The always-inviting live theater scene in San Francisco begins the new decade with plentiful world premieres — some offerings are adaptations of classics, while others are brand-new tales:
The co-star of TV’s “Cagney & Lacey” leads the cast of Jane Prowse’s “A Round-Heeled Woman” based on the best-selling memoir by Jane Juska. It’s a world premiere in the reactivated Theater Artaud. Called both funny and heartbreaking, the story is about encounters resulting from a personals ad in the New York Review of Books, soliciting sex and/or conversations about Trollope.
Jan. 5-Feb. 7, $20-$50; Z Space at Theater Artaud, 450 Florida St., S.F., (800) 838-3006, www.zspace.org
ACT: New take on a French classic
American Conservatory Theater offers the world premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s adaptation of Jean Racine’s 1677 “Phedre,” in collaboration with the Ontario Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Carey Perloff directs the classic drama about the passion of Theseus’ wife for her stepson, Hippolytus. Stratford star actor Seana McKenna appears in the title role.
Jan. 15-Feb. 17, $10-$82; ACT, 415 Geary St., S.F., (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org
Gilbert and Sullivan were merciless in their treatment of pretentious “artistes,” poking fun at the so-called aesthetic movement in England in the late 19th century. “Patience, or Bunthorne’s Bride,” being presented by Lamplighters Music Theatre, also has some terrific musical numbers, such as “Twenty love-sick maidens we,” “Let the merry cymbals sound” and “Love is a plaintive song.” Jane Erwin Hammett is stage director; Baker Peeples conducts.
Jan. 15-17, $11-$45; Novellus Theater at Yerba Buena Center, 700 Howard St., S.F., (415) 978-2787, www.ybca.org
The performer known for his lively stories about world travels in “Circumnavigator” and Nigerian oil politics in “Tings Dey Happen” offers a world-premiere solo show “The Real Americans,” a tale of his 100-day journey away from San Francisco’s hipster scene into small-town America. On the trip, he finds people whom Sarah Palin described as “The Real Americans” and is awed by the disconnect between “Obama Nation” and “Palin Country.”
Jan. 21-March 6, $15-$50; The Marsh, 1062 Valencia St., S.F., (800) 838-3006, www.themarsh.org
Fierstein on the roof
Gravelly voiced Harvey Fierstein plays and sings the principal role of Tevye the milkman in “Fiddler on the Roof,” the perennial Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick Broadway hit, coming to the Orpheum. It’s been 45 years since “Fiddler” first appeared on the scene, and — through tours and local productions — has never been absent from the stage. This production is directed by choreographer Sammy Dallas Bayes, on Steve Gilliam’s sets, with Tony Ray Hicks’ costumes channeling the environment of a village in czarist Russia in 1905.
Jan. 27-Feb. 21 $30-$99; Golden Gate Theatre, 1 Taylor St., S.F., (415) 512-7770, www.shnsf.com
‘Oedipus’ at the Magic
MacArthur genius grant winner Luis Alfaro “re-dreams” the Oedipus story in the world premiere of “Oedipus el Rey” at the Magic Theatre. The Chicano writer places the action on the road from San Francisco to Los Angeles, amid a chorus of prison inmates. The play “explores the thirst for power and control while demonstrating the importance of community.”
Jan. 28-Feb. 3, $25-$55; Building D, Fort Mason, Marina Boulevard and Buchanan Street, S.F., (415) 441-8822, www.magictheatre.org
Audiences here well remember John Doyle’s unusual and brilliant production of “Sweeney Todd” at American Conservatory Theater. He returns with a bold interpretation of Bertold Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle,” a powerful parable about a peasant girl who steals a baby but becomes a better mother than the natural parents. The text is translated by Domenique Lozano; the show will feature an original score.
Feb. 18-March 14, $10-$82; ACT, 415 Geary St., S.F., (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org
ACT students get their goat
ACT’s Master of Fine Arts Program offers Glen Berger’s “O Lovely Glowworm, or, Scenes of Great Beauty.” Berger, co-author of the Broadway musical “Spider-Man,” offers “a stuffed goat living atop a garbage heap concocting a magical inner world to escape the reality of its bleak existence.” The place is Ireland, the time is 1918, and the fantastical narrative includes love-struck soldiers, mermaids and unicorns.
March 4-20, $15-$20; Zeum Theater, Yerba Buena Gardens, 221 Fourth St., S.F., (415) 749-2228, www.act-sf.org