Theater Listings: November 20 - 26, 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 email@example.com.
The Oy of Sex Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $20-100. Opens Thu/21, 8pm. Runs Thu-Fri, 8pm (no show Nov 28); Sat, 8:30pm. Through Jan 18. Comedian Alicia Dattner performs her solo show, based on her stories from her own life and love addiction.
The Dining Room Piedmont Center for the Arts, 801 Magnolia, Piedmont; www.piedmontcenterforthearts.org. $25. Opens Thu/21, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 1. Piedmont Avenue Repertory Theatre performs A.R. Gurney's family dramedy, which features six actors playing 57 parts.
Amaluna Big Top at AT&T Park, Third Street at Terry A. Francois Blvd, SF; www.cirquedusoliel.com. $50-175. Check website for schedule, including special holiday showtimes. Through Jan 12. Cirque de Soleil is back in town, this time bringing their Tempest-inspired Amaluna to the big top set up outside AT&T Park. Touted for being a celebration of "women [sic] power," it seems initially odd that the design elements are so focused on the male peacock feather — all greens and blues and graceful, with curving "fronds" rising up from the stage. Jungle sounds chirp in the background as a bevy of Amazonian women in bejeweled headdresses and a mischievous lizard-man circulate the room until the show starts with the lovely abstraction of a floating red cloud of translucent fabric dancing in a single beam of light. The flimsy plotline is forgettable, a coming-of-age and courtship tale between the island's young princess, Miranda (Iuliia Mykhailova) and a shipwrecked young Romeo (Evgeny Kurkin), though the parallel courtship between the two comic figures of Jeeves (Nathalie Claude) and Deeda (Shereen Hickman) provides a bit of levity and a novel use for footballs. The most realized character is probably Cali (Victor Kee), the half-lizard, whose prehensile tail and neon body paint give him an otherworldly allure, but it's the aerialist Goddesses and fierce embodiments of the storm that are most memorable from an acrobatic point-of-view, and Lara Jacobs' unique balancing act from a meditative one. (Gluckstern)
Arlington Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, 2 Marina, Bldg D, Third Flr, SF; www.magictheatre.org. $20-60. Opens Wed/20, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 28; also Dec 4, 2:30pm); Sun and Tue, 7pm (also Sun, 2:30pm; no 7pm show Dec 8); Through Dec 8. Magic Theatre performs Victor Lodato and Polly Pen's world-premiere musical.
The Barbary Coast Revue Stud Bar, 399 Ninth St, SF; eventbrite.com/org/4730361353. $10-40. Wed, 9pm (no show Nov 27). Through Dec 18. Blake Wiers' new "live history musical experience" features Mark Twain as a tour guide through San Francisco's wild past.
BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Tue, 8pm. Extended through Dec 17. Will Durst's hit solo show looks at baby boomers grappling with life in the 21st century.
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.
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess Golden Gate Theatre, One Taylor, SF; www.shnsf.com. $60-210. Tue-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 28; check website for matinee schedule); Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 8. The Tony-winning Broadway revival launches its national tour in San Francisco.
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.
Ideation Tides Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. $10-20. Wed-Thu, 7pm (no shows Nov 28 or Dec 4-5); Fri-Sat, 8pm (additional shows Nov 30 and Dec 7). Through Dec 7. Next up in the San Francisco Playhouse "Sandbox Series" is this dark comedy from Aaron Loeb.
The Jewelry Box: A Genuine Christmas Story The Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-40. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Dec 28. Brian Copeland performs the world premiere of his new, holiday-themed work, an Oakland-set autobiographical tale that's a prequel to his popular Not a Genuine Black Man.
My Beautiful Launderette New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 22. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Andy Gram and Roger Parsley's adaptation of Hanif Kureishi's award-winning screenplay.
Peter and the Starcatcher Curran Theatre, 445 Geary, SF; www.shnsf.com. $40-160. Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat, 2pm; no show Nov 28); Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 1. Fanciful, Tony-winning prequel to Peter Pan.
The Rita Hayworth of This Generation Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; www.715bryant.org. $10-15. Wed/20-Thu/21, 8pm. Writer-performer Tina D'Elia's 2010 solo comedy spins a queer and ethnically rich world that straddles the living and the dead in a Las Vegas that, let's face it, lies somewhere between those two poles already. Drawing on her own professional obsession with Rita Hayworth (née Margarita Carmen Cansino), the ethnically neutered Hispanic star of 1940s Hollywood, D'Elia plays Carmelita, an ambitious Rita Hayworth impersonator who gets entangled with a Latino/a transgender blackjack champion with a drinking problem and too many deals with the devil — in the person of deceased Columbia Pictures mogul Harry Cohn's daughter, a powerful Vegas TV host and Star-maker. Meanwhile, Carmelita's smitten production manager Angel tries her best to look out for her, while would-be angel Rita Hayworth herself takes on the role of Carmelita's consultant on all things Hayworth in a bid to earn her wings from a God moving in typically mysterious ways. While the piece requires patience with the usual formal pitfalls of the solo form (including some awkward back-and-forth between multiple characters) and the hefty plot could also use some editing, D'Elia (under director Mary Guzmán), in a production with few frills, proves a sharp and engaging performer, her characters tending to be both endearing and amusingly full-bodied. (Avila)
"Shocktoberfest 14: Jack the Ripper" Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $25-35. Thu/21-Sat/23, 8pm. It's lucky 14 for the Thrillpeddlers' annual Halloween-tide Shocktoberfest, and while there are few surprises in this year's lineup, there's plenty of reliable material to chew on. Opening with A Visit to Mrs. Birch and the Young Ladies of the Academy, a ribald Victorian-era "spanking drama," the fare soon turns towards darker appetites with a joint Andre De Lorde-Pierre Chaine work, Jack the Ripper. Works by De Lorde — sometimes referred to as the "Prince of Fear" — have graced the Hypnodrome stage over the years, and this tense Victorian drama, though penned in the 30s, is suitably atmospheric. Although it becomes pretty evident early on who dunnit, it's the why that lies at the heart of this grim drama, and in the course of that discovery, the play's beleaguered lawmen reveal themselves to be no less ruthless than the titular Ripper (John Flaw) in pursuit of their quarry. Norman Macleod as Inspector Smithson particularly embodies this unwholesome dichotomy, and Bruna Palmeiro excels as his spirited yet doomed bait. Inspired by Oscar Wilde's Salome, the Thrillpeddlers' piece by the same name is perhaps the weak link in the program, despite being penned by the ever-clever Scrumbly Koldewyn, and danced with wanton abandon by Noah Haydon. Longtime Thrillpeddlers' collaborator Rob Keefe ties together the evening's disparate threads under one sprawling big top media circus of murder, sex, ghosts, and sensationalism with his somewhat tongue-in-cheek, San Francisco-centric The Wrong Ripper. (Gluckstern)
Underneath the Lintel Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-150. Wed/20-Sat/23, 8pm (also Sat/23, 2pm). A lone librarian (David Strathairn) takes the stage with a suitcase of "scraps" he will use to "prove one life and justify another." To illustrate the first, he pulls a battered travel guide — 113 years overdue — from the case, and then, as the play continues, displays further "lovely evidence" to bolster his admittedly vague hypothesis. The life he is attempting to prove is that of the so-called "Wandering Jew," but it's the life he attempts to justify, namely his own, that becomes the more compelling, and his broadening horizons drive his narrative far more efficiently than his curious obsession with a man in a funny hat (who owes the library quite a fine for his century-delayed return of the guidebook). As a man who has rarely left the comfortable confines of his hometown, Hoofddorp, traveling to London, China, New York City, and even Australia is nothing short of epic in the best sense of the word — a hero's journey during which the benignly dotty librarian emerges transformed. Given the expanse of ACT's Geary Theater mainstage, the production does suffer somewhat from a lack of intimacy, but moments of inventive staging take advantage of Nina Ball's fantastically-cluttered set and the librarian's innate sense of curiosity, as he unearths a wealth of evidence and fraught memories from the depths of the cavernous space. (Gluckstern)
Urge For Going Z Below, 470 Florida, SF; www.goldenthread.org. $10-45. Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 28); Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 8. Golden Thread Productions presents Mona Mansour's play about a Palestinian teen who hopes academics will be her ticket out of the Lebanese refugee camp she calls home.
A Bright New Boise Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-50. Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 8. Faith can be a touchy subject among true believers and skeptics alike, and as long as the topic of religion is avoided (as it often is) you might not even know that your bus driver is Buddhist, or your checkout clerk born again. In Samuel D. Hunter’s A Bright New Boise, now playing at Berkeley’s Aurora Theatre, the line blurs between public face and private faith, as mysterious stranger Will (Robert Parsons) rolls into Boise and takes up employment at the Hobby Lobby, ostensibly to reconnect to his long-lost, given-up-for-adoption son, Alex (Daniel Petzhold). But when Will is revealed to be a former member of a disgraced Evangelical sect from “up North,” his sudden reappearance in Alex’ life appears to be motivated not by a long-standing remorse, but by a recent unmooring. Under Tom Ross’ direction, the other characters — a foul-mouthed store manager (Gwen Loeb), a painfully shy stock clerk (Megan Trout), and a confrontational sales associate (Patrick Russell) — appear similarly unmoored, careening into each other like jittery, neurotic pinballs, with about as much consideration. Only Parsons’ Will appears calm and deliberate in his actions, until he startlingly demonstrates otherwise. It’s an abrupt end to both the play and Will’s charade of normalcy, and neither Hunter nor Ross seem to know how to build up to his eventual fall naturally, ultimately allowing him to be defined only by his fanaticism rather than his humanity. (Gluckstern)
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. Extended through Dec 15. 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)
Don't Dress For Dinner Center REPertory Company, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek; www.centerrep.org. $33-52. Wed/20, 7:30pm; Thu/21-Sat/23, 8pm (also Sat/23, 2:30pm). Center REP performs Marc Camoletti's sequel to his classic farce Boeing-Boeing.
Harvey Barn Theatre, 30 Sir Francis Drake, Ross; www.rossvalleyplayers.com. $10-22. Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 15. Ross Valley Players perform the Pulitzer-winning play by Mary Chase.
A King's Legacy Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear, Mtn View; www.thepear.org. $10-35. Thu/21-Sat/23, 8pm; Sun/24, 2pm. Pear Avenue Theatre performs Elyce Melmon's world premiere, a drama about King James VI of Scotland.
A Little Princess Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $17-60. Thu-Fri, 7pm (Nov 28, shows at 1 and 6pm); Sat, 1 and 6pm; Sun, noon and 5pm (no 5pm show Dec 1). Through Dec 8. Berkeley Playhouse opens its sixth season with Brian Crawley and Andrew Lippa's musical adaptation of the Frances Hodgson Burnett story.
Metamorphoses South Berkeley Community Church, 1802 Fairview, Berk; www.infernotheatre.org. $10-25. Thu/21 and Sat/23, 8pm; Fri/22, 9pm. Inferno Theatre performs a multimedia, contemporary adaptation of Ovid's classic.
110 in the Shade Douglas Morrison Theatre, 22311 N. Third St, Hayward; www.dmtonline.org. $10-29. Fri-Sat and Dec 5, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 8. Douglas Morrison Theatre performs N. Richard Nash's romantic musical, adapted from his classic play The Rainmaker.
The Pianist of Willesden Lane Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-89. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Dec 5 and Sat, 2pm; no shows Nov 28, Dec 24, or Dec 31); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm; matinees only Dec 15, 22, and Jan 5; no show Dec 25). Extended through Jan 5. Mona Golabek stars in this solo performance inspired by her mother, a Jewish pianist whose dreams and life were threatened by the Nazi regime.
Red Virgin, Louise Michel and the Paris Commune of 1871 Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.centralworks.org. $15-28. Thu/21-Sat/23, 8pm; Sun/24, 5pm. Central Works' first musical play seems, initially, an unlikely subject for song: the role of anarchist icon Louise Michel (known as the Red Virgin) in the popular 1871 uprising that, in the wake of France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, briefly transformed the French capital into a socialistic society — one that claimed revolutionary authority over the entire country before being brutally put down by troops loyal to the national regime under Adolphe Thiers. Very soon into Gary Graves' two-act play, however, a reference to Victor Hugo flags a familiar precedent in the annals of musical theater, and one that skirts a little too closely to what follows. Despite a sharp and engaging cast under director John Patrick Moore, led by an imposing and powerful Anna Ishida in the title role, there's something too predictable and inexorable in both the play's history lesson and its resonances, however intentional, with the melodramatic terrain of Les Misérables. There are more playful and winning aspects to the proceedings — especially in the vaguely Brechtian mode of the eclectic musical numbers (under direction of Allison Lovejoy) — but in general nuances of history and personality, as well as a hoped for contemporary relevance, get obscured in dialogue pitched in a heroic key. While the clear-throated cast can handle the musical notes with aplomb, the play itself seems to find the popular resonances its going for just out of range. (Avila)
Social Security Muriel Watkin Gallery, 1050 Crespi Drive, Pacifica; (650) 359-8002. $10-25. Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm; Sun/24, 2pm. Pacifica Spindrift Players performs Andrew Bergman's classic comedy.
strangers, babies Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-30. Wed/30-Thu/21, 7pm; Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm; Sun/24, 2pm. Shotgun Players' strong local premiere of strangers, babies is certainly among the most worthwhile theater productions in the Bay Area at the moment. It's also the Bay Area's second look at the work of Scottish playwright Linda McLean, whose 2010 play Any Given Day was one of the best things seen at the Magic Theater last year. Both plays have a decidedly Royal Court flavor (a key London venue in what in the 1990s was called England's In-Your-Face theater movement), a generally hard-edged and penetrating style somewhat underrepresented in theaters in these parts. Among other things it implies a refreshingly elliptical approach to storytelling — on display in strangers, babies — that gives much more rein to an audience's intelligence, curiosity, and imagination than the kind of playwriting that forecloses all of those in an effort to explain absolutely every aspect of a character's motivation and backstory. Instead, we get mystery around the edges, much as in real life, if in a formally heightened way that in the best instances casts a coruscating light on theme without necessarily offering easy, prefab moral answers. The theme here has to do with intimate, foundational violence — with subtle soundings of sex, gender, and the problem of control amid the ultimately feral nature of both parents and children. Well cast and directed with a clean, clear precision by Jon Tracy, strangers, babies unfolds as an intriguing, unsettling series of discrete scenes, duets whose multifaceted emotional anchor is Danielle Levin's seemingly good-natured but progressively complicated and troubled young woman—the play's sole female character, surrounded by a set of male companions, relations, authorities (played by Cole Alexander Smith, Richard Louis James, Tim Redmond, Joe Estlack, and Tim Kniffin) whose domineering tendencies are matched by just perceptible streaks of insecurity and fear. (Avila)
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. $20. This week: "DuoProv Championship," Fri, 8pm, through Nov 29; "Family Drama," Sat, 8pm, through Nov 30.
"Be Bop Baby: A Musical Memoir" Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.zspace.org. Wed/20-Thu/21, 7pm; Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm. $25-75. World premiere by Margo Hall and the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra.
"Best of the 2013 San Francisco Fringe Festival" Exit Studio, 156 Eddy, SF; www.theexit.org. Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm. $15-25. This week: Maria Grazia Affinito's Eating Pasta Off the Floor.
"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.
CounterPULSE 1310 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. This week: Brontez Purnell Dance Company's The Episodes, Fri/22-Sun/24, 8pm, $10-12.
"Cynic Cave" Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; facebook.com/cyniccave. Sat/23, 8 and 10pm. $12. With Ian Karmel and Josef Anolin (early show) and Kelly Anneken (late show), and hosts George Chen and Kevin O' Shea.
"Hysterical Historical San Francisco, Holiday Edition" Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheater.org. Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 29. $30-40. Comic Kurt Weitzman performs.
"Let Us Compare Chronologies" Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama, SF; www.eventbrite.com. Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm. $15-30. New dance works by James Graham and Katharine Hawthorne.
"Mission Position Live" Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.missionpositionlive.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.
"The No Thank You Show" Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; artworkouts.wordpress.com. Tue/26, 8pm. $10-50. Local experimental dancers and performers (Keith Hennessy, Laura Arrington, Monique Jenkinson, and more) present works previously deemed too "impractical, impossible, or inappropriate" to bring to the stage.
"Okeanos Intimate" Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, SF; www.capacitor.org. Thu/21, Nov 30, and Saturdays in Dec, 8pm. $20-30 (free aquarium ticket with show ticket). Extended through Dec 28. Choreographer Jodi Lomask and her company, Capacitor, revive 2012's Okeanos — a cirque-dance piece exploring the wonder and fragility of our innate connection to the world's oceans — in a special "intimate" version designed for the mid-size theater at Pier 39's Aquarium of the Bay. The show, developed in collaboration with scientists and engineers, comes preceded by a short talk by a guest expert — for a recent Saturday performance it was a down-to-earth and truly fascinating local ecological history lesson by the Bay Institute's Marc Holmes. In addition to its Cirque du Soleil-like blend of quasi-representational modern dance and circus acrobatics — powered by a synth-heavy blend of atmospheric pop music — Okeanos makes use of some stunning underwater photography and an intermittent narrative that includes testimonials from the likes of marine biologist and filmmaker Dr. Tierney Thys. The performers, including contortionists, also interact with some original physical properties hanging from the flies — a swirling vortex and a spherical shell — as they wrap and warp their bodies in a kind of metamorphic homage to the capacity and resiliency of evolution, the varied ingenuity of all life forms. If the movement vocabulary can seem limited at times, and too derivative, the show also feels a little cramped on the Aquarium Theater stage, whose proscenium arrangement does the piece few favors aesthetically. Nevertheless, the family-oriented Okeanos Intimate spurs a conversation with the ocean that is nothing if not urgent. (Avila)
Adam Pascal Feinstein's at the Nikko, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.feinsteinssf.com. Sat/23, 7pm. $25-40. The Broadway star (Rent) performs.
"Point Break Live!" DNA Lounge, 373 11th St, SF; www.dnalounge.com. Dec 6 and Jan 3, 7:30 and 11pm. $25-50. Interactive interpretation of Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 classic. (Some tickets include meatball sandwiches!)
"Quality of Movement" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.cubacaribe.org. Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm; Sun/24, 7pm. $25. Ramon Ramos Alayo's Alayo Dance Company premieres a new work.
"Romp at the General's Residence" General's Residence, Fort Mason Center, Franklin at MacArthur, SF; www.levydance.org. Thu/21-Sat/23, 8pm. $30-50. LEVYdance presents a site-specific performance.
"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.
Adventures of a Black Girl: Traveling While Black EastSide Cultural Center, 2277 International, Oakl; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/22-Sat/23, 8pm. $5-15. Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe performs her solo show.
"Frogz" Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Dana, Berk; www.calperformances.org. Sat/23, 2pm; Sun/24, 3pm. $22-52. Imago Theatre presents its trademark work.
"Shift" Mills College, Lisser Theatre, 500 Macarthur, Oakl; www.mills.edu. Thu/21-Fri/22, 1pm (also Fri/22, 8pm). $12-15. Mills Repertory Dance Company performs choreography by Sonya Delwaide, Yukie Fujimoto, and others.
"XXmas: The Christmas Ballet, 2013 Edition" This week: Walnut Creek, Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek; www.smuinballet.org. Fri/22, 8pm; Sat/23, 2pm. $49-65. Smuin Ballet kicks off its annual holiday show, with ballet, tap, and swing among the styles on display. *