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Night + Day 

Wednesday, Feb 25 1998
February 25
Oh, the Humanity! Titanic's 14 Oscar nominations probably sent a few Hollywood directors scrambling for another historic disaster to salvage, but local director Greg MacKellan is the man to beat. His new musical Lusitania tells the dramatic true story of the submarine fire that sank the RMS Lusitania luxury liner during World War I. MacKellan paces the shrieking and flailing with lovely original melodies and a couple of snappy dance numbers. Lusitania-the-sinking-ship is a true story, but Lusitania-the-musical is a spoof of the Broadway musical Titanic, and will play at "Keep Your Under-shirt On," a fund-raiser for 42nd Street Moon's Delicious Dames of Broadway! series. The fund-raiser's theme is "Flops, Flops Aplenty," and besides performing the Lusitania passage, which boasts bad dialogue and overproduced songs, 42nd Street Moon regulars will read actual reviews and perform actual songs from real Broadway productions that sunk faster than a palatial cruise ship, including the 1968 Brenda Vaccaro vehicle How Now, Dow Jones and the Harold Prince bomb It's Superman. Never heard of 'em? MacKellan rests his case. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. at the New Conservatory Theater Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F. Admission is $30; call 861-8972.

February 26
Style Counsl As Vogue's then-editor, Diana Vreeland delivered the aftershocks of the 1960s "youthquake" with spreads on Twiggy, Edie, and other mop-haired, fringe-lashed, underfed, overindulged beauties. By that late date, Vreeland was an institutional taste-maker who'd been trend-spotting for the social set for nearly 30 years; in the '40s, as editor of Harper's Bazaar, she'd extolled the joys of a jaunty scarf and champagne cocktails after tennis in her column "Why don't you ... " The road from Babe Paley to Andy Warhol ended abruptly, however, when Vreeland was fired from Vogue in 1971, and that's where Full Gallop, a comic one-woman show about her life, begins. Writers Mary Louise Wilson and Mark Hampton took their cues from Vreeland's memoirs, but Vreeland, whose eyebrow-raising non sequiturs made for plenty of funny stories, got the last laugh; after her dismissal, the Met's Costume Institute hired her as a consultant and devoted an exhibit to her legacy, while Vogue, helmed by Grace Mirabella right after Vreeland's departure, has since gone to hell under the editorship of Anna Wintour. Elizabeth Ashley, a Broadway veteran with a couple of Tony nominations under her belt, plays Vreeland. This unannounced offering in the '97-98 "Best of Broadway" series opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 5) at the Stage Door Theater, 420 Mason (at Geary), S.F. Admission is $20-55; call 776-1999.

February 27
Give In to Resistance Los Cenzontles and a dance combo in nearby Building A at Fort Mason will provide the mood music at the opening of the Mexican Museum's "In the Spirit of Resistance: African-American Modernists and the Mexican Muralist School," an 85-piece collection of sketches, sculpture, easel paintings, and prints by African-American artists like Sargent Claude Johnson, Hale Woodruff, and Elizabeth Catlett, who were influenced by Mexican muralists like David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera. In addition to the obvious art-history lesson the show provides, tracing the arc of artistic influence over time and borders, the exhibit complements the "Art of the Harlem Renaissance" at the Legion of Honor, which is also showing some of these artists. The opening celebration, at which food and drink will be served, begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Mexican Museum, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is free-$10; call 441-0404.

Still Life With Mickey's A sense of urgency distinguishes the "Four-Hour Art Show" from typical art openings; danger lurks in certain installations here, and rather than having a month to consider potential purchases, art lovers have but an evening, which robs them of valuable wine- and cheese-scarfing time. Former Filth magazine editor Seth Maxwell Malice has curated the exhibit, which includes his own prints along with work by Hate comics cover illustrator Jim Blanchard; photos by Christine Ryan; Dawn "Giant Lady" Thomas' indoor golf range installation, rumored to involve flying 40-ouncers and golf balls and a guest injury waiver at the door; and body sculpture by Chaos Kitty, who, according to Lab Administrative Director Elisabeth Beaird, comes from the "Karen Finley yam-and-chocolate-pudding school of art." Cliff Haus spins ambient sound and noise designed to enhance perusal and purchase, and prices will be so reasonable, says Beaird, that viewers who walk in with just 10 clams in their pockets will be able to walk out with a piece of certified art. The show, a precursor to the "Raw: Emerging Performance at the Lab" event on Sunday, begins at 7 p.m. at the Lab, 2948 16th St. (at Capp), S.F. Admission is free (donations accepted); call 864-8855.

The Agony, Et Cetera Filmmaker Mike Leigh has a genius for characters who are unequivocally losing it: Witness the angry anorexic adolescent who wreaks havoc in the lives of her parents and her twin sister in Life Is Sweet, or the woman whose sudden appearance in her biological mother's sorry life causes familial upheaval in Secrets & Lies. In both those films, the families work themselves into guardedly peaceful resolutions, but not until after the smoldering personal resentments have been exorcised and the screaming accusations have subsided. Thankfully, Leigh punctuates the trauma with bittersweet comedy, and his play Ecstasy, which treads on familiar working-class British territory, is no exception. Ecstasy follows four young North Londoners through one long night in 1979, when the drinking, carousing, and sleeping around are tempered with soul-baring and reminiscing about better times in the players' not-so-distant pasts. A six-member cast including British-born actors William Waghorn (Dog Boy of MTV's Liquid Television) and Sandie Armstrong (of the local production of Trainspotting) stages the Obie Award-winning show, which opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 21) at the Speakeasy Theater, 2016 Seventh St. (at University), Berkeley. Admission is $10-12; call (510) 798-1300.

February 28
Go Continental Explore Africa over the weekend at Festival Africa, a two-day cinematic excursion through Kenya, Zimbabwe, Togo, Egypt, and points beyond. Documentaries make up the bulk of these films and videos made by or about women, although the selection of stories, real or fictional, is thematically and geographically broad, and includes: Stepping Out, about a teen-age contestant in the "Miss Gay Transvaal" competition and his relationship with his mother (noon Saturday); Days of Democracy, a documentary on female candidates in the 1995 Egyptian assembly elections (6:30 p.m. Saturday); Mizeke Mama, a portrait of Zairian-Belgian a cappella quintet Zap Mama (8:15 p.m. Saturday); and Penalty Area, about a soccer game between the Orlando Pirates and a South African team created in the Baviaanspoort maximum security prison (noon Sunday). The controversy over genital mutilation gets screen time as well, in Monday's Girls, which follows two Nigerian young women whose opinions over the rite of passage are split, and Fire Eyes, Somalian filmmaker Soraya Mire's interviews with people who've experienced the procedure, coupled with her own experience (4:30 p.m. Saturday). Fans of Venue 9's Reel Women series will recognize some of these films, which showed at last year's series in the city. Screenings begin at noon (also Sunday) at the Fine Arts Cinema, 2451 Shattuck, Berkeley. Admission is $4-6; call (510) 848-1143.

March 1
The Children's Hour Along with sex and God, kids will eventually hear about the Holocaust and will want to know what happened, and along with the sex and God questions, adults will want to supply some kind of thoughtful answers without scaring the poor things. The interactive exhibit "Remember the Children, Daniel's Story," which begins its four-year national tour here, takes some of the pressure off by creating a 9-year-old composite child based on the journals and photo albums of real kids, then leading youngsters through the historical events of the Holocaust from 1933 to 1945, using Daniel's story as a guide. With the help of photos, video, historical artifacts, and interactive activities, kids can follow Daniel's journey from his home in Germany to the Lodz ghetto and up to the gates of Auschwitz. The show, suited to kids ages 8 and older and their families, opens at 11 a.m. at the Herbst International Exhibition Hall, the Presidio, Main Post, S.F. Admission is free; call 487-4398.

March 2
The Second Act Expect a sharp increase in Stockard Channing sightings this week, when the actress hosts "Classical Action: A Heartfelt Tribute to San Francisco Performances." Channing is hardly the only known quantity on the bill, but the general public has seen more of her, in movies like Grease and Smoke, than they've seen of the scheduled performers, although they may have heard of pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet on the Portrait of a Lady soundtrack, or soprano Dawn Upshaw on her briskly moving recording of Gorecki's Third Symphony. The Alexander String Quartet plays Schubert and Gershwin, jazz pianist Fred Hersch performs his own work, Thibaudet does Chopin, Upshaw offers some Canteluobe, and dancer/choreographer Stephen Petronio, who returns later this spring for a full-length show, dances his solo #3. This is the second local Classical Action show, which benefits the S.F. AIDS Foundation and honors S.F. Performances founder Ruth Felt, who helped initiate Classical Action. Sighting tip: While Channing's in town, she might want to visit David Binder, her producer on The Normal Heart, who's doing 2.5 Minute Ride locally (see Tuesday). The show begins at 8:30 p.m. at the Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is $75-200; call 392-4400.

March 3
Family Ties Lisa Kron, a member of New York comic theater troupe the Five Lesbian Brothers, takes time off from her adopted siblings to revisit San Francisco alone and talk frankly about her actual family in her one-woman show 2.5 Minute Ride. Like her previous solo outing, 101 Humiliating Stories, Ride offsets the general hilarity with heart-rending intervals, as Kron recalls her family's annual pilgrimage to a local amusement park, the time she accompanied her aging father on his own personal pilgrimage back to his homeland, and the wedding between her brother and a gal he met online in a Jewish chat room, showing as she goes why family matters, even when the family is, well, a tad exasperating. Producer David Binder, whose off-Broadway credits include David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries, tries his hand at another witty monologue with this show, which is technically a 90-minute ride. It opens at 8:30 p.m. (and runs through March 21) at the Magic Theater, Building D, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $16; call 646-0880.

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Heather Wisner


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