Opening This Week

* Bat Boy
This musical, based on one of the most popular tabloid stories ever created--that of a half-man, half-bat creature found in a West Virginia cave--has been hyped to high Hades, so the pressure's on. PCS isn't too worried, though; not with Wade McCollum (he of last year's Hedwig fame) in the lead, buttery smooth Chris Coleman at the reigns, and a story with enough sheer novelty to weather almost any storm. Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun, Tues-Wed 7 pm, Sun 2 pm, $16-51

Beautiful Thing
A play about two British gay boys who go to great lengths to pork behind their parents' backs. Triangle Productions, at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, 239-5919, Opens Fri, runs Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 5 pm, through Nov 15, $17-$23

El Dia de los Muertos Festival: Ofrenda al Cuerpo
In lieu of the Day of the Dead, the Miracle has teamed with Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre (who seems to be everywhere lately) to create a "living altar as a tribute to the force of the human body." The stage will be littered with musicians, bright costumes, and puppet skeletons a plenty. The Miracle Theater, 525 SE Stark Street, 380-0842, Fri-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 9, $12-$15

Losers Weepers & Tell Edith, I Love Ya
Two new one-act musicals from Portland native Nic Costa. There aren't enough Portland natives writing one-act musicals anymore. Lombo Bardi Productions at PCC Sylvania's Little Theatre, 12000 SW 49th Ave, 238-8619, ext 2, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, through Nov 8, $7-$8

Closing This Week

* Faust (Faust)
By far the most effective mode of creative production in Liminal's version of a haunted house, Faust (Faust), is the live musical score. A ghost-white pump organ wheezes, chains are dragged across the floor, and at one point you can hear John Cage's femur bone being racked against a piano leg. The result is an uninterrupted mood of psychological terror--dark musical water that threatens to drown the dancers, the actors, and the audience. TP Liminal Space, 403 NW 5th, 890-2993, Thurs-Sat 9-11 pm (visitors can come and go) through Nov 1, $6-$8

* Scary Movie
Back for its fifth consecutive year, it's the Brody's Halloween "horrorfest," featuring improvised monster movies (extremely fun), hilarious hosts (always a bonus), and prizes (not necessary, but we'll take it). Plus! This year there's a huge display of vintage horror and sci-fi movie memorabilia! Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Nov 1, $12

Current Runs

A Moon for the Misbegotten
Another one of O'Neill's biographical plays about his depraved and alcoholic family. Don't be scared, though; nobody ever wrote depression as entertainingly as O'Neill, and this production has a strong cast, including the always reliable Tim True. Coho Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, through Nov 29, $18-$20

* Another Fine Mess
Another Fine Mess begins in a backstage dressing room before a performance of Waiting for Godot, the actors and stage manager speaking into a vanity mirror, which happens to be the plane between stage and audience. The mirror device is one of the play's more ingenious conceits, inviting the audience into the actors' own self-scrutiny and paranoia. Catch the play Halloween night for ONLY 10 bucks! TP Portland Center Stage, 1111 SW Broadway, 274-6588, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Thurs noon, Sat-Sun 2 pm, Sun, Tues-Wed 7 pm, through Nov 8, $16-$25

* Big Love
Vertigo's version of Charles Mee's modern riff on Aeschylus' The Suppliant Maidens is light and fast, and conveys the lucid mayhem that has made this play huge on the fringe circuit. The climactic murder scene, replete with a bathtub drowning and a suffocation-via-mop, is both horrific and hilarious. Some will argue, and have argued, that Big Love, the absurd story of 50 wives-to-be who kill the 50 cousins they are betrothed to, is a triumph of style over substance, and that's just fine. In Mee's world it's not the outcome we care about, but the hilarious, vicious, mesmerizing battle waged. JWS Theatre Vertigo at the Electric Company, 2512 SE Gladstone, 306-0870, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 4 pm, through Nov 8, $15

Nickel and Dimed
Artists Repertory Theater's production of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed begs the question: How does one adapt a wildly popular work of nonfiction for the stage? Playwright Joan Holden, has built her career on creating socially conscious, engaging theater, but in this case seems to have been given an impossible mission. For the stage, hard-earned weeks of journalism are conflated, characters are dropped, and most disappointingly, the hardcore facts and numbers--the things that make Ehrenreich's book so sobering and provocative--are left out altogether. TP Artists Repertory Theatre, at the IFCC, 5340 N Interstate, 241-1278, Tues-Sat 8 pm, Sun 2 pm, 7 pm, through Nov 16, $26-$30

Dance, Etc.

* Cabaret Boris & Natasha: Halloween Edition
The popular dance/music/multimedia/theater pastiche presents its Halloween show with Gregg Bielemeier and Tahni Holt's Monster Squad doing some dance, Gigi Rosenberg tickling your theater bone, Neqauquaam Vacuum making their crazy found-object music, and plenty more. Performance Works NorthWest, 4625 SE 67th Ave, 288-1498, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $8-$12

One Week Only

* Heather Woodbury's What Ever
Woodbury's eight-act, eight-hour-long, ten-character, one-woman American odyssey sounds pretty damn cool. Too bad Woodbury's only doing two acts, one night only, and has no current plans to perform the entire thing in Portland. But if you yearn to be frustrated, drop by. PICA, at Holocene, 1001 SW Morrison, 242-1419, Tues 8 pm, $13