Your One and Only Former Saturday Night Live cast member Nora Dunn brings her dippy model-cum-talk-show-hostess Pat Stevens and other SNL characters back to the stage at the Solo Mio Festival in Small Prey, the first program in the monthlong solo performance series. The fest continues in typically celebrity-studded fashion with actor/playwright Harvey Fierstein's musical comedy show This Is NOT Going to Be Pretty (Sept. 19-20); choreographer Tandy Beal's dance piece on insomnia, NightLife: Never in Your Wildest Dreams (Sept. 27-28); the return of actress Sherry Glaser's Family Secrets (Oct. 1-5); and puppeteer/Beakman's World star Paul Zaloom in Sick But True, a performance piece created from puppetry and political satire (Oct. 11-12). San Francisco shows off its own, including Suzy Berger in The Talking Cure, about a straight woman's friendship with her neighbor, a gay man with AIDS (Oct. 1); comedian David Mills' one-man show on gay marriage, The Wedding Banned (Sept. 26-27 & Oct. 3-4); "An Extraordinary Evening With Susie Bright" (Oct. 10); and "The Return of Mark Eitzel," an evening of stories and song with the American Music Club founder (Oct. 8). "Solo Sightings" offers new voices on the local and national scene, and "The Best of Writers Who Act" puts the people behind the pens onstage. Small Prey runs at 8 p.m. tonight and Thursday at the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $16.50; call 392-4400 for tickets, the Solo Mio recorded info line at 978-2345 for program information.
Rat Tale The San Francisco Mime Troupe picked a good time to remount their anti-smoking musical comedy Revenger Rat Meets the Merchant of Death, since California just kicked Joe Camel out of the state last week following charges that R.J. Reynolds was targeting minors with the phallus-nosed comic creation. Revenger Rat is the story of a young, disadvantaged comic-book artist who sells his alter ego, Revenger Rat, to a tobacco giant publicist who promises to get him published in national media as long as Revenger is smoking a Duke cigarette in each frame. The show runs today and Friday at noon and 5 p.m. in Union Square, Powell & Geary, S.F. Admission is free-donation; call 285-1717.
Mission Control File the Mission Art Crawl under "Let's Try This Again," and hope that the event is finally free of the logistics problems that caused its postponement last time around. Venues including Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center, Southern Exposure, the Marsh, Mission Cultural Center, and Galeria de la Raza throw open their doors to the public in this smaller, sunnier, more southerly version of the First Thursday gallery walk. The Crawl runs from 6 to 10 p.m. throughout the Mission; call 626-3311 for a list of participating venues, and check our Calendar's Art Galleries listings for a description of the exhibits.
Lon Time Coming Even though the original, black-and-white version of The Phantom of the Opera was filmed in 1925 and is by now considered prehistoric by Hollywood horror standards, the film is still pretty damn creepy. Grace Cathedral hopes to enhance Lon Chaney's startling performance as the angry, disfigured composer who lives beneath the Paris Opera House and absconds with young singer Mary Philbin when assistant organist Christopher Putnam provides live, improvised accompaniment on the 7,286-pipe Alexander organ, which should echo beautifully through the church's long, stony Gothic corridors. The screening begins at 8 p.m. (also Friday) at Grace Cathedral, 1100 California (at Taylor), S.F. Admission is $12-25; call 749-6304.
Freewheelin' The Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition celebrates its second anniversary with a heavily bike-biased bash featuring a bike cake, a bike auction, bike jewelry, bike-related models and displays, a smash-the-car pinata, and a presentation on the I-80 bike overpass. Home-brew will also be served. The party begins at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Store Gallery Annex, 2295 Shattuck (at Bancroft), Berkeley. Admission is free; call (510) 704-5599.
The Swing of Things Boys in zoot suits and girls in pleated skirts and spit curls will be rubbing elbows with modern dancers, legume artists, camera crews, and the women of local TV news when Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers play a swing dance party inaugurating four new exhibits at Center for the Arts. Nancy Karp + Dancers perform new site-specific work when the galleries open their doors at 8 p.m.; guests can take it in as they peruse the new exhibits: "A-Volve," an interactive installation by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau that allows viewers to design aquatic life forms at a computer workstation, then watch them come alive in a water tank; "Henry Darger: The Unreality of Being," a collection of watercolor scrolls and collages made by a societal outcast; "Three Great Walls," multilayered installations of paintings and drawings by Carolyn Castano, Margaret Kilgallen, and Shahzia Sikander; and "Ladies of the News," Jason Mecier and Jim Winters' portraits of Elaine Corral, Terilyn Joe, and other local talking heads, made from beans and noodles, silk-screen, latex, and yarn. Swing dance teachers Rob van Haaren and Diane Thomas offer a free beginners class at 9 p.m., and then the band strikes up at 9:30 in the Forum, although dancers are expected to spill out into the East Gardens for a swing under the stars. The party is held at Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 978-ARTS.