, places Gerrior (suitably odd and natty in costumer Maggie Whitaker's dapper vest, high-water trousers and white shoes) in a kind of communion with the reel and the real—an affecting and quietly unsettling relationship, pitched against an infinite blackness all around, that has Krapp at one point resting his head gently on the machine as he and the insubstantial voice of his younger self relive a moment of intimacy with a long-gone lover. (Avila)
Marga Gomez is Proud and Bothered New Conservatory Theater Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $18-40. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (no show June 25); Sun, 2pm. Through June 26. Gomez performs her GLAAD Media award-winning comedy.
The New Century New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $22-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun/20, July 11, 2pm. Through July 11. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Paul Rudnick's bill of short comedies.
*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. 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. 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.
Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show Marines' Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter; 771-6900. $30-89. Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through June 27. 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 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. (Avila)
"Something C.O.O.L.: The Summer Cabaret Festival" Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; www.brownpapertickets.com. Free-$10. Mon-Tues, 7:30pm; Wed, 8pm. Through June 27. Cabaret singer Carly Ozard presents six diverse showcases (Mon-Tues nights) and hosts open mics (Wed nights) with professional performers.
Speed the Plow Royce Gallery, 2910 Mariposa; 1-866-811-4111, www.speedtheplowsf.com. $28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/19. Expression Productions performs David Mamet's black comedy.
*The Tosca Project American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary; 749-2ACT, www.act-sf.org. $15-87. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Wed, Sun, 2pm. Through June 27. Four years in the making, this ACT–SF Ballet collaboration unfurls a lushly romantic, whimsical pageant of San Francisco history through movement, character, mise en scène, and an irresistible cultural lens: the famed North Beach bar lending the project its setting and name. Co-created by ACT's Carey Perloff and SFB choreographer Val Caniparoli, the storyline traipses over every iconic period since Prohibition—sometimes too cursorily but generally with vigor and a quietly gathering intoxication—meanwhile centering on three characters: the tragically lovelorn Italian bartender-owner (Jack Willis); a Russian émigrée and regular (Rachel Ticotin) who eventually inherits the establishment; and an African American musician (Gregory Wallace) arriving on the lamb, who becomes another permanent fixture of the place. Never far away either is the incarnation of the Bartender's lost love, played by SFB's enchanting Sabina Allemann. Although the story is conveyed without dialogue, there are moments when words take the stage too—how could they not in Beat-era SF, especially with a neighbor in poet-publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti (played here by the consistently winning Peter Anderson). The truly rare treat, of course, is watching the dancers of SF Ballet—not least the radiant and commanding Allemann (who retired from SFB in 1999), with added power and charisma in key scenes from Pascal Molat—relatively up-close and personal, mingling persuasively with their formidable actor colleagues, enveloped in an exquisite stage design (courtesy of Douglas W. Schmidt, gorgeously lit by Robert Wierzel) and a moody soundscape (by Darron L West) featuring choice period songs. (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.
The Drawer Boy Marion E. Greene Black Box Theatre, 531 19th St, Oakl. www.brownpapertickets.com. $10. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through July 4. TheatreFIRST presents Michael Healey's comedy about two aging farmers with a family secret.
*East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Fri/18, 9pm; Sun/20, 7pm. Through June 20. Don Reed's solo play, making its Oakland debut after an acclaimed New York run, is truly a welcome homecoming twice over. (Avila)
"Fireworks Festival" Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $25-35. Through July 3, showtimes vary. This performance festival includes work by John Leguizamo, David Sedaris (whose show is already sold out), Dan Hoyle, and Wes "Scoop" Nisker.
God's Ear Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $15-28. Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm; and Sun, 5pm. Through Sat/20. Against a frozen, deceptively empty-looking landscape of perpetual winter, an anguished married couple stagnates in grief over the accidental death of their young son. Estranged by the sorrow and guilt they feel, they spend most of the time apart but not alone: Mel (Beth Wilmurt) stays at home, where she loses herself in obsessive domestic projects while fielding questions from their surviving daughter — the equally traumatized but far more resilient Lanie (Nika Ezell Pappas) — with assists from the Tooth Fairy (Melinda Meeng) and G.I. Joe (Keith Pinto); meanwhile, Ted (Ryan O'Donnell) wanders in his business suit through a string of airports and airport bars commiserating with other lost souls (Joe Estlack and Zehra Berkman). New York-based playwright Jenny Schwartz's whimsical meditation on the process of grieving is something like The Rabbit Hole as written by Ionesco, fueled by dialogue that makes an overly showy and eventually tedious hysterical poetry of the banalities, clichés, and platitudes spoken by her stricken characters as a kind of prefab linguistic armor — everything and anything to avoid saying something. Director-choreographer Erika Chong Shuch stages the action in this Shotgun Players production with warm energy and imagination, however — and a handful of tuneful, clever songs from composer Daveen Digiacomo — compensating somewhat for the motionless plot. Moreover, Shuch undercuts the play's maudlin tendencies by moving her able actors and even the stage properties around in swift, comical, aptly dreamlike fashion, as the stunned couple continue their largely separate meanderings, meaningfully spouting "meaningless" lines about bucking up, or settling in, or riding off, etc. The problem is there is not much beneath this frozen surface of clichés beyond more cliché. (Avila)
*In the Wake Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $13.50-71. Tues and Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Thurs and Sat, 2pm; no matinee Thurs/17; no show June 25); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through June 27. Brilliantly weaving the political and the personal, New York playwright Lisa Kron takes on the myth and mayhem of American exceptionalism through the prism of a compelling lefty smarty-pants named Ellen (Heidi Schreck) and her "alternative" family circle, as it slowly unravels during the first decade of the 21st century. From her modest Manhattan perch — shared with adoring, wise-cracking longtime boyfriend Danny (Carson Elrod) — Ellen rails against the ineptitude of the Democrats in the face of the rising Right and its season of havoc. But she's already told the audience she has a problem with "blind spots," much like the country. Projections of headlines and sound bites, intermittently splayed across the fortified proscenium arch, locate the action at precise moments in the dreary political timeline of the last decade, beginning with the 2000 election coup that has put a damper on Thanksgiving festivities (despite inclusion of Pilgrim smocks). Her sister (Andrea Frankle) and sister's wife (Danielle Skraastad) are there too, along with Ellen's older friend Judy (Deidre O'Connell), a cranky, deceptively oblivious relief worker just back from a refugee camp in Africa. As time goes by, and Ellen turns to an open relationship with a woman filmmaker (Emily Donahoe), our protagonist's bedrock assumptions about the natural order of things get sorely tested. Leigh Silverman directs a top-notch cast in a remarkably engaging mix of political dialogue and personal entanglements, written for the most part with stirring intelligence and incisive humor. If the play loses focus and momentum by the second act — despite a wonderfully charged scene between Ellen and Judy that is the play's most memorable — its wit, real anger and constructive irreverence still make it too good to miss. (Avila)
John Steinbeck's The Pastures of Heaven Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Wy, Orinda; (510) 548-9666, www.calshakes.org. $34-70. Tues-Thurs, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also June 26, 2pm); Sun, 4pm. Through June 27. Cal Shakes leads off its season with an original staging of John Steinbeck's early story cycle, a collaboration with Word for Word theater company gracefully adapted by acclaimed San Francisco playwright Octavio Solis (Lydia, Ghosts of the River). Artistic director Jonathan Moscone directs a fine 11-actor cast in lively performances across a smoothly intertwining set of ten tales, all revolving around two specific households—one, the Munroe family, settled upon a notoriously "cursed" patch of land—in the central California valley that a Spanish explorer once dubbed "the pastures of heaven." Irony anyone? Steinbeck went for broke in the themes and taboos he touches upon here, from incest, madness, infanticide—he misses one or two, but not many. It's sometimes somber yet rarely heavy going, however, with many lighter stories and situations in the mix, and director Moscone's staging missing few opportunities for added humor along the way. At the same time, the stories are not equally compelling—the overly crowd-pleasing "song" story of two Mexican American sisters (Catherine Castellanos and Joanne Winter) who segue almost unconsciously from a failed restaurant venture into prostitution, for instance, is cute but surprisingly ho-hum. But if you lie back and let the play's frontier landscape unfurl (as you do literally anyway in the hill-saddled Bruns Amphitheater), the evening has a dependable charm and several dramatic highlights—not the least of which features the powerful Rod Gnapp in the role of a man desperate to appear prosperous before his family and neighbors. (Avila)
Loveland The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Fri/18, June 25, July 2, 9, 7pm; July 3, 5pm; Sun/20, July 11, 2pm. Ann Randolph's comic solo show about an irreverent woman's trip back to her childhood home in Ohio.
1001 Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; (510) 488-4116, www.justtheater.org. $15-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Sun/20. Just Theater performs Jason Groete's Arabian Nights-inspired tale of post-9/11 life.
Opus 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 June 27. TheatreWorks performs Michael Hollinger's drama, set in the world of chamber music.
Speech & Debate Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $34-55. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm, 7pm; Tues, 7pm. Through July 18. Aurora Theatre closes its 18th season with Stephen Karam's comedy about three teen misfits connected to a small town sex scandal.
*Woody Guthrie's American Song Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org. $34-54. Tues, Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through June 27. Marin Theater Company presents director-adapter Peter Glazer's graceful, dynamic staging of the life and times of Woody Guthrie using the famed folk singer's own enduring words and music (impressively, rousingly orchestrated and arranged by Jeff Waxman). Traveling alternately hard, light, and stirringly through the 1930s and 1940s before leaping ahead to alight briefly on the present (which is never far, in fact, from any of the concerns of the much abused but resilient working people channeled so brilliantly in Guthrie's social poetry), five charismatic cast members (Lisa Asher, Berwick Haynes, Sam Misner, Matt Mueller, Megan Pearl Smith) sing, act, and play their own instruments beautifully, backed by a smooth and irresistible band under multi-instrumentalist and musical director Tony Marcus. You don't have to know a lick of Guthrie's material to immediately understand its relevance and beauty in these cleverly staged set pieces, which are as humorous and crowd-pleasing as they are unapologetically damming and defiant of the rule of capital. For Guthrie fans, of course, this is a must. (Avila)
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $10-50. Sun, 11am. Through June 27. The Amazing Bubble Man, a.k.a. Louis Pearl, performs his family-friendly show.
Ball-ist-ic CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission; 626-2060, www.counterpulse.org. Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm and 9:30pm. $18-22. Scott Wells & Dancers present a performance with seven dancers and a lot of balls.
Fauxgirls! Kimo's Penthouse Lounge, 1351 Polk; 885-4535, www.fauxgirls.com. Sat/19, 10pm. Free. The female impersonation revue's ninth anniversary show.
Liss Fain Dance Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission; 978-2787, www.ybca.org. Thurs/17-Sat/19, 8pm. $15-30. The company presents its home season, with two premieres, How It Ends and Speak of Familiar Things.
Marsh's 20th Anniversary Performance Marathon The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. Sat/19, noon-midnight. A full-day of performances, including appearances by Charlie Varon and David Ford, and a late-night party.
Mortified SF Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St; 647-2888, www.makeoutroom.com. Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm. $12-15. Share the shame with firsthand stories of embarrassment.
"San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival" Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon; 474-3914, www.worldartswest.org. Sat-Sun, 2pm (also Sat, 8pm). Through June 27. $22-44. Nearly 600 Bay Area performers representing 20 cultures participate in this 32nd annual festival.
Sherri aka Cherchez La Femme Club Six, 60 6th St; 863-1221, www.cherchezlafemme.eventbrite.com. Fri/18, 9pm. $10-15. Performing along with Ariellah and Deshret Dance Company, Freyja, Auberon, Calamity Sam, Mirtara, blackhoodygrrrl and Superkate.