Our critics weigh in on local theater

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. In an open-ended run at the Marines' Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. Tickets are $38-70; call 771-6900 or visit www.marinesmemorialtheatre.com. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Aug. 24, 2005.

Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins. W. Allen Taylor teeters on the edge between therapy and art in his intriguing one-man show about his search for the father he never knew -- who turned out to be Bill Hawkins, the first black disc jockey in Cleveland. Hawkins doesn't appear onstage till the last moment, but Taylor pieces him together through compellingly acted characters reminiscing about his dad, and intersperses it all with an eclectically delicious soundtrack celebrating the legacy of black radio. Taylor is a College of Marin theater teacher and skilled Broadway veteran who particularly shines in his riveting portrayals of older women (including his protective mother) and of the hepcat DJ who embodies the author's bittersweet voice of anger and curiosity. But the show, in development for more than six years, lacks a compellingly urgent narrative flow and offers little emotional insight into the central fixation, Bill Hawkins. It works more as an interesting history of '40s and '50s Cleveland radio and as a peephole into a local performer's life work, searching for -- and perhaps never finding -- his father. Through March 19 at the Marsh Berkeley, 2118 Allston (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Tickets are $15-22; call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.themarsh.org. (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed Jan. 11.

Also Playing

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Post Street Theatre, 450 Post (at Mason), 321-2900.

9 Parts of Desire Berkeley Repertory's Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-647-2949.

Adventures of Cunning and Guile Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), 227-8666.

Around the World in 80 Days Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic (at Locust), Walnut Creek, 925-943-7469.

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.

Catalina De Erauso Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 285-8282.

D*Face New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.

The Dick n' Dubya Show: A Republican Outreach Cabaret The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

Family Alchemy Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (at Mariposa), 285-8282.

The Fifth Annual Bay One-Acts Festival Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469.

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

Gem of the Ocean Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228.

Hamlet La Val's Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid (at Hearst), Berkeley, 510-234-6046.

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

How We First Met The Purple Onion, 140 Columbus (at Pacific), 217-8400.

The Immigrant San Jose Repertory Theatre, 101 Paseo de San Antonio (at South Third St.), San Jose, 408-367-7255.

Lil' Bit in Love: Love Songs From Broadway Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), Suite 601, 989-0023.

Los Big Names Unplugged The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.

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

Loveplay Old Oakland Theatre, 461 Ninth St. (at Broadway), Oakland, 510-436-5085.

Luna The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby (at MLK Jr.), Berkeley, 510-841-6500.

Mallmart: The (Not Yet) Musical Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St. (at York), 647-2822.

The Master Builder Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-843-4822.

Medea Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (at 20th St.), 282-9246.

Miss-matches.com Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 931-8385.

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.

Nero (Another Golden Rome) Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.

The Night of the Iguana Actors Theatre San Francisco, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 296-9179.

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

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

Twelfth Night Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck (at Berryman), Berkeley, 510-704-8210.

Uncle Buzzy's Hometown Theater Show Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.

Waiting for the Flood Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320.

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