Stage listings

Pub date November 24, 2009

Stage listings are compiled by Molly Freedenberg. Performance times may change; call venues to confirm. Reviewers are Robert Avila, Rita Felciano, and Nicole Gluckstern. Submit items for the listings at



Jubilee Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson; 255-8207, $34-$44. Opens Wed/25, 7pm. Runs Wed, 7pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 6pm; Sun, 3pm. 42nd Street Moon presents this tune-filled 1935 musical spoof of royalty, revolution, and ribald rivalries.

The Life of Brian Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission; 401-7987, $20. Opens Fri/27, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 19. The Dark Room Theater presents a movie parody turned into a theatrical parody.

Ovo Grand Chapiteau, AT&T Park; (800) 450-1480, $45.50-$135. Opens Fri/27, 4 and 8pm. Runs Tues-Thurs, 8pm; Fri-Sat, 4 and 8pm; Sun, 1 and 5pm. Through Jan 24. Cirque du Soleil presents its latest big top touring production.


Bare Nuckle Brava Theater, 2781 24th St; 647-2822, $15. Nov 29, 3pm; Dec 1, 7pm; and Dec 3, 8pm. Brava Theater presents a solo theater performance written and performed by Anthem Salgado and directed by Evren Odcikin.

Beautiful Thing New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972. $22-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Jan 3. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs Jonathan Harvey’s story of romance between two London teens.

Cotton Patch Gospel Next Stage, 1620 Gough; (800) 838-3006, $10-$28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 19. Custom Made presents Harry Chapin’s progressive and musically joyous look at the Jesus story through a modern lens.

*East 14th Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 1-800-838-3006, $20-35. Fri, 9pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Through Dec 19. Don Reed’s solo play, making its local premiere at the Marsh after an acclaimed New York run, is truly a welcome homecoming twice over. It returns the Bay Area native to the place of his vibrant, physically dynamic, consistently hilarious coming-of-age story, set in 1970s Oakland between two poles of East 14th Street’s African American neighborhood: one defined by his mother’s strict ass-whooping home, dominated by his uptight Jehovah’s Witness stepfather; the other by his biological father’s madcap but utterly non-judgmental party house. The latter—shared by two stepbrothers, one a player and the other flamboyantly gay, under a pimped-out, bighearted patriarch whose only rule is "be yourself"—becomes the teenage Reed’s refuge from a boyhood bereft of Christmas and filled with weekend door-to-door proselytizing. Still, much about the facts of life in the ghetto initially eludes the hormonal and naïve young Reed, including his own flamboyant, ever-flush father’s occupation: "I just thought he was really into hats." But dad—along with each of the characters Reed deftly incarnates in this very engaging, loving but never hokey tribute—has something to teach the talented kid whose excellence in speech and writing at school marked him out, correctly, as a future "somebody." (Avila)

Eccentrics of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast: A Magical Escapade San Francisco Magic Parlor, Chancellor Hotel Union Square, 433 Powell; 1-800-838-3006. $30. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. This show celebrates real-life characters from San Francisco’s colorful and notorious past.

*First Day of School SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter; Check Website for dates and prices. Through November. Good sex comedy should surprise you with how long it can keep its premise up and satisfying. By that measure, Billy Aronson’s new farce, First Day of School, is a humdinger. But it gets A’s in other departments too, like playing well with others, and having something interesting to say when the panting stops. SF Playhouse’s world premiere packs a very solid, comically lithesome bunch of actors on its intimate middle-class, middle age, middle school sofa, where unexpectedly open-minded married couple Susan (Zehra Berkman) and David (Bill English) have forthrightly invited some fellow parents home for some "other people" action on the first day of school—the only calendar day not completely scheduled, managed, harried and over-determined in anyone’s modern suburban calendar. Susan has asked Peter (Jackson Davis), instantly reducing him to a quivering bowl of horny and guilt-laden jello, while good-natured hubby David has coaxed an equally neurotic lawyer-mom, Alice (Stacy Ross), over to his son’s room down the hall. David is temporarily flummoxed, however, by the social challenge of having his first choice, the vivaciously self-righteous Kim (Marcia Pizzo), change her mind and show up after all. Parents today&ldots; It’s all winningly helmed by Chris Smith, whose last effort with SF Playhouse, Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party, was another world premiere with inspiration extending well beyond the title. (Avila)

I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I’m Afraid to Tell You Off Market Theaters, 965 Mission; $20. Thurs and Sat, 8pm. Through Dec 12. An American woman of Palestinian descent, San Francisco actor Jennifer Jajeh grew up with a kind of double consciousness familiar to many minorities. But hers—conflated and charged with the history and politics of the Middle East—arguably carried a particular burden. Addressing her largely non–Middle Eastern audience in a good-natured tone of knowing tolerance, the first half of her autobiographical comedy-drama, set in the U.S., evokes an American teen badgered by unwelcome difference but canny about coping with it. The second, set in her ancestral home of Ramallah, is a journey of self-discovery and a political awakening at once. The fairly familiar dramatic arc comes peppered with some unexpected asides—and director W. Kamau Bell nicely exploits the show’s potential for enlightening irreverence (one of the cleverer conceits involves a "telepathic Q&A" with the audience, premised on the predictable questions lobbed at anyone identifying with "the other"). The play is decidedly not a history lesson on the colonial project known as "the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" or, for that matter, Hamas. But as the laudably mischievous title suggests, Jajeh is out to upset some staid opinions, stereotypes and confusions that carry increasingly significant moral and political consequences for us all. (Avila)

Let It Snow! SF Playhouse Stage 2, 533 Sutter; 677-9596, $8-$20. Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 3 and 8pm. Through Dec 19. The Un-scripted Theater Company lovingly presents an entirely new musical every night based on audience participation.

*Loveland The Marsh, 1074 Valencia; 826-5750, $15-$50. Thurs, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Dec 12. Los Angeles–based writer-performer Ann Randolph returns to the Marsh with a new solo play partly developed during last year’s Marsh run of her memorable Squeeze Box. Randolph plays loner Frannie Potts, a rambunctious, cranky and libidinous individual of decidedly odd mien, who is flying back home to Ohio after the death of her beloved mother. The flight is occasion for Frannie’s own flights of memory, exotic behavior in the aisle, and unabashed advances toward the flight deck brought on by the seductively confident strains of the captain’s commentary. The singular personality and mother-daughter relationship that unfurls along the way is riotously demented and brilliantly humane. Not to be missed, Randolph is a rare caliber of solo performer whose gifts are brought generously front and center under Matt Roth’s reliable direction, while her writing is also something special—fully capable of combining the twisted and macabre, the hilariously absurd, and the genuinely heartbreaking in the exact same moment. Frannie Potts’s hysteria at 30,000 feet, as intimate as a middle seat in coach (and with all the interpersonal terror that implies), is a first-class ride. (Avila)

"The Me, Myself and I Series" Brava Theater, 2781 24th St; 647-2822, Days, times, and ticket prices vary. Runs through Dec. 3. Four different tales from theatre/performance artists like D’Lo, Jeanne Haynes, Rachel Parker, and Anthem Salgado will surprise and awaken your imagination.

Pearls Over Shanghai Hypnodrome, 575 Tenth St.; 1-800-838-3006, $30-69. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Jan. 23. Thrillpeddlers presents this revival of the legendary Cockettes’ 1970 musical extravaganza.

Pulp Scripture Off Market Theater, 965 Mission; $20. Sat, 10:30pm; Sun, 4pm. Through Dec 13. Original Sin Productions and PianoFight bring the bad side of the Good Book back to live in William Bivins’ comedy.

Rabbi Sam The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, $25-$50. Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 12. Charlie Varons’ runaway hit show returns to the Marsh.

"ReOrient 2009" Thick House, 1695 18th St; 626-4061, $12-$25. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Dec 13. Golden Thread Productions celebrates the tenth anniversary of its festival of short plays exploring the Middle East.

Shanghai San Francisco One Telegraph Hill; 1-877-384-7843, $40. Sat, 1pm. Ongoing. To be Shanghaied: "to be kidnapped for compulsory service aboard a ship&ldots;to be induced or compelled to do something, especially by fraud or force". Once the scene of many an "involuntary" job interview, San Francisco’s Barbary Coast is now the staging ground for Shanghai San Francisco, a performance piece slash improv slash scavenger hunt through the still-beating hearts of North Beach and Chinatown, to the edge of the Tendernob. Beginning at the base of Coit Tower, participants meet the first of several characters who set up the action and dispense clues, before sending the audience off on a self-paced jaunt through the aforementioned neighborhoods, induced and compelled (though not by force) to search for a kidnapped member of the revived San Francisco Committee of Vigilance. It’s a fine notion and a fun stroll on a sunny afternoon, but ultimately succeeds far better as a walking tour than as theatre. Because the actors are spread rather thinly on the ground, they’re unable to take better advantage of their superior vantage by stalking groups a little more closely, staging distractions along the way, and generally engaging the audience as such a little more frequently. But since Shanghai San Francisco is a constantly evolving project, maybe next time they’ll do just that. (Gluckstern)

She Stoops to Comedy SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter; 677-9596, $30-$40. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 3 and 8pm. Through Jan 9. SF Playhouse continues their seventh season with the Bay Area premiere of David Greenspan’s gender-bending romp.

Tings Dey Happen Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter; 771-6900, $35-45. Check website for schedule. Through Sun/29. Dan Hoyle’s solo show about his year studying the West African oil frontier returns for a limited run.

Under the Gypsy Moon Teatro ZinZanni, Pier 29; 438-2668, $117-$145. Wed-Sat, 6pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Jan 1. Teatro ZinZanni presents a bewitching evening of European cabaret, cirque, theatrical spectacle, and original live music, blended with a five-course gourmet dinner.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Actors Theatre of SF, 855 Bush; 345-1287, $26-$40. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Dec 6, 2pm. Through Dec 19. Actors Theatre of SF presents Edward Albee’s classic.

Wicked Orpheum Theatre, 1182 Market; 512-7770, $30-$99. Tues, 8pm; Wed, 2pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 2 and 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Ongoing. Assuming you don’t mind the music, which is too TV-theme–sounding in general for me, or the rather gaudy décor, spectacle rules the stage as ever, supported by sharp performances from a winning cast. (Avila)


*Boom Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave, Mill Valley; 388-5208, $31-$51. Tues, Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Dec 6. Marin Theatre Company presents the Bay Area premiere of Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s explosive comedy about the end of the world.

*FAT PIG Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, $15-$55. Tues, 7pm; Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Dec 13. Playwright Neil LaBute has a reputation for cruelty—or rather the unflinching study thereof—but as much as everyday sociopathy is central to Fat Pig, this fine, deceptively straightforward play’s real subject is human frailty: the terrible difficulty of being good when it means going decidedly against the values and opinions of your peers. Aurora Theatre’s current production makes the point with satirical flair and insight, animated by a faultless ensemble directed with snap and fire by Barbara Damashek. A conventionally handsome businessman named Tom (a brilliantly canny, vulnerable and sympathetic Jud Williford) falls for a bright, beautiful woman of more than average size named Helen (Liliane Klein, radiantly reprising the role after a production for Boston’s Speakeasy Stage). It’s the most important relationship either has had. Alone together they’re very happy. At work, however, Tom contends with relentless pressure from his coworkers, Carter (a penetrating Peter Ruocco, savoring the sadism of the locker room) and onetime dating partner Jeannie (Alexandra Creighton, devastatingly sharp at being semi-hinged). As ambivalent as Tom is about both, he feebly attempts to hide his new love from them. The separation of public and private selves leads to conflict, and the plot will turn on how Tom resolves it. Needless to say, the title’s inherent viciousness points not at Helen—by far the most advanced personality on stage—but at those who would intone the phrase as well as those, like Tom, who tacitly let it work its dark magic. (Avila)

*Large Animal Games La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; $10-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm (no show Nov 26). Through Dec 12. Impact Theatre co-presents (with Atlanta’s Dad’s Garage) the world premiere of a new play by Atlanta-based Steve Yockey. The 75-minute comedy mingles three separate subplots among a group of friends, all refracted through a mysterious lingerie shop run by an affable, somewhat impish tailor (Jai Sahai) offering new skins for exploring inner selves. There’s the spoiled rich-girl (Marissa Keltie) horrified to discover her perfect fiancé’s (Timothy Redmond) secret penchant for donning feminine undergarments; a pair of best friends (Cindy Im and Elissa Dunn) who fall out over the sexy no-English matador-type (Roy Landaverde) one brings home from a Spanish holiday; and there’s an African American woman (Leontyne Mbele-Mbong) who goes on an African safari as the logical extension of her obsession with guns. Briskly but shrewdly directed by Melissa Hillman, the agreeable cast knows what to do with Yockey’s well-honed, true-to-life repartee. The play has a touch of the magical dimension familiar to audiences who saw Skin or Octopus (both produced by Encore Theatre) but it operates here in a less self-conscious, more lighthearted way, while still nicely augmenting the subtly related themes of animal-lust, competition, self-image and possession cleverly at work under the frilly, scanty surface. (Avila)

"Shakes ‘Super’ Intensive + Bronte Series" Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship, 1924 Cedar, Berk; (510) 275-3871. $8. Mon, 7:30pm, through Dec. 14. Subterranean Shakespeare presents weekly staged readings of classic Shakespeare plays, followed by a staged reading of Jon O’Keefe’s complete play about the Bronte sisters.

Tiny Kushner Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; (510) 647-2949, $27-$71. Fri/27, 8pm; Wed/25, 7pm; Thurs/26 and Sat/28, 2 and 8pm; Sun/29, 2 and 7pm. Berkeley Rep presents the West Coast premiere of Tony Kushner’s series of short scripts.

The Wizard of Oz Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave, Berk; (510) 845-8542, $19-$28. Berkeley Playhouse presents this adaptation of the classic musical theater piece.


"Heart of the Mission Dance" Abada Capoeira Center, 3221 22nd St; Sun, 9:30am. Ongoing. $13. Join a new 5-rhythm ecstatic dance company for a revitalizing world-music-inspired Sunday morning dance journey every week.

"The Velveteen Rabbit" Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 700 Howard; 978-2787, Through Dec 13. $10-$45. This year’s installment of a favorite Bay Area holiday tradition features dancing by ODC/Dance, recorded narration by Geoff Hoyle, design by Brian Wildsmith, and a musical score by Benjamin Britten.


BATS Improv Theatre Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason Center; 474-6776, Fri-Sat, 8pm. $17-$28. This three-round improv competition pits two teams squaring off each night and performing improvised games, songs, or scenes.

"Bijou" Martuni’s, Four Valencia; 241-0205, Sun, 7pm. $5. An eclectic weekly cabaret.

"Body Music Festival" Various SF and East Bay venues. Dec 1-6, various times and prices. Keith Terry and Crosspulse present the second annual six-day global event featuring concerts, workshops, teacher trainings, and open mics.

On Broadway Dinner Theater 435 Broadway; 291-0333, Thurs-Sat, 7pm. Ongoing. SF’s most talented singers, artists, and performers combine interactive shows with dining and dessert.

"Concerto Italiano" Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness; 864-3330, Sat, 7pm. $30-$55. The San Francisco Opera Orchestra will perform a concert in honor of the 30th anniversary of Museo ItaloAmericano.

Full Spectrum Improvisation The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; 564-4115, Tues, 7:30pm. $10-$15. Lucky Dog Theatre performs in its ongoing series of spontaneous theatre shows.

Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, Mon, 7:30pm, free. Aurora Theatre Company presents the second meeting of the season with a reading of Tennesse Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and a discussion of Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig.

"The Greatest Bubble Show on Earth" The Marsh, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006, $7-$10. Nov 27-29 and Dec 6, 1pm. The Marsh Presents Louis Pearl, the Amazing Bubble Man, in this fun show suitable for all ages.

"Kickin’ Off the Holidays Dance Party" Zeum, 221 Fourth St; Sun, 1 and 3pm, $18. Candy and the Sweet Tooths celebrate their CD release with two concerts of their popular repertoire plus two new holiday songs.

"Otello" San Francisco Opera War Memorial House, 301 Van Ness; 864-3330, Wed, 7:30pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Dec 2. SF Opera presents Giuseppe Verdi’s classic, directed by Nicola Luisotti.


"Aurora Script Club" Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, Mon, 7:30pm, free. Aurora Theatre Company presents the second meeting of the season with a reading of Tennesse Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and a discussion of Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig.

"Hubba Hubba Revue" Uptown, 1928 Telegraph, Oakl; Mon, 10pm. Ongoing. $5. Scantily clad ladies shake their stuff at this weekly burlesque showcase.


Annie’s Social Club 917 Folsom, SF; Tues, 6:30pm, ongoing. Free. Comedy Speakeasy is a weekly stand-up comedy show with Jeff Cleary and Chad Lehrman.

"Big City Improv" Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; (510) 595-5597, Fri, 10pm, ongoing. $15-$20. Big City Improv performs comedy in the style of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

Brainwash 1122 Folsom; 861-3663. Thurs, 7pm, ongoing. Free. Tony Sparks hosts San Francisco’s longest running comedy open mike.

Club Deluxe 1511 Haight; 552-6949, Mon, 9pm, ongoing. Free. Various local favorites perform at this weekly show.

Clubhouse 414 Mason; Prices vary. Scantily Clad Comedy Fri, 9pm. Stand-up Project’s Pro Workout Sat, 7pm. Naked Comedy Sat, 9pm. Frisco Improv Show and Jam Sun, 7pm. Ongoing. Note: Clubhouse will host no classes or shows Nov. 24-26.

Cobbs 915 Columbus; 928-4320. Featuring Henry Cho Fri-Sat, 8pm and 10:15pm.

"Comedy Master Series" Blue Macaw, 2565 Mission; Mon, 6pm. Ongoing. $20. The new improv comedy workshop includes training by Debi Durst, Michael Bossier, and John Elk.

"Comedy on the Square" SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter; 646-0776, Sun, 8:30pm, through Dec. Tony Sparks and Frisco Fred host this weekly stand-up comedy showcase.

Danny Dechi & Friends Rockit Room, 406 Clement; 387-6343. Tues, 8pm. Ongoing. Free.

"Improv Society" Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter; Sat, 10pm, ongoing, $15. Improv Society presents comic and musical theater.

"The Howard Stone Comedy Variety Talk Show" SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter; 646-0776, Sun, 8:30pm. $10. Comedy on the Square presents this twisted talk show featuring Kurt Weitzmann and unique one-man band the Danny Dechi Orchestra.

Punch Line San Francisco 444 Battery; Check Website for times and prices. Featuring W. Kamau Bell Fri-Sat.

Purple Onion 140 Columbus; 1-800-838-3006, Call for days and times.

"Raw Stand-up Project" SFCC, 414 Mason, Fifth Flr; Sat, 7pm, ongoing. $12-15. SFCC presents its premier stand-up comedy troupe in a series of weekly showcases.

"Comedy Off Broadway Oakland" Washington Inn, 495 10th St, Oakl; (510) 452-1776, Fri, 9pm. Ongoing. $8-$10. Comedians featured on Comedy Central, HBO, BET, and more perform every week.
"Heretic’s Potentially Offensive Comedy" Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; Sat, 8pm. $15. The work of Benjamin Garcia, Erin Phillips, and Clay Rosenthal is featured in this night of bizarre and hilarious comedy.

"Japanese Fairy Tales: Powerful Unattainable Women" Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar Street, Berk; (510) 644-2967, Mon, 7:30pm. $5. Marie Mutsuki Mockett presents her new novel Picking Bones From Ash, inspired by a Japanese fairy tale.