Also Playing

Our critics weigh in on local theater

Sex. When she was released from jail for transgressing indecency laws with her 1926 comedy about a street-smart prostitute's adventures in love, Mae West became a star. The play might be flimsily plotted (the story concerns hooker-with-a-heart Margy LaMont's journey from the gutter to the stars via a Montreal flophouse, a Trinidad nightclub, and the mansion of a wealthy Connecticut family) and feature a string of gratuitous, old-fashioned songs. But Tom Ross' revival at Aurora Theatre captivates because of its sense of fun and ability to connect what the play meant to West and her audiences with what it means to us today. Instead of mocking West's artistic sensibility, Ross and his collaborators embrace every hokey one-liner as though West wrote it just last week for The Daily Show and go at each sentimental musical number as if they mean it. Delia MacDougall unapologetically channels West's persona in her portrayal of LaMont; she has all of West's legendary mannerisms down, from her loaded vocal purr to her Jell-O swagger. Yet the performance never feels like a caricature. The result not only makes for an entertaining night out at the theater, but also a provocative one. Through Dec. 9 at Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. Tickets are $40-42; call 510-843-4822 or visit www.auroratheatre.org. (C.V.) Reviewed Nov. 21.

Also Playing

2007 Dance-Along Nutcracker: Ratified!: The San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band's annual celebration, directed by Roberto-Juan Gonzalez. Starting Dec. 8, Daily. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third St.), 978-2787, www.ybca.org.

4.48 Psychosis: A drama of suicidal depression by Jump Theatre. Through Dec. 15. Noh Space, 2840 Mariposa (at Florida), 621-7978.

Big City Improv: Actors take audience suggestions and create comedy. Fridays, 10 p.m., $15, www.bigcityimprov.com. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226, www.sheltontheater.com.

Black Nativity: This piece is 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. Through Dec. 23. Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter (at Mason), 474-8800, www.lhtsf.org.

Bondage: A tale by David Henry Hwang and directed by Ryan Yip, set in a Los Angeles S&M parlor. Dec. 6-16. Exit Theatre on Taylor, 277 Taylor (at Ellis), 673-3847.

A Christmas Carol: ACT's annual celebration. Dec. 5-23. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228, www.act-sfbay.org.

Cinderella: The annual classic by the African-American Shakespeare Company. Dec. 7-30, $20-$25. Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320.

Completely Hollywood (abridged): Through Jan. 6, 2008, 8 p.m., $45-$60. Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter (at Mason), 771-6900, www.marinesmemorialtheatre.com.

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.

Dress Up: Stage veteran Carole Cook's one-woman show. Through Dec. 9. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

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

Everything Has Been Arranged: By Campo Santo and Sean San Jose, adapted from Denis Johnson's investigation of the civil wars in Liberia. Dec. 6-8. Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia (at 15th St.), 626-3311, www.theintersection.org.

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

It Could Have Been a Wonderful Life: Based on the Christmas classic but with a few twists, notably Jack Benny. Dec. 7-16. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org.

It's a Wonderful (Improvised) Life: A completely improvised full-length holiday story in the style of Frank Capra. Fri., Dec. 7; Sat., Dec. 8. Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason, Bldg. B (Marina & Buchanan), 474-8935.

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 (at Taylor), 551-2000.

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. Through Jan. 20, 2008. AT&T Park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza (at Third & King), 1-800-678-5440, www.cirquedusoleil.com.

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

Love, Chaos & Dinner: A blend of European cabaret, circus arts, and original music with a five-course gourmet dinner. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 6 p.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m., $99-$125, love.zinzanni.org. Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 273-1620.

Madama Butterfly: Giacomo Puccini's classic love story returns to San Francisco Opera. Wed., Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 6, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 8, 1 & 8 p.m., $15-$275. War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness (at Grove), 864-3330, www.sfwmpac.org.

Magic Holiday: A kids' show featuring two magicians and a juggler by David Hirata and friends. Dec. 9-30. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

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