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. For further information on how to submit items for the listings, see Picks.
Brian Copeland’s The Jewelry Box … A Genuine Christmas Story Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Opens Fri/14, 8pm. Runs Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Dec 29. Copeland remembers his Oakland childhood in this family-friendly holiday show.
Crones for the Holidays Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.crackpotcrones.com. $20. Opens Sat/15, 3pm. Runs Sat, 3 and 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 30. Terry Baum and Carolyn Myers (a.k.a. the Crackpot Crones) perform their new sketch comedy and improv show.
Scrooge: The Haunting of Ebenezer Boxcar Theatre Studios, 125A Hyde, SF; www.boxcartheatre.org. $16. Opens Wed/12, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Dec 24 and 30, 5pm. Through Dec 30. Jeff Garrett stars in a solo take on the Dickens classic, presented by Boxcar Theatre.
Big Bubbly Holiday Spectacle with Louis Pearl, the Amazing Bubble Man Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun and Dec 26-29, 11am. Through Jan 6. Holiday-themed, kid-friendly show with bubble whisperer Louis Pearl.
Wavy Gravy and His Guided Mistletoes Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Opens Thu/13, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 23. The activist legend shares stories and holiday cheer.
A Christmas Carol Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-95. Tue-Sat, 7pm (no evening performance Tue/18; also 2pm matinees Wed/12, Sat/15, and Dec 21 and 22; Sun, 5:30pm (also 1pm matinees Sun/16 and Dec 23); Dec 24, 1pm. Through Dec 24. American Conservatory Theater’s annual holiday performance features James Carpenter as Scrooge.
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.
Forking II: A Merry Forking! Christmas TJT, 460 Florida, SF; www.pianofight.com. $30. Thu-Sun, 8pm. Through Dec 30. PianoFight presents the return of playwright Daniel Heath’s 2011 holiday-themed Forking play, his brand for a play that allows audiences to vote by applause on the direction of the plot at certain junctures, or forks, in the narrative. In this forked-up Christmas tale, set in a busy mall on Christmas Eve, a dispirited underemployed Santa and his pot-dealing bakery-store roommate help to galvanize a group of characters who become entangled in a web of shopping, romance, and space cookies. There are weaker moments and some throwaway ideas, but not many: this is a solid comedic outing, whose 10-member cast (including a memorable cameo by PianoFight cofounder Rob Ready) is capable, versatile, and fun as they serve Heath’s witty, well-proportioned script. (Avila)
The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, SF; www.trannyshack.com. $30. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 30. The Victoria is once again a time capsule taking appreciate audiences back to the 1980s, to watch television through the magic of drag performance. Local luminaries Pollo Del Mar, Cookie Dough, Heklina, and Matthew Martin reprise their seasonal roles as TV’s Golden Girls, in back-to-back Christmas episodes that come complete with a soundscape of impossibly cheerful period commercials literally singing the praises of "processed cheese spread" and the like. In the first episode, "Scared Straight," Blanche (played by Martin, a swaggering hip-notizer of the first order) discovers her little brother (a lively Manuel Caneri) is gay, with much drama ensuing, at least until the last commercial break. Meanwhile, Dorothy’s (Heklina) mother, Sophia (Cookie Dough), prepares for imminent death as foretold by a dream featuring her late husband. In episode two, "Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas," the girls’ plans to spend the holiday with their families gets derailed when a lonely gunman (Laurie Bushman) enters the crisis center where Rose (Del Mar) works, holding everyone hostage. But Christmas together kind of works too, even if it’s not exactly Family Ties. (Avila)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF; www.boxcartheatre.org. $25-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 5pm). Through Jan 26. Boxcar’s popular production of John Cameron Mitchell’s glam-rock musical returns, starring a rotating cast of Hedwigs.
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 Marvelous Wonderettes New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $27-46. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm (no show Dec 23). Through Jan 13. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Roger Bean’s 1950s pop-hit musical.
"A Minor Cycle: Five Little Plays in One Starry Night" NOHspace, Project Artaud, 2840 Mariposa, SF; www.theatreofyugen.org. $10-30. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 1pm. Through Dec 30. Theatre of Yugen presents the world premiere of five one-act plays based on tales of childhood, interpreted though traditional Japanese artistry.
The New California Traveling Jewish Theater, 470 Florida, SF; www.pianofight.com. $20-25. Wed, 8pm. Through Dec 19. PianoFight’s all-female ForePlays troupe offers this bleak take on the future of the state, after the Big One shears California off from the mainland and everyone begins "drifting away from the rest of the United States." You wouldn’t know it by the dispiritingly pedestrian humor on display in this series of mostly feeble sketches (written by Kate Jones, Jessica Mele, Rachel Rockwood, Emma Shelton, Meredith Terry, and Sarah Wright), which tend to cling to the worst tendencies in the culture with a complacency masquerading as satire. Also on the bill is stand-up comedian Clare O’Kane, who’s something of a relief; and comic musician Lady Blanche, with interludes of a forgettable nature. (Avila)
Open Shotwell Studios, 3252 19th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. $20. Fri/14-Sat/15 and Mon/17, 8pm. A title like this can mean so many things at least everywhere else. In San Francisco, it pretty much says polyamorous relationship. Whether that translates into the height of maturity, an escape from bourgeois convention, or the folly of bored hedonists is no doubt case specific. But anything this popular is already suspect to some, including apparently the creators of this sharp, sexy, consistently amusing new comedy, written and directed by San Franciscobased Jeff Bedillion (Country Club Catastrophe) and co-presented by Back Alley Theater and Footloose. The Hunstvilles, Veronica (Katherine Otis) and Duncan (Brian Cybok), are local thirtysomething professionals with a comfortable nest shared with Veronica’s live-in executive assistant (Julia Lienke) who agree to spice up their sex life after five years of marriage by allowing each other one-night stands with anonymous strangers. Duncan’s tastes lend themselves to adopting Marin skater kids (Salvadore Mattos) as house slaves, while Veronica, with a little help from gay associate Francisco (Renato Robles), finds herself small-ponding it, meeting straight guys (Luke Wold) in gay bars. A promiscuous love letter to San Francisco, Open comes filled with self-referential humor and winking asides, but the charm is in the raunchy "I Love Lucy, Among Others" sit-com spirit of the piece and the charming cast, headed up by Otis’s powerhouse comedic performance ribald, sultry, and vulnerable practically at once (even in the midst of one of the more credible and hilarious drunk scenes you’ll see on any stage this year). (Avila)
Pal Joey Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.42ndstreetmoon.org. $25-75. Wed/12, 7pm; Thu/13-Fri/14, 8pm; Sat/15, 6pm; Sun/16, 3pm. 42nd Street Moon performs the Rodgers and Hart classic.
The Rainmaker Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheater.org. $38. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 22. Shelton Theatre performs N. Richard Nash’s classic drama.
"The San Francisco Olympians Festival" Exit Theater, 156 Eddy, SF; www.sfolympians.com. $10. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm). Through Dec 20. This 12-night festival features brand-new plays by Bay Area writers, each based on one of the 12 Olympian gods of ancient Greece.
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/12-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 2pm. 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.
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.
Big River TheatreWorks, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; www.theatreworks.org. $23-73. 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. Thu/13 and Sat/15-Sun/16, 8pm; Fri/14, 9pm. Inferno Theatre Company performs Giulio Cesare Perrone’s adaptation of the Bram Stoker classic.
It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; www.marintheatre.org. $36-57. Wed/12, 7:30pm; Thu/13-Sat/15, 8pm (also Sat/15, 2pm); Sun/16, 2 and 7pm. 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/15, 8:30pm; Sun/16, 7pm. 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 White Snake Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-99. Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat and Thu/13, 2pm); 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)
Woyzeck Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $23-35. 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.
"Abigail the Rock Opera" DanzHaus – Gingerbread House, 1275 Connecticut, SF; www.abigailtherockopera.com. Sat/15, 8pm. $15. Skycastle/Buzz Productions’ original rock opera about the Salem witch trials.
"The Bald Soprano" Dark Room, 2263 Mission, SF; firstname.lastname@example.org. Thu/13 and Dec 20-22, 8pm; Fri/14-Sat/15, 10pm. $5-12. Theatre of the absurd by way of Ionesco.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "Theatresports," Fri, 8pm, through Dec 21.
"Charles Phoenix Retro Holiday Show" Empress of China Ballroom, 838 Grant, SF; www.charlesphoenix.com. Wed/12, 8pm. $25. The retro pop-culture humorist shows slides and chats about the holidays.
"Cynic Cave" Cinecave (beneath Lost Weekend Video), 1034 Valencia, SF; facebook.com/cyniccave. $10. "Fresh Like Cadaver," stand-up comedy followed by a cult movie screening, Fri/14, 8pm. "Cynic Cave," stand-up with Red Scott, Leslie Small, Clare O’Kane, and more, Sat/15, 8pm.
"Diez Por Arriba" ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; www.odctheater.org. Wed/12-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 3pm. $20-40. Yaelisa y Caminos Flamencos perform.
"D.R.U.N.K.S." Garage, 715 Bryant, SF; www.715bryant.org. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm. $10-20. BodiGram performs a dance-theater show (full title: "Dangerous Rebels Uncovering Nonsensical Knowledge Satirically.")
Lily Cai Dance Company Lily Cai Dance Studio, 301 Eighth St, SF; www.lilycaidance.org. Thu/13-Sat/15, 8pm; Sun/16, 3:30pm. $15. The Chinese modern dance company performs Dynasties Revisited and other works.
"Miracle at the Gas ‘N’ Gulp: A Fuelside Yuletide with Cora Values" StageWerx, 446 Valencia, SF; foulplaysf.com/cora. Dec 18-19, 8pm. $20. Songs and comedy with Cora Values.
"Nightcap: ODC Pilot Program #61" ODC Dance Commons, Studio B, 351 Shotwell, SF; www.odctheater.org. Sat/15-Sun/16, 8pm. $12. New dances by Jenni Bregman, David Schleiffers, Katharine Hawthorne, and more.
Paula Poundstone Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon, SF; www.palaceoffinearts.org. Sat/15, 8pm. $37.90. The comedian performs.
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.
"San Francisco One-Minute Play Festival" Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.playwrightsfoundation.org. Sat/15-Sun/16, 8pm (also Sun/16, 3pm). $25. Micro plays by 40 Bay Area playwrights.
"American Fad" Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St, Oakl; www.magicjestertheater.com. Fri/14-Sat/15, 8pm. $10-15. "An absurdist romp through the American dream," in sketch comedy form, with Magic Jester Theater.
"A Down Home Christmas With Nell and Jim" Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. Thu/13-Sat/15, Mon/17, and Dec 19-21, 7:30pm; Sun/16, 5pm. $28. Cabaret-style bluegrass concert featuring holiday tunes.
"The Marsh’s Second Annual Performance Holiday Bash" Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. Sat/15, 8pm. $20-50. Storytelling and holiday fun (and cookies!) with Marsh performers. Bring a gift to donate to families at domestic violence shelter La Casa.