Theater Listings: November 27 - December 3, 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.
Snoopy!!! Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndstmoon.org. $25-75. Previews Wed/27, 7pm and Fri/29, 2 and 8pm. Opens Sat/30, 6pm. Runs Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm (family/student matinee Dec 7, 1pm); Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 15. 42nd Street Moon performs the sequel to You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
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 its 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. Wed-Sat, 8pm (no show Thu/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 Wed/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 Thu/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 Thu/28 or Dec 4-5); Fri-Sat, 8pm (additional shows Sat/30 and Dec 7, 3pm). 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.
The Oy of Sex Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $20-100. Thu-Fri, 8pm (no show Thu/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.
Peter and the Starcatcher Curran Theatre, 445 Geary, SF; www.shnsf.com. $40-160. Wed/27 and Fri/29-Sat/30, 8pm (also Wed/27 and Sat/30, 2pm); Sun/1, 2pm. Fanciful, Tony-winning prequel to Peter Pan.
Peter/Wendy Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough, SF; www.custommade.org. $15-33. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 15. J.M. Barrie's familiar and much-revisited children's story, about a boy who refuses to grow up, has always had its darker aspects, including the violent streak in its hero, forever-child Peter (Sam Bertken). Unfortunately, any underlying social or psychological complexity in the story — originally published in 1902 in The Little White Bird — is of no consequence in adapter-director Jeremy Bloom's relentlessly cheerful and quickly monotonous retelling. The production, which narrates and acts out the story in somewhat condensed form, says it's designed for adults of all ages and children over 12, but it seems pitched to an audience much younger still. Custom Made Theater's lackluster staging does little to make the time go faster. There's a mischievous energy in Bertken's Peter and a bright intelligence in Anya Kazimierski's Tinker Bell that together produce the play's only emotional heat, but it's fleeting. As Wendy, Elissa Beth Stebbins is generally solid but too mild to elicit much sympathy for her unrequited affections for Peter. Clad exclusively in striped jammies, the uneven ensemble (which also includes Terry Bamberger, Jessica Rudholm, Kim Saunders, and Jeunee Simon in multiple roles) rarely encourages focus on the finer points of character and plot, which anyway come with a soporific dose of trifling detail amid generally awkward physical choreography. Indeed, any "happy thoughts" one walks in with would risk vanishing entirely, were it not that the cast harvests them immediately and writes them down for future reference on the stage floor. (Avila)
Urge For Going Z Below, 470 Florida, SF; www.goldenthread.org. $10-45. Thu-Sat, 8pm (no show Thu/28); Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 8. Jamila (Camila Betancourt Ascencio) is a bright student desperate to pass her college entrance examination — an unexceptional proposition in many places, but Jamila is a Palestinian raised in a Lebanese refugee camp. For her, even the right to take such an exam is in no way guaranteed and must be fought for. That Jamila's struggles don't end at the front door of her crowded home provides the basis for the drama in Mona Mansour's 2011 play, Urge for Going, now receiving an uneven but sometimes moving West Coast premiere from Golden Thread (which last year produced The Letter, a short play co-written by Mansour, as part of its ReOrient Festival). Amid the makeshift walls, mismatched furniture, and exposed wiring of Kate Boyd's evocative scenic design, Jamila lives with her austere father (Terry Lamb), a onetime literature scholar with a passion for Wordsworth; her supportive mother (Tara Blau); her father's effusive loose-canon of a brother (Julian Lopez-Morillas); her mother's brother (Munaf Alsafi); and her own big-hearted but haunted older brother (Wiley Naman Strasser), a once brilliant math student who suffered brain damage at the hands of a Lebanese soldier. But front and center is her father, whose barely cloaked disappointment and despair turn to recalcitrance and outright antagonism in the face of Jamila's too-pointed desire to flee this hobbled world of exile for a wider world of possibilities. Directed by Evren Odcikin, the play's sentimental naturalism (broken through at times by didactic direct address to the audience by the entire cast) makes what follows both too predictable and somewhat artificial. At the same time, Mansour carefully and revealingly couches her story in the political and existential limbo of multiple generations of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, deprived for over half a century of basic rights amid cramped poverty and deprivation. (Avila)
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)
The Dining Room Piedmont Center for the Arts, 801 Magnolia, Piedmont; www.piedmontcenterforthearts.org. $25. Fri/29-Sat/30, 8pm; Sun/1, 7pm. Piedmont Avenue Repertory Theatre performs A.R. Gurney's family dramedy, which features six actors playing 57 parts.
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 (Thu/28, shows at 1 and 6pm); Sat, 1 and 6pm; Sun, noon and 5pm (no 5pm show Sun/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.
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 Thu/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.
Troilus and Cressida La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-25. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 15. One of Shakespeare's more difficult and under-produced plays, Troilus and Cressida does wax in popularity during protracted times of war, so it's about the right time for Impact Theatre to tackle it. Set during the seventh year of the Trojan War, the players are all either soldiers or spoils of war, and both morale and morals are at a low ebb. So-called heroes hide in their tents, the fair Helen (Julie Kuwabara) is a callow bawd, and everyone just wants the war to be over. Troilus (Eric Kerr), a Trojan, and Cressida (Sarah Coykendall), a Greek, meet-cute thanks to the machinations of the flamboyant Pandarus (Shawn J. West), only to be quickly separated by circumstances beyond their control, and thrust abruptly to the sidelines of their own tragedy, their eventual betrayal of each other lost within the greater treacheries of the battlefield. It's a problematic script, not least of all because the only truly moral character is the very innocent, very mad Cassandra (Akemi Okamura), whose prophecies are written off as mere ravings, subtly mirrored by the nihilistic fool, Thersites (Miyaka Cochrane), who delivers his frontline ravings as prophecies. Director Melissa Hillman makes some bold choices, however, including casting Lauren Spencer as the level-headed Ulysses, and father-son team Jon Nagel and Jonah McClellan as Aeneas and Antenor, turning the walk-on role of a pawn into a tragic symbol of war's all too-human cost. (Gluckstern)
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. $20. This week: "DuoProv Championship," Fri/29, 8pm; "Family Drama," Sat/30, 8pm.
"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.
"Buddy Club Children's Shows" Randall Museum Theater, 199 Museum Wy, SF; www.thebuddyclub.com. Sun, 11am-noon. $8. Sun/1: Comedy improv with Kenn Adams Adventure Theater; Dec 8: "The Bubble Lady!"
"Cynic Cave" Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; facebook.com/cyniccave. $10-12. This week: Dave Thomason, Emily Maya Mills, Sean Keane, Christian Duguay, and more, Fri, 8 and 10pm; Emily Heller and Jules Posner, Sat, 8 and 10pm.
"Fiesta Navidena" Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sun/1, Dec 7, 15, 21-22, and 27-28, 6:15pm. $15-21. Carolina Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Ballet Flamenco performs a holiday show.
"Guardianas de la Vida" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.dancemission.com. Sat/30, healing session 6pm; performance, 7pm. $15. Music, flamenco dance, and poetry performance in honor of San Francisco's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls.
"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.
"Misery Index" Rite Spot, 2099 Folsom, SF; www.miseryindexcomedy.com. Mon, 8pm. Free. "Maladjusted mirth making" with comedians Matt Gubser, Natasha Muse, Ivan Hernandez, and others.
"The News: Fresh Queer Performance" SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, SF; somarts.org/thenews. Tue/3, 7:30-9pm. $5. Fresh queer performances by Bay Area artists.
"Okeanos Intimate" Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, SF; www.capacitor.org. Sat, 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)
"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!)
"The Romane Event Comedy Show" Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St, SF; www.pacoromane.com. Wed/27, 8-10pm. $10. Paco Romane hosts performances by Johnny Taylor, Mary-Alice McNab, Chris Riggins, and more.
"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.
"So You Think You Can Dance" Warfield, 982 Market, SF; fox.com/dance. Sat/30, 8pm. $52-68. Dancers from the Emmy-winning dance competition show perform.
"The Velveteen Rabbit" Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Lam Research Theater, 700 Howard, SF; www.odcdance.org. Fri/29-Sun/1 and Dec 8 and 15, 2pm; Dec 5-6 and 12-13, 11am; Dec 7 and 15, 1 and 4pm. $20-75. ODC/Dance performs its popular holiday show, directed with fresh perspective this year by ODC founder Brenda Way.
"XXmas: The Christmas Ballet, 2013 Edition" This week: Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St, Livermore; www.smuinballet.org. Fri/29-Sat/30, 7:30pm (also Sat/30, 2pm). $40-60. Also Dec 11-14, 8pm (also Dec 14, 2pm); Dec 15, 2pm, $49-65, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; and Dec 18-28, $24-64, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Lam Research Theater, 700 Howard, SF. Smuin Ballet's annual holiday show boasts festive ballet, tap, and swing-dance numbers. *