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.
The Santaland Diaries Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.combinedartform.com. $20-50. Opens Wed/19, 8pm. Runs Thu/20-Sun/23 and Dec 26-29, 8pm (also Sat/22-Sun/23, 3pm); Mon/24, 3pm. Through Dec 29. David Sinaiko performs David Sedaris’ holiday comedy, presented by Combined Artform.
Brian Copeland’s The Jewelry Box … A Genuine Christmas Story Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Dec 29. Copeland remembers his Oakland childhood in this family-friendly holiday show.
A Christmas Carol Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-95. Wed/19-Sat/22, 7pm (also Fri/21-Sat/22, 2pm); Sun/23, 1 and 5:30pm; Mon/24, 1pm. American Conservatory Theater’s annual holiday performance features James Carpenter as Scrooge.
Crones for the Holidays Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; www.crackpotcrones.com. $20. Sat, 3 and 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Dec 30. A Coupla Crackpot Crones (a.k.a. playwrights and actors Terry Baum and Carolyn Myers, collaborators as far back as the Lilith Women’s Theater Collective in the 1970s) roll out a series of vignettes, stories, spontaneous poetry, at least one sing-a-long (the priceless "12 Days of Family Insults"), and other sundry subversions in this amusing, endearingly earthy, and politically conscious show directed by Joan Mankin. Proceedings unfold on a hodgepodge set (smartly designed by Vola Ruben) full of seasonal staples and Dutch angles: a giant Menorah on one end of the stage balanced by a large Mayan calendar on the other, and so on. In one of the program’s more elaborate tales, invention and the political moment come together with earnestness and humor as a shuttered portrait of the Virgin Mary (Baum) counsels a desperate Muscovite teenager (Myers) in 1962 about unanticipated pregnancies, only to meet her again in 2012 as Pussy Riot are about to storm the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Savior. These women may be aging but they’re still raging. (Avila)
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
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/20-Sat/22, 8pm. 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 Sun/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/19, 8pm. 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.
The Rainmaker Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; www.sheltontheater.org. $38. Fri/21-Sat/22, 8pm. Shelton Theatre performs N. Richard Nash’s classic drama.
"The San Francisco Olympians Festival" Exit Theater, 156 Eddy, SF; www.sfolympians.com. $10. Wed/19-Thu/20, 8pm. This 12-night festival features brand-new plays by Bay Area writers, each based on one of the 12 Olympian gods of ancient Greece.
Scrooge: The Haunting of Ebenezer Boxcar Theatre Studios, 125A Hyde, SF; www.boxcartheatre.org. $16. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Mon/24 and Dec 30, 5pm. Through Dec 30. Jeff Garrett stars in a solo take on the Dickens classic, presented by Boxcar Theatre.
Speed-the-Plow Actors Theatre of San Francisco, 855 Bush, SF; www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed/19-Fri/21, 8pm. Actors Theatre of San Francisco performs the David Mamet drama.
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 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.
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.
The White Snake Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-99. Thu/20-Sat/22, 8pm (also Sat/22, 2pm); Sun/23, 2 and 7pm. 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)
Wavy Gravy and His Guided Mistletoes Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu/20-Sat/22, 8pm; Sun/23, 3pm. The activist legend shares stories and holiday cheer.
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.
"Any Last Words?" Sub-Mission Gallery, 2183 Mission, SF; anylastwords2012.tumblr.com. Thu/20, 9pm. $10. Apocalyptic comedy with host Trevor Hill and 40 comics telling their last jokes before the world ends, including Casey Ley, Caitlin Gill, Kevin Camia, and Mike Drucker.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. $20. "Theatresports," Fri/21, 8pm.
"Comedy Bottle" Purple Onion at Kells, 530 Jackson, SF; www.thepurpleonionatkells.com. Fri/21-Sat/22, 8:30pm. $15. Stand-up with Jason Downs and Red Scott.
"Cynic Cave" Cinecave (beneath Lost Weekend Video), 1034 Valencia, SF; facebook.com/cyniccave. Sat/22, 8pm. $10. Stand-up with Matt Gubser, Josef Anolin, Lydia Popovich, and more.
"Fishnet Follies: A Midwinter Night’s Dream" Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.therrazzroom.com. Fri/21, 10:30pm. $25-45. Burlesque and variety performances.
"Holidays Throughout the Year: An Evening of Classic Burlesque" Exit Theatre Mainstage, 156 Eddy, SF; www.theexit.org. Fri/21, 9pm. $15. Tasty Temptress, IfNWhendy, Elyse Elaine, and other performers shimmy through a holiday-themed extravaganza.
"The Jewish Nutcracker, A Maccabee Celebration" ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; www.odcdance.org. Thu/20-Fri/21, 3 and 7:30pm; Sat/22, 2 and 6pm; Sun/23, 3pm. $20-25. World Dance Fusion presents multi-genre choreography by Katy Alaniz Rous in this Jewish spin on the holiday ballet.
"Miracle at the Gas ‘N’ Gulp: A Fuelside Yuletide with Cora Values" StageWerx, 446 Valencia, SF; foulplaysf.com/cora. Wed/19, 8pm. $20. Songs and comedy with Cora Values.
"Mittens and Mistletoe" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/21, 8pm; Sat/22-Mon/24, 4pm (also Sun/23-Mon/24, 2pm). $15-20. Sweet Can Productions presents a light-hearted variety show, featuring clowning, acrobatics, and juggling.
"Night Wakes Dawn/La Noche Despierta El Amanecer" Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF; www.locobloco.org. Sat/22, 7pm; Sun/23, 2pm. $10-20. Loco Bloco performs a musical, theatrical exploration of the Mayan prophecies surrounding 2012, and a questioning of the New Age beliefs about their meaning.
"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.
"Tough Jobby, Boot: Tis Yule" Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.willfranken.com. Sat/22, 9:30pm. $20. Will Franken performs his new holiday show, his last gig before his long-term return to England.
"The 20th Anniversary of Kung Pao Kosher Comedy" New Asia Restaurant, 772 Pacific, SF; www.koshercomedy.com. Sat/22 and Mon/24, 6pm (dinner show) and 9:30pm (cocktail show); Sun/23 and Tue/25, 5pm (early bird dinner show) and 8:30pm (cocktail show). $44-64. The annual "Jewish comedy on Christmas in a Chinese restaurant" event marks 20 years with Judy Gold, Scott Blakeman, Mike Capozzola, and Lisa Geduldig. Partial proceeds benefit the Brown Twins/Jewish Family and Children’s Services Emergency Assistance Fund, and the Bay Area Women’s and Children’s Center drop-in services and food pantry.
"Voluspa: A Ghost Dance for 2012" Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; www.dancemission.com. Wed/19-Thu/20, 7:30pm. $12-20. Ritual dance performance with Dance Brigade, Grrrl Brigade, NAKA Dance Theater, and others.
"A Down Home Christmas With Nell and Jim" Aurora Theatre Company, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. Wed/19-Fri/21, 7:30pm. $28. Cabaret-style bluegrass concert featuring holiday tunes.
"The Nutcracker" Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakl; www.paramounttheatre.com. Sat/22-Sun/23, 2pm; Mon/24, 11am. $20-59. Oakland Ballet performs Graham Lustig’s version of the classic.