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San Francisco Spotlight: November 2008

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Sofia Jean Gomez and Ryan Arztberger
in The Arabian Nights
(© Kevin Berne)
Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman returns to the Berkeley Repertory Theatre for her sixth production, prepared to wow audiences this time with The Arabian Nights (November 13-January 4). Zimmerman teams up with the Kansas City Repertory Theatre to present her refreshing adaptation of the famed 1,001 nights legend, where a bride-to-be must tell elaborate and captivating tales to save her life. Also at Berkeley Rep, Delroy Lindo directs August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone (through December 14), the same play for which he won an acting Tony. In it, Herald Loomis returns to Pittsburgh after seven years on a chain gang.

Dame Edna makes a return to the Bay Area with Dame Edna - Live and Intimate in Her First Last Tour, at the Post Street Theatre, November 20-January 4. Also at Post Street is the return of Luis Bravo's Forever Tango, where 14 world-class tango dancers steam up the stage from November 5-16. Meanwhile, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Harold Prince will show at the Orpheum Theatre, November 27-January 4.

Loretto Greco makes her directorial debut as the Magic Theater's new artistic director with Evie's Waltz, a new play by Carter W. Lewis that runs November 8-December 7. As if it's not bad enough Gloria and Clay's son has brought a gun to school, a surprise visit from their darling boy's girlfriend makes an already bad situation significantly worse. The Marin Theatre Company presents Conor McPherson's drama The Seafarer (November 13-December 7), directed by Jasson Minadakis. A stranger turns a friendly game of cards into a game where the stakes are one player's very soul. As part of its 20th anniversary celebrations, Thick Description will revive its 1994 hit The America Play (Thick House, November 21-December 14), by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks.

Looking to cram in one last searing political satire before the November 4 election? Check out the Lamplighters Music Theatre's 43rd Annual Champagne Gala of Mock the Vote at the Cowell Theater, November 1 & 2. Directed by Barbara Heroux, this zany musical takes place in a parallel universe strikingly similar to that of good ol' planet Earth, even when it comes to its elections. Audience members get a behind-the-scenes peek at the shenanigans impacting a very controversial presidential campaign. Fame isn't always a party. Just ask Evan Wyler, a gay 20-something author whose newest novel has transformed him into a media sensation. His new celebrity status, however, means he must contend with the mysterious Alexa Vere de Vere, who's drawn to celebrity like bees are drawn to honey. As Bees in Honey Drown is written by Douglas Carter Beane and plays at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, November 7-December 21.

San Francisco will host the first U.S. performance of The Execution of Precious Memories (Project Artaud Theatre, November 19-23), featuring hugely influential German musician Blixa Bargeld and Nanos Operetta, the avant-garde music ensemble. This bold production has been performed in only eight cities since its debut in 1994. Every time it is performed in a city, surveys are filled out by local residents beforehand, which are then compiled and built into portions of the play's libretto, making each run a unique and customized experience. Kicking off its 30th anniversary season, the Traveling Jewish Theatre presents Naomi Newman's The Last Yiddish Poet (November 6-December 14), the story of two lost Jewish comedians on a vivid and mythical journey through their respective pasts. Featuring Aaron Davidman, Corey Fischer, and musical direction by local Balkan and Klezmer favorite Dan Cantrell, this eccentric tale is a storytelling feat bound to keep you at the edge of your seat.

Two productions this month are great family fun. My Life in the Silents is given its world premiere by the American Conservatory Theater's venerable Young Conservatory, November 1-8. Written by Timothy Mason and directed by Craig Slaight, this new comedy is set in Hollywood's silent film era, where a star struck teen flees Minnesota to make it big in Los Angeles, only to find her flight to fame isn't a cakewalk. In The BFG (Big Friendly Giant), a play by David Wood and adapted from the book by Roald Dahl, Sophie is kidnapped by a 24-foot giant, and assumes she's a goner. Instead, the Big Friendly Giant entertains the young girl with jokes and funny stories. This Berkeley Playhouse production at the Ashby Stage, which runs November 1-23, is a family treat with plenty of pre-show fun to boot.

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