By Joseph Geha
By Jonathan Kiefer
By Katie Tandy
By Mollie McWilliams
By Jennifer Baires
By Jonathan Curiel
By Sherilyn Connelly
Obscura.Both theater arts and the art of magic involve suspension of disbelief, but in different ways. We go to the theater to find truth while actors pretend to be people they're not; we go to a magic show to be fooled by real people pretending to do things that defy the laws of physics. When the two find common ground, it can work very well. Obscura is the third collaboration between magician Christian Cagigal and Exit Theatre to produce "strange little magic shows" — and it's turning into a sly San Francisco tradition. A one-man show in an intimate cafe, Obscura presents a collection of mildly creepy campfire tales and illustrates them through sleight of hand. The stories and tricks aren't all equally strong, but Cagigal is a charismatic storyteller and the show is nimble under his care. The set is surprisingly evocative for such a minimalist venue, and the use of a music box to segue between stories is inspired. It's not profound, it's not hilarious — but Obscura makes for a diverting evening. Through Aug. 14 at Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Mason), S.F. $15–$25; 673-3847 or www.sffringe.org. (Benjamin Wachs) Reviewed July 28.
Shopping! The Musical. Some theater types want to be Hamlet; others want to be Liza Minnelli. The smiling, hardworking performers in this musical revue definitely fall into the latter category. Lyricist-composer Morris Bobrow uses his infectious, irreverent humor to great effect as he pays homage to the highs and lows of our compellingly crass commercial culture. He uses the small, cramped theater in a straightforward manner — four center-stage stools and an amusing backdrop provide the set. The accomplished accompanist Ben Keim keeps things lively on one side of the stage behind an upright piano. The actors lead us through songs that bring to mind Jerry Seinfeld's sharp observations on mundane modern life: "Shopping in Style" extols the virtues of Costco, and "Serious Shopping" imagines a man trying to buy lettuce from a riotously over-the-top grocery cult. The musical runs just over an hour, yet it still has a few rough spots. The midshow sketch "Checking Out" gives us a limp comedic premise that we've seen before on subpar sitcoms, and the piece "5 & 10" is a mix of awkward nostalgia and pitch problems. Nevertheless, this is a clever collection of tunes performed with an unabashedly cheesy enthusiasm that would make Liza proud. Open-ended run at the Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Mason), S.F. $25-$29; 800-838-3006 or www.shoppingthemusical.com. (Frank Wortham) Reviewed June 14, 2006.
Abigail: Salem Witch Trials – The Rock Opera: Original songs. Thursdays, 9 p.m. Continues through Sept. 23. $10. Temple, 540 Howard (at First St.), 978-9942.
Agnes the Barbarian: Produced by Thunderbird Theatre Company. Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 14. Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy (at Taylor), 673-3847.
Ah, Wilderness!: The Sit-Down Readers Theatre welcomes all readers. Sat., Aug. 7, 2 p.m. North Beach Branch Library, 2000 Mason (at Columbus), 355-5626.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: Tennessee Williams' classic play. Through Sept. 4. $26-$38. Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287.
City Solo: Solo theater performances by Bay Area stars. Sundays. Continues through Aug. 22. Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 336-0513.
Divalicious: Leanne Borghesi takes on legendary divas. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 22. New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.
The Fantasticks: Presented by SF Playhouse. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Continues through Sept. 4. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.
Laughter in the Dark: Robillard Theatreworks production. Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Aug. 6. $20. www.robillardtheatreworks.org. The Garage, 975 Howard (at Sixth St.), 885-4006.
Love, Chaos and Couture: All Dressed Up with Someplace to Go: The latest by Teatro ZinZanni, starring Liliane Montevecchi and Frank Ferrante. Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Aug. 15. $117-$145. 438-2668. www.zinzanni.org. Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 438-2668.
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.
Much Ado About Nothing: Presented by Woman's Will in parks throughout the Bay Area. See site for schedule. Through Aug. 29. Multiple Bay Area locations.
Nymph O'Mania: Presented by Wily West Productions. Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through Aug. 14. Stage Werx, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 730-3433.
Once Upon a Broadway, a Fairy Tale Revue: Young People's Teen Musical Theatre. Sat., Aug. 7; Sun., Aug. 8. Randall Museum, 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), 554-9600.
Once Upon a Mattress: Presented by Young People's Teen Musical Theatre. Through Aug. 7. Randall Museum, 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), 554-9600.
Performance for Peace: Sun., Aug. 8, 3 p.m. $35-$100. www.afrosolo.org. African American Art and Culture Complex, 762 Fulton (at Webster), 922-2049.
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