Theater Listings: April 16 - 22, 2014
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.
The Provoked Wife Fort Mason Center, Southside Theater, SF; www.generationtheatre.com. $15-35. Opens Thu/17, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through May 4. Generation Theatre performs Sir John Vanbrugh's Restoration comedy.
Sleeping Cutie: A Fractured Fairy Tale Musical Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; sleepingcutiemusical.tix.com. $30-40. Previews Thu/17-Fri/18, 8pm. Opens Sat/19, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Though May 11. Off a Cliff Productions and PlayGround present Diane Sampson and Doug Katsaros' world-premiere musical.
The Letters Harry's UpStage, Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $28-32. Previews Thu/17-Sat/19 and April 23, 8pm; Sun/20, 2pm. Opens April 24, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through May 25. Aurora Theatre Company showcases its new second-stage performance space with John W. Lowell's suspenseful thriller.
Bauer San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. Wed/16-Thu/17, 7pm; Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm (also Sat/19, 3pm). SF Playhouse presents the world premiere of San Francisco playwright Lauren Gunderson's latest, a fictionalized encounter between three real-life characters, at the center of which is Rudolf Bauer (a commanding Ronald Guttman), the early and influential German abstract painter. Bauer was among the artists displayed in Hitler's notorious degenerate art show of 1937, and was incarcerated by the Nazis before managing to emigrate to New York on the eve of World War II with the help of onetime muse and lifelong confidante and (later) antagonist Hilla Rebay (Stacy Ross). Rebay brokered a deal with Solomon Guggenheim to house Bauer's work in its own lavish museum, but Bauer, who married his onetime maid Louise (Susi Damilano) in the meantime, eventually stopped painting altogether in protest against the contract he signed, which relegated all his future output exclusively to Guggenheim. The play takes place in the early 1950s in Bauer's New Jersey studio, where Louise has cunningly arranged a meeting between her dying husband and his estranged partner Hilla, with hopes a reconciliation can get him painting again and heal old wounds. Needless to say, things don't go exactly as hoped as sparks fly and old grudges resound, amid a general argument about the commodification of art and accommodations to power. Director Bill English gets sure performances from his cast, with the best scenes (also the best written) being those between Guttman, looking a little like a late-middle-period Peter O'Toole in dignified bohemian attire and long hair, and Ross, channeling a savvy and proud matron with just the hint of a broken heart. But as a play, Bauer recalls the Rothko bio-drama Red of a few years ago, another neat and tidy melodrama — which in this case (as in Red) is less like art, let alone life, than the subject would seem to warrant. (Avila)
E-i-E-i-OY! In Bed with the Farmer's Daughter NOHSpace, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.vivienstraus.com. $20. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through May 10. Vivien Straus performs her autobiographical solo show.
Every Five Minutes Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.magictheatre.org. $20-60. Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm; Sun/20, 2:30pm. Scottish playwright Linda McLean has had a couple of successful productions in the Bay Area of late. The most recent was Shotgun Players' staging of strangers, babies. Before that, Magic Theater introduced her to Bay Area audiences with another satisfyingly compact, mysterious little drama called Any Given Day. Both plays had a strong "Royal Court" feel — those tight, clever, harrowing plays written in a clipped, poetical-vernacular that reveal the dreadful or uncanny amid the mundane. Older practitioners like Caryl Churchill or Harold Pinter certainly come to mind, but they are reminiscent too of the 1990s In-Your-Face genre of contemporary British playwriting. Magic now offers a world premiere by McLean, Every Five Minutes, helmed by artistic director Loretta Greco, but this rather tortured drama about a (literally) tortured man (Rod Gnapp) with PTSD reuniting with his family and friends falls considerably short of the other two works. Hopping manically from one point in time to another, and sometimes overlapping more than one moment, the story unfolds as an awkward dinner party between Mo (Gnapp), wife Sara (Mia Tagano), and friends Ben (Sean San José) and Rachel (Carrie Paff). Still deeply traumatized and generally bemused, Mo's delusions and fantasies quickly take over the stage (augmented by Hana S. Kim's elaborate video design projected across a large concave back wall), including a couple of menacing clowns, Bozo (Patrick Alparone) and Harpo (Jomar Tagatac), who clearly represent his former captors. Memories of Ben and Rachel's baby girl, Molly (Shawna Michelle James), emerge as the lifeline that kept Mo together while away, a vision of absolute beauty and innocence that must be reconciled with the grown up teen at some point. Other than that, not much happens beyond awkward social moments, violent fits of memory, and the surreal landscape of an addled and troubled mind — until, that is, an understated resolution in the retreat into daily frivolities that doesn't quite feel authentic. (Avila)
Feisty Old Jew Marsh San Francisco Main Stage, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-100. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Extended through May 4. Charlie Varon performs his latest solo show, a fictional comedy about "a 20th century man living in a 21st century city."
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.
Painting the Clouds With Sunshine Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndStMoon.org. $25-75. Wed/16-Thu/17, 7pm; Fri/18, 8pm; Sat/19, 6pm; Sun/20, 3pm. Through April 20. 42nd Street Moon performs a world premiere, a first for the company: Greg MacKellan and Mark D. Kaufmann's tribute to songs from 1930s movie musicals.
Pearls Over Shanghai Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-35. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through May 31. Five years ago, Thrillpeddlers breathed new life into a glitter-dusted piece of Sixties flotsam, beautifully reimagining the Cockettes' raunchy mock-operetta Pearls Over Shanghai (in collaboration with several surviving members of San Francisco's storied acid-drag troupe) and running it for a whopping 22 months. Written by Cockette Link Martin as a carefree interpretation of a 1926 Broadway play, the baldly stereotyped Shanghai Gesture, it was the perfectly lurid vehicle for irreverence in all directions. It's back in this revival, once again helmed by artistic director Russell Blackwood with musical direction by Cockette and local favorite Scrumbly Koldewyn. But despite the frisson of featuring some original-original cast members—including "Sweet Pam" Tent (who with Koldewyn also contributes some new dialogue) and Rumi Missabu (regally reprising the role of Madam Gin Sling) — there's less fire the second time around as the production straddles the line between carefully slick and appropriately sloppy. Nevertheless, there are some fine musical numbers and moments throughout. Among these, Zelda Koznofsky, Birdie-Bob Watt, and Jesse Cortez consistently hit high notes as the singing Andrews Sisters-like trio of Americans thrown into white slavery; Bonni Suval's Lottie Wu is a fierce vixen; and Noah Haydon (as the sultry Petrushka) is a class act. Koldewyn's musical direction and piano accompaniment, meanwhile, provide strong and sure momentum as well as exquisite atmosphere. (Avila)
The Scion Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-60. Thu/17-Fri/18, 8pm. In his latest solo show, Brian Copeland (Not a Genuine Black Man; The Waiting Period) explores an infamous crime in his hometown of San Leandro: the 2000 murder of three government meat inspectors by Stuart Alexander, owner of the Santos Linguisa Factory. The story is personal history for Copeland, at least indirectly, as the successful comedian and TV host recounts growing up nearby under the common stricture that "rules are rules," despite evidence all around that equity, fairness, and justice are in fact deeply skewed by privilege. Developed with director David Ford, the multiple-character monologue (delivered with fitful humor on a bare-bones stage with supportive sound design by David Hines) contrasts Copeland's own youthful experiences as a target of racial profiling with the way wealthy and white neighbor Stuart Alexander, a serial bully and thug, consistently evaded punishment and even police attention along his path to becoming the "Sausage King," a mayoral candidate, and a multiple murderer (Alexander died in 2005 at San Quentin). The story takes some meandering turns in making its points, and not all of Copeland's characterizations are equally compelling. The subject matter is timely enough, however, though ironically it is government that seems to set itself further than ever above the law as much as wealthy individuals or the bogus "legal persons" of the corporate world. The results of such concentrated power are indeed unhealthy, and literally so — Copeland's grandmother (one of his more persuasive characterizations) harbors a deep distrust of processed food that is nothing if not prescient — but The Scion's tale of two San Leandrans leaves one hungry for more complexity. (Avila)
Shit & Champagne Rebel, 1772 Market, SF; shitandchampagne.eventbrite.com. $25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. D'Arcy Drollinger is Champagne White, bodacious blond innocent with a wicked left hook in this cross-dressing '70s-style white-sploitation flick, played out live on Rebel's intimate but action-packed barroom stage. Written by Drollinger and co-directed with Laurie Bushman (with high-flying choreography by John Paolillo, Drollinger, and Matthew Martin), this high-octane camp send-up of a favored formula comes dependably stocked with stock characters and delightfully protracted by a convoluted plot (involving, among other things, a certain street drug that's triggered an epidemic of poopy pants) — all of it played to the hilt by an excellent cast that includes Martin as Dixie Stampede, an evil corporate dominatrix at the head of some sinister front for world domination called Mal*Wart; Alex Brown as Detective Jack Hammer, rough-hewn cop on the case and ambivalent love interest; Rotimi Agbabiaka as Sergio, gay Puerto Rican impresario and confidante; Steven Lemay as Brandy, high-end calf model and Champagne's (much) beloved roommate; and Nancy French as Rod, Champagne's doomed fiancé. Sprawling often literally across two buxom acts, the show maintains admirable consistency: The energy never flags and the brow stays decidedly low. (Avila)
The Speakeasy Undisclosed location (ticket buyers receive a text with directions), SF; www.thespeakeasysf.com. $70 (gambling chips, $5-10 extra; after-hours admission, $10). Thu-Sat, 7:40, 7:50, and 8pm admittance times. Extended through May 24. Boxcar Theater's most ambitious project to date is also one of the more involved and impressively orchestrated theatrical experiences on any Bay Area stage just now. An immersive time-tripping environmental work, The Speakeasy takes place in an "undisclosed location" (in fact, a wonderfully redesigned version of the company's Hyde Street theater complex) amid a period-specific cocktail lounge, cabaret, and gambling den inhabited by dozens of Prohibition-era characters and scenarios that unfold around an audience ultimately invited to wander around at will. At one level, this is an invitation to pure dress-up social entertainment. But there are artistic aims here too. Intentionally designed (by co-director and creator Nick A. Olivero with co-director Peter Ruocco) as a fractured super-narrative — in which audiences perceive snatches of overheard stories rather than complete arcs, and can follow those of their own choosing — there's a way the piece becomes specifically and ever more subtly about time itself. This is most pointedly demonstrated in the opening vignettes in the cocktail lounge, where even the ticking of Joe's Clock Shop (the "cover" storefront for the illicit 1920s den inside) can be heard underscoring conversations (deeply ironic in historical hindsight) about war, loss, and regained hope for the future. For a San Francisco currently gripped by a kind of historical double-recurrence of the roaring Twenties and dire Thirties at once, The Speakeasy is not a bad place to sit and ponder the simulacra of our elusive moment. (Avila)
"Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays" New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 27. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs short plays about marriage equality by Mo Gaffney, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod, Paul Rudnick, and others.
Tipped & Tipsy Marsh Studio Theater, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Sat, 5pm; Sun, 7pm. Extended through May 17. Last fall's San Francisco Fringe Festival began on a high note with Jill Vice's witty and deft solo, Tipped & Tipsy, and the Best of Fringe winner is now enjoying another round at solo theater outpost the Marsh. Without set or costume changes, Vice (who developed the piece with Dave Dennison and David Ford) brings the querulous regulars of a skid-row bar to life both vividly and with real quasi–Depression-Era charm. She's a protean physical performer, seamlessly inhabiting the series of oddball outcasts lined up each day at Happy's before bartender Candy — two names as loaded as the clientele. After some hilarious expert summarizing of the do's and don'ts of bar culture, a story unfolds around a battered former boxer and his avuncular relationship with Candy, who tries to cut him off in light of his clearly deteriorating health. Her stance causes much consternation, and even fear, in his barfly associates, while provoking a dangerous showdown with the bar's self-aggrandizing sleaze-ball owner, Rico. With a love of the underdog and strong writing and acting at its core, Tipsy breezes by, leaving a superlative buzz. (Avila)
The World's Funniest Bubble Show Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $8-11. Sun, 11am. Extended through May 25. The popular, kid-friendly show by Louis Pearl (aka "The Amazing Bubble Man") returns to the Marsh.
Accidental Death of an Anarchist Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-99. Thu/17 and Sat/19, 2 and 8pm; Sun/20, 2 and 7pm. Berkeley Rep presents comic actor Steven Epp in Dario Fo's explosive political farce, directed by Christopher Bayes.
The Coast of Utopia Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-35 (three-show marathon days, $100-125). Part One: Voyage runs through Thu/17; Part Two: Shipwreck runs through Sat/19; Part Three: Salvage runs through April 27. Three-play marathon April 26. Through April 27. Check website for showtime info. Shotgun Players performs Tom Stoppard's epic The Coast of Utopia trilogy, with all three plays performed in repertory.
East 14th Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through April 26. Don Reed's hit autobiographical solo show returns to the Marsh Berkeley.
Fences Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $37-58. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/19, May 3, and May 10, 2pm; April 24, 1pm); Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through May 11. Marin Theatre Company performs August Wilson's Pulitzer- and Tony-winning drama, with an all-star cast of Bay Area talent: Carl Lumbly, Steven Anthony Jones, and Margo Hall.
Geezer Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Thu, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through April 26. Geoff Hoyle moves his hit comedy about aging to the East Bay.
The Hound of the Baskervilles Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, SF; www.theatreworks.org. $19-73. Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through April 27. TheatreWorks performs Stephen Canny and John Nicholson's comedic send-up of Sherlock Holmes.
Johnny Guitar, the Musical Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond; www.masquers.org. $22. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through April 26. Masquers Playhouse performs the off-Broadway hit based on the campy Joan Crawford Western.
Sleuth Center REPertory Company, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek; www.centerrep.org. $33-54. Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also April 26, 2:30pm); Sun, 2:30pm. Through April 26. Center REPertory Company performs Anthony Shaffer's classic, Tony-winning thriller.
Smash Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway, Redwood City; www.dragonproductions.net. $30. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through May 4. Dragon Theatre performs Jeffrey Hatcher's political comedy.
Tribes Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-99. Opens Wed/16, 8pm. Runs Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm; no 2pm show May 18). Through May 18. Berkeley Rep performs Nina Raine's family drama about a young deaf man who comes of age.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $18-60. Fri, April 24, and May 1, 7pm; Sat, 1 and 6pm; Sun, noon and 5pm. Through May 4. Berkeley Playhouse performs the Tony-winning musical comedy.
Vampire Lesbians of Sodom and Sleeping Beauty or Coma Live Oaks Theater, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; www.viragotheatre.org. $28. Thu/17-Sat/19, 8pm. Virago Theatre Company performs Charles Busch's outrageous double bill.
Wittenberg Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through May 4. Aurora Theatre Company performs David Davalos' comedy about reason versus faith.
"Bad Girlz of Comedy" Club OMG, 43 Sixth St, SF; facebook.com/hellagaycomedyshow. Fri/18, 8pm. $10. Hella Gay Comedy presents Pearl Louise, Emily Epstein White, Clara Bijl, Allison Mick, and others.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "Super Scene," Fri, 8pm. Through April 25. "Spring Musical," Sat, 8pm. Through April 26.
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sat/19, April 30, May 4, 10-11, 17, and 25, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
"Comedy Returns to El Rio" El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; www.elriosf.com. Thu/17, 8pm. $7-20. With Shazia Mirza, Carla Clayy, Victor Escobedo, Belo Cipriani, and Lisa Geduldig.
"The Comikaze Lounge" Café Royale, 800 Post, SF; www.stefanisilvermancomedy.com. Wed/16, 8pm. Free. With Trevor Hill, Kate Willett, Stefani Silverman, Dan Mires, and others.
"An Evening with Bob Saget" Kanbar Hall, JCCSF, 3200 California, SF; www.jccsf.org. Fri/18, 7pm. $30-45. The comedian and sitcom star performs.
Feinstein's at the Nikko 222 Mason, SF; www.feinsteinssf.com. This week: "Sierra Boggess: Awakening," Thu/17-Fri/18, 8pm; Sat/19, 7pm, $40-55.
"foolsFURY: Factory Parts III" ACT's Costume Shop, 1119 Market, SF; www.foolsfury.org. Thu/17-Sat/19, 8pm; Sun/20, 7pm. $15 (two-night pass, $20). New works in progress by cutting-edge theater ensembles.
"Joshua Light Show with Moon Duo" Exploratorium, Pier 15/17, SF; www.exploratorium.edu. Thu/17, 7pm. $10-15. Site-specific performance with live music.
"Liberating Legacies" San Francisco Public Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin, SF; facebook.com/ORProductions. Sun/20, 2-4pm. Free. Queer Rebels presents this showcase of music and performance work by queer and trans people of color.
"Magic at the Rex" Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter, SF; www.magicattherex.com. Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $25. Magic and mystery with Adam Sachs and mentalist Sebastian Boswell III.
"Max and Nicky 2" Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; maxandnicky2.bpt.me. Sat/19, 8pm. $10-20. A musical and comedy variety show with Max and Nicky Weinbach.
"ODC presents SCUBA" ODC Dance Commons Studio B, 351 Shotwell, SF; www.odctheater.org. Sat/19-Sun/20, 8pm. $20. The national touring network for dance returns for a local show. Performers include Nichole Canuso, Elia Mrak, SuperGroup, and NAKA Dance Theater.
"Orquesta Aragón: A Cuban Musical Celebration" McKenna Hall, SF State University, 1600 Holloway, SF; www.sfiaf.org. Sun/20, 6pm. $40-60. The legendary Cuban music ensemble performs, with the Afro-Cuban Ensemble of SFSU and the City College of San Francisco Charanga Orchestra.
"RAWdance presents the CONCEPT Series: 15" Joe Goode Annex, 401 Alabama, SF; www.rawdance.org. Fri/18-Sat/19, 8pm (also Sat/19, 3pm). Pay what you can. Intimate salon of contemporary dance with Jo Kreiter's Flyaway Productions, Risa Jaroslaw, Erin Wagner/Crawl Space, and others.
"San Francisco Comedy College" Purple Onion at Kells, 530 Jackson, SF; www.purpleonionatkells.com. $5-10. "New Talent Show," Wed-Thu, 7. Ongoing. "The Cellar Dwellers," stand-up comedy, Wed-Thu, 8:15pm and Fri-Sat, 7:30pm. Ongoing.
"Smoke" Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheater.org. Fri/18-Sat/19 and April 25-26, 8pm. $38. Lori Rivera performs Joe Ortiz's solo cabaret show about two different women.
"Speechless" Public Works, 161 Erie, SF; www.speechlesslive.com. Thu/17, 7:30pm. $20. Improvised PowerPoint presentations equal laughs at this ongoing performance series.
Terminator Too: Judgment Play DNA Lounge, 373 11th St, SF; www.dnalounge.com. May 1, 9pm. $25-50. The creators of Point Break Live! take on James Cameron's 1991 sci-fi classic, with an audience member picked on the night of the show to embody Schwarzenegger's iconic role.
"CubaCaribe Festival of Dance and Music" Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon, Oakl; www.brownpapertickets.com. Thu/17-Sat/19, 8pm. $27. "Week Two: Alayo, Aguas, and Arenas" with Alayo Dance Company, Aguas da Bahia, and Arenas Dance Company.
"MarshJam Improv Comedy Show" Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. Fri, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Improv comedy with local legends and drop-in guests.
"The Vagina Monologues Oakland" Uptown, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl; tvmoakland.bpt.me. Wed/16-Thu/17, 8pm. $10-25. Proceeds from this production of Eve Ensler's play benefit the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. *