Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Capital Stage greets 2010 with "Fiction"

The first Capital Stage production of 2010 is a Sacramento premiere by one of the country's most prolific, versatile, and widely produced playwrights. Steven Dietz' Fiction, a 2002 winner of the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award, "is a work of uncommon insight--an adult, unsparing and yet often witty look at the intimate relationship between a man and a woman..."
-Associated Press

Tickets Now On Sale

Performances for Fiction will begin with four previews on Friday, January 22 at 8pm; Saturday, January 23 at 7pm; Sunday, January 24 at 2pm; and Thursday, January 28 at 8pm, and will open on Friday, January 29, 2010 at 8pm. Performances continue through February 28, 2010. Showtimes will be Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 7pm and Sundays at 2pm. One added performance will be held on Sunday, February 14 at 7pm; Tickets range from $25-$32. Discount tickets are available as follows: Preview Tickets: $15; Student Tickets on Thursdays and Fridays: $12; Senior Tickets on Sunday Matinees: $20; and Group Rates available for partys of 12 or more. Tickets are currently available at the Capital Stage Box Office, by phone at 916-995-5464 or online at www.capstage.org. The Pilothouse Restaurant offers a specially priced menu for theatre patrons; Pilothouse reservations can be made through the box office.

The Story
Meet Micheal and Linda (Eric Wheeler and Janis Stevens), two happily married writers, whose successful lives begin to unravel after they agree to read one another's diaries. A mysterious woman (Artistic Director, Stephanie Gularte) emerges and the boundaries between past and present, fact and fiction, trust and betrayal begin to blur. No life, it turns out, is an open book, and the tension between trust and suspicion is at the heart of this gripping and provocative drama.

Capital Stage Co-founder and Artistic Associate Peter Mohrmann directs company regulars, Gularte, Stevens and Wheeler.

The Playwright
Mr. Dietz's thirty-plus plays have been produced at regional theatres across the United States, as well as Off-Broadway. International productions of his work have been seen in England, Japan, Germany, France, Australia, Sweden, Russia, Slovenia, Argentina, Peru, Greece, Singapore, and South Africa. Recent plays include Yankee Tavern, Fiction (produced Off-Broadway by the Roundabout Theatre Company); the Pulitzer-nominated Last of the Boys (produced by Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago); and several widely-produced adaptations: Honus and Me (from Dan Gutman), and the Edgar Award-winning Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure (from William Gillette and Arthur Conan Doyle). Other plays include Inventing van Gogh, The Nina Variations, Private Eyes, Halcyon Days, God's Country, and Lonely Planet (PEN-USA Award for Drama). Mr. Dietz's work as a director has been seen at many of America's leading regional theatres. He divides his time between Seattle and Austin, where he is a professor at the University of Texas.

Capital Stage Company's Mission
Capital Stage Company's mission is to be a dynamic leader in the evolution of the contemporary live theatre landscape in the Capital region and to passionately engage audiences in the art of live storytelling with bold, innovative plays performed by professional artists, in an intimate, up close setting. With a strong commitment to expanding the base of working artists in the greater Sacramento region, we shall develop a company of actors, directors, writers, designers, and technical staff who are dedicated to bringing bold, lively productions of contemporary and classic plays to our community.

While part of the mission of any theater company is to entertain its audience, we at Capital Stage feel strongly that the productions we mount address issues that are vital to understanding the society we live in and ourselves as human beings in that society. We address themes of power and manipulation in relationships between men and women, children and parents, and organizations and individuals. We invite audiences to question the ethics and meaning of art, the definitions of sanity and intelligence, and the line between exploitation and legitimate relationship. We believe that in a large and growing urban environment, where individuals and groups are constantly bombarded with information and demands for decisions, the need for thoughtful examination of our interactions in society has never been greater.


What: Capital Stage presents the Sacramento Premiere of FICTION by Steven Dietz
Where: Delta King Theatre 1000 Front Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
When: January 22 - February 28, 2010

Friday, January 22 @ 8pm
Saturday, January 23 @ 7pm
Sunday, January 24 @ 2pm

Thursday, January 28 @ 8pm

Opening Night: Friday, January 29, 2010 @ 8pm $32 Tickets

Performance Times & Prices

Thursdays/Fridays 8pm $25 Tickets
Saturdays 7pm $29 Tickets
Sundays 2pm $25 Tickets

Added Performance

Sunday, February 14 @ 7pm $32 Tickets

for online purchases: www.capstage.org

Linda and Michael, successful writers who happen to be married to each other, thrive on the give-and-take of their unusually honest relationship. But when they decide to share their diaries, the boundaries between past and present, fact and fiction, trust and betrayal begin to break down. No life, it turns out, is an open book.

Author: Steven Dietz
Director: Peter Mohrmann
Cast: Stephanie Gularte*, Janis Stevens*, Eric Wheeler*
Set Design: Jonathan Williams
Lighting Design: Steve Decker
Costume Design: Rebecca Redmond
Sound Design: Brad Thompson
Production Manager: Cathy Coupal
Stage Manager: Liz Estella*

*Appear courtesy of Actors' Equity Association, the professional union for actors and stage managers in the U.S.

Capital Stage Company | Aboard the Riverboat Delta King | 1000 Front Street | Sacramento | CA | 95814

Monday, December 28, 2009

California Musical Theatre Calendar of Events

California Musical Theatre, producer of theatre at K Street's Cosmopolitan Cabaret, Music Circus at The Wells Fargo Pavilion and Broadway Sacramento at the Community Center Theater currently has eight shows available for purchase at the box office, among the 10 currently announced for its schedule. The 60th anniversary Music Circus season is scheduled to be announced on Sunday, January 17.


"Sister's Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold" Nov. 24, 2009-Jan.10, 2010 at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, 1000 K Street. Starring Nonie Newton-Breen in this hilarious interactive holiday comedy. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999 or Tickets.com. Cosmopolitan Cabaret Box Office is open two hours before curtain. $32-$47. Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Sat/Sun at 2 p.m. New Year's Eve at 7 p.m.


"Xanadu" Dec. 30, 2009-Jan. 10, 2009. A Broadway Sacramento presentation at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street. Broadway's surprise hit musical makes its Northern California Premiere. Tickets available at the Convention Center Box Office, (916) 808-5181. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999 or Tickets.com. $18-$65. Stage seating for $25. Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Thur/Sat/Sun at 2 p.m., Sun at 7:30 p.m.


"Late Nite Catechism: 'Til Death Do Us Part" January 5-10, 2010 at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, 1000 K Street. The interactive comedy hit, which played The Cabaret in the fall returns for one encore week starring Second City Theatre alum Nonie Newton Breen. It's Sunday school meets the Newlywed Game. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999 or Tickets.com. Cosmopolitan Cabaret Box Office is open two hours before curtain. $32-$47. Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Sat/Sun at 2 p.m., Sun at 7:30 p.m.

"My Way: a Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra" January 26-May 9, 2010 (preview performances January 26-28) at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, 1000 K Street. His voice, style and attitude defined the 20th century. Four accomplished vocalists pay tribute to the legendary Ol' Blue Eyes. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999 or Tickets.com. Cosmopolitan Cabaret Box Office is open two hours before curtain. $33-$43. Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Sat/Sun at 2 p.m., Sun at 7:30 p.m., select Thursdays at 2 p.m.

"Rent" February 3-8, 2010. A Broadway Sacramento presentation at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street. Starring original Broadway cast members Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp. "Rent" was a late addition to the schedule is a very limited one-week engagement. Tickets available at the Convention Center Box Office, (916)808-5181. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office,1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999 or Tickets.com. $25-$65. Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Thur/Sat/Sun at 2 p.m., Sun at 7:30 p.m.

"Chicago" March 10-21, 2010. A Broadway Sacramento presentation at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street. The national tour of the Tony Award-winning Broadway hit returns to Sacramento. Tickets available at the Convention Center Box Office, (916) 808-5181. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999 or Tickets.com. $18-$65. Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Thur/Sat/Sun at 2 p.m., Sun at 7:30 p.m.

"Little House on the Prairie" April 14-25, 2010. A Broadway Sacramento presentation at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street. Featuring Melissa Gilbert as "Ma" in the national tour. Tickets available at the Convention Center Box Office, (916) 808-5181. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999 or Tickets.com. $18-$65. Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Thur/Sat/Sun at 2 p.m., Sun at 7:30 p.m. >more

"A Chorus Line" May 19-30, 2010. A Broadway Sacramento presentation at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street. The national tour of the new Broadway revival. Tickets available at the Convention Center Box Office, (916) 808-5181. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999 or Tickets.com. $18-$65. Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Thur/Sat/Sun at 2 p.m., Sun at 7:30 p.m.



"Shear Madness" May 25-Sept. 5, 2010 (preview performances May 25-30) at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, 1000 K Street. This uproarious whodunit is the longest running play in America, now making its Sacramento debut. A mixture of improvisation and up-to-the-minute spontaneous humor makes the play delightfully different every time you see it. Currently available as part of the 2010 Cosmopolitan Cabaret season subscription package or to groups of 12 or more. On-sale to single-show ticket buyers on April 26. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999. Cosmopolitan Cabaret Box Office is open two hours before curtain. $33-$43. Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Sat/Sun at 2 p.m., Sun at 7:30 p.m., select Thursdays at 2 p.m. >more

"Suds" Sept. 21, 2010-Jan. 9, 2011 (preview performances Sept. 21-23) at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, 1000 K Street. This rocking '60s musical soap opera is loaded with good clean fun and features some of the greatest pop hits of the era including "Where the Boys Are," "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" and "I Feel Good." Currently available as part of the 2010 Cosmopolitan Cabaret season subscription package or to groups of 12 or more. On-sale to single-show ticket buyers on August 23. Advance tickets available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999. Cosmopolitan Cabaret Box Office is open two hours before curtain. $33-$43. Tues/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat at 8 p.m., Sat/Sun at 2 p.m., Sun at 7:30 p.m., select Thursdays at 2 p.m. >more

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Wilder Xmas comes to Sutter Street, Folsom

Photo courtesy Allen Schmeltz Productions

Fans of the Sutter Street Theatre (formerly Stage 9 Theatre-Garbeau’s), usually regard afternoon shows on Saturday and Sunday as children’s theater. Not so with “A Laura IngallsWilder Christmas,” which played there to a packed house, mostly adults, last Saturday. Playwright Laurie Brooks’ imaginative speculation about missing years in the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder, prolific and popular writer for children during the nineteenth century, not only entertains kids but casts a sensitive and instructive light on and values of that long-ago era in American history, when brave easterners dared to cross the plains in covered wagons.

Barring a last-minute extension, the play is scheduled to close on December 28. Those who pass it up will miss a rare experience of what must have been a heroic chapter in our country’s experience. For a review and more details, go to www.villagelife.com/story.php?id=692.0&pt=photo

Monday, December 21, 2009

CMT Offers Tribute to Sinatra



Casting for the California Musical Theatre production of "My Way: a Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra" at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret has been completed. The accomplished four-person cast will include longtime Music Circus favorite Michael G. Hawkins. He'll be joined by Karole Foreman, Laura Dickinson and Jeffrey Christopher Todd.

"My Way: a Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra" celebrates the music of this icon of cool: a singer whose style, voice and attitude defined much of 20th century music. Two dynamic couples take the audience from the 1940s swing era, to the bright lights of Las Vegas with the Rat Pack, to Sinatra's final performances in the 1990s. The musical features 58 songs made famous by Ol' Blue Eyes, including "Strangers in the Night," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Fly Me to the Moon" and "New York, New York."

The production will begin its 15-week run on January 26, 2010 with three preview performances and will open on January 29, continuing through May 9. Tickets are currently available as part of a three-show subscription package with "Shear Madness" and "Suds." Single-show tickets of "My Way" will go on sale on Monday, Dec. 28, 2009.

A favorite of Music Circus audiences, Michael G. Hawkins' roles at Music Circus over the last 20 years have included rakish leading men (Adam in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," Petruchio in "Kiss Me, Kate" and Harold Hill in "The Music Man") as well as villains (Jigger Craigin in "Carousel," Jud Fry in "Oklahoma!" and Judge Turpin in "Sweeney Todd"). Hawkins' most recent appearance was as the Narrator/Mysterious Man in "Into the Woods."

Appearing opposite Hawkins will be Karole Foreman, who made her Sacramento debut last year as entertainer/socialite Muzzy in the Music Circus production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." Foreman's roles include the sassy Tanya in the Las Vegas production of "Mamma Mia!," an award-winning performance as Anita in "Jelly's Last Jam," Josephine Baker in the "Josephine Tonight!" and Mary Magdalene in "Jesus Christ Superstar."

Laura Dickinson's extensive vocal range has earned her a busy career as a singer for television and film as well as on stage. Her credits include a long list of Disney projects including "Phineas and Ferb" (currently on the Disney Channel), "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "The Emperor's New School" and "Cinderella III." Her theatrical roles include Amneris in "Aida" and the title role in "Evita."

The final member of the cast is Jeffrey Christopher Todd, who recently played Brad at Universal Studio's "Rocky Horror Picture Show." His other stage roles include Danny in "Grease," Jesus in "Godspell" and Abe in "Altar Boyz." His television roles include guest starring on the Disney Channel's "Wizards of Waverly Place."

California Musical Theatre Artistic Director Glenn Casale will direct the production, and Chris Schlagel will be musical director and on-stage accompanist. Casale has directed productions all-over the world, including the Tony-nominated and Emmy-winning production of "Peter Pan" and productions of Disney's "Beauty in the Beast" throughout Europe, most recently in Milan. Casale is best known to Sacramentans for his 20-year career directing at Music Circus. Schlagel returns to The Cosmopolitan Cabaret after completing an 11-month run as musical director and pianist for "Forever Plaid" in September.

Tickets for "My Way" are $33 for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings, and $38 for Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday and Sunday matinees. Thursday matinees ($33) are scheduled for February 26, March 25 and April 29. Tables on the first level of the tiered seating are $38 for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings and Thursday matinees and $43 for Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday and Sunday matinees. Preview performance tickets are only $25. See www.CosmopolitanCabaret.com for complete performance schedule.

Three-show subscription tickets are discounted more than 20 percent off the price of the tickets sold separately. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evening performances and Thursday matinee performances are $79 for the three-show package. Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday and Sunday matinee packages are only $89. Subscriptions for premium tables on the first tier are $89 and $99 respectively.

Tickets are available in advance at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999. All performances are at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, 1000 K Street (at 10th street). Cabaret box office is open two hours before performances.

Discounts are available for groups from 12 to 200 by calling (916) 557-1198.

The Cosmopolitan Cabaret is a 200-seat cabaret-style theatre, featuring 23 tables of four and seven rows of tiered seating with beverage counters. Adjacent to Paragary Restaurant Group's Cosmo Café, patrons can take advantage of cocktail service inside the theatre before the show.

California Musical Theatre just finished its second production in the theatre, "Late Nite Catechism: 'Til Death Do Us Part," the eight-week follow-up to "Forever Plaid," which opened the brand new theatre in the former Woolworth's building and ran for a record-setting 11 months. The third production, "Sister's Christmas Catechism" is running through January 3, before "'Til Death Do Us Part" returns for an encore week.

For complete schedule information, please visit www.CosmopolitanCabaret.com.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"Brothers" opens at Sutter Street Theatre

...From Sutter Street Theatre

l-r: Ron Randolph, Mike Jimena, Stan Bautista

Photographer: Connie Mockenhaupt

Sutter Street Theatre, formerly named Stage 9 Theatre – Garbeau’s, will be opening the hilarious comedy “Brothers!” by Dave Williams on Saturday, January 2, 2010. Three brothers--each equipped with his own idiosyncrasies--are forced
to endure each other for one purpose: money. But the family inheritance they're looking forward to has an unfortunate caveat. Before they get their wealth, they are required to spend one weekend with each other once a year for ten years straight. The setting (a dilapidated forest cabin in the middle of nowhere!) doesn't help matters.

This production will reunite the incredible cast of one of Stage Nine's most successful comedies to date, last year's "Escanaba in Da Moonlight!"

“Brothers!” will play on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 4:00 p.m. through February 7 at Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter Street, Historic Folsom. Reservations can be made by calling (916) 353-1001.


What: “Brothers!” by Dave Williams

Directed by Connie Mockenhaupt & Charlie Holiday

Run Dates: January 2 – February 7, 2010

Times: Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm, Sunday Matinee at 4:00pm

Tickets: $23 general, $21 seniors & SARTA, $18 children – Group Rates are available!

Reservations: Call (916) 353-1001

Sutter Street Theatre

717 Sutter Street

Historic Folsom 95630

Black Women in the South

Announcement from Celebration Arts

Celebration Arts presents Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery, a drama by Shay Youngblood.

This is the story of a young black girl’s coming of age in the South in the 1960’s. A diverse, non-traditional group of older black women in the community raised Daughter, the main character, after her mother died. These women, some related and others not, helped guide her to womanhood. Daughter shares with the audience how these Big Mamas prepared her for her coming life.

Directed by James Wheatley, the play opened December 4, 2009 and runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. through December 20, 2009. It will resume on January 7 and close on January 16, 2010. Celebration Arts is located at 4469 D Street, Sacramento, CA.

Ticket prices for Shakin’ The Mess Outta Misery are $15 general, and $13 students and seniors. On Thursday nights all seats are $8. Call (916) 455-2787 for information and reservations.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FYI from Thistle Dew

Thistle Dew Playwrights' Theatre Workshop eNewsletter and Press Release

DECEMBER 15, 2009

The Unique
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre,

the original local playwrights' theatre in Sacramento

1901 P Street.
And the Thistle Dew Playwright’s Workshop presents,

"Wake up, Jay!

It's Christmas!"

December 18 (7pm), 19 (7pm), 20 (2pm),

26 (7pm) and 27 (2pm).

Featuring Mary Jo O'Connor and Sean McDougall

and a special guest actor, Doug McDougall.

Charlie and Jay are typical house pets. Or are they? They can and do get into the same adventures and misadventures as the children in their audiences.

Tickets: Children $5.00, Adults $10.00,
Includes dessert, coffee, tea and fruit drink
For Required Reservations
E-mail (Best): thistledewplaywrights@yahoo.com


Calling all Essayists! Pulp Fiction Writers! Poets! Novelists! Journalists! Come join us every Monday evening at 7:00. (Except national holidays).

Do you have a story to tell?

If you do, we'll convince you that you can write a play!

Even a three minute play!


Do you have a play you'd like critiqued? Bring it to the group any Monday evening at 7:00.
Jump into the critique mêlée .… or just listen quietly.....until your passions rise … and in the midst of the frenzy you feel compelled to join the excitement and the emotion of the fray to express with zeal

your opinion of Act II, Scene Three when the protagonist ....
Yes. I know. But we've all been there. Haven’t we?
All newcomers are welcome!


PLEASE: We are an intimate theatre, in consideration of those who are sensitive to the chemicals in fragrances, this area has been declared a Fragrance Free Zone.

Thank you.


^^^^^^^ Websites to Bookmark ^^^^^^^


Check out our new website:


The Sacramento Municipal Arts Council


search for the Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre!

These are excellent sites, easy to use

("user friendly") and a very good way

to keep informed about theatre and the arts in the Sacramento area.

You can even add a comment about our theater, one of our plays or actors,

...............or even our dessert.

Thank you,

Tom, Ellie and the members of the Thistle Dew Playwrights' Workshop

Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness.

"Bad Seed" comes to Chautauqua


(916) 489-7529

A Non-Profit Organization


Chautauqua Playhouse announces it next show of its 33rd season, the thriller BAD SEED by Maxwell Anderson, opening on March 12, at the Playhouse. The show will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm through April 18. 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.

Based on the best-selling novel by William March, the play took Broadway by storm in the 1950’s and has been filmed twice. It remains a suspenseful psychological drama, even 55 years later. Rhoda Penmark is the star child of her class and the apple of her mother's eye, every bit the perfect child. Then one of Rhoda's classmates drowns on a school field trip under strange circumstances. Unspeakable terror and a villain you’ll never forget.

Director and set designer Warren Harrison has assembled a cast including Mary Bond, Monique McKisson, Julie Bock-Betschart, Walter Thompson, Daryl Petrig, Chris Lamb, Michael Walker, Bob Nannini and Carolyn Gregory. Lauren Metzinger will be featured as “Rhoda”. Costumes are by Eileen Beaver.

For tickets and additional information call the theatre at (916) 489-7529
(PLAY). Information and tickets are also available through the Chautauqua Playhouse website: www.cplayhouse.org.

Cinderella Returns to STC

Two mice, Stepmother and Cinderella
Courtesy photo

As its highlight of the holiday season, the Sacramento Theatre Company once again offers a sophisticated version of “Cinderella,” designed to charm both children and adults. Many of the old cast return, most prominently the trio playing the wicked stepmother and her ugly children (in drag, of course). New additions to the cast add further polish and charm to this musical version. For details and a review in El Dorado Hills’ “Village Life,” go to http://villagelife.com/story.php?id=692.0.

Sutter St. goes into woods, up beanstalk

The Musical Into The Woods Opens Friday April 9 at Sutter Street Theatre, Historic Folsom

A Sondheim classic, Into The Woods blends familiar fairy tales with the story of a childless Baker and his Wife, who are attempting to reverse a curse on their family in order to have a child.

Folsom, CA, April 2, 2010: Into The Woods! Act One finds the characters "Happily Ever After" through familiar classic stories. Act Two deals with the consequences that fairy tales often ignore. What to do with a dead Giant in the backyard, does marrying a Prince really lead to bliss, is carving up the wolf the solution, and is the Giant always wrong? All the characters must deal with that happens after "Happily Ever After!"

• What: Into The Woods
• Book by Janes Lapine, Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
• Directed by Susan Mason
• Run Dates: April 9 – May 23
• Times: Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00pm and Sunday Matinees at 4:00pm
• Tickets: $23 general, $21 seniors & SARTA, $18 children – Group Rates are available!
• Reservations: Call (916) 353-1001
Sutter Street Theatre
717 Sutter Street
Historic Folsom 95630

The Classic Tale Jack and the Beanstalk Opens Saturday, April 17 at Sutter Street Theatre, Historic Folsom

Directed by award winning director, Allen Schmeltz with a cast of Elly nominated and award winning actors this production brings audiences adventure, magic and a young hero overcoming giant obstacles.

Folsom, CA, April 2, 2010: Jack and the Beanstalk The audience participates in this adventure as the "Beanstalk Players" present the classic story with some surprising twists. The giant is replaced with a grumpy and very hungry Ogre and the whole story is brought together with the help of a delightful Magic Keeper. Will Jack save the day, or will he become a meal for the Ogre and his wife? Come and find out…

• “Jack and the Beanstalk” by Kathryn Schultz Miller
• Directed by Allen Schmeltz
• Run Dates: April 17 – May 30, 2010
• Times: Saturdays & Sundays at 1:00pm
• Tickets: $17 general, $15 seniors & SARTA, $13 children – Group Rates are available!
• Reservations: Call (916) 353-1001
Sutter Street Theatre
717 Sutter Street
Historic Folsom 95630
• Website: www.sutterstreettheatre.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

EDMT’S “The Holiday Reunion” has homey touch

After getting used to El Dorado Musical Theatre’s awesome productions at the massive Jill Solberg Theatre in Folsom, we enjoy seeing some of its impressive youthful performers in a modest setting, up close and personal. Billed as “a new musical holiday tradition,” the company’s latest offering, “The Holiday Reunion,” makes itself at home at the El Dorado Hills’ Town Center, in a store front now complete with theater lights, audio sound and a dressing room off stage.

Featuring the company’s High Voltage touring group, the story recounts an imaginary rehearsal of a variety musical, performed by alternating casts of 16 each, labeled the Holly and the Jolly. The premise allows the performers, using canned instrumental music, to deliver eleven songs of the season while in unassuming costumes. The show lasts a little over an hour without intermission.

It starts off with a powerful “Live ‘Til I Die” by Cee Cee Patrick, sung by Dee Dee Healy (get it? Cee Cee–Dee Dee?), the adult leader of both casts. The show then brings on the company, authenticating their artistic prowess in a competitive “Tap Battle,” led by the awesome Carly Speno/Andrew Wilson as the fictional Maddie/Mike Sawyer. The rest of the company are no slouches as they give the leaders their best tippy tap support.

Among the varied numbers are “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” “We Need a Little Christmas,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Sleigh Ride,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Happy Birthday,” and the dazzling windup of “White Christmas.” Added to the program was “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” exquisitely delivered by Heather Clark.

A fine ecumenical touch comes after a company member hangs a Star of David on the Christmas tree, followed by the happy Hebrew song “Hava Nagila,” celebrating Hanukkah and sung by Bennie Bernstein (Alex Levy/Jordan Maxey). That star has a curious history. It was a gift from a Jewish friend to Richard Wilson, who wrote the book for the show. Wilson regularly hangs the star on his family Christmas tree and provided it for the show.

The location comes with some minor inconvenience for the audience. The folding chairs for seating are on a level floor, so that some audience members, especially children, may have a hard time seeing beyond a high back. The blocking is also awkward on occasion, with smaller cast members sometimes hidden behind taller performers. In a professionally designed theater space, these inconveniences would rarely occur.

The show owes a lot to its production staff: Debbie Wilson (director/choreographer), Jennifer Martin (vocal director), Denise McHugh (costumer), Stephanie Hudson (technical director), Annie Speno (High Voltage producer), Tanya Bonds (Holiday Reunion producer), and Angie Teter (Parent Volunteer coordinator).

The production also owes thanks to Tony Mansour, owner of the premises, for offering the space gratis, where it will be shared with a visit from Santa.

“The Holiday Reunion” runs through December 20 at 4357 Town Center Blvd. in El Dorado Hills, Suite 110. Performances are Thursday, December 17, at 7 p.m.; Friday, December 18, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, December 20, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $13-$15. For tickets and more details see www.edmt.info.com or call(916) 941-SING

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What would the holiday season be without a visit from Ebenezer Scrooge? The Chautauqua Playhouse in Carmichael doesn’t let us down. Rather, it brings us the 30th anniversary production of “Scrooge,” and in the form of a musical. The story is faithful to Charles Dickens’ classic, with adaptation and lyrics by Rodger Hoopman, original music by Rob Knable. An added treat is Olivia Kaufmann, resident of El Dorado Hills and veteran of the El Dorado Musical Theatre.

For details and a review, go to www.villagelife.com.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Capital Stage celebrates with SantaLand Diaries

‘Tis the season for theater companies to honor the holidays. They have two main choices: drag out the Dickens (as Tom Lehrer put it) or give us something new. Sacramento’s Capital Stage takes the second path with “Santaland Diaries,” an essay transformed into a short play.

Its celebrated author, David Sedaris, first read it on National Public Radio in 1992. It recalls a lean period in his life. As a “slacker” down to his last 20 bucks, he got a temporary job as a Christmas elf at Macy’s department store in New York. The entire experience was humiliating, even from the beginning, when he had to submit a urine sample, “with roaches and stems floating in it.”

But the concept alone was enough to destroy his self-image. “I am a thirty-three-year-old man,” he declares, “applying for a job as an elf.” And the memoir goes on to recount his demeaning experiences with frantic parents, unruly children and a demanding army of Santas. He even notes that if you rearrange the letters into an anagram, “Santa” becomes “Satan.”

On stage the essay becomes a 75-minute one-act, without intermission, performed by a lone actor addressing the audience, more than once even roaming among them. Directed by a savvy Janis Stevens, the versatile Gary Alan Wright works hard to do more than recite the text of the essay. Much of his action involves almost balletic changes of costume as he wrings every drop of humor out of the situation.

The action takes place on a minimal yet charming set by Jonathan Williams. First we have the elf room, where Sedaris waits to be interviewed. Then we get a Santa throne, surrounded by toys and a couple of tiny buildings with blinking lights.

But most of the essay’s charm is in its witty observations. “It is the SantaLand policy to take a picture of every child, which the parent can either order or refuse. People are allowed to bring their own cameras, video recorders, whatever. It is the multimedia groups that exhaust me. There are parents bent over with equipment, relentless in their quest for documentation.”

If the play and its parent essay are supposed to be satire, the target seems unclear. Most of Sedaris’ complaints reveal his own demeaning behavior, not kids behaving like kids or parents acting like parents. If anything, he faults a society that compels a grown man to portray an elf just to stay alive.

The chief weakness in the show comes from Joe Mantello’s adaptation. Though Wright manages to romp energetically around the stage, he can’t turn an essay into a play. Apparently the essay worked well enough on radio, but in a theater we expect to see something happen on stage, something more than changes of costume. As Marshall McLuhan famously said years ago, “The Medium is the Message.” He might have said, more precisely, that the medium controls the message.

“The Santaland Diaries” continues through December 27 at the Delta King Theatre, 1000 Front Street in Old Sacramento. As noted in the press release, the play is “for mature elves only.” Performances are Wednesday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Added performances are at 2 p.m. on December 12 and 19; 7 p.m. on December 13, 20, 22. Tickets are $31 for Saturday, $27 for other days. For tickets or other details call (916) 995-5464 or go to www.capstage.org.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Classic Comes to Capital Stage

Limited Run of Special Holiday Classic
Only Two Performances

On Monday, December 21, at 7:00 p.m., and Christmas Eve, December 24, at 2:00 p.m., Capital Stage will present one of America's most beloved holiday classics as a 1940's live radio play. This family-friendly fundraiser will feature the company's artistic team of Stephanie Gularte, Peter Mohrmann, Janis Stevens and Jonathan Rhys Williams as well as Cap Stage favorite Harry Harris.

All proceeds from this event will help support the nonprofit Capital Stage and its mission to grow bold, dynamic, professional live theatre in our region!

Inspired by the classic American film of the same title, "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" is performed as a 1940s live radio broadcast in front of a studio audience. Five actors perform the dozens of characters in the radio play as well as produce the sound effects.

"Listen" Back in Time

Imagine it's Christmas Eve, 1946, in Studio A at WBFR in Manhattan, New York. The actors arrive for a special live radio performance of "It's a Wonderful Life." You'll hear all your favorites--including George Bailey, Mary, Clarence Oddbody, Mr Potter, Uncle Billy, even
Zazu--and all the other wonderful characters that make up Bedford Falls.

Adapted by Joe Landry It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play
Two Performances: Monday, Dec 21, 2009 at 7:00 pm
and Thursday, Dec 24, 2009 at 2:00 pm
Tickets: 916-995-5464 or http://www.capstage.org/
Recommended minimum donation amount: $25

Capital Stage's production of David Sedaris' The Santaland Diaries might belong on Santa's "naughty" list. So, in the interest of being "nice," Capital Stage is pleased to present this family-friendly production of It's a Wonderful Life: a Radio Play.
Offer Expires: Being Nice Never Expires

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Out & Bold" night for the GLBT community

Capital Stage Company Announces:

GLBT Special Holiday Theatre Performance

Capital Stage is proud to announce the next "Out & Bold" night for the GLBT community and their friends on Wednesday, December 9, 2009. Out & Bold night is an opportunity for members and friends of the GLBT community to meet new people, re-connect with other theatre-goers, enjoy a drink, and experience Capital Stage's bold, intimate style of live theatre.

"Out & Bold" will feature pre-show wine reception starting at 6:15 pm aboard the Delta King, and as a special holiday treat Artistic Differences Christmas Carolers will perform songs of the season. Following the singers will be a performance of Capital Stage's current production "The SantaLand Diaries" by bestselling author and NPR contributor David Sedaris at 7:00 pm. Tickets are at a special Wednesday reduced rate of $15 if purchased through the box office at 916-995-5464 or can be purchased on-line at the regular ticket price of $27 at www.capstage.org.

Beauty & Beast at Imagination Theater

Announcement from Imagination Theater
(located on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville)

Imagination Theater presents:

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

OPENED December 4


December 5, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27 at 2 p.m.
December 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 26 at 7 p.m.

Belle, dissatisfied with life in her small provincial French town, constantly tries to fend off the misplaced "affections" of conceited Gaston. The Beast is a prince who was placed under a spell because he could not love. A wrong turn taken by Maurice, Belle's father, causes Belle and the prince to meet.

Tickets $10-17. Call the box office at 530-642-0404 to make your reservations. For seating availability, go to www.itplacerville.blogspot.com.

Tickets: $17 Adult, $14 Senior, $10 Child, Group 10+ $13, Group 20+ $12

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sister Visits Cabaret for Christmas

Charr Crail photo

“Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi's Gold” takes over at the Cosmopolitan Cabaret where “’Til Death Do Us Part–Late Night Catechism” left off last month. The original show exploited the premise that the audience consisted of students in a Catholic parochial school classroom, being bullied by the traditional knuckle-rapping nun. The show opened with playwright Maripat Donovan playing “Sister,” the one-woman role.

In “Christmas Catechism” Donovan follows the original format. The first act is introduction, coaching us in the mysteries of Catholicism, and the second brings on the clowns from the audience. In the original the group performed a mock version of”The Newlywed Game”; in the Christmas effort they dress up as animals and Biblical figures to reenact the Nativity.

In the original Donovan performed as the hard-nosed “Sister.” In the Christmas version we get a quite different Sister, ably delivered by Nonie Newton-Breen. This time she’s a hipster with a dry sense of humor, using her savvy and charm to lure non-believers into the fold. Donovan, by the way, tends to be ecumenical. In 1985 she followed the Jewish trade as an understudy in “Portrait of a Shiksa” (i.e. non-Jewess).

Both versions have about the same strengths and weaknesses. The first act builds around a comic presentation of what Catholicism is all about and its role in the rest of the world. An added highlight is Newton-Breen's gift for repartee. Her Sister draws comments, often barbed, from the audience. Then, unless the audience is salted with shills, she fires back quick-witted ripostes worthy of a seasoned nightclub comic.

The second act, in both versions of the show, is entertaining buffoonery as crowd-pleaser. Each version would be improved if limited to a strong one-act. What’s more, the cocktail waitress leaves just before the show starts, so if you need a refill you have to run out to the bar during intermission and stand in line.

As an extra benefit, the show adds an eight-member singing group, the SS Peter and Paul Choir from Rocklin, who serenade us with songs of the season. They introduce us to Sister, who demands that they add “Jesus” to one of their popular numbers.

“Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold” continues through January 3 at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, 1000 K Street, Sacramento. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Additional performances are available for matinees on Thursdays, December 10 and 24; for evenings on Thursday, December 24, and Sunday, December 13. There will be no performance on December 25. Tickets are $32-$47, depending on dates and seating.

“Late Night Catechism: Till Death Do Us Part” returns for an encore week from January 5 to 10.

Tickets are available at the Cabaret box office two hours before show time. They are available earlier at The Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street or by calling (916) 557-1999 (-1198 for groups), and (800) 225-2277. Check online at www.Tickets.com. For more information visit http://www.cosmopolitancaberet.com/.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Reunion by EDMT

Message From EDMT:

El Dorado Musical Theatre’s premiere performing group, High Voltage - The Tour Company, presents The Holiday Reunion, a heart-warming celebration of holiday music and dance.

This festive musical is being performed in an innovatively designed 100+ seat theater on Main Street in downtown, in El Dorado Hills Town Center, just for the holidays, running Dec. 4th through Dec. 20th on Friday, Saturday nights, and Sat. and Sun. matinees.

Set in a rehearsal hall decorated for the holidays, this charming, family friendly musical celebrates the 25th anniversary of the founding of a young person’s performing group, with their first show occurring on December 24th.

Located at 4357 Town Center Blvd., Ste. 110 in El Dorado Hills Town Center, is a winter wonderland where you will find unique shops and restaurants adorned for the holidays with old-world ambiance overlooking fountains and ponds with a surrounding strolling path. This quaint venue is the setting for the premiere opening of The Holiday Reunion, a charming musical enjoyable for the whole family. Come early and enjoy dinner before the show at one of the many fine restaurants.

Special thanks to the Mansour Company and El Dorado Hills Town Center. The Holiday Reunion is sponsored in part by Pueblo Chico Cantina and other Town Center businesses.

General seating for all shows. Ticket prices $15 adults, $13 students, children and seniors. For tickets, directions, group discounts, or more information, please visit or call http://www.edmt.info/, 916-941-SING.


Friday, December 4th at 8:00 PM (Holly Cast)
Saturday, December 5th , 2 Shows: 4:30 PM and 8:00 PM (Jolly Cast)
Sunday, December 6th at 2:00 PM (Holly Cast)

Thursday, December 10th at 7:00 PM (Holly Cast)
Friday, December 11th at 8:00 PM (Jolly Cast)
Saturday, December 12th, 2 Shows: 4:30 PM and 8:00 PM (Holly Cast)
Sunday, December 13th at 2:00 PM (Jolly Cast)

Thursday, December 17th at 7:00 PM (Jolly Cast)
Friday, December 18th at 8:00 PM (Holly Cast)
Saturday, December 19th , 2 Shows: 4:30 PM and 8:00 PM (Jolly Cast)
Sunday, December 20th at 2:00 PM (Holly Cast)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

An Irresistable Holiday in the Hills shines in Folsom

Photo courtesy of Allen Schmeltz Productions

“Holiday in the Hills,” our yearly gift from Stage Nine–Garbeau’s in Folsom, stresses the fun the season provides, leaving most of the regional history to the playbill. The sparkling cast, ranging in age from nine to senior, reward us with accomplished performances, strong in song, dance and acting. Inevitably the historic Folsom characters draw us into the spell, as we sing, swing and jiggle right along with them. While Christmas is inevitably at the core of the show, the production reaches out to an audience that includes all faiths.

For details and a review, go to http://villagelife.com/index_entertainment.php?id=6.

Thistle Dew presents "Wake up, Jay!"

Announcement from Thistle Dew:

The Unique Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre,
the original local playwrights' theatre
(1901 P Street, Sacramento)
and the Thistle Dew Playwright’s Workshop present:

"Wake up, Jay! It's Christmas!"

OPENING December 4 at 7 p.m.,

CONTINUING December 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 26 at 7 p.m.; December 6, 13 and 27 at 2 p.m.

Featuring Mary Jo O'Connor, Sean McDougall and a special guest actor, Doug McDougall.

Charlie and Jay are typical house pets. Or are they? They can and do get into the same adventures and misadventures as the children in their audiences.

Tickets: Children $5.00, Adults $10.00. Includes dessert, coffee, tea and fruit drink.

For Required Reservations: Call 916-444-8209; E-mail (best):


Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness. (Seneca)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Artistic Differences captures radio

Lucas Blair and Christina Day
Photo by Divino San Pedro
c/o Artistic Differences Company

If there’s an award for the most remarkable Christmas show of the season, the likeliest candidate this year would be Artistic Differences’ production of “The 1940’s Radio Hour.” It opened on Saturday, November 28, to a sellout crowd, a rarity for the Studio Theatre in Sacramento. A happy touch was a chorus singing Christmas songs in the festive lobby.

In every way it can, the show defies custom. First of all, the show defies definition. You might call it a musical, but a musical is upbeat and brings us a page full of original songs. Instead Radio Hour relies exclusively on 19 old favorites (including the tune for the old Pepsi-Cola commercial), and satirizes the genre. If it requires a label, we’d have to call it a “mocksical.”

Set in the Hotel Astor’s Algonquin Room on December 21, 1942, it offers a “Special Xmas” radio show by the “Mutual Manhattan Variety Cavalcade.” The show is broadcast over the fictional station WOV, an echo of a real New York station, WOR. Backed by a 5-piece band, the show offers lots of singing and some dancing, visible only to the studio audience in those days before TV.

The defiance of orthodoxy begins with the show’s beginning. We don’t get the usual introduction, with a company leader asking us to turn off cell phones and pointing out the location of exits and toilets. (A staff member appeared shortly afterward to supply that ritual and to remind us that cell phones weren’t available in the forties.) Instead we get an unidentified Pops Bailey (Jes Gonzalez) fussing with an offstage phone and Stanley (Devon Allen), part of the crew, climbing a ladder to slip gels into spotlights. For a while we don’t know whether we’re watching the show or not.

Soon, after backstage managers get finished yelling at each other, we get a five-piece band taking seats in the background as the performers appear, often getting in each other’s way. After much nervous twitching beforehand, the crowd on stage suddenly assumes glowing self-confidence once the show goes on the air. And we in the audience become the studio audience, coached to respond when a flashing “applause” sign gives the signal. Much of the humor comes from seeing how the performers relate to each other when on the air and, in contrast, when not.

Among the lead performers are Martin Beal as a Sinatra-esque Johnny Cantone, moaning “Love is Here to Stay.” Bevin Bell-Hall, as the buxom Ginger Brooks, appears first in her slip. Among her numbers is a soulful “Blues in the Night.” Christina Day, as the diminutive Connie Miller, give us “Daddy” and joins the youthful Lucas Blair (as B.J. Gibson) in “How About You.” There’s also the stately Maggie Hollinbeck (also the Artistic Differences’ Artistic Director) as Ann, delivering among others “That Old Black Magic.”

As Ann, Hollinbeck also joins Wally (Benjamin T. Ismail), Neal (Scott Woodard) and Geneva (Naomi Powell) in a sprightly “Ain’t She Sweet.” At one point in the show Neal’s romantic voice fails him when he drops his pants. Biff Baker (Byron Roope) joins the Cavalcade in “Jingle Bells.”

Among the non-singing cast are Richanne Baldridge as Zoot, as well as band conductor and Musical Director; Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly as the officious Clifton; and Ed Gyles Jr. as the bullying Lou Cohn.

None of the cast was even born 67 years ago, in the middle of the last popular war our country fought. But those of us, particularly we who lived in New York at the time, recognize the amazing authenticity of the show. It exudes a “feel” for the times, especially with radio’s sentimental expressions of sympathy for the bathroom and kitchen needs of listeners.

The concern, though, inevitably leads into commercials for products like Cashmere Bouquet soap, Sal Hepatica, Eskimo Pie and Maxwell House Coffee. All that’s missing is Bob Hope singing the praises of Pepsodent toothpaste. Yet for all the folly there’s a serious note, barely touched when one of the characters quits the show to join the military. It was a time when we could demand unconditional surrender from the enemy, not a timetable for returning the troops home.

Additional credit goes to Director Graham S. Green and Choreographer Gino Platina, along with Michael McElroy and Jason McDowell for a simple and effective set.

A cautionary note: this full-length show provides no intermission, probably because the illusion is that we’re “on the air.”

“The 1940’s Radio Hour” continues at The Studio Theatre, 1028 R Street, through December 27. Performances are Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (No shows on 12/24 and 12/25) Tickets are $18-$20 general, $15-$17 student and senior (65+). Call 916-708-3449 or go to http://www.artisticdifferences.net/.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Matt Miller: fully committed to Fully Committed

Seven years ago the Sacramento Theatre Company introduced us to “Fully Committed,” with a dazzling performance by one of the company’s favorite actors, Matt Miller, who shined in this one-man show. With Miller reprising the role, STC brings back this lengthy one-act, if anything better than ever.

Written by Becky Mode, who lived the life the play describes, the story unfolds in the basement of a “four-star multiple-award-winning ridiculously trendy Upper East Side Manhattan restaurant.” Though the one in the play is unnamed, these restaurants are for real. Sardi’s, for instance, has been in the theater district for 82 years.

Satirizing pretension and would-be pretension, the play is also a showcase for Miller’s comic sense and versatility. As Sam, he’s an aspiring actor, who moonlights at the restaurant’s reservation desk in its basement. His main task is to field calls from would-be diners. He’s often forced to tell them that the time in question is “fully committed,” the snobbish term for “booked up.” The term is well-chosen, with an implied double-entendre. “Committed” is often used to describe a psychotic forcibly confined to a mental institution.

What astonishes us is that Miller plays not only Sam but all the people who call him on the three phones he races among. And he does so by a simple change of voice and posture, so that he’s talking and listening back and forth during a single phone call. Though initially confused, we quickly accept the convention. What’s astonishing is that he can vividly create a whole room full of characters all by himself.

What we get is a broad range willing to spend big bucks to hobnob with celebrities. They even include real celebrities, like Diane Sawyer. Typical is an Asian lady who explains that her name begins with a “W,” as in “Wisconsin.” But she doesn’t understand terms like “day of the week” or “time to reserve.”

Also calling are his father and Bob, his alternate and relief, who claims to be stranded on a freeway. Thus Sam is trapped, urgently needing food and a bathroom break. He’s also eager to get away so he can attend an important audition. After a while we get to recognize (and visualize) all these personalities just through the voice Miller assumes.

Finally there are his superiors, the chef plus Jean Claude, maitre d’. He uses them to duck impossible callers and they also call him with outrageous demands. Because “it’s part of the job,” he’s forced to pick up a mop and bucket to clean up the mess in a ladies’ room.

Also noteworthy is the way the play is staged and directed, originally by Glenn Casale with additional direction by Gary Alan Wright. It’s performed on the intimate Pollock stage, with its shallow but wide playing area. For “Fully Committed” the reservation desk is front and center, with one phone. But there are two other phones, one at each end of the stage. Thus Miller has to race back and forth to catch or deliver calls. The activity, though, allows the audience to share close-up and distant perspectives.

“Fully Committed” runs through December 20 at the Wells Fargo Complex, 1419 H Street. Performances are Wednesday at 12:30 and 6:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15-$36. No late seating and not suitable for children. Call the box office at (916) 443-6722 or (888) 4-STC-TIX, or visit http://www.sactheatre.org/.

At B Street, British farce celebrates Christmas

For its twelfth holiday world premiere, Sacramento’s B Street Theatre takes a bold step: an original British farce, written especially for the occasion. What’s more, it’s written and directed by the B Street’s producing artistic director, Buck Busfield. Farce, by the way, is an exaggerated form of comedy, with caricatures for characters, horseplay and ridiculous situations. What’s more, British farce has its own special conventions, as witness Sacramento Theatre Company’s “Noises Off,” which recently closed at The Wells Fargo main stage.

At the risk of condescension, let me say that Busfield, an American native, actually pulled it off. Though the accents are slightly off here and there, a solid cast captures the conventions and capers that delight our British brothers. The story revolves around a catastrophic Christmas party, thrown by Kipling Pillaker (Michael Stevenson) for his son Percy (Stephanie Altholz), who lives with his estranged wife, Belinda (Kristin Wolf).

The action includes a whole army of screwy characters, with a sprinkle of normal ones, who display the virtuosity of B Street’s popular regulars. They include Stephanie McVay, John Lamb, Peter Story, Greg Alexander, Kurt Johnson and David Pierini.

The story, though a propos, may not be an immortal classic but it’s good for a couple of hours of uninhibited laughter. For details and a review, go to http://www.villagelife.com/story.php?id=692.0.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Catechism Instead of a Carol


California Musical Theatre will present the one-woman interactive comedy “SISTER’S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold” beginning November 24, 2009, at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret theatre at 1000 K Street. The play will follow the currently running “Late Nite Catechism: ’Til Death Do Us Part,” which closes November 22. Both productions star Nonie Newton-Breen as “Sister,” the tough-talking nun who helps audience members relive their childhoods in Catholic school – even if they’ve never attended.

Tickets for “SISTER’S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM” are on sale now and are available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, at 1419 H Street, by phone at (916) 557-1999 or online at http://www.tickets.com/. The limited six-week run will close January 4. Tickets start at just $32. Discounts for groups of 12 or more are available by calling (916) 557-1198.

Written by Maripat Donovan with Marc Silvia and Jane Morris, “SISTER’S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM” tackles the question, “Whatever happened to the Three King’s gold?” It’s CSI: Bethlehem when sister invites her audience to be characters in a living nativity/crime scene! A hilarious new way to celebrate the holidays, local choirs will join Sister on stage with Christmas carols. Audiences should bring along their cameras; Sister’s waiting with a sleigh full of gifts and a bundle of laughs.

“SISTER’S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold” stars Nonie Newton-Breen as Sister. For eight years Newton-Breen has appeared across the country in the “Catechism” plays. From a large Irish-Catholic family in Chicago, she herself attended Catholic school where she studied under the raised ruler of a Sister Regina Therese. Newton-Breen is a veteran of Chicago’s famed Second City Theatre, where she learned to “write on her feet.” She toured clubs and colleges as part of an improvisation troupe and earned an Emmy Award for writing and performing as a part of a career that includes appearing on soaps and sitcoms and writing for various shows including “Candid Camera.”

The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, at 1000 K Street in Sacramento (K Street at 10th), is a 203-seat theatre featuring table seating and tiered seating at beverage counters, adjacent to the Cosmo Café. Presented by California Musical Theatre, producer of Broadway Sacramento and Music Circus, The Cosmopolitan Cabaret is the newest entertainment experience in Downtown Sacramento, having just completed its first year.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Additional matinee performances are available Thursday, December 10 and Thursday, December 24. There will be evening performances on Thursday, December 24 and Sunday, December 13. Please note, there will be no performances on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 26 or on Christmas, Friday, December 25.

Tickets for “SISTER’S CHRISTMAS CATECHISM: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold” are $32 for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings and Thursday matinees ($42 for front row premium table seating) and $37 for Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday and Sunday matinees ($47 for front row premium table seating).

Tickets are available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, or by phone at (916) 557-1999. The Cosmopolitan Cabaret box office will open two hours before show time. Tickets are also available online at http://www.tickets.com/, all tickets.com outlets or by calling (800) 225-2277. Group orders (minimum 12 or more) may be placed by calling (916) 557-1198.

For more information, visit http://www.cosmopolitancabaret.com/.

A Wilder Xmas at Stage 9 Theatre -- Garbeau's

Photo: l-r Sage Innerarity, Monique Lonegan
Photographer: Allen Schmeltz Productions

Stage 9 Theatre – Garbeau’s Opens “A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas”

What: “A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas”
By Laurie Brooks
Directed by Allen Schmeltz
Playing December 5 – December 28

Details: This original play presents the poignant story of the "missing" two years in the life of the Ingalls family—the only substantial period that Laura chose not to write about in her Little House books. Told with period songs, humor and depth of character, "A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas" tells a story of healing that celebrates the importance of enduring family bonds.

When: Saturday and Sunday, plus extra performances December 21, 22, 24, 24 & 28.

All shows at 1 p.m.

Tickets: $15 general, $13 seniors & SARTA, $12 children – Group Rates Available

Reservations: Call (916) 353-1001

Stage 9 Theatre – Garbeau’s
717 Sutter Street
Historic Folsom 95630

For further information contact Allen Schmeltz at aschmeltz@earthlink.net or (916) 646-9459.

Allen Schmeltz Productions

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Reindeer in Wonderland" at Chautauqua

Top row from left: Ellen Anderson, Shelley Walker, Linda Arnold. Middle row from left: Nancy Becker, Candace Adams, Kelli Cosgrove. Bottom: Bob Nannini

Chautauqua Children’s Theatre presents “Reindeer in Wonderland” an original script written by Marie Raymond based on characters created by Kent Miller. Directed by Marie Raymond, “Reindeer in Wonderland” is the Christmas tale of the adventures of Santa’s reindeer, who find themselves not at the North Pole for Christmas but in a fantasy land of talking flowers, smiling cats and very scary Red Queens!

“Reindeer in Wonderland” begins December 5th and runs through December 19th. Performances are at 1 and 3 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and children.

Chautauqua Playhouse is located at 5325 Engle Road #110 in Carmichael. Tickets can be ordered by phone: 916.489.7529 or on the web: http://www.cplayhouse.org/.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

B Steet Family Series Season


The B Street Theatre is pleased to present its seventh Family Series season for young audiences.

The Family Series begins with an original adaptation of Pinocchio from the famous Italian folktale by Carlo Collodi. Featuring highly stylized theatrical movement, Pinocchio follows the plight of wood carver Gepetto, whose latest creation, a pine puppet, mysteriously comes to life. Pinocchio is written by B Street actor, director and writer David Pierini. Elisabeth Nunziato directs.

The second show of the season is The Conductor: Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Adapted from a variety of source material by Jerry R. Montoya, The Conductor tells the thrilling story of Harriet Tubman, African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War, and her successful efforts to rescue over seventy slaves using the network of anti-slavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad

The final offering of our 2009-2010 season is Beauty and the Beast. Loosely based on the classic French Fairy tale: La Belle et la Bête, Beauty and the Beast will retell the tale of Belle’s captivity at the hands of the Beast, and her quest to understand the true nature of love. Using original music, Beauty and the Beast will retell this popular children’s tale in the humorous fashion of the French Farce. Beauty and the Beast will be written and directed by B Street artistic director Buck Busfield.

All plays will be original adaptations written by B Street Theatre staff.
Veteran actor, writer and director David Pierini will handle the writing assignment for Pinocchio; associate producer Jerry Montoya for The Conductor, and B Street artistic director Buck Busfield will pen Beauty and the Beast.

The B Street Theatre Family Series is California’s only fully professional, resident series for young audiences, based outside of Los Angeles. Opened in 2003 with Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, the Family Series has produced 24 plays, 13 of which have been original plays or original adaptations.

Schedule & Tickets

Previews: November 21 @1:00 p.m.
Opens: November 21 @ 4:00 p.m.
Runs: Saturdays & Sundays at 1:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m. through January 4, 2010.
Additional Public Performances: November 27 @ 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.; December 22 & 23 @ 1:00 a.m. & 4:00 p.m., & December 24 @ 11:00 a.m. & 2:00 p.m; December 29, 30 & 31 @ 1:00 p.m.

The Conductor: Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Previews: January 30 @ 1:00 p.m. Opens: January 30 @ 4:00 p.m. Runs: Saturdays & Sunday at 1:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m. through March 14.

Beauty and the Beast
Previews: April 10 at 1:00 p.m.; Opens: April 10 @ 4:00 p.m. Runs: Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00 p.m. & 4:00 p.m. through May 23rd.

Children (18 and under): $15.00 Adults: $22.00
Box Office: (916)443-5300.

All B Street Theatre Family Series shows will be at the B Street Theatre’s B-2 Space. 2727 B Street behind Stanford Park Baseball Field at 27th and C Streets.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stage 9 Theatre – Garbeau’s Opens Its Annual “Holiday in the Hills”

l to r: Mike Jimena, Joanna Rehwald, Connie Mockenhaupt, Brady Tait.
Photography by Allen Schmeltz Productions.

Stage 9 Theatre – Garbeau’s Historic District location takes center stage in its fourth annual holiday celebration, “Holiday in the Hills,” by Mike Jimena and Connie Mockenhaupt. Set in late 1800’s in Folsom, this show features musical favorites of the season with many historically accurate characters. (Musical Direction by Susan Mason, Choreography by Connie Mockenhaupt)

The show is appropriate for all ages and sure to put you in the holiday spirit!

Dates: November 27 – December 20
Times: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m.
Tickets: $22 general, $20 seniors & SARTA, $15 children – group rates available!
Reservations: (916) 353-1001.

Stage 9 Theatre – Garbeau’s
717 Sutter Street
Historic Folsom 95630

For further information contact Connie Mockenhaupt at mikonpro@sbcblobal.net or (916) 353-1001.

Chautauqua Celebrates 30th Year for Scrooge

From (L): Rodger Hoopman, Chris Lamb


Northern California’s favorite holiday musical, SCROOGE, will be presented at the Chautauqua Playhouse, 5325 Engle Road in the La Sierra Community Center in Carmichael. This is the 30th year that SCROOGE will be presented during the holiday season. Scrooge will open with a performance at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4th and will continue to play on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Dec. 23. Additional performances will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday Dec. 13 and 20; on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Dec. 21, 22 and 23 at 7 p.m.; and on Thursday, December 17 at 7 p.m. Admission is $15 general and $7 for children age 12 and under. Visit the theatre website at http://www.cplayhouse.org/ for ticket information and reservations or call the Chautauqua Playhouse at 916 489-7529. Group rates are available.

The original production of SCROOGE opened in 1978 in Cal Expo’s Golden Bear Playhouse, directed by Gary McFadyen and featuring Rodger Hoopman as Scrooge. Since then, SCROOGE has played each holiday season to enthusiastic audiences throughout Northern California.

The current production of SCROOGE, directed by Warren Harrison, will feature a company of local favorites including Chris Lamb, Warren Harrison, Boots Martin and many other local actors, with Rodger Hoopman in the title role for his 30th year.

Sacramento Bee Arts Critic Robert Masullo wrote: "His Scrooge is singular. He’s irascible, inarticulate and mean. Nevertheless and remarkably, he creates something close to sympathy for Scrooge." Bee Arts critic Alfred Kay scribed..."like Carol Channing as Dolly Levi or Yul Brynner as the King of Siam, the local director and actor has made the role his own. He handles it with a depth of fury and bitterness that makes you wonder how Bob Cratchit ever showed up for work." Sacramento Union critic Richard Simon wrote: "Hoopman has polished his conception of Scrooge so the character glows with a patina akin to that of rubbed mahogany. He makes his points both as the misanthrope and miser of Christmas Eve and the philanthropist of Christmas Day with utmost simplicity and directness of speech and gesture." Patricia Beach Smith, Bee Arts Critic, said: "Rodger Hoopman, as the unlikable yet redeemable title character, was a convincing Scrooge in a tour de force part, honed over many years of practice. His transformation from a persnickety old money-grabber to a generous, almost giddy everybody’s uncle, proved his mettle."

The production includes an original musical score by Hoopman and Rob Knable which "weaves about a dozen clever songs through the threads of the original story...making the holiday musical a delight." (Joanne Burkett, Roseville Press Tribune).

“The set captures Dickens' time, place and ambiance. The narrow houses line a narrow street, and though they are rendered on flat canvas, the scene evokes the comforting feeling of an advent calendar and makes one want to open the small windows for the prizes within." (Alfred Kay, Sacramento Bee)

For additional information contact the Chautauqua Playhouse at cplayhouse.org or call the theatre at (916) 489-7529.

St. Louis comes to Folsom

The haunting yet challenging musical “Meet Me In St. Louis” comes brilliantly to life at Sacramento’s 24th Street Theatre. Produced by Runaway Stage it tells the story of the Smith family, who plan to leave St. Louis for New York just before the 1904 World’s Fair. The two oldest girls, Rose and Esther, are especially distressed because they’re in love and planning to marry.

Backed by a 19-piece resident orchestra, the show offers, among others, these ever-popular numbers: Meet Me In St. Louis, The Boy Next Door, Skip To My Lou, Under The Bamboo Tree, The Trolley Song, Wasn’t It Fun?, and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. All this, and more, delivered by seemingly inspired professional-level performers. The set, the choreography and the special effects are likewise stunning.

For details and a full review, go to http://villagelife.com/story.php?id=692.0.

Monday, November 16, 2009

At Big Idea Theatre: An American Pygmalion

Photo: Melissa Rae Frago, Scott Divine

The New York Times just reported a new scandal: teachers are selling their lesson plans at places like Craigslist and eBay. The activity raises the question: Who owns the plans?

By ironic coincidence the story makes a footnote to George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” now staged by Sacramento’s Big Idea Theatre, in an American version by Melissa Rae Frago, who also plays the lead female role.

The story was inspired by a Greek myth. Pygmalion, a sculptor, creates an ideally beautiful female statue he names Galatea and falls in love with her. Aphrodite, goddess of love, rewards him by bringing the statue to life. Shaw modernized the tale in 1916 by having Henry Higgins, a phonetics professor, perform an experiment on a poorly educated cockney, Eliza Doolittle, by transforming her into a lady. Shaw’s popular play was later developed into the musical “My Fair Lady.”

Shaw’s version works because a century ago England’s leaders, in politics and business, came from the upper classes. But in today’s more-or-less egalitarian America, the remnants of an upper class have become virtually irrelevant. In the Frago version we do get a brief glance at the upper-crust Hill family, who include Mrs. Higgins (Susan Madden), Henry’s mother. Mainly they’re distinguished by their taste for “The New Small Talk.”

The story opens on a street where Eliza, a lowbrow diva, is singing for money. In a spirited exchange with Henry (Scott Divine), who’s accompanied by his pal “Cole” Pickering (Gregory Smith), she discovers that he teaches people how to refine their speech. Later she comes to his office and insists on hiring him to teach her to refine her own speech. Instead he decides to use her for an experiment and turns her over to his assistant, Ms. Pearce (Sierra Hersek), to begin by changing her tacky wardrobe.

During the lengthy process of transformation, Henry receives an unexpected visitor, a shabby Alfred Doolittle (James Roberts). He announces that he’s her father and insinuates that he has a lively interest in the proceedings and wants to capitalize on her good fortune. In the second act, in fashionable clothes, he returns, lamenting that he’s been “delivered into middle-class morality.”

The end product is a mixture of success and failure. Eliza becomes a successful nightclub singer and maintains an ambiguous relationship with Henry, who is clearly not the marrying kind.

With a capable cast, director Shannon Mahoney keeps up a brisk pace on the spare stage, except for one glaring flaw. At a piano in the second act Eliza, now a star, demonstrates her newly developed singing abilities. Other actors, though, in the foreground with backs turned, screen her from many in the audience.

All in all, Frago’s interesting experiment doesn’t quite come off believable as something that could happen in today’s America. Today’s Higgins would probably send Eliza to a community college. Why not give us Shaw unabridged?

“Pygmalion” continues through December 5 at Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $15, with group rates available. Call 916-960-3036 or see http://www.bigideatheatre.com/.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Elf Confesses All Live On Stage

Message from Capital Stage, Sacramento
Photo Credit: Charr Crail

Capital Stage Presents THE SANTALAND DIARIES

November 27 - December 27, 2009
(Opening night: Friday, December 4 at 8 p.m.)

This holiday season Capital Stage presents the wickedly funny and wryly hilarious writing of NPR commentator David Sedaris. He's represented with the one-elf tour de force production of The SantaLand Diaries, adapted by Joe Mantello.

The story is based on the outlandish yet true chronicles of the best-selling author's stint as Crumpet the Elf in Macy's holiday display. It follows David, a would be soap opera writer, as he struggles to make it in New York. Unemployed and low on cash, he takes the "full-time Elf job" and soon zeros in on inane workplace policies, his fellow dispirited imps and the not-so-jolly revolving Santas. And what would SantaLand be without a gaggle of exasperated holiday shoppers?

Witty, sardonic and unpredictable, Sedaris mercilessly cuts through the Christmas spirit to point out the insane things we do during that most wonderful time of the year.

"...laced with priceless observations, both outrageous and subtle" - The New York Times

Performances for The SantaLand Diaries begin with five previews: Friday, November 27 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, November 28 at 7 p.m.; Sunday, November 29 at 2 p.m.; Wednesday, December 2 at 7 p.m.; and Thursday, December 3 at 8 p.m.

The show will open on Friday, December 4, 2009 at 8 p.m. Performances continue through December 27. Showtimes will be Wednesdays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m.. Added performances will be on Saturday, December 12 at 2 p.m.; Sunday, December 13 at 7 p.m.; Saturday December 19 at 2 p.m.; Sunday, December 20 at 7 p.m.; and Tuesday, December 22 at 7 p.m.

A performance on Christmas Eve (Thursday, December 24) will be at 7 p.m.. There will be no performance on Christmas Day.

Tickets range from $27-$34. Discount tickets are available as follows: Preview Tickets: $15; Student Tickets Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday Matinee: $13; Senior Tickets Sunday Matinee: $22; Group Rates available for 12 or more.

Tickets are currently available at the Capital Stage Box Office, by phone at 916-995-5464 or online at www.capstage.org. The Pilothouse Restaurant offers a specially priced menu for theatre patrons, who can make Pilothouse reservations through the box office.

THE AUTHOR David Sedaris is a Grammy Award-nominated humorist, writer, comedian, bestselling author, and radio contributor. Sedaris was first publicly recognized in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay The SantaLand Diaries. He published his first collection of essays and short stories, Barrel Fever, in 1994. Each of his five subsequent essay collections have become New York Times Best Sellers. His books have collectively sold seven million copies. Much of Sedaris's humor is autobiographical and self-deprecating, and often concerns his family life, his middle class upbringing in the suburbs of Raleigh, North Carolina, Greek heritage, various jobs, education, drug use, and his life in France.

Capital Stage Artistic Associate Janis Stevens (American Buffalo, Fool for Love) will direct long-time Foothill Theatre Company member Gary Alan Wright in this one-man tour de force.

The SantaLand Diaries is underwritten by Downey Brand Attorneys LLP.

Recommendation: For Mature Elves Only.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From EDH: a Wonderful Wizard of Oz

It’s hard to believe that a company of youngsters, high school age and younger, could produce a show that rivals a Broadway musical. But El Dorado Musical Theatre of El Dorado Hills manages that feat, and on a regular basis. What’s more, this is an “amateur” company—in the best sense: made of volunteers who contribute for the love of doing so.

“The Wizard of Oz,” which follows the film closely and with interesting additions, continues the pattern. Two casts, dubbed Ruby and Emerald, of over 50 performers apiece and of the same age range, offer superlative performances as actors, singers and dancers. What’s more, they’re braced with stunning scenery and special effects, including a green-faced witch flying around the ceiling, plus singing apple trees.

For a comprehensive review and performance details, go the http://www.villagelife.com/story.php?id=692.1.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Audition Notice for "Into the Woods"

From Stage 9 - Garbeau's

Subject: Audition Notice “Into The Woods” at Stage 9 Theatre – Garbeau’s


Playwright: Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by James Lapine

Audition dates: Monday, December 7, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

callback dates: Tuesday, December 8, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

rehearsals: February 15 through April 8. Sunday through Thursday evenings, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

performances: April 9 to May 16. Fridays and Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 4 p.m.

theatre address: 717 Sutter Street, Historic Folsom

web site: http://www.stageninefolsom.com/

directions to theatre: Hwy 50 to Folsom Blvd. into Folsom. Take the Sutter St. exit.

phone number: (916) 353-1001

director & music director: Susan Mason
choreographer: Connie Mockenhaupt

plot summary: When a baker and his wife learn they've been cursed with childlessness by the witch next door, they embark on a quest for the special objects required to break the spell: swindling, lying to and stealing from Cinderella, Little Red, Rapunzel, Jack and other fairy tale characters. Everyone's wish is granted at the end of Act One, but the consequences of their actions return to haunt them later, with disastrous results. What begins a lively irreverent fantasy becomes a moving lesson about community responsibility and the stories we tell our children.

what to bring: Photo and resume. One memorized monologue no longer than one minute. A song from a musical (preferably by Sondheim) with sheet music for accompanist. A song from INTO THE WOODS may be used. An accompanist will be provided.

special skills: Ability to part sing

types needed:
Baker's Wife / female / mezzo / 26 - 38
The Witch / female / mezzo / 25 - 99
Jack's Mother / female / soprano / 40 - 55
Stepmother / female / mezzo / 40 - 55
Rapunzel / female / soprano / 18 - 30
Cinderella / female / soprano / 17 - 26
Cinderella's Mother / female / mezzo
Granny / femaleFlorinda / female / mezzo / 18 - 25
Lucinda / female / mezzo / 18 - 25
Red Ridinghood / female / mezzo / 13 - 18
Snow White / female / spoken / 18 - 30
Sleeping Beauty / female / spoken / 18 - 30
Baker / male / baritone / 28 - 40
Narrator & Mysterious Man / male / baritone / 30 - 60
Wolf / male / baritone / 25 - 50
Cinderella's Prince / male / baritone / 23 - 32
Rapunzel's Prince / male / baritone / 23 - 32
Steward / male / baritone
Jack / male / tenor / 15 - 24

paid position: no

Allen Schmeltz Productions

A Tuna Christmas comes to Jackson

Shawn O'Neal (left) and Scott Adams
Courtesy photo

“A Tuna Christmas,” produced by Main Street Theatre Works and now on stage in Jackson, is one of several sequels to the perennially popular “Greater Tuna.” The original first appeared in 1981 and the sequel in 1989. Both plays were, in fact, so popular that they were performed in the White House for the first President Bush and First Lady Barbara.

The MSTW production is about as good as it can get. Both plays require two actors to play 23 roles between them. Under Julie Anchor’s fast-paced direction Scott Adams and Shawn O’Neal become an ideal cast, the mountainous O’Neal pairing with the small and slender Adams. Between them they play characters of all dimensions, sizes and sexes with unflagging élan.

Both plays were written by the same witty team: Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard. But now, twenty years after the plays first appeared, they seem considerably dated and the satire rarely stings. Set in the fictional Tuna, Texas, “where the Lions Club is too liberal, and Patsy Cline never dies,” the town’s radio station, OKKK, doesn’t rate a snigger. These days, when even the Taliban exploit the internet, the insular small town seems a relic of the past.

But for youngsters and city folks, what we see in the plays had plenty of bite a generation ago. The two acts of “A Tuna Christmas” cover the 24 hours before Christmas. In Act I, after the opening announcements from Station OKKK, the scene shifts to the Bumiller home, where Bertha (O’Neal), the mother, is frustrated because she can’t get the kids to help her decorate the tree and Hank, her husband, hasn’t been home in days.

She remains impatient with her three kids, Jody and the twins, Charlene and Stanley. She barks at Stanley (Adams), still on probation for a past crime, “Stanley, dammit, don’t cuss on Christmas!” But there’s plenty of piety around town, where one enterprising citizen is writing a cleaned-up “Deuteronomy.”

Meanwhile Tuna’s Little Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” may be aborted if Dixie Deberry (Adams) shuts off the lights because the electric bill hasn’t been paid. The theater, incidentally, is considering an all-white production of “A Raisin in the Sun.” Other tensions involve the “Christmas Phantom.” Will he sabotage the Annual Yard Decorating Contest and thus prevent Vera Carp (Adams) from winning again for the 18th year in a row?

But not all are distressed as they await the traditional OKKK Christmas party. Didi Snavely (Adams) continues to prosper in her used weapons business. Her motto is “If we can’t kill it, it’s immortal.” Yet she’s still critical of her home town. “What,” she asks, “do you think of a place that has elk hunting season but no elk?”

There are lots of laughs, though the show tends to drag on a little too long for even the most patient in the audience. But the new winter venue, Thomi’s Banquet Room in Jackson, has much to recommend it, with an excellent buffet dinner that offers a choice of beef and chicken. Dessert is served at the table. Unlike the theater company’s former home, where you had to bring your own bottle, Thomi’s offers wine by the glass.

“A Tuna Christmas” continues through November 28 at Thomi’s Banquet Room, 627 S. State Highway 49, Jackson (a half-mile south of the intersection with Main Street). Dinner performances are Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., with dinner served at 6:30, show starting at 7:45. Sunday lunch matinees (November 15 and 22 only) open doors at 12:15 p.m., with lunch served at 12:30 p.m., show starting at 1:45 p.m.

Ticket prices are $40 for dinner, $28 for lunch. Tickets are available at http://www.mstw.org/ or by phone at (209) 304-6690. See website (above) for more information.