Theater Listings: July 24 – 31, 2013

Pub date July 23, 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



Gorgeous Hussy: An Interview With Joan Crawford Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; $15-35. Opens Fri/26, 8pm. Runs Aug 1, 3, 9, 15-16, 8pm. Running in repertory with Lawfully Wedded (below), this world premiere by Morgan Ludlow imagines a young writer’s encounter with the legendary movie star.

Lawfully Wedded: Plays About Marriage Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; $15-35. Opens Thu/25, 8pm. Runs Sat/27, Aug 2, 8, 10, and 17, 8pm. Running in repertory with Gorgeous Hussy (above), this world premiere “collage of scenes and stories” by Morgan Ludlow, Kirk Shimano, and Alina Trowbridge takes on marriage equality.


Can You Dig It? Back Down East 14th — the 60s and Beyond Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Aug 25. 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 albeit 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)

Chance: A Musical Play About Love, Risk, and Getting it Right Alcove Theater, 415 Mason, Fifth Flr, SF; $40-60. Thu/25-Sat/27, 8pm (also Sat/27, 3pm); Sun/28, 5pm. New Musical Theater of San Francisco presents Richard Isen’s world premiere work inspired by the writings of Oscar Wilde.

Foodies! The Musical Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; $30-34. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. AWAT Productions presents Morris Bobrow’s musical comedy revue all about food.

God of Carnage Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter, SF; $26-38. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Sept 7. Shelton Theater performs Yasmina Reza’s award-winning play about class and parenting.

Gold Rush! The Un-Scripted Barbary Coast Musical Un-Scripted Theater Company, 533 Sutter, Second Flr, SF; $10-20. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 24. The Un-Scripted Theater Company performs an improvised musical about gold-rush era San Francisco.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma, SF; $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.

How to Make Your Bitterness Work for You Stage Werx Theatre, 446 Valencia, SF; $15-25. Mon-Tue, 8pm. Through Aug 27. Kent Underwood is a motivational speaker and self-help expert with some obvious baggage of his own in this solo play from former comedy writer and stand-up comedian Fred Raker (It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life). The premise, similar to that of Kurt Bodden’s Steve Seabrook: Better Than You (ongoing at the Marsh), has the audience overlapping with participants in an Underwood seminar. Underwood, however, two years on the seminar circuit and still unable to get his book published, deviates from the script to answer texts related to a possible career breakthrough. Meanwhile, with the aid of some bullet points and illustrative slides, he explains the premise of said manuscript, “How to Make Your Bitterness Work For You,” as the sad truth of his own underdog status emerges between the laugh lines. But where Bodden is careful to make his Seabrook a somewhat believable character despite the absurdity of it all (or rather, while firmly embracing the absurdity of the self-help industry itself), Raker and director Kimberly Richards put much more space between the playwright/performer and his character, which turns out to be a less effective strategy. Verisimilitude might not have mattered much if the comic material were stronger. Unfortunately, despite the occasional zinger, much of the humor is weak or corny and the narrative (interrupted at regular intervals by an artificial tone representing the arrival of a fresh text message) too contrived to sell us on the larger story. (Avila)

Keith Moon: The Real Me Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; $40. Thu/25-Sat/27, 8pm; Sun/28, 7pm. Was Keith Moon the greatest rock ‘n’ roll drummer ever? Veteran solo performer and drum stylist Mick Berry doesn’t exactly come out and say so, but his biographical play about Moon definitely makes a good case for the possibility. Keith Moon: The Real Me, written and performed by Berry, kicks off with a literal bang, a hi-octane cover of “Baba O’Riley,” featuring Berry’s exuberantly crashing cymbals layered over the iconic, rapidfire synth riff that runs throughout the song. Though the characters of the play are all portrayed by Berry — with references to all the requisite sex, drugs, and self-destruction thrown into the mix — a full band stands at the ready behind two transparent screens to flesh out the show’s strongest element: the rock-and-roll. In order to channel Moon’s full-throttle drumming, Berry enlisted the assistance of Frank Simes, the music director of the Who’s 2012-2013 tour, while to channel Moon’s freewheeling but insecure personality, he enlisted local director Bobby Weinapple. The script itself is still ragged, and a couple of key moments, particularly when Moon’s car is attacked in early 1970, are presented in such a way that the context comes later, which is confusing if you don’t already know the history of the incident. But if you don’t mind a bit of chat with your rock concert, you’ll probably find this fusion of the two intriguing. Just remember, when the nice concessions people offer you complimentary earplugs, take them. (Gluckstern)

Sex and the City: LIVE! Rebel, 1760 Market, SF; $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)

So You Can Hear Me Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; $15-50. Fri, 8pm; Sat, 5pm. Extended through Aug 24. A 23-year-old with no experience, just high spirits and big ideals, gets a job in the South Bronx teaching special ed classes and quickly finds herself in over her head. Safiya Martinez, herself a bright young woman from the projects, delivers this inspired accounting of her time not long ago in perhaps the most neglected sector of the public school system — a 60-minute solo play that makes up for its relatively slim plot with a set of deft, powerful, lovingly crafted characterizations. These complex portraits, alternately hysterical and startling, offer their own moving ruminations on a violent but also vibrant stratum of American society, deeply fractured by pervasive poverty and injustice and yet full of restive young personalities too easily dismissed, ignored, or crudely caricatured elsewhere. An effervescent, big-hearted, and very talented performer, Martinez’s own bounding personality and contagious passion for her former students (as complicated as that relationship was), makes this deeply felt tribute all the more memorable. (Avila)

Steve Seabrook: Better Than You Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; $15-50. Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through Aug 24. 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)

Sweet Bird of Youth Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter, Second Flr, SF; $20-40. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 24. Tides Theatre performs Tennessee Williams’ Gulf Coast-set drama about an improbable couple.

Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma: The Next Cockettes Musical Hypnodrome, 575 10th St, SF; $30-35. Thu/25-Sat/27, 8pm. 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)

Wunderworld Creativity Theater, 221 Fourth St, SF; $10-15. Sat-Sun, 2pm (also Sat, 11am; Sun, 5pm). Through Aug 11. In an irresistible boost to the the Children’s Creativity Museum’s new Creativity Theater (formerly Zeum), beloved Bay Area comedian, playwright, and performer Sara Moore (Show Ho) teams up with gifted co-writer and performer Michael Phillis (The Bride of Death) and director Andrew Nance for a largely wordless, but gabble-packed, family-friendly comedy that asks what Alice might find down the rabbit hole were she to tumble down it again as an octogenarian? The 60-minute play showcases the elastic features and sharp comedic instincts of both Moore (as a hilarious and heartfelt Alice, whom no one recognizes these days unless she stretches her face smooth again) and Phillis (who kicks things off with a mimed pre-curtain speech deserving of its own encore, before coming back as the now droopy-eared White Rabbit). Equally endearing are performances by Dawn Meredith Smith (as Caterpillar, Red Queen, and a rest home nurse), choreographer Rory Davis (as the Cheshire Cat), and the inimitable Joan Mankin as Alice’s bored nursing-home roommate and the Mad Hatter. (Avila)


A Comedy of Errors Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 890 Bella, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; $20-37.50. Opens Sat/27, 8pm. Presented in repertory Fri-Sun through Sept 29; visit website for performance schedule. Marin Shakespeare Company presents a cowboy-themed spin on the Bard’s classic.

The Loudest Man on Earth Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; $19-73. Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Aug 4. TheatreWorks presents the world premiere of Catherine Rush’s unconventional romantic comedy starring acclaimed actor Adrian Blue, who is deaf.

A Maze Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; $15-30. Thu-Sun, 8pm. Through Aug 4. Just Theater performs Rob Handel’s drama about multiple characters re-inventing their identities, running in repertory with Underneath the Lintel (below).

Oil and Water This week: Mill Valley Community Center (on the back lawn), 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley; Free. Wed/24, 7pm (music 6:30pm). Also Thu/25, 7pm (music 6:30pm), free, Montclair Ball Field, 6300 Moraga, Montclair; Also Sat/27-Sun/28, 2pm (music 1:30pm), free, Live Oak Park, Shattuck at Berryman, Berk; It’s a rough year for mimes, or at any rate for the San Francisco Mime Troupe who, after presenting 53 seasons of free theater in the parks of San Francisco (and elsewhere), faced a financial crisis in April that threatened to shut down this season before it even started. The resultant show, funded by an influx of last-minute donations, is one cut considerably closer to the bone than in previous years. With a cast of just four actors and two musicians, plus a stage considerably less ornate then usual, even the play has shrunk in scale, from one two-hour musical to two loosely-connected one-acts riffing on general environmentalist themes. In Deal With the Devil, a surprisingly sympathetic (not to mention downright hawt) Devil (Velina Brown) shows up to help an uncertain president (Rotimi Agbabiaka) regain his conscience and win back his soul, while in Crude Intentions adorable, progressive, same-sex couple Gracie (Velina Brown) and Tomasa (Lisa Hori-Garcia) wind up catering a “benefit” shindig for the Keystone XL Pipeline giving them the opportunity to perpetrate a little guerilla direct action on a bombastic David Koch (Hugo E Carbajal) with a “mole de petróleo” and a smartphone. Throughout, the performers remain upbeat if somewhat over-extended as they sing, dance, and slapstick their way to the sobering conclusion that the time to turn things around in the battles over global environmental protection is now — or never. (Gluckstern)

Sea of Reeds Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; $20-35. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Aug 18. The stage comes unusually populated in this latest from well-known Bay Area monologist and red-diaper baby Josh Kornbluth: a four-piece musical ensemble (El Beh, Jonathan Kepke, Olive Mitra, and Eli Wirtschafter) sits stage right, a standing table with some reed-making equipment appears stage left. Front and center is Kornbluth and his oboe, before him a music stand and behind him three “reeds”—freestanding concave walls of a bamboo-hue (designed by Nina Ball). But there’s more: Kornbluth’s physical trainer (Amy Resnick, replaced by Beth Wilmurt beginning August 7), bounding up from her seat in the first row to lend Kornbluth support or, more productively, prod him in the right direction as he takes the long road home to setting up a promised recital of Bach’s Cantata No. 82. That set up hinges on his recent bar mitzvah, at 52, in Israel, and its unexpected connections between his life-long oboe playing, his Communist upbringing in New York, his mixed marriage, his conversations with a local rabbi, and the Book of Exodus (specifically, Moses’s trail-blazing for the Israelites across the Red Sea, a.k.a., the Sea of Reeds). Although the introduction of supporting characters, musicians, and a musical score (by Marco D’Ambrosio) breaks new ground for the longtime soloist, Sea of Reeds is classic — indeed classical (thanks to a final few tenuous bars from the promised Bach cantata) — Kornbluth. Directed by longtime creative partner David Dower, the show features the boyish comedic persona, the intricate storytelling, and the biographical referents that have given him a loyal following over the years. Diehard fans aside, the show’s cheesy, somewhat self-regarding conceit of staging “spontaneous” interactions between Kornbluth and his trainer may not work with everyone. Perhaps more challenging, though, is the persistence of a less than fully examined disjunction between the political values of his parents and his own political and ethical evolution — a disjunction highlighted here in the narrative’s fraught Middle Eastern setting and its vague navigation between the violence of religious zealotry and a plea for tolerance. (Avila)

The Spanish Tragedy Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 890 Bella, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; $20-37.50. Presented in repertory Fri-Sun through Aug 11; visit website for performance schedule. Marin Shakespeare Company performs Thomas Kyd’s Elizabethan revenge tragedy.

This Is How It Goes Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison, Berk; $32-60. Wed/24-Sat/27, 8pm; Sun/28, 2 and 7pm. An awkward love triangle between former high school classmates gets the caustic Neil LaBute treatment in Aurora Theatre Company’s production of This is How it Goes. Not content to merely skewer the familiar battles between the sexes, LaBute further prods his captive audience with the big stick of race relations, and the often unacknowledged prejudices that lurk in the hearts of men. And women. There are no innocents in this play, though each character certainly has moments where they play upon audience sympathies, only to betray them a few inflammatory lines later. As the marriage between the successful yet self-conscious African American alpha male Cody (Aldo Billingslea) and his neurotically placating Caucasian wife Belinda (Carrie Paff) erodes, the mostly affable (and former fat kid) “Man” (Gabriel Marin) insinuates himself in the middle of their troubled relationship, obviously still carrying the torch for Belinda he did 15 years ago — as well as the same wary animosity an unpopular kid carries for the star of the track team, in this case, Cody. All three actors do a very good job of shape-shifting between their middle-class Jekyll and Hyde selves, assisted in part by Marin’s amiable asides, which don’t so much lull the audience as tease them with the idea that things are about to get better, when they can only get worse. (Gluckstern)

Underneath the Lintel Live Oak Theatre, 1301 Shattuck, Berk; $15-30. Mon and Wed, 8pm; Sat-Sun, 3pm. Through Aug 4. Just Theater performs Glen Berger’s literary comedy, running in repertory with A Maze (above).

The Wiz Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College, Berk; $17-60. Wed-Thu and Sat, 7pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, noon and 5pm. Through Aug 25. Berkeley Playhouse travels to Oz with the Tony-winning musical.


Atamira Dance Company Joe Goode Performance Annex, 401 Alabama, SF; Sat/27, 8pm. $18-25. The contemporary Maori ensemble performs.

BATS Improv Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason, SF; $20. BATS Improv performs spontaneous shows based on current events (Fri/26, 8pm) and “Improvised Shakespeare” (Sat/27, 8pm).

“Bay Area Playwrights Festival” Thick House Theater, 1695 18th St, SF; Fri/26-Sun/28. $15. Three Bay Area playwrights and three New Yorkers contribute brand-new works to this 36th annual fest. The six plays were chosen from 425 submissions.

Chris Black and Megan Finlay Deborah Slater Dance Theater’s Studio 210, 3435 Cesar Chavez, SF; Fri/26-Sat/27, 8pm. $10-25. New works by Black (“Duets for Girls”) and Finlay (a physical and acrobatic show based on Macbeth), Studio 210’s summer artists-in-residence.

Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña’s Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; Sat/27, Aug 4, 17, and 25, 6:15pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.

“Comics Quitting” Cinecave, 1034 Valencia, SF; Sun/28, 9pm. $10. Bryan Blank hosts this comedy show about quitting, with Scott Simpson, Luke Lockfield, Keith D’Souza, and Leslie Small performing.

“Dr. Zebrovski’s Hour of Power” CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission, SF; Fri/26-Sun/28, 8pm. $15-25. Theater, dance, performance art, and social commentary converge in this presentation by “the world’s number one dance psychic.”

“Dream Queens Revue” Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, 133 Turk, SF; Wed/24, 9:30-11:30pm, free. Fab drag with Collette LeGrande, Ruby Slippers, Sophilya Leggz, and more.

“Factory Parts” NOH Space, 2840 Mariposa, SF; Thu/25-Sun/28, 8pm. $15. The latest venture from foolsFURY (Port Out Starboard Home) is a festival of work-in-progress, offering glimpses into the creative process of several local and national (New York) companies as each tries out anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes of material related to a current project. The results, predictably, are all over the place, and that’s just fine given the premise of the festival. There’s definitely something to be said for entering into material in development being put on its feet before an audience for the first time. The expectations and energy in the room, as well as the nature of the encounter between performers and audiences, are distinct in some worthwhile ways — and things move along pretty quickly. The challenge for such a festival rests in curating companies and artists whose overall competence is at a solid level to begin with, so that even watching them flail about in exploration is likely to be fascinating or at least rewarding. Judging only by an encounter with Program A (the first of three programs in the festival), works can range from the fairly polished and surprising to the bare bones but intriguing to the unfinished but clearly tedious. The full program, however, offers some enticing names and subjects, while promising ever-finer gradations in this spectrum. (Avila)

50 Shades! The Musical Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter, SF; Wed/24-Thu/25, 8pm; Fri/26-Sat/27, 6:30 and 9:30pm (also Sat/27, 3pm); Sun/28, 3 and 6:30pm. $20-65. Musical parody of Fifty Shades of Grey.

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

Red Hots Burlesque El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; Wed, 7:30-9pm. Ongoing. $5-10. Come for the burlesque show, stay for OMG! Karaoke starting at 8pm (no cover for karaoke).

“Resonance: Stories of Past and Present” Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St, SF; Fri/26-Sat/27, 8pm. $30-35. World-music percussion and dance with the Bay Area’s Maikaze Daiko (taiko), Japan’s GONNA (Wadaiko drumming), and more.

“San Francisco Magic Parlor” Chancellor Hotel Union Square, 433 Powell, SF; Thu-Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $40. Magic vignettes with conjurer and storyteller Walt Anthony.

“Sketch 3: Expectations” ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; (415) 863-9834. Thu/25-Sat/27, 8pm; Sun/28, 7pm. $25-30. San Francisco contemporary ballet company Amy Seiwert’s Imagery performs.

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

“Video Games Live” Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness, SF; Thu/25-Fri/26, 7:30pm. $30-100. Multimedia concert experience featuring music from games like Final Fantasy and Skyrim, plus a Guitar Hero contest and a costume competition.


“Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. — A 24-Hour Performance-A-Thon” Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St, Oakl; Fri/26, 7:30pm until Sat/27, 8:30pm. $12-24. Dandelion Dancetheater presents this participatory performance project, with dance improvisation, breath-based musical improv, solo dance, and other elements. Join in or simply watch.

“Maori Picnic Banquet” Golden Gate Rugby Club, 725 California, Treasure Island; Sun/28, 2-9pm. $20-50. SF International Arts Festival and New Zealand American Association of San Francisco present traditional music and dance of the Pacific with the Atamira Dance Company and other artists.