Better Red Than Dead Beatrice Lillie, the pearl necklace-swinging thespian with the flaming pixie cut, inspired the Albert Hague/Dorothy Fields musical comedy Redhead, but the 1959 Broadway production starred Gwen Verdon, whose portrayal of Essie Whimple, a wax-museum employee who has visions of a killer stalking actresses in Victorian London, won her a Tony Award for best actress. Legendary Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse also garnered a Tony for the show, which contains songs like “Look Who's in Love,” and was deemed best musical of the year, although it's rarely been produced since. That makes it a natural for 42nd Street Moon, the local company that specializes in reviving neglected musicals, and that stages a concert version of this one as the third production in its “Delicious Dames of Broadway!” season. The show opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Sept. 20) at the New Conservatory Theater Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), S.F. Admission is $10-20; call 861-8972.
Free Trade The borders between countries may fall away at the festival “A Mexican Presence” and the group show “Desert Cliche,” but plenty of tension remains in the work. In “Desert Cliche,” Israeli artists challenge stereotypes of their country's cultural identity, particularly religious fervor and militarism: Nir Hod paints male soldiers in drag, and Dganit Berest casts his work against the looming threat of terrorism. “A Mexican Presence” features two exhibits: “Labyrinth: A Day of the Dead Exhibition,” created by 55 local artists of various cultural backgrounds, and “AMexcelente! Hybridity and Travel in Art From Mexico City and Beyond,” which recognizes the cultural influences Mexico and the U.S. have exerted on one another. Daniel Guzman pays homage to the American rock band Kiss with Kiss My Ass and Yoshua Okón demonstrates the treachery of language ambiguities in translation with the video installation Tragaverga, while Milena Muzquiz delves into cultural dissimilation with Old School, a triptych of amateur Mexican actors playing English-speaking parts in Hollywood genre films. In conjunction with the events, the gallery will feature a Day of the Dead storytelling series, the video collage program “AEl Super Show de Puro Pop! Television From Greater Mexico,” and a number of discussions and presentations, including an opening night party with Israeli folk singers and punk mariachi band Los Super Elegantes, beginning tonight at 8 p.m. in the Grand Lobby of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 978-ARTS. Both “A Mexican Presence” and “Desert Cliche” continue through Nov. 1.
Like Sands Through the Hourglass Long walks on the beach have always facilitated deep thoughts, about the complexities of running a country, say, or of writing an original personal ad. Year 2000 anxiety pervades Antenna Theater's one-night walk-through performance sculpture .:. sands .:. of .:. time .:. For 18 years, the company has created “Walkmanology” theater productions, where audiences listen to a work's text and sound over personal headsets, and meander through site-specific spaces like forested clearings or recycling yards, surrounded by masked and costumed actors. This new work challenges millennium hype and the standard calendar, which the company suggests replacing with “MegaTime,” a system that resets the beginning of time from Christ's birth back to the Big Bang. By the light of the moon, guests will wend their way through a raked sand sculpture representing a Zen garden-like timeline. The piece's soundscape, broadcast over the headsets, is a cacophony of music, sound effects, and voices, from man-on-the-street interviews, high school history students, and scientists like Timothy Ferris, author of The Whole Shebang. Guests can take the 30-minute walk between 8 and 10 p.m. at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands, at the end of Bunker Road. Admission is free; call 332-9454.
Rest and Motion Babies especially appreciate the genius of Alexander Calder, whose invention of mobiles made staring at the ceiling while unable to turn over a lot less dull. Marcel Duchamp is said to have christened Calder's 3-D sculptures with the French word describing their kinetic quality, followed by fellow artist Jean Arp, who dubbed Calder's pedestalless standing sculptures “stabiles.” Washington, D.C.'s National Gallery of Art organized the retrospective exhibit “Alexander Calder: 1898-1976,” which makes its San Francisco appearance — its first, and only, outside D.C. — with nearly 250 pieces by this famously prolific artist, who trained as a mechanical engineer and used to carry around a pair of pliers, with which he created impromptu wire sculptures to give to friends as gifts. In addition to the mobiles, which bear the imprint of Calder's Parisian surrealist contemporaries (many look like Miros liberated from their canvases), this chronological centenary exhibit includes jewelry, paintings, and wooden sculpture. The show opens at 11 a.m. (and runs through Dec. 1) at the SFMOMA, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free-$8; call 357-4000.
A Textbook Case of Tiki Fever HighTone guitarist Deke Dickerson wants to make sure everyone's having a good time, and if that means sending boys and girls boot-scooting across a dance floor to the Dave & Deke Combo's Hollywood Barn Dance, or firing treats at the audience from a little tiny cannon with his “snack rock” quartet the Go-Nuts, he is willing. Dickerson typically attracts rockabilly fans with his country-inflected, surf-lapped style, which he performs on a custom-made double-necked guitar, but he and his band the Ecco-fonics will be playing musical chairs to demonstrate their versatility at the back-to-school dance party “Rockin' Luau.” The sand meets the sod this evening, as Hawaiian dancers and fire-breathers jockey for position amid the tiki kitsch and surprise special guests. Guitarist Brian Pool and his Torpedoes contribute an instrumental surf set, and pompadour-sporting Santa Cruz natives the Chop Tops open the show. It all begins at 9 p.m. at the Cloyne Court Hotel Co-Op (where bands like Green Day and Rancid once played), 2600 Ridge, Berkeley. Admission is $6; call (510) 849-2480. The show will also be broadcast live on UC Berkeley's radio station KALX-FM (90.7).
Rub a Dub As the “Dub Mission Second Anniversary Celebration” gets under way, guests may expect to hear a little “headspace music,” which is what DJ Sep tends to spin at the beginning of her weekly club night to ease the transition from the outside world. The Sunday night party, which shifted from a monthly to weekly event soon after its inception, picks up the pace throughout the evening, moving from the spacey, reggae-based dub of Sly and Robbie, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and African Head Charge to quicker tempos, propelling a racially and chronologically mixed crowd toward the dance floor. At tonight's party, Sep, a longtime KUSF DJ whose regular KPFA show Off the Beaten Path traffics in dub, ambient, noise, and world music, shares turntable duties with Space Cake party DJ Maneesh the Twister (whose roving music nights bring live and DJ'd music together), and Ron and Vanka of Stellar Trax Soundsystem, who contribute visuals. The music starts at 9 p.m. at the Elbo Room, 647 Valencia (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission
is $4; call 552-7788.
Browsing and Drowsing To those gung-ho recreational shoppers who'd happily spend a national holiday bargain-hunting, we say: Visit the Under One Roof Sidewalk Sale and get a jump on seasonal gift shopping. The San Francisco International Gift Fair has donated sample stuff to be sold below retail prices, like Italian bath products and gourmet foods, children's books and greeting cards; all of the proceeds benefit local HIV/AIDS service agencies. The sidewalk sale begins at 11 a.m. at Under One Roof, 2362B Market (at Castro), S.F. Admission is free; call 252-9430. Shopophobes, meanwhile, can expect to enjoy a lazy day off at Vocapalooza, a daylong concert featuring Grammy-nominated a cappella group the Bobs (it's astonishing, really, what a lack of instruments does to Cream's “White Room”), a cappella ensemble the House Jacks, and Oakland's Linda Tillery & the Cultural Heritage Choir. The concert concludes with a jam session featuring all three acts, and begins at 2 p.m. in the meadow at the Dunsmuir House and Gardens Historic Estate, just off I-580 East at 106th Avenue in Oakland. Admission is $5-37; call (510) 615-5555.
Fascinatin' Rhythm Like Riverdance and Tap Dogs, the percussion performance Stomp shows no signs of wearing out its San Francisco welcome. All three shows are built on infectious rhythms, but unlike Riverdance, which evokes a kind of misty-eyed longing for the old country with Irish step dance steeped in Vegas glitz, or Tap Dogs, which appeals to the girly contingent with bare-chested tapping construction workers, Stomp has become a monster hit due in part to its “I could do that” appeal. Former Brighton buskers Luke Creswell and Steve McNichols, once members of the street band Pookiesnackenburger and the theatrical group Cliff Hanger, created an eight-member percussion troupe that bashes out vibrant, synchronized rhythmic patterns with nonmusical household items like push brooms, pipes, and garbage can lids. The act has taken their company from the experimental performance proving grounds of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival through international tours, a cut on the ill-fated Tank Girl soundtrack, and national television, where their “Ice Pick” commercial and multiple talk show appearances have rivaled the extensive air time PBS fund drives have devoted to Riverdance. Stomp's three-week run begins tonight at 8 p.m. (and continues through Sept. 27) at the Golden Gate Theater, 1 Taylor (at Market), S.F. Admission is $17-47; call 776-1999.
Who Could Ask for Anything Moore? Klezmer, driven by wailing clarinets and folky strings, echoes the joyful ruckus of an Eastern European wedding as easily as it evokes Old World heartache and mourning. A kind of unofficial revival has saved klezmer from the endangered arts list (where it resided for a time after World War II), and the new wave has embellished on the form originally popularized by traveling Eastern European Jewish musicians. The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars are among the youthful experimenters, tossing hip hop, funk breaks, and toy piano into the mix and playfully saluting Jewish grandmas everywhere with songs like “Transition to the Buffet” (“I can't believe they're treating us this way/ The chicken is too dry/ And the low-grade lox/ Makes the saxophonist sigh”). They'll open for Moore & More, a jazz-funk collaboration featuring Galactic drummer Stanton Moore, Bay Area guitarist Charlie Hunter, Tuatara saxophonist Skerik, and a cast of New Orleans jazz players. The show starts at 8 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk), S.F. Admission is $12-14; call 885-0750.