Our critics weigh in on local theater

The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy. Everybody loves a real-life fairy tale. That The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy is supposedly based on a true story about a local couple who robbed a succession of Mission District bars and nightclubs in the late '80s and early '90s gives Octavio Solis' rambunctious musical play an irresistible twist. A strange cocktail of Dashiell Hammett, Kurt Weill, and Cheers, this modern-day Robin Hood story (without the altruism and the green tights) finds its power in the careful balance between wild imagination and meticulous attention to detail. The characters, such as Delia MacDougall's cellulite-pitted Sandy Pants and Donald E. Lacy Jr.'s autistic Fred Spindle, feel like they're based on real people, and local nightspots, from the 500 Club to the Elbo Room, come to life through vivid description, gritty humor, and James Faerron's absurdly accurate dive bar set. Featuring catchy live music by Beth Custer and cartoonish dance steps from Erika Chong Shuch, the play simultaneously sends up and celebrates our ability to create full-blown urban legends out of the scantest facts. Through Nov. 27 at Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (between 15th and 16th streets), S.F. Tickets are $9-15; call 626-3311 or visit www.theintersection.org. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Nov. 9.

The Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey & Dean. Sandy Hackett's swingin' tribute to the Rat Pack takes us back to a time when men wore tuxedos in the desert, women could be one of two things (a lady or a tramp), and Celine Dion was just a golden apple in Las Vegas' hungry eye. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Dean Martin are brought back to life by God -- and the talents of a quartet of impersonators -- for one more night of highballing at the Sands Hotel. The concert-style production, featuring a live 12-piece band, perfectly captures the spirit of a long-lost era -- from Johnny Edwards' glossy Dean Martin pompadour to what would now be considered terribly un-PC gaffs about black Jews. These particular tribute artists aren't necessarily dead ringers for Frank and company, but if you close your eyes and listen to Brian Duprey's silk-voiced renditions of "My Way" and "Come Fly With Me," you almost feel like you've been transported, martini in hand, to another time and place. In an open-ended run at the Post Street Theatre, 450 Post (at Powell), S.F. Tickets are $35-60; call 771-6900 or visit www.poststreettheatre.com. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Aug. 24.

700 Sundays Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor (at Market), 512-7770.

After Dark New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

Beach Blanket Babylon Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.

Beyond Therapy Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 931-8385.

Black Nativity Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter (at Mason), 474-8800.

California Palm Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 931-8385.

A Celebration of Silliness Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 931-8385.

A Christmas Carol American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary St. (at Mason), 749-2228.

Drive My Coche El Teatro de la Esperanza, 2940 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 338-1341.

Drug Diaries Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.

False Servant Exit Theatre on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), 673-3847.

Good Luck With It The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

House of Blue Leaves Actors Theatre San Francisco, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 296-9179.

Lamento Cowell Theater, Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason (Marina & Buchanan), 345-7575.

Let It Snow! Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), Suite 601, 989-0023.

Matt & Ben Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 771-4806.

Menopause the Musical Theatre 39 at Pier 39, 2 Beach (Beach & Embarcadero), 433-3939.

Missives Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), 861-5079.

Monday Night Improv Jam Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), 364-1411.

Monday Night Marsh The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Porcelain Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (between Taylor & Mason), 673-3847.

The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.

Syndication: The Best of Independent Television Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 646-0610.

Velveteen Rabbit Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, 700 Howard (at Third St.), 978-2787.

White Christmas Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 512-7770.

 
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