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Our critics weigh in on local theater

Based on a Totally True Story: Comedy by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, directed by John Dixon, about a young, talented playwright and comic book writer. Through Dec. 16. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

BATS: Sunday Players: Each week Bay Area Theatresports players pit their improv work against all comers as the audience votes them off one by one until the winner stands alone on the stage. Sundays, 8 p.m., $8, www.improv.org. Fort Mason, Bldg. B (Marina & Buchanan), 474-6776.

The Crew Goes Musical: BATS' advanced student ensemble presents a night of made up musicals with improvised genres, themes, songs, and more. Sun., Nov. 25. Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason, Bldg. B (Marina & Buchanan), 474-8935.

"Beach Blanket Babylon": A North Beach perennial featuring crazy hats, media personality caricatures, a splash of romance, and little substance. $25-$65. Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.

The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged) & Completely Hollywood (abridged): Reduced Shakespeare Company production. Through Jan. 9, 2008. Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter (at Mason), 771-6900, www.marinesmemorialtheatre.com.

Big City Improv: Actors take audience suggestions and create comedy from nothing. Fridays, 10 p.m., $15, www.bigcityimprov.com. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226, www.sheltontheater.com.

Black Nativity: Back for its ninth consecutive year, expanded with new songs, choreography, and a new set, as well as featuring the leading gospel voices in the Bay Area. Nov. 23-Dec. 23. Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter (at Mason), 474-8800, www.lhtsf.org.

Charlotte Rae: The legendary comic actress first found worldwide fame during the 1980s as Edna Garrett on Diff'rent Strokes and then as housemother on The Facts of Life. Now at the age of 81, she arrives in San Francisco to debut her brand-new cabaret show. Nov. 27-Dec. 2. Empire Plush Room, York Hotel, 940 Sutter (at Hyde), 885-2800, www.theempireplushroom.com.

Crowd You're in With: Pulitzer-nominated Rebecca Gilman's fresh and moving new play takes a close look at modern families and friendships. Through Dec. 8. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D (Marina & Buchanan), 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org.

Dodo for President: A Custom Made Theatre Company comedy by Mark Eisman, directed by Leah S. Abrams. Through Dec. 8. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477, www.offmarkettheater.com.

Escapades: San Francisco's all-female clown troupe presents a spectacle that accelerates to comic disaster. Through Dec. 9, www.ftloose.org. Shotwell Studios, 3252A 19th St. (at Folsom), 289-2000, www.venue9.com/shotwell.html.

Family Drama: A completely improvised story in the form of a traditional three-act stage play. The story unfolds in real time on one set with each actor playing only one character. The audience selects the title for the show, which suggest the themes, stories, etc. All you know is that a family of some kind is getting together for Thanksgiving. Everything else will be created right in front of your eyes. Fri., Nov. 23; Sat., Nov. 24. Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason, Bldg. B (Marina & Buchanan), 474-8935.

GayProv: All levels of improvisational actors, gay or straight, are welcome at this weekly improv jam geared toward gays and lesbians. Sundays, 8 p.m., $5. Off-Market Studio, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477, www.cafearts.com.

In the Land of the Grasshopper Song: Based on the award-winning book, this heartwarming story follows the adventures of two women who set out from the East Coast in 1908 to be "field matrons" for the Karuk Indian Tribe of Northern California. Through Dec. 2. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org.

"Grounded?": New Visual Art, Public Intervention, Performance & Media in Search of Physical, Personal, Social, Political & Creative Ground. Through Dec. 15. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), 626-3311, www.theintersection.org.

Jersey Boys: The story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and how they went from a group of blue-collar boys from the wrong side of the tracks to one of the biggest American pop music sensations of all time. Through Dec. 30, $30-$90. Curran Theatre, 445 Geary (between Taylor and Mason), 551-2000.

KML: For the Very First Time: Killing My Lobster's first-ever all-female sketch comedy show. Through Dec. 9, www.killingmylobster.com. ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), 863-9834, www.odctheater.org.

Kooza: Written and directed by David Shiner, Kooza is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil that combines two circus traditions – acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor. The show starts with The Trickster bursting onto the scene like a jack-in-a-box right in front of The Innocent, and that is just the first of many surprises to follow. The Innocent's journey brings him into contact with a panoply of comic characters such as the King, the Trickster, the Heimloss, the Pickpocket, and the Obnoxious Tourist and his Bad Dog. Through Jan. 13, 2008, www.cirquedusoleil.com. AT&T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza (at Third and King sts.), 972-2000.

La Rondine: Opera by Giacomo Puccini, directed by Stephen Barlow. Through Nov. 29. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), 864-3330, www.sfwmpac.org.

Let It Snow: An Improvised Holiday Musical: An improvised holiday musical, filled with good old-fashioned Broadway singing and dancing. Each performance is a new musical, set in the real hometown of an audience member. Nov. 23-Dec. 16. Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Geary), Suite 601, 989-0023.

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