Friday, January 29, 2010

"Rent" comes to Sacramento

From California Musical Theatre


Seats in the first row of the orchestra will be made available for $23 for every performance of "RENT: The Broadway Tour," the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning musical, at the Sacramento Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street. The $23 tickets go on sale at the Community Center Theater box office, on the day of performance only, two hours prior to the show and are available to anyone, cash only, with a limit of two tickets per person.

"In keeping with the spirit of the show and the vision of Jonathan Larson, the show's creator, we are happy to be able to offer prime seats to people who otherwise would not be able to purchase them," said original "RENT" producer Kevin McCollum. "Jonathan was himself a struggling artist and his dream was to create a universal piece of musical theatre that's available to everyone.

The tradition of the low priced tickets was started in New York when the show moved to Broadway after a sold-out run in a small downtown theatre. Since that time people have lined up as early as the night before to guarantee their purchase of the front row tickets. The producers of the show are committed to continuing the tradition of offering orchestra seats for a low price in each city the show will play.

"RENT: The Broadway Tour" makes its Sacramento return at the Community Center Theater, February 3-7, 2010. Rent is a special addition to the Broadway Sacramento season, presented by California Musical Theatre. The $23 tickets are available at the Community Center Theater box office, 1301 L Street, only. The price of the ticket includes a $3 facility fee.

For general ticket information, call (916) 808-5181 or (916) 557-1999.

For more information about "RENT", please visit

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

At Howard Johnson’s: murder and adultery for fun

With “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s,” Bob and Ro Productions is off to a happy start at the popular Studio Theatre in Sacramento. Though the play, by Ron Clark and Sam Bobrick, has murder in its title, we know at the outset that it’s going to be a comedy. It turns out to be one long spoof of murder story as genre.

The plot involves only three characters: Arlene Miller (Lee Marie Kelly); Mitchell Lovell (Dean Shellenberger), her lover; and Paul Miller (Aurelio Martinez), her husband. All the action, both hilarious and scary, takes place at a Howard Johnson’s hotel “somewhere in America.” In the first scene, a week before Christmas, the lovers plot Paul’s murder but somehow manage to screw things up.

The second scene, on the fourth of July, finds them back at the hotel, but this time Arlene and Paul have been reconciled. Mitch has been unfaithful to Arlene, so the married couple now plots to murder him. This is the scariest scene, with both men chasing each other, visibly through large windows, as they chase each other along a ledge high above the ground.

After a fifteen-minute intermission, the second act and its single scene bring the trio back to the hotel on New Year’s Eve, but this time…I won’t spoil the story by giving it away.

The real charm of the play, thanks largely to the deft direction by Bob Gerould, is in the dialogue and sight gags. Paul has the best lines, like “Cut the crap, Arlene. You’re looking at a used car dealer.” Then there’s “A truly healthy person would never commit suicide” and “Potatoes don’t help you forget.”

Arlene has a couple of good ones, like “This would be much easier if he didn’t love me so much.” So does Mitch, who gets to say, “Life is cruel and I’m not crazy about the government.” And then there’s one line that defines the play itself: “I saw death and it winked at me.” The actors are well cast for the spirit of the play, combining skills in drama and comedy.

“Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” continues through February 21 at The Studio Theatre, 1028 R Street, Sacramento. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 general, $15 for students, $18 for seniors. For tickets call (877) 532-7171 between noon and 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. See also

Monday, January 25, 2010

At Sutter Street: Return to Wonderland

Director Allen Schmeltz has made “Alice in Wonderland” a specialty. For Sutter Street Theatre’s Young People’s Series, he once again brings to life Lewis Carroll’s immortal story, “Alice in Wonderland,” in the colorful stage version by Kathryn Schultz Miller. Schmeltz has offered it twice before at Sutter Street and twice before that at Garbeau’s. Yet it never loses its magic.

It begins with Carroll (Schmeltz) indulging his avocation by taking a photograph of the real Alice, whose imaginary alter-ego becomes the immortal Alice, the child who visited Wonderland. Exhausted by posing, the real Alice in the play falls asleep and finds herself in the magic land invented by the author. Played by an irresistible eight-year-old Hannah Hurst, she finds herself surrounded by a colorful population of fantasy figures as she magically becomes bigger and smaller.

Three other actors, each playing multiple roles, round out a charming cast. A seasoned and versatile Brady Tait, winner of two Ellie Awards, becomes both the White Rabbit, supposedly responsible for leading her down the hole to Wonderland, and the maddest of Mad Hatters, he of cockeyed tea-party fame. Thanks to Connie Mockenhaupt, choreographer and assistant director, two children from the audience join the party as the March Hare and Dormouse.

Two other seasoned young actors round out the cast. A veteran of many plays and musicals, Christopher Celestin almost magically transforms himself into the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, and the ferocious Queen of Hearts. Last but not least is the versatile Kerry Buehler, who acts as stage hand, the Three of Hearts, and the complex Blackbird. For the Blackbird she dons what looks like a spacesuit and manipulates a dummy bird with her left hand. Masked by tight netting, she can provide the bird’s lines without being a ventriloquist.

Veteran designer Eileen Beaver created the array of fanciful costumes that colorfully define the characters wearing them. Mike Jimena contributes an efficient set, dominated by a large central tree, suitable for the real world as well as Wonderland. A hole near the top of the trunk can frame the head of an imaginary character, holding a conversation with the fantasy Alice.

Also contributing to the creative showmanship is Colin Hoyt’s dramatic lighting. Once again, with black light, he conjures up ghostly white hands gesturing in the dark.

“Alice in Wonderland” continues through February 14 at 717 Sutter Street, Historic Folsom 95630. Performances are Saturdays at 1 and 4 p.m., Sundays at 1 p.m. Tickets are $13 to $17, with group rates available. Call 916-353-1001 or e-mail

Sinatra: Going His Way

Over 50 songs

Preview performances
Tuesday-Thursday, Jan. 26-28,
only $25

A California Musical Theatre
production at K Street's
Cosmopolitan Cabaret
January 26-May 9

"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 over 50 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 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 for complete performance schedule.

Tickets are available in advance at the Wells Fargo Pavilion box office, 1419 H Street, or by calling (916) 557-1999, or at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret door two hours before curtain. Tickets are also available online at

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 Stage offers "Threepenny Opera"

California Stage announces the opening of "The Three Penny Opera" by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill

“The Threepenny Opera” recalls what happens when the banks get richer and the poor get poorer. The play tells the tale of the doomed love affair of Mac Heath, London’s reining thief, and Polly Peachum, the deceptively sweet daughter of a successful businessman who specializes in human misery and controls the city’s beggars. Based loosely on John Gay’s much earlier Beggars’ Opera, it is filled with betrayals, schemes, revenge, reversals of fortune, and Weill’s famously dissonant score. The popular singer Bobby Darin made “ Mac the Knife” a song from this musical famous.

Stars of the local musical theater make up the cast: Kelly Daniells, Michael RJ Campbell, Michael Sokol, Angelina Réaux, Gregory Jurado, James Rollans, Mark Fejta, Jabriel Shelton, Jeffrey Lloyd Heatherly, Jessica Goldman, Joelle Wirth, Senga Smith, Laura Lothian, Annie Coke, and Whitney-Claire Roeder.

Director Angelina Réaux has sung on the stages of opera houses, concert halls, cabarets, and theatres around the world singing everything from Italian Opera to OKLAHOMA! She has won wide recognition for her performances of French and German Cabaret and "The American Songbook". She has collaborated with Leonard Bernstein, Kurt Masur, Charles Dutoit, John Mauceri, Kent Nagano, Marin, Alsop, and Ned Rorem; worked with Stephen Sondheim, Harold Prince, Stephen Wadsworth, Tony Taccone, Tony Kushner, sung with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony, Boston Pops, and the Accademia di Santa Cecilia; and with the Santa Fe Opera, Washington Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and Boston Lyric Opera. Internationally acclaimed for both her performances and recordings of the works of Kurt Weill and Leonard Bernstein. Reaux has also worked on and off-Broadway, toured nationally with SWEENEY TODD, and has been presented by some of the world's leading theatres and concert houses.

The orchestra will be conducted by Christopher Cook, local director and conductor who recently produced and directed “Rocky Horror Picture Show “at The California Stage Theater.

“Threepenny Opera” opens at California Stage Theater, 1725 25th Street, Sacramento, on February 5 and continues through February 27. Performances are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $20 general; $15 students, seniors, and actors. For reservations or more information, contact California Stage at 916-451-5822 or Online Ticket sales on See also California Stage is fully accessible.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Auditions for Richard III

Auditions for Shakespeare's Richard III will take place at the Big Idea Theatre on Sunday, January 24. Richard, the hunchbacked king with a withered arm was a ferocious warrior and one of the Bard's most colorful villains, famous for his oft-repeated shout: "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!"

Audition will begin at 6 p.m. There will be cold readings from the script. All roles are still available, and auditioners are advised to bring bring a headshot, resume and classical monologue if available. "If not" the announcement says, "do not worry about it."

All roles are still available. The theater is looking for men and women ages 18+;
women will be considered for some of the traditionally male roles. Call backs will be announced.

Rehearsals will be March 1 to April 8. Performance Dates are April 9 to May 8. If you would like to sign up for Richard III auditions or have any questions or concerns please contact .

Big Idea Theatre
1616 Del Paso Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95815 960-3036.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

“Spelling Bee” offers opportunities for the young

Courtesy photo

With a jaw-breaking title, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” the current musical at Sacramento’s Runaway Stage offers opportunities for the young. With three adults managing the fictional yearly ritual, six young contestants have ample opportunity to display their talents as actors, singers, dancers and comedians. Yet though the show was a Broadway hit in 2005, it seems a bit old hat today, even with topical gags that include reference to Tiger Woods, Ellen Degeneres and H1N1 nasal spray.

The production, though, is about as good as it gets, thanks to Producer-Director Bob Baxter, musical direction by James Lohman and vocal direction by Anne-Marie Pringle. Almost everybody in the cast sings, including Vice Principal Douglas Panch (Dan Masden), representing the school that houses the event, contest manager Rona Lisa Peretti (Kristen Wagner), whose thrilling soprano can stop the show, and Mitch Mahoney (Rudy Brown), a kind of sergeant-at-arms, who escorts losers off the stage.

The youthful contestants, almost like characters in a comic strip, are Olive Ostrovski (Christina Day), William Barfee (Tony Wichowski), Logainne Schwartzandrubenierre (Danielle Hansen), Marcy Park (Marcy Goodnow), Leaf Coneybear (Tristan Rumery), and Chip Tolentino (Scott Woodard).

Each has a personal quirk when trying to spell a word. Logainne talks to her hand, Barfee scribbles the letters on the floor with his foot, and Chip experiences unbidden erections. (This could be the reason the show is recommended for theatergoers over 14.) Chip’s “Lament” is the song “My Unfortunate Erection.” After his failure, he “sells” candy to the audience, flinging some into their midst.

Also involved are five members of the band, hidden away, who make up the “Resident Orchestra” for this production. The show runs without intermission for almost two hours.
For those who’ve never seen it before, it can be a fun night full of surprises. There’s no one in particular that we’re likely to root for, and there are no haunting melodies that you hum on the way to the parking lot.

Still, a Runaway Stage production at its 24th Street Theatre, in a residential neighborhood, has a homey feel, especially after a show, when members of the audience can chat with the cast on the sidewalk outside the entrance.

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” continues through January 31 at the Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th Street, Sacramento. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15-$20, with group discounts, and are available at the door or at (with a new “Pick Your Seat” feature). For more information call (916) 207-1226.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Grease" comes to EDMT

From EDMT:

Take yourself back to a simpler time of life and see El Dorado Musical Theatre’s top talent at our Encore production of the classic musical, "Grease", February 5—21 at the Oak Ridge High School Theater, 1120 Harvard Way in El Dorado Hills. Performances are at 7 p.m. on February 5, 11, 12, 13, 19 and 20; 6 p.m. on February 7; and 2 p.m. on February 6, 7, 13, 14 and 21. Prices are $12-$25, with group discounts available.

"Grease" is the all-American musical based on the sub-cultures of high school life in the 1950’s. Sweet Sandy Dumbrowski and Danny Zuko meet over the summer where true love starts to blossom. When Sandy transfers to Rydell High, she runs into Danny, the leader of the tough-talking but harmless gang of greasers, the ‘T-Birds’. Danny ignores Sandy during their first encounter, pretending to be too cool to be seen with sweet Sandy. The ‘Pink Ladies’ soon take Sandy under their wing at a pajama party where Sandy and the ‘Pink Ladies’ experiment with cigarettes, wine and ear piercing.

As Danny and Sandy continue down the road to reconciliation, there are car rumbles, a dance contest and the infamous drive-in movie scene. When Danny refuses to conform to Sandy’s wholesome good girl image, Sandy dons tight jeans, changes to a bouffant hairdo and is determined to win back her one true love. Filled with foot-stomping tunes such as “We Go Together,” “Greased Lightning,” “Summer Nights” and “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” this production is sure to delight all audiences.

Debbie Wilson, El Dorado Musical Theatre's founder, directs and choreographs the cast of performers between the ages of thirteen and nineteen, including Clara Regula as Sandy Dumbrowski, Spencer Borup as Danny Zuko, Jordan Sharp as Rizzo and Terry Hicks as Kenicke.

Take yourself back to a simpler time of life and see El Dorado Musical Theatre’s top talent at our Encore production of the classic musical, "Grease," February 5—21 at the Oak Ridge High School Theater, 1120 Harvard Way in El Dorado Hills. Performances are at 7 p.m. on February 5, 11, 12, 13, 19 and 20; 6 p.m. on February 7; and 2 p.m. on February 6, 7, 13, 14 and 21.

Tickets for 'Grease' are on sale now and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at (916) 941-SING. Prices are $12.00 - $25.00. Group discounts are available. Visit the website to learn more about Grease and also EDMT's upcoming auditions for CATS, to be held on Monday, February 8th at EDMT.

El Dorado Musical Theatre is proud to present a new discussion series called "Director's Notes with Debbie." Debbie Wilson will speak to patrons on the first Sunday evening show. Talking points will include the overall production of the show, technical challenges and the significance, impact or staging of the production. Please join us on Sunday, February 7th from 5:15 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. for this very informative discussion series. Please note there is no additional charge for this event and all 6:00 p.m. show ticket holders will be admitted.

El Dorado Musical Theatre is an award winning regional theater company based in El Dorado Hills, California featuring performers ages 6-20. EDMT, founded in 2001, produces five major productions per year. Remaining productions this season include "CATS," "Cinderella" and "Oklahoma." Additionally, EDMT produces an annual training show for performers ages 5-9, no experience is required. Most performances take place at the Jill Solberg Theater on the campus of Folsom High School or the Oak Ridge High School Theater in El Dorado Hills. EDMT's elite touring company, High Voltage, appears throughout the region at events such as the Capitol Rotunda Holiday Celebration and the State Fair. For more information visit or call (916) 941-SING.

Jack climbs beanstalk at Runaway Stage

Storybook Theatre at Runaway Stage announces the opening of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK on Saturday, January 16. Written and Directed by Lillian Baxter, this production for the whole family continues on Saturdays through January at noon and 2 p.m.

This re-telling of a popular old tale finds Jack and his mother, Margaret Sprague, at their wits end. Jack's father has been gone for a very long time, leaving mother and son desperately poor. Bessie the cow must be sold at market if they are to make the mortgage payment.

Along the way, Jack meets a pair of outrageous strangers, straight out of a late night infomercial, who offer to trade the cow for "magic beans." Thrilled at the prospect of owning magic beans, Jack seals the deal. Alas, his mother turns out to be less than thrilled when he arrives back home. She throws the beans straight out of the window where overnight they grow into a gigantic beanstalk. Jack climbs the beanstalk and meets Rupert the Giant who has a goose who lays golden eggs.

All seats are $5.00. Tickets can be purchased online at, or by calling our box office at (916) 207-1226. Runaway Stage Productions performs at the 24th Street Theatre (at the Sierra 2 Center), 2791 24th Street, Sacramento.

Recommended for theatregoers of all ages.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Alice in Wonderland!" at Sutter Street

l-r Christopher Celestin, Hanna Hurst

photo by Allen Schmeltz Productions

Sutter Street Theatre brings back for the third time its award-winning production of "Alice in Wonderland" by Kathryn Schultz Miller and directed by two-time Elly award winner Allen Schmeltz. The production offers all the familiar characters that Alice meets during her adventures in Wonderland: the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, and The Queen. New staging and lighting keeps this production fresh and magical. Is Alice having a dream or is it really happening to her? After all, as she says, "It is all so real."

“Alice in Wonderland” will play on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. and on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. through February 14 at Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter Street, Historic Folsom. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (916) 353-1001.

The play is directed by Allen Schmeltz, with choreography by Connie Mockenhaupt.

Run dates are January 9 to February 14, 2010. Tickets are $17 general, $15 for seniors and SARTA members, $13 for children. Group Rates are available.

For reservations call (916) 353-1001.

Bi-racial love story at Big Idea

Wagner Media Group presents a reading of its latest film project, "For the Love of Ivy," Sunday, January 17th, at the Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento at 2 pm. "For the Love of Ivy" is a bi-racial love story, told in flashbacks, that begins a few days prior to the arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1st, 1955. The central character, Ivy, is a young black maid who has impressed Tyler Madison and his wife, June, who have just moved to a small Southern town from the more liberal North.

Author John Wagner has made his story very topical by framing it with scenes of President Obama being sworn into office in the beginning and the end. We see Ivy as an elderly woman who can’t believe what she’s seeing. The rest of the script makes one realize why she feels this way.

After his wife dies unexpectedly in childbirth, Madison helps Ivy learn to read and write, and, in the process falls in love with her. Their relationship becomes sexual...and dangerous....since sleeping with a "colored" woman was against the law in most of the Southern states then.

Word leaks out to the residents of their small town, creating a firestorm of disgust and hatred. Eventually, Tyler and an unlikely ally find justice for Ivy, who has nearly recovered from a life-threatening assault. Finally, Ivy asks Tyler to come with her to Montgomery, Ala., to "meet this Rosa Parks."

Wagner has assembled an experienced cast of local actors for this project including film actors like Bonnie Antonini, who appeared in the TV show Trauma as Nurse Rodgers. Other local actors include Raul Bustamante, Charmaine Jackson, Gary Agid, Mark Hoffman, Kelley Ogden, Mark Halverson and Ann Tracy.

“I’ve found that African-American actresses are often overlooked for their talent," Wagner said when asked about writing "For the Love of Ivy."

“These women," he says, "have a unique ability to provide compelling performances on screen. I also tapped into the local African-American community by working with Suzanne Brooks ( I plan to produce this with the financial assistance of several investors who I’m not at liberty to name just yet.”

Wagner is no stranger to film, having been an independent film producer since 1992. His feature-length films include "The Gourmet" (1998), "The Cheapest Movie" (2000), which premiered at the Crest, and "The Mafia Chronicles" (2009).

Capital Stage & Friends go to OSF

Theatre, Art & Wine Tour with Capital Stage

Sacramento's Capital Stage invites theatre-lovers in the community to join them on the company's third annual journey to Ashland, Oregon. On August 19, 2010, a group of theatre lovers will depart by chartered bus to experience a four-day, three-night cultural adventure to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Reservations are now being taken for this August 19-22 package. "This trip has sold out for the past two years. We have a great time and are really looking forward to making the journey again this year," said Cap Stage Founding Artistic Director Gularte.

Founded in 1935, the Tony Award winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) is one of the oldest and largest non-profit theatres in the nation. Those joining in on this trip to the festival will see the following productions:

TWELFTH NIGHT - Both Orsino and Olivia's households have love on the brain. But who, really, are the objects of desire? When Viola, a shipwrecked castaway, disguises herself as a boy and finds work as Orsino's servant, she becomes entangled in an awkward love triangle. Things come unglued, but for almost everyone, Shakespeare's treasured comedy ends happily. Twelfth Night brims with antics, beds and bathtubs, and beloved characters, both prudish and crudish.. (Elizabethan Stage)

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE- Mrs. Bennet will stop at nothing to obtain advantageous matches for her five middle-class daughters. This shouldn't be difficult for Jane, the eldest and the family beauty. Her sister Elizabeth is another story. Witty and outspoken, Elizabeth takes an instant dislike to the high-born Mr. Darcy. He professes to find her barely tolerable. Or does he? Can their simmering attraction overcome class distinctions and prejudices about each other? (Angus Bowmer Theatre)

AMERICAN NIGHT - As Juan José studies for his citizenship exam, his obsession to pass takes him on a fantastical odyssey. On a zig-zag journey through U.S. history, Juan discovers America's best in a handful of unsung citizens who made courageous choices in some of the country's toughest times. L.A.'s legendary Culture Clash partners with company actors in a cutting, comic mix of past and present, stereotype and truth that will move you into a deeper vision of our shared story. (New Theatre)

The tour package will include:
Roundtrip Motorcoach Transportation
3 Nights at the Ashland Plaza Inn & Suites
Continental Breakfast Daily
3 Theatre Tickets with Excellent Seating
Evening Wine Reception Meet & Greet with Cap Stage Staff and fellow attendees
Backstage Tour
Discussion with a OSF Company Member on One of the Plays
Trip to historic Jacksonville
Baggage Handling

NEW THIS YEAR! Discussion about the plays with Capital Stage artistic staff.

The cost of the package is $795 per person, double occupancy, prior to June 1. Cost is $850 after June 1.

Reservations can be placed by contacting General Manager Keith Riedell at 916-379-5051.

About Capital Stage Company

Founded in 2005, Capital Stage Company is a professional, nonprofit theatre with a mission 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.

About the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Founded in 1935, the Tony Award winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) is one of the oldest and largest non-profit theatres in the nation. Located in the charming town of Ashland, Oregon the festival runs for 8-1/2 months and offers 11 plays in 3 theatres.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"boom": a cosmic comedy at B Street

Sacramento’s awesome B Street Theatre now ventures to bring “boom” (with lower-case “b”) to its main stage. In its announcement, B Street refers to the play as an “apocalyptic comedy,” and the play lives up to its title.

Along with theologians and scientists, poets are drawn to speculate on how the universe came to be and how it will end. In his “The Hollow Men” T.S. Eliot declared that the world will end “not with a bang but a whimper.” In “Fire and Ice” Robert Frost concluded that both are “great, and would suffice.” In “boom,” Peter Sinn Nachtrieb’s dark comedy, the grand catastrophe comes from a collision with a comet. (Nachtrieb, incidentally, is fast becoming a hot name in theater circles.)

“In college I majored in both theater and biology,” he notes, “and I think this play might be an attempt to understand the relationship between the two.” With the play’s sometimes disconcerting absurdist undertones, he does stimulate us to think. Directed by Michael Stevenson, the play features three able actors. Peter Story becomes Jules, a graduate student in biology. Sarah Aili, in her B Street debut, is Jo, a troubled undergraduate in journalism. And Jamie Jones assumes the mysterious role of Barbara, servant of an undefined higher power and the play’s chorus.

The setting is an underground university laboratory that once was a bomb shelter. It also serves as Jules’ home, where he dotes on the fish he nurtures in an aquarium. Jo arrives in response to his personal ad, where he declares, “I love kissing, body contact, oral sex, and intensely significant coupling.”

Jo demands “Sex! Now!” as Nachtrieb plunges into role reversal, where Jo becomes the pursuer and Jules the quarry as he protests that he’s not only a virgin but a homosexual. They find themselves trapped on Samantha Reno’s eerie set, with what looks like a giant spider web above and a metal door, like a submarine hatch, at the rear.

Despite his rejection of her advances, Jules won’t let Jo leave. Barbara meanwhile comments amid her loud timpani in the background, where she demonstrates her ability to knock people out and raise them up again. After Jo and Jules reveal their past lives to each other, he discloses his big secret: a comet is just moments away from colliding with Earth and ending all life upon it—at least all that’s on the surface. All his preparations are aimed at survival.

Although the script treats the play as a one-act, B Street offers the audience an intermission, afterward continuing in the aftermath of the cataclysm. Jules has planned for the occasion with food and a large supply of tampons and diapers. But Jo resists her new role in Jules’ strategy, to restore the human race through procreation. He then becomes the champion of life; she the apostle of death.

In Barbara’s words we get “the drama of survival.” Though Jules acquiesces to Jo’s suicidal aims, she ultimately fails to strangle herself with a plastic bag over her head. She screams at him: “STOP! BEING! OPTIMISTIC!”

But he blithely retorts, “Biology is optimism.” And although Barbara’s undefined bosses are ready to give up, life’s essential goal of staying alive prevails. We learn about past catastrophes, in prehistoric times long before humanity appeared. But something always seems to bring life back.

If there is any flaw in the play, it’s the slight miscasting of Peter Story as Jules, who according to the script should be 28, an appropriate age for a graduate student. But his skill as an actor can make him seem much younger. Jones makes the most of her compelling role as a quasi-goddess, and Aili’s versatility is a real find.

This mind-bending play is clearly not for everyone, especially youngsters. But for those attuned to serious theater, it can be exalting—and a ringing call to optimism.

“boom” continues on the B Street Main Stage through February 21 at 2711 B Street, behind the Stanford Park Baseball Field. Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 5 and 9 p.m. Matinees are Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18-$30. Student and senior discounts are available. $5 student rush tickets are also available with valid student ID. Call (916) 443-5300. See also

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sutter Street presents Alice in Wonderland

From Sutter Street Theatre

Courtesy Photo

Sutter Street Theatre brings back for the third time its award winning production of "Alice in Wonderland" by Kathryn Schultz Miller and directed by two time Elly award winner Allen Schmeltz with all the familiar characters whom Alice meets during her adventures in Wonderland: the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hair, and The Queen. New staging and lighting keeps this production fresh and magical. Is Alice having a dream or is it really happening to her? After all, as she says, "It is all so real." Come and see for yourself. Don't miss this family entertainment gem.

“Alice in Wonderland” will play on Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. and on Sundays at 1:00 p.m. through February 14 at Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter Street, Historic Folsom. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (916) 353-1001.

Tickets: $17 general, $15 seniors & SARTA, $13 children – Group Rates are available!

Reservations: Call (916) 353-1001

EDMT to Hold CATS Auditions Feb. 8

From El Dorado Musical Theatre

El Dorado Musical Theatre will hold auditions on Monday, February 8, 2010 for its spring production of “CATS.” The auditions will be held at EDMT’s rehearsal facility located at 5011 Golden Foothill Parkway, Unit #4 in the El Dorado Hills Business Park. Online registration at begins Monday, January 25th, at 8 p.m. and closes on Friday, February 5th, at midnight or when cast is filled to capacity. EDMT casts all who register, but space is limited. Those who did not have an opportunity to register online may complete registration materials on audition day, if space is available.

CATS is open to performers between the ages of 10 to 20 and will run from April 9th -25th at the Jill Solberg Performing Arts Theater on the campus of Folsom High School. Rehearsals begin February 15th and run Monday (leads only), Tuesday, and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Mandatory rehearsals begin on March 29th.
Those who plan to audition for a part in “CATS” should prepare a one-minute audition song and dress to dance. For more information regarding character roles, musical numbers, and show synopsis, and fees, please visit
So come be a part of EDMT’s production of CATS! With a

magnificent musical score composed by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber, including

the poignant hit song Memory, CATS is quite simply a triumphant piece of musical

theatre not to miss being a part of! Based on the universally

popular poetry of T.S. Eliot, CATS tells the story, in song and dance, of the

annual gathering of Jellicle cats at which time one special cat is selected to

ascend to the Heaviside layer. A true musical theatre phenomenon, CATS

opened at London's New London Theatre on May 11, 1981 and ran for a

record-setting 21 years! CATS's London success was nearly matched on

Broadway where it ran at the Wintergarden Theatre for just over 18 years!

Plus, those that are cast will have a unique opportunity to meet and be

choreographed by Abe Sylvia, a Broadway Actor, that performed in CATS on Broadway!

If you think you have what it takes to be the “star”, love to perform, or just want

to make some great friends, don’t miss being a part of one of the most exhilarating

and innovative musicals ever staged!

About El Dorado Musical Theatre: EDMT is an award winning regional theater company based in El Dorado Hills, California featuring performers aged 6-20. EDMT was founded in 2001 and is a Non-Profit Organization. EDMT produces five major productions per year. Remaining productions this season include Grease, CATS, Cinderella, and Oklahoma. Additionally, EDMT produces an annual training show for performers aged 5-9, no experience is required. Most performances take place at the Jill Solberg Theater on the campus of Folsom High School or the Oak Ridge High School Theater in El Dorado Hills. EDMT's elite touring company, High Voltage, appears throughout the region at events such as the Capitol Rotunda Holiday Celebration and the State Fair. For more information, visit or call (916) 941-SING.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

At the 24th Street Theatre in Sacramento

Can you spell F-U-N-N-Y? Don’t miss The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee! Six young people in the throes of puberty, overseen by grown-ups who barely managed to escape childhood themselves, learn that winning isn’t everything and that losing doesn’t necessarily make you a loser. This is a hilarious tale of overachievers’ angst, chronicling the experience of six adolescent outsiders vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. This Tony Award winning musical features a quirky yet charming cast of outsiders for whom a spelling bee is the one place where they can stand out and fit in at the same time.

Multiple Elly Award winning Producer and Director Bob Baxter teams up with Musical Director James Lohman and Vocal Director Anne-Marie Pringle to stage this heartwarming and hilarious Sacramento Regional Premiere!

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee performs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. January 8 through 31, 2010.

TICKETS Adults - $20, Seniors/Students/SARTA- $18, Children (12&U) - $15, Groups of 10+ - $15 each. Tickets can be purchased online at (with new "Pick Yout Seat" feature), or at the door.

Free parking is available.

Questions? Call (916) 207-1226

Visit Xanadu in Sacramento

Elizabeth Stanley and Max von Essen. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

Based on a cult film that failed to delight professional critics, the musical stage version of “Xanadu” has become a winner all around. With a cast of solid performers, plus stunning effects and winning songs, the story takes place in 1980, including Greek gods commuting between Mt. Olympus and Los Angeles. The goddess Clio (Elizabeth Stanley) ventures into the mortal world disguised as Kira, a beautiful roller skater with an Australian accent. But defying the decrees of Zeus, she falls in love with a mortal, Sonny Malone (Max von Essen), who reciprocates.

For a review and details, go to

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chautauqua expresses Maternal Instincts

Courtesy photo

Chautauqua Playhouse announces the opening of MATERNAL INSTINCTS by local playwright Dave Williams, opening on January 15, 2010, at the Playhouse. The show will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through February 21. 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.

From Sacramento radio and theater veteran, Dave Williams, this is an award-winning comedy about four generations of mothers and daughters with a genetic penchant for deceit, misdirection and fierce loving loyalty. The family that frays together stays together!

The production is directed by Paul Fearn and features Boots Martin, Shaleen Schmutzer, Maggie Adair Upton, Carissa Meagher and Simon Hunt . Set design is by Rodger Hoopman. 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: