In Stitches Roberta, the Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach musical comedy about an American collegiate football player who inherits a Parisian dress salon, generated raves when it opened on Broadway in 1933; its signature tune, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," became a popular hit soon after. The show, which has "high jinks" written all over it, also helped launch Bob Hope's career, and evolved into a film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. 42nd Street Moon revives this pedigreed show as part of its "Lost Musicals" series -- cabaret singer Meg Mackay joins the local cast. The show opens with a preview at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 17) at the New Conservatory Theater, 25 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $15-18; call 861-8972.
All in the Family Austin-based dancer/choreographer Jimmy Turner, a former member of the National Theater of the Deaf, melds African dance and ritual with American Sign Language, modern dance, and Native American ceremony; he and guest jazz singer Tina Marsh will join local modern dance company Robert Moses' Kin for a concert of world premieres. Moses' enigmatic blend of ballet, hip hop, and jazz provides the backbone for works like The Supplicant/The Re-Acquisition of Faith, an exploration of spiritual and social pull. In setting up the strength and the solitude of the individual and the universe in his piece Vacuum, Turner will likely find a thematic kinship with Moses. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida, S.F. Admission is $12.50-18.50; call 621-7797.
Political Art and Artifice Maybe our enthusiasm for the democratic process needs a cultural jump-start, the kind offered by the International Vintage Poster Fair and "The Unofficial, Unconventional Coverage of the 1996 Republican and Democratic Conventions." With over 6,500 posters, many of them vintage American political campaign placards, the poster fair, which also shows and sells old entertainment and product fare from around the world, is an engaging sort of historical collage. It begins at 5 p.m. (also 10 a.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. Sunday) in the Fort Mason Conference Center, S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 546-9608. The "Unconventional" video program finds bikers for Gingrich and a Clinton-Dole pinata bust in Breaking Conventions, and footage of abortion clinic battles in Off the Record. The screening starts at 8 p.m. tonight at Artists' Television Access, 992 Valencia, S.F. ($5, 824-3890), and 7 p.m. Saturday with host Jerry Brown at the We the People Auditorium, Second Street & Harrison, Oakland ($5-10, 510/836-3273).
Equal Time November brings Thanksgiving and KQED's Native American Heritage Month, a series of programs offering varied views of the Native American experience, both past and present. From Saturday's episode of Green Means, a look at Nisqually Indian Billy Frank's lifelong efforts to preserve salmon habitats and Native American fishing rights, to Everything Has a Spirit (Nov. 24 & 26), a collection of historical photographs and interviews with American Indian leaders detailing religious persecution, the series explores cultural, environmental, and legal issues affecting native peoples in the States and Canada. Programming begins with Pomo Basket Weavers: A Tribute to Three Elders at 10:45 p.m. on KQED Channel 9; for program information, check local listings or call 864-2000 for a schedule.
The Big Shift The millennium is coming, bringing major shake-ups with it, according to Margaret Jenkins. The choreographer has based her position, and her new work, Fault, on a series of discussions with geologists, political scientists, physicists, and language and theater scholars at UC Berkeley's Center for Theater Arts, where her company conducted a three-year residency. Jenkins, a former Twyla Tharp dancer and Merce Cunningham Studio faculty member, has expanded on the modern dance vocabulary she was steeped in since she founded her own company over 20 years ago. Fault divides into two parts: "Below," an exploration of the Earth's physical movement through stasis, slippage, elastic tension, and rebound, and "Above," a look at shifts in human interaction. The Paul Dresher Ensemble provides live accompaniment. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 9) in Zellerbach Playhouse, Bancroft & Telegraph, Berkeley. Admission is $20-28; call (510) 642-9988.
Life Is a Cabaret, Sort Of Broadway-phobes, beware: Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion! contains not only nudity and mature themes, but frequent and unashamed references to American musical theater and modern dance choreography as well. Don't say you weren't warned. A circle of eight gay men dives into lingering resentments, abiding loves, and deeply rooted fears over three summer holiday weekends at a friend's country home. McNally won a Tony Award for best play with this mostly funny, often moving, occasionally soap opera-ish glimpse of friends confronting life and death. The play previews at 8 p.m. (opening night is Wednesday, Nov. 6; it continues through Jan. 3, 1997) at Berkeley Repertory Theater, 2025 Addison, Berkeley. Admission is $25-39; call (510) 845-4700.
War of the Words Playwright Peter Weiss juxtaposes concentration camp scenes with courtroom drama in The Investigation, a theatrical treatment of criminal investigations conducted after the Holocaust. The play, staged by the Theater Factory, zeros in on the violence citizens committed under the guise of nationalism. The play opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 30) at SOMAR Theater, 934 Brannan, S.F. Admission is $8-25; call 487-5122.
Changes One woman's journey to manhood propels David Harrison's solo show, FTM, which refers to female-to-male transsexuals. Harrison, an FTM transsexual himself, knows whereof he writes, although this piece isn't strictly autobiographical: He relays the character's experience during the first year of change through dreams, anecdotes, and memories, splicing the narrative with descriptions of the physical changes the character's mother undergoes as a result of breast cancer. The show opens at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 24) at Theater Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St., S.F. Admission is $12-15; call 861-5079.
Dead Man's Party If Halloween raises the dead, Dia de los Muertos treats them to a good time. In the Mexican tradition, known in English as Day of the Dead, the living honor the deceased by cleaning and decorating graves and assembling altars adorned with photos and mementos, food, candles, and flowers. Local events include two free candlelight processions in the Mission; one begins at Galeria de la Raza, 2857 24th St., at 6 p.m. and winds down 24th Street through Balmy Alley to the Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission, where a second procession will begin at 7 p.m. That procession, themed "Familia/Family" and led by Mexican native dancers, will travel past streetside displays and conclude at Garfield Park, at Harrison and 25th streets, where participants may leave gifts and food at altars constructed by local artists. The play Death and the Blacksmith is held at 8 p.m. ($10) and a community dance ($12) follows at 9:30 p.m. at the Mission Cultural Center, 864-1450. Other local activities include the dedication of the Children's HOPE Project HIV mural (1 p.m. in Balmy Alley, between Folsom and Harrison off of 24th Street, free, 863-3762); a fund-raiser for Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center (6 p.m., 50 Balmy Alley, $20, 285-2287); and a costume party with live music and dancing (7 p.m., International Center, 50 Oak, $7.50-15, 206-9620). For more Day of the Dead happenings, see Event Listings on Page 24.
Street Beat Folks are always talking about keeping kids off the streets, but one civic-minded program is putting them back out there. The San Francisco Art Commission Market Street Art in Transit Program will offer a gaggle of teen poets in the monthlong performances series "Talking Drum," accompanied by electronic musician Chris Brown. The poets, culled from workshops Brown conducted at the Vietnamese Cultural Center and the South of Market Cultural Center, perform their own work at 3 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 23 at 101 Market. Admission is free; call 252-2590.
Write On Amy Tan and Alice Walker are bullish about being bookish; to celebrate the pleasures of the printed word, they and dozens more literary lions will speak and sign copies of their works, which range from kids books to cookbooks, at the two-day San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival. Over 330 publisher and independent bookstore booths plan to set up, and six professional publishing seminars will dispense industry wisdom. Highlights include the panel discussions "What's Up on the Street: Youth Gang Culture Today," and "Women of the Beat Generation," with Carolyn Cassady, Joyce Johnson, and others. The festival begins at 10 a.m. (also on Sunday) at the Concourse Exhibition Center, 635 Eighth St., S.F. Admission is free-$2; call 908-2833.
Hoopla Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the basketball player is a known quantity: He was the first player to score 37,000 points in a career that included play on six world-championship-winning teams. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the author may be a less familiar concept, although Black Profiles in Courage, his most recent book, is also his third. Abdul-Jabbar has chronicled the lives of African-American historical figures like Crispus Attucks, Jackie Robinson, and others in a book aimed at young people, and a youth ticket price of $5 is available, although limited, when KPIX news anchor Barbara Rodgers interviews Abdul-Jabbar at 2 p.m. in the San Francisco Day School Auditorium, 350 Masonic. General admission is $16; call 392-4400.
The Flu Fighters People who lack health insurance or ironclad constitutions need not live in fear of the evil influenza (which came early this year, according to the Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of Northern California). For $10, nurses from the VNA's flu prevention clinics will inoculate anyone over the age of 14 who isn't running a fever or feeling ill already. Protection doesn't kick in until two weeks after getting the shot, so the nurses suggest additional prevention tactics like frequent hand-washing and fluid-drinking. The clinics are held in retail outlets like Safeway and Merrill's. For times, days, and nearby locations, call the VNA hot line at (800) 500-2400; information is dispensed through a labyrinthine series of recordings, so have pen and paper ready.
The Fire of Love In Prince Gomolvilas' comedy Big Hunk o' Burnin' Love, a Thai-American man must marry before his 30th birthday to avoid a family curse. Issues of race, gender, romance, and family are hashed out in the ensuing confusion. The Equinox Theater presents a staged reading of the play, a second-place finisher in the California Playwrights Competition, at 8 p.m. at the Cable Car Theater, 430 Mason, S.F. Admission is $4-5; call 267-3949.