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. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.
Assisted Living: The Musical Imperial Palace, 818 Washington, SF; 1-888-88-LAUGH, www.assistedlivingthemusical.com. $79.59-99.50 (includes dim sum). Opens Sat/18. Runs Sat-Sun, noon (also Sun, 5pm). Through July 31. Rick Compton and Betsy Bennett's comedy takes on "the pleasures and perils of later life."
Indulgences in the Louisville Harem Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.offbroadwaywest.org. $20-40. Opens Thurs/17, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 30. Two spinster sisters find unlikely beaux in Off Broadway West Theatre's production of John Orlock's play.
All Atheists Are Muslim Stage Werx, 533 Sutter, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Runs Sun, 7pm. Through July 10. Zahra Noorbakhsh returns with her timely comedy.
Assassins Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.roltheatre.com. $20-36. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through June 25. Whether the world truly needed a Sondheim musical about the joys of political assassination or not is debatable, but as long as there is one it might as well go for the gusto. Brought to you by Ray of Light Theatre, the folks behind last year's production of Jerry Springer the Opera, Assassins imbues society's greatest misfits with quirky relatability. From Joel Roster's hangdog portrayal of Leon Czolgosz (McKinley's assassin) to Lisa-Marie Newton's frazzled Sara Jane Moore (attempted to off Ford), Danny Cozart's foul-mouthed, Santa Claus-suited, Samuel Byck (out for Nixon) to Gregory Sottolano's loopy Charles Guiteau (bagged Garfield), the solid cast examines the assassination impulse in a breezy, borderline goofy manner. The production takes a more somber tone when Lee Harvey Oswald (Michael Scott Wells) takes the stage, encouraged by John Wilkes Booth (Derrick Silva) to turn a presumptive suicide attempt into one of assassination, while the other assassins beg him to legitimize their dark impulse through his action. The pacing works best when at its most frenetic, though Silva's Booth, a pokerfaced elder statesman, lends an air of balancing gravitas. But the true stars of the show might well be the ultra-tight, eight-person house band playing a wide variety of American musical styles from the last 150 years, confidently directed by David Möschler.(Nicole Gluckstern) *Blue Man Group Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor, SF; www.tickets.shnsf.com. $50-200. Wed/15-Sat/18, 8pm (also Sat/18, 2pm); Sun/19, 2pm. Jaw-slackening feats of circus skill combine with elaborate otherworldly percussion, subtle fresh-off-the-spaceship clowning, and of course lots of blue body paint in the updated version of the long-running now internationally strewn multi-group Blue Man Group. Mutatis mutandis, it's a two decades–old formula. But its driving, eyeball-popping musical spectacle and wry, deft way with mass culture send-ups and (albeit rather pushy) audience participation can't help but entertain. (Avila)
Fighting Mac! Thick House Theatre, 1695 18th St, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.therhino.org. $15-30. Wed/15-Sat/18, 8pm; Sun/19, 3pm. Theatre Rhinoceros performs John Fisher's play about real-life queer British general Hector MacDonald.
"Fury Factory 2011" Various venues and prices; www.brownpapertickets.com. Through July 12. Over 30 Bay Area and national companies participate in this bi-annual theater festival.
*Little Shop of Horrors Boxcar Theatre Playhouse. 505 Natoma; www.boxcartheatre.org. $20-50. Tues-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through June 26. From the moment the irritable Mr. Mushnik (Alex Shafer) chases his temp clerk (Amy Lizardo) out the lobby door and onto the street for the opening number, it's clear that Boxcar Theatre's production of Little Shop of Horrors is going to be unique. Boasting an energetic cast, an ingenious set, a few updated lyrics, and a marvelously menacing man-eating plant, Little Shop is engaging enough to distract from the somewhat awkwardly-mixed wireless mikes, and the fact that the doo-wop trio (Nikki Arias, Lauren Spencer, and Kelly Sanchez), though each individually blessed with awesome pipes, don't always vocally blend well together. But they play their streetwise characters to a tough and tender T, while the awkwardly schlubby Seymour Kleborn (John R. Lewis) and his battered muse Audrey (Bryn Laux) tend Seymour's mysterious botanical discovery and their burgeoning love affair with real sweetness. Everyone's favorite badass dentist is played to sadistic perfection by Kevin Clarke, who rolls up Natoma Street on an actual motorcycle, while the able chorus morphs from skid row bums to cynical ad execs without missing a musical beat. As usual, Boxcar Theatre's design team is a strong one, particularly in the case of puppet designers Greg Frisbee and Thomas John, whose trio of Audrey Jrs. are superbly executed. (Gluckstern)
Much Ado About Lebowski Cellspace, 2050 Bryant, SF; www.sfindie.com. $25. Fri-Sun, 8pm. Through June 28. SF IndieFest and the Primitive Screwheads perform a Shakespeare-inflected take on the Coen Brothers' classic film.
The Pride New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $24-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through July 10. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs the West Coast premiere of Alexi Kaye Campbell's love-triangle time warp drama.
Risk is This...The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival EXIT on Taylor, 227 Taylor; (800) 838-3006, www.cuttingball.com. Free. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through June 25. Cutting Ball Theater closes its 11th season with a festival of experimental plays, including works by Eugenie Chan, Rob Melrose, and Annie Elias.
The Stops New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $24-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through June 25. New Conservatory Theater Center presents a musical comedy set in San Francisco.
A Streetcar Named Desire Actors Theatre, 855 Bush; 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through June 25. Actors Theatre of San Francisco presents the Tennessee Williams tale.
*Vice Palace: The Last Cockettes Musical Thrillpeddlers' Hypnodrome, 575 10th St; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $30-35. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through July 31. Hot on the high heels of a 22-month run of Pearls Over Shanghai, the Thrillpeddlers are continuing their Theatre of the Ridiculous revival with a tits-up, balls-out production of the Cockettes' last musical, Vice Palace. Loosely based on the terrifyingly grim "Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe, part of the thrill of Palace is the way that it weds the campy drag-glamour of Pearls Over Shanghai with the Thrillpeddlers' signature Grand Guignol aesthetic. From an opening number set on a plague-stricken street ("There's Blood on Your Face") to a charming little cabaret about Caligula, staged with live assassinations, an undercurrent of darkness runs like blood beneath the shameless slapstick of the thinly-plotted revue. As plague-obsessed hostess Divina (Leigh Crow) and her right-hand "gal" Bella (Eric Tyson Wertz) try to distract a group of stir-crazy socialites from the dangers outside the villa walls, the entertainments range from silly to salacious: a suggestively-sung song about camel's humps, the wistful ballad "Just a Lonely Little Turd," a truly unexpected Rite of Spring-style dance number entitled "Flesh Ballet." Sumptuously costumed by Kara Emry, cleverly lit by Nicholas Torre, accompanied by songwriter/lyricist (and original Cockette) Scrumbly Koldewyn, and anchored by a core of Thrillpeddler regulars, Palace is one nice vice. (Gluckstern)
Wish We Were Here New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $20-32. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through June 25. Slacker meets genie in this Michael Phillis comedy.
Care of Trees Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org. $17-26. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through June 26. E. Hunter Spreen's Care of Trees, which is receiving an inventively bold world premiere production in Shotgun's capable hands is at once ambitious yet unsatisfying. The basic plot — "girl meets boy then turns into a tree &ldots; sort of" — is a quirky premise full of untapped potential. With so many possible interpretations of Georgia's (Liz Sklar) unique predicament, the one that seems most predominant is an unwitting critique of the banality of the self-realization movement. "If I don't do &ldots; what I see as right, then I'll be lost to myself," she tells her understandably frustrated husband Travis (Patrick Russell), as she abruptly shuts off her empathy-meter and bids him to do the same. During isolated pockets of dramatic tension, Georgia is stabbed in an altercation with a tree-hugger, suffers a series of violent seizures, is shuttled off to a battery of clueless doctors, and granted an audience with a Peruvian shaman, yet the underlying significance of actually turning into a tree, is barely explored, certainly never understood. Sklar and Russell turn in standout performances as the forest-crossed lovers, and the canopy of Nina Ball's inventive set soars, but overall this Tree could stand to develop some stronger roots. (Gluckstern)
Distracted 529 South Second St, San Jose; (408) 295-4200, www.cltc.org. $15-35. Thurs/16-Sat/18, 8pm; Sun/19, 2pm. City Lights Theater Company of San Jose presents a drama written by Lisa Loomer and directed by Lisa Mallette.
East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Aug. 7. Don Reed's hit solo comedy receives one last extension before Reed debuts his new show (a sequel to East 14th) in the fall.
Edward Albee's Tiny Alice Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; (415) 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org. $32-53. Tues, Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Thurs/16, 1pm; June 25, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7:30pm (also Sun, 2pm). Through June 26. Marin Theatre Company performs Albee's most divisive play, an erotic thriller-cum-comic allegory.
Let Me Down Easy Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $17-73. Tues and Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed, 7pm; Sun, 2pm. Through June 26. Anna Deavere Smith performs her latest solo show.
Metamorphosis Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-55. Previews Wed/15, 8pm. Opens Thurs/16, 8pm. Runs Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through July 17. Aurora Theatre Company performs a terrifying yet comic adaptation of Kafka's classic by David Farr and Gísli Örn Gardarsson.
[title of show] TheatreWorks at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. $24-42. Tues-Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through June 26. TheatreWorks performs a new musical about musicals by Hunter Bell and Jeff Bowen.
*Welcome Home, Julie Sutter Marion E. Greene Black Box Theater, 531 19th St, Oakl; www.theatrefirst.com. $10-30. Thurs/16-Sat/18, 8pm; Sun/19, 2pm. On her first day back from Iraq, African American Marine, mother, and amputee Jenny Sutter (a pensive, quietly affecting Omoze Idehenre) sits in Beckett-like stasis at a bus depot operated by a wound-up cockroach-crazed attendant (Joe Estlack), until a chatty middle-aged woman named Louise (Nancy Carlin), recovering from addiction to everything, convinces her to come to Slab City. The off-the-grid settlement of semi-permanent campers and kooks on the desert edge of Los Angeles turns out to have once been a Marine base, much to the dismay of traumatized and anguished Jenny, who can't work up the courage to answer the cell phone calls from her mother and children, let alone return to them. A physically handicapped internet-certified preacher (Brett David Williams) meanwhile takes it upon himself to help Jenny, with assistance from sometime girlfriend and recidivist Louise and a local soi-disant shrink (Karol Strempke). They throw a public coming-home ceremony for the cast-off vet. It's Slab City's socially awkward and pugnacious jewelry maker Donald (a sharp Jon Tracy) who challenges the militarism and religious pabulum in this enterprise, even as he finds himself irresistibly drawn to the deeply wounded Jenny. Nevertheless, playwright Julie Marie Myatt's involving story (smoothly and engagingly directed for TheatreFIRST by Domenique Lozano) carries a real if not quite heavy-handed spiritual dimension, peppered with traditional gospel tunes (heard in Johnny cash recordings during scene transitions but echoed by cast members at other times) and undergirded by doubting Jenny's unconscious quest for signs of a seemingly absent Christian god. What she finds is a community of equally messed up but compassionate souls, and that's enough. (Avila)
Epiphany Productions Sonic Dance Theater ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; (415) 863-9834, www.odctheatre.org. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. $15-20. The company performs its 2011 home season, with Heelomali, Alonesome/Twosome, and Solo Lo Que Fue.
"Fauxgirls!" Kimo's, 1351 Polk, SF; (415) 885-4535. Sat, 10pm. Free. The drag revue celebrates its 10th anniversary with Victoria Secret, Chanel, Davida Ashton, and more.
"Fresh Meat Festival" Z Space at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, SF; www.freshmeatproductions.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. $15-20. Transgender and queer performers take the stage at this 10th annual festival.
"Garage All-Stars II" Garage, 975 Howard, SF; www.975howard.com. Sat-Sun, 8pm, $10-20. Part of the National Queer Arts Festival, this performance includes new choreography by Sara Yassky and Tim Rubel Human Shakes.
"Here: An Evening of Work by Katherine Kawthorne" Shotwell Studios, 3252-A 19th St, SF; (415) 298-2000, www.ftloose.org. Fri-Sat, 8pm, $10-15. Multimedia dance works including Living Line, Sferic, and Lumen.
kDub Dance CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.counterpulse.org. Fri-Sat, 8pm. $16-20. The Los Angeles company makes its SF debut with the evening-length dance work Fruit.
"Radar Spectacle" Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri, 7pm. $10-100. Support the 2011 Radar LAB Writers' Retreat by checking out this event, with performances by Cintra Wilson, Fauxnique, Keith Hennessy, Lovewarz, Lil Miss Hot Mess, and more.
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org. Sat, noon; Sun, 1pm. Free-$24. The third weekend of the 33rd annual festival includes events celebrating the Rumson Ohlone tribe plus dance set to the words of transcendent poets.
"Trouble In Mind" Zeum Theatre, 221 Fourth St., SF; (415) 474-8800. Mon, 8pm, $30. The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre benefits from this staged reading of Alice Childress' play, with Peter Coyote, Geoff Hoyle, Margo Hall, and others.