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Wednesday, Jul 9 2008

Oh My Godmother! This is a fun-loving and high-spirited take on the well-worn Cinderella story. There are still the fairy godmother and the evil stepmother and stepsisters, and Prince, who's convinced he'll never find someone to make him happy, until he sets his sights on Cinderella and instantly falls in love. Only this time, Cinderella is a sweet young man named Albert. Director and creator Ron Lytle has more twists in store, including a delicious setup that turns the narrow-minded outrage of discovering someone is gay directly on its head. The 140-minute musical loses some of its steam in the second half, mainly because all the surprises have already been dished and we know how things will wrap up. But an all-around boisterous cast, with standout performances from John Erreca as Prince's mother and Tomas Theriot as Prince's übergay sidekick, means that no matter what your particular sexual bent, if clever musicals are your thing, this one will definitely get you smiling and clapping along. Through July 26 at Zeum Theatre, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), S.F. Tickets are $25-$35; call 346-7805 or visit (Molly Rhodes) Reviewed July 2.

Teatro ZinZanni's Hail Caesar! Loosely based on the love affair between Cleopatra and "Chef" Caesar, the current Egyptian-themed production by San Francisco's long-running dinner theater company, Teatro ZinZanni, combines the sensual-brash cabaret singing talents of Debbie de Coudreaux (the only American other than Josephine Baker to have starred at Paris' Moulin Rouge) with the vaudevillian swagger of ZinZanni old-timer Frank Ferrante. What little plot the show has is quickly subsumed by the happy business of eating, drinking, and watching Ferrante and de Coudreaux' capable supporting cast of clowns, acrobats, and contortionists perform daredevil exploits mere feet beyond our dinner plates. Thanks to the professionalism of the performers, the gorgeousness of the "Spiegeltent" setting, the decent cuisine, and copiously flowing booze, Hail Caesar! makes for an entertaining way to spend an evening. Through Sept. 21 at the Spiegeltent, Pier 29 (at Battery), S.F. Tickets are $123-$197; call 438-2668 or visit (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed June 11.

Theodora, She-Bitch of Byzantium. Charles Busch's loving 1984 spoof of a similarly titled 19th-century melodrama by Victorien Sardou tells the story of a cross-dressed drag queen who fucks and finagles her way across 6th-century Greece until a Gypsy potion wreaks havoc on her plans. As a product of the "ridiculous theater" movement, a mid-20th-century offshoot of Dadaism, Surrealism, and the theaters of Cruelty and the Absurd, Theodora certainly wears silliness on its sleeve. Sardou wrote his version for the great stage actor Sarah Bernhardt. Busch, in turn, penned his adaptation to slake his own Bernhardt obsession. In homage to Bernhardt's passion for trouser roles and high drama, Busch's play features overblown characters in far-out situations. These include an emperor with a penchant for sticking peacock feathers up male servants' rectums, a princess who keeps her dead father's pancreas and large intestine in an old boot, and a heroine played by a male actor in drag who, like boy performers in Shakespeare's day, disguises "herself" as a youth to escape the confines of palace life. Director Russell Blackwood's somewhat slipshod pacing and rhythm prevents some of the scenes from achieving their full impact. But the heavily made-up actors in Thrillpeddlers' scrappy production attack their roles with such aplomb that the dementedness of Busch's narrative shines through the greasepaint anyway. Through Aug. 16 at the Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), S.F. Tickets are $25-$34.50; call 377-4202 or visit Reviewed July 2.

Work Eats Home.Watching a series of one-act plays about life in corporate America might seem like a crappy way to wind down after a long week in, well, corporate America. But the folks at Sleepwalkers Theatre, who specialize in producing new works by new writers, at least manage to put you in the mood: They charge only six bucks for a Friday night performance and even let you drink beer in the auditorium. Work Eats Home is a collection of five original pieces, all of which share a concern with the aggressive tedium of life in your average office. As with almost any evening of one-acts, the results are mixed, but at least the strong elements far outweigh the weak. Only one piece (Noelle Chandler's "I Am the Wrecking Ball") falls completely flat; each of the others has something to recommend it, in particular the beautifully written speech that forms the bulk of Tim Bauer's "The Magic Word." And then there's the evening's finale (Ryan Beebe's "Something Warm"), which is borderline extraordinary. That extraordinariness is due in large part to Ari Owens and Ian Riley, the actors who dominate the play. Through July 12 at the Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), SF. Tickets are $12 ($6 on Fridays); visit (Chris Jensen) Reviewed July 2.

American Joe: A drama by Lisa Reynal about a sniper and a writer. Continues through Aug. 15. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

La Bohème: Pocket Opera's production of Puccini's opera. Sun., July 13; July 17-19; Sun., July 27. $20-$37. Legion of Honor, 100 34th Ave. (near Clement), 863-3330.

A Chorus Line: Through July 27. Curran Theatre, 445 Geary (at Taylor), 551-2000.

Cloud of Glass: A performance by famed puppeteer Sha Sha Higby. July 11-19. Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), 621-7978.

Her Majesty: A comedy by Sean Owens. Starting July 11. Through July 19. Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Ishi: The Last of the Yahi: The story of Ishi as understood by playwright John Fisher. Through July 20. Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079.

Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train: A drama by Stephen Adley Gurguis. Starting July 10. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through July 20. $20. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.

Journeys of the Angels: A drama about Vietnam by Roy Conboy. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through July 18. El Teatro de la Esperanza, 2940 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 338-1341.

The Kinsey Sicks in Wake the Fuck Up, America: Theater performance about the blur between news and entertainment. Fri., July 11, 8 p.m. $25-$35. Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), 392-4400.

KML Springs Forward, Falls Back: A collection of period pieces by comedy troupe Killing My Lobster. July 10-27. Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St. (at Mission), 273-4633.

Listener: Liz Duffy Adams' tale about the dystopian Junk City, Planet Earth. July 12-Aug. 3. Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 285-8282.

Misery: Simon Moore's adaption of the Stephen King book. July 11-Aug. 16. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.

Private Eyes: Steven Dietz' story of passion and deception, directed by Stephen Drewes and featuring the jazz duo of Alex Mack and Mark Baker. July 10-26. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Skittish: Six one-acts by Bruce Moody. Through Aug. 31. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell).

Tartuffe: Molière's comedy, presented by the African-American Shakespeare Company. July 11-Aug. 3. African American Art and Cultural Complex Center, 762 Fulton (at Webster), 394-5854.


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