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Wednesday, Mar 26 1997
march 26
Tunes for 'Toons You can almost picture the light bulb clicking on above Nik Phelps' head. The composer, whose score for the CBS TV series The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat earned him a nomination for an Annie Award from the International Animated Film Society, began pondering ways to link new films to new music after meeting with society members. What he came up with was "Ideas in Animation," a monthly series where young professional animators can screen new work to the live, partly improvised accompaniment of the Sprocket Ensemble, an eclectic quartet whose members have played with the Club Foot Orchestra, Tom Waits, and the San Francisco and Berkeley symphony orchestras. Pamela Z. and Connie Champagne are among the guest artists scheduled to perform at upcoming shows, which recall the days before "talkies"; musician J. Raoul Brody kicks things off at 8 and 9:30 p.m. at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St., S.F. Admission is $6-10; call 681-3189.

Saving "Face" Irving Berlin's Face the Music hasn't seen the stage since its successful eight-month Broadway debut back in 1932. Was it the plot? Berlin and partner Moss Hart stick it to show biz and New York's finest in this satire about a money-laundering scheme between the NYPD and Broadway producers. In a twist that probably inspired The Producers, a flop becomes a hit and the cops find themselves party to the most scandalous show in town before local politicos intervene. The musical endeared itself to audiences with racy dialogue and catchy numbers like "Manhattan Madness" and "I Say It's Spinach (and the Hell With It)." 42nd Street Moon is the first company Berlin's estate and Hart's widow have authorized to remount the production. Face the Music previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 13) at the New Conservatory Theater Center, 25 Van Ness, S.F. Admission is $15.50-18.50; call 861-8972.

march 27
On a Wig and a Prayer Hair, like everything else in New York, is bigger, as Wigstock: The Movie proved beyond reasonable measure. But it takes something more than just a perfect coif to stand out in a crowd of scenery-munching drag queens, and the Misstress Formika has it. It's that finesse that comes from playing hostess to Squeezebox, a long-running Manhattan rock club with a mostly transvestite clientele, and from having performed there with talents as far-flung as Green Day's Billy Joe, Courtney Love, Evan Dando, and Debbie Harry. It comes, too, from having starred in productions like The Bad Weed '73. Study the essence as Formika headlines a show with Tribe 8 and TranSister's Chloe Dzubilo at 11 p.m. at the CW Saloon, 917 Folsom, S.F. Admission is $5; call 974-1585.

Faithfully Yours When Marianne Faithfull sings "Don't Forget Me," it seems unlikely that anybody could, although the world nearly did while she struggled to break loose from heroin's grip in the 1970s. Before that bleak time, she helped give London's swinging '60s its reputation, less so as the wispy-voiced pop singer for whom Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote "As Tears Go By" than for her social life, which included druggy parties with Dylan and Hendrix, and bed-hopping with Richards, his longtime love Anita Pallenberg, and the late Brian Jones. She was the girlfriend who made headlines with Jagger for a drug bust, and whose long downward spiral into junkiedom ended when she cleaned up and released the raw comeback album Broken English. With her most recent release, 20th Century Blues, Faithfull finds a suitable vehicle for her throaty, smoke-eaten vocals and authentically worldly-wise outlook in noirish cabaret songs like Kurt Weill's "The Ballad of the Soldier's Song" and Friedrich Hollaender's "Falling in Love Again." The show begins at 8 p.m. at the Warfield, 982 Market, S.F. Admission is $20-22.50; call 775-7722.

Oil Slick Beads and whorls of oil paint give the landscapes in Kira Chuchom's black-and-white photos a spectral, subaqueous quality. Chuchom's exhibit "Phoenix ... Hand-Oil Reticulated Photo-Images" represents an intersection of the artist's favorite media, in which she chemically altered the film through reticulation, made photographic prints of the negatives, and then applied oil paints to the prints. After this work, it hardly seems surprising that Chuchom is busy on a side project, "The Familiar After Five ...," which deals with low-light and night subjects. "Phoenix" opens at 10 a.m. at Rayko Gallery, 2423 Polk, S.F. Admission is free; call 567-9067.

march 28
Jailhouse Rock In one sense, Co-Ed Prison Sluts is to Chicago what Beach Blanket Babylon is to San Francisco: a long-running theatrical landmark. But its minuscule budget and thoroughgoing commitment to tastelessness make it different. As the title suggests, Sluts spoofs B-grade prison flicks in traditional musical style, adulterating sappy pop songs with over-the-top adult lyrics and splicing together the cliches of both genres. This screwball show, Chicago's longest-running musical comedy, finally makes its West Coast debut courtesy of S.F.'s Pipedream Productions and Chicago's Annoyance Theater, whose director, Jim Fitzgerald, acts in and oversees the local version. Co-Ed Prison Sluts opens at 11 p.m. (and runs through June 14) at the Exit Theater, 156 Eddy, S.F. Admission is $12; call 255-6772.

Big Bang If there's one thing Frank Higgins wants people to know about Gunplay, the drama he was commissioned to write following the 1991 mass murders at the University of Iowa, it's that the work is not an anti-gun rant. Nor is it a blow-by-blow account of that bloody horror. Rather, it's a series of scenes -- some comic, some solemn -- written around the long history and bitter battle over gun possession and use in America. Aurora Theater Company stages the show, which previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 27) at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant, Berkeley. Admission is $18-22; call (510) 843-4822.

Brad! Janet! Rocky! Jesus! The body of the host sustained more people in The Rocky Horror Picture Show than it ever did in Jesus Christ Superstar, but director Ruby Toosday has found enough similarities between the shows to merge them into one big anti-Easter camp extravaganza called Rocky Horror Superstar. In this all-singing (and lip-syncing), all-dancing, frequently nude, and not-at-all-tasteful rock musical, Jesus of Frankenfurter is caught in a love triangle between Judas/Riff and Mary Magdalene/Columbia. A cast of 30 dancers and actors mug their way through beheadings, crucifixion, rock 'n' roll gospel, and simulated S/M; per theatrical tradition, the director does double duty as God. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 19) at the Victoria Theater, 2961 16th St., S.F. Admission is $15; call 339-8113.

march 29
Body Language Using the "talk story" format, director Patrick Makuakane gives audiences a truer account of hula dance than they're likely to get from film or TV as the San Francisco-based hula company Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu stages The Natives Are Restless, Ku Kanaka. The performance, a portrayal of Hawaii's cultural and historical legacy, is a fairly rare opportunity to glimpse the form outside the islands. Meanwhile, local Carnaval celebrations and classes have made Bay Area audiences slightly more familiar with Brazilian dance forms like samba and the acrobatic martial art capoeira, but like hula, chances to see it done with the lavish detail and contagious exuberance given it by the 35 musicians and dancers of Bale Folclorico da Bahia, Brazil's only professional folk dance company, are awfully infrequent. The hula show begins at 8 p.m. (also Sunday at 2 p.m.) at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $15-18; call 248-1984. The folkloric show begins at 8 p.m. at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Admission is $22-28; call 472-3500.

It's a Three-Ring Thing A zoot-suited gangster guarding the door flirts with dames and grills their escorts at Jay Alexander's New Swing Circus, a '30s-style vaudeville show and speak-easy that Alexander himself describes as "Cab Calloway meets P.T. Barnum." Twelve-piece big band Lee Press-On and the Nails get the joint jumpin', and cigarette girls work the crowd as variety acts like twin aerialists the Gemini Sisters swing through the air by trapeze and Alexander and his Swiss clown sidekick Olaf do comedy magic. Doors open at 8:30 p.m., followed by "oddities" from 8:30-9:30 p.m. and the official show at 9:30 p.m. at the Transmission Theater, 11th & Folsom, S.F. Admission is $10; call 586-5577.

Basket Case Jeanette Etheredge's Easter basket was filled with one of Rudolf Nureyev's shirts, a videotape of the dancer performing, and a bottle of Stoli; Joseph Schmidt's basket contained a giant white chocolate egg decorated with milk chocolate bunnies. Both baskets were sold at last year's Easter Basket Sale for AIDS, which continues this year with contributions from American Conservatory Theater, M*A*C, Chez Panisse, and others, and raises funds for Visual Aid and Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS). The event begins with a viewing and silent auction at 10 a.m., followed by the sale at 11 a.m. in Building A, Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is free; call 441-1282.

march 30
Hop to It The Easter Bunny will be meeting and greeting at both the San Francisco Easter Parade and Spring Celebration and the Victorian Park Easter Egg Hunt; to avoid confusion, take your tot to only one. The Pacific Heights Spring Celebration includes an Easter bonnet competition and promenade, while the Fisherman's Wharf-area Easter egg hunt features all kinds of old-fashioned activities, from basket-making to Victorian hoop-rolling. The Spring Celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with the parade beginning at 2 p.m.) on Union between Gough and Steiner, S.F. Admission is free; call 885-1335. The Easter egg hunt begins at 11 a.m. at Victorian Park, near Hyde Street Pier, Fisherman's Wharf, S.F. Admission is free; call 929-0202.

march 31
Sonic Tonic You could say the Warfield's hooked on Morphine: Marianne Faithfull (see Thursday) co-wrote "Sister Morphine"; and the Boston-based trio Morphine hits town today. Leader Mark Sandman, late of Treat Her Right, formed the band in the early '90s and aimed for a dark corner of blues-based rock; the trio's intense appeal rests in a spooky, low-slung jazz cool that trades guitar for a two-string slide bass and baritone sax. The band's latest release is Like Swimming. dEUS, a hepped-up Belgian quintet who cram blues shuffles, cowboy twang, and secret-agent suavity into messy, likable pop, open for Morphine at 8 p.m. at the Warfield, 982 Market, S.F. Admission is $16.50; call 775-7722.

april 1
Idiots Rule Tomfoolery reigns today, and for that very reason legions of people will hesitate to act on anything they read for fear of looking stupid. It's fitting, then, that one of the events at the 19th annual St. Stupid's Day Parade is the Leap of Faith. In the spirit of Pasadena's Doo-Dah Parade, the St. Stupid's Day Parade is based on the dual premises that stupidity is one thing we all have in common and everyone loves a parade. Participating idiots will roam the Financial District -- where stupidity is just one of many institutions -- mocking the Stock Exchange with a Sock Exchange and generally making a gleeful spectacle of themselves. Costumes and noisemakers are de rigueur. The parade, presented by the First Church of the Last Laugh, begins at noon (really!) at Justin Herman Plaza, Market & Steuart, S.F. Admission is free; call (510) 841-1898.

About The Author

Heather Wisner


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