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.
Fela! Curran Theatre, 445 Geary, SF; www.shnsf.com. $31-200. Opens Tues/15, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat, 2pm; no show Nov 24); Sun, 2pm (also Nov 27, 7:30pm). Through Dec 11. The life and music of Nigerian superstar Fela Kuti is captured in this show with choreography by Bill T. Jones.
Forgetting the Details Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; www.nicolemaxali.com. $20. Opens Thurs/10, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun/13, 3pm. Through Nov 19. Nicole Maxali performs her solo work about the effects of Alzheimer's.
The Importance of Being Earnest Notre Dame Senior Plaza, Community Room, 347 Dolores, SF; (650) 952-3021. Free. Opens Fri/11, 7:30pm. Runs Fri, 7:30pm; Sat-Sun, 3pm. Through Nov 20. 16th Street Players perform the Oscar Wilde classic.
Language Rooms Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20-28. Previews Thurs/10-Fri/11, 8pm. Opens Sat/12, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 24); Sun, 7pm (no show Sun/13). Through Dec 4. Golden Thread Productions and Asian American Theater Company present the West Coast premiere of Yussef El Guindi's dark comedy.
SexRev: The José Sarria Experience CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; (415) 552-4100, www.therhino.org. $10-25. Previews Thurs/10-Sat/12 and Nov 17-18, 8pm (also Sat/12, 10:30pm); Sun/13, 3pm. Opens Nov 19, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 10:30pm; no show Nov 24); Sun, 3pm. Through Nov 27. Theatre Rhinoceros performs John Fisher's musical celebration of America's first queer activist — a hit for the company in 2010.
The Soldier's Tale Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-55. Previews Fri/11-Sat/12 and Nov 16, 8pm; Sun/12, 2pm; Tues/15, 7pm. Opens Nov 17, 8pm. Runs Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 18. Aurora Theatre presents a re-imagined version of Igor Stravinsky's 1918 musical by Tom Ross and Muriel Maffre.
Absolutely San Francisco Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; (415) 992-8168, www.thealcovetheater.com. $32-50. Sun, 6pm; starting Nov 19, Thurs and Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 29. Not Quite Opera Productions presents Anne Nygren Doherty's musical about San Francisco, with five characters all portrayed by Mary Gibboney.
Almost Nothing, Day of Absence Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 450 Post, SF; (415) 474-8800, www.lhtsf.org. $43-53. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 20. The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre christens its grand new home near Union Square with two well-acted one-act plays under sharp direction by artistic director Steven Anthony Jones. Almost Nothing by Brazilian playwright Marcos Barbosa marks the North American premiere of an intriguing and shrewdly crafted Pinteresque drama, wherein a middle-class couple (Rhonnie Washington and Kathryn Tkel) returns home from an unexpected encounter at a stop light that leaves them jittery and distracted. As an eerie wind blows outside (in David Molina's atmospheric sound design), their conversation circles around the event as if fearing to name it outright. When a poor woman (Wilma Bonet) arrives claiming to have seen everything, the couple abandons rationalization for a practical emergency and a moral morass dictated by poverty and class advantage — negotiated on their behalf by a black market professional (Rudy Guerrero). Next comes a spirited revival of Douglas Turner Ward's Civil Rights–era Day of Absence (1965), a broad satire of Southern race relations that posits a day when all the "Neegras" mysteriously disappear, leaving white society helpless and desperate. The cast (in white face) excel at the high-energy comedy, and in staging the text director Jones makes a convincing parallel with today's anti-immigrant laws and rhetoric. But if the play remains topical in one way, its too-blunt agitprop mode makes the message plain immediately and interest accordingly pales rapidly. (Avila)
Annapurna Magic Theatre, Bldg D, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org. $20-60. Opens Wed/9, 8pm. Showtimes vary, through Dec 4. Magic Theatre performs Sharr White's world premiere drama about love's longevity.
How to Love Garage, 975 Howard, SF; www.pustheatre.com. $15. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 20. Three demigod-like personalities at the center of the earth are charged with answering life's mysteries, big and small, but find themselves stymied by their latest task, namely, explaining "how to love." They have only a week to do it, for some reason, or humanity will be consigned to everlasting consternation, or something like that — coherence is not a priority here — anyway: stakes are high. Their boss, the Magistrate (Geo Epsilanty), has them present their findings each day, but each of them — the Very Sexy One (Jessica Schroeder in sassy lingerie), the Stern One (Gloria MacDonald in girl-school uniform), and the Young One (Brian Martin in caped crusader outfit) — comes up with bupkus. Finally, the Young One gets the inspiration to kidnap a surface-dwelling earthling (Valerie Fachman) to help them figure it all out. Local playwright Megan Cohen's mumbling comedy, directed with robust attention to blocking and movement by Scott Baker for Performers Under Stress, is far too skit-like a conceit to merit its two plodding acts. More to the point, its humor is very silly but generally dim. Despite being set at the center of the earth, this is too shallow and glancing an investigation of love to intrigue or tickle the genuinely curious. (Avila)
*The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink '80s Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sat/12, 8:30pm; Sun/13, 7pm. This new autobiographical solo show by Don Reed, writer-performer of the fine and long-running East 14th, is another slice of the artist's journey from 1970s Oakland ghetto to comedy-circuit respectability — here via a partial debate-scholarship to UCLA. The titular Los Angeles residency hotel was where Reed lived and worked for a time in the 1980s while attending university. It's also a rich mine of memory and material for this physically protean and charismatic comic actor, who sails through two acts of often hilarious, sometimes touching vignettes loosely structured around his time on the hotel's young wait staff, which catered to the needs of elderly patrons who might need conversation as much as breakfast. On opening night, the episodic narrative seemed to pass through several endings before settling on one whose tidy moral was delivered with too heavy a hand, but if the piece runs a little long, it's only the last 20 minutes that noticeably meanders. And even with some awkward bumps along the way, it's never a dull thing watching Reed work. (Avila)
Making Porn Box Car Theatre Studios, 125A Hyde, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $25-50. Thurs, 8pm; Thurs, 8pm; Fri-Sat, 9pm; Sun, 7pm. Extended through Nov 27. Ronnie Larsen brings back his crowd-pleasing comedy about the gay porn industry.
*"Master Harold" ... and the Boys Phoenix Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 601, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.offbroadwaywest.org. $18-40. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 19. Based loosely on personal history, Athol Fugard's drama explores institutionalized racism in South Africa's apartheid era ensconced in the seemingly innocuous world of a Port Elizabeth tea room. The play opens during a rainy afternoon with no customers, leaving the Black African help, Willie (Anthony Rollins-Mullens) and Sam (LaMont Ridgell), with little to do but rehearse ballroom dance steps for a big competition coming up in a couple of weeks. When Hally (Adam Simpson), the owner's son, arrives from school, the atmosphere remains convivial at first then increasingly strained, as events happening outside the tea room conspire to tear apart their fragile camaraderie. The greatest burdens of the play are carried by Sam, who fills a range of roles for the increasingly pessimistic and emotionally-stunted Hally — teacher, student, surrogate father, confidante, and servant — all the while completely aware that their mutual love is almost certainly doomed to not survive past Hally's adolescence, and possibly not past the afternoon. Ridgell rises greatly to the challenges of his character, ably flanked by Rollins-Mullens, and Simpson; he embodies the depth of Sam's humanity, from his wisdom of experience, to his admiration for beauty, to his capacity to bear and finally to forgive Hally's need to lash out at him. It is a moving and memorable rendering. (Gluckstern)
More Human Than Human Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission, SF; (415) 401-7987, www.brownpapertickets.com. $25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 19. B. Duke's dystopian drama is inspired by Philip K. Dick.
Not Getting Any Younger Marsh San Francisco, Studio Theater, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 3pm. Extended through Dec 17. Marga Gomez is back at the Marsh, a couple of too-brief decades after inaugurating the theater's new stage with her first solo show — an apt setting, in other words, for the writer-performer's latest monologue, a reflection on the inevitable process of aging for a Latina lesbian comedian and artist who still hangs at Starbucks and can't be trusted with the details of her own Wikipedia entry. If the thought of someone as perennially irreverent, insouciant, and appealingly immature as Gomez makes you depressed, the show is, strangely enough, the best antidote. (Avila)
*The Odyssey Aboard Alma, Hyde Street Pier, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, SF; www.weplayers.org. $160. Fri/11-Sat/12 and Nov 18, 12:30pm. Heralding their hugely ambitious Spring 2012 production of The Odyssey, which will take place all over Angel Island, the WE Players are tackling the work on a slightly smaller scale by staging it on the historic scow schooner Alma, which is part of the Maritime National Historical Park fleet docked at the end of Hyde Street Pier. Using both boat and Bay as setting, the essential chapters of the ten-year voyage — encounters with the Cyclops, Circe, the Underworld, the Sirens, Aeolus, the Laestrygonians, and Calypso — are enacted through an intriguing mash-up of narration, choreography, sea chanteys, salty dog stories (like shaggy dog stories, but more water-logged), breathtaking views, and a few death-defying stunts the likes of which you won't see on many conventional stages. High points include the casual swapping of roles (every actor gets to play Odysseus, however briefly), Ross Travis' masked and flatulent Prometheus and sure-footed Hermes, Ava Roy's hot pants-clad Circe, Charlie Gurke's steady musical direction and multi-instrumental abilities, and the sail itself, an experiential bonus. Landlubbers beware, so much time facing the back of the boat where much of the action takes place can result in mild quease, even on a calm day. Take advantage of the downtime between scenes to walk around and face forward now and again. You'll want to anyway. (Gluckstern)
Oh, Kay! Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; (415) 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org. $20-50. Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Nov 20. 42nd Street Moon performs George and Ira Gershwin's Prohibition-set comedy.
*On the Air Pier 29 on the Embarcadero (at Battery), SF; (415) 438-2668, love.zinzanni.org. $117 and up (includes dinner). Wed-Sat, 6pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Dec 31. Teatro ZinZanni's final production at its longtime nest on Pier 29 is a nostalgia-infused banquet of bits structured around an old-time radio variety show, featuring headliners Geoff Hoyle (Geezer) and blues singer Duffy Bishop. If you haven't seen juggling on the radio, for instance, it's pretty awesome, especially with a performer like Bernard Hazens, whose footing atop a precarious tower of tubes and cubes is already cringingly extraordinary. But all the performers are dependably first-rate, including Andrea Conway's comic chandelier lunacy, aerialist and enchanting space alien Elena Gatilova's gorgeous "circeaux" act, graceful hand-balancer Christopher Phi, class-act tapper Wayne Doba, and radio MC Mat Plendl's raucously tweeny hula-hooping. Add some sultry blues numbers by raunchy belter Bishop, Hoyle's masterful characterizations (including some wonderful shtick-within-a-shtick as one-liner maestro "Red Bottoms"), a few classic commercials, and a healthy dose of audience participation and you start to feel nicely satiated and ready for a good cigar. Smoothly helmed by ZinZanni creative director Norm Langill, On the Air signals off-the-air for the popular dinner circus — until it can secure a new patch of local real estate for its antique spiegeltent — so tune in while you may. (Avila)
*Pellas and Melisande Cutting Ball Theater, Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.cuttingball.com. $10-50. Thurs, 7:30; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 5pm. Through Nov 27. The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, the Swan Maiden: shimmering strands of each timeless tale twist through the melancholy tapestry of the Maurice Maeterlinck play Pelleas and Melisande, which opens Cutting Ball Theater's 12th season. Receiving a lushly atmospheric treatment by director and translator Rob Melrose, this ill-fated Symbolist drama stars Joshua Schell and Caitlyn Louchard as the doomed lovers. Trapped in the claustrophobic environs of an isolated castle at the edge of a forbidding forest and equally trapped in an inadvertent love triangle with the hale and hearty elder prince Golaud (Derek Fischer), Pelleas' brother and Melisande's husband, the desperate, unconsummated passion that builds between the two youngsters rivals that of Romeo and Juliet's, and leads to an ending even more tragic — lacking the bittersweet reconciliation of rival families that subverts the pure melodrama of the Shakespearean classic. Presented on a spare, wooden traverse stage (designed by Michael Locher), and accompanied by a smoothly-flowing score by Cliff Caruthers, the action is enhanced by Laura Arrington's haunting choreography, a silent contortionism which grips each character as they try desperately to convey the conflicting emotions which grip them without benefit of dialogue. Though described by Melrose as a "fairy tale world for adults," the dreamy gauze of Pelleas and Melisande peels away quickly enough to reveal a flinty and unsentimental heart. (Gluckstern)
*Race American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $10-85. Opens Wed/26, 8pm. Wed/9-Sat/12, 8pm (also Wed/9 and Sat/12, 2pm); Sun/13, 2pm. A very rich older white guy (Kevin O'Rourke) accused of sexually assaulting a poor woman of color looks for representation from the racially diverse firm headed by Jack (Anthony Fusco) and Henry (Chris Butler) with assistance from Jack's African American protégé, Susan (Susan Heyward). With shades of Oleanna and Speed the Plow, David Mamet's fleet new play mixes race and gender in the so-called justice system (in fact solely adversarial in the playwright's unsurprising view, with winning being the only point). The result is an ultimately vindictive struggle both volatile and familiar. Some of that familiarity naturally stems from the world beyond the playwright's immediate control — especially with the odor of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair still in the air — but the play's action feels managed throughout by a political worldview too, um, black-and-white to register as up-to-the-moment. That said, muscular writing and the strong and appealing cast under intelligent direction by Irene Lewis guarantee an enjoyable, crackerjack production from American Conservatory Theater. (Avila)
Savage in Limbo Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; (415) 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 3. Actors Theatre of San Francisco performs John Patrick Shanley's edgy comedy.
"Shocktoberfest 12: Fear Over Frisco" Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St, SF; (415) 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.com. $25-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 19. In its annual season-scented horror bid, Thrillpeddlers joins forces with SF's Czar of Noir, writer-director Eddie Muller, for a sharply penned triplet of plays that resurrect lurid San Francisco lore as flesh-and-blood action. In the slightly sluggish but intriguing Grand Inquisitor, a solitary young woman modeling herself on Louise Brooks in Lulu (an alluringly Lulu-like Bonni Suval) believes she has located the Zodiac killer's widow (a sweet but cagey Mary Gibboney) — a scenario that just can't end well for somebody, yet manages to defy expectations. An Obvious Explanation turns on an amnesiac (Daniel Bakken) whose brother (Flynn de Marco) explains the female corpse in the rollaway (Zelda Koznofski) before asking bro where he hid a certain pile of money. Enter a brash doctor (Suval) with a new drug and ambitions of her own vis-à-vis the hapless head case. Russell Blackwood directs The Drug, which adapts a Grand Guignol classic to the hoity-toity milieu of the Van Nesses and seedy Chinatown opium dens, where a rough-playing attorney (an ever persuasive Eric Tyson Wertz) determines to turn a gruesome case involving the duplicitous Mrs. Van Ness (an equally sure, sultry Kära Emry) to his own advantage. The evening also offers a blackout spook show and some smoothly atmospheric musical numbers, including Muller's rousing "Fear Over Frisco" (music composed by Scrumbly Koldewyn; accompaniment by Steve Bolinger and Birdie-Bob Watt) and an aptly low-down Irving Berlin number — both winningly performed by the entire company. (Avila)
Shoot O'Malley Twice StageWerx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.viragotheatre.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 24). Through Nov 26. Virago Theater Company performs Jon Brooks' world-premiere existential comedy.
Sitting in a Circle Intersection for the Arts, 925 Mission, Ste 109, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-25. Fri/11-Sat/12, 8pm. We are here to question the ways we present ourselves, communicate, and commune, but the masks never really come off and — unlike, say, a general assembly meeting down at Occupy SF — a circle of equals never really forms in this new work by the Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project, debuting at Intersection for the Arts' new downtown space. The audience sits in or around a large circle of chairs, initially bathed in the harsh glow of office-space fluorescence. This much is as expected. But as the room transforms (amid production designer Allen Willner's protean, mood-shifting lighting scheme) into some in-between world of personal-transformation workshop, talk show confessional, art therapy session, and psychic retreat, the accompanying conceit of spontaneous open-ended "coming together" gives way to a highly choreographed, largely jocular entertainment managed by a group of seven performers planted among the assembled. The results are varied, sometimes amusing, sometimes pushy, and usually too stylized or arch to be very moving or discerning. But a dance solo by adroit 13-year-old Rio Mezey Anderson comes as an unexpected, mesmerizing moment that — in its channeling of pure, unguarded expression — is also the evening's most authentic. (Avila)
Sticky Time Brava Theater, 2781 24th St, SF; www.vanguardianproductions.com. $15-40. Wed-Sat and Mon/14, 8pm. Through Nov 18. Crowded Fire and Vanguardian Productions present playwright-director Marilee Talkington's multimedia science fiction about a woman running out of time in the worst way. The prolix and histrionic story is the real sticking point, however, in this otherwise imaginatively staged piece, which places its audience on swivel chairs in the center of Brava's upstairs studio theater, transformed by designer Andrew Lu's raised stage and white video screens running the length of the walls into an enveloping aural (moody minimalistic score by Chao-Jan Chang) and visual landscape. Thea (Rami Margron) heads a three-person crew of celestial plumbers managing a sea of time "threads," an undulating web of crisscrossing lines (in the impressive video animation by Rebecca Longworth). The structure is plagued by a mysterious wave of "time quakes" that Tim (Lawrence Radecker) thinks he may have figured out. Coworker Emit (Michele Leavy), meanwhile, goofing around like a hyperactive child, spots some sort of beast at work in the ether. When Thea gets stuck by a loose thread, she becomes something of a time junky, desperate to relive the color-suffused world of love and family lost somewhere in space-time as reality starts to unravel (with a dramatic assist from cinematographer Lloyd Vance) and the crew seeks help from a wise figure in a tattered gown (Mollena Williams). A little like a frenetic, stagy version of Andrey Tarkovsky's Solaris (1972), the story gets credit for dramatizing some confounding facts about time and space at the particle level but might have benefited from less dialogue and more mystery — just as the audio-visual experience works best when the house lights are low. (Avila)
The Temperamentals New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Previews Wed/9-Fri/11, 8pm. Opens Sat/12, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 18. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Jon Marans' drama about gay rights during the McCarthy era.
Totem Grand Chapiteau, AT&T Park, Parking Lot A, 74 Mission Rock, SF; cirquedusoleil.com/totem. $58-248.50. Tues-Sun, schedule varies. Extended through Dec 18. Cirque Du Soleil returns with its latest big-top production.
Two Dead Clowns Box Car Theatre Studios, 125A Hyde, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Fri-Sat, 7pm. Through Nov 26. Ronnie Larsen's new play explores the lives of Divine and John Wayne Gacy.
The Waiting Period MainStage, Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-35. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Nov 26. Brian Copeland (Not a Genuine Black Man) presents a workshop production of his new solo show.
*Working for the Mouse Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $22. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (no performances Nov 24-26). Through Dec 17. 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 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, 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. (Note: review from the show's recent run at La Val's Subterranean in Berkeley.) (Gluckstern)
Annie Berkeley Playhouse, Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College, Berk; (510) 845-8542, www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $17-35. Thurs-Sat, 7pm; Sun, noon and 5pm. Through Dec 4. Berkeley Playhouse performs the classic musical.
Doubt: A Parable Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; www.aeofberkeley.org. $12-15. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun/13, 2pm. Through Nov 19. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley performs John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer-winning drama.
How to Write a New Book for the Bible Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-73. Tues, Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm; no show Nov 18); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 7pm). Through Nov 20. An aspiring writer who later becomes a priest, Bill (Tyler Pierce) is the caregiver for his aging mother (Linda Gehringer) during her long bout with cancer. His father (Leo Marks), though already dead, still inhabits his mother's flickering concept of reality, made all the more dreamlike by her necessary dependence on pain medication. His brother (Aaron Blakely), meanwhile, has returned from Vietnam with survivor guilt but lands a meaningful career as a schoolteacher in the South. The latest from playwright Bill Cain (Equivocation, 9 Circles) is a humor-filled but sentimental and long-winded autobiographical reflection on family from the vantage of his mother's long illness. It gets a strong production from Berkeley Rep, with a slick cast under agile direction by Kent Nicholson, but it plays as if narrator Bill mistakenly believes he's stepped out of an Arthur Miller play, when in fact there's little here of dramatic interest and far too much jerking of tears. (Avila)
Rambo: The Missing Years Cabaret at Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thurs-Fri, 7pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through Dec 10. Howard "Hanoi Howie" Petrick presents his solo show about being an anti-war demonstrator — while also serving in the Army.
*Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-73. Wed/9, 7pm; Thurs/10 and Sat/12-Sun/13, 2pm; Fri/11, 8pm. The life of stage and screen legend Rita Moreno is a subject that has no trouble filling two swift and varied acts, especially as related in anecdote, song, comedy, and dance by the serene multiple–award-winning performer and Berkeley resident herself. Indeed, that so much material gets covered so succinctly but rarely abruptly is a real achievement of this attractively adorned autobiographical solo show crafted with playwright and Berkeley Rep artistic director Tony Taccone. (Avila)
Sam's Enchanted Evening TheaterStage at Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 282-3055, www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through Nov 26. The Residents wrote the script and did the musical arrangements for this musical, featuring singer Randy Rose and pianist Joshua Raoul Brody.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun, 11am. Through Nov 20. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl returns with this kid-friendly, bubble-tastic comedy.