Theater Listings: September 25 – October 2, 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 listings@sfbg.com.

THEATER

OPENING

“Shocktoberfest 14: Jack the Ripper” Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $25-35. Previews Thu/26-Sat/28, 8pm; Mon/30, 8pm. Opens Oct 3, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat and Oct 29-30, 8pm. Through Nov 23. Thrillpeddlers presents their 14th annual Grand Guignol show, “a evening of horror, madness, spanking, and song.”

BAY AREA

A Winter’s Tale Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda; www.calshakes.org. $35-72. Previews Wed/25-Fri/27, 8pm. Opens Sat/28, 8pm. Runs Tue-Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Oct 19, 2pm); Sun, 4pm. Through Oct 20. Cal Shakes concludes its 2013 season with the Bard’s fairy tale, directed and choreographed by sister team Patricia and Paloma McGregor.

ONGOING

Acid Test: The Many Incarnations of Ram Dass Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through Oct 12. Playwright Lynne Kaufman invites you to take a trip with Richard Alpert, aka Ram Dass (Warren David Keith) — one of the bigwigs of the psychedelic revolution and (with his classic book, Be Here Now) contemporary Eastern-looking spirituality — as he recounts times high and low in this thoughtful, funny, and sometimes unexpected biographical rumination on the quest for truth and meaning in a seemingly random life. Directed by Joel Mullennix, the narrative begins with Ram Dass today, in his Hawaiian home and partly paralyzed from a stroke, but Keith (one of the Bay Area’s best stage actors, who is predictably sure and engagingly multilayered in the role) soon shakes off the stiff arm and strained speech and springs to his feet to continue the narrative as the ideal self perhaps only transcendental consciousness and theater allow. Nevertheless, Kaufman’s fun-loving and extroverted Alpert is no saint and no model of perfection, which is the refreshing truth explored in the play. He’s a seeker still, ever imperfect and trying for perfection, or at least the wisdom of acceptance. As the privileged queer child of a wealthy Jewish lawyer and industrialist, Alpert was both insider and outsider from the get-go, and that tension and ambiguity make for an interesting angle on his life, including the complexities of his relationships with a homophobic Leary, for instance, and his conservative but ultimately loving father. Perfection aside, the beauty in the subject and the play is the subtle, shrewd cherishing of what remains unfinished. Note: review from an earlier run of this show. (Avila)

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical Curran Theatre, 445 Geary, SF; www.shnsf.com. $55-210. Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Sat and Oct 9 and 16, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7:30pm (no evening show Oct 13 or 20). Through Oct 20. Pre-Broadway premiere of the musical about the legendary songwriter.

Band Fags! New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 13. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs the West Coast premiere of Frank Anthony Polito’s coming-of-age tale, set in 1980s Detroit.

“Bay One Acts Festival” Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, SF; www.bayoneacts.org. $20-40. Programs One and Two run in repertory Wed-Sun, 8pm. Through Oct 5. The 2013 BOA fest presents the world premieres of 13 short plays in partnership with 13 Bay Area theater companies.

BoomerAging: From LSD to OMG Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Tue, 8pm. Extended through Oct 29. Will Durst’s hit solo show looks at baby boomers grappling with life in the 21st century.

Buried Child Magic Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg D, Third Flr, SF; www.magictheatre.org. $20-60. Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2:30. Through Oct 6. Magic Theatre performs a revival of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer-winning classic.

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.

Geezer Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $25-50. Wed-Thu, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through Oct 26. Geoff Hoyle’s hit solo show, a comedic meditation on aging, returns to the Marsh.

The Golden Dragon ACT’s Costume Shop, 1117 Market, SF; www.doitliveproductions.com. $15. Thu/26-Sat/28, 9:30pm. Do It Live! Productions presents Roland Schimmelpfennig’s tragicomic take on globalization, set in and around an Asian restaurant.

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.

Macbeth Fort Point, end of Marine Dr, Presidio of San Francisco, SF; www.weplayers.org. $30-60. Thu-Sun, 6pm. Through Oct 6. We Players perform the Shakespeare classic amid Fort Point’s Civil War-era fortress.

1776 ACT’s Geary Theater, 415 Geary, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20-160. Tue-Sat, 8pm (also Wed and Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 6. American Conservatory Theater performs the West Coast premiere of Frank Galati’s new staging of the patriotic musical.

Sex and the City: LIVE! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; trannyshack.com/sexandthecity. $25. Wed, 7 and 9pm. Open-ended. It seems a no-brainer. Not just the HBO series itself — that’s definitely missing some gray matter — but putting it onstage as a drag show. Mais naturellement! Why was Sex and the City not conceived of as a drag show in the first place? Making the sordid not exactly palatable but somehow, I don’t know, friendlier (and the canned a little cannier), Velvet Rage Productions mounts two verbatim episodes from the widely adored cable show, with Trannyshack’s Heklina in a smashing portrayal of SJP’s Carrie; D’Arcy Drollinger stealing much of the show as ever-randy Samantha (already more or less a gay man trapped in a woman’s body); Lady Bear as an endearingly out-to-lunch Miranda; and ever assured, quick-witted Trixxie Carr as pent-up Charlotte. There’s also a solid and enjoyable supporting cast courtesy of Cookie Dough, Jordan Wheeler, and Leigh Crow (as Mr. Big). That’s some heavyweight talent trodding the straining boards of bar Rebel’s tiny stage. The show’s still two-dimensional, even in 3D, but noticeably bigger than your 50″ plasma flat panel. (Avila)

The Shakespeare Bug Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; www.killingmylobster.com. $15-30. Thu/26-Sun/29, 8pm. Killing My Lobster in association with PlayGround perform Ken Slattery’s world-premiere comedy.

To Sleep and Dream Z Below, 470 Florida, SF; www.therhino.org. $15-30. Opens Wed/25, 8pm. Runs Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun/29, 7pm; Oct 6, 3pm. Through Oct 6. Theatre Rhinoceros performs writer-director John Fisher’s North Bay-set drama about the challenges of love.

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma, SF; www.boxcar.org. $11-16. Fri/27-Sat/28, 9pm; Sun/29, 7pm. Want to experience a bit of what those legendary theater towns Chicago and New York probably take for granted? Attempting to establish a West Coast stronghold for the long-running Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, members of both the Chicago and New York ensembles of Neo-Futurists have converged at the Boxcar Playhouse for a three-week run of their signature show. The premise is simple, if dizzying. Thirty short plays are performed within the space of 60 timed minutes while the audience dictates the order of performance by shouting out the number of the play they want to see next. At the end of each performance, a die is rolled and that number of plays is dropped from the lineup to make space for brand-new ones written and rehearsed before the next weekend. The content ranges from silly to cerebral, wistful to weird, and stylistically veers from confessional to confrontational to surreal, using music, minimal props, and a complete irreverence for the fourth wall to move it forward. And while it’s nice to contemplate having our own cadre of Neo-Futurists to boast in the future, catching long-time Neo veterans such as John Pierson, Marta Rainer, and Cecil Baldwin now is a real treat. (Gluckstern)

The World’s Funniest Bubble Show Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $8-11. Sun, 11am. Through Oct 27. Soapy, kid-friendly antics with Louis Pearl, aka “The Amazing Bubble Man.”

BAY AREA

After the Revolution Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Tue, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Extended through Oct 6. Emma (Jessica Bates) is a left-wing lawyer from a lefty Jewish family of Communist Party members and fellow travelers who heads an important defense fund for incarcerated Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. When Emma learns that a book is coming out that pins her revered late grandfather (a CP martyr to McCarthyism for whom the fund is named) as a spy for Stalin, she collapses into an incapacitating personal crisis exacerbated by the revelation that her adored father (an expansive Rolf Saxon) already knew and kept the secret from her. The crisis leads to Emma’s severing ties with her father and, eventually, alienating her boyfriend (Adrian Anchondo) as the rest of the family do their best to negotiate the new dynamic, including her uncle Leo (Victor Talmadge), her rehab habitué of a sister (Sarah Mitchell), and her mother (Pamela Gaye Walker). Meanwhile, Emma faces the fraught temptation of a large donation to the fund by a wealthy old lefty (a fine Peter Kybart). Almost above the fray, by virtue of her unwavering devotion to the political legacy she shared with her husband, is Emma’s unreconstructed Stalinist of a grandmother, Vera (a jarringly affected Ellen Ratner in fakey-fakey old-lady makeup). Aurora Theater’s production of Amy Herzog’s After the Revolution offers another look at the celebrated American playwright whose Obie Award-winning 4000 Miles recently premiered at ACT. But just as the ACT production left one wondering what all the fuss was about, After the Revolution disappoints in its promise of exploring political commitment through the complexities of modern history and familial bonds. Instead, director Joy Carlin marshals a mostly strong cast to little effect against an unconvincing and strained dramatic narrative that seems oddly out of touch with today’s political currents. (Avila)

All’s Well That Ends Well Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 890 Bella, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; www.marinshakespeare.org. $20-37.50. Presented in repertory through Sat/28; visit website for performance schedule. Marin Shakespeare Company continues its outdoor season with the Bard’s classic romance.

Bonnie and Clyde Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-35. Wed/25-Thu/26, 7pm; Fri/27-Sat/28, 8pm; Sun/29, 5pm. Amorous outlaws and Depression-era rebels Bonnie Parker (Megan Trout) and Clyde Barrow (Joe Estlack) remain compelling as heroes and tragic figures in playwright Adam Peck’s 2010 retelling, but it’s their quieter, frailer, more delicate moments in Mark Jackson’s robust, at times transcendent staging that prove most memorable in this Shotgun Players production. It’s a sign of Jackson’s sure intelligence as a director that he can let a moment happen here wordlessly, without recourse to cut-and-dry cues of one sort or another, as happens near the outset of the evening as Barrow and Parker arrive on the run at an abandoned barn. We study them in such moments, and they breathe, like nowhere else. It’s here in this barn that they rest, woo, tussle, and tease for the next 80 enthralling minutes — interrupted only by Barrow’s moment-by-moment delivery to us of their final violent moments alive, channeling a fate awaiting them just down the road. Embodying the play’s only characters, Trout and Estlack are outstanding, dynamic and utterly persuasive. They’d be worth seeing even if the play and production were half as good as they are. Having “chosen to live lives less ordinary,” it turns out to be their palpable vulnerability and wide-ranging yet ordinary yearnings that make them exceptional creatures. (Avila)

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. Through Oct 27. 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)

A Comedy of Errors Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 890 Bella, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; www.marinshakespeare.org. $20-37.50. Presented in repertory through Sun/29; visit website for performance schedule. Marin Shakespeare Company presents a cowboy-themed spin on the Bard’s classic.

Ella, the Musical Center REPertory Company, 1601 Civic, Walnut Creek; (925) 943-SHOW. $37-64. Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/28 and Oct 12, 2:30pm); Sun, 2:30pm. Through Oct 12. Yvette Cason portrays the legendary Ella Fitzgerald in this Center REP presentation.

The Tempest Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear, Mtn View; www.thepear.org. $10-35. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 6. Pear Avenue Theatre performs Shakespeare’s play in a new staging by director Jeanie K. Smith.

Woman in Black — A Ghost Play Douglas Morrison Theatre, 22311 N. Third St, Hayward; www.dmtonline.org. $10-29. Thu/26-Sat/28, 8pm; Sun/29, 2pm. Douglas Morrison Theatre performs Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s spooky story.

PERFORMANCE/DANCE

Bodytraffic ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; www.odcdance.org. Thu/26-Sat/28, 8pm; Sun/29, 7pm. $25-35. The LA-based repertory dance company performs Bay Area premieres by Barak Marshall and Richard Siegel, as well as a preview of a work by Kyle Abraham.

“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.

Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña’s Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Oct 6, 12, 20, and 26, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.

“Death on the Ganges” Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission, SF; www.sirenproject.org. Thu/26-Sat/28, 7:30pm; Sun/29, 3pm. $15-50. Siren Project presents a work inspired by 57 real-life stories, staged by an all-female theater troupe, about four Bay Area women who travel to a holy city in India.

“Mission Position Live” Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.missionpositionlive.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.

“Mu” Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California, SF; www.jccsf.org. Fri/27-Sat/28, 8pm; Sun/29, 2pm. $25. Choreographer Kimi Okada, performer Brenda Wong Aoki, and composer Mark Izu collaborate on this world premiere, based on a Japanese folk legend.

“Okeanos Intimate” Aquarium of the Bay, Pier 39, SF; www.capacitor.org. Sat/28, 7pm. $20-30 (free aquarium ticket with show ticket). 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)

“People Show 121: The Detective Show” Fort Mason Center, Southside Theater, Marina at Laguna, SF; www.peopleshowusa.com. Thu/26-Sun/29, 8pm (also Sun/29, 2pm). $39-149 (all tickets include wine; some also include dinner). The veteran British alt-theater company performs.

“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.

“Taps, Tunes, and Tall Tales” Feinstein’s at the Nikko, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.feinsteinssf.com. Thu/26-Fri/27, 8pm; Sat/28, 7pm. $30-65. Tony-winning legend Tommy Tune performs.

“Union Square Live” Union Square, between Post, Geary, Powell, and Stockton, SF; www.unionsquarelive.org. Through Oct 9. Free. Music, dance, circus arts, film, and more; dates and times vary, so check website for the latest.

BAY AREA

“Bay Area Flamenco Festival” Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison, Berk; www.bayareaflamencofestival.com. Sun/29, 8pm. $36.50-75. With David Serva, “godfather of Bay Area flamenco guitar.” *