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.
2012: The Musical! Dolores Park, 19th St at Dolores, SF; www.sfmt.org. Free. Sat/2-Mon/4, 2pm. Continues through Sept. 25 at various Bay Area venues. San Francisco Mime Troupe mounts their annual summer musical; this year's show is about a political theater company torn between selling out and staying true to its anti-corporate roots.
All My Children Cabaret at Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Previews Fri/1, 8pm. Opens Sat/2, 8:30pm. Runs Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through July 23. Not the soap opera — it's Seattle Improv co-founder Matt Smith in his comedy about a middle-aged man with boundary issues.
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.
Assisted Living: The Musical Imperial Palace, 818 Washington, SF; 1-888-88-LAUGH, www.assistedlivingthemusical.com. $79.59-99.50 (includes dim sum). 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."
The Book of Liz Custom Made Theatre, 1620 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $10-29. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through July 31. Custom Made Theatre performs David and Amy Sedaris' comedy about an unconventional nun.
*Fighting Mac! Thick House Theatre, 1695 18th St, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.therhino.org. $15-30. Wed/29-Sat/2, 8pm; Sun/3, 3pm. Theatre Rhinoceros artistic director John Fisher's new play is (characteristically for the author of Combat! and Special Forces, among others) too subtly intelligent and far-reaching to fit comfortably under the didactic subject heading "gays in the military." Nevertheless, that is the terrain it scouts, with neat skill and satisfyingly messy results. It's the story of a young West Point–bound gay Berkeley student (an able, likeable Joshua Lomeli) with a fixation on the historical figure of Hector "Fighting Mac" Macdonald (a strong William J. Brown III), a self-made Victorian-era British Major-General who committed suicide after being accused of homosexuality. Mac shares the stage as alter-ego or mentor to the young man, counseling him to let go of his faith in feelings for a hard-headed calculation of advantage in a world where both love and war are often no more than means to social ends. In the paralleling of stories Fisher draws out with humor, knowing winks, and an underlying emotional unease the implications of certain colonized key words, like loyalty, honor, and love — and finds them too often a long way from home. Not for the first time, director Fisher also gets fine, open, and shrewd performances from a cast that includes several Berkeley students. (Avila)
"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.
Indulgences in the Louisville Harem Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.offbroadwaywest.org. $20-40. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through July 30. Two spinster sisters find unlikely beaux in Off Broadway West Theatre's production of John Orlock's play.
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.
*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)
What Mamma Said About Down There SF Downtown Comedy Theater, 287 Ellis, SF; www.sfdowntowncomedytheater.com. $15. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through August 20. Sia Amma returns with her solo comedy.
Down a Little Dirt Road Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.justtheater.org. $15-30. Thurs/30-Sat/2, 8pm; Sun/3, 5pm. A naturalistic family portrait twists itself into a supernatural love knot in Erin Marie Bregman's first full-length play Down a Little Dirt Road, directed by Molly Aaronson-Gelb. Dad (Anthony Nemirovsky), an earthquake researcher, has moved his family to Parkfield, Calif. for work, but Mom (Lisa Morse) is not with them. Did she die in a plane crash on September 11? Did she vanish into another dimension? Daughter Alice (Alona Bach) has plenty of theories to share, each more earnestly improbable than the last. She is also plagued with recurring nightmares, an unsettling trait she shares with her father. Together they dream of wandering, lost, in a shadow realm, gradually revealed to hold the shade of the missing mother, trying desperately to get back to her daughter while a menacing authority figure (Ryan Tasker) tries to literally pry her memories away. Alona Bach delivers a guileless, pitch-perfect performance as Alice, and her relationship with her stage parents is comfortable and genuine. Berman is clearly playing with the convention of the family-oriented horror story, much like the referenced Roald Dahl classic The Witches, but the ghostly elements prove somewhat problematic in terms of staging and clarity, and while there are a few moments with some serious spine-tingling potential, the overall effect is somewhat flat. (Gluckstern)
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.
Metamorphosis Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-55. 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.
A Raisin in the Sun Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear, Mtn. View; (650) 254-1148, www.thepear.org. $15-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through July 10. Lorraine Hansberry's classic play comes to life on the Pear Avenue Theatre stage.
*Working for the Mouse La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Thurs-Sun, 8pm. Through July 8. It might not come as a surprise to hear that even "the happiest place on earth" has a dark side, but hearing Trevor Allen describe it during this long overdue reprise of 2002's Working for the Mouse, will put a smile on your face as big as Mickey's. With a burst of youthful energy, Allen bounds onto the tiny stage of Impact Theatre to confess his one-time aspiration to never grow up — a desire which made auditioning for the role of Peter Pan at Disneyland a sensible career move. But in order to break into the big time of "charactering," one must pay some heavy, plush-covered dues. As Allen creeps up the costumed hierarchy one iconic cartoon figure at a time, he finds himself unwittingly enmeshed in a world full of backroom politics, union-busting, drug addled surfer dudes with peaches-and-cream complexions, sexual tension, showboating, job suspension, Make-A-Wish Foundation heartbreak, hash brownies, rabbit vomit, and accidental decapitation. Smoothly paced and astutely crafted, Working for the Mouse will either shatter your blissful ignorance or confirm your worst suspicions about the corporate Disney machine, but either way, it will probably make you treat any "Casual Seasonal Pageant Helpers" you see running around in their sweaty character suits with a whole lot more empathy. (Gluckstern)
"The Betrothed" Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; (415) 788-7142, ext. 18. Thurs, 7pm. Free (RSVP required due to limited space). The Italian Cultural Institute and the Museo Italo Americano present this theatrical performance based on Alessandro Manzoni's novel of the same name.
"The Book" SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, SF; www.somarts.org. Fri/1 and July 29, 6pm. Free. Also July 7, 14, and 21, 8pm. $12. In conjunction with a new dance-based exhibition by Avy K Productions, SOMArts presents a series of new work featuring Bay Area artists Carol Swann, Ken Ueno, Matt Ingalls, Jesse Hewit, and more.
"Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance" African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton, SF; www.queerrebels.com. Fri-Sat, 7:30pm. $15-25. The National Queer Arts Festival presents this show of new work by 16 LGBT African American artists.
"The Romane Event Comedy Show" Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, SF; www.pacoromane.com. Wed, 7:30pm. $7. Comedian Paco Romane hosts this showcase of up-and-coming stand-up talent.
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Novellus Theater, 700 Howard, SF; www.sfethnicdancefestival.org. Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm); Sun, 3pm. $18-58. The annual festival wraps up in a final weekend of dance from Haiti, Spain, China, Hawaii, and global points beyond.
"This Twisted Tale" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri-Sat, 8pm. $20. Paper Doll Militia performs their latest aerial theater production.
"Will Franken's Beautiful Birthday Bash: .38 Special" Purple Onion, 140 Columbus, SF; (415) 956-1653. 8pm, $20. Comedian Will Franken performs a new show of vignettes in honor of his 38th birthday.