Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Neat" at Celebration Arts

Message from Celebration Arts

Celebration Arts presents Neat, a drama by Charlayne Woodard. Directed by James Wheatley, Neat will open on December 12, and continue Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through January 17, 2009. There will be no pe rformance on December 14, 25, 2008 and January 1, 2009. Celebration Arts Theatre is located at 4469 D Street, Sacramento.

Neat was originated and performed as a one-woman show by Ms. Woodard. However, she wrote the script to allow and encourage the use of multiple actors to perform it. "Neat" is the name of Charlayne Woodard’s aunt. The play chronicles the influence of Aunt Neat on Charlayne and her family.

Ticket prices are $15 general and $13 students and seniors. On Thursday nights all seats are $8.
Call (916) 455-2787 for information and reservations.

A Christmas Carol about Dickens writing "A Christmas Carol"

Dickens (Greg Alexander) agonizes over a blank page as his publisher, Rick Kieber, demands a Christmas story.

Riddle for the season: How many versions of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” can we digest between now and NewYear’s Day? A lot depends on the ingenuity, wit and charm of the script, direction and performers. As for the version now on stage at the B Street Theatre, as part of its Family Series, you won’t be disappointed unless you’re anticipating the story Dickens wrote.

As far as we can see, the only flaw in the show is in the title, which could mislead casual theatergoers into expecting another faithful adaptation of Dickens’ beloved Christmas tale.

Thanks to the prodigious comic imagination of playwrights Buck Busfield and David Pierini, familiar names among B Street’s artistic pantheon, what we get is a fresh and delightful take on a yarn as traditional as Santa Claus and the nose of an alcoholic reindeer. It’s a show happily earning the category of “family” entertainment—as much fun for adults as for kids.

The scene opens on Christmas Eve at a tavern in Victorian England, owned by a crusty and big-voiced Miss Havisham (Jamie Jones), who warns all females in earshot to beware of men, because they’ll “crush you.” Waiting tables is the dainty and generous Alice (Sara Perry), and the guests include a suave, chess-playing Uriah Heep (Josiah Correll) and a Scrooge-like Charles Dickens (Greg Alexander), clutching a quill as he desperately searches for an idea to meet his deadline for a Christmas novel.

His outsized newspaper publisher, Sidney (Rick Kieber), arrives and demands the novel post-haste. Dickens in turn rebuffs and fires his impoverished illustrator Caleb Plummer (Jason Kuykendall) who offends him with pictures of happy people. Also on the scene is a vicar (Dan Harlan) whose plea for alms for the poor is likewise dismissed by the flinty Dickens. (Does all this sound familiar?)

Harlan returns in another guise, a bearded thief in black (also later as Fagin, familiar to readers of “Oliver Twist”) and deftly picks pockets. When Alice tries to knock him unconscious with a hammer, she misses and instead knocks out Dickens. From there we get a dream that, naturally, parallels the plot of the original. When Dickens awakes we also get a surprise ending.

With deft directing by Erin Island and Jerry Montoya, the fast-paced romp (an hour and a half, divided into two acts) draws laughs of recognition from savvy adults while holding the attention of youngsters. Part of the fun is catching allusions to other works by Dickens, including (besides “Oliver Twist”) “David Copperfield,” “The Cricket on the Hearth,” and “Great Expectations.”

The play also draws something from Dickens’ own life, with reference to his father, who spent time in Debtors Prison, and Dickens as a boy (Galen Howard) cleaning boots in a factory—the real Dickens, though, was only seven when he held that job.

Other than Alexander and Jones, the rest of this strong cast appear in dual roles, except for Jen Mears who appears as three characters. Kat Bayley provides colorful period costumes, and Shawn Weinsheink offers a fluid set, mostly a couple of tables, quickly moved by a pair of stagehands in hooded brown cloaks.

“A Christmas Carol” runs through January 4 at the B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street, behind the Stanford Park Baseball Field at 27th and C Streets. Performances generally run Saturday and Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Holiday performance schedules vary from December 21st through January 3 as follows:

Sunday, Dec. 21: additional 7:00 p.m. performance.
Tuesday, Dec. 23: 1:00 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 26: 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 27: additional 7:00 p.m. performance.
Tuesday, Dec. 30: 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, Dec. 31: 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 2: 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 3: additional 7:00 p.m. performance.

The play is recommended for age five and up. Tickets are $18 for children, $25 for adults. Call the box office at 916-443-5300. For more about B Street, click the title of this post.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Carmichael's Chautauqua Playhouse announces the third show of its 32nd season. THE MURDER ROOM, by Jack Sharkey, opens December 5 at the Playhouse. The show will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through January 25th, with a brief break during Christmas and New Year’s weekends. All performances will be held at the Chautauqua Playhouse, 5325 Engle Road in the La Sierra Community Center in Carmichael. Admission is $17 general and $15 students, seniors, children and SARTA members.

THE MURDER ROOM is a zany spoof of British mysteries. There are secret chambers, panels and trap lids galore that are operated by ridiculous contrivances - a grand mixture of Agatha Christie, Monty Python and Abbott and Costello. The quick, smart, well-timed dialogue, combined with hilarious situations and physical antics, make this high, mad melodrama a fun night at the theater. Guaranteed to provide many laughs!

The production is directed by Paul Fearn and features Bob Nannini and Sara Hanson. Set design is by Rodger Hoopman, with lighting by Ross Aldrich. Costumes are by Eileen Beaver.

The Chautauqua Playhouse is at 5325 ENGLE ROAD, CARMICHAEL, CA 95608. For tickets and additional information call (916) 489-7529 (PLAY). Information and tickets are also available through the Chautauqua Playhouse website. Click the title of this post for details.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Delightful "Annie" by El Dorado Musical Theatre

Last call for “Annie,” El Dorado Musical Theatre’s Christmas season production. The characters come from a popular comic strip of years past about an orphan girl whose eyes have no pupils. (I’m talking about the drawings, not the girl.) The story takes place in 1933, during the Great Depression, when the economy was worse than it is today. Also, instead of fearing terrorists, people worried about a war with the Nazis.

Yet, like today, there was optimism. Along with the New Deal, voters bought change, hope and a longing for unity. The haunting “Tomorrow,” dominating its fourteen other songs, catches the spirit of the play and its music.

Here’s the schedule:

Friday, November 28th 11:00 a.m. *Roxy Cast*
Friday, November 28th 3:00 p.m. *Times Square Cast*
Friday, November 28th 7:00 p.m. *Times Square Cast*
Saturday, November 29th 11:00 a.m. *Times Square Cast*
Saturday, November 29th 3:00 p.m. *Times Square Cast*
Saturday, November 29th 7:00 p.m. *Roxy Cast*
Sunday, November 30th 2:00 p.m. *Roxy Cast*
Sunday, November 30th 6:00 p.m. *Times Square Cast*

Jill Solberg Performing Arts Theater at Folsom High School
Single Ticket Price: $19.00 General; $15.00 children,
students, and seniors.

Tickets on Sale Now at

For more information and a full review, printed today in the newspaper Village Life of El Dorado Hills, click the title of this post. Sign in or sign up; then go to Pages A26 and A30.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

At Capital Stage: Xmas Stories Never Told

Jonathan (l) and Gary enact some exotic ways to celebrate the Christmas (etc.) holiday season.

“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)” takes its third and final bow at Capital Stage, rivaling the pirates from Somalia as it raids Christmas and related holidays around the world. The show takes no prisoners. Hanukah, for instance, “begins on the 24th of Kislev, whenever that falls, no one is really sure.”

Kwanza also gets the back of a hand, though it has one significant advantage: “You will never, ever see a ‘Donny & Marie Osmond Kwanza Special.’” Donny & Marie? All those in the audience who remember the Osmonds, raise your hands. Still, for the younger set, we have some updates. Like topical references to “George Bush, fighter pilot,” Sarah Pallin (of course), Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, and John McCain as Father Christmas.

(No, dear, nobody mentioned Barack Obama’s middle name.)

Stuff cotton in the ears of your kids, folks. Or else they’ll find out that, for instance, in Greece “Sankt Nikolaos” arrives with “demonic earth spirits who appear during the holidays to punish bad children,” and the really bad ones are sucked “down into the underworld, never to be seen again.”

Something similar happens in Germany, where “St. Nicholas arrives followed by the Krampus, a seven foot tall monster with goat horns and an extra long tongue.”

But the writers–Michael Carleton, James Fitzgerald and John K. Alvarez–are cautious about copyright. Montgomery Ward (though now defunct) still has a lock on the name Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer. To avoid a lawsuit our guys bring us, instead, Gustav, the Green-nosed Reingoat.

Returning as director is Greg Alexander, along with Anthony D’Juan and Gary Martinez from the original show. Jonathan Rhys Williams joins the cast, though he’s far from a newcomer to Capital Stage. What we get is exquisite comic timing, lots of mugging, grotesque costumes (thanks to Rebecca Redmond) and startling props, like a human-sized inflated whale.

The premise is a rebellion against the traditional by Jonathan, who starts off trying to honor tradition with Dickens’ beloved “A Christmas Carol.” The others rebel and arrive at an ambitious plan: a composite of all the Christmas stories ever told everywhere in the world. But that’s just the first act. The second, as a matter of compromise, returns to “A Christmas Carol.”

Again things go awry, and the story spins Jonathan around in a hodgepodge of “Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The play as a whole seems to have everything, including audience participation, which includes a mock quiz show that stops short of embarrassing the volunteers. (Or are they just shills?)

The show runs about ninety minutes, plus a fifteen-minute intermission. And though some of the gags are a little passé, most of the show is inherently funny. Still, it’s probably wise to retire the show after this year’s performance. Though those seeing the play for the first time should be thoroughly delighted, audiences returning from last year may feel a bit disappointed because the humor is based on parody. Its jokes depend on surprise; if we’ve heard them before we may nod approval but we don’t laugh as much.

“Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) runs through December 28 at the Delta King Theatre, 1000 Front Street in Old Sacramento. Performances are Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 for Saturdays at 7 p.m.; $26 for all other performances.

Street parking is available though time-limited seven days a week. Garage and valet parking are also available.

For tickets call (916) 995-5464. Click the title of this post for more information.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Winnie the Pooh at Stage Nine

At Stage Nine in Folsom:

Eeyore has lost his tail and his friends help him find it in an enchanting musical with a theme of caring, sharing and the importance of cultivating friends.

“A Winnie-the-Pooh Christmas Tail” with book, music and lyrics by James W. Rodgers and directed by Allen Schmeltz, can be seen on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. with extra performances on the weekdays of Dec. 22, 23, 24, 29 & 30 at 1:30 p.m.--and an additional 4:00 p.m. performance with added surprises on opening day, Dec. 6. The show runs Dec. 6 through December 30. Tickets are $15 general, $13 for seniors & SARTA, and $12 for children. Special group rates are available as are Birthday Parties.
Recommended for all ages.

Stage Nine Theatre is located at 717 Sutter Street in Historic Folsom.

Reservations: (916) 353-1001
Click title of this post for more information.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"ANNIE" Opens at EDMT

El Dorado Muscial Theatre opens "Annie" tonight at seven. Though featuring school-aged casts, this remarkable company rivals Broadway in the quality of its productions, according to many among past audiences. The story is based on the popular comic strip "Little Orphan Annie," and the current production offers two separate casts, one older and the other younger. For details click the title of this post.

Holiday in the Hills at Stage Nine

Today Stage Nine Theatre opens its third annual holiday production, “Holiday in the Hills,” set in Historic Folsom in the late 1800’s. The variety show includes new songs, dances and skits along with some previous favorites.

“Holiday in the Hills,” by Mike Jimena and Connie Mockenhaupt, runs through December 28. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Tickets are $22 general, $20 for seniors and SARTA members, $15 for children. Special group rates are available, and birthday parties are welcomed. For reservations call (916) 353-1001.

Stage Nine Theatre is located at 717 Sutter Street in Historic Folsom, with convenient nearby parking. Call (916) 353-1001 for reservations and details. For more information click the title of this post.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Congratulations to Gary Alan Wright!

The Foothill Theatre Company is thrilled to announce that resident artist and playwright, Gary Alan Wright has won the 2008 Dr. Leland and Sally Lewis Performing Arts Award. Award nominees undergo a stringent scrutiny by members of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors before the vote is taken to determine the winner. This award represents a lifetime achievement award for excellence in the performing arts.

Gary Wright first appeared with the Foothill Theatre Company in 1993, and has been a fixture at FTC since the summer of 1994. His other professional acting credits include stints at the Sacramento Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Fantasy Theatre, Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre, the Colorado and Oregon Shakespeare Festivals, the Maxim Gorky Drama Theatre in Vladivostok, Russia.

In recent years Wright has focused his artistic attention on writing as well as acting. For FTC he has adapted two novels, The Diary of a Forty-Niner and Dracula. Last year he wrote the successful Evermore, a new play about Edgar Allan Poe’s disastrous feud with his ex-editor, Dr. Rufus W. Griswold. In recent years, he has branched out into screenwriting, and is represented by Cinematic Instinct, a literary management firm in Los Angeles.

As an actor, Wright is currently playing the eponymous prince in FTC’s hit production of Hamlet, which closes November 23. “One of the things I loved about this place from the beginning,” says Wright, “is the sense of community – when I started at FTC, I had a feeling of belonging here almost immediately. I’ve been coveting this award for about ten years now, and I’m very grateful to receive it now – it’s like I’m finally being acknowledged as local talent, rather than a ringer from out of town. It feels good.”

For more information on Gary or on the Foothill Theatre Company, click the title of this post.

Review of "Women of Lockerbie"

Not much time left to see Debra Brevoort's remarkable tragedy, "Women of Lockerbie," which closes on November 23 at Sacramento's Capital Stage. It brings to consciousness the agony that haunted families of victims years after a suicide bomber blew up a Pan Am airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, two decades ago. It's especially relevant after today's racial rant against Barack Obama by Al Qaida's No. 2 Ayuman Al-Zawahiri, reminding us that we still have enemies.

For a review of the play, click the title of this post and select Page 30.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CMT Policy Statement

Below is an official statement from the California Musical Theatre in response to the recent controversy generated by Proposition 8 during the previous election:

November 11, 2008


Any political action or opinion of Scott Eckern does not represent the views or opinions of California Musical Theatre. We have a long history of appreciation for the LGBT community and are truly grateful for their long-standing support. We acknowledge the dedication, patronage and hard work of the many members of the LGBT community who have played a crucial role in our success. Our only mission is to present quality theatrical productions to enrich the cultural life of the community.

Hear the Grass Grow at B Street

(Left to Right: David Pierini, Ed Claudio, Deborah O'Brien, Elisabeth Nunziato)

Following tradition The B Street Theatre of Sacramento presents us with a holiday gift, the world premiere of a new show. And as far back as I recall, the show is always written by Buck Busfield, the theater’s producing artistic director. This year his gift is “Hear the Grass Grow,” which he also directs.

Busfield has a natural talent for comedy, and as we watched the first act, we felt a chill of recognition—we could well be seeing a perennial comedy classic. We wondered which of the marvelous actors we saw might reprise their roles in a preordained movie. But the second act, though successful, did not quite live up to the first.

The plot revolves around the campaign for Indiana governor by Ernie Putalik (David Pierini), a small-town mayor. A fresh and hilarious scene introduces Ernie and his friends, a goofy would-be comedian, Reed Shelley (Jeff Asch), who specializes in playing a monkey, prancing around and pouring a drink on his head, much to the delight of his effusive wife, Toots (Stephanie McVay), who eggs him on.

Also in the scene, serving cocktails, is Ernie’s lovely and warm-hearted wife, Peggity (Deborah O’Brien). The only one not responding is Ernie. In one of the show’s finest bits of acting, he does almost nothing. With a faint smile and a woebegone expression in his eyes he foreshadows a catastrophe to come.

Soon to arrive is Bud Baggitt (Ed Claudio), Ernie’s campaign manager, proudly introducing Morgan Krinnick (Elisabeth Nunziato), a tough political advisor who despises everyone in Indiana, barking commands at Ernie like a Marine drill sergeant firing a machine gun.

While on the stage she sucks in our attention along with all the oxygen in the theater. A longtime B Street veteran, Nunziato usually plays straight roles but here reveals a remarkable aptitude for comedy. Some of it has to do with her hairdo, giving her a slight resemblance to Sarah Pallin, though Morgan’s personality is exactly the opposite. When I asked if the resemblance was intentional, Busfield demurred, saying he’d tried to avoid the association.

The first act ends with a messenger bringing bad news, left unexplained, that changes the tenor of the second act. A deeply depressed Ernie lies disconsolate on his sofa, ignoring all entreaties to get on with his campaign. He drives away his friends and manager until, in despair, Peggity can no longer endure his pain and departs temporarily.

Mixing pathos with laughter is like squirting mustard on an ice cream cone. Busfield wisely keeps us in the dark about what tortures Ernie, who simply lies inert, ignoring a persistent telephone with messages from the press. (The title of the play, taken from a poem by George Eliot, alludes to the pain that comes with human consciousness.)

But there are still funny moments. We cheer him on when he wrests control of the phone from a telephone company flack trying to sell him additional services. And we exult, having gone through a season of robo calls and surveys, as he says that sooner or later the agent will die, so why does he waste his life chasing money?

And there are charming moments. In the first act Ernie chased squirrels off his roof with golf balls, but in the second he shoots at them with a rifle. Responding to a noise at the door, he finds a cardboard carton with a wounded squirrel in it. He begins to regain his humanity when he nurses the squirrel back to health and adopts its family. In the end…well, I won’t give it away.

Along with the superb cast we have new music, especially composed by Noah Arguss for this play. And though the second act may be a bit of a downer, it’s never dull. For this production Busfield gave up theater in the round, and Ron Madonia covered the back wall with a set capturing the Putalik living room.

“Hear the Grass Grow” continues through January 4 at 2711 B Street, behind the Stanford Park Baseball Field. Performances are Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday at 2 and 6:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 5 and 9 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22 to $30, with student and senior discounts available. Call (916) 443-5300.

Because of adult language and content, the show is recommended for ages 16 and up.

Auditions for Snow White at Stage Nine

Auditions for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 7:00pm at the Stage Nine Theatre, 717 Sutter St., Historic Folsom. This family musical fairly hums with 14 songs, and features the wise-cracking Mirror who will answer only if addressed in rhyme, as well as a whole court of funny bubbling characters. Performances are Jan. 24-March 8 at 1:30pm on Saturdays & Sundays. We will also attempt to book school groups for shows at 9:00am & 11:00am on Wednesday, Feb. 4 & 18 so you should be available for those morning shows. Rehearsals will be the first three full weeks of January on Sunday thought Thursday evenings. There may be some musical rehearsals prior to that. This is a short rehearsal period so a commitment of time will be needed. This is a musical so be prepared to sing a short song. An accompanist will be available. The rest of the audition will be cold readings from the script. Please bring a head shot or photo and a resume if you have one. The director is Allen Schmeltz. These are non-paying roles. The following will be cast by older teens or adults. The dwarfs will be cast by children or pre or early teens. Witch Wicked - A southern witch who loves her "special powers," a bit forgetful The Queen - cold, evil and beautiful, a spoiled brat Mirror - has major attitude, but is also wise Snow White - beautiful, inside and out, sweet but with a backbone Sir Pompus - the Queen's Minister. Good-hearted, but a Nervous Nellie. Perhaps a bit vain. Afraid of the Queen. The Prince - a clever and brave typical fairy tale prince Lady Penelope - a lady-in-waiting, suspicious about everything Lady Lucinda - a lady-in-waiting. Very vain. Lady Mathilda - a lady-in-waiting. Nice, not too bright. Sir Clumsy - as his name implies Sir Silly - he and Clumsy are sort of the two stooges THE DWARFS: The following will be cast by children or pre or early teens. Picker & Packer - (these roles will be precast) Cutter - always nervous Grinder - probably chubby 'cause he loves to eat Woeful - always sad and crying Mouse - he's mute and mimes everything Keeper - gruff, the leader of the dwarfsFor further information email

Thursday, November 13, 2008

STC re Scott Eckern

Due to the flood of calls that have come into The Sacramento Theatre Company Administration Offices regarding the resignation of Scott Eckern, Mark Standriff- Managing Director of the Sacramento Theatre Company felt it necessary to issue the following statement to the media.

The Sacramento Theatre Company is aware of the controversy surrounding the California Musical Theatre and its former artistic director, Scott Eckern, and would like to join the rest of the local theatre community in our hope for a peaceful conclusion.

We would, however, like to clarify that Scott Eckern was not an employee of our theatre and would respectfully suggest that anyone wishing to voice an opinion should contact the offices of the California Musical Theatre. Thank you for helping us clear up any confusion in this matter.

Mark Standriff
Managing Director, Sacramento Theatre Company
916-446-7501 EXT 110

Kim Kaplan
Director of Sales and Marketing
Sacramento Theatre Company
1419 H Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
916.446.7501 Ext 109
916.446.4066 Fax

December 3rd thru January 4th
Get your tickets now!
Call 888-4-STC-TIX

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Devlish Christmas in Ireland

Photo (l to r): Ivan (Phil Cowan), Sharky (Kevin Karrick), Nicky (John Lamb), Mr. Lockhart (Kurt Johnson)

In a quirky preview of Christmas, Sacramento’s B Street Theatre presents Conor McPherson’s “The Seafarer,” a comedy set near contemporary Dublin. It starts on Christmas Eve in a modest apartment, where two brothers Richard and Sharky Harkin (David Silbeman and Kevin Karrick) prepare for an all-male Christmas celebration, mainly a poker game. Richard, the elder, is blind and Sharky is a recovering alcoholic. Visiting is an absent-minded friend, Ivan Curry (Phil Cowan), who can’t find his glasses or his car.

The action mainly revolves around opening liquor bottles and sampling the contents. The trio later adds Richard’s friend Nicky Giblin (John Lamb), a ne’er-do-well hooked up with Sharky’s ex-wife, whom he drives around in Sharky’s car. Into this clutch of losers comes the mysterious Mr. Lockhart (Kurt Johnson), possibly a devil from hell who seeks Sharky’s soul. And the souls of anyone else he can catch.

The climax of the play comes during the Christmas Day poker game, where more is at stake than money. Despite fine performances all around and Jerry Montoya’s skillful directing, the characters, except for Lockhart, are predictable. So what could have succeeded as a one-act drags into two acts.

“The Seafarer” continues through December 13 at 2711 B Street, behind the Stanford Park Baseball Field. Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 8 p.m., plus one Sunday (11/16) matinee and one Wednesday (11/26) matinee, both at 1 p.m. Matinees on Thursday (11/13 and 12/4 only) are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22-$30 with student and senior discounts available. Call (916) 443-5300.

Because of some language and content, no one under 16 will be admitted.

For a fuller review, which appears in El Dorado Hills’ Village Life, click the title of this post.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Comic Anthology of Xmas at Capital Stage

Every Christmas Story Ever Told returns to Capital Stage in Old Sacramento, supposedly for its final year.

This "sell-out holiday hit is up-dated and more fun than ever! Part Big Bang, part Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) is a fast, fond, and furious look at the holiday traditions we all remember, and a few we'd like to forget. From Tiny Tim to the Grinch, from Frosty to It's a Wonderful Life, nothing is spared in this rollicking tour de farce!"

Featuring: Anthony D'Juan*, Gary Martinez*, and Jonathan Rhys Williams*
*Members of Actor's Equity Association

For details and the whole story, click the title of this post.

Message from Garbeau's Dinner Theatre

'Tis the Season - Opening Weekend! (And lower pricing!)
We are in tech week, preparing for this Friday's opening performance of "'Tis the Season!" This production is a variety show of all things merry and mistletoe. (Editor's note: that rhymed. I thought I'd point that out...)

Part Bob Hope, part Carol Burnett, this show has everything from beloved carols to a visit from Saturday Night Live's "Church Lady." Songs include "I'll Be Home For Christmas," "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "I Saw Mommy Kissin' Santa Claus," and other favorites.

2009 will mark a reduction in ticket prices, and from opening night through Thanksgiving, we are offering a taste of the new prices! For the first two weeks only, prices for seating will range from $15.50 - $21.50 if you are getting dinner. Seating for "show only" will range from $17.50 - $23.50. Once Thanksgiving hits, we will be back to our regular prices through the end of the year!

To get the prices, simply show up before Thanksgiving. You do not need to mention a discount--you will automatically receive the lowered pricing.
For more information, click the title of this post.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thistle Dew is Going to Tibet

The Unique
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre
Presents an Original Play
by local playwright, Tim Cahill,
a member of the
Thistle Dew Playwright’s Workshop
NOVEMBER 2008:"Going to Tibet"
More than a year ago Tim brought this play to the Thistle Dew Playwright’s Group for a reading. I liked it.... Very much. I kept pestering him to finish his re-write and bring it back for a re-read. “If it needs more re-write then bring it back for a re-read.” But like all good playwrights he kept it ‘tucked in his vest’ until he was sure that he had the beginning begun properly, the middle tightened up and all the ends tied and knotted. Tim is a very good playwright and like most of us we like to take our time no matter all the
prodding reminders from our colleagues.
After the successful production of his The Seduction of Thomas Sorrel he proved his talents again and now you see the fruit of our wait. Going to Tibet is a beautiful story of love times three which asks the question “How do a man and woman of the ‘Age of Aquarius’ instill in their sheltered daughter the values and the love they found
in an Ashram on the Mendocino coast?”
This romantic comedy is directed by Thomas M. Kelly, and features
Richard Williams, Karen Kearney,
Summer Harabedian, Danielle Williams,
Keith Letl and Micail Buse
Opens Friday, Nov. 14 (7pm),
Sat., Nov. 15 (7pm),
Sun., Nov. 16 ( 2pm),
Friday, Nov. 21 (7pm),
Sat., Nov. 22 ( 7pm ),
Sun., Nov. 23 ( 2pm ),
Friday, Nov. 28 ( 7pm ),
closes Saturday, Nov. 29th ( 7pm ).
For phone and contact information, click the title of this post.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Demanding "Rimers of Eldritch" in Folsom

Lanford Wilson’s “The Rimers of Eldritch,” now staged in Folsom by The Falcon’s Eye Theatre of Folsom College, can best be described by what it’s not. It doesn’t proceed chronologically, with occasional flashbacks, from beginning to end. Instead it seems like something written before the Big Bang, when God created time and space.

It starts with a murder trial, but we don’t know who’s on trial or who was murdered until its ironic conclusion. It seems to roll forwards and backwards, so that we feel we’ve been parachuted into a strange community as we overhear references to people we don’t know and have to piece out the connections. The setting is Eldritch, a decaying former coal town, long ago abandoned by miners who despoiled the land and left it without an economy.

The heavy Southern accents suggest a region, but you don’t find out that we’re in Missouri unless you check the playbill. But there is no Eldritch in Missouri. In fact the word “eldritch” means weird, ghostly, and downright creepy–just like the fictional town itself. The setting, though, may be a reflection of Wilson’s birthplace: Lebanon, Missouri.

As we piece together the jigsaw puzzle of the plot, we come to know the inhabitants of this Limbo as they cope with their unspoken despair. Even the title plays head games with the audience. Late in the play we hear a discussion of “rime,” or hoarfrost, granular ice that encrusts twigs and windows. Thus “rimer” suggests a metaphor, reflecting the distorted vision of the characters, who see a world through a “rimed” window.

Framed by a chorus of gossips uttering platitudes of pious indignation, the various inhabitants appear. There’s Robert Johnson (Nick Gailbreath), 18, cursed by the wicked reputation of his older brother, who was killed in an auto accident. His companion is Eva Jackson (Michelle Murphy), 14, a crippled girl who teases him with his nickname, Driver Jr. Her mother, Evelyn (Delaney Eldridge-Dunn) suspects a sexual relationship.

Then there’s Nelly Windrod (Adrienne Sher), middle aged and tough, who looks after her mother, Mary (Maggie Adair Upton), skirting the edge of senility. In a fey moment Mary takes us on a tour of her “garden,” where she’s carefully buried her late pets, from dogs to goldfish, and announces the exact date of each burial.

An added key to the plot is Skelly Mannor (Rodrigo Breton), town hermit and pariah, suspected of being a peeping Tom. And among the few stable townsfolk are Cora Groves (Laura Kaya) and her young lover, Walter (Matthew Canty), targets for disapprobation. (See picture insert.)

A mixture of students and professionals, the cast is solid and convincing. Among the many highlights are Upton’s Mary, very real as she navigates a delicate path between normalcy and a failing mind. Also noteworthy is Lew Rooker, alternating between a preacher and a judge. In both roles he convinces us that he’s a paragon of his profession, though later allowing us a glimpse of his characters’ human weaknesses.

Director David Harris and Scene Designer Jonathan Williams orchestrate a fast-paced and authoritative theater experience in the Falcon’s Eye temporary home at Vista Del Lago High School’s Studio Theatre. Meanwhile the company awaits the construction of its permanent home, anticipated for 2010.

“The Rimers of Eldritch” continues through November 23 at 1970 Broadstone Parkway in Folsom. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $15 general, $10 for students and seniors. Call 916-608-6760 or e-mail

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Final Performances of "Lockerbie"

In 1988 a terrorist bomb brought down a Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland. But the horror of the event has almost been forgotten, overshadowed by 9/11. In “The Women of Lockerbie,” Deborah Brevoort’s fictional recreation of the event’s lingering aftermath, we confront the grief of the victims’ families years later. This prize-winning drama closes in Sacramento on November 23 and may be our last foreseeable chance to experience it

California Stage chooses to present this timely portrait of how the actions of 200 women forced the United States government to release the 11,000 pieces of clothing left by the 103 crash so they could return them to their families. This play shows how ordinary people cope with extraordinary horror. It gives powerful voice to a disturbing contemporary anguish—how to respond to the suffering caused by terrorism while offering new hope to a world witnessing continual acts of revenge and hatred. This play’s powerful message resonates in our post 9/11 world. What is fate? How do you reconcile profound grief with belief in God? How do you cope with evil?

Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm. Tickets: $20 general; $15 students, seniors, and SARTA members; (Note: professional organizations may apply as a group, and tickets do not have to be for the same performance to apply.) For reservations or information about group prices, contact California Stage at 916-451-5822 or go to . The play will be held at California Stage Theater 2509 R Street in Midtown Sacramento. Seating is limited.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Group meets to discuss local theater outings

On November 12 a group of residents--plus anyone else, resident or not, willing to participate--will meet again to discuss future plans for outings to nearby live theaters, to see shows and find out more about their operations. We are waiting for responses from theater companies willing to talk with our group before or after a show they produce. At the previous meeting we decided to car pool and look for a variety of theater offerings, from classical to modern, highbrow to just plain fun. We're also exploring group rates.

There's no charge to join the group, or just drop in to listen. If we get any responses by meeting time, we may choose our first outing and arrange for our first excursion. Thereafter we'll try to schedule a new theater each month. We may also use our meeting times to discuss our reactions to what we saw and heard during the previous outing.

The center is at 990 Lassen Lane, at the corner of El Dorado Hills Blvd. For further information call 916-358-3575.


On November 20 "Little Women," by Louisa May Alcott, opens in an adaptation by Sands Hall. The play runs until December 28 at: The Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street, Nevada City on Thursdays 7 p.m., Fridays 8:00 p.m., Saturdays 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Sundays 2 p.m. Tickets are $16-$32, with bargain seats and some discounts available. For more information call the box office at (530) 265-8587.

As of November 6, the company has raised an additional $44,000 toward the $145,000 needed by the end of the year in order to proceed with the 2009 season and beyond. The original amount of $90,000 needed to produce the balance of the 2008 season was met at the end of August.

“We are in the home stretch of trying to make our goal and we still have a long way to go” says Executive Director Karen Marinovich. “The FTC Board of Directors will be holding a special session on December 4 and, if we have not made the goal by then, they will decide if the amount of money needed to fulfill the goal is attainable by the end of the year. If they agree the amount is out of reach steps will be taken to close the Foothill Theatre Company on December 29, the day after the last performance of Little Women.”

For more details about "Little Women" or financing efforts, click the title of this post.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" Delights at Oak Ridge

Can a high school do justice to one of Shakespeare’s most endearing and complicated plays? The answer is “yes,” if the school has an outstanding drama program, a professionally seasoned director and extensive support from the community. When we caught Oak Ridge High School’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” we braced for disappointment. But we came away basking in the production’s sunshine of sheer delight.

The action, taking place in and around ancient Athens, weaves together three linked story lines. The first involves the marriage preparations of Duke Theseus (Sean Rumery) to Hippolita (Alexandra Chavez), an Amazon queen. The nuptials are darkened when Hermia (Anna Wagner) defies her father, Egius (Alex Kozak), who wants her to marry Demetrius (Andre Mercer), a noble youth. But she loves Lysander (Brian Bertotti), a poet. Meanwhile Hermia’s friend Helena (Amanda Wilens), loves Demetrius, who scorns her. So the young foursome decide to run away into the woods.

Secondly we have the supernaturals. There’s the mischievous Puck (Charlie Shaeffer), servant of Oberon (Ted Pickell), king of the fairies; Titania (Rachel Koch), Queen of the Fairies, and lots of attendant fairies. When Titania defies Oberon by refusing to give him her changeling (Brandon Koch), a fairy exchanged for a human baby, he decides to punish her.

He commands Puck to pick a magic flower whose juice, touching the head of a sleeper, will cause the sleeper to fall in love with the first creature he or she sees. This stratagem draws in the third group, the “Mechanicals” (working men), who plan a play for the Duke’s wedding. First, Puck gives Bottom (Sean Biggs), the weaver, the head of an ass while he sleeps. Next he contrives to anoint Titania with the magic flower so that she wakes to see the ass-headed Bottom and fall in love with him.

But Puck is confused by the fleeing lovers and anoints the wrong heads, setting each to chase the person who rejects the pursuer as they battle hopelessly to pair up with the counterpart, who rejects them. Somehow this all gets sorted out, and the play reaches its climax with a hilarious “tragedy” by the Mechanicals, the fatal love story of Pyramus (Biggs) and Thisbe (Taylor Cross).

Under the canny direction of Rodney Franz, the cast offers fast action and outstanding acrobatics, all delivered with breathtaking energy. It’s hard to believe these are just high school kids. And they seem to love what they’re doing. The only drawback is uneven projection and articulation of the lines.

But this is not really a flaw. Franz deliberately, and rightly, avoids letting them use microphones, which have become customary in today’s theaters. Though performing for an audience, the cast is still in training. And it’s essential for them, whether they pursue careers as actors or wish to become articulate leaders in other professions, to be able to speak effectively before groups without the crutch of technology.

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” continues from November 13-15 at Oak Ridge High School, 1120 Harvard Way, El Dorado Hills. Performances are 7-9 p.m. Tickets are $8-$15. Call (916) 606-7453.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Foothill Theatre's not-quite "Hamlet"

Here's a show that Pat, my wife, and I couldn't quite agree on. I've adored "Hamlet" ever since I first read it in college. Like no other play it captures the profound depression that assails young people who discover, as they enter adulthood, that those they've revered all their lives are less than perfect So what I prepare for is the poignant recapture of that passage from childhood to maturity, with it's realization, finally, that we are all ultimately fallible.

She, on the other hand, came to the production with an open mind, enjoying the show for what it was, an exciting adventure in entertainment. Most of the audience seemed to agree with her. So in fairness to theatergoers who don't share my peculiar demands, I wrote a review that, I hope, is fair to everybody. Still, I wish that when theater companies offer us a revered classic, they would provide the classic, not their own whimsical "originality."

Okay, so I'm prejudiced.

To see the review as it appeared on November 5 in El Dorado Hills' "Village Life," click the title of this post.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New "Annie" from EDMT

As news of mortgage meltdowns, falling stock prices and grim forecasts for our nation’s economy cause Americans anxiety today, El Dorado Musical Theatre’s new fall production, “Annie,” takes us back to 1933, a worse time in our nation’s history when job loss, financial uncertainty and a crashing stock market were foremost on the minds of our nation’s citizens. But this rags to riches comic strip story turned Broadway musical, running from November 21-30th at the Jill Solberg Theatre in Folsom, aims to leave you feeling like “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” and Annie’s never-give-up, positive attitude takes the depression out of The Great Depression.

It’s been five years since EDMT produced “Annie.” But five years and numerous Elly awards later, EDMT hopes to reach a new level, improving upon every aspect of this show, which closed after sixteen sold out performances.

For tickets and other information, call the box office at (916)941-SING or click the title of this post.