The Quest for Dick Melville's epic seafaring yarn, starring the most famous whale in history, is revisited in the Ghostlight Theater Company's Hunting for Moby Dick. This production, a comic adaptation of Melville's novel and the letters he wrote during its creation, employs marine rope, bedsheets, big poles, and bottled water to re-create the adventuresome climate of this treatise on nature and the moral universe, as couched in whaling terms. The show opens with a preview at 8:30 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 13) at the Magic Theater, Fort Mason, Building D, Laguna & Marina, S.F. Admission is $15; call 441-8822.
Base Hit Jerry Lewis plays the devil in the musical comedy Damn Yankees. Based on Douglass Wallop's novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, the show revolves around a baseball fan who sells his soul to become the game's greatest player. The Broadway team of Adler and Ross, authors of The Pajama Game, composed the Damn Yankees score, which includes show tune standard "You Gotta Have Heart." The show begins with a preview at 2 p.m. and an opening night performance at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 13) at the Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor, S.F. Admission is $32-62.50; call 776-1999.
The Whole Gorey Story Artist Edward Gorey's considerable appeal lies in his witty handling of death, destruction, and gloom -- it's a Gothic property he shares with cartoonist Charles Addams. Gorey, who created the animated introduction to the PBS series Mystery!, launched his professional career in 1953 when he began drawing book jackets for Doubleday, a career that has featured his own collection of over 100 books, including intricate pop-ups and miniatures. The exhibit "Gorey World" displays original illustrations from theater posters, magazines, and books like The Gashlycrumb Tinies, in which children and the alphabet join in a fatal rhyme. The show opens at 11 a.m. (and continues through Jan. 12) at the Cartoon Art Museum, 814 Mission, S.F. Admission is free-$4; call 227-8666.
Quaff a Brew for Progress Enjoy good beer for someone else's benefit when the San Francisco League of Conservation Voters hosts the the eighth annual Microbrewery Beerfest, at which 20 Northern California independent breweries like Anderson Valley and Gordon Biersch and homebrewing outlet S.F. Brewcraft offer their products for a tasting benefiting the league's work on affordable housing and open spaces. Then tomorrow, the fifth annual MacArthur Park Beer Festival serves up over 75 beers from more than 35 Northern California and Pacific Northwest microbreweries. Tee Fee plays Cajun music and Paris Slim sings the Delta blues as festivalgoers sample beers and barbecue. Proceeds go to the Guardsmen's summer camp programs for economically disadvantaged kids. The Microbrewery Beerfest begins at 6 p.m. in Building A at Fort Mason, Laguna & Marina, S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 896-5550, ext. 311; the MacArthur Park Beer Festival begins Friday at 4 p.m. at MacArthur Park, Front between Jackson & Pacific, S.F. Admission is $35-40; call 398-5700.
Swell on Wheels If a record label can be summed up in stereo, Estrus is the roar of a hot rod engine and the shattering of glass over someone else's head. What might be merely retro in less competent hands gets a garage-punk rock spin, and sounds cooler, louder, and faster in Estrus bands, from surf sets by Satan's Pilgrims to go-go rockers by Girl Trouble. It helps that the bands aren't afraid to laugh at themselves, and at others, as they're ripping up joints worldwide. Five of lo-fi's finest play the Estrus Invitationals 1996 -- West Coast Divisions show: The Nomads, Mono Men, the Makers, Lord High Fixers, and the Insomniacs. The show starts at 9 p.m. at Bimbo's 365 Club, 1025 Columbus, S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 474-0365.
Get Your Kicks Modern dance institution Twyla Tharp mined national culture and an international pool of dancers to create three world premiere works for "Tharp!" The choreographer behind such American vehicles as the film Hair and the Joffrey Ballet-meets-Beach Boys piece Deuce Coupe, Tharp turns her attention in this collection to, among other themes, Shaker hymns (performed by the Boston Camerata) in Simple Gifts and lounge music by Esquivel and Cole Porter in 66, a series of vignettes celebrating the famous highway and the people who've traveled it. The show begins at 8 p.m. (also Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m.) at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, Berkeley. Admission is $18-40; call (510) 642-9988.
Radio Ready Richard Montoya, Ricardo Salinas, and Herbert Siguenza, known collectively as Culture Clash, have taken Miami. The comic, politically minded theater trio that began at Galleria de la Raza in the Mission becomes an entire urban metropolis in Radio Mambo: Culture Clash Invades Miami, a collection of impersonations demonstrating that Miami isn't just comprised of Cubans and Jewish retirees. Culture Clash's portraits of the Caribbean, Haitian, African-American, and gay communities there point audiences toward forces at work elsewhere in our increasingly segmented nation. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Oct. 13) at Brava Theater Center, 2789 24th St., S.F. Admission is $12-35; call 487-5401.
True to Form "Did you ever wonder why/ I tried to sock you in the eye?" asks Overwhelming Colorfast in "Shiner," a bittersweet, hilarious ode to tough love, banked by the chorus "Get away, get away, get out of my head." There are echoes of punk's dark and shining past here, of HYsker DY with tangled guitar strings and a longing for beauty. The former Relativity Records band has moved over to Headhunter Records, and to celebrate, they're playing a record-release party for new album Moonlight and Castanets; Mineral opens at 9 p.m. at the Kilowatt, 3160 16th St., S.F. Admission is $6; call 861-2595.