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 email@example.com. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks. For complete listings, see www.sfbg.com.
Left-Handed Darling Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-30. Opens Thurs/14, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 13. Foul Play Productions perfomrs the world premiere of Nikita Schoen's Dust Bowl-era drama.
Fly By Night Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. $19-69. Previews Wed/13-Fri/15, 8pm. Opens Sat/16, 2 and 8pm. Runs Tues-Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Aug 13. TheatreWorks performs the world premiere of Kim Rosentock, Michael Mitnick, and Will Connolly's musical, set in 1965 New York.
A Midsummer's Night Dream This week: Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; www.womanswill.org. Free (donations requested). Opens Sat/16, 2pm. Also this week: Rossmoor's Hillside Clubhouse Lawn, Walnut Creek. Sun/17, 2pm. Performances continue at Bay Area parks through Aug 21. Woman's Will performs the Shakespeare favorite.
Act One, Scene Two SF Playhouse, Stage Two, 533 Sutter, SF; (415) 869-5384, www.un-scripted.com. $10-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 20. Un-Scripted Theater Company hosts a different playwright each night, performing the first scene of an unfinished play and then improvising its finish.
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."
Billy Elliot Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market, SF; www.shnsf.com/shows/billyelliot. $35-200. Tues-Sat, 8pm (also Wed, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Sept. 17. As a Broadway musical, Billy Elliot proves more enjoyable than the film. The movie's T. Rex score may have been a major selling point, but it was a bit maudlin for a story that needed no help in that department. The musical naturally has a sentimental moment or three, but it's much more often funny, muscular in its staging (with repeatedly inspired choreography from Peter Darling), and expansive in its eclectic score (Elton John) and well-wrought book and lyrics (Lee Hall). Moreover, Stephen Daldry (who also directed the 2000 film) plays up bracingly the too-timely class politics of the modest 1980s English mining town besieged by Margaret Thatcher's neoliberal regime in the latter's ultimately successful bid to crush the once-powerful miners union. The cast is likewise very strong. The second act is not as strong as the first, but as crowd-pleasing entertainment the musical burrows deep and more often than not comes up with gold. (Avila)
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.
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.
Not Getting Any Younger Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thurs, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through July 24. Marga Gomez presents a workshop production of her new comedy, her ninth solo show.
OMFG! The Internet Dating Musical ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; (415) 863-9834. $18. Fri/15-Sat/16, 8pm; Sun/17, 2pm. Composer and ODC Theater artist-in-residence Christopher Winslow's uneventful musical take on the perils of cyber courtship concerns itself with a pair of lonely, wannabe-codependent heterosexual 40somethings — insecure occupational therapist Heather (Cindy Goldfield) and nerdily wound-up elementary-school art teacher Brandon (Jackson Davis) — as they power up their laptops and their self-images to spin far-fetched mutual fantasies for one another through a dating website. Although their inflated presentations all but preclude the possibility of meeting in the real world — he's suddenly a he-man sailor and she becomes an equally unlikely Latina hottie from Guadalajara, "Puerto Rico" — the mechanics of a happy ending are in sight early on in this treacly, formulaic frolic. Winslow's able score (performed by a trio led by the composer) and Gavin Geoffrey Dillard's book and lyrics follow short, well-trodden paths in musical theater. The songs accordingly shine only rarely. And while gamely essayed by director Tracy Ward and principals Davis and Goldfield (with generally welcome support from a three-person chorus comprised of Juliet Heller, Calia Johnson, and Reggie D. White), the central characters remain drips — loveable, perhaps, according to taste but hardly challenging or riveting. There are moments, though. Goldfield, a potent singer as well as performer, offers a palliative highlight with her rendition of the saucy "Gravity's Got Me Down Blues." (Avila)
Salty Towers Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; (415) 673-3847, www.theexit.org. $15-25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through July 23. Thunderbird Theatre Company performs a farce that combines Greek mythology with a tale of sea creatures running a two-star hotel.
Tales of the City American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $35-98. Tues-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Extended through July 31. ACT performs a musical version of Armisted Maupin's beloved San Francisco story.
Twilight Zone Live: Season 8 Dark Room, 2263 Mission, SF; www.ticketturtle.com. $20 ($5 discount if you use the code word "maggie"). Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through July 29. The Dark Room Theater presents its eighth annual tribute to classic Twilight Zone episodes.
*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.
All My Children Cabaret at Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. 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.
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.
Macbeth Dominican University of California, Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 1475 Grand, San Rafael; (415) 499-4488, www.marinshakespeare.org. $20-35. Opens Fri/15, 8pm. Performance times vary; check website for schedule. Through Aug 14. Marin Shakespeare Company takes on the Scottish play, opening under a full moon, no less.
Metamorphosis Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-55. Tues and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm); Wed-Sat, 8pm. Extended through July 24. Aurora Theatre Company performs a terrifying yet comic adaptation of Kafka's classic by David Farr and Gísli Örn Gardarsson.
The Verona Project Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda; (510) 548-9666, www.calshakes.org. $35-66. Tues-Thurs, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also July 30, 2pm); Sun, 4pm. Through July 31. California Shakespeare Theater performs a world-premiere play (inspired by The Two Gentlemen of Verona) by Amanda Dehnert.
*Working for the Mouse La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Thurs/14-Sat/16, 8pm. 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)