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Our critics weigh in on local theater

South Pacific. There are so many wonderful songs in South Pacific that it's almost impossible to experience a revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's 1949 musical set on an exotic island during World War II without humming along and tapping your feet. The national tour of the 2008 Lincoln Center Theater production directed by Bartlett Sher in some ways provides the perfect setting for maximum enjoyment of hits like "Bali Ha'i," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Happy Talk," "Younger than Springtime," and "I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy." Set designer Michael Yeargen's simple, almost dowdy-looking island backdrops, Catherine Zuber's period costumes, and Donald Holder's warm, sunset-tinted lighting design are all calibrated to create a balmy, old-fashioned atmosphere without upstaging the music and performers. There are no complicated or flashy scenic effects. Unfortunately, the audience's enjoyment of the singing is hampered by two major details: fussy, extraneous movement by background characters during the production numbers and a lack of any really strong voices onstage. Through Oct. 25 at Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor (at Market), S.F. $30-$99; 512-7770 or www.shnsf.com. (Chloe Veltman) Reviewed Sept. 30.

Under the Gypsy Moon. Storylines don't really matter in a Teatro ZinZanni production; they just provide a loose framework for the circuslike acts everyone comes to see while they enjoy a fancy five-course meal. In the group's latest three-hour show, the Spiegeltent is invaded by thieving gypsies (so much for political correctness), who, in addition to being skilled swindlers, are also (surprise) skilled blues singers, jugglers, and acrobats. As one would expect, the trapeze work is impressive, especially the comic rope-play by Sabine Maier and Joachim Mohr, who manage to fall over themselves without falling down. The evening's most satisfying moments, however, happen on the ground. A juggling number set to Prince's "Kiss" is simple but delightful, and Mat Plendl dazzled the audience with his mastery of the hula hoop. Unfortunately, too many of the cabaret's comedy bits are lame. Punny punchlines delivered by a Henny Youngman-like character played by Geoff Hoyle (the original Zazu in the Broadway production of The Lion King) are especially groan-inducing. Those cheesy moments leave a bad taste in your mouth, as does some of the food, which is passable but not stellar. While Under the Gypsy Moon does deliver some magical moments, unless you've got a lot of disposable cash, it's an evening perhaps best left to the tourists to enjoy. Through Jan. 17 at the Spiegeltent, Pier 29 (at Battery), S.F. $117-$195; 438-2668 or www.zinzanni.org. (Will Harper) Reviewed Sept. 30.

#5 Angry Red Drum: Philip Kan Gotanda's play about a post-apocalyptic universe. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 17. The Thick House, 1695 18th St. (at Arkansas), 401-8081, www.thickhouse.org.

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Ascension of the Blues: Fri., Oct. 9, 8 p.m., $65. Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus (at Chestnut), 474-0365, www.bimbos365club.com.

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.; Saturdays, 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 5 p.m.; Fridays, 6:30 p.m., $25-$80, www.beachblanketbabylon.com. Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.

Big City Improv: Actors take audience suggestions and create comedy from nothing. Fridays, 10 p.m., $15-$20, www.bigcityimprov.com. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100, www.sheltontheater.com.

Breve: An abbreviated version of Under the Gypsy Moon, for lunch. Saturdays. Continues through Nov. 21, $73-$94. Teatro ZinZanni, Piers 27 and 29 (Embarcadero & Battery), 438-2668, www.zinzanni.org.

The Bride of Frankenstein: The Foul Play theater company performs the classic film in black and white. Through Oct. 17, 8 p.m., $20-$25. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433, www.stagewerx.org.

Brilliant Traces: Cindy Lou Johnson's play about loss and loneliness. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 17. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023, www.phoenixtheatresf.org.

Call Me Madam: Irving Berlin's 1950 musical. Through Oct. 18. Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson (at Front), 788-7469, www.eurekatheatre.org.

East 14th: True Tales of a Reluctant Player: Don Reed's solo show about growing up in Oakland. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 10. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

First Day of School: Billy Aronson's comedy about the iconic day. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through Nov. 7. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum: Stephen Sondheim's musical, performed by the City College of San Francisco Theatre Arts Department. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 11. Diego Rivera Theater/CCSF, 50 Phelan (at Judson), 239-3100, www.ccsf.edu.

Goldfish: A comedy by John Kolvenbach. Oct. 7-Nov. 8. Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org.

Heidi Chronicles: Wendy Wasserstein's award-winning play. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 24. The Next Stage, 1620 Gough (at Bush), 333-6389.

I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I'm Afraid to Tell You: Tragicomic solo show by Jennifer Jajeh, about the Middle East. Thursdays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 24. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 820-1656, www.cafearts.com/offmarkettheaters.

Little Dog Laughed: Douglas Carter Beane comedy, directed by Ed Decker. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 8. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

Loveland: A solo comedy by Ann Randolph. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Nov. 14. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

Meet the Samsas: Inspired by Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, directed by Sarah Beth Parks. Oct. 8-24. Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747, www.boxcartheatre.org.

Mitch Mikinos: Jim Strope retells Agamemnon. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 18. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023, www.phoenixtheatresf.org.

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.

Not a Genuine Black Man: Brian Copeland's solo show opens once again. Fridays, Saturdays. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 820-1656, www.cafearts.com/offmarkettheaters.

Pearls Over Shanghai: Thrillpeddlers brings back the Cockettes. Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through Nov. 22, $30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.com.

Rent: Starring original cast members Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp. Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Oct. 18. Curran Theatre, 445 Geary (at Taylor), 551-2000, www.curran-theater.com.

Shocktoberfest 2009: Grand Guignol terror plays. Thursdays, Fridays. Continues through Nov. 20. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.com.

Shopping! The Musical: Songs and sketches about shopping. Fridays, Saturdays, $23-$29, www.shoppingthemusical.com. Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 882-9100, www.sheltontheater.com.

Tales from the Dark Room: New tales of terror each weekend. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Oct. 24, $20. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987, www.darkroomsf.com.

Theatresports: Clash of the Heroes: Performances by Bats Improv. Fridays-Sundays. Continues through Nov. 1, www.improv.org. Fort Mason, Bldg. B (Marina & Buchanan), 474-6776, www.fortmason.org.

Walking on the Moon: Kosho's solo show about the economy and shopping. Sundays. Continues through Oct. 11. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 820-1656, www.cafearts.com/offmarkettheaters.

Wicked: Meet the witches of Oz. Through Jan. 3, 2010. Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 551-2000.

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