Katya: What Becomes a Legend Most?J. Conrad Frank avoids the pitfalls of many drag shows that rely too much on kitsch, shakily sung parody songs, and trashy banter. Frank's alter ego, the Russian countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy, is glamorous and tasteful, elegantly intoxicated (her last name says it all), and can sing, sliding easily from her high falsetto to a low tenor range. With each operatic song and through four gorgeous costume changes, Katya illuminates a new aspect of her history — from her humble beginnings growing up in Russia with a Gypsy father (Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" sung as torch ballad) through her brief career at the Metropolitan Opera to her stint as a wedding singer at endangered gay marriages (the quite stirring "Make Them Hear You," from Ragtime). Apparently fearing the show isn't gay enough, she also throws in an over-the-top medley featuring Cher, Judy Garland, Madonna, Queen, and the Village People. Katya is extremely popular in the local drag scene, winning major awards, but the night I attended felt off. The room's energy was low, jokes often fell flat, and occasionally her thick European accent and falsetto got tiresome. Yet I felt like I got to know a fully rounded persona — more than I can say for most other drag shows. Through June 27 at New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Fell), S.F. $20-$29; 861-8972 or www.nctcsf.org. (Nathaniel Eaton) Reviewed June 10.
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, 7 p.m., $5-$8, www.improv.org. Bayfront Theater, 16 Marina (at Laguna), 474-6776, www.improv.org/shows/bayfront.htm.
Beach Blanket Babylon: A North Beach perennial featuring crazy hats, media personality caricatures, a splash of romance, and little substance. Now with Rod Blagojevich! Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 5 p.m., $25-$80, www.beachblanketbabylon.com. Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.
Captain Stormfield's Report from Heaven: The afterlife according to Mark Twain, with dinner starting at 6 p.m. on Fridays and 5 p.m. on Sundays. Fridays, 7 p.m.; Sundays, 5:30 p.m. Continues through June 28, www.thepeoplestheatre.com. Pena Pachamama, 1630 Powell, 646-0018, penapachamama.com.
Monday Night Marsh: On select Mondays a different lineup of musicians, actors, performance artists, and others takes the stage at this regular event that's hosted local celebs like Josh Kornbluth and Marga Gomez in the past; see www.themarsh.org for a lineup of future shows. Mondays, $7. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.