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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, Sep 1 2010

Shopping! The Musical. Some theater types want to be Hamlet; others want to be Liza Minnelli. The smiling, hardworking performers in this musical revue definitely fall into the latter category. Lyricist-composer Morris Bobrow uses his infectious, irreverent humor to great effect as he pays homage to the highs and lows of our compellingly crass commercial culture. He uses the small, cramped theater in a straightforward manner — four center-stage stools and an amusing backdrop provide the set. The accomplished accompanist Ben Keim keeps things lively on one side of the stage behind an upright piano. The actors lead us through songs that bring to mind Jerry Seinfeld's sharp observations on mundane modern life: "Shopping in Style" extols the virtues of Costco, and "Serious Shopping" imagines a man trying to buy lettuce from a riotously over-the-top grocery cult. The musical runs just over an hour, yet it still has a few rough spots. The midshow sketch "Checking Out" gives us a limp comedic premise that we've seen before on subpar sitcoms, and the piece "5 & 10" is a mix of awkward nostalgia and pitch problems. Nevertheless, this is a clever collection of tunes performed with an unabashedly cheesy enthusiasm that would make Liza proud. Open-ended run at the Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. $25-$29; 800-838-3006 or (Frank Wortham) Reviewed June 14, 2006.

Abigail: Salem Witch Trials – The Rock Opera: Original songs. Thursdays, 9 p.m. Continues through Sept. 23. $10. Temple, 540 Howard (at First St.), 978-9942.

Afrosolo Arts Festival 17: Multidisciplinary arts festival presented by the AfroSolo Theatre Company. See site for schedule. Through Oct. 15. Multiple Bay Area locations, multiple Bay Area locations.

Big City Improv: Actors take audience suggestions and create comedy from nothing. Fridays, 10 p.m. $15-$20. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Tennessee Williams' classic play. Through Sept. 4. $26-$38. Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287.

The Fantasticks: Presented by SF Playhouse. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through Sept. 4. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.

Hail Caesar!: Teatro ZinZanni's new production. Through Oct. 31. $117-$145. Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 273-1620.

Monday Night Marsh: On select Mondays a different lineup of musicians, actors, performance artists, and others takes the stage at this regular event that's hosted local celebs like Josh Kornbluth and Marga Gomez in the past; see for a lineup of future shows. Mondays. $7. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Party of 2: The New Mating Musical: Bobrow Productions. Sundays. Continues through Sept. 12. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100.

Pearls over Shanghai: Thrillpeddlers brings back the Cockettes. Through Dec. 19. $30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202.

Posibilidad, or the Death of the Worker: The latest by the San Francisco Mime Troupe plays in venues throughout the Bay Area. See site for schedule. Through Sept. 19. free. Multiple Bay Area locations.

The Real Americans: Dan Hoyle's solo show. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Sept. 25. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

That Kid Can Sing!: A noncompetitive singing showcase featuring performers from San Francisco Children's Musical Theater. Sun., Sept. 5, 12 & 5 p.m. $16, all ages. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), 392-4400.

This Is All I Need: Presented by Mugwumpin. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 4. $15-$30. Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), 621-7978.

Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding: Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, 7 p.m. $88.50-$115.50. Swiss Louis Restaurant at Pier 39, 2 Beach (at Embarcadero), 421-2913.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Presented by San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. See site for schedule. Through Sept. 19. Multiple Bay Area locations.


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