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

Cindy Goldfield & Scrumbly Koldewyn in Cowardly Things New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctsf.org. $20-28. Previews Thurs/8, 8pm. Opens Fri/9, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 31. Cindy Goldfield and Scrumbly Koldewyn in a tribute to Noel Coward.

Comedy Ballet The Garage, 975 Howard; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-25. Opens Fri/9, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm, Sun, 3pm. Through July 18. Dark Porch Theatre presents an outlandish and unusual dance and theater hybrid.

Dead Certain Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa; (866) 811-4111. $12-28. Previews Thurs/8-Fri/9, 8pm. Opens Sat/10, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through August 14. Expression Productions presents a psychological thriller by Marcus Lloyd.

Foresight Fort Mason Southside Theater, Building D; www.fortmason.org. $22-27. Opens Fri/9, 8pm. RunsFri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 8pm. Through July 18. Easily Distracted Theatre presents a new play by Bay Area filmmaker Ruben Grijalva.

Gilligan's Island: Live on Stage! The Garage, 975 Howard; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-20. Opens Sun/11 8pm. Runs Sun, 8pm. Through August 29. Moore Theatre and SAFEhouse for the Performing Arts brings the TV show to the stage, lovey.

The 91 Owl African American Arts Cultural Complex, 762 Fulton; 574-8908, www.brownpapertickets.com. $10-25. Previews Thurs/8, 8pm. Opens Fri/9 8pm. Runs nightly 8pm. Through July 22. A production of Bernard Norris's play about the life of a San Francisco bus stop.

Piaf: Love Conquers All Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $25-36. Previews Wed/7-Thurs/8, 8pm. Opens Fri/9 8pm. Runs Tues-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 2 and 8pm. Through August 7. Tone Poet Productions brings a portrait of Edith Piaf to the stage.

"San Francisco Olympians Festival" Exist Stage Left, 156 Eddy; www.sfolympians.com $10.

BAY AREA

Mrs. Warren's Profession Bruns Ampitheatre, 100 California Theatre Shakespeare Way, Orinda; (510) 548-9666, www.calshakes.org. $34-70. California Shakespeare Theater presents George Bernard Shaw's classic morality play.

ongoing

Abigail: The Salem Witch Trials Temple SF, 540 Howard; www.templesf.com. $10. Thurs/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.

Beijing, California Thick House Theater, 1695 18th St; www.asianamericantheater.org. $15-25. 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.

*Blackbird: Honoring a Century of Pansy Divas Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission; 786-9325, www.evezen.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/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)

"Durang Me!" Next Stage, 1620 Gough; 1-800-838-3006, www.custommade.org. $10-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/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)

How the Other Half Loves Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason; (800) 838-3006, www.offbroadwaywest.org. $35, Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 31. In Alan Ayckbourn's 1971 comedy, a night of infidelity propels two colliding couples into menacing a third, a pair of innocents unwittingly drawn into the whole affair as alibis. The collisions are made all the more kinetic by the fact that Ayckbourn cheekily drops the two principal couples into overlapping living rooms, where they continually brush by each other in ironic obliviousness. At the outset of this droll two-act, Fiona Foster (a smart, cucumber-cool Sylvia Kratins) has just slept with Bob Phillips (a brilliantly sourpussed James Darbyshire), junior colleague of her husband Frank (Jeff Garrett, exuding the animated splendor of the full-on English twit), on the night of the couple's wedding anniversary (pure coincidence for the forgetful, loveless Fiona). In loose coordination with lover Bob, Fiona explains her late night absence with reference to a pair of vague acquaintances, the Featherstones (Jocelyn Stringer and Adam D. Simpson). Bob does the same with Teresa (a spunky Corinne Proctor), his homebound wife and a new, deeply disgruntled young mother. Naturally, back-to-back dinner parties with said alibis ensue, much to the horror and chagrin of the adulterers. Off Broadway West Theatre Company's production, smoothly helmed by Richard Harder, makes the most of the complex staging as both time and space collapse over intersecting dining tables. If the play is slow to catch fire, it reaches a nice sustained peak that proves worth the going. Shaky accents from Garrett and especially Simpson can distract at times, but Harder's cast is generally solid and engaging, with particularly enjoyable work from Darbyshire and Proctor as the volatile younger Phillips with their crass bickering, canned erotic energy, and barely countenanced off-stage baby. (Avila)

The New Century New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $22-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun/11, 2pm. Through Sun/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.

Posibilidad, or Death of the Worker Dolores Park and other sites; 285-1717, www.sfmt.org. Free. Sat-Sun, 2pm; also 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.

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.

Young Frankenstein Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor; 551-2000, www.shnsf.com. $30-99. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm, also Tues/13, July 20, 8pm; Wed/7, July 24, 21, 2 and 8pm. Through July 25.

For all its outlandish showmanship, Mel Brooks's other movie-turned-musical is not quite as grand a beast as The Producers . Still, the adventures of Victor Frankenstein's reputation-conscious grandson, Frederick Frankenstein—played with exceeding charm and surgeon-like skill by major cut-up Roger Bart, originator of the role on Broadway—remains a monster of a show, in more ways than one. The rapid-fire repartee, for starters, is scarily deft, the comic timing among a first-rate cast all but flawless (even when milking a line shamelessly), the fancy footwork (choreographed by director Susan Stroman) pretty fancy, and the mise en scène holds some attractive surprises as well. At the same time, and despite the fecund humor revolving around questions of size and virility, the show's actual two-and-a-half-hour length proves a bit wearying, especially as many of the best jokes (though by no means all) are the much-loved and universally much-repeated gags from the film. Moreover, Brooks's songs, while very able, rarely rise to memorable and sometimes feel perfunctory or a bit busy. One of the glorious exceptions is the blind hermit scene (played brilliantly by Brad Oscar), which combines the hilariously plaintive song "Please Send Me Someone" with a lovingly faithful rendition of the original spoof for a sequence that literally smokes. (Avila)

BAY AREA

*East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. July 24, 31, 8pm; July 18, 25, Aug 1, 7pm; Fri/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)

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

Les Liasons Dangereuses Redwood Ampitheatre, 30 Sir Francis Drake, Ross; (415) 251-1027, www.porchlight.net. $15-30. Thurs-Sat, 7:30pm; also Wed/7, 7:30pm. Through Sat/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/9, 7pm; Sun/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 Sat/10, 2pm). 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.
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.
"San Francisco Olympians Festival" Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy; www.sfolympians.com Fri/9-Sat/10, 8pm, $10. A series of one=act perfomances by No Nude Men Productions.