Feel-good musicals featuring the liberal use of pastoral settings and fluffy crinolines -- like, say, the cloying Oklahoma! or The Music Man -- make me want to hurl. Last year's late-night off-Broadway triumph Here Lies Jenny, however, is the delicious antithesis to those sunny smash hits, yet it still offers reflection and inspiration. Like Garbo did in Anna Christie, Bebe Neuwirth (in the title role) stumbles into a crusty gin joint she frequented in the past, trying to deal with yet another day in her dismal life.
But the real story here is the music that mirrors that life, created by Kurt Weill (with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht, Ira Gershwin, and Langston Hughes, to name just a luminous few), and the Bob Fosse-influenced dance moves of Ann Reinking (the original Roxie Hart to Neuwirth's Velma Kelly in the 1996 revival of Chicago). It's a rare chance -- no, a privilege -- to catch two legends working together again. Neuwirth kicks up a storm at 8 p.m. on Thursday (the show continues through May 25) at the Post Street Theatre, 450 Post (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $35-55; call 771-6900 or visit www.poststreettheatre.com.
-- Brock Keeling
Big musician, little show
Before he leaves to tour glamorous Spain and Portugal with the recently reunited American Music Club, Mark Eitzel plays solo at a show that probably won't be glamorous at all, but we like our shows small and gritty. Eitzel's critically acclaimed music is, as many (including Rolling Stone magazine) attest, world class, and this jaunt in support of AMC's latest album, Love Songs for Patriots, should help the trio gain the fame it deserves.
But first, local audiences can catch our would-be megastar (maybe one last time) in a down-home Bay Area setting. It won't be the same as, say, the performance later in the month at Teatro Lloseta on the Spanish island of Majorca, but hearing Eitzel's mix of pop, jazz, rock, folk, and more at this unpretentious joint is more our style. Meatwood Flac, Bart Davenport, and others share the stage at this benefit for injured musician Dax Pierson at 9 p.m. at the Eagle Tavern, 398 12th St. (at Harrison), S.F. Admission is $7-20; call 626-0880 or visit www.sfeagle.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Guerrilla dance company's spring fling
Leave the long white gloves at home, because at a performance by the Smuin Ballet, you're as likely to see platform shoes and chain saws as toeshoes and tutus. The sassy dance troupe's spring program revisits two of its seminal works, the smoldering mambo Frankie & Johnny and the folksy mood piece Chants d'Auvergne. But dance geeks are looking forward to the West Coast premiere of Eliot Feld's Pacific Dances, a hula-inspired tour de force set to slack-key guitar. The show begins at 8 p.m. on Friday (and continues through May 15) in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $40-60; call 978-2787 or visit www.smuinballet.org.
-- Jane Tunks
The name comes from a retooling of the Buzzcocks' "Orgasm Addict," and it's fitting: Manic Hispanic is a punk-obsessed, barrio humor-wielding supergroup of guys from Agent Orange, the Adolescents, and similar acts, responsible for hilarious songs like "Bored With You Ese (Bored With the USA)." The Johns and La Plebe open at 9 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $11-13; call 255-0333 or visit www.slims-sf.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser