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.
Hamlet Alcatraz Island; 547-0189, www.weplayers.org. By donation. Opens Sat/2, call for time. Runs Sat-Sun, times vary. Through Nov 21. As part of an artistic residency, We Players presents an island-wide interactive performance of the Shakespeare play.
Kiss of Blood Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $25-35. Opens Thurs/30, 8pm. Runs Thurs-Fri, 8pm. Through Nov 19. Thrillpeddlers presents its signature Halloween show, with three one-act Grand Guignol terror plays.
The Shining: Live The Dark Room, 2263 Mission; 401-77891, www.darkroomsf.com. $7-10. Opens Fr/1, 8pm. Runs Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 23. The Dark Room becomes the Overlook Hotel in this stage production of the horror classic.
Absolutely San Francisco Phoenix Theatre, Stage 2, 414 Mason; 433-1235, www.absolutelysanfrancisco.com. $20-25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 23. A one-woman musical starring Karen Hirst, with book and music by Anne Doherty.
Aida War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness, 864-1330, www.sfopera.com. $25-320. Wed/29, 7:30pm; Sat/2, 8pm; Oct 6, 7:30pm. San Francisco Opera presents Verdi’s classic, a co-production with English National Opera and Houston Grand Opera.
And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. Call for reservations. Mon-Thurs, 10 and 11:45am. Through Oct 10. YouthAware Educational Theatre presents a multimedia play by James Still, directed by Sara Staley.
Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness; 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org. $24-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 24. New Conservatory Theatre Center presents a show by Brian Christopher Williams.
The Brothers Size Magic Theatre, Bldg D, Fort Mason Center; 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org. $20-60. Dates and times vary. Through Oct 17. Magic Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play, directed by Octavio Solis.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Actors Theatre, 855 Bush; 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org. $26-38. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 22. Actors Theatre presents Tennessee Williams’ sultry, sweltering tale of a Mississippi family, directed by Keith Phillips.
*Etiquette Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission; 978-2787, www.ybca.org. $8-10. Thurs-Sat, noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 8pm; Sun, noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm. Through Sun/3. Rotozaza presents a participatory performance piece for two people.
*Faux Real Climate Theater at TJT, 470 Florida; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-20. Wed-Sat, 8pm (also Sat/9, 10pm). Through Oct 9. A drag queen stripped bare? Not on your life. But in baring some soul and some truth (“two lies” per), Fauxnique (aka Monique Jenkinson; aka a woman as a man as a woman&ldots;) does some productive and fascinating (re)working of this sly semi-confessional form. In a show that begins by asking, via David Bowie, “whatchya gonna say to the real me?”, Fauxnique undresses drag by singing (very ably) as often as syncing and otherwise playing knowingly with the “reveals” inherent in the drag tradition, taking audiences back with her to high school in Denver in the 1980s for a herstory lesson like few others. Questions about identity and art mingle with hip, hilarious, wonderfully “haute,” and seriously hardworking solo cabaret (assisted by transgresser-dresser and prop boy Kegan Marling). Originally unveiled in 2009, and fresh from a London debut, Faux Real returns for an extended but still too-brief run courtesy of the mighty little Climate Theater, currently ensconced in the Jewish Theatre’s luxurious little space. (Avila)
Futurestyle ’79 Off-Market Theater, Studio 250, 965 Mission; (8008) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $15-20. Wed, 8pm. Through Oct 27. A fully improvised episodic comedy played against the backdrop of SF in 1979.
IPH… Brava Theater, 2781 24th St, 647-2822, www.brava.org. $15-35. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm (also Mon/4, 8pm). Through Oct 16. Brava Theatre and African-American Shakespeare Company present the US premiere of an adaptation of Iphigenia at Aulis.
Jerry Springer the Opera Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th; www.jerrysf.com. $20-36. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 16. Ray of Light Theatre presents the West Coast premiere of the operatic farce by Stewart Lee and Richard Thomas.
KML Holds the Mayo Zeum Theater, 221 4th St; www.killingmylobster.com. $10-20. Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 7 and 10pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Sun/3. Killing My Lobster presents its fall comedy show, directed by co-founder Paul Charney.
Last Days of Judas Iscariot Gough Street Playhouse, 1620 Gough; (510) 207-5774, www.CustomMade.org. $10-30. Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Oct 30. Custom Made Theatre presents Stephen Adly Guirgis’ meditation on the meaning of forgiveness.
Olive Kitteridge Z Space at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida; (800) 838-3006, www.zspace.org. $20-40. Wed-Thurs, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Oct 10. Page-to-stage company Word for Word takes on two chapters’ worth of Elizabeth Strout’s celebrated 2008 novel, comprised of a loosely connected set of stories surrounding the title character (played with cunning subtlety by Patricia Silver) and her immediate circle in a coastal town in Maine. In “Tulips,” we find the thorny but shrewd Olive, a former math teacher, and her patient husband Henry (Paul Finocchiaro), the town’s longtime pharmacist, transitioning not so smoothly into their retirement years. Olive—itchy, cantankerous and vaguely at a loss despite her sharp wit—resents her grown son’s (Patrick Alparone) happily distant life in New York and battles with the neighbors until her husband’s stroke leaves her at sea, unexpectedly vulnerable and open to the kindness of neighbors and strangers alike (played by an ensemble that includes Jeri Lynn Cohen, Nancy Shelby, and Michelle Belaver). In “River,” Olive, now a widow, begins a gradual, unlikely and bumpy romance with a recently widowed former academic (Warren David Keith). Director Joel Mullennix grabs hold of colorful details along the way—like the summer influx of rollerbladers and bicyclists—to further enliven the verbatim staging of these stories, but the effort can feel a little forced at times, as if betraying a sense that these well-acted, gently poetical and thoughtful stories and their complex protagonist do not always make for the most stimulating drama. (Avila)
A Picasso Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa; (866) 811-4111, www.apicassoonstage.com. $12-28. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 9. Expression Productions presents Jeffery Hatcher’s drama about the authenticity of three Picasso paintings.
Pinocchio Young Performers Theatre, Fort Mason Center, Bldg C, Third Floor, Room 300; 346-5550, www.ypt.org. $7-10. Sat-Sun, 1 and 3:30pm. Through Oct 10. Young Performers Theatre presents a new production of Carlo Collodi’s puppet tale.
*The Real Americans The Marsh MainStage, 1062 Valencia; (800) 838-3006; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Wed-Fri, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Nov 6. The fifth extension of Dan Hoyle’s acclaimed show, directed by Charlie Varon.
*Scapin American Conservatory Theatre, 415 Geary; 749-2228, www.act-sf.org. $10-90. Tues-Sun, times vary. Through Oct 23. Bill Irwin, the innovative former Pickle Family clown and neo-vaudevillian turned Broadway star, makes a San Francisco return at the helm—and in the title role—of American Conservatory Theater’s production of Moliere’s classic farce. It’s an excuse for some arch meta-theatrical high jinx as well as expert clowning, a love fest really, with many fine moments amid a general font of fun whose heady purity seems like it should fall under some FDA regulation or other—clearly, somebody has paid someone to look the other way, and for once the corruption is unreservedly welcome. Joining the fun is Irwin’s old comrade-in-arms and, here, sacks, Geoff Hoyle, as miserly and dyspeptic daddy Geronte. Other ACT regulars and veterans flesh out a winning cast, among them the ever versatile and inimitable Gregory Wallace as Octave, a flouncing Steven Anthony Jones as put-out patriarch Argante, René Augesen as boisterously unlikely “virgin” Zerbinette, and a wonderfully adept and scene-stealing Jud Williford in the role of Scapin sidekick Sylvestre. As for Irwin, his comedic sensibility shows itself scrupulously apt and timeless at once, and his sure, lithesome performance intoxicating and age-defying. As a director, moreover, he gives as generously to each of his fellow performers as he does to his adoring, lovingly tousled audience. (Avila)
The Secretaries Boxcar Playhouse, 505 Natoma; 255-7846, www.crowdedfire.org. $15-25 (pay what you can previews). Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Oct 9. Crowded Fire revives the 1994 black comedy by New York’s Five Lesbian Brothers, a gleefully inappropriate bit of feminist satire that feels like the love child of John Waters and Valerie Solanas. Set in the front offices of the Cooney Lumber Mill in Big Bone, Oregon (delightfully rendered in Nick A. Olivero’s scenic design with New Yorker-like illustrations of the surrounding environs), the story follows narrator Patty (Elissa Beth Stebbins) as she recounts her initiation into a snappy coven of office ladies who not-so-secretly fell (rather than fall for) the town’s lumberjacks as if they were so much old growth forest. The mayhem and humor amuse, but probably seemed a lot fresher 16 years ago, making the simple plot seem thinly stretched. Nevertheless, the play’s details are nicely taken care of in artistic director Marissa Wolf’s fluid staging, featuring lots of play with fluids and a robust ensemble. In addition to Stebbins’s well-wrought and raunchy innocent, Leticia Duarte rocks her power-suit commandingly as no-nonsense supervisor and pack/pact-leader Susan; Eleanor Mason Reinholdt proves scarily endearing as the deceptively mincing, food-obsessed Peaches; Khamara Pettus has Norma Desmond eyes as Susan’s jealous onetime favorite Ashley; and Marilee Talkington approaches comic perfection in lovingly crafted twin roles: the boundingly predatory butch Dawn; and Patty’s hetero love interest and sexual-harassment-workshop–graduate, Buzz. (Avila)
Angels in America, Part One Pear Avenue Theatre, 1220 Pear, Mtn View; (650) 254-1148, www.thepear.org. $15-30. Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 2 and 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Oct 16. Pear Avenue Theatre kicks off its fall “Americana” program with the Tony Kushner play.
Bleacher Bums Contra Costa Civic Theatre, 951 Pomona, El Cerrito; (510) 524-9132, www.ccct.org. $18. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Sun/3. A sports comedy conceived by Joe Mantegna, directed by Joel Roster.
La Cage Aux Folles San Mateo Performing Arts Center, 600 N. Delaware; (650) 579-5565, www.broadwaybythebay.org. $20-48. Dates and times vary. Through Sun/3. Broadway By the Bay presents the gay musical based on the play of the same title.
*Compulsion Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison; (510) 647-2949, www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-85. Dates and times vary. Through Oct 31. Director Oscar Eustis of New York’s Public Theater marks a Bay Area return with an imaginatively layered staging of Rinne Groff’s stimulating new play. Compulsion locates the momentous yet dauntingly complex cultural-political outcomes of the Holocaust in the career of a provocative Jewish American character, Sid Silver, driven by real horror, sometimes-specious paranoia, and unbounded ego in his battle for control over the staging of Anne Frank’s Diary. A commandingly intense and fascinatingly nuanced Mandy Patinkin plays the brash, litigious Silver, based on real-life writer Meyer Levin, a best-selling author who obsessively pursued rights to stage his own version of Anne Frank’s story. The forces competing for ownership of, and identification with, Anne Frank and her hugely influential diary extend far beyond her father Otto, Silver, or the diary’s publishers at Doubleday (represented here by a smooth Matte Osian in a variety of parts; and a vital Hannah Cabell, who doubles as Silver’s increasingly alarmed and alienated French wife). But the power of Groff’s play lies in grounding the deeply convoluted and compromised history of that text and, by extension, the memory and meanings of the Holocaust itself, in a small set of forceful characters—augmented by astute use of marionettes (designed by Matt Acheson) and the words of Anne Frank herself (partially projected in Jeff Sugg’s impressive video design). The productive dramatic tension doesn’t let up, even after the seeming grace of the last-line, which relieves Silver of worldly burdens but leaves us brooding on their shifting meanings and ends. (Avila)
*East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Dates and times vary. Through Nov 21. Don Reed’s solo play, making its Oakland debut after an acclaimed New York run, is truly a welcome homecoming twice over. (Avila)
In the Red and Brown Water Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller, Mill Valley; 388-5208, www.marintheatre.org. $32-53. Tues, 8pm; Thurs-Sat, 8pm; Wed, 7:30pm, Sun, 7pm (also Sat/2, 2pm). Through Oct 10. Marin Theatre Company presents the West Coast premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play.
In the Wound John Hinkel Park, Berk; (510) 841-6500, www.shotgunplayers.org. $10 (no one turned away). Sat-Sun, 3pm. Through Sun/3. Shotgun Players’ annual free performance in Berkeley’s John Hinkel Park is this year an impressively staged large-cast reworking of the Illiad from playwright-director Jon Tracy. In the Wound is actually the first of two new and related works from Tracy collectively known as the Salt Plays (the second of which, Of the Earth will open at Shotgun’s Ashby stage in December). Its distinctly contemporary slant on the Trojan War includes re-imagining the epic’s Greek commanders as figures we’ve come to know and loath here in the belly of a beast once know by the quaint-sounding phrase, “military-industrial complex.” Hence, Odysseus (Daniel Bruno) as a devoted family man in a business suit with a briefcase full of bloody contradictions emanating from his 9-to-5 as a “social architect” for the empire; or Agamemnon (an irresistibly Patton-esque Michael Torres) as the ridiculously macho, creatively foul-mouthed redneck American four-star commander-clown ordering others into battle. While the alternately humorous and overly meaningful American inflections can feel too obvious and dramatically limiting, they’re delivered with panache, amid the not unmoving spectacle of the production’s energetic, drum-driven choreography and cleverly integrated mise-en-scène. (Avila)
*Loveland The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston Way; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $20-50. Fri, 7pm; Sat, 5pm. Through Nov 13. Ann Randolph’s acclaimed one-woman comic show about grief returns for its sixth sold-out extension.
MilkMilkLemonade La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; www.impacttheatre.com. $10-20. Thurs-Sat, 8pm. Through Sat/2. Impact Theatre presents Joshua Conkel’s off off Broadway play about a lonely gay man trapped in a chicken farm.
She Loves Me Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek; (825) 943-7469, www.CenterREP.org. $36-45. Wed, 7:30pm; Thurs-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 2:30 and 8pm; Sun, 2:30pm. Through Oct 10. Center REPertory company presents a musical choreographed and directed by Robert Barry fleming.
Trouble in Mind Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; (510) 843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org. $10-55. Wed-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2 and 7pm; Tues, 7pm. Through Sun/3. It’s old enough be considered a period piece, but at no time does Aurora Theatre’s production of Alice Childress’ 1955 comic drama Trouble in Mind feel dated. Set backstage on Broadway, Trouble depicts the rehearsals of a play entitled Chaos in Belleville—an anti-lynching melodrama penned by a white author. The often hilariously manic director, Al Manners (Tim Kniffin) alternately patronizes, bullies, and flatters the predominantly black cast into portraying the basest plantation stereotypes—right down to the names “Petunia” and “Ruby”—all the while touting the work as an important statement about race relations. But the real lessons in race relations and breaking through the color barriers occur as the rehearsals progress and the cast, middle-aged “character actress” Wiletta Mayer (Margo Hall) in particular, begin to question the veracity of the script and the directorial instincts of Manners. Trouble’s exceptional cast keeps the dialogue crackling and the pace urgent, save for a heart-breakingly deliberate reminiscence powerfully delivered by Rhonnie Washington. As for the timeliness of a piece which highlights among other things the dearth of strong theatrical roles for African-Americans, it’s interesting to note that actors Elizabeth Carter, Jon Joseph Gentry, Margo Hall, and Rhonnie Washington are all making their Aurora Theatre debut with this particular play. (Nicole Gluckstern)
“Best of the Fringe Encore Performances” EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy; 673-3847, www.sffringe.org. Fri/1-Sat/2, 7 and 8:30pm; $20. Four highlights from this year’s SF Fringe Festival get repeat performances.
“Blue Room Comedy” Club 93, 93 9th St; 264-5489. Free. Tues/5, 10pm. A weekly series that takes comedy to new lows.
“Body and Sound Arts Festival Concert” Kunst-Stoff Arts, 929 Market; www.dancemonks.com. Fri/1, 7pm; $15-30. An interdisciplinary arts festival dedicated to improvisation.
“Clown Cabaret at the Climate” The Jewish Theater, 470 Florida; 704-3260, www.climatetheater.com. Mon/4, 7 and 9pm; $10-15. Rising star clowns and seasoned pro clowns perform.
“The Ethel Merman Experience” Martuni’s, 4 Valencia; 241-0205, www.dragatmartunis.com. Sun/3, 7pm; $5. Rock gets the brassy Merman treatment.
“Free Night of Theatre” Union Square; www.tixbayarea.com. Wed/29, 10-am-4pm and 6pm; free. A sixth anniversary kick-off performance celebration in which free theater tickets are distributed.
“Funny Girlz” Brava Theater, 2781 24th St; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. Wed/29, 8pm; $25. Kung Pao Kosher Comedy presents a smorgasboard of female comedians.
Insides Out!/Indecision Collision Stage Werx, 533 Sutter; (800) 838-3006, wwwbrownpapertickets.com. Thurs-Fri, 8pm (Insides Out!); Sat, 8pm (Indecision Collision); $12-20. A pair of solo performances by Katie O’Brien.
“ODC/Dance: Architecture of Light” ODC Theater, 3153 17th St; www.odctheater.org. Thurs/30-Sat/2, 8pm; $20-500. ODC celebrates the opening of its new building with performances.
“Qcomedy Showcase” Martuni’s, 4 Valencia; www.Qcomedy.com. Mon/4, 8pm; $5-16. Karen Ripley, Zoe Dunning, Pippi Lovestocking, and others perform.
Lizz Roman and Dancers Danzhaus, 1275 Connecticut; 970-0222, wwwlizzromandancers.com. Thurs/30-Sat/2 (also Oct 7-9), 8pm; $20. A new performance by the local company, with lighting by Jenny B.
“The Romane Event” Make Out room, 3225 22nd; 647-2888, www.pacoromane.com.Wed/29, 7:30pm; $7. Paco Romane hosts Tim Lee, Harmon Leon, and others.
“Rotunda Dance Series” San Francisco City Hall; www.dancersgroup.org. Fri/1, noon; free. Performances by Joanna Haigood/ZACCHO Dance Theatre.
Smuin Ballet Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon; (415) 978-2787, www.smuinballet.org. Fri/1 (through Oct 9), 8pm; call for prices. The company kicks off a new season with two premieres by Trey McIntyre.
“Swan Lake: Ballet for the People By the People” CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission; (800) 838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri/1-Sat/2, 8pm; $10-15. ArtFace Performance Group presents an unconventional take on a classic.
“Trine” The Garage, 975 Howard; 518-1517, www.975howard.com. Fri/1-Sat/2, 8pm; $10-20. RAW presents work by Paco Gomes and Dancers and Damage Control Dance Theater.
Bay Area Playback Theatre Belrose Theatre, 1415 5th Ave, San Rafael; 499-8528, www.BayAreaPlayback.com. Sat/2, 7:30pm; $18. Stories told by audience members are turned into imrpov theater by a troupe.
“The Funniest Bubble Show on Earth” The Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston; (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org. Sun/3, 11am (through Nov 21); $8-11. The Amazing Bubble Man (aka Louis Pearl) returns with his show.
Mark Morris Dance Group Zellerbach Hall, UC campus, Berk; (510) 642-9988, www.calperfs.berkeley.edu. Thurs/20-Sat/2, 8pm; Sun/3, 3pm; $34-72. The acclimaed dance company returns with a triple-bill of premieres.