Theater Listings: October 9 - 15, 2013
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.
BooKKeepers: A True Fiction Southside Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.generationtheatre.com. $20-35. Opens Thu/10, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 27. GenerationTheatre presents Roland David Valayre's Kafka-inspired fantasy.
Dirty Little Showtunes New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Opens Fri/11, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 10. New Conservatory Theatre Center presents the return of Tom Orr's bawdy Broadway parody.
First Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.firsttheplay.com. $25-35. Opens Sat/12, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 3. Altair Productions, the Aluminous Collective, and PlayGround present the world premiere of Evelyn Jean Pine's play, which imagines a 20-year-old Bill Gates' experiences at a 1976 personal computer conference.
Gruesome Playground Injuries Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, SF; www.tidestheatre.org. $20-40. Previews Thu/10, 8pm. Opens Fri/11, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Nov 9. Tides Theatre performs Rajiv Joseph's drama about two people who first meet as eight-year-olds in the school nurse's office.
Randy Roberts Live! Alcove Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; www.randyroberts.net. $40. Opens Thu/10, 9pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 9pm. Through Nov 2. The famed female impersonator performs. He will also perform a different show with jazz pianist Tammy L. Hall: Mon/14, Oct 21, and 28, 7pm, $20, Martuni's, 4 Valencia, SF.
I and You Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $37-58. Previews Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 2pm. Opens Tue/15, 8pm. Runs Tue, Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Oct 19 and Nov 2, 2pm; Oct 24, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Nov 3. Lauren Gunderson's world premiere explores how Walt Whitman's words affect the lives of two teenagers.
Rich and Famous Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway, Redwood City; www.dragonproductions.net. $15-35. Previews Thu/10, 8pm. Opens Fri/11, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Nov 3. Dragon Theatre performs John Guare's surreal musical comedy.
strangers, babies Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-35. Previews Oct 15-17, 8pm. Opens Oct 18, 8pm. Runs Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Nov 17. Shotgun Players present Linda McLean's drama about a woman confronting her past.
Warrior Class Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; www.theatreworks.org. $19-73. Previews Wed/9-Fri/11, 8pm. Opens Sat/12, 8pm. Runs Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Nov 3. TheatreWorks performs Kenneth Lin's incisive political drama.
Acid Test: The Many Incarnations of Ram Dass Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri/11, 8pm; Sat/12, 8:30pm. Playwright Lynne Kaufman invites you to take a trip with Richard Alpert, aka Ram Dass (Warren David Keith) — one of the bigwigs of the psychedelic revolution and (with his classic book, Be Here Now) contemporary Eastern-looking spirituality — as he recounts times high and low in this thoughtful, funny, and sometimes unexpected biographical rumination on the quest for truth and meaning in a seemingly random life. Directed by Joel Mullennix, the narrative begins with Ram Dass today, in his Hawaiian home and partly paralyzed from a stroke, but Keith (one of the Bay Area's best stage actors, who is predictably sure and engagingly multilayered in the role) soon shakes off the stiff arm and strained speech and springs to his feet to continue the narrative as the ideal self perhaps only transcendental consciousness and theater allow. Nevertheless, Kaufman's fun-loving and extroverted Alpert is no saint and no model of perfection, which is the refreshing truth explored in the play. He's a seeker still, ever imperfect and trying for perfection, or at least the wisdom of acceptance. As the privileged queer child of a wealthy Jewish lawyer and industrialist, Alpert was both insider and outsider from the get-go, and that tension and ambiguity make for an interesting angle on his life, including the complexities of his relationships with a homophobic Leary, for instance, and his conservative but ultimately loving father. Perfection aside, the beauty in the subject and the play is the subtle, shrewd cherishing of what remains unfinished. Note: review from an earlier run of this show. (Avila)
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Curran Theatre, 445 Geary, SF; www.shnsf.com. $55-210. Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, Wed/9, and Oct 16, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7:30pm (no evening show Sun/13 or Oct 20). Through Oct 20. Pre-Broadway premiere of the musical about the legendary songwriter.
Band Fags! New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed/9-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 2pm. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs the West Coast premiere of Frank Anthony Polito's coming-of-age tale, set in 1980s Detroit.
BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Tue, 8pm. Extended through Oct 29. Will Durst's hit solo show looks at baby boomers grappling with life in the 21st century.
Buried Child Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, Third Flr, SF; www.magictheatre.org. $20-60. Wed/9-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 2:30. A rural family in slow free-fall finally sees the ground rushing up to meet it in Sam Shepard's raucous, solemn, and spooky American gothic. The 1978 Pulitzer Prize-winner not only secured a place for Shepard in the upper echelons of American playwrights but helped remake the theatrical landscape when it first premiered, 35 years ago, at the Magic Theatre. The Magic's current revival tends to show the ways in which the play has aged, however, rather than the ways in which it endures. Loretta Greco's perfunctory direction inadvertently underscores what has since become formula in the resolutely surreal undercurrent beneath its surface naturalism. Meanwhile her cast —though it includes some normally dependable actors like Patrick Alparone, Rod Gnapp and James Wagner — never comes together as a cohesive ensemble, further distancing us from the still vital dynamism in the text (more of that was captured last year in Boxcar Theatre's admittedly rocky but overall more persuasive production). Alparone (as long-lost son Vince) and Patrick Kelly Jones (as his belligerent one-legged brother Bradley) manage to infuse some momentary energy, but from the opening lines, delivered offstage by chattering matriarch Halie (Denise Balthrop Cassidy), the tension remains mostly slack, the acting haphazard, and the themes muted. (Avila)
Carrie: The Musical Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, SF; www.rayoflighttheatre.com. $25-36. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Oct 26, 11:30pm; Nov 2, 2pm). Through Nov 2. Just in time to complement the Carrie film remake, Ray of Light Theatre performs the musical adaptation (initially a Broadway flop, then a re-tooled off-Broadway hit) of the Stephen King horror novel.
The Disappearance of Mary Rosemary Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, SF; secondwind.8m.com. $15-25. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 26. Script-wise, Second Wind Production's J.M. Barrie adaptation The Disappearance of Mary Rosemary might well be the most unique ghost story of the season. But in contrast to their masterfully suspenseful The Woman in Black (staged in 2009), Disappearance falls to sustain that charged atmosphere of unease that defines the best terror tales. It begins promisingly enough in a purportedly haunted parlor being shown to a young soldier (Ryan Martin) by its taciturn caretaker (Juanita Wyles). After she leaves him alone in the room, lights flicker, his video camera spontaneously begins to play, and a mysterious light emerges from under a locked door, all evidence pointing to either a supernatural event, or to a PTSD-style mental breakdown. Cutting to the same parlor 29 years before, where domestic tranquility prevails, a lot of that initial tension gets lost, and even though the equally unexplainable events which ensue prove to be much bigger in actual scale, they don't quite manage to scare so much as to puzzle. Of the performances, Gigi Benson's matter-of-fact matriarch is by far the most nuanced, and her chemistry with her stage husband (Dave Sikula) is far more convincing than that of their daughter and son-in-law (Caroline Elizabeth Doyle and Brian Martin). Finally, a very unexpected twist turns this story of a young woman who never grows old into one who has grown perhaps too fast, uncomfortably invoking V.C. Andrews rather than J.M. Barrie, and not for the better. (Gluckstern)
Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.foodiesthemusical.com. $32-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow's musical comedy revue all about food.
Forbidden Fruit Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $25. Fri-Sat and Mon, 8pm. Through Oct 28. Back Alley Theater and Footloose present the West Coast premiere of Jeff Bedillion's stylized love story that takes on social and religious conformity.
Geezer Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Wed-Thu, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Oct 26. Geoff Hoyle's hit solo show, a comedic meditation on aging, returns to the Marsh.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma, SF; www.boxcartheatre.org. $27-43. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. John Cameron Mitchell's cult musical comes to life with director Nick A. Olivero's ever-rotating cast.
An Indian Summer Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.wehavemet.org. $20-40. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 19. Multi Ethnic Theater performs Charles Johnson's drama set in the 1980s Deep South.
It's a Bird ... It's a Plane ... It's Superman Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndstmoon.org. $25-75. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm (also Sat/12, 1pm); Sun, 3pm. Through Oct 20. 42nd Street Moon kicks off its 21st season with this 1966 musical homage to the Man of Steel.
The Scion Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-100. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through Oct 26. Popular solo performer Brian Copeland (Not a Genuine Black Man, The Waiting Period) performs a workshop production of his latest, "a tale of privilege, murder, and sausage." The show has its official world premiere Jan. 9, 2014.
Sex and the City: LIVE! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; trannyshack.com/sexandthecity. $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm. Open-ended. It seems a no-brainer. Not just the HBO series itself — that's definitely missing some gray matter — but putting it onstage as a drag show. Mais naturellement! Why was Sex and the City not conceived of as a drag show in the first place? Making the sordid not exactly palatable but somehow, I don't know, friendlier (and the canned a little cannier), Velvet Rage Productions mounts two verbatim episodes from the widely adored cable show, with Trannyshack's Heklina in a smashing portrayal of SJP's Carrie; D'Arcy Drollinger stealing much of the show as ever-randy Samantha (already more or less a gay man trapped in a woman's body); Lady Bear as an endearingly out-to-lunch Miranda; and ever assured, quick-witted Trixxie Carr as pent-up Charlotte. There's also a solid and enjoyable supporting cast courtesy of Cookie Dough, Jordan Wheeler, and Leigh Crow (as Mr. Big). That's some heavyweight talent trodding the straining boards of bar Rebel's tiny stage. The show's still two-dimensional, even in 3D, but noticeably bigger than your 50" plasma flat panel. (Avila)
"Shocktoberfest 14: Jack the Ripper" Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $25-35. Thu-Sat and Oct 29-30, 8pm. Through Nov 23. Thrillpeddlers presents their 14th annual Grand Guignol show, "a evening of horror, madness, spanking, and song."
The Taming Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.crowdedfire.org. $10-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm (no show Wed/9). Through Oct 26. Crowded Fire Theater presents the world premiere of Lauren Gunderson's modern farce.
The Voice: One Man's Journey into Sex Addiction and Recovery EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.theexit.org. $15-25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 26. David Kleinberg performs his autobiographical solo show.
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $8-11. Sun, 11am. Through Oct 27. Soapy, kid-friendly antics with Louis Pearl, aka "The Amazing Bubble Man."
Can You Dig It? Back Down East 14th — the 60s and Beyond Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Oct 27. Don Reed's new show offers more stories from his colorful upbringing in East Oakland in the 1960s and '70s. More hilarious and heartfelt depictions of his exceptional parents, independent siblings, and his mostly African American but ethnically mixed working-class community — punctuated with period pop, Motown, and funk classics, to which Reed shimmies and spins with effortless grace. And of course there's more too of the expert physical comedy and charm that made long-running hits of Reed's last two solo shows, East 14th and The Kipling Hotel (both launched, like this newest, at the Marsh). Can You Dig It? reaches, for the most part, into the "early" early years, Reed's grammar-school days, before the events depicted in East 14th or Kipling Hotel came to pass. But in nearly two hours of material, not all of it of equal value or impact, there's inevitably some overlap and indeed some recycling. Reed, who also directs the show, may start whittling it down as the run continues. But, as is, there are at least 20 unnecessary minutes diluting the overall impact of the piece, which is thin on plot already — much more a series of often very enjoyable vignettes and some painful but largely unexplored observations, wrapped up at the end in a sentimental moral that, while sincere, feels rushed and inadequate. (Avila)
Ella, the Musical Center REPertory Company, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek; (925) 943-SHOW. $37-64. Wed/9, 7:30pm; Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm (also Sat/12, 2:30pm). Yvette Cason portrays the legendary Ella Fitzgerald in this Center REP presentation.
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $35-89. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed, 7pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Extended through Oct 25. Berkeley Rep performs Christopher Durang's comedy about a dysfunctional family in rural Pennsylvania.
A Winter's Tale Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda; www.calshakes.org. $35-72. Tue-Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Oct 19, 2pm); Sun, 4pm. Through Oct 20. Cal Shakes concludes its 2013 season with the Bard's fairy tale, directed and choreographed by sister team Patricia and Paloma McGregor.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "Horror Super Scene," Fri, 8. Through Oct 25. "Improvised Farce," Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 26.
Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.ybca.org. Wed/9, 8pm. $50. The company performs the world premiere of /Time: Study I. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Lam Research Theater, 700 Howard, SF; www.ybca.org. Fri/11-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 3pm. The company, with SITI Company, presents the West Coast premiere of A Rite.
"Broadway Bingo" Feinstein's at the Nikko, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.feinsteinssf.com. Wed, 7-9pm. Ongoing. Free. Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy and Joe Wicht host this Broadway-flavored night of games and performance.
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sat/12, Oct 20, and 26, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
Margaret Cho Nob Hill Masonic Center, 1111 California, SF; www.livenation.com. Sat/12, 8pm. $41.50-74. The acclaimed comedian performs her new show, Mother.
"Comedy Returns to El Rio" El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Mon/14, 8pm. $7-20. With Jabari Davis, Eloisa Bravo, Stefani Silverman, Howard Stone, and Lisa Geduldig.
Dance Theatre of San Francisco ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; www.odctheater.org. Fri/11-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 7pm. $25-27. The new contemporary dance company founded by Annabelle Henry presents "Debut," with works by Erik Wagner, Sandrine Cassini, and others.
"The Kepler Story" Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Dr, SF; www.calacademy.org. Sun, 6:30pm. Through Oct 27. $15. Cal Academy and Motion Institute team up to produce this "immersive performance work" about astronomer Johannes Kepler.
"Mission Position Live" Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.missionpositionlive.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.
"Mongrels and Objects" CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Fri/11-Sat/12, 8pm; Sun/13, 7pm. $20-30. Headmistress — Amara Tabor-Smith and Sherwood Chen — presents solo and duo dance work.
"Mortified" DNA Lounge, 375 11th St, SF; www.getmortified.com. Fri/11, 7:30pm. $21. Also Sat/12, 7:30pm, $20. Uptown, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl. Embarrassing tales told by those who lived them as teenagers.
"MythBusters: Behind the Myths Tour" Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market, SF; www.shnsf.com. Sat/12, 2 and 8pm. $45-95. Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman bring their Discovery Channel show to the stage.
Davy Rothbart Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California, SF; www.myheartisandidiotbook.com. Thu/10, 8pm. $12. The Found magazine editor and "This American Life" contributor shares his latest finds and reads from his new book, My Heart is an Idiot.
"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.
Smuin Ballet Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon, SF; www.smuinballet.org. Thu/10-Sat/12, 8pm. $25-72. Smuin Ballet kicks off its 20th anniversary season with its "Xxtremes" fall program, including Jiri Kylian's Return to a Strange Land and Amy Seiwert's Dear Miss Cline.
Paufve Dance Hillside Swedenborgian Community Church, 1422 Navallier, El Cerrito; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/11-Sat/12, 6pm. $15-20. Randee Paufve and company present Soil, a quintet of new and revised solo works.
"The Shout: Life's True Stories" Grand Lake Coffee House, 440 Grand, Oakl; www.theshoutstorytelling.com. Mon/14, 7:30pm. $5-20. Amazing but true short storytelling. *