Things are rarely as they seem, or so the epic battle between Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer would prove. Horrible, a wannabe supervillain who aspires to membership in Bad Horse's Evil League of Evil, wants to off the world with a freeze ray years in the making, but he's merely disillusioned over the state of humanity.
The real archenemy is Hammer, who's charmed his way into everybody's life en route to fucking the unsuspecting Penny (for whom Horrible has a serious woody) and stealing a bunch of stuff and who knows what-all. Everybody's all mixed up now, and the human family (especially hapless Penny) is the worse for it.
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, co-creator Joss Whedon's internet musical sensation from 2008, is an absolute riot, especially in these Comic-Con-crazy times. Like the best escapist fare, it out-sillies its own silliness—director Andy Lowe seizes on the relentlessly campy moments, outfitting them with over-the-top accoutrements and characters (like the front half of a van and a couple robber-barons along for the ride). Nathan turner is great as Horrible, his cheeky face a spot-on fit for Horrible's disillusioned side.
On the same bill is Gam3rs, a San Diego favorite mounted in the Comic-Con spirit. MIT dropout and reality-challenged gaming geek Steve Smolinsk (Brian Bielawski) has an hour to save the world from his cubicle at work; it all comes to a head at the very end, when he finds out just how far the virtual war has spread. Bielawski, who will alternate with Albert Park in the role for the remaining shows, gives a tour-de-force performance amid exceedingly rapid-fire dialogue.
Gam3rs runs through July 24, Dr. Horrible through July 30 at 10th Avenue Theatre, 930 10th Ave., Downtown. $20-$40. chinesepirateproductions.com
Annie: A scrappy little girl in search of her parents wins everybody's hearts. Produced by Moonlight Stage Productions, it opens July 20 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. $27-$50. moonlightstage.com
The Who's Tommy: A deaf, dumb and blind kid plays a mean pinball and becomes the leader of a messi anic cult. Produced by The San Diego Repertory Theatre, it opens July 22 at The Lyceum, Downtown. $42- $48. sdrep.org
Wonder of the World: After discovering a shocking secret about her husband, Cass makes a mad dash for the life she thinks she missed out on. Opens July 22 at the Poway Performing Arts Center. $13-$15. powpac.org
Sleeping Beauty Wakes: When a father brings his sleeping daughter to a sleep-disorder clinic, the staff finds itself sharing her dream. Now in previews, it opens July 26 at the Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla. $47 and up. lajollaplayhouse.org
Peer Gynt: The love of a good woman and the memory of his mom set the incorrigible Peer Gynt's heart aright. Through July 24 at the Potiker Theatre in La Jolla. $35 and up. lajollaplayhouse.com
Body Awareness: While Phyllis and Joyce tackle their impasse about the work of a photographer friend, their adult son struggles to physically express himself. Produced by Ion Theatre Company, it runs through July 30 at BLK BOX @ 6th & Penn in Hillcrest. $10-$22. iontheatre.com
Damn Yankees: Baseball fanatic Joe Boyd trades his soul to the devil for a chance to pitch in a pennant race against the Yankees. Produced by Vanguard Theatre, it runs through July 31 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Point Loma. $10-$15. vanguardsd.org
Poster Boys: Caroline struggles with the choices she's made to make it to the top of her field while remnants of an old heartbreak threaten to destroy everything she has worked to build. Through July 31 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $31-$33. diversionary.org
The Woolgatherer: Rose, a shy Philly dime-store sales clerk whose life centers around reveries and daydreams, meets up with rough and witty Cliff, who's as starved for love as Rose is. Produced by Ion Theater Company, it runs through July 31 at BLK BOX @ 6th & Penn in Hillcrest. $10-$22. iontheatre.com
A Roman Holiday: Stacey's plan to make fiancé Michael jealous goes awry when her friend Nigel dons a dress and introduces himself as a German chef. Through Aug. 7 at Coronado Playhouse. $20-$25 without dinner, $50 with. coronadoplayhouse.com
Five-Course Love: Three actors play 15 characters that frequent a series of eateries in search of true romance. Through Aug. 7 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $40-$50. northcoastrep.org
Moon over Buffalo: Buffalo rep actors George and Charlotte Hay open a can of worms over which is better, the stage or the cinema. Through Aug. 13 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. $8-$16. onstageplayhouse.org
miXtape: Generation X was torn between disillusionment and hope in this cavalcade of music from the 1980s. Produced by Lamb's Players Theatre, it runs through Sept. 4 at the Horton Grand Theatre, Downtown. $28-$58. lambsplayers.org
Amadeus: Composer Antonio Salieri throws up a series of roadblocks to sidetrack the career of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his supposed archrival. Through Sept. 22 at The Old Globe Theatre's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
Much Ado about Nothing: While Beatrice and Benedick hide their infatuation beneath witty barbs, young love blossoms as Hero and Claudio race to the altar, with the wicked Don John conspiring to break up the wedding. Through Sept. 24 at The Old Globe Theatre's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
The Tempest: With the help of his spirit friend Ariel, the magician Prospero conjures up a shipwreck that restores his daughter to her rightful place in the Milan hierarchy. Through Sept. 25 at The Old Globe Theatre's Lowell Davies Festival Theatre in Balboa Park. $29-$67. oldglobe.org
Shotgun Wedding Anniversary: How else can a miserable 25-year marriage end but in murder? Presented by Mystery Cafe, it's ongoing at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. $59.50, including dinner. mysterycafe.net