Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chautauqua takes on the Odd Couple (Female Version)

l to r: Warren Harrison, Susan Madden, Georgann Wallace, Chris Lamb. Chautauqua Playhouse photo.
It was probably inevitable that the Chautauqua Playhouse in Carmichael would take on Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple (Female Version).” The theater’s leaders have a keen eye for what pleases mainstream audiences, and you can’t do much better than Neil Simon, even when he imitates himself.

The Bronx-born playwright’s most popular creation is no doubt his 1965 “The Odd Couple,” about two incompatible middle-aged roommates, the slovenly Oscar and the neatnik Felix. From stage to film to long-running TV series, the yarn keeps on captivating the public. Pressed by demanding fans Simon created a female version in 1986. Though it apes the original, with additions of lots of new jokes and whacko characters, it falls short as a match for its model.

The first version seized on two notable opposites among men—today we’d call them jocks and nerds. Put them together and you get automatic, and very funny, conflict. But the dynamics are not quite the same for women, at least by popular observation. It’s no news that today’s women still tend to enjoy domesticity, even when they pursue professional careers. And though there may be some female slobs, they don’t amount to a notable “type.”

Still, at least in the second act, we do get tension between Florence (Georgann Wallace), the compulsive housekeeper and cook, and her apartment mate Olive (Susan Madden), rather more casual than outright sloppy. But the script strains for more conflict between them than seems really plausible—at least to the point where Olive throws Florence out of the apartment.

And yet in some ways the sequel outdoes the original. Oscar and Felix joined in an unsuccessful double date with the Pigeon sisters, a pair occupying an apartment in the same building. But the scene is merely so-so. One of the comic highlights, though, of the female version is the appearance of the Costazuela brothers (Warren Harrison as Manolo; Chris Lamb as Jesus) as Spanish neighbors to Olive and Florence. Their scenes leave us breathless with laughter.

There also seems to be some ambiguity about the time frame. The playbill tells us that the time is “Now”; if so, we’re confronted with anachronisms. Unfortunately Simon demands that anyone who produces a play of his must observe the letter of the script. Thus the current offering, like its male predecessor, seems to take place in 1965. And there would be no gain trying to play the show as a period piece because costumes and furniture haven’t changed markedly since then.

The play starts by paralleling the poker game that opened the male version. Olive plays host to four friends—Sylvie (Betsaida LeBron), Mickey (Eileen Beaver), Renee (Debbie Otto) and Vera (Cathy Rasmussen)—but instead of poker they play Trivial Pursuit. Simon even steals a gag from the first version by having Olive offer them a choice between “brown sandwiches and green sandwiches.”

The gathering is funny but out of tune with today. The game calls for identifying baseball stars from 1903 and actors who played the title role in Charlie Chan movies, facts that might likely be known only by people in their late seventies or eighties. There’s an even bigger gaffe later in the play: a reference to Adlai Stevenson as if he were still alive, though he died in 1965.

Setting aside these strains on our willing suspension of disbelief, the production does offer a delightful evening with a professional-level cast under the savvy direction of Jill McMahon.

“The Odd Couple (Female Version)” continues through July 19 at the Chautauqua Playhouse, 5325 Engle Road in the La Sierra Community Center in Carmichael. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. There will be Thursday performances on July 2 and 9 but no performance on July 4. Admission is $15- $17. Call (916) 489-7529 (PLAY). See also http://www.cplayhouse.com/.

"Mary, Mary" charms Folsom audiences

l to r: Ric Ramey, Sierra Hersek, Ron Randolph. Photo by Allen Schmeltz Productions.

“Mary, Mary,” Jean Kerr’s delightful comedy now playing at Folsom’s Stage Nine, revolves around a divorce in progress. The action takes place in the New York apartment of book publisher Bob Kellaway (Ric Ramey), as he tries to tie up the loose ends of his failed marriage to the sylph-like and irresistible Mary (Sierra Hersek). Dialog is laced with wit, as when he explains, “I married Mary because she was so direct and straightforward and said just exactly what she meant.” Pressed to explain why he’s divorcing her, he says, “Because she was so direct and straightforward and said just exactly what she meant.”

For details and a review go to http://villagelife.com/story.php?id=692.0&pt=photo, on the web site of the El Dorado Hills newspaper Village Life. Free printed copies will be available on July 1 in many public locations.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Announcement of Auditions at Stage Nine, Folsom

Stage Nine Theatre
Allen Schmeltz Productions
Audition Notices
June 27, 2009

Following are audition notices for The Surprising Story of the Three Little Pigs, and Charlotte's Web.

Stage Nine Theatre-----Audition for The Surprising Story of the Three Little Pigs(Scroll down for Charlotte's Web audition notice)Stage Nine Theatre will be holding auditions for The Surprising Story of the Three Little Pigs by Linda Daugherty on Monday, July 6 at 7:00pm at the Stage Nine Theatre, 717 Sutter Street, Historic Folsom. If you are unable to make this audition time please call or email Allen Schmeltz at (916) 646-9459 or aschmeltz@earthlink.net.

Call backs if needed will be on Tuesday, July 7. The show is directed by Kris Hunt. This very funny play combines the stories of The Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears into a madcap jumble. "The Voice" tries his best to narrate the changing stories as stage hands desperately try to juggle sets to keep the stories straight. The three trios join forces to rewrite their stories, ridding themselves of their respective villains by exchanging them. In the process the audience is inspired to conquer their fears by taking control of their own lives.

This is a non-musical. Rehearsals are July 26 through Aug. 5 from 7:00 - 9:30 on Sun., Mon., Tues., Wed., and Thurs. Tech week is Monday, Aug 10 with a dress rehearsal/preview on Thursday, Aug. 13. Performances are Aug. 15 through Sept. 13 on Saturday & Sunday at 1:00pm. There may also be 2-3 Wednesday morning performances for school groups but we will let you know more about those at the audition.

Please bring a head shot or photo and resume if you have them. Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. There is no pay for actors. The Cast: There are 13 actors needed for 18 characters. Mother Pig / Mama Bear / Stagehand #1: Female - 30's to 50+Man with Straw / Stagehand #3 / Papa Bear: Male - 30's to 50+Stagehand #2 / Baby Bear: Male - teen The Voice: Prefer male adult; 3 actors for the Three Little Pigs: Male or Female - Children, teens, early 20's; 3 actors for the Billy Goats Gruff: Male or Female - Children to teenWolf: Male or Female - teen or older; Troll: Male or Female - teen or older; Goldilocks: Female - 9 yrs. old to teen.

Audition for Charlotte's Web

Stage Nine Theatre will be holding auditions for Charlotte's Web on Monday, July 13 at 7:00 p.m. at the Stage Nine Theatre, 717 Sutter Street, Historic Folsom. If you are unable to make this audition time please call or email Allen Schmeltz at (916) 646-9459 or aschmeltz@earthlink.net. Call backs if needed will be on Tuesday, July 14. This is a non-musical. The show is directed by Allen Schmeltz.

Rehearsals are Aug. 23 through Sept. 10 from 7:00 - 9:30 on Sun., Mon., Tues., Wed., and Thurs. Tech week is the week of Aug 14 with a dress rehearsal/preview on Thursday, Aug. 17. Performances are Sept. 18 through Nov. 8 on Saturday & Sunday at 1:00 p.m. plus Sept. 18 & 19 at 7:30 p.m. There may also be 2-3 Wednesday morning performances for school groups but we will let you know more about those at the audition.

Please bring a head shot or photo and resume if you have them. Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. There is no pay for actors. The cast: Fern Arable, A young girl - will consider ages 9-15; John Arable, adult of appropriate age to be Fern's father; Martha Arable, adult of appropriate age to be Fern's mother; Avery Arable, male, older brother to Fern - age will depend on the casting of Fern but will probably be 10-18 range; Homer Zuckerman, male, uncle of Fern - age 20's - 30's; Edith Zuckerman, female, aunt of Fern - age late teen to 20's - 30's; Lurvy, male, hired hand - can be any age from older teen to older adult; Wilber, a pig - male or female - should be small in stature, age child to early teen; Templeton, a rat - male or female, age child to adult; Charlotte, a spider - female, age child to adult; Goose, Gander, Sheep, Lamb, any age, Goose must be female and Gander male; Reporter, Photographer, Judges, Announcer, Uncle (a pig): These can play multiple roles and may be cast from the above actors.

Allen Schmeltz Productions & Stage Nine Theatre
717 Sutter Street
Historic Folsom
(916) 353-1001

Stage Nine Website

Allen Schmeltz Productions Website

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

EDMT Opens Les Miserables July 3

Photo from EDMT
Message from EDMT....

Themes of Independence Make this show a Must-See Over Fourth of July Weekend.

Rich in themes of independence, justice, mercy and redemption, El Dorado Musical Theatre’s production of Les Miserables opens at the Jill Solberg Performing Arts Theater in Folsom on July 3, running through July 12.

The $80,000 production, directed by EDMT’s Artistic Director Debbie Wilson, promises to be one of the best shows ever performed by El Dorado Musical Theatre. The show will include the trademark revolving stage, two barricades that weigh over 6,000 pounds, more than 1,000 costume pieces, four fog machines, 200 lighting instruments, and 65 incredibly talented cast members who, under the vocal direction of Jennifer Martin, sing with remarkable ease one of the most challenging musical scores ever written.

Known as the most popular musical of all time, Les Miserables has a long history of notoriety with over 31 cast recordings, productions performed in over 38 countries, the winner of over 50 major theater awards including eight 1987 Tony Awards and a Grammy for the Broadway cast album. In addition, Les Miserables is the second-longest-running show in Broadway history, with over 7,000 performances.

Based on the novel written by Victor Hugo, this epic story recounts the struggle against adversity in 19th century France. It follows the intertwining stories of a cast of characters as they struggle for redemption and revolution. The characters include a paroled convict named Jean Valjean who, failing attempts to find work as an honest man with his yellow ticket of leave, breaks his parole and conceals his identity; the police inspector Javert who becomes obsessed with finding Valjean; Fantine, the single mother who is forced to become a prostitute to support her young daughter Cosette. After her mother's death, Cosette becomes Jean Valjean's adopted daughter and eventually falls in love with a revolutionary student named Marius Pontmercy.

Then there are the Thénardiers, the unscrupulous innkeepers who initially foster Cosette, and who thrive on cheating and stealing; Éponine, their young daughter who is hopelessly in love with Marius; Gavroche, a young beggar boy and the young son of the Thénardiers; and a student leader Enjolras who plans the revolt to free the oppressed lower classes of France.

This blockbuster musical also showcases a Tony Award-winning score including the songs "I Dreamed a Dream," "Do You Hear the People Sing?," "One Day More," "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables," "A Little Fall of Rain," "Master of the House," and "On My Own."

Leading roles are played by Matt Provencal (Jean Valjean), Heather Clark (Cosette), Ted Pickell (Javert), Savannah Argyle (Fantine), Chris Meissner (Marius), Katherine Sorgea (Eponine), Lauryn Caruso and Jacob Goodyear (The Thenardiers), Spencer Borup (Enroljas), Zachary Norris (Gavroche) and Ireland Bonds (Young Cosette).

Ticket prices are $16.00-$20.00 and can be purchased online at http://www.edmt.info/ or by calling the box office at 916-941-SING. The school edition runs about two hours. A special preview performance will be held on July 3rd at 10:00 a.m. and all seats are $10.00. Group tickets are available.

EDMT's "Mulan Jr." now on stage

Photo: Marc Dubin
“Mulan Jr.,” El Dorado Musical Theatre’s current production is now on stage at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills. (See post below.) For a detailed review go to

At BPP: variations on originality (review)

Clockwise from bottom: Benjamin Ismail, Jessica Goldman, Kellie Yvonne Raines, Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly, Alysha Krumm

According to its mission statement, the aim of Sacramento’s Beyond the Proscenium Productions (BPP) “is to deepen the artistic connection between performer and audience by producing unconventional, disciplined, and highly stylized work.” Its latest effort, “Variations on Betrayal,” is certainly unconventional–but “disciplined”? Hm-mm.

When Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” made its debut in Paris in 1913 it caused a riot. The problem was not lack of discipline; it was the audience’s lack of knowledge of Stravinsky’s rules. Merely yelling and flinging yourself around is not necessarily art.

P. Joshua Laskey, writer and director, does have a strategy: to draw an analogy between modern corporations and Benedict Arnold. But wait a minute. Which Benedict Arnold do we mean? In grade school we see his name as a synonym for “treason.” Laskey’s man, though flawed, is more sinned against than sinning. Like many other American officers during the Revolutionary War, he was often treated shamefully.

On arriving at the theater you are offered, along with the playbill, a five-page printout that could change your entire view of Arnold–if you can absorb it before the action starts. To add to our frustration, Laskey identifies his five characters as clowns, with a wink more at Sondheim than Beckett.

The play opens with four of them moving robotically around the inert Clown-in-black, played by Benjamin T. Ismail, who’s identified later as Benedict (wink-wink, nudge-nudge), a simple and ambitious young salesman, hired, flattered and abused by his boss, Mr. George (a.k.a. the Clown-in-Purple), played by Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly. Mr. George is caught between his investment (including his coat) in Benedict and the heads of the company, played by Kellie Yvonne Raines and Alysha S. Krumm.

Enter the beautiful enemy, the ever-so-British Clown-in-Red, played to the hilt by Jessica Goldman, representing the company’s competition, a British rival. (Are you getting this yet?) The first two acts labor through abstruse parallels between the modern corporation and the Continental army.

Arnold, wounded in battle, survived with a crippled leg; Benedict of the play has a leg amputated in a hospital. Both Arnold and his fictional counterpart were unceremoniously stripped of the paid medical care to which they were entitled. Both went broke. In the third act of this three-hour marathon, we get a clearer plot conflict when the Clown-in-Red overtly courts Benedict and generates a tug of war. And if we still don’t get it, Mr. George reminds us that “My regret is that I have only one life to give for my company.”

Though the acting and directing are very sharp, the historical analogy seems strained, as in the parody of Nathan Hale’s famous line, quoted above. Trying to equate company loyalty with patriotism seems a dead-ended stretch. Though “Variations on Betrayal” has its bright spots, Laskey’s considerable writing gifts could be better served by an insightful play about Benedict Arnold himself.

“Variations on Betrayal” continues through July 19 at Sacramento’s Wilkerson Theater, 1713 25th Street. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. There will be no performance on July 4. A Thursday evening performance on July 2 will take its place. Tickets are $15. The intimate theater has limited seating, so reservations are advised. Call 916-456-1600 or e-mail contact@beyond-pro.org.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Good news for Mark and Garbeau's fans

From Allen Schmeltz, artistic associate for the Young People's Theatre of Folsom, at Stage Nine

After closing his 28-year-old dinner theatre June 1, Garbeau's owner and CEO, Mark Ferreira, is now the marketing director for Stage Nine Theatre in Folsom. "We've been great friends for years," said Ferreira, beginning a thought. "And now we're family," finished Connie Mockenhaupt and Mike Jimena, founders of Stage Nine Theatre.

Apart from marketing the theatre located on Sutter Street in Historic Folsom, Ferreira also has an eye toward eventually re-opening Garbeau's in a new venue. To start the fundraising, Stage Nine will be launching "Garbeau's Mini," a cabaret of Broadway showtunes the first and third Sundays of each month beginning in July. Ferreira will be at the piano and ticket sales will go toward a fund to reopen Garbeau's.

Ferreira will also serve as the [Stage Nine] theatre's pianist beginning with the July 31st opening of "Hats! The Musical." The show highlights The Red Hat Society, a national organization for women age fifty and above. Through his position at Garbeau's, Ferreira was made an honorary member of the society and said, "Though it may end all hopes for a political career, at some point in each show, I will indeed be wearing the very buxom hat made specifically for me by the society."

The Stage Nine Theatre board, owners, staff and crew are excited about Mark taking on the marketing responsibilities as we complete our third year and move into an exciting 2010.

(Comment from D-dawg and Pat: "We wish Mark and Stage Nine all the best and also hope to see new life for Garbeau's in a new venue!")

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

CARHOPS IN BONDAGE returns to Lambda

From Lambda Players

The award-winning Sci-fi-musical comedy CARHOPS IN BONDAGE opens at the Lambda Players Studio Theatre, 1028 R Street in downtown Sacramento on July 10th and runs through August 1. The return engagement of this popular original musical, by local playwright Russ Dunn, plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. For tickets, prices and other information, visit http://www.lambdaplayers.com/.

The S&M Burger Palace (according to the storyline) is having it's gala-grand opening and the commercials featuring "The Secret Sauce" go beaming into outer space. These radio waves are intercepted by the androids belonging to the Queen of Outer Space. The androids hijack the Queen's saucer and bring her and her giant blue poodle to Earth. The aliens, trying to find out the ingredients to the sauce, end up taking over the Burger Palace, turning three working girls into "Carhops In Bondage."

This wacky revival is directed by Lambda's Kurt Kurtis and features a talented cast including Chad Larsen, Bethany Hidden, Mahlon Hall, Omega D. Ramos, Sean A. Murray, Katie Marie Barnes, Kassie Reveria, Ronald Anthony, Jasiah Parilla, Krystal Barns, Bonnie Antonini, Linda Lebedchik, with Gerald Perry at the piano.

CARHOPS IN BONDAGE is the final production for Lambda's 20th season. The company is proud to announce its 21 season, opening with SIX WOMEN WITH BRAIN DEATH on August 16th, 2009. This special engagement is a tribute to The Studio Theatre's former owner and producer Jackie Schultz.


SORDID LIVES continues through June 28th! Extended by popular demand, Del Shores' outrageous Texas style comedy plays Fri and Sat @ 8pm. SN&R's review..."And if any family can stick together, it's surely the rambunctious crew of Del Shore's Southern-fried comedy Sordid Lives. The love-'em-to-death (quite literally, sometimes) crew of this small town is the sort of family that puts the "fun" in "dysfunctional."

Box Office: 916-444-8229
Tickets: http://www.lambdaplayers.com/

The Lambda PLayers Studio Theatre
1028 R Street (corner of 11th and R)
Sacramento CA 95811

The Foursome: a canny wink at the modern male

Donnie (John Lamb) swings while Ted (David Pierini) whines. Photo by Jennifer Freyer.

Skillful writers of comedy lure us into believing that their gems came to them as sudden flights of fancy. Among these writers is Shakespeare, giving his comic masterpieces dismissive titles: “As You Like It” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” Today Norm Foster, the prolific and popular Canadian playwright, adopts the same strategy, not in the title but in the product.

“The Foursome,” now at Sacramento’s B Street Theatre, uses well-timed gags to lace together four old college chums who meet at a reunion. We see them at a golf course where, hole-by-hole, they bring each other up to date after a gap of 15 years. But as they share their news about their careers and families, they also reveal their vulnerabilities.

Of particular interest are their off-beat attitudes toward women. Though still reflecting male insecurity they exhibit a curious permissiveness reflecting the post-feminist perspective of the twenty-first century. Likewise family and work seem to take on new values.

For more details call 916-443-5300 or go to www.bstreettheatre.org. And for a detailed review go to www.villagelife.com and follow the “entertainment” links.

Also under “entertainment” this week in Village Life is El Dorado Musical Theatre’s secret of success–the secret of how they take large numbers of ordinary school kids and teach them how to perform like Broadway stars.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Nevada County Arts Councel Gets Grant

Foothill Theatre Company may not be quite dead

Just received from Foothill Theatre Company

Newly Formed Arts Council of Nevada County awarded grant:

The Arts Collaborative of Nevada County (ACNC) was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from the California Arts Council (CAC). The grant is for the creation of a Nevada County-wide arts event calendar and web site in addition to the development of a county cultural survey.

“We are thrilled that CAC decided to give our community this award. This action adds to the strong support we have received from our county’s artists, arts organizations, the Board of Supervisors, and our community. We are so lucky to live and work here,” said ACNC board President Peggy Wright.

ACNC’s calendar and web site committee - composed of artists and arts supporters from eastern and western Nevada County - has been working diligently on the project. The Placer Arts organization, which has an excellent web site and calendar, has been sharing best practices and ideas on the project.

The mission of ACNC is “to facilitate collaborative efforts that promote and sustain the visual, literary and performing arts of Nevada County in order to advance the cultural, social and economic life of our community.”

The CAC funds arts programs with the proceeds from the sale of the California Arts License Plates. The grant falls under the CAC State and Local Partnership Development Program, not from any other California budget areas.

For more information contact Peggy Wright at 530-470-0986.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lambda announces auditions


A special engagement, Aug. 14th thru Oct. 4th, 2009
Fri/Sat @ 8 pm, Sun @ 2 pm
The Lambda Players Studio Theatre
1028 R Street, Sacramento CA 95811

The Lambda Players are pleased to present a special Sacramento engagement of SIX WOMEN WITH BRAIN DEATH, or Expiring Minds Want to Know, as a tribute to Jackie Schultz, the former producer and owner of The Studio Theatre. SIX WOMEN WITH BRAIN DEATH was the longest running musical in Sacramento theatre history, playing at the Studio Theatre from 1996 to 2006. This special engagement is a tribute to the Studio Theatre's producer/director Jackie Schultz. The Lambda Players are also kicking off their capital campaign to make the Studio Theatre their permanent home.

Producer Schultz's very public 12-year battle with severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has taken a serious turn in the last year. As a tribute to her long career in Sacramento regional theatre and her many, many contributions not only to the community but also to the Lambda Players, the Lambda Players are honored to bring SIX WOMEN to the stage under the direction of Kitty Czarnecki. Jackie's theater dream will continue with Lambda Players at the helm.

SIX WOMEN is a fast-paced, take-no-prisoners satire of life and pop culture. It is a wild and very left-of-center view of the world from an entirely feminine standpoint. In a series of bizarre but hysterical songs and sketches, the authors explore TV soap operas, “genuine press-on nails,” Barbie and Ken’s secret fantasy life, divas, what “is” and “is not” feminine and other topics plus with an unforgettable detour through a forest where Bambi meets Rambo. Its music is infectious and the show is the longest running musical in Sacramento theatre history.

Auditions: Mon and Tues, June 22 and 23 7-10pm
Roles: Six singing roles are available
Location: The Lambda Players Studio Theatre
Address: 1028 R Street, Sacramento CA 95811

Bring: 32 bars of uptempo comedic song with sheet music
one comedic monologue 1-2 min

Questions: email: marketinglambda@aol.com
msg: 916-444-8229

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Kitty Czarnecki starts Theatre Camp

Announcement from Kitty Czarnecki

July Theatre Camp Taught by Kitty Czarnecki at Lakehills Church

Art & Soul Productions, a non-profit children’s theatre company, will hold a theatre camp at Lakehills Covenant Church from July 13 through July 31. The camp will be for students from ages 5- 13 and will run Monday through Friday from 9-12. Students will learn how to be part of a theatrical production through dance, singing and acting. The production will be “Fiddler, Jr.” the student version of the Tony-award winning musical “Fiddler on the Roof.” Performances will be Thursday, July 30, and Friday, July 31.

The camp will be directed by Kitty Czarnecki, executive director of Art & Soul. Czarnecki is a former co-owner of Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre and has directed locally. She is also a substitute teacher in the Buckeye and Rescue school districts. “Students will be encouraged to be involved in all aspects of the production,” said Czarnecki. “Unlike other children’s theatre companies that ask for parents to volunteer their time, I strongly believe in teaching the kids to be responsible for sets, props, costumes and even program design. A theatre production is a team sport like soccer and requires that everyone works together.”

The camp will take place at Lakehills Covenant Church at 7000 Rossmore Lane in El Dorado Hills. The church is located behind the Regal movie theatres in Town Center. Tuition fee is $300.00 and there is a ten percent sibling discount. For more information and to sign up please call (916) 933-7171, e-mail artandsoulsac@sbcglobal.net or go to our website at http://artandsoul4kids.com for a registration form.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hedwig Review

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” the first production by the New Helvetia Theatre, is a rare phenomenon. Technically a rock musical, it’s more like a searing window into your soul. We define ourselves in many ways: by ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, politics, profession, marital status and on and on. But nothing holds the mirror up to our nature more than our sexual identity–male or female.

Thus Hedwig and her angry inch obliterates that category, letting us see an inner self that transcends even sexuality, a being that combines both sexes.

With book by Cameron Mitchell and music by Stephen Trask, the performance is mostly a singing monologue by Hedwig (originally Hansel), who escaped the despair of East Berlin during the Cold War by undergoing a botched sex-change operation so he/she could marry an American soldier and leave his/her native land.

Abandoned in Kansas by her husband, Luther, she becomes a glamorous singer, played by Christopher Davis Carlisle in the current production, using original glam-rock songs to serenade audiences that see her in dives. She’s supported by Yitzhak (Nanci Zoppi), a cross-dressing female known as “the last Jewess of the Balkans.” And she names her band (played by the New Humans of Sacramento) “The Angry Inch,” after the scars of her operation.

Supported by projections of videos, art and photography on three screens, she details her sordid career with esoteric references to the medieval Gnostics, Plato and biblical apocrypha, to stun us with a fresh look at what it means to be human.

Nibroc Review

Arlene Hutton’s “Last Train to Nibroc,” now holding the second stage at the B Street Theatre in Sacramento, is a perennial favorite, a romantic comedy set in the forties and tracking the on-and-off courtship between two feisty young Kentuckians, the genial Raleigh (Jason Kuykendall) and the strong-willed May (Dana Brooke).

They meet on a train in 1940. He’s been discharged from the army after being diagnosed with epilepsy, and she’s on her way home where she hopes to marry a preacher and become a missionary. They meet again in subsequent scenes, where he remains unemployed while pursuing a career as a writer and she’s become a school teacher. Somehow their encounters seem to end up in conflict until the show reaches a happy ending.

“Last Train to Nibroc” has become so popular that Hutton now provides two sequels, “See Rock City” and “Gulf View Drive, to open at B Street on July 19 and August 30 respectively.

For detailed reviews of both productions and information about performances and prices, go to http://villagelife.com/story.php?id=691.0&pt=photo

EDMT opens "Disney's Mulan Jr."

El Dorado Musical Theatre Announces Performances for
“Disney’s Mulan Jr.”

Join El Dorado Musical Theatre for its production of Disney’s Mulan, Jr., a heartwarming celebration of culture, honor, and a fighting spirit. Shows will be performed at the Oak Ridge High School Theater in El Dorado Hills, June 19-28.

Unlike other Disney female characters, Mulan is a strong young woman who ultimately saves her country. She isn't counted among the Disney princess line-up. She isn't like Ariel, who wants to be someone else. She isn't like Jasmine, who sits in luxury, waiting to be swept off her feet by the Prince just like Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty.
Instead she does something that these do not. She uses her mind. Mulan is a young woman in feudal China at the time of the Hun invasion. The Emperor decrees that each family must send one male member to the army, but Mulan’s father, a respected soldier injured in a previous war, has no sons to send. Rather than let her father go to a certain death, she steals his armor and pretends to be Ping, a teen eager to defend his country. Her cleverness and courage save the day when she faces the massive Hun army.

The score includes favorites like “Reflection,” “Honor to Us All” and “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.” Mulan, Jr. is directed by Stephanie Hudson (Runaway Stage Productions/Garbeau's Dinner Theater), choreographed by Kat Bahry (Best of Broadway), and vocally directed by Kelly Daniells.

Leads for this talented cast include Julia Adams (Mulan), Camryn Provines (Mushu), Andrew Wilson (Shang), Tristan Bonds (Emperor), Nicholous Mirgoli, (Mulan's father Fa Zhou), Renee Beckwith (Fa Li), Joanna Rehwald (Grandma Fa), Allison Frew (Matchmaker), and Mathew Cruz (Chi Fu).

Ticket prices are $13-16 and can be purchased online at http://www.edmt.info/ or by calling the box office at 916-941-SING. A special preview performance on June 19th at 10:30 a.m. is also being offered and all seats are $10. Discounted group rates are available.

EDMT strives to entertain the community and build confidence in youth through excellence in musical theater performance. Mulan, Jr. is a Rising Star production performed by children ages 6 to 13 years of age.

Chautauqua revives female Odd Couple


Because of popular demand, Chautauqua Playhouse will again present THE ODD COUPLE-FEMALE VERSION with the same cast as the 2008 sell-out production. Neil Simon adapted this script from his original ODD COUPLE story line, but with a new twist – Felix and Oscar have now become Florence and Olive, and the poker game has become a weekly Trivial Pursuit game. The Pidgeon sisters have been replaced by the Costazuela brothers from upstairs.

The production is directed by Jill McMahon and features Susan Madden as Olive Madison and Georgann Wallace as Florence Unger, with Chris Lamb and Warren Harrison as the Costazuela Brothers. Set design is by Rodger Hoopman, with lighting by Ross Aldrich. Costumes are by Eileen Beaver.

This rousing comedy by Neil Simon will be presented in a revival opening at Chautauqua Playhouse on Friday, June 26th at 8:00 pm. It continues on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm through July 19 (no performance on July 4th). Sunday matinee performances will play at 2:00 pm. There will also be two Thursday performances on July 2nd and 9th at 8 pm.

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

The Chautauqua Playhouse is a non-profit organization.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Audition notice from Chautauqua Playhouse


The Chautauqua Playhouse, 5325 Engle Rd, in Carmichael will conduct general auditions for local actors on Sunday June 28, from 5-9 pm. Directors for the 2009/10 productions will be on hand to recruit for their upcoming shows.

Although some parts have been pre-cast, there are dozens of roles open in upcoming productions of PICASSO AT THE LAPINE AGILE (by Steve Martin, Maggie Upton-director), A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (by Arthur Miller, Lenore Sebastian, director), MATERNAL INSTINCTS (by Dave Williams, Paul Fearn-director), THE BAD SEED (by Maxwell Anderson, Warren Harrison-director), and CHARLEY’S AUNT (by Brandon Thomas, Diane Bartlett-director).

Auditioning actors are asked to present a monologue (two minutes or less – please no accents or dialects) or prepared reading.

These auditions are for the Adult Theatre productions only and minimum age to audition is 18 years old (auditions for our Children’s Theatre will be held at a later date). Actors of all ethnicities are encouraged to audition.

Auditions will be held at Chautauqua Playhouse, in the La Sierra Community Center, 5325 Engle Road, Carmichael, on June 28 at 5-9 pm. Callbacks will be arranged by directors for a later date.
Auditions will be scheduled on an appointment basis. To schedule a time or for more information, please email your request to auditions@cplayhouse.org. Please be sure to include your name and return email address.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lion King returns to Sacramento

After a four-year absence “The Lion King” returns to Sacramento. Based on the Disney film, it tells the story of a lion who lived and died as king of the jungle and of his son who ultimately succeeds him. With endless spectacle featuring a unique blending of puppet and human, we are reminded of the Circle of Life and other basic human values. Thus it blends emotional depth with dazzling entertainment, pleasing audience members of all ages.

For an in-depth review see this week’s issue of Village Life of El Dorado Hills, or go to http://villagelife.com/story.php?id=692.0

At Stage Nine: a fidgety evening with Mr. Green

Since its debut in 1996 Jeff Baron’s “Visiting Mr. Green” has been an international success, with productions from Australia to Sweden. It tracks the relationship between an elderly Jewish recluse, Mr. Green, and a 29-year-old Jewish business executive, Ross Gardiner, who’s compelled by law to visit him regularly.

So what is this play? Another shot at “The Odd Couple”? Yes, it’s funny. And it’s also poignant. And it sometimes baffles some critics annoyed by its corniness. In a Curtain Up review an anonymous critic declared: “When judged in the context of new plays since my first visit with Mr. Green, I can't say that Jeff Baron's work would warrant a second visit without Eli Wallach as Mr. Green. The homosexuality theme, especially at the beginning of Act Two, struck me as even more dated and overly preachy this time as previously.”

Well, aided by Kauffmans’ Give Us A Hand Productions, Stage Nine brings us a formidable Stephen Kauffman as Mr. Green. Just as formidable is the youthful yet suave Kyle Gundlach as Ross. But try as they may they have a hard time overcoming the monotony of nine scenes in two acts, all following the same pattern.

What triggers the action is Ross’ dubious conviction for reckless driving when he barely missed the senescent Mr. Green, who was wandering into traffic. A judge ordered Ross to perform community service by visiting Mr. Green every Thursday for six months. So each scene goes the same way: Knock, Knock. (no answer.) So Ross comes in because the door is always open. Mr. Green is either asleep or in the toilet. Sometimes Ross brings soup from Fine & Schapiro. (Sometimes not.) Mr. Green wants him to go away. Ross would like to but he can’t. Finally, after half-hearted arguing, he leaves.

Adding to the monotony are the scene changes. During the first change the stage hand amuses the audience when, instead of picking up newspapers scattered on the floor of the shabby New York apartment, she drops another sheet of paper on them. But during subsequent changes she seemed to struggle, looking for a reason to be on stage. Her main function seems to be to indicate a time lapse before the following Thursday.

An ultra-orthodox Jew, short only of a beard and a fur hat, Mr. Green loathes strangers and has deliberately kept his phone disconnected. Though he can’t be bothered to have his noisy water faucet fixed, he carefully segregates his milk from his meat dishes. (Though the play doesn’t explain, the regulation comes from a need to avoid mixing an animal’s flesh with the milk of its mother.) Still, Ross marvels that Mr. Green is the only person Ross knows who has three sets of dishes.

The two men start to bond in the second act, when Mr. Green learns that Ross is Jewish. It’s quite clear, though, that their social and moral worlds are far apart. Inexplicably Ross blurts out a confession of homosexuality. Shocked, Mr. Green can’t condone a “feygeleh.” (The Yiddish word is probably the source for “faggot.”) So what on earth would motivate Ross to expect sympathy from his most intolerant companion?

But Mr. Green is also hiding a dark secret, ultimately unearthed among his pile of unread mail. The play achieves a happy ending when Mr. Green’s life is improved as he begins to tolerate some of the mores considered normal in modern America.

Despite the prowess of the two actors and Director Janelle Kauffman, the play seems to rely too much on cliché. In 1996, when the play opened, homosexuality might have seemed more shocking, but today the only major controversy seems to be over gay marriage. And we continue to be milked by Harvey Milk.

Still, “Visiting Mr. Green” is good for some laughs and an evening of fine acting.

“Visiting Mr. Green” plays on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through June 21. For tickets and reservations, call (916) 353-1001. See also www.stageninefolsom.com. Admission is $22 General, $20 Seniors & SARTA, $15 Children. Group rates are available. Performances are at the Stage Nine Theatre, 717 Sutter Street in Historic Folsom.


From Helvetia Theatre

New Helvetia Theatre presents the rock musical HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH by John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask from June 6 through 27, 2009.

Directed by Matthew Schneider and starring Christopher Davis Carlisle in the title role of Hedwig, the show features Sacramento Indie Band "The New Humans" as Hedwig's band "The Angry Inch." HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH is the first full production from New Helvetia Theatre.

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH is the story of Hansel, an East German boy who has undergone a botched sex change operation and become "Hedwig." After being left by her husband, Hedwig forms a band called "The
Angry Inch." Told through monologue and live musical performances, HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH debuted Off-Broadway in 1998 and won the Obie and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Off-Broadway Musical.

Christopher Davis Carlisle, who stars as Hedwig, recently appeared in
Center Theatre Group's new musical THE POST OFFICE by Melissa James
Gibson and Michael Friedman, and West Coast Ensemble Theatre's
ASSASSINS, which won the LA Drama Critics Circle award for best
ensemble. His touring and regional credits include roles in PIPPIN,

Matthew Schneider is a New York-based director, dancer, and actor who
trained at CAP 21, the musical theater program at NYU's Tisch School of the
Arts. He has had principal and ensemble roles in over sixteen productions,
including Irving Berlin's WHITE CHRISTMAS and most recently the Mark

New Helvetia Theatre was founded in January 2009 by Sacramento native
Connor Mickiewicz and was launched with a sold-out, one-night-only concert
performance of the musical CELEBRATION. New Helvetia Theatre's mission is
to rediscover forgotten gems of the American Musical while re-examining
classic musicals and plays, to be the birthplace of new, intimate musicals
and plays, and to create theatre that is important to the Sacramento area
and the state of California.

HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH opens with three preview performances
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, June 3-5 at 8 pm. The Opening Night
Gala and Press Performance is Saturday, June 6 at 8pm. Regular performance
times are Thursday at 8 pm, Friday and Saturday at 7 pm and 9 pm. The
production runs through June 27 at the Artisan Theatre, 1901 Del Paso Blvd.,
Sacramento 95815. Tickets prices are $18 (preview), $25 (regular), $35
(gala opening night). Call 1-800-838-3006 or go to

PLEASE NOTE: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH deals with adult subject
matter; parental consideration is advised for minors.

Staff Change-Up at Capital Stage

Managing Director to transition to new position

SACRAMENTO, CA June 2, 2009 - Capital Stage, Sacramento's small professional theatre performing on board the Delta King, announced today that Managing Director Peter Mohrmann will transition to the position of Marketing Director on September 1, 2009.

"Peter approached me and suggested that the company had reached a point where there is a need for an individual with a stronger background in financial management to oversee the company's business operations," said Capital Stage Board President, Arlen Orchard. Mohrmann, who is one of the organizations co-founders, will move to the newly created Marketing Director position as well as continue as an Artistic Associate with the company.

Mohrmann said, "The time has come for this change. I'm very proud of what Capital Stage has accomplished in four years, but with the state of the economy and our continued growth, the organization needs an administrator with a wider range of practical business proficiencies in this position."

This transition represents a significant evolution for the company as it embarks on its fifth season this fall. The position of Managing Director will shift to a General Manager position with the successful candidate reporting to the Producing Artistic Director and leading the day to day business operations of the company, while also playing a pivotal role in the planning of Capital Stage's future.

The creation of a new Marketing Director position is indicative of the theatre company's resolve to survive the difficult economic climate. At a time when many arts organizations are trimming their marketing staff, Capital Stage has decided to heed the advice of Kennedy Center President, Michael Kaiser by making marketing a top priority to build and sustain audiences.

"We have long wanted to add a marketing position to the Capital Stage staff," said Orchard, "It is clear now more than ever, that a more focused approach to building audiences is key to the future of Capital Stage."

"Ultimately, this change is a very exciting one for Capital Stage," said the company's Founding Artistic Director, Stephanie Gularte, "It's an opportunity for us to continue to grow the organization with the addition of a significant new staff member, and it puts Peter in a position to play a larger role in the branding and marketing of the company that he has helped to build over the past several years."

Orchard said that Capital Stage will begin a national search for a General Manager this month.

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, Capital Stage 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.

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Capital Stage is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization operating under contract with Actor's Equity Association.