My friend Karen had to force me to attend the opening night of Hairspray, the latest "Best of Broadway" spectacle. We had previously been to see Mamma Mia! at the same venue, a show of such monstrous stupidity that I was embarrassed for the entire human race. So I couldn't have been less stoked as I waited for the craptacular to begin. But what was this? Great comic timing from leads Bruce Vilanch (Edna Turnblad) and the leather-lunged Keala Settle (Tracy Turnblad)? Snappy songs? Amusing dialogue? Pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming messages about racial tolerance? If I was swayed, surely the less petulant will be dazzled. Rat that hair starting at 8 p.m. most nights (and for 2 p.m. matinees weekly through July 3) at the Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor (at Market), S.F. Admission is $39-81; call 512-7770 or visit www.bestofbroadway-sf.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
This year's Plea for Peace tour is all about politics -- the goal, specifically, is to lure teens to the polls on Nov. 2. To get the kiddies stoked on voting, Asian Man Records' Mike Park corralled Omaha emo-punks Cursive, MC Saul Williams, Denver's Planes Mistaken for Stars, and S.F.'s own Ee (the new band from Korea Girl's Tobin Mori). Hitting only non Clear Channel venues nationwide, the event has on-site voter registration for all of-age comers. Elect to attend at 8 p.m. on both nights at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $16; call 885-0750 or visit www.gamh.com.
-- Maya Kroth
Goofy tunes at the Hyena
Where have all the novelty songs gone? You couldn't turn on the radio in the '50s without hearing a chorus of "Monster Mash" or "Witch Doctor," but modern rock's straight-faced glower means we giggly types have to make do with so-so thigh-slappers. Never have we needed Dr. Demento more. But since he's nowhere to be found, you'll find me searching for chuckles this week at the Hyena Funny Song Festival, a cavalcade of mocking ditties from local acts, hosted by former contest winner Ian Butler (whose performance on the deathless track "Karen, Inspector of My Underwear" won airplay from many local DJs). Start tittering at 8 p.m. at the Hyena Theater, 2390 Mission (at 20th Street), S.F. Admission is $6; call 821-3444 or visit www.hyenacomedy.org.
-- Joyce Slaton