Our critics weigh in on local theater

Corteo. Clowns are at the very heart of Cirque du Soleil's new touring show, and they take on many forms: There are giant clowns, midget clowns, and clowns in bright, baggy clothes who rampage through the audience, soaking people with fake tears that sprout like garden sprinklers from their eyes. Balanced against all the tomfoolery, though, is a serene, mystical realm. This alternate universe is epitomized by Jean Rabasse's lush, Baroque set design (the hand-painted watercolor curtains, in particular, wouldn't look out of place in a major art museum) and a panoply of ethereal angels who appear in the stratosphere every now and again, quietly watching over the artists, even assisting them on occasion. But despite all the comedy and aesthetic beauty of the production, director Daniele Finzi Pasca's creation of a glittering world that exists somewhere between heaven and Earth, just beyond human reach, is rooted in the abilities of the company's incredible performers. Through Jan. 8 behind SBC Park, Third Street & Terry A. Francois, S.F. Tickets are $31.50-200; call (800) 678-5440 or visit www.cirquedusoleil.com. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Nov. 30.

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' (or Andy DiMino's) 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 Tom Tiratto'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. Through Jan. 8 at the Post Street Theatre, 450 Post (at Powell), S.F. Tickets are $37-69; call 771-6900 or visit www.poststreettheatre.com. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Aug. 24.

BATS: Sunday Players Fort Mason, Bldg. B, Marina & Buchanan, 474-6776.

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

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

Big City Improv Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 931-8385.

Contours: A Shakespeare Project La Val's Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid (at Hearst), Berkeley, 510-234-6046.

Emperor Norton: A New Musical Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.

GayProv Off-Market Studio, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.

Improv Slam Singing Contest Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.

In Bed With Fairy Butch for Women, Transfolks, & Their Pals 12 Galaxies, 2565 Mission (at 22nd St.), 970-9777.

Insignificant Others Jon Sims Center for the Arts, 1519 Mission (at 11th St.), 554-0402.

Lestat Curran Theatre, 445 Geary (between Taylor and Mason), 551-2000.

Love, Chaos & Dinner Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 273-1620.

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

Monday Night Improv Jam Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 368-9909.

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

Not a Genuine Black Man The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Sexual Perversity in Chicago Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228.

Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins ... In Search of My Father Marsh Berkeley, 2118 Allston (at Shattuck), Berkeley.

Walking the Dead Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant (at Ellsworth), Berkeley, 510-843-4822.

 
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