By Joseph Geha
By Jonathan Kiefer
By Katie Tandy
By Mollie McWilliams
By Jennifer Baires
By Jonathan Curiel
By Sherilyn Connelly
Trouble in Mind. Had she not refused to change its title and its ending, Alice Childress' Trouble in Mind, from 1955, would have been the first play by a black woman produced on Broadway. That might seem a bitter irony, given what it's about: an interracial theater company struggling to stage a white-liberal vision of progressivism during the first halting steps of the civil rights movement. More exactly, it's about one actress (Margo Hall) with the dubious opportunity to become the first black leading lady on Broadway. And so this urgent cultural critique has every right to toss humor and subtlety out the window; the great delight is that it doesn't. Emboldened by Robin Stanton's sensitive and only just barely strident direction, Hall and her eight castmates — Rhonnie Washington in particular — deliver a testimony of inequality that is not just devastating but also devastatingly funny. Childress didn't compromise, so Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun beat her to the history books, but as this production reminds us, Trouble in Mind was built to stand the test of time. Through Oct. 3 at Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison (at Shattuck), Berkeley. $34-$55; 510-843-4822 or www.auroratheatre.org. (Jonathan Kiefer) Reviewed Sept. 8.
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, www.templesf.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.
Hail Caesar!: Teatro ZinZanni's new production. Through Oct. 31, $117-$145. Teatro ZinZanni, Piers 27 and 29 (Embarcadero and Battery), 438-2668, www.zinzanni.org.
Law and Order San Francisco Unit! The Musical (sort of)!: Mondays, 8 p.m. Continues through Sept. 27, $10, www.funnybutmean.com. Metreon, 101 Fourth St. (at Mission), 369-6030, www.westfield.com/metreon.
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.
Olive Kitteridge: Word for Word theater company. Through Sept. 26, $30-$40. Z Space, 450 Florida (at 17th St.), 626-0453, www.artaud.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.
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