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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Wednesday, Feb 18 2009

Burn the Floor. It's been said that true moments of joy come mostly through two acts: sex and dancing. Burn the Floor combines both, as 16 hard-bodied, high-energy performers spin, thrust, and grind their way through one show-stopping number after another. This is not your grandma's ballroom dance, and choreographer and artistic director Jason Gilkison puts together routines that are always entertaining to watch. The weakest numbers come whenever things slow down and the dance relies on a true connection between two or more people, something that never materializes onstage. But Gilkison knows enough about his two-hour event to keep these moments sparse, and instead builds the evening around explosive group numbers, like a swing-club–inspired sequence or a tribute to Tina Turner. These pieces are the heart of the show, and you can't help but get caught up in the energy, talent, and sheer love of dancing radiating from the stage. Through March 19 at Post Street Theatre, 450 Post (at Powell), S.F. $49-$100; 771-6900 or (Molly Rhodes) Reviewed Feb. 11.

Tennessee in the Summer. What's intriguing about this play "suggested" by the life of Tennessee Williams is that the playwright is portrayed simultaneously by a man (Daniel Albright) and a woman (Alex Alexander). They embody an angel-devil–like conflict within the Pulitzer-Prize–winning writer that results in his rampant alcohol and pill abuse, anxiety, self-loathing, and excessive whoring around. Plenty of stage time is devoted to Williams' long and rocky romantic relationship with Frank Merlo. In this imagined depiction, Williams is repeatedly adulterous and emotionally abusive, painting quite an unsympathetic central character. The brief moments featuring his mother, Edwina, and sister, Rose — who received a lobotomy in a sanitarium — serve to underscore his persistent fear of going insane. Merlo even refers to him as a "19th-century hypochondriac." What's tedious about Joe Besecker's script is that there is no character arc; Williams' character is a mess at the beginning and a mess at the end. The result is an imagined and clichéd portrait of a writer crippled by sex, doubt, and drugs. In the end, the female side of Williams warns the male side, "Don't fall into the myth of the tortured artist." Unfortunately, this play wants to perpetuate just that. Through March 1 at New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Fell), S.F. $22-$40; 861-8972 or (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed Feb. 11.

7 Sins: James Judd's one-man comedy about his own life. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Feb. 21. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 931-1094,

Angry Black White Boy: Dan Wolf's adaptation of the Adam Mansbach novel returns for a limited engagement. Through March 8. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), 626-3311,

Bay One-Acts Festival: Presented by Three Wise Monkeys Theatre Company. Starting Feb. 19, Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through March 8. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469,

Beach Blanket Babylon: A North Beach perennial featuring crazy hats, media personality caricatures, a splash of romance, and little substance. Now with Rod Blagojevich! Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 5 p.m., $25-$80, Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.

The Burning of the Ancient Library of Alexandria: Artship Ensemble chronicles Hypatia of Alexandria and the burning of the great library. Through Feb. 22, $15-$20. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission (at Ninth St.), 626-2060,

Cuckoo: Madison Clell's play about mental illness, produced by Jump! Theatre. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Feb. 28. Phoenix Arts Association Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), Suite 601, 989-0023,

A Delicate Balance: Edward Albee's play about family life. Wednesdays-Saturdays. Continues through March 7. The Custom Stage, 965 Mission St. (at Sixth St.), 800-838-3006,

Dolls: Michael Phillis' comedy about a man and his life with dolls. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Feb. 22. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972,

A Girl's War: An Armenian-Azeri love story by Joyce Van Dyke. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through March 8. The Thick House, 1695 18th St. (at Arkansas), 401-8081,

Landscape of the Body: John Guare's musical set in New York and the stars. Wednesdays-Saturdays. Continues through March 7. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596,

Love, Humiliation, and Karaoke: Enzo Lombard plays more than 10 characters in his one-man take on everything from gay marriage to psychic classes. Directed by W. Kamau Bell. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Feb. 26. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433,

No Exit: Jean-Paul Sartre's drama, directed by Andrey Esterlis. Feb. 19-March 21, Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), 621-7978,

Not a Genuine Black Man: Brian Copeland returns for another go-around. Through March 25. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750,

Philistines: American Conservatory Theater's MFA students take on Maxim Gorky's drama. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Feb. 28. Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320,

Rabbi Sam: Charlie Varon's drama about a rabbi who reinvents Judaism. Starting Feb. 19, Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through April 5. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750,

SF Follies: Name that reference in John Bisceglie's tale of the city. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through April 5, $35-$40, Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287,

Shopping! The Musical: Songs and sketches about shopping. Daily, $23-$29, Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100,

Souvenir: A Fantasia on the Life of Florence Foster Jenkins: Stephen Temperley's musical about a tone-deaf diva. Through March 15. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228,

Teatro ZinZanni's License to Kiss: Sabine Hettlich stars in the espionage thriller, with a side of dinner. Wednesdays-Sundays, $116-$190, 438-2668, Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery).

Tennessee in the Summer: Joe Besecker's drama probes Tennessee Williams. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through March 1. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972,

Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding: Be a part of the wedding reception. Thursdays-Saturdays, Theatre 39 at Pier 39, 2 Beach (at Embarcadero), 433-3939,

Tough Titty: Oni Faida Lampley's drama about a battle with breast cancer. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Feb. 22, $25-$75. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822,

Waitin' 2 End Hell: William A. Parker's take on modern relationships. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through March 1. Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 777 Jones St., 345-3980,

Wicked: The Tony Award–winning musical. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through June 27. Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 551-2000.


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