Opening This Week

The Bad Seed
Playwright/director J. Paccassi presents this stage adaptation of a William March novel about a mother who must come to grips with the fact that her daughter is a killer. Creepalicious. e3 Productions at the Electric Company, 2512 SE Gladstone, Suite 200, 232-5955, Opens Fri, runs Thurs-Sat 8 pm, through Feb 7, $12-15

One Week Only

Beginnings
"Beginnings" is the theme for this month's installment of staged readings from Readers Theatre Repertory. The two plays include Jeffrey Scott Elwell's The Art of Dating, about the "beginning" of a relationship, and Marcus L. Steinour's At Land's End, about a longtime couple that "begin" a new direction in their withering romance. Readers Theatre Repertory, at the Blackfish Gallery, 420 NW 9th Ave, 295-4997, Fri-Sat 8 pm, $8

Vaudeville Revusical and Novelty Show
Miz Kitty's sort of monthly series keeps on chuggin'. Tonight's lineup includes magician Andres Alcala, the burlesque flirtations of Cherry Shake, the blues mastery of Dylan Thomas Vance, and as always... More! Miz Kitty's Parlour, at Artichoke Music Backstage Gate, 3130 SE Hawthorne, 232-8845, Sat 8 pm, $12

Current Runs

* Faust. Us
Local playwright Joseph Fisher has transplanted the 19th-century mad scientist Dr. Faust into the shoes of a 21st-century billionaire software designer. Faust (Darius Pierce) is the inventor of a virtual reality so intense that one can enjoy the dawn of time or the end of the world, if you're into that sort of thing. The computer geek-cum-philosopher ends up taking an existential tour into the very core of himself, and like Bill Gates at the gates of Hell, is faced with angels, demons, fairies, and, strangest of all, Frenchmen. Fisher's script is intensely clever, even if some of the deconstructive tricks and personal references seem, well, Faustian. The introduction of Becky-Sue the Fairy Princess (Julie Starbird) into the battle of good-versus-evil looks too much like a plea for third party politics, and the fairies look fresh from a bongload of Jerry Garcia's ashes. Still, Faust. Us. proves that even in this age of war, terror, and strife, the heart remains the darkest place in the universe. Bring a date! TP Stark Raving, at the CoHo Theatre, 2257 NW Raleigh, 232-7072, Thurs-Sat 8 pm, Sun 7 pm, through Jan 17, $10-18

Measure for Measure
The punchy Northwest Classical Theatre's last show was an outdoor staging of Henry VI. It was as rough and tumble as they come, but no Portland theatrical production in 2003 had more heart. Northwest Classical Company at the Firehouse Theater, 1436 SW Montgomery, 274-4771, Sat 7:30 pm, through Jan 18, $15

Comedy/Improv

Girls! Girls! Girls!
It's the return of the Brody's all-woman improvisational showcase, featuring Brody vets like Kerry Leek and Stephanie Wichmann, as well as guest stars like Deanna Moffitt and Gretchen McNeely. Mm MMM! Brody Theater, 1904 NW 27th Ave, 224-0688, Fri-Sat 8 pm, through Jan 24, $10

* Portland Comedy Competition, Preliminaries
Portland's one and only standup comedy competition is at it again, going throughout the month of January. Ten contestants square off all this week, then ten more next week. From those 20, five will advance to the semifinals. This week catch Dan Cassette, Pete Young, and plenty more. They'll be competing all week at different venues, but the Gypsy is the only one that isn't out in Buttfuckville. For more details check out www.comicaffair.com. Gypsy , 625 NW 21 Ave, 796-1859, Thurs 9 pm, free

* Breen vs. Dempsey
No idea who this Meg Dempsey character is, but John Breen remains the funniest mo-fo in Portland. ComedySportz Arena, 1963 NW Kearney Street, 236-8888, Fri 10 pm, $5

Dance

* Holy Goats!
This month's edition of the rotating dance/improv hodgepodge has an interesting lineup. Emily Stone will present a sort of improvisational, compositional game called "Tuning Score," and defunkt theatre's James Moore will make an appearance as well. Plus, a whole lotta dancers, coffee, and bagels. Performance Works NorthWest, 4625 SE 67th Ave, 777-1907, Sun 2 pm, $7