Theater Listings: July 23 - 29, 2014
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.
Sex and the City: Live!! Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St, SF; sexandthecitylive.eventbrite.com. $30. Opens Thu/24, 8pm. Runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Aug 10. Velvet Rage Productions presents two new live episodes of the hit HBO show, with an all-star drag cast (Lady Bear, Heklina, D'Arcy Drollinger, and RuPaul's Drag Race runner-up Alaska).
Monsieur Chopin Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison, Shattuck; www.berkeleyrep.org. $29-87. Previews Fri/25-Sat/26, 8pm (also Sat/26, 2pm); Sun/27, 2pm. Opens Sun/27, 7pm. Runs Tue and Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Wed and Sun, 7pm (also Wed, 2pm). Through Aug 10. Hershey Felder stars in his musical biography of legendary composer Chopin.
"Bay Area Playwrights Festival" Thick House Theater, 1695 18th St, SF; www.playwrightsfoundation.org. $15. Through Sun/27. The Playwrights Foundation's 37th annual festival of new plays contains six new works; authors include Rob Melrose, Elizabeth Hersh, Phillip Howze, and E. Hunter Spreen.
Each and Every Thing Marsh San Francisco Main Stage, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $20-50. Thu-Fri, 8pm; Sat, 8:30pm. Extended through Aug 24. The latest solo show from celebrated writer-performer Dan Hoyle (Tings Dey Happen, The Real Americans) winds a more random course than usual across the country and abroad but then that's the idea — or at least Hoyle warns us, right after an opening encounter with a touchy young white supremacist, that the trip he's taking us on is a subtle one. Displaying again his exceptional gifts as a writer and protean performer, Hoyle deftly embodies a set of real-life encounters as a means of exploring the primacy and predicament of face-to-face communication in the age of Facebook. With the help of director Charlie Varon (who co-developed the piece with Hoyle and Maureen Towey), this comes across in an entertaining and swift-flowing 75-minute act that includes a witty rap about "phone zombies" and a Dylan-esque screed at a digital detox center. But the purported subject of connection, or lack there of, in our gadget-bound and atomized society is neither very original nor very deeply explored — nor is it necessarily very provocative in a theater, before an audience already primed for the live encounter. Far more interesting and central here is Hoyle's relationship with his old college buddy Pratim, an Indian American in post-9/11 America whose words are filled with laid-back wisdom and wry humor. Also intriguing is the passing glimpse of early family life in the Hoyle household with Dan's celebrated artist father, and working-class socialist, Geoff Hoyle. These relationships, rather than the sketches of strangers (albeit very graceful ones), seem the worthier subjects to mine for truth and meaning. Indeed, there's a line spoken by Pratim that could sum up the essence of Hoyle's particular art: "It's so much better," he says, "when you find yourself in other people than when you just find yourself." Hoyle's real frontier could end up being much more personal terrain, much closer to home. (Avila)
Everybody Here Says Hello! and Superheroes Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.wilywestproductions.com. $22-35. Through Wed/23. Wily West Productions presents two world premiere plays in repertory; Hello! is by Stuart Bousel, while Superheroes is a collaborative effort by eight local writers.
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.
God Fights the Plague Marsh San Francisco Studio Theater, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org. $15-100. Sat, 8:30pm; Sun, 7pm. Through Aug 10. The Marsh presents a solo show written by and starring 18-year-old theater phenom Dezi Gallegos.
The Guerrillas of Powell Street Bindlestiff Studio, 185 Sixth St, SF; www.bindlestiffstudio.org. $10-20. Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Aug 2. Bindlestiff Studio presents the world premiere of the English translation of Rody Vera's play about Filipino World War II veterans in San Francisco, based on Benjamin Pimentel's novel.
Hick: A Love Story, The Romance of Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson, SF; www.crackpotcrones.com. Free. Thu/24-Sat/26, 8pm; Sun/27, 3pm. Terry Baum's energy is astounding. The perennial Green Party mayoral candidate, artist, writer, and performer is currently starring in Hick: A Love Story, a solo show that explores the friendship and love affair between Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena Hickok. The piece is made up of re-imaginings and verbatim orations of the thousands of letters exchanged between the couple during their 30-year communication. When Baum, entirely devoid of pretense, first takes the stage, it is 1932; her character, the passionate but self-deprecatory "Hick," has a crush on the candidate's wife as she covers the campaign for the AP. Baum brilliantly captures Hick's transformation as the First Lady returns her affections, and her anxiety and vulnerability morph into euphoria. Baum, co-writer Pat Bond, and director Carolyn Meyers couple Hick's timeless emotional trajectory with well-researched set design and referentiality that captures the spirit of the 1930s and, in a heartbreaking late-life epilogue, the late 1960s. (David Kurlander)
Into the Woods San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post, SF; www.sfplayhouse.org. $20-120. Tue-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 3pm); Sun, 2pm. Through Sept 6. SF Playhouse performs Stephen Sondheim's fractured fairy-tale musical.
Now and at the Hour Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.theexit.org. $15-25. Fri/25-Sat/26, 8pm. Magician and solo performer Christian Cagigal performs his latest show, "an intimate, interactive, and unnerving theatrical experience."
Patterns Dennis Gallagher Arts Pavilion (in the French American International High School), 66 Page, SF; www.thenewstage.com. $30. Wed-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 16. The New Stage's premiere of company founder Amy Munz's solo work is one of the more intelligent and sophisticated debuts (by both a new company and a young artist) in recent memory. It's an ambitious and notably subtle, serious, unsentimental exploration of love, in which a dynamic Munz — on a wide bare stage bounded on three sides by her own wonderfully evocative three-channel video-scape — plays several characters, and three in particular: Amot, Abigail, and Ava, whose stories are slyly interwoven. Amot, the principal focus across two discrete acts, is a young woman raised by her widowed father in his butcher shop, who later falls in love with a young man. But her story, like that of the other young women, comes to us in a form more like the stream of consciousness, fractured and expansive in the disjuncture and interplay between Munz's ardently committed performance and the shrewd audio and visual environment surrounding the audience — a manufactured landscape of memory, desire, and role-playing in which to some extent the audience is free to find its own way and discover its own truths. Part two further integrates the voices of the other young women, Abigail and Ava, forming a mesh of narratives and associations stimulating in their intellectual, visual, and aural juxtapositions. This is a work that demands a kind of letting go, but also invites full participation of the viewer's imagination, as the rich mise-en-scène and Munz's intense, unflinching performance unfold with unexpected abundance. (Avila)
Pearls Over Shanghai Hypnodrome Theatre, 575 10th St, SF; www.thrillpeddlers.com. $30-35. Thu/24-Sat/26, 8pm. Five years ago, Thrillpeddlers breathed new life into a glitter-dusted piece of Sixties flotsam, beautifully reimagining the Cockettes' raunchy mock-operetta Pearls Over Shanghai (in collaboration with several surviving members of San Francisco's storied acid-drag troupe) and running it for a whopping 22 months. Written by Cockette Link Martin as a carefree interpretation of a 1926 Broadway play, the baldly stereotyped Shanghai Gesture, it was the perfectly lurid vehicle for irreverence in all directions. It's back in this revival, once again helmed by artistic director Russell Blackwood with musical direction by Cockette and local favorite Scrumbly Koldewyn. But despite the frisson of featuring some original-original cast members — including "Sweet Pam" Tent (who with Koldewyn also contributes some new dialogue) and Rumi Missabu (regally reprising the role of Madam Gin Sling) — there's less fire the second time around as the production straddles the line between carefully slick and appropriately sloppy. Nevertheless, there are some fine musical numbers and moments throughout. Among these, Zelda Koznofsky, Birdie-Bob Watt, and Jesse Cortez consistently hit high notes as the singing Andrews Sisters-like trio of Americans thrown into white slavery; Bonni Suval's Lottie Wu is a fierce vixen; and Noah Haydon (as the sultry Petrushka) is a class act. Koldewyn's musical direction and piano accompaniment, meanwhile, provide strong and sure momentum as well as exquisite atmosphere. (Avila)
The Scion Marsh San Francisco, 1062 Valencia, SF; www.themarsh.org.$30-100. Sat, 5pm. Through Aug 23. Brian Copeland's hit solo show, "a tale of privilege, murder, and sausage," returns to the Marsh.
Shit & Champagne Rebel, 1772 Market, SF; shitandchampagne.eventbrite.com. $25. Fri-Sat, 8pm. Open-ended. D'Arcy Drollinger is Champagne White, bodacious blond innocent with a wicked left hook in this cross-dressing '70s-style white-sploitation flick, played out live on Rebel's intimate but action-packed barroom stage. Written by Drollinger and co-directed with Laurie Bushman (with high-flying choreography by John Paolillo, Drollinger, and Matthew Martin), this high-octane camp send-up of a favored formula comes dependably stocked with stock characters and delightfully protracted by a convoluted plot (involving, among other things, a certain street drug that's triggered an epidemic of poopy pants) — all of it played to the hilt by an excellent cast that includes Martin as Dixie Stampede, an evil corporate dominatrix at the head of some sinister front for world domination called Mal*Wart; Alex Brown as Detective Jack Hammer, rough-hewn cop on the case and ambivalent love interest; Rotimi Agbabiaka as Sergio, gay Puerto Rican impresario and confidante; Steven Lemay as Brandy, high-end calf model and Champagne's (much) beloved roommate; and Nancy French as Rod, Champagne's doomed fiancé. Sprawling often literally across two buxom acts, the show maintains admirable consistency: The energy never flags and the brow stays decidedly low. (Avila)
Sweet Maladies Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St, SF; www.brava.org. $15. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm. Through Aug 3. Three sisters, former slaves in the household of a petulant mistress, hesitate in the uncertain wake of their formal emancipation in Zakiyyah Alexander's tightly written, potent new drama. Cecile (Britney Frazier) is the haughty rebel to older sister Polly's (Kehinde Koyejo) gentler, more cautious nature, while youngest sister Mary (Stefanée Martin) is the seeming innocent who has nevertheless absorbed the full range of slavery's debased operations — a fact made clear by Mary vis-à-vis her ragdoll in a startlingly well done soliloquy. As witty as it is ferocious, the play — rewardingly inspired by Jean Genet's The Maids — is at one level all about role-playing. Even as the sisters appropriate and swap roles with each other and their cruel yet needy and equally unmoored mistress (Lisa Ann Porter), a small minstrel stage serves the action as a point of surreal underscoring, adding another layer to the cultural morass in which they struggle for definition and agency. Furtive in its unfolding, the play nevertheless plunges with productive candor into the convoluted violence of American society and culture, its compact yet subtle excavation well served by this intimate production in Brava's upstairs studio theater, where Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe directs a uniformly strong cast in sharp and lucid performances. (Avila)
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma, SF; www.sfneofuturists.com. $11-16. Fri-Sat, 9pm. Ongoing. The Neo-Futurists perform Greg Allen's spontaneous, ever-changing show that crams 30 plays into 60 minutes.
As You Like It Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 890 Belle, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; www.marinshakespeare.org. Donations accepted. Runs in repertory Fri-Sun through Aug 10; visit website for specific performance dates and times. It's outdoor Shakespeare season in the Bay Area! Marin Shakespeare kicks off its 25th season with a classic production of the Bard's gender-bending comedy.
Dracula Inquest Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berk; www.centralworks.org. $15-28. Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Aug 17. Central Works performs Gary Graves' mystery inspired by the Bram Stoker vampire classic.
The Great Pretender Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield, Palo Alto; www.theatreworks.org. $19-74. Tue-Wed, 7:30pm; Thu-Sat, 8pm (also Sat, 2pm); Sun, 2 and 7pm. Through Aug 3. TheatreWorks performs the world premiere of David West Read's bittersweet comedy.
Old Money Barn Theatre, 30 Sir Francis Drake, Ross; www.rossvalleyplayers.com. $10-26. Thu, 7:30pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 2pm. Through Aug 17. Ross Valley Players performs Wendy Wasserstein's New York City-set comedy.
The Ripple Effect This week: Mill Valley Community Center, 180 Camino Alto, Mill Valley; www.sfmt.org. Wed/23, 7:30pm. Free (donations accepted). Also Sat/26-Sun/27, 2pm, Live Oak Park, Shattuck at Berryman, Berk. Continues through Sept 1 at various NorCal venues. The veteran San Francisco Mime Troupe stays current by skewering San Francisco's ever-dividing economy; think rising rents, tech-bus protests, and (natch) Glassholes.
Romeo and Juliet Forest Meadows Amphitheater, 890 Belle, Dominican University of California, San Rafael; www.marinshakespeare.org. $12-35. Runs in repertory Fri-Sun through Sept 28; visit website for specific performance dates and times. Marin Shakespeare continues its 25th season with the Bard's timeless tragedy.
Shrek the Musical Julia Morgan Theatre, 2640 College, Berk; www.berkeleyplayhouse.org. $17-60. Sat, 1 and 6pm; Sun, noon and 5pm; Wed/23 and July 30-31, 7pm (also Wed/23, 3:30pm). Through Aug 3. Berkeley Playhouse performs the musical based on the DreamWorks fairy tale film.
"Splathouse Double Feature" La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid, Berk; http://impacttheatre.com. $10-25. Thu-Sat, 8pm. Through Aug 9. Impact Theatre performs The Sadist and Eegah!, film and live performance blends inspired by the classic exploitation movies.
The Taming of the Shrew This week: Memorial Park Amphitheater, Stevens Creek at Mary, Cupertino; www.sfshakes.org. Free. Fri/25-Sun/27 and Aug 1-3, 7:30pm. Continues through Sept 21 at various Bay Area venues. Free Shakespeare in the Park presents this take on the Bard's barb-filled romance.
12th Night Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berk; www.shotgunplayers.org. $20-35. Wed-Thu, 7pm; Fri-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 5pm. Through Aug 17. Shotgun Players take a fresh approach to the Shakespeare classic, using folk music and other twists.
"Burq Off!" Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy, SF; www.theexit.org. Thu/24-Sat/26, 8pm. $20. Nadia Parvez Manzoor performs her autobiographical comedy about growing up in a British-Pakistani family.
Caroline Lugo and Carolé Acuña's Ballet Flamenco Peña Pachamama, 1630 Powell, SF; www.carolinalugo.com. Sun/27, Aug 2, 9, 24, 30, Sept 6, 13, 21, 28, Oct 4, 11, 18, 26, 6:30pm. $15-19. Flamenco performance by the mother-daughter dance company, featuring live musicians.
"The Cheap Laugh" Second Act, 1727 Haight, SF; www.secondactsf.com. Thu/24, 8:30pm. $7. Comedy with Mike Capozzola and Kurt Weitzmann.
"Dash: Improv in a Flash" Un-Scripted Theater Company, 533 Sutter, Second Flr, SF; www.un-scripted.com. Sat, 10pm. $15. Ongoing through Aug 30. A late-night, free-form improv show with Un-Scripted Theater Company.
"Dream Queens Revue" Aunt Charlie's Lounge, 133 Turk, SF; www.dreamqueensrevue.com. Wed/23, 9:30pm. Free. Drag with Collette LeGrande, Ruby Slippers, Sophilya Leggz, Bobby Ashton, and more.
"Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking!" Feinstein's at the Nikko, 222 Mason, SF; www.feinsteinssf.com. Thu/24-Fri/25, 8pm; Sat/26-Sun/27, 7pm. $45-60. Anyone who's ever put palm to forehead and groaned under the banal grandiosity and shameless cunning of a Broadway show should get at least a couple of satisfying yuks out of Forbidden Broadway, writer-director Gerard Alessandrini's long-running, multi-edition musical sendup, now at Feinstein's at the Nikko for a limited run. It's ultimately a Broadway lover's dish, of course, since who can dish and cavil about such minutiae of the Broadway season as Idina Menzel's ear-splitting vocal style without the ardor of a partisan? Four able cast members — Susanne Blakeslee, James Donegan, Gina Kreiezmar, and William Selby (all veterans of other Forbidden Broadway runs) — dole out 75-minutes worth of hit-and-miss spoofs (propelled by musical director Catherine Stornetta's vigorous piano accompaniment) about everything from the inevitable return of Les Miz to the vaporous and vapid storytelling of Jersey Boys, with a good number of barbs reserved for contemporary Broadway's commercially safe, lucrative, and cheap-ass recycling of stories and songs. It's a lean show, though wacky costumes and cringing puns abound, and while rarely dazzling a show this unrestrainedly goofy begins to acquire a cumulative, surreal potency — and anyway Kreiezmar's Liza Minnelli is something to behold. (Avila)
"Magic at the Rex" Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter, SF; www.magicattherex.com. Sat, 8pm. Ongoing. $25. Magic and mystery with Adam Sachs and mentalist Sebastian Boswell III.
"Out of Line Improv" Stage Werx, 446 Valencia, SF; outoflineimprov.brownpapertickets.com. Sat, 10:30pm. $12. Ongoing. A new, completely improvised show every week.
"People in Plazas" Various locations, SF; www.peopleinplazas.org. Through Oct 3. Free. Lunchtime concerts in various downtown locations showcasing jazz, world, funk, and other styles of music.
"San Francisco Comedy College" Purple Onion at Kells, 530 Jackson, SF; www.purpleonionatkells.com. $5-15. "New Talent Show," Wed-Thu, 7; "Purple Onion All-Stars," Wed-Thu, 8:15; "The Later Show," Wed-Thu, 10. Ongoing; check website for Fri-Sat shows and schedule updates.
"San Francisco Conservatory of Dance Summer Dance Series" SFCD, 301 Eighth St, #270, SF; www.sfconservatoryofdance.org. July 28-30, 2pm. $5-10. The SFCD presents Sonorous Figures, co-directed by choreographer Christian Burns and pianist Donald White.
"Sketch 4: Music Mirror" ODC Theater, 3153 17th St, SF; www.asimagery.org. Thu/24-Sun/27, 8pm. $25-40. As part of its commissioning project and residency program, Amy Seiwert's Imagery presents dance world premieres by Kevin Keller, Adam Hougland, and Seiwert.
Tableau Stations and Bon/Nongmeikapam SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan, SF; www.somarts.org. Fri/25-Sun/27, 8pm. $15-20. New Maps International Performances presents two interdisciplinary dance performances: Aniconic by Tableau Stations and U Define by Bon/Nongmeikapam.
"Theatresports: Battle to Play LA!" Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. Fri/25, 8pm. $20. The BATS Main Stage Company splits into teams and competes to see who will represent SF at an improv competition against a group from LA.
"Tough" Z Below, 470 Florida, SF; www.zspace.org. Thu/24-Sat/26, July 31-Aug 2, Aug 7-9, 8pm. $20-25. Choreographer Chris Black performs a solo work inspired by the life of boxer John L. Sullivan.
"Turing's Apple" Z Space, 450 Florida, SF; www.rawdance.org. Fri/25-Sat/26, 8pm; Sun/27, 7pm. $25-30. RAWdance presents its 10th anniversary summer season.
"Warp Speed" Bayfront Theater, B350 Fort Mason Center, SF; www.improv.org. Sat/26, 8pm. $20. BATS Improv performs an improvised salute to Star Trek.
"Yerba Buena Gardens Festival" Yerba Buena Gardens, 760 Howard, SF; www.ybgfestival.org. Free. Through Oct 26. This week: Dalia Marina, Thu/24, 12:30pm; Crosspulse, Fri/25, 11am and 12:15pm; Tom Rigney and Flambeau, Sat/26, 1pm.
"MarshJam Improv Comedy Show" Marsh Berkeley, 2120 Allston, Berk; www.themarsh.org. Fri, 8pm. Ongoing. $10. Improv comedy with local legends and drop-in guests.
"The Merry Widow" Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar, Berk; www.pocketopera.org. Sun/27, 2pm. $39-42. Pocket Opera performs the Franz Lehár classic.