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.
The Ape Woman: A Rock Opera Exit Studio, 156 Eddy, SF; www.theapewoman.com. $15-30. Opens Thu/20, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat and June 26, 8pm; Sun/23, 4pm. Through June 29. Dark Pork Theatre presents May van Oskan’s rock opera, inspired by a Victorian-era circus performer.
Betrayal Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason, Sixth Flr, SF; www.offbroadwaywest.org. $40. Previews Thu/20, 8pm. Opens Fri/21, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through July 20. Off Broadway West Theatre Company performs Harold Pinter’s out-of-sequence drama about an unfaithful married couple.
Abigail’s Party San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. $30-100. Tue-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm). Through July 6. Although it’s tempting to compare Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party to Edward Albee’s rancorous Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Abigail‘s escalating nastiness skews emphatically British, giving it as much in common with televised exports such as Fawlty Towers and the Ricky Gervais version of The Office. As with these, the humor in Abigail’s Party is of the bleakest and cruelest kind, and there are moments when the five Americans onstage don’t quite convey the wit that lurks beneath the ire, but when they do the results are hysterical and uncomfortable in equal measure. Though the party we witness is not Abigail’s (she’s having a teenage house party next door, the music of which keeps throbbing through the walls of Bill English’s attractively-appointed set) the adults-only cocktail party is just as awkward as any high school mixer. Hosted by the fiercely self-absorbed Beverly (Susi Damilano) and her obnoxiously classist husband Laurence (Remi Sandri), the guest list includes the mousy Angela (Allison Jean White), her monosyllabic husband Tony (Patrick Kelley Jones), and Abigail’s ill-at-ease mum, Susan (Julia Brothers), who’s agreed to keep out of the house during her daughter’s wild soiree. The acting — as well as Brendan Aanes’ sound design, Jacqueline Scott’s props, and Tatjana Genser’s costuming — is pitch perfect, but unless you haven’t already been to enough bad parties, you might find it difficult to sit through this one. If you do, don’t be surprised if you find yourself secretly envying Laurence by the end of the play — at least he finds a way out. (Gluckstern)
Birds of a Feather New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through June 29. New Conservatory Theatre Center performs the San Francisco premiere of Marc Acito’s tale inspired by two gay penguins at the Central Park Zoo.
Can You Dig It? Back Down East 14th — the 60s and Beyond Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Aug 25. Solo performer Don Reed returns with a prequel to his autobiographical coming-of-age hits, East 14th and The Kipling Hotel.
Darling, A New Musical Children’s Creativity Museum, 221 Fourth St, SF; www.act-sf.org. $20. Wed-Sat, 7:30pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2pm. Through June 29. American Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory performs Ryan Scott Oliver and Brett Ryback’s jazz-age musical.
The Divine Sister New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through June 29. Charles Busch’s latest comedy pays tribute to Hollywood films involving nuns.
Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? Costume Shop, 1117 Market, SF; www.therhino.org. $15-30. Extended run: Wed/19-Sat/22, 8pm; Sun/23, 3pm. Theatre Rhinoceros performs Caryl Churchill’s play that asks, “Do countries really behave like gay men?” Included in the program are two one-act plays: Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza and Deborah S. Margolin’s Seven Palestinian Children.
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.
410[GONE] Thick House, 1695 18th St, SF; www.crowdedfire.org. $10-35. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through June 29. Crowded Fire Theater presents the world premiere of Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s fanciful, Chinese folklore-inspired look at the underworld.
Frisco Fred’s Magic and More Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com. $35-50. Thu-Sat, 7pm. Through June 29. Performer Fred Anderson presents his latest family-friendly show, complete with magic, juggling, and “crazy stunts.”
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.
Into the Woods Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.rayoflighttheatre.com. $25-36. Thu-Sat, 8pm (check website for matinee schedule). Through June 29. Ray of Light Theatre performs Stephen Sondheim’s fairy-tale mash-up.
Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night Exit on Taylor, 277 Taylor, SF; www.cuttingball.com. $10-50. Extended run: Thu/20, 7:30pm; Fri/21-Sat/22, 8pm (also Sat/22, 2pm); Sun/23, 5pm. For patrons of last year’s production of Annie Elias’ documentary theater piece Tenderloin, walking into Cutting Ball’s take on Andrew Saito’s Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night brings about a slight sensation of déjà vu. It’s not so much that the cast actually resembles that of Tenderloin (save the familiar face of Cutting Ball associate artist David Sinaiko), but there’s a similar atmosphere of decay and powerlessness that roils beneath a surface of surrealistic flash. Framed by Michael Locher’s versatile, split-level set, clad in Meg Neville’s savvy costumes, the trampled-upon characters hurl poetic invective around the stage, delight in fish heads and petrified gerbils, plot to torture, seduce, and murder, and form clumsy, temporary alliances in order to accomplish the above. David Sinaiko’s crass, legless patriarch Pap Pap and Marjorie Crump-Shears’ deceptively fragile-looking brothel proprietor Gran Ma Ma preside over the inexorable decline of their insular households while their immediate kin, the cheerfully morbid Drumhead (Wiley Naman Strasser) and the irresistible temptress, Scarlett (Felicia Benefield), desperately seek to break free of their overbearing elders and the stifling routines that chain them to their circumstances. Much like the fish heads beloved by the characters as food, the play isn’t easy to digest, and there are gaps left in the narrative that even heavy abstraction can’t explain away, but Saito’s topsy-turvy world is nonetheless one worth visiting, and inaugurates his three-year playwriting residency at Cutting Ball with a weird and wonderful flourish. (Gluckstern)
Pansy New Conservatory Theater Center, 25 Van Ness, SF; www.nctcsf.org. $25-45. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Through June 29. Feeling isolated and angry in a queer culture seemingly shy of commitment and thin on the meaning of community, a lonely young man stumbles over a box of old VHS tapes in the basement and makes a powerful connection to his doppelganger, a San Francisco club maven named Peter Pansy, who died of AIDS in 1993. From this synchronicity (based on a true story), actor-playwright Evan Johnson and director-collaborator Ben Randle take the measure of a generational divide and an attendant cultural amnesia, as the narrative spins two parallel arcs 20 years apart but now in open conversation with each other. That conversation is most powerful in moments that prove largely dialogue-free, as in the excellent interplay between Peter and his shadow, which reinforces a sense that the dialogue in general could benefit by being more succinct or elliptical. At the same, Johnson (actor-playwright behind 2010’s outstanding solo play about Jeffrey Dahmer, Don’t Feel) has a commanding presence as he cuts nimbly back and forth between 2013’s Michael and 1993’s Peter, tracing ever subtler lines of pride and alienation, utopian dissent and quotidian oppressions, until the import of the recent but heretofore hazy past offers itself as a quiet but profound afflatus. (Avila)
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. Update: new episodes began May 15. (Avila)
Steve Seabrook: Better Than You Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Thu, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through June 29. Self-awareness, self-actualization, self-aggrandizement — for these things we turn to the professionals: the self-empowerment coaches, the self-help authors and motivational speakers. What’s the good of having a “self” unless someone shows you how to use it? Writer-performer Kurt Bodden’s Steve Seabrook wants to sell you on a better you, but his “Better Than You” weekend seminar (and tie-in book series, assorted CDs, and other paraphernalia) belies a certain divided loyalty in its own self-flattering title. The bitter fruit of the personal growth industry may sound overly ripe for the picking, but Bodden’s deftly executed “seminar” and its behind-the-scenes reveals, directed by Mark Kenward, explore the terrain with panache, cool wit, and shrewd characterization. As both writer and performer, Bodden keeps his Steve Seabrook just this side of overly sensational or maudlin, a believable figure, finally, whose all-too-ordinary life ends up something of a modest model of its own. (Avila)
Sylvia Fort Mason Theater, Fort Mason Center, Bldg C, Rm 300, Marina at Laguna, SF; sylvia.brownpapertickets.com. $20-45. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through June 30. Independent Cabaret Productions and Shakespeare at Stinton present AR Gurney’s midlife-crisis comedy.
Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma: The Next Cockettes Musical Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-35. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Extended through June 29. Thrillpeddlers and director Russell Blackwood continue their Theatre of the Ridiculous series with this 1971 musical from San Francisco’s famed glitter-bearded acid queens, the Cockettes, revamped with a slew of new musical material by original member Scrumbly Koldewyn, and a freshly re-minted book co-written by Koldewyn and “Sweet Pam” Tent — both of whom join the large rotating cast of Thrillpeddler favorites alongside a third original Cockette, Rumi Missabu (playing diner waitress Brenda Breakfast like a deliciously unhinged scramble of Lucille Ball and Bette Davis). This is Thrillpeddlers’ third Cockettes revival, a winning streak that started with Pearls Over Shanghai. While not quite as frisky or imaginative as the production of Pearls, it easily charms with its fine songs, nifty routines, exquisite costumes, steady flashes of wit, less consistent flashes of flesh, and de rigueur irreverence. The plot may not be very easy to follow, but then, except perhaps for the bubbly accounting of the notorious New York flop of the same show 42 years ago by Tent (as poisoned-pen gossip columnist Vedda Viper), it hardly matters. (Avila)
The World’s Funniest Bubble Show Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $8-50. Sun, 11am. Through July 21. Louis “The Amazing Bubble Man” Pearl returns after a month-long hiatus with his popular, kid-friendly bubble show.
American Night: The Ballad of Juan José Bruns Amphitheater, 100 California Shakespeare Theater Way, Orinda; www.calshakes.org. $43-48. Wed/19-Thu/20, 7:30pm; Fri/21-Sat/22, 8pm (also Sat/22, 3pm); Sun/23, 4pm. Juan José (Sean San José) is a Mexican immigrant and family man trying to navigate the nightmare of history — his own and that of his respective countries — on the night before his citizenship exam. Much slapstick, winking allusion, and self-referential in-joking follow, amid a parade of loopy figures that include, in no particular order, Ben Franklin (Margo Hall), Lewis and Clark (Dan Hiatt and Sharon Lockwood), Joan Baez (Dena Martinez) and Bob Dylan (Brian Rivera), Jackie Robinson (Tyee Tilghman), Neil Diamond (Richard Ruiz), Harry Bridges (Hiatt), and lesser known but admirable figures of cross-border solidarity like Chicano teenager turned Manzanar-internee Ralph Lazo (Martinez) and early-20th-century African American nurse Viola Pettus (Hall). As a comedy on the history of the Mexican American immigrant experience, it may be superficially timely, but the real “American night” is vaster, wider, and more terrorizing — and deserves a fresher, more radical treatment — than the kitschy and familiar riffs, ungainly structure, and too-easy moral offered by playwright Richard Montoya (of storied Latino performance trio Culture Clash, who along with Jo Bonney contributed to the play’s development) in California Shakespeare Theater and director Jonathan Moscone’s desultory Bay Area premiere. The expert cast is the best part of the evening, but one nevertheless wants to escape this well-trodden comedic-dramatic terrain for some more real place. (Avila)
Bubbles for Grown-Ups Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. $15-50. Wed/19, 8pm. Louis “The Amazing Bubble Man” Pearl presents a show aimed at adults.
By & By Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-30. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through June 23. Shotgun Players presents a new sci-fi thriller by Lauren Gunderson.
Dear Elizabeth Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $24-77. Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Sun and July 3, 2pm); Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat and Thu/6, 2pm; no show July 4). Through July 7. Berkeley Rep performs Sarah Ruhl’s play written in the form of letters between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell.
George Gershwin Alone Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, Berk; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-77. Wed/19 and Sun/23, 7pm (also Sun/23, 2pm); Thu/20-Sat/22, 8pm (also Sat/22, 2pm). Hershey Felder stars in his celebration of the music and life of composer George Gershwin.
The Medea Hypothesis Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.centralworks.org. $15-28. Thu/20-Sat/22, 8pm; Sun/23, 3pm. Medea is perhaps one of the most problematic tragic protagonists in theater history, as even the most flexibly sympathetic viewpoint is severely challenged when faced with a filicidal mother. But at Central Works, rather than just updating an old tale of bloody vengeance, The Medea Hypothesis further takes a page from the pop science book of the same name written by Peter Ward, in which he speculates on the latent suicidal and self-destructive tendencies of the planetary superorganism. As the brittle, middle-aged Em, Jan Zvaifler dominates the stage, holding herself and her glamorous career in fashion together as her husband leaves her for a woman with a “perfect neck” and her daughter Sweetie (Dakota Dry), who appears only as a video projection, becomes contested property in an angry custody battle. Relentlessly egged on by her Mephistophelian flunky Ian (Cory Censoprano), and enraged by the interference of her ex-husband’s prospective father-in-law (Joe Estlack), Em does lash out at the happy couple in the Euripides-approved manner (though with flunky-provided “Plutonium 210” instead of plain old poison) but when it comes to the expected act of ultimate violence playwright Marian Berges provides a surprising twist to the familiar Grecian formula, giving Em a shot at a redemption never allowed the Euripidean matriarch. It’s still undeniably a tragedy, but concurrently, also a triumph. Kind of like the continued presence of multicellular life on earth. (Gluckstern)
This Is How It Goes Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; www.auroratheatre.org. $32-60. Opens Thu/20, 8pm. Runs Tue and Sun, 7pm (also Sun, 2pm); Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through July 21. Aurora Theatre Company performs the Bay Area premiere of Neil LaBute’s edgy comedy about an interracial couple.
Wild With Happy TheatreWorks at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, 500 Castro, Mtn View; www.theatreworks.org. $23-73. Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through June 30. TheatreWorks presents the West Coast premiere of Colman Domingo’s new comedy, starring the playwright himself.
BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. “Director’s Cut!” Fri, 8pm, $20. Through June 28. “Improvised Noir Musical,” Sat, 8pm, $20. Through June 29.
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña’s Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sat/22, June 30, July 13, 21, and 27, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
“Flamenco Del Oro” Emerald Tablet, 80 Fresno, SF; www.emtab.org. Fri/21, 8pm. $10 suggested donation. Flamenco music and dance.
“Fresh Meat Festival” Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.freshmeatproductions.org. Thu/20-Sat/22, 8pm. $15-25. Performances by ten trailblazing transgender and queer performance groups.
“Harvey’s Funny Tuesdays” Harvey’s, 500 Castro, SF; www.harveyssf.com. Tue/25, 9pm. Free. Comedy with headliner Shaun Landry.
“Mission Position Live” Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; www.missionpositionlive.com. Thu, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Stand-up comedy with rotating performers.
“Randy Roberts: Live!” Alcove Theater, 414 Mason, Ste 502, SF; www.thealcovetheater.com. Fri-Sat through June 29 and July 9, 16, and 23, 9pm. $30. The famed female impersonator takes on Cher, Better Midler, and other stars.
Red Hots Burlesque El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; www.redhotsburlesque.com. Wed, 7:30-9pm. Ongoing. $5-10. Come for the burlesque show, stay for OMG! Karaoke starting at 8pm (no cover for karaoke).
“San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival: Weekend Three” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Lam Research Theater, 700 Howard, SF; www.sfethnicdancefestival.org. Sat/22-Sun/23, 2pm (also Sat/22, 8pm). $18-58. With Chinese Performing Arts of America, OREET, La Tania Baile Flamenco, Vishwa Shanti Dance Academy, and more.
“San Francisco Gay Pride Comedy Show 2013” 1772 Market, SF; facebook.com/hellagaycomedyshow. Sun/23, 8pm. $10. With Ariel Smith, Carrie Avritt, Rich Hutchison, and more.
“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.
Amara Tabor-Smith Various locations (starts at 32 Page), SF; www.dancersgroup.org. Fri/21-Sun/23, 3:30-8:30pm. Free. Dancers’ Group’s ONSITE Series presents the performer’s site-specific work, He Moved Swiftly But Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street: Ed Mock and Other True Tales in a City That Once Was…
“This Is Dedicated …” CounterPULSE, 1301 Mission, SF; www.counterpulse.org. Fri/21-Sat/22, 8pm; Sun/23, 7pm. $10-100. Here Now Dance Collective presents a benefit in the form of a dance theater game “with rules, a referee, a winner, and lots of losers.”
“Topsy-Turvy: A Queer Circus Extravaganza” Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF; www.brownpapertickets.com. Sat/22, 2pm (family matinee) and 8pm (18 and over show), $8-20. Part of the National Queer Arts Festival, this performance features circus artists from across the country.
“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.
“Yerba Buena Gardens Festival” Yerba Buena Gardens, Mission between 3rd and 4th Sts, SF; www.ybgfestival.org. Through Oct 15. Free. This week: Darren Johnson and the Trans-Global People’s Chorus (Sat/22, 1pm); AXIS Dance Company (Sun/23, 1pm).
“Marga Gomez: Pride Baby” Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. Fri/21, 8pm. $15. The comedian performs her “very gay stand-up.”
“The Pocket Watch” Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo, Berk; www.vagabondopera.com. Sat/22, 8pm. $12-15. Gypsy cabaret ensemble Vagabond Opera performs, with a set list that includes songs in seven languages. *