Dig Deep Marty Pottenger worked 20 years in the building trades before she came to City Water Tunnel No. 3, the Obie-winning solo show she created after researching the 64-mile tunnel that runs under New York City. Pottenger, who also holds a performance degree and has written What It's Like to Be a Man and Work It Out around her construction experiences, interviewed 250 tunnel workers assigned to the public works project, the completion of which cost $54 billion and 24 lives. Pottenger's Tunnel is first up at the fifth annual Working Women Festival, a Women's History Month theater series. The Latina Theater Lab's Last Stop Ranchera, which filters cultural identity through live ranchera music and childhood stories, runs next, in repertory with Alison Wright's comic travelogue Ms. Thang, Europe's That Way! Also in the rep cycle: Pensive Spring: A Portrait of Emily Dickinson, Gordon Getty's song cycle of Dickinson's poems with dance vignettes by Kathryn Roszak. The festival opens with Tunnel at 8 p.m. (continues through Saturday) at the Alcazar Theater, 650 Geary, S.F. Admission is $12-14; call 433-1172. The other performances are held various days through March 28 at Il Teatro 450, 449 Powell, S.F. For a complete schedule of performances, see www.igc.apc.org/workingwomen/.
Paying Dues in BoHo Although Rent, the touring Broadway musical about struggling New York artists, is priced beyond the reach of most of the people it's ostensibly about, a lottery will open up $20 orchestra seats 2 hours before each show. The cheap-ticket tradition began in New York in honor of the show's creator, Jonathan Larson, a former struggling artist who died of an aortic aneurysm just shy of his 36th birthday, before he ever saw his show make the leap from off-Broadway to the Great White Way. An update on Puccini's opera La Boheme, Rent snagged a Tony and a Pulitzer for its portrayal of a group of friends (a public interest lawyer, a transvestite in cha-cha heels, and so on) who discover the personal costs of carving out a living and a life. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through May 9) at the Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor (at Market), S.F. Admission is $20-69.50; call 512-7770.
Extended Family How you see Robert Moses depends on how hard you look. You might glimpse him in the movement he sets on his dancers; and when Moses himself takes the stage, often in a series of spring-loaded jumps that touch the ground only briefly, it's very much like "now he's here and now he isn't," as fellow dance-maker Margaret Jenkins astutely describes it. Jenkins, whose own admirable modern repertory includes the metaphoric Fault, is one of four local choreographers crafting solos for Moses to perform at the Robert Moses' Kin Fourth Annual Home Season, a concert with exciting potential. Jenkins offers Full Wings and Scram, which alludes to Moses' airborne stage persona; Lines Contemporary Ballet director Alonzo King takes advantage of Moses' technical prowess; ODC's K.T. Nelson envisions her friend as a youngster in a man's body; and Contraband's Sara Shelton Mann collaborates with him to track ancestral influences. Moses sets new work on his own dancers as well, including That Sh*t A*n't Funny, which muses on the cultural influence of black American comedians. The show begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 14) at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is $14-20; call 621-7797.
The Unkindest Cut Personal to Jeff Stryker: So a certain local theater critic panned your show? Console yourself with Frank Rich Is Dead, Inquiline Theater's comedy about Arthur Klemschtepp, an actor who tries to get rid of his creative block (and free his fellow actors from bad reviews in the process) by killing a New York Times theater critic. The best part is, it works, at least in a roundabout way: After being incarcerated and psychoanalyzed, Arthur finds himself producing and starring in ... his very own prison musical! The show, a world premiere with music by Douglas Wood, begins at 8 p.m. (and runs through March 27) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 289-2260.
No Man Is an Island Something about Berlin, Jerusalem, and the Moon resonated with viewers when it premiered 14 years ago -- the idea of displacement and the tricky task of juggling multiple identities, perhaps. So A Traveling Jewish Theater has revived the show, which blends drama and comedy with music, movement, masks, and puppetry to underscore the similarities between Jews in pre-Nazi Germany and in modern America. Berlin weaves the stories of two real-life members of the German Jewish literati forced to flee their homeland with the existential drama of a fictional modern couple. The show previews at 8 p.m. (and runs through April 4) at A Traveling Jewish Theater, 470 Florida (at 17th Street), S.F. Admission is $20-25; call 399-1809. The Jewish diaspora guides the 14th annual Jewish Music Festival as well. Identity is all over the map, from the cabaret songs of the Polish and Lithuanian ghettos during the Holocaust to Moroccan Jewish music to the modern a cappella harmonies of Charming Hostess. The festival's first show, "Ghetto Tango," begins Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at St. John's Presbyterian Church, 2727 College, Berkeley. Admission is $15-18; call (510) 848-0237 for a complete schedule.