Up in Smoke Anyone who ever wanted to mess up Joe Camel's ugly mug will be pleased with the S.F. Mime Troupe's Revenger Rat. It's the story of a struggling cartoonist who makes a Faustian pact with a tobacco company that agrees to use his work if his main character, a giant, politician-eating mutant rat, smokes its brand in every panel. Joe Camel is beaten back, and Revenger Rat ultimately exacts his price for the upswing in teen smoking in this production, which was commissioned by the S.F. Health Department as part of Proposition 99, defunded by Gov. Wilson, and then re-funded after political pressure and a protracted court battle. The show begins at 2 p.m. in Dolores Park, Dolores between 18th and 20th streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 285-1717.
Can You Handel It? The San Francisco Opera Center beckons prospective operagoers as well as regulars with the West Coast premiere of Handel's Ezio and reduced ticket rates for its 1997 showcase. Mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Bishop takes the trouser role of Ezio, captain of the Roman Emperor Valentiniano's army, while sopranos Peggy Kriha Dye and Kristin Clayton are Fulvia and Onoria, respectively, the women vying for his love, and tenor Stuart Skelton plays Massimo the traitor. Ezio, sung in Italian with English supertitles, begins at 8 p.m. (also April 29, May 1 and 3) at the Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Theater, 2350 Turk, USF campus. Admission is $20-30; call 864-3330.
In the Key of B If the hills are alive with the sound of music, chances are you're standing in Berkeley right about now, where the Celebration of Youth Arts kicks off with all-schools band and orchestra concerts, followed Sunday by a youth arts village with dance, drama, and music performances, plus poetry, rappers, and DJs from Berkeley High's new radio station. Also on Sunday, People's Park celebrates 28 years with a pro skateboard demonstration, comedy by the Funky Nixons, food booths, and live music by Cajun group Frog Legs, reggae band the Root Connection, and others. The Celebration of Youth Arts begins today with concerts at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. in the Berkeley Community Theater, 1930 Allston; an opening parade and festivities begin Sunday at noon in Civic Center Park, MLK & Allston, Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 644-7746. (An all-star concert featuring Berkeley High alum like Charlie Hunter, the Kito Gamble Sextet, and others begins Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in the Florence Schwimley Theater, MLK & Allston. A donation of $25-40 is requested.) The People's Park event begins tomorrow at noon in the park, Haste & Telegraph, Berkeley. Admission is free; call 845-7194.
Foaming at the Mouth Drinking today benefits the youth of tomorrow in the case of the 14th annual International Beer Festival, a fund-raiser for the Telegraph Hill Cooperative Nursery School featuring unlimited tastings (whoa!) of over 75 international beers and microbrews, live music, and food from several upscale local restaurants. The event begins at 8 p.m. at Fort Mason, S.F. Admission is $25; call 421-3313.
Come and Get It Food Not Bombs celebrates 17 years of feeding folks with Soupstock, a day of free food, free performances, and free live music by Stone Fox, Rebecca Riots, Mental Souljahz, MDC, and the Angry Newts. Kids can avail themselves of a circus performance tent and craft area, while adults are treated to speeches by former Black Panther Killu Nyasha, medical-marijuana advocates Pebbles Trippet and Dennis Peron, author/journalist Norman Solomon, a Big Mountain Coalition spokesperson, and former political prisoner Bo Brown. Information tables staffed by lefty political groups and a canned/dried food drive for the Dineh tribe of Big Mountain serve as reminders that FNB isn't just dishing up soup. The festival begins at 11 a.m. at the Band Shell in Golden Gate Park, S.F. Admission is free (bring a food donation); call 985-7087.
Better Than a Poke in the Eye Destiny Arts will present self-defense demonstrations and a community resource fair will offer a slew of information as San Francisco Women Against Rape stages a rally for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Members of SFWAR, Asian Immigrant Women's Advocates, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, and Street Survival Project will speak, followed by an open-mike survivor speak-out; all presentations will be translated into Spanish, Cantonese, and American Sign Language. The rally begins at 12:30 p.m. in Dolores Park, Dolores between 18th and 20th streets, S.F. Admission is free; call 861-2024.
Beef: It's Not What's for Dinner Fourth-generation Montana dairy rancher Howard Lyman will discuss the life-threatening illness that prompted him to re-evaluate the heavy use of chemicals in his industry and change not only his career but his whole way of life. Lyman, who's now a vegan environmentalist and director of the national campaign Eating With a Conscience, will speak about sustainable agriculture and organic farming at 11 a.m. in Conlan Hall, Room 101, 50 Phelan, CCSF campus (free; call 239-3580) and at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Center, 1187 Franklin, S.F. (donation; call 510/653-7966).
Nostalgia! The good old days are back, reinvented as musicals and punctuated for excitement. The touring Broadway production of Grease!, a good girl/bad girl relic set in the '50s, is populated with relics from the '70s: Mackenzie Phillips is Rizzo, Sally Struthers is Miss Lynch, and Adrian Zmed is Danny Zuko (remember Dance Fever? T.J. Hooker? Grease 2? No? That's OK). The touring production of FAB!, meanwhile, is the Heather Brothers' musical comedy about teen trauma in the '60s, with gals in minis, boys in Beatle boots, and songs emulating that era's pop hits. This marks the American debut of the English show. Grease! opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through May 11) at the Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor, S.F. Admission is $15-62.50; call 776-1999. FAB! previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through June 8) at the Alcazar Theater, 650 Geary, S.F. Admission is $19-50; call 441-4042.