By Jonathan Ramos
By Juan De Anda
By Mollie McWilliams
By Juan De Anda
By Mollie McWilliams
By Juan De Anda
By Jonathan Curiel
By Alexis Coe
The Diary of Anne Frank.There is probably a special place in hell for obscure, junior-grade theater critics who would use what few column inches they have to pick on a tiny, independent, church-adjacent production of The Diary of Anne Frank. Well, say a prayer for me. But as Wendy Kesselman's "newly adapted" version of the 1955 play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett makes clear, good intentions aren't always enough. Custom Made's production feels a little creaky, and therefore does at least convey the sense of hiding for 25 months in an attic in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam. The hard part is to haul these characters out from under the symbols they've become while keeping them from seeming like just another group of actors awaiting their cues. Casting an African-American actor, Fred Pitts, as Anne's father, Otto, accords well with the play's idea of dignity rebuking bigotry, but director Leah S. Abrams' other choices seem regrettably less bold. Julia Belanoff's performance as Anne is calibrated to amplify the heroine's precocity and optimism, perhaps because the dramatization of destroyed potential is a lot to ask of any teenager, or audience. Through May 1 at the Next Stage, 1620 Gough (at Bush), S.F. $18-$28; 651-4251 or www.custommade.org. (Jonathan Kiefer) Reviewed April 14.
Master Class. Master Class begins strongly, and abruptly, with the appearance of opera's great diva, Maria Callas (played by Michaela Greeley). There is no transition into theatrical "space" — the lights stay on, the actors come onstage, class begins. Greeley has an immediate presence most actresses should envy. She draws you in even as she pushes you away — the hallmark of a diva's charisma. That's a good thing, because Master Class rests entirely on her. There is no plot to follow: Callas is giving a master class to opera singers, and gets through three of them (in two acts, with two monologues) before it ends. There are no other characters to speak of; yes, there are other actors onstage, and they have names and lines, but they're all foils for Callas. This is a one-woman show with human props. Everything hinges on the diva. Doesn't it always? For the most part, Greeley pulls it off: She's charming, abrasive, insightful, and deep, but wonderfully inconsistent. The only thing she can't do as Callas is be vulnerable (which makes the monologues problematic), but generally she embodies the role in grand style. Like her students, you learn nothing about voice or opera. Divas can never really teach you about their art — their only real subject is themselves. But you certainly pay attention during the lesson. Through May 2 at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F. $22-$40; 861-8972 or www.nctcsf.org. (Benjamin Wachs) Reviewed April 14.
An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus ...: A comedy by Mickle Maher. Starting April 29, Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through May 22. The Garage, 975 Howard (at Sixth St.), 885-4006, www.975howard.com.
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.
City Solo: Solo artists in the Bay Area. Starting May 2, Sundays. Continues through May 23. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 336-0513, www.cafearts.com/offmarket.
DIVAfest: Fest featuring women writers, directors, and performers. Through May 1. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847, www.theexit.org.
Flying Actor Studio Presents: Physical theater, movement theater, and neoclassic clowning and miming. April 30-May 2. Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), 263-0830, www.climatetheater.com.
Hearts on Fire: Thelma Houston, El Vez, and Christine Deaver perform in Teatro ZinZanni's show. Wednesdays-Saturdays, 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.; Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through May 16, $117-$145. Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 273-1620.
Hot Greeks: Thrillpeddlers' new Cockettes 1972 revival. Starting May 2, Thursdays, Sundays, 8 p.m. Continues through June 27, $30-$69. The Hypnodrome, 575 10th St. (at Bryant), 377-4202, www.thrillpeddlers.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.
Monkey King: A Circus Adventure: Presented by the Clown Conservatory. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 25. Climate Theater, 285 Ninth St. (at Folsom), 263-0830, www.climatetheater.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), 369-6030, www.westfield.com/metreon.
San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards: The 34th annual awards celebrating Bay Area theater. Mon., May 3, 800-838-3006. Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon (at Bay), www.palaceoffinearts.org.
SexRev: The José Sarria Experience: John Fisher's musical celebration about America's first queer activist. Through May 2. Mama Calizo's Voice Factory, 1519 Mission (at Van Ness), 690-9410, www.voicefactorysf.org.
ShortLived: Audience-judged playwriting competition. Fridays, Saturdays. Continues through June 26. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 336-0513, www.cafearts.com/offmarket.
St. Nicholas: Presented by Second Wind Productions. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 8. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023, www.phoenixtheatresf.org.
Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding: Saturdays, 7 p.m.; Fridays, 7 p.m., $88.50-$115.50, www.tonyandtinasanfrancisco.com. Swiss Louis Restaurant at Pier 39, 2 Beach (at Embarcadero), 421-2913, www.swisslouis.com.
Vinegar Tom: A musical by Caryl Churchill. Starting April 29, Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 9. SFSU Campus/Little Theater, 1600 Holloway (at 19th Ave.) (Creative Arts Bldg.), 338-2467, www.sfsu.edu.
Wanton Darkness: Presented by Second Wind Productions. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through May 8. The Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason (at Post), 989-0023, www.phoenixtheatresf.org.
What Mama Said About Down There: Sia Amma's comedy. Thursdays, Sundays. Continues through June 3. Our Little Theater, 287 Ellis (at Taylor), 928-4060.
The Wind and Rain: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8:30 p.m. Continues through May 1, $20. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847, www.theexit.org.