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Our critics weigh in on local theater

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.

Better Homes and Ammo: An American family after the apocalypse. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 19. Exit Stage Left, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847, www.sffringe.org.

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.

A Christmas Carol: The gang's all here in Dickens' classic. Through Dec. 27. American Conservatory Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), 749-2228, www.act-sfbay.org.

A Christmas Memory: Word-for-Word presents Truman Capote's short story. See more in Night and Day. Mon., Dec. 14, 7 p.m., $10-$15. Z Space, 450 Florida (at 17th St.), 626-0453, www.zspace.org.

Cinderella: African-American Shakespeare sets the play in Louisiana. Dec. 10-13; Sat., Dec. 19; Sun., Dec. 20; Sun., Dec. 27. African American Art and Cultural Complex Center, 762 Fulton (at Webster), 922-2049, www.aaacc.org.

Cora's Holiday Hotpad: Sean Owens' comedy about Cora Values, owner of the Gas & Gulp Cafe. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Dec. 12. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 931-3847, www.theexit.org.

Cotton Patch Gospel: A bluegrass holiday musical. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 19, www.custommade.org. The Next Stage, 1620 Gough (at Bush), 333-6389.

Dames at Sea: A sly look at Hollywood musicals of the 1930s. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 17. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

Fun-derful Holidaze: Unique Derique clowns around. Starting Dec. 12, Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through Jan. 3. The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750, www.themarsh.org.

Great American Songbook: Presents The Great Broadway Sing Along. Thu., Dec. 10, 8 p.m. Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, 3200 California (at Presidio), 292-1200, www.jccsf.org.

I Heart SF: Tales of the city. Through Dec. 13. Boxcar Theatre, 505 Natoma (at Sixth St.), 776-1747, www.boxcartheatre.org.

Life of Brian: Live on Stage: The Monty Python comedy film gets compacted down to Mission District size. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Dec. 19, $20. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987, www.darkroomsf.com.

Lightning Never Strikes the Same Place Twice: A multimedia piece by Catherine Galasso. Sat., Dec. 12, 8 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 13, 8 p.m., www.sffs.org. SomArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan (at Eighth St.), 863-1414, www.somarts.org.

Madonna's Christmas Celebration: The Virgin Mary, drag, and Top 40 hits. Wed., Dec. 9, 8 p.m., $15-$20, www.virginmarylive.com. Finn's Funhouse, 814 Grove (at Webster).

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.

Nocturnal Butterflies: Vaslav Nijinsky reimagined. See more in Night and Day. Dec. 10-12, 8 p.m., $20. Project Artaud Theater, 499 Alabama (at Mariposa), 626-4370, www.artaud.org.

Nutcracker at the Zeum: The Mark Foehringer Dance Project takes on the classic. Saturdays, Sundays. Continues through Dec. 20, www.mfdpsf.org. Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320, www.zeum.org/visitor/zeumTheater.html.

OVO: Cirque du Soleil returns to the city with a show about insects. Through Jan. 24, 2010, $42-$250. Grand Chapiteau, Third St. (at Terry Francois), www.cirquedusoleil.com.

Pearls over Shanghai: Thrillpeddlers brings back the Cockettes. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through Jan. 23, $30. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.com.

Point Break Live!: The boys are back in town again. Fridays, Saturdays, 9 p.m. Continues through May 1, www.pointbreaklivesf.com. Metreon, 101 Fourth St. (at Mission), 369-6000, www.westfield.com/metreon.

ReOrient 2009 — The First 10 Years: Short plays exploring the Middle East. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 13, www.goldenthread.org. The Thick House, 1695 18th St. (at Arkansas), 401-8081, www.thickhouse.org.

Saliva: Part of Keith Hennessy's A Queer 20th Anniversary. See more in Night and Day. Sun., Dec. 13, 8 p.m., $15-$25, 401-9376, www.circozero.org. Multiple San Francisco locations, multiple addresses.

San Francisco Mime Troupe 50th Birthday Bash: The troupe presents Ghosts. See more in Night and Day. Thu., Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m., free. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third St.), 978-2787, www.ybca.org.

Santaland Diaries: David Sedaris' classic hits S.F. for the eighth year in a row. Mondays-Sundays, 8 & 10 p.m. Continues through Dec. 30, $25, www.combinedartform.com. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), www.cafearts.com/offmarkettheaters.

She Stoops to Comedy: Gender-bending romp by David Greenspan. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through Jan. 9. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596, www.sfplayhouse.org.

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.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Presented by Actors Theatre of San Francisco, directed by Keith Phillips. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 19. Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287, www.actorstheatresf.org.

Wicked: Meet the witches of Oz. Through March 21, 2010. Orpheum Theater, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), 551-2000.

The Wizard of Oz: Stephanie Temple takes on Oz. Through Jan. 3, 2010. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972, www.nctcsf.org.

An XXX-Mas to Remember: Christmas improv by Technically Virgins. See more in Night and Day. Sat., Dec. 12, 10 p.m., $8-$10. Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987, www.darkroomsf.com.

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