Actor journeys from death’s door to stage door

In 2005, while performing at San Francisco’s Theatre Rhino, Jeffrey Hartgraves unknowingly fractured two vertebrae. Using painkillers and vodka, he finished a run of “Medea the Musical,” then went to the doctor — to find he had bone cancer.

In days, he was admitted to intensive care; his friends and family were told that he most likely wouldn’t make it. Happily, someone was wrong.

Today, Hartgraves’ condition is deemed “terminal,” yet he’s back onstage for a limited engagement of what he calls a “very nearly solo show,” “Shark Bites.” The auto-biopic piece humorously examines how fear can be a motivating factor in his, and everyone’s, life.

The show opens today and runs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays at Theatre Rhino, 2926 16th St., San Francisco. Tickets are $15. Call (415) 861-5079 or visit www.therhino.org.

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