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.
Cinderella Buriel Clay Theater, African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.african-americanshakes.org. $10-35. Opens Fri/2, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/3 and Dec 10, 3pm); Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 18. African-American Shakespeare Company opens its season with a re-telling of the fairy tale set in the bayous of Louisiana.
The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes Victoria Theatre 2961 16th St, SF; www.trannyshack.com. $30. Opens Thurs/1, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 23. Heklina, Cookie Dough, Matthew Martin, and Pollo Del Mar star in this drag-tastic holiday tribute to the classic sitcom.
Dr. Strangelove: LIVE Dark Room, 2263 Mission, SF; www.darkroomsf.com. $20. Opens Thurs/1, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 17. Stage adaptation of Stanley Kubrick's classic cold war comedy.
Ladies in Waiting Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy, SF; www.horrorunspeakable.com. $20. Opens Thurs/1, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 17. No Nude Men Productions presents three one-acts by Alison Luterman, Claire Rice, and Hilde Susan Jaegtnes.
The Last Five Years Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20-35. Previews Fri/2, 8pm. Opens Sat/3, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 18. Poor Man's Players performs Jason Robert Brown's relationship drama as its inaugural production.
Mommy Queerest Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-25. Opens Thurs/1, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 17. Kat Evasco performs her autobiographical show about being the lesbian daughter of a lesbian mother.
Three Sisters Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; (415) 255-8207, www.42ndstmoon.org. $20-50. Previews Wed/30, 7pm; Thurs/1-Fri/2, 8pm. Opens Sat/3, 6pm. Runs Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm (also Dec 10, 1pm); Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 18. 42nd Street Moon performs Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's World War I-set musical.
The Treasure of the Himawari Shrine: Another Mr. YooWho Adventure NOHspace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; 1-800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $5-18. Previews Thurs/1, 7pm. Opens Fri/2, 7pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 7pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 18. Master clown Moshe Cohen's creation Mr. YooWho returns with a Japan-set adventure.
Xanadu New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Previews Fri/2-Sat/3 and Dec 7-9, 8pm; Sun/4, 2pm. Opens Dec 10, 8pm. Through Jan 15. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs the retro roller-skating musical.
God's Plot Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org. $18-27. Previews Thurs/1, 7pm; Fri/2, 8pm. Opens Sat/3, 8pm. Runs Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm (starting Dec 15, also runs Wed, 7pm). Through Jan 15. Writer-director Mark Jackson's historical drama, set in 1665 Virginia, closes out Shotgun Players' 20th anniversary season.
The Secret Garden TheatreWorks at Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; (650) 463-1960, www.theatreworks.org. $19-72. Previews Wed/30, 7:30pm; Thurs/1-Fri/2, 8pm. Opens Sat/3, 2 and 8pm. Runs Tues-Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm; Dec 24, shows at 1 and 6pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 31. TheatreWorks performs the Tony Award-winning musical adaptaion of Frances Hodgson Burnett's novel.
The Wild Bride Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $14.50-73. Previews Fri/2-Sat/3 and Tues/6, 8pm; Sun/5, 7pm. Opens Wed/7, 8pm. Runs Tues, Thurs-Sat, 8pm (also Thurs and Sat, 2pm; no matinees Dec 8 or 15); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm; no matinee Jan 1). Through Jan 1. Britain's Kneehigh Theatre Company returns to Berkeley Rep with the American premiere of Emma Rice's grown-up fairy tale.
Absolutely San Francisco Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; (415) 992-8168, www.thealcovetheater.com. $32-50. Schedule varies, through Dec 29. Not Quite Opera Productions presents Anne Nygren Doherty's musical about San Francisco, with five characters all portrayed by Mary Gibboney.
Annapurna Magic Theatre, Bldg D, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org. $20-60. Wed/30-Sat/3, 8pm (also Sat/3, 2:30pm); Sun/4, 2:30pm. Magic Theatre artistic director Loretta Greco helms this new two-hander by playwright Sharr White about a dying man named Ulysses (Rod Gnapp) who gets an unexpected visit by his ex-wife, Emma (Denise Cormier), who took their young son and left him some 20 years earlier when he was still an alcoholic. Ulysses, a once respected poet living a reclusive life in his trailer home (a cluttered stick-figure set by Andrew Boyce) in a tiny Colorado town, is now dry of drink and published verse — and normally naked too (at the moment Emma shows up he happens to be frying some sausages, so he's got a little apron on as well as an oxygen tube for his dire emphysema). But he has continued to write unanswered letters to his son and composed over years an epic work comparing love to the alluring but deadly mountaintop that gives the play its title. For her part, Emma has left her second husband in another middle-of-the-night flight, but her reasons are a little different this time. We sense she never got over Ulysses either, but there's a nagging urgency to her arrival too related to their now grown-up son, which is gradually revealed in the course of their sometimes too glib or forced interactions. There's more than a whiff of Sam Shepard about this lonely cowboy poet and his estrangement, but the story is not nearly as compelling or suspenseful as a Shepard play, in part because characters and plot are not very believable and the story is bluntly sentimental to boot. (Avila)
*Fela! Curran Theatre, 445 Geary, SF; www.shnsf.com. $31-200. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 11. Director-choreographer Bill T. Jones’s highly successful Off-Broadway to Broadway musical (with book by Jones and Jim Lewis; additional lyrics by Lewis; and additional music by Aaron Johnson and Jordan McLean) proves worth the hype. With a prodigious performance at the center of it all by Sahr Ngaujah (rotating in the title role with Adesola Osakalumi), this is less a biography than euphoric and vehement musical party, sermon, and political rally at once. At the same time, enough of the career and times of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti (1938–1997) come through — amid a gorgeous video-enhanced street-art design scheme, and ecstatic live music and choreography deployed with contagious bravado — that there is no missing the contemporary relevance in the Nigerian Afrobeat legend and popular activist-outlaw who stood up for a devastated population against the Western imperialism and international corporate tyranny fronted by Nigeria’s oil-trading military regime. The only thing that would make this show better would be seeing it down at an Occupy encampment. (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, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Extended through Dec 18. 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)
Language Rooms Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Extended through Dec 11. The immigrant experience has some familiar familial dynamics across the board. Parents, for instance, can easily discover their Americanized children becoming embarrassed by the older generation's "foreign" ways. Allegiances potentially strain much further, however, when the immigrant story gets entwined with a little narrative called the "war on terror." That's the volatile mixture at the center of Yussef El Guindi's Language Rooms, a somewhat uneven but ultimately worthwhile new play that leverages absurdist comedy to interrogate the perversion of basic human sympathies post-9/11. Seattle-based playwright El Guindi (whose other Bay Area productions include Back of the Throat and the hilarious Jihad Jones and the Kalashnikov Babes) well knows that the transformation of nightmare into bureaucratic routine is a reality sometimes best broached in a comic vein. (Avila)
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)
*On the Air Pier 29 on the Embarcadero (at Battery), SF; (415) 438-2668, love.zinzanni.org. $117 and up (includes dinner). Showtimes vary, 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)
*Period of Adjustment SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter, SF; (415) 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org. $20-50. Tues-Thurs, 7pm (also Dec 21-22, 2pm); Fri-Sat, 9pm (also Sat, 3pm; no show Dec 24). Through Jan 14. A nervous young man with an unaccountable tremor, George Haverstick (a compellingly manic Patrick Alparone) has waited until his honeymoon to finally call on his old Korean War buddy, Ralph (a stout but tender Johnny Moreno) — only to drop his new bride, Isabel (the terrifically quick and sympathetic MacKenzie Meehan), at the doorstep and hurry away. As it happens, Ralph’s wife of five years, Dorothea (an appealing Maggie Mason), has just quit him and taken their young son with her, turning the family Christmas tree and its uncollected gifts into a forlorn monument to a broken home — which, incidentally, has a tremor of its own, having been built atop a vast cavern. Tennessee Williams calls his 1960 play “a serious comedy,” which is about right, since although things end on a warm and cozy note, the painful crises of two couples and the lost natures of two veterans — buried alive in two suburbs each called “High Point” — are the stuff of real distress. SF Playhouse artistic director Bill English gets moving but clear-eyed, unsentimental performances from his strong cast — bolstered by Jean Forsman and Joe Madero as Dorothea’s parents—whose principals do measured justice to the complex sexual and psychological tensions woven throughout. If not one of Williams’s great plays, this is an engaging and surprisingly memorable one just the same, with the playwright’s distinctive blend of the metaphorical and concrete. As a rare snowfall blankets this Memphis Christmas Eve, 1958, something dark and brooding lingers in the storybook cheer. (Avila)
Savage in Limbo Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; (415) 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed/30-Sat/3, 8pm. Actors Theatre of San Francisco performs John Patrick Shanley's edgy comedy.
SexRev: The José Sarria Experience CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; (415) 552-4100, www.therhino.org. $10-25. Fri/2-Sat/3, 8pm (also Sat/3, 10:30pm); Sun/4, 3pm. Theatre Rhinoceros performs John Fisher's musical celebration of America's first queer activist — a hit for the company in 2010.
A Tale of Two Genres SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter, SF; (415) 869-5384, www.un-scripted.com. $10-20. Thurs-Sat and Dec 20-21, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm). Through Dec 21. Un-Scripted Theater Company presents an improvised musical inspired by Charles Dickens.
The Temperamentals New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; (415) 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. 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.
*Working for the Mouse Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $22. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. 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/1-Sat/3, 7pm; Sun/4, noon and 5pm. Berkeley Playhouse performs the classic musical.
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.
The Soldier's Tale Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-55. 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.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, TheaterStage, 2120 Allston, Berk; (415) 826-5750, www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun and Dec 26-30, 11am (no show Dec 25). Through Dec 31. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl returns with this kid-friendly, bubble-tastic comedy.
"Camino Real" Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; (415) 419-3584, www.cuttingball.com. Sun, 1pm. Free. Cutting Ball Theater's "Hidden Classics Reading Series" takes on Tennessee Williams.
"Cut the Crap! With Semi-Motivational Guru, Clam Lynch" Dark Room, 2263 Mission, SF; www.darkroomsf.com. Fri/2, Dec 16, Jan 6, Jan 13, 10:30pm. $15. Get motivated with self-help-guru-satirizing comedian Clam Lynch.
"An Evening With Amy Sedaris" Roxie, 3117 16th St, SF; (415) 431-3611. Sun, 7:30. $100. One more reason to love Amy Sedaris: she's performing to benefit the Roxie Theater.
"Help Is On the Way for the Holidays X" Marines Memorial Theatre, 600 Sutter, SF; (415) 273-1620, www.helpisontheway.org. Mon, 7:30pm. $40-100. AIDS benefit concert and gala with Mary Wilson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Sally Struthers, and other stars.
Kunst-Stoff Kunst-Stoff Arts, One Grove, SF; www.kunst-stoff.org. Thurs-Sat, 8:30pm. Through Dec 10. $15. The contemporary dance company performs its home season, divided into three programs featuring guests and multiple premieres.
"Left Coast Leaning" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. $15. YBCA and Youth Speaks' Living Word Project present this performance festival, featuring slam poet Rafael Casal, tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith, and others.
"Make Drag Not War 3" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.veteranartists.org. Sun, 8pm. $5-20. Veteran Artists and Iraq Veterans Against the War present this benefit pairing drag queens with recent military veterans to tell their stories through drag performances.
Mark Foehringer Dance Project | SF Children's Creativity Museum, 221 Fourth St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Sat-Sun, 11am, 2pm, 4pm; Dec 20-23, 11am and 2pm. Through Dec 23. $20-35. The contemporary ballet company performs Mark Foehringer's Nutcracker Sweets.
ODC/Dance Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard, SF; (415) 978-2787, www.odcdance.org. Thurs/1-Fri/2 and Dec 8-9, 11am; Sat/3 and Dec 10, 1 and 4pm; Sun/4 and Dec 11, 2pm. $15-45. The company presents the 25th anniversary of KT Nelson's The Velveteen Rabbit.
"Picklewater Clown Cabaret Adult Xmas Pageant" Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.picklewater.com. Mon, 7 and 9pm. $15. A variety show that celebrates all the winter holidays in one.
Printz Dance Project Z Space, Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Wed-Sat, 8pm. $22-25. The company performs its evening-length dance performance Hover Space. 2