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.
A Christmas Carol Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-95. Opens Fri/30, 7pm. Runs Tue-Sat, 7pm (no evening performance Dec 6, 11, or 18; also 2pm matinees Sat/1, Dec 8, 12, 15, 21, and 22; Sun, 5:30pm (also 1pm matinees Dec 9, 16, 23); Dec 24, 1pm. Through Dec 24. American Conservatory Theater's annual holiday performance features James Carpenter as Scrooge.
The Marvelous Wonderettes New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $27-46. Previews Fri/30-Sat/1 and Dec 5-7, 8pm; Sun/2, 2pm. Opens Dec 8, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm (no show Dec 23). Through Jan 13. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Roger Bean's 1950s pop-hit musical.
The New California Traveling Jewish Theater, 470 Florida, SF; www.pianofight.com. $20-25. Opens Wed/28, 8pm. Runs Wed, 8pm. Through Dec 19. PianoFight Productions' female-centric sketch comedy group ForePlays presents an all-new variety show.
Pal Joey Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndstreetmoon.org. $25-75. Previews Wed/28, 7pm; Thu/29-Fri/30, 8pm. Opens Sat/1, 6pm. Runs Wed, 7pm; Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 16. 42nd Street Moon performs the Rodgers and Hart classic.
Big River TheatreWorks, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; www.theatreworks.org. $23-73. Previews Wed/28, 7:30pm; Thu/29-Fri/30, 8pm. Opens Sat/1, 2 and 8pm. Runs Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 30. TheatreWorks performs the Tony-winning musical based on Mark Twain's Huck Finn stories.
Dracula Berkeley Community Church, 1802 Fairview, Berk; www.infernotheatre.org. $12-25. Opens Thu/29, 8pm. Runs Thu and Sat-Sun, 8pm; Fri, 9pm. Though Dec 16. Inferno Theatre Company performs Giulio Cesare Perrone's adaptation of the Bram Stoker classic.
Woyzeck Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $23-35. Previews Thu/29 and Dec 5-6, 7pm; Fri/30-Sat/1, 8pm; Sun/2, 5pm. Opens Dec 7, 8pm. Runs Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Jan 27. Shotgun Players presents Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan, and Robert Wilson's tragic musical, based on an unfinished 1837 play by Georg Büchner.
Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $30-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow's musical comedy revue all about food.
History: The Musical Un-Scripted Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.un-scripted.com. $10-20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 22. The Un-Scripted Theater Company performs "an unscripted romp through Western history."
Hysterical, Historical San Francisco: Holiday Edition Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com. $25-40. Fri-Sat and Dec 26-31, 9pm. Through Dec 31. Comedian Kurt Weitzmann takes on San Francisco history, adding some holiday flair along the way.
The Rainmaker Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheater.org. $38. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 22. Shelton Theatre preforms N. Richard Nash's classic drama.
Slugs and Kicks Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.therhino.org. $15-30. Previews Wed/28, 8pm. Opens Thu/29, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 9. Theatre Rhinoceros performs John Fisher's play about the offstage drama at a college theater company.
Speed-the-Plow Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Extended through Dec 21. Actors Theatre of San Francisco performs the David Mamet drama.
The Submission New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 16. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Jeff Talbott's drama about a playwright who falsifies his identity when he enters his latest work into a prestigious theater festival.
Superior Donuts Gough Street Playhouse, 1622 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $25-30. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 2. Consider the doughnut: an infinite ring of fried dough and glaze, simple, unassuming, ubiquitous. Once a staple of on-the-go breakfasts and on-the-road snacking, the doughnut has gone into decline, assaulted on all sides by nutritionists, tastier pastries, and luxury branding. Arthur (Don Wood), the aging protagonist of Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts, has failed to see the writing on the wall, perhaps for decades, as his family doughnut shop, whose regulars include a feisty bag lady (Vicki Siegel) and a pair of beat cops (Ariane Owens, Emmanuel Lee), struggles to compete with the Starbucks across the street and the changing mores and values of the neighborhood demographic. Enter Franco (Chris Marsol), a likable youthful hustler in desperate need of a job, who sees potential in Arthur's decrepit shop: poetry readings! Bran muffins! A liquor license! Drawn to each other by mutual loneliness the two warily navigate the waters of friendship, despite their obvious gaps in age, ambition, and fashion sense (Franco to Arthur: "the Grateful Dead aren't hiring anymore"). Custom Made's production, directed by Marilyn Langbehn, breathes vibrancy into a gentrifying corner of Chicago, thanks especially to Chris Marsol, whose Franco is bold, intelligent and thwarted, and Don Wood, who plays Arthur like a man frozen in ice, whose eventual thaw speaks to the restorative powers of possibility. (Gluckstern)
The Waiting Period Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through Dec 8. Brian Copeland (comedian, TV and radio personality, and creator-performer of the long-running solo play Not a Genuine Black Man) returns to the Marsh with a new solo, this one based on more recent and messier events in Copeland's life. It's a worthy aim but only a fitfully engaging piece, since as drama it remains thin, standing at perhaps too respectful a distance from the convoluted torment and alienation at its center. (Avila)
Acid Test: The Many Incarnations of Ram Dass Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through Jan 5. Lynne Kaufman's new play stars Warren David Keith as the noted spiritual figure.
It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $36-57. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/1 and Dec 15, 2pm; Dec 6, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 16. Marin Theatre Company performs Joe Landry's live radio play adaptation of the classic Capra film.
The Kipling Hotel: True Misadventures of the Electric Pink '80s Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Extended through Dec 16. 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. Even with some awkward bumps along the way, it's never a dull thing watching Reed work. (Avila)
The Sound of Music Julia Morgan Theatre, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $15-35. Thu-Sat, 7pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, noon and 5pm. Through Dec 2. Berkeley Playhouse opens its fifth season with the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
Toil and Trouble La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show Thu/22). Through Dec 8. For a theater company known for its radical interpretations of the Shakespearean canon, a play such as Lauren Gunderson's Toil and Trouble, a goofy Generation Why retelling of Macbeth, is a particularly good fit for Impact Theatre. Whittled down to a dynamic three-character chamber play featuring delusionary slackers plotting to turn their MBAs and nebulous SF Giants connections into a bloodless takeover of a remote island nation rather than get crappy café jobs to pay the rent, Toil throws baseball, investors, Wikipedia, fortune cookies, hypothetical sex, and real violence into one cauldron, letting them bubble and froth throughout the piece. The so-crazy-it-might-just-work plan hatched by Adam (Michael Delaney), a relentlessly cheerful narcissist, quickly leads to tension between the three, especially once the potential payout is estimated at 30 million dollars, and before their plot is even finalized, a tenuous, murderous alliance forms between the insufferably wimpy Matt (Will Hand) and the rage-aholic Beth (Jeanette Penley). All three actors play their all-too-familiar characters to the hilt, and Josh Costello's direction is deft and assured. A surprise twist subverts the expected lull of tragedy, and all is resolved, more or less, in a manner more appropriate to this time and place than Shakespeare's, though not without some grand sound and fury beforehand, signifying both. (Gluckstern)
The White Snake Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-99. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Nov 29, Dec 13, and Sat, 2pm; no matinee Dec 1; no show Thu/22); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 23. In Mary Zimmerman's The White Snake, nothing is quite as it seems. A mysterious stranger and her faithful servant are, in reality, a pair of shape-shifting serpents, the humble village pharmacy they build (with stolen money) is a front for their magical healing powers, a venerated Buddhist Abbott is actually a small-minded tyrant with a remarkably unholy obsession. Based on a Chinese myth dating to the 10th century, elements of "The White Snake" can be found in other mythologies around the world — from the biblical tempter in the Garden of Eden, to the healer snakes of Asclepius. However, in accordance with the tale's historical evolution, from horror story to romance, Zimmerman's treatment focuses mainly on the unusual love affair between Madame White (Amy Kim Waschke) and her karma-selected husband Xu Xian (Christopher Livingston). Weaving together fanciful design (a rainfall of ribbons, parasol puppetry, elegant period costuming and evocative video), elements of Chinese drama (amusingly described by narrators as they take place on stage), and a stirring reflection on the transformative power of love, complete with themes of self-sacrifice and endless fidelity, The White Snake, is a delicately-rendered fairytale which may not offer a way to enlightenment, but certainly clears a path to the heart. (Gluckstern)
Wilder Times Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 9. Aurora Theatre performs a collection of one-acts by Thornton Wilder.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Fri/23-Sun/25, 11am. Louis "The Amazing Bubble Man" Pearl brings his lighter-than-air show back to the Marsh.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "Theatresports," Fri, 8pm, through Dec 21.
"The Buddy Club Children's Shows" Randall Museum Theater, 199 Museum Wy, SF; www.thebuddyclub.com. Sun/2, 11am-noon. $8. Juggling and acrobatics with the Keith Show.
"Clas/sick Hip-Hop" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission, SF; www.ybca.org. Fri/30-Sat/1, 8pm. $15-20. Violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain accompanies hip-hop dancers Rennie Harris, Rokafella, and others.
"Instrument" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Thu-Sun, 8pm. Through Dec 9. $15-20. Monique Jenkinson, a.k.a. Fauxnique, performs her new solo show.
"Life with Laughter" Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; www.975howard.com. Tue/4, 8:30pm. $10-20. comedy, storytelling, spoken word, and music.
"Murderous Little World" ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; www.odctheater.org. Mon/3, 8pm. $15-30. NEXMAP and ODC present the US premiere of Linda Bouchard's experimental musical theater work, based on poems by Anne Carson and performed by Canadian trio Bellows and Brass.
"The Romane Event" Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, SF; www.pacoromane.com. Wed/28, 8pm. $7-10. Comedy with Alex Koll, Johnny Taylor, Leslie Small, Andrew Holgren, Lynn Ruth Miller, and Paco Romane.
San Francisco Comedy College Purple Onion at Kells, 530 Jackson, SF; www.sfcomedycollege.com. $5-15; all shows ongoing. "Laughter Hour," Thu-Fri, 7pm. "Destini and Yonatan's Stand-Up Rebellion," Thu, 8:30. "Comedy Bottle," Fri-Sat, 8:30pm. "Kells Comedy Saturday," Sat, 7pm. "New Talent Shows," Tue-Wed, 7. Also Larkspur Hotel, 524 Sutter, SF. "Rocket Salad," Sun, 7.
"San Francisco Magic Parlor" Chancellor Hotel Union Square, 433 Powell, SF; www.sfmagicparlor.com. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $40. Magic vignettes with conjurer and storyteller Walt Anthony.
"Hear Me Now" Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. Mon/3, 8pm. $15. Shotgun Cabaret presents cell phone monologues as part of its First Person Singular reading series.
"A Memory from the Future/Un Recuerdo del Futuro" Studio 8, 2525 Eighth St, SF; www.theteadancers.org. Sat/1 and Dec 8, 8pm; Dec 9, 2pm. $20. The Tea Dancers/Ballet de la Compasion perform a bilingual multimedia show.
"Risk for Deep Love" Temescal Art Center, 511 48th St, Oakl; www.eroplay.com. Sat/1, 8pm. Free. "Improvised passions" with performance artist Frank Moore. *