A Perfect Ganesh. The experience of modern-day India is nearly impossible to describe to a Westerner. It is simultaneously spiritual and maddening. This production of Terrence McNally's 1993 play beautifully and achingly captures India's contradictions and allure. It's a familiar premise: Two middle-aged women from Connecticut, old friends both devastated by the loss of a child, both seeking some intangible healing, travel to India. The subtle yet powerful sound design transforms the elegantly simple set into many moody locales: a hotel balcony looking over a nighttime sea of people in Mumbai; a train ride through a long, dark of tunnel; and the entrance lawn of the Taj Mahal. There's the obvious tension between one character who is content to see India from "a comfortable seat and a suitable distance," and the other who wants to walk among people and meet them. There is also the subtle tension of a foreign land drawing out the hurt and more primal emotion of the characters reminiscent of a Paul Bowles novel. The performances and production are pitch-perfect and conjure all the continent's mysterious magic. Through Dec. 19 at New Conservatory Theatre, 25 Van Ness (at Fell), SF. $18-40; 861-8972 or www.nctsf.org. (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed Nov. 24.
Babes in Arms: 42nd Street Moon presents this Rodgers and Hart classic. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 19. $24-$44. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.
Beach Blanket Babylon: Steve Silver's musical revue spoofs pop culture with extravagant costumes. Wednesdays-Sundays. $25-$130. Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.
Big City Improv: Actors take audience suggestions and create comedy from nothing. Fridays, 10 p.m. $15-$20. www.bigcityimprov.com. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100.
Booze, Boys and Brownies: A Musical Journey: One-woman show about a struggling young actress who moves from San Francisco to Hollywood. Continues through Dec. 11. $12. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.
The Business: A Comedy Show: With Chris Garcia, Sean Keane, Alex Koll, and Bucky Sinister. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. $5. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.
Bye Bye Birdie: Dec. 9-10, 7 p.m. $15-$30, all ages. www.oakarts.org. Fox Theater–Oakland, 1807 Telegraph (at 19th St.), Oakland, 510-548-3010.
Caligari: Play based on the old silent film. Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 10. $10-$20. www.jointhehurlyburly.org. Studio 385, 385A Eighth St. (at Harrison).
Cavalia: A Magical Encounter Between Horse and Man: A multimedia production featuring more than 100 performers and 50 horses. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 12. $64.50-$139.50. White Big Top, Fourth St. (at Channel), 866-999-8111.
Christmas in Hell: A new play by Jim Fourniadis about the two guys who saved Christmas. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 18. $20. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.
Cinderella: Annual production of the African-American Shakespeare Company; directed by Velina Brown. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 19. $10-$30. www.african-americanshakes.org. African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton (at Webster), 922-2049.
Circus Finelli: San Francisco's all-women clown troupe, specializing in ridiculous circus comedy with a vaudeville aesthetic. Every other Wednesday, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 22. $10-$20. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433.
Cora Values' Christmas Corral: A comic retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 11. $20. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.
"Kangen: Reunited with Nature": Group exhibit of art on the theme of "rebirth to death." Through Dec. 11. free-$5. Fivepoints Arthouse, 72 Tehama (at Second St.), 989-1166.
Forking II: A Merry Forking! Christmas: PianoFight's fully scripted choose-your-own-adventure play. Dec. 9-30. $20. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 336-0513.
"Going Going Back Back to Cali Cali": Stand-up comedians Paul Marino, Edward Dominguez, and Dirty Mike visit from New York City. Sat., Dec. 11, 10 p.m. $10. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.
"The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes": w/ Heklina, Cookie Dough, Matthew Martin, Pollo Del Mar, Mike Finn, Laurie Bushman, Jane Wiedlin. Thursdays-Saturdays, 7 & 9 p.m. Continues through Dec. 23. $25. www.heklina.com. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission (at Ninth St.), 626-2060.
The Great American Songbook: Evergreen songs. Wed., Dec. 8, 8 p.m. Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California (at Presidio), 292-1200.
hoboFish Improv: Long-form improv comedy by hoboFish and Grandaddy Charlie. Fri., Dec. 10, 8 p.m. $7-$10. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.
The Lion in Winter: A play by James Goldman. Wednesdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 11. Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287.
Match: Expression Productions; new play by Stephen Belber. Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 19. $12-$28. Royce Gallery, 2901 Mariposa (at Harrison), 558-1749.
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 www.themarsh.org for a lineup of future shows. Mondays. $7. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.
Obscura: Christian Cagigal's magic show. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 18. $15-$25. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.
The Oddman Family Christwanzaakuh Spectacular: New musical by John Caldon and Joey Price. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 18. $20. www.guerrillarep.org. Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.
"The One Year AnnivHERsary Show": Sketch comedy written, directed, produced, and performed by women. Mondays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 13. $20. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 336-0513.
Pearls over Shanghai: Thrillpeddlers brings back the Cockettes. Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through Dec. 19. $30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202.
Ruth and the Sea: A holiday play about a woman facing her own mortality. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 18. $12-$24. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433.
Secret Improv Society: Underground improvisational theater. Saturdays, 10 p.m. $15. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100.
Shopping! The Musical: Songs and sketches about shopping. Fridays, Saturdays. $23-$29. www.shoppingthemusical.com. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100.
A Tale of Two Genres: Un-Scripted Theater Company improvises in the style of Charles Dickens. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 22. $10-$20. www.un-scripted.com. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.
The Taming of the Shrew: Join the Sit-Down Readers' Theatre. Held in DiMaggio Clubhouse. Sat., Dec. 11, 2 p.m. North Beach Branch Library, 2000 Mason (at Columbus), 355-5626.
The Tempest: A three-person chamber version of the Shakespeare play. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 19. $15-$50. The Cutting Ball Theater, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), 419-3584.
The Tender King: New play by Ian Walker. Thursdays-Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 11. $12-$25. www.secondwindtheatre.com. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023.
Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding: Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, 7 p.m. $88.50-$115.50. www.tonyandtinasanfrancisco.com. Swiss Louis Restaurant at Pier 39, 2 Beach (at Embarcadero), 421-2913.
Upper Cut Improv Showcase: Improv and sketch comedy. Fridays, 7 p.m. $5. San Francisco Comedy College, 414 Mason (at Geary), 921-2051.
Wits 'n' Ass: An all-female lineup of comedy, including monologues, sketches, and excerpts from one-woman shows. Thu., Dec. 9, 8 p.m. $10. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.