Also Playing

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Shopping! The Musical. Some theater types want to be Hamlet; others want to be Liza Minnelli. The smiling, hardworking performers in this new musical revue definitely fall into the latter category. Lyricist-composer Morris Bobrow uses his infectious, irreverent humor to great effect as he pays homage to the highs and lows of our compellingly crass commercial culture. He uses the small, cramped theater in a straightforward manner — four center-stage stools and an amusing backdrop provide the set. The accomplished accompanist Ben Keim keeps things lively on one side of the stage behind an upright piano. The actors lead us through songs that bring to mind Jerry Seinfeld's sharp observations on mundane modern life: "Shopping in Style" extols the virtues of Costco, and "Serious Shopping" imagines a man trying to buy lettuce from a riotously over-the-top grocery cult. The musical runs just over an hour, yet it still has a few rough spots. The mid-show sketch "Checking Out" gives us a limp comedic premise that we've seen before on sub-par sitcoms, and the piece "5 & 10" is a mix of awkward nostalgia and pitch problems. Nevertheless, this is a clever collection of tunes performed with an unabashedly cheesy enthusiasm that would make Liza proud. In an open-ended run at the Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (between Powell and Mason), S.F. Tickets are $25-29; call (800) 838-3006 or visit www.shoppingthemusical.com. (Frank Wortham) Reviewed June 14.

Taming of the Shrew. The African-American Shakespeare Company's production of the Bard's tale depicting the battle between a husband and wife for the marital upper hand can't be faulted for making bold production choices. Instead of traditional Elizabethan settings and garb, director Victoria Evans-Erville opts for a '70s Funkadelic/Blaxploitation/Good Times vibe. That means plenty of afros, polyester, and bell bottoms colored every hue of the DayGlo rainbow. Apparently Evans-Erville took the Shrew's phrase "irreverent robes" seriously. While updating Shakespeare to modern, relevant, and even fun locales sounds great, this production has so much fun that it seems almost mocking, showing little regard for the original writing and language. Traditional lines get contemporary additions such as "Tres cool," "You dig?," and "Here's the skinny." The musical interludes — featuring actors busting out into versions of Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye hits — might have been brilliant had they been sung and not badly lip-synched. Actors David Moore (Petruchio) and Tonia Usher (Kate) generate some nice friction in the famous seduction scene as they tango to the iambic pentameter beat, and Federico Edwards (Gremio) turns in an enjoyably bizarre, bug-eyed performance reminiscent of Don Knotts, but many of the others fumble the language. In the end, this attempt at a clever, hip interpretation of a classic becomes a goofy parody. Through Oct. 22 at the Buriel Clay Theatre, 762 Fulton (between Webster & Buchanan), S.F. call 762-2071 or visit www.african-americanshakes.org. (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed Oct. 4.


Also Playing

13 Steps
Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.
Absolutely San Francisco
Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), Suite 601, 989-0023.
Beach Blanket Babylon
Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.
Beyond Therapy
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226.
Cloud Nine
SFSU Campus/Little Theater, 1600 Holloway (at 19th Ave.) (Creative Arts Bldg.), 338-2467.
Cowboy Mouth
Exit Theatre on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), 673-3847.
Death of a Salesman
Actors Theatre San Francisco, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 296-9179.
Die Fledermaus
War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), 864-3330.
Down Broadway
Theatre 39 at Pier 39, 2 Beach (Beach & Embarcadero).
Equus
Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.
Far Away
Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.
Fred Anderson
Pier 39, Beach & Embarcadero, 705-5500.
Gadget
Z Space Studio, 131 10th St. (at Mission), 626-0453.
Hipolito: Ready, Aim, Fire!
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, 2868 Mission (at 25th St.), 821-1155.
The Living Corpse
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226.
Love is a Dream House in Lorin
The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby (at MLK Jr.), Berkeley, 510-841-6500.
Lulu Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St. (at Capp), 863-7576.
Mother Courage and Her Children
Berkeley Repertory's Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley, 510-647-2949. Murder Mystery Dinner
The Archbishop's Mansion, 1000 Fulton (at Steiner), 563-7872.
Not a Genuine Black Man
The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.
Rhinestone Cowgirl
New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.
Ride Down Mount Morgan
SF Playhouse, 536 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.
Rigoletto
War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), 864-3330.
"Shocktoberfest!! 2006: Laboratory of Hallucinations"
The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 248-1900.
Supertrain
SF Playhouse, 536 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.
Tings Dey Happen
The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.
Tristan und Isolde
War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), 864-3330.
War at Home
New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.
Young Frankenstein: The Play
Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.

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