If life is a cabaret, old chum, then Frank Olivier is here to see that life remains a little weird. Emceed by the Mephistophelean Mr. Paul Nathan (who's done the same for the Exotic Erotic Ball and his own Dark Kabaret), Olivier's Twisted Cabaret and Pandemonium Vaudeville Show features a dazzling array of acts, all with an increasingly familiar face: Olivier as hapless magician the Great Frankini, tormented Central European knife thrower Frankonovitchski, joined-at-the-hip dancing trio the Frankettes, the fleshy puppeteering of Tongue Trick Theatre, a unicycle ballet act, extreme yoga practitioner Swami Frankananda with a nose for whatever's available, balletic acrobats the Frank Bros., and Cafe du Flambe, dinner theater even more flaming than that Noël Coward play your Uncle Phil was in. Even the garrulous midget stagehand Maurice has that nagging familiarity about him. And as you might imagine, it all goes horribly, terribly awry (with the accent on "wry") in all the right places. But of course it would hardly be a cabaret without Teutonic tunes, provided by the Twisted Cabaret Band: pianist and composer Nolan Gasser, drummer Tim Vaughan, and all-around winds man Roger Glenn. A long-beloved Berkeley juggler, comedian, and vaudeville Frank-of-all-trades, silver-tongued and sure-handed Olivier is recognizable from street performances in tourist spots like Pier 39, from touring in Sugar Babies with Mickey Rooney and Ann Miller, and from appearances on The Tonight Show. But he's given ample room to show his stuff (no, I don't mean that stuff, though I wouldn't bet the farm against it -- they don't call him twisted for nothing) in this madcap carny frankshow, a Frankapalooza if you will. You might say Olivier puts the villain back in vaudevillian -- if, um, you don't spell very well. But if you've ever wanted to see a guy juggle and play a guitar on fire while riding a unicycle, now's your chance to head on down to the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts this weekend. Not to put too fine a point on it, that's the kind of act it's best not to put off seeing too long.
So willkommen and bienvenue 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, or 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets go for $20 for adults, $18 for students, and $12 for kids and seniors, and can be procured at 925-798-1300. 2640 College Ave., Berkeley. More info at JuliaMorgan.org or TwistedCabaret.com -- Sam Hurwitt
Listen to your limbs
What the Body Wants is the title of a book by InterPlay and Wing It! founders Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry, published last year and offering info, stories, and easy home practices to discover the smarts we all have in our limbs and such. In case you need a demonstration, it's also the title of the newest Wing It! show, flying into the Oakland Metro this weekend with body-soul-uniting dance, music, and theater improvisation at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and a matinee 2 p.m. Sunday. $12-$15, OaklandMetro.org, 510-465-2797. -- Stefanie Kalem
Fri 3/18 Bovine Bard
Albany resident John Rowe wrangles poems of perspective, poems of the writing process, and poems of ... cows. He pulls the car over, gets out/air is still and hot, smells of/manure and dry grass goes a passage from "Somewhere to Go." He walks to fencepost, leans/against it, announces to the cows:/I have a new poem to share with you. The cows continue to "moo," he writes, and perhaps you will do the same when Rowe is the featured poet at the Fellowship Cafe and Open Mike, Fellowship Hall, Cedar and Bonita streets, Berkeley. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and a donation of $5-$10 is requested. 510-540-0898. -- Stefanie Kalem
No Bully for You!
The power of wacky seniors should never be underestimated; that's one of the messages of The Boy Who Lost His Laugh, the play to be presented at Stagebridge's fourteenth annual Family Matinee Theatre and Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social. The nation's oldest senior theater company presents an original play by Linda Spector -- wherein a young boy is rescued from the horrors of being bullied by his screwy grandma and her madcap pals -- at Arts First Oakland (First Congregational Church, 2501 Harrison Ave.) this Sunday only at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $5 for kids, $10 for grown-ups, and, yes, there will be frozen treats. 510-444-4755. -- Stefanie Kalem
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