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

Beijing, California Thick House Theater, 1695 18th St; www.asianamericantheater.org. $15-25. Opens Thurs/2, 8pm. Plays Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through July 17. Asian American Theater Company presents a new play by Paul heller set in the year 2050, when China invades America.

Posibilidad, or Death of the Worker Dolores Park and other sites; 285-1717, www.sfmt.org. Free. Previews Sat/3, 2pm. Opens Sun/4, 2pm. Runs Sat-Sun, Sept 6, 2pm; Sept 17, 8pm. The San Francisco Mime Troupe opens its 51st season with a modern song and tango about politics in the workplace.

BAY AREA

Left of Oz Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $25-50. Opens Fri/2 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm, Sun, 7pm. Through July 18. Stephanie's Playhouse presents a lez-queer musical comedy following the out west adventures of Dorothy.

ONGOING

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.

*Blackbird: Honoring a Century of Pansy Divas Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission; 786-9325, www.evezen.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 10. The intimate Blackbird Funeral Parlour Speakeasy is somber-toned and deceptively hushed, complete with period furnishings, a see-through dressing room, softly flickering altar, and obligatory piano. Only a few moments into Seth Eisen's exceptional one-man cabaret, however, and the place is alive and kicking: doleful aspects of the décor making ample room for a sly, vigorous, soulful performer and a completely unexpected journey through some vibrant underground queer history (backed by fellow Circo Zero alum Sean Feit's sharp musical direction and breezy accompaniment, and Alanna Simone's gently humorous and haunting video pieces). Your guide is 100-year-old Jean Marlin, author of the notorious 1930s Pansy Craze, 75 years dead and looking fabulous in tails, bold green cravat, dapper purple hankie and a topping of regal black plumage (costumer Jack Davis demonstrates a genius throughout for turning a shoestring budget into a G-string–supported extravaganza). A multifaceted performer with quick tongue, nimble steps, and hearty voice (giving life to an assortment of extraordinary songs), Eisen uses drag, dance, puppetry, and performance art techniques to give flight to worthy exotic blackbirds known and forgotten—drag queen Zen priest Tommy Issan Dorsey; sexually ambiguous Danny Kaye; Brazil's inimitable Ney Matogrosso; the definitely outré Klaus Nomi; and disco treasure Sylvester, whose live rendition of the Beatles' "Blackbird" at SF's War Memorial Opera House is one of several standout moments in this rollicking and poignant act of resurrection, insurrection, and homage. (Avila)

Die Walküre War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, SF; www.sfopera.com. $15-360. Wed/30, 7pm. Through Wed/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. Through July 10. Christopher Durang's The Actor's Nightmare could just as easily be called The Accountant's Nightmare, as befuddled Everyman and presumed non-actor George Spelvin (Eric O' Kelly) attempts to navigate his way out of a confused rendition of Noel Coward's "Private Lives" dressed as Prince Hamlet and menaced by a trashcan-bearing Beckett-arian (AJ Davenport). This traditional companion piece to Durang's Catholic School send-up Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You references a Catholic boyhood several times, but it is the anxiety of the present moment that prevails, as the stage clears, and Spelvin is chased into a corner by an unforgiving spotlight to deliver his frantic last-ditch attempt at a soliloquy: his ABC's. The titular Sister Mary Ignatius (AJ Davenport), by turns arctic and expansive, attempts to explain all, while periodically trotting out her star pupil Thomas (Cole Cloud) to recite catechism and spell eck-u-men-ickle for cookies. Davenport plays the pedantic side of Sister Mary with humorous vigor, but when a group of her former students drop by "to embarrass her" she doesn't quite pull off embodying the ogress of their now-adult nightmares. Of her former students, it is probably Aloysius Benheim (Eric O'Kelly) who comes across as the most damaged by her tyranny, and not coincidentally, suffers the piece's greatest humiliation. (Nicole Gluckstern)

La Fanciulla Del West War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness; www.sfopera.com. $15-360. Fri/2, 8pm. Through Fri/2. San Francisco Opera presents Puccini's opera, with Deborah Voigt as Minnie.

How the Other Half Loves Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason; (800) 838-3006, www.offbroadwaywest.org. $35, Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 31. Off Broadway West Theatre Company presents an early play by Alan Ayckbourn.

Krapp's Last Tape Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor; 1-800-838-3006, www.cuttingball.com. $15-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/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)

The New Century New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $22-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; July 11, 2pm. Through July 11. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Paul Rudnick's bill of short comedies.

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.

Reading My Dad's Porn and French Kissing the Dog The Marsh Studio Theater, 1074 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 17. The title of San Francisco writer-performer Cherry Zonkowski's confessional solo show gives only a little away—a passing detail from the Nordic diversions of a spirited army brat and daughter of an alcoholic father—but the rest of the narrative leaves even less to the imagination. An account of Zonkowski's initiation into the sex party and BDSM scene, Reading My Dad's Porn bounces gleefully between comically graphic depictions of sweaty, writhing Bay Area meet-and-greets and a childhood and young adulthood buried in family dysfunction, a loveless marriage, and the grueling teaching load of a recent English PhD. Ultimately, it's the story of a woman finding her own identity and community, and if the outlines sound familiar they also feel that way. The straightforward plot—peppered with humorous details and asides (as well as the odd song, accompanied by accordionist Salane Schultz, alternating nights with Aaron Seeman)—lacks both urgency and characters of much complexity. The story's patina of outré sex, meanwhile, is far from revelatory and too superficial and jokey to offer much dramatic heft. Nevertheless, the show, developed with director David Ford, draws a limited appeal from the force of Zonkowski's extroverted personality, whose orientation sexual and otherwise skews toward fun—although her more aggressive attempts to corral the audience into participating (mainly vocally) in the show's narrative high jinx may put some off even more than the fisting by the snack table. (Avila)

What Mama Said About Down There Our Little Theater, 287 Ellis; 820-3250, www.theatrebayarea.org. $15-25. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through August 28. Writer-performer-activist Sia Amma presents this largely political, a bit clinical, inherently sexual, and utterly unforgettable performance piece.

BAY AREA

The Drawer Boy Marion E. Greene Black Box Theatre, 531 19th St, Oakl. www.brownpapertickets.com. $10. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Sun/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. Sat/3, July 24, 31, 8pm; July 18, 25, Aug 1, 7pm; Fri/ 2, July 9, 16, 9pm. Through August 1. 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 Sat/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.

Les Liasons Dangereuses Redwood Ampitheatre, 30 Sir Francis Drake, Ross; (415) 251-1027, www.porchlight.net. $15-30. Thurs-Sun, 7:30pm; also July 7, 7:30pm. Through July 10. Porchlight Theatre Company presents a production of Christopher Hampton's adaptation of the 1782 novel.

Loveland The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Fri/ 2, 9, 7pm; Sat/3, 5pm; July 11, 2pm. Through July 11. Ann Randolph's comic solo show about an irreverent woman's trip back to her childhood home in Ohio.

Shaker Chair Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear Avenue, Mtn View; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm (also July 10, 2pm; no performance Sun/4). Through July 11. Pear Avenue Theatre presents Adam Bock's play about a middle-aged widow who applies Shaker philosophy to her lifestyle.

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.

PERFORMANCE/DANCE

BATS Improv Theatre Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center, B350 Fort Mason; 474-6776, www.improv.org. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through July 31. Bay Area Theatresports presents an evening of theater and comedy.

The Bowls Project: Secrets of the Apocalyptic Intimate Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Sculpture Court, 701 Mission; 978-2787, www.ybca.org. Tues/6, 6-8pm, free. Through August 22. Charming Hostess presents a series of performances in conjunction with an interactive sound sculpture.

Hannibal Buress Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell; 861-2011, www.rickshawstop.com. Wed/30, 8pm. $12. The Saturday Night Live writer performs along with W. Kamau Bell and Jen Slusser.

Curtain Up! The Life and Times of Ethel Merman Martuni's, 4 Valencia; 241-0205, www.dragatmartunis.com. Wed/30, 7pm. Tom Shaw Trip presents an evening devoted to the famous indomitable diva.

Kinsey Sicks: Each Hit & I Rrazz Room, 222 Mason; (866) 468-3399, www.theRRazzroom.com. Tues/6, 7pm. $35-40. An all new musical revue with parodies of Katy perry and others.

Liz Grant Variety Pack Comedy Show Purple Onion, 140 Columbus; 200-8781, www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri, 4:30pm. Through Sept 3. $10. A changing lineup of stand up comedy.

Qcomedy Showcase Martuni's, 4 Valencia; 241-0205, www.Qcomedy.com. Mon, 5pm. A weekly show of queer comedy.

The Romane Event Make Out Room, 3225 22nd St; 647-2888, www.pacoromane.com. Wed/30, 7:30pm. $7. A comedy event led by SF comedian Paco Romane.

BAY AREA
Backroom Comedy 5332 College, Oakl; (510) 655-3929, www.candychurilla.com. Wed/30, 8pm. Free, A stand up comedy show hosted by Candy Churilla.