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Amber Adrian

Sisterly Comedy in Wendy Wasserstein's 'The Sisters Rosensweig'

Siblings are allies in times of distress and dessert, and only occasionally need a swift smack upside the head. Wendy Wasserstein hits all the high points as she prods at the bonds of family in The Sisters Rosensweig, one of her more compelling offerings to the world o' American theater. Drawing from her heritage and travels through Eastern Europe before the wall fell, Wasserstein's story is steeped in Jewish culture and humor, but also a reflection on why they behave the way they do - namely, because they're Rosensweigs.

January's Classical Music Offerings

Classical Revolution

By performing chamber music in bars and cafes, Classical Revolution aims to alter people's perception of classical music; namely, that it's inaccessible and the bastion of gray-haired octogenarians. By playing in venues of the young and hip, local artists of varying pedigree - students or recent grads of top conservatories and accomplished non-professional musicians - help thread classical music through San Francisco's nightlife. Proving that classical music is still relevant, no matter what Lady GaGa might tell you.

Revolution Café, 3248 22nd St. every Sunday night. For information, visit www.classicalrevolution.org.

Disaster Dogs: Documentary about the Pets of Katrina Premieres Tomorrow at The Roxie

Anyone who’s ever loved a dog won’t make it 12 seconds into Mine’s trailer without feeling like your heart’s been yanked out of your rib cage with pliers. How anyone will get through this movie without shedding a few tears (or completely dehydrating) is beyond me. Men taking dates, you are forewarned.

Cirque du Soleil: A Bug's Life

It's amazing what the human body can do - well, what some human bodies can do. All mine does is vacuum up peanut M&Ms at an obscene rate. But Cirque du Soleil employs the most talented circus artists in the world and extends the ingenuity for which it's famous - as well as the capabilities of the human body - a bit further into the realm of "dear god, how is that physically possible?" with every show.

The Bad Boy Ballet: Smuin's Christmas Ballet

If you need a gift your mother will love - and net you Best Offspring Award for 2009 (TAKE THAT, YOUNGER SIBLING!) - pony up tickets to Smuin's Christmas Ballet.

The Hard Nut Cracks Scrooges Everywhere

Sitting in a darkened theater with hundreds of people waiting for a show to start can be a very life-affirming experience (as opposed to the soul-deadening moment when you realize your garlic bagel is less chewy than expected) - and never more so than when the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra plays the opening salvo of Tchaikovsky's famed holiday score. But this is no ordinary, ever-so-slightly saccharine rendition of The Nutcracker. Mark Morris' update is replete with dazzling color, gender creative casting, and unmatched physical comedy.

'The Bright River': A Hip Hop Version of Dante's Inferno

Quick lives in the City of the Dead, and pays his rent by finding souls lost in purgatory. Scouring the water-bound city for a red-headed girl named Calliope, Quick finds the soldier who loved her, a pager-carrying bouncer named King of the Birds, and a demon who claims to be toiling for the good of the world. With a live soundtrack of cello, flute, drums, and vocal calisthenics, The Bright River follows Quick's journey through the dingy underworld - from the bus station of purgatory to the rooftop of creation.

The Dance-along Nutcracker: Where You Get To Wear the Tutu

If you've ever felt an overwhelming need to plow onto the War Memorial stage and join the Russian dancers in a rousing round of pirouettes before being hurled unceremoniously into the cold by burly ballet bouncers, this is the event for you. A wildly popular annual tradition from the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band, this year's Dance-along Nutcracker dumps the drawing room of Clara's bourgeois parents for Hollywood's favorite brand of Americana, the Wild West - where macho men are covered in dust and stagecoaches are halted by mustache-twirling hooligans.

Orange is the Color of Odd: 'The Bald Soprano'

If you’ve ever taken a Spanish class and been herded through stilted “Where is the park?” “The park? Why the park is here!” paces, you’ll appreciate the deliciously odd and disconnected dialogue of Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece The Bald Soprano. After attempting to learn English in 1948, the French-Romanian playwright’s desire to communicate with the Anglos of the world morphed into a play with language so simple, yet chewy and complex, that it seems to be a separate character with a will of its own.

Hip Hop Meets Vaudeville and a Few Truculent Nazis

One of the first things a person might think when checking out Stateless, the new show by Dan Wolf and Tommy Shepherd, is “hip hop mixed with…vaudeville? How does that work?” Disparate music styles have been riffing off each other ever since the first caveman picked up a particularly tuneful rock and started beating it with a stick. Vaudeville and hip hop may appear to be separated by form, style, and about 80 years, but Dan Wolf discovered the intersection. In fact, one could claim he IS the intersection.

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