Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Someone watches over Capital Stage

l. to r.: Michael Wiles, Scott Coopwood, Matt K. Miller

Photographer: Charr Crail

True to form, Sacramento’s Capital Stage entertains us while encouraging us to think. Inspired by a true story, Irish playwright Frank McGuinness weaves a tale of three foreigners–Adam (Michael Wiles), an American; Edward (Scott Coopwood), an Irishman; and Michael (Matt K. Miller), an Englishman–held hostage in Lebanon by mysterious captors. Though chained to the walls of a cell, they're treated respectfully, even given a feast, during their endless stay.

“Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me,” based on a popular song title, captures a universal longing for supernatural protection. It’s the call of the infant, still lingering in all of us, for a god, gods, angels or other superior beings to help us survive the messes we make of our lives. It echoes our secret cry of “Mommy!” waiting to be released.

For a detailed review go to

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EDMT Announces Schedule for CATS

Heather Clark and Joey Saffren
courtesy photo


Gasp in awe as the junk yard is transformed into a mystical night-time playground for cats of all shapes and sizes. The variety of characters and personalities include the storyteller and protector Munkustrap (Andrew Wilson), the roguish Rum Tum Tugger (Jonathon Cranmer), and the wise Old Deuteronomy (Joey Saffren).

Also memorable are Macavity (Felix Roessler), who is never at the scene of the crime, and the magical Mr. Mistoffelees (Cierra Diaz). Watch as mischievous Mongojerrie (Carly Speno) and Rumpleteazer (Caroline Mixon) cavort around on stage! Shed a tear to the poignant hit song "Memory," sung by Grizabella (Heather Clark), the one-time glamour cat. It's the climax of Cats, and by far it’s most popular and well-known song.

Cats is quite simply a triumphant piece of musical theater. It's an all-singing, all-dancing musical spectacular, with a magnificent musical score that you will not soon forget. Composed by the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats is based on the universally popular poetry of T.S. Eliot, which tells the story 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 originally opened at London's New London Theatre on May 11, 1981 and ran for a record-setting 21 years! Cats’ London success was nearly matched on Broadway where it ran at the Wintergarden Theatre for just over 18 years!

Don’t miss one of the most exhilarating and innovative musicals ever staged!

El Dorado Musical Theatre is proud to premiere Cats, which will run April 9-25 at the Jill Solberg Performing Arts Theatre in Folsom.

Cats is sure to be a hit, so get your tickets soon! It's a show filled with fantastic songs, amazing dance numbers, stunning costumes, and a spectacular set, which will delight audiences of all ages! Ticket prices are $12.00-$20.00 and can be purchased online at or by calling the box office at 916-941-SING. Special Thursday evening performances on April 15 and April 22 at 7:00 p.m. are being offered with all seats only $12.00! Discounts are also available for groups of ten or more.

About El Dorado Musical Theatre: EDMT is an award-winning regional theater company based in El Dorado Hills, California, and featuring performers aged 6-20. EDMT, producing five major productions per year, was founded in 2001 and is a Non-Profit Organization. Remaining productions this season include Cinderella and Crazy for You. 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.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Two Seasoned Pros Join Forces for Laughs

l-r: David Iannance, Tony Castle
Photo Credit: Sutter Street Theatre

David Iannace and Tony Castle have spent their lives in show business. They are now joining together their many talents and experiences to bring an Old School Variety Show to today's audience; a show filled with songs, jokes, skits, bits and lots of surprises. The Great Variety Shows we all remember will live again when "Notch and Castle" hit the stage with a cast of wacky characters that will keep the audience wondering what comes next.

Folsom, CA, March 4, 2010: Notch and Castle Comedy Variety Show will run March 26 through April 3 on Friday and Saturday at 8:00pm and Sunday at 4:00pm at Sutter Street Theatre, 717 Sutter Street, Historic Folsom 95630. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (916) 353-1001.

• “Notch and Castle Comedy Variety Show”
• Run Dates: March 26 – April 3
• Times: Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00pm and a Sunday Matinee at 4:00pm
• 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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anatomy of Sin at California Stage

Courtesy photo

In his social satire “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll,” Eric Bogosian anatomizes self-indulgence, as manifested by popular culture at the end of the twentieth century. He brings his vision to us through the talents of a single actor embodying nine different characters as examples. Michael Claudio, directed by his widely admired dad, Ed Claudio, offers a virtuoso performance in each of the roles. The play continues at Sacramento’s California Stage. For details and a review, go to

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Radio Message from Bob and Ro

Message from Bob and Ro

Contact Robert C. Gerould
Tel. 916-532-0108

at the Studio Theatre

The radio shows have been popular enough that Bob and Ro Productions have decided to make them a regular event.

The idea comes from the days when radio programs were performed before a live audience while the rest of the country gathered around their radios and listened in. Now anyone can be a part of that studio audience when Bob and Ro’s Old Time Radio Shows perform at the Studio Theatre! Local actors take on the roles of established and timeless shows like Our Miss Brooks, Boston Blackie and My Friend Irma. Add in a musical interlude with singer Mike Branson and you’ve got a great evening’s entertainment.

All performances are at the Studio Theatre, 1028 R St., Sacramento:

Sunday, March 28 at 7:00 pm
Tickets $10
Richard Diamond - The Red Rose
The Bickersons
My Friend Irma - The Coronation

Also featuring the song styling of Mike Branson

Sunday, April 11 at 7:00 pm
Tickets $10

The Adventures of the Thin Man - The Case of the Goofy Groom
The Bickersons
Our Miss Brooks - Board of Education Day

Also featuring the song styling of Mike Branson

Sunday, April 25 at 7:00 pm
Tickets $10
Richard Diamond - The Longest Short Cut
The Bickersons
Fibber McGee and Molly - The $100 Bill

Also featuring the song styling of Mike Branson

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reefter Madness from Artistic Differences


Artistic Differences Theatre Co. presents
Reefer Madness! by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney

Artistic Differences Theatre Company closes its 2009-2010 season by bringing you Reefer Madness the Musical, a raucous, musical comedy inspired by the 1936
exploitation/propaganda film of the same name. A relatively new work, Reefer Madness
the Musical has made its way from the Los Angeles theatre scene, over to New York, and even television’s Showtime movie channel.

Reefer Madness the Musical takes place in the small town America of our past, the
1930’s, and tells the tale of what happens when the American youth is seduced by the
most heinous of evils...MARIJUANA, the demon weed. Luckily, The Lecturer, a stern
government-sponsored figure is here to show us that marijuana only leads to a
downward spiral filled with evil jazz music, sex, and violence. The Lecturer’s lesson
weaves the story of boy next door Jimmy, and his sweetheart Mary Lane, as their lives
are fouled by the Demon Weed! Can they be saved from cannabis catastrophe?!

With regards to producing Reefer Madness the Musical, AD Artistic Director Maggie
Hollinbeck states that while the production is for entertainment, Artistic Differences also looks at cultural temperature of the community for inspiration.
“Sacramento has recently gotten an earful on the subject of legalization of
marijuana, either for medical purposes or recreational use,” notes Hollinbeck, “so it
seems like a perfect time to bring Reefer Madness to local audiences. It’s a campy sendup about the uniquely American hysteria surrounding the use of drugs - drawing
interesting parallels to the fear-mongering and misinformation that has fueled
American politics, especially over the last decade.”

In response to recent increases in conversation about marijuana, Artistic Differences is looking to invite local politicians, experts, journalists, activists etc. to speak after the show for special talk-back sessions regarding marijuana and marijuana legalization.

Also, AD has formed a co-sponsorship with La Vie en Verte: The WAMM Movie, a
documentary centering around the medical use of marijuana. The film is a production
by Reefer Madness cast member Bevin Bell-Hall and her husband Charlie Hall.
Artistic Differences production of Reefer Madness the Musical runs April 2nd to May
2nd at California Stage, in Downtown Sacramento. Tickets are $20 general and $17
student/senior, with a special opening weekend teaser price of $12.

Established in 2006, Artistic Differences Theatre Company is committed to a single
vision: to enrich the artistic landscape in Sacramento and beyond by producing fresh,
unique interpretations of the unsung American musical.

Box Office: (916)708-3449 ###

Dates and Times
April 2, 2010 through May 2, 2010
Opening: Friday, April 2 @ 8 pm
Runs: Fridays & Saturdays @ 8 pm
Sundays at 7pm
Special: Tuesday, April 20 @ 8 pm
Saturday, April 17 @ 12am (midnight)
Saturday, April 24 @ 12am (midnight)
Ticket Prices
General: $20
Student/Senior (65+): $17
Opening weekend: $12
TICKETING INFORMATION: Artistic Differences Theatre Co. Box Office 916/708-3449

Thursday, March 18, 2010

New from Thistle-Dew Dessert Theatre





Noemi Rios, Jeff Webster,

Gay Cooper, Ashley Lucas

and Sean Williams

Continuing April 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30, and CLOSING May 1

Friday and Saturday performances are at 7:00 p.m. Sunday performances are at 2:00 p.m.


E-mail (Best):
or telephone 444-8209





Poor Duncan Peters!

A commissioner from the Judicial Council is coming to interview his family and others are worried. Judge Fischer’s law clerk, Susan, frets that Duncan ’s nonconformity will sink Miriam’s nomination. Not wanting to jeopardize Miriam’s chances for the high court, Duncan leaves for Tibet . Through it all is the question of love. But Miriam is worried. How will it all work out with Duncan in Tibet and the commissioner coming?





Are old cowboy heroes really dead? Not according to Jubal "Tom Mix" McCabe.

Thomas Edwin Mix (born Thomas Hezikiah Mix; January 6, 1880 – October 12, 1940) was an American film actor and the star of many early Western movies. He made a reported 336 films between 1910 and 1935. Nine of which were silent features. He was Hollywood’s first Western megastar and is noted as having helped define the genre for all cowboy actors who followed.
Tom Mix was "the King of Cowboys" when the influence of his screen persona was seen in his approach to portraying cowboys.
Such was the influence on the life of Jubal McCabe.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

“The Bad Seed”: chilling fear about “evil” children

The premise of Maxwell Anderson’s play “The Bad Seed” is that children can be born with murder in their hearts. In a well-crafted production, Carmichael’s Chautauqua Playhouse revives this once popular, though now almost forgotten, chiller, leaving the audience to decide its plausibility. From the start we know there will be no mystery. A glance at the playbill warns us that the 8-year-old Rhoda, played by 11-year-old Lauren Metzinger, has homicide in her heart.

After a leisurely start we are caught in her web, wondering who the next victim will be. And be prepared for a shocker at the end. For a detailed review go to

Monday, March 15, 2010

A "Foreigner" comes to Placerville

Message from Imagination Theatre:

The Foreigner Visits Placerville’s Imagination Theater

Imagination Theater presents Larry Shue’s comedic farce, The Foreigner, which opens Friday, March 26 and runs through Sunday, April 18. Friday evening performances are at 7:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday performances are at 2:00 p.m. There is no show on Easter, April 4. Ticket prices are $17 adults, $14 seniors, and $10 children/students. Group discounts are also available. There is one Thursday show, April 1, and all seats are $10—no fooling! The Foreigner is suggested for teens through adults.

Directed by Lanny Langston, produced by Peter Wolfe, and set design by Virgil Toothaker, The Foreigner is the hilarious comedy about Charlie, an extremely shy proper Englishman who has a fear of speaking to strangers. He brought by his friend, Froggy, to a fishing lodge in rural Georgia, where Froggy tells everyone that Charlie is a foreigner who doesn't understand a word of English. Soon, everyone is fussing over and confiding in him. Charlie quickly discovers that all is not what it seems at the lodge and must somehow save the day - without revealing his cover!

Tickets can be purchased online at or contact the box office at (530) 642-0404. Located on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, Imagination Theater celebrates its' 10th Anniversary bringing quality, live community theater to Placerville and El Dorado County.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chicago takes charge of Sacramento

If anarchy needed a bible, a good choice would be the award-winning musical “Chicago,” its national tour now brought to Sacramento by California Musical Theatre. According to its press release, the show offers us “Murder. Greed. Corruption. Violence. Exploitation. Adultery.” Who could ask for anything more?

The storyline is based loosely on a pair of 1924 murders, reported in the Chicago Tribune by Maurine Dallas Watkins. The first was about a married cabaret singer, Belva Gaertner, accused of killing her husband. “No sweetheart in the world,” Gaertner declared, "is worth killing.” The second featured a young Beaulah Annan, who killed her boyfriend, “then called her husband to tell him.” Thanks to a sharp lawyer, she got away with the crime.

The stories inspired the 1942 film “Roxie Hart” and ultimately led to the current musical, with Roxie Hart (Bianca Marroquin) as the lead character. A housewife and nightclub dancer, she shoots Fred Casely (Brent Heuser), the lover who threatens to walk out on her. In a Cook County jail she meets and later befriends Velma Kelly (Brenda Braxton), one among several murderesses who deliver “Cell Block Tango.”

Presiding over the block is the corrupt matron, “Mama” Morton, played by big-voiced Carol Woods. Adding color to the group and played in drag is Mary Sunshine (D. Micciche), who justifies herself in “A Little Bit of Good.” Somehow Micciche shows us an operatic voice, complete with vibrato.

Billed as the star of the production is television’s popular John O’Hurley, playing the sharp and cynical lawyer Billy Flynn. Described by People magazine as one of the “Sexiest Men Alive,” he’s best known for roles as diverse as J. Peterson on TV’s “Seinfeld” and King Arthur in “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” He’s not only authoritative as Flynn, but he delivers in numbers like “We both Reached for the Gun” and “Razzle Dazzle.”

But labeling him as the star does him no favor. Despite a very capable performance, he just doesn’t make it as the “star” of the show. At the opposite pole is Tom Riis Farrell as Amos Hart, Roxie’s lackluster husband with bottomless tolerance for all her vagaries. From jail she claims to be pregnant as a way to escape the criminal justice system, and Amos waxes ecstatic, declaring that he’s the father—even though they haven’t had marital relations for years.

But when she reveals that there really is no baby, the reality of his position, the knowledge that she merely uses him, finally becomes inescapable. When at last he leaves her, not in bitterness but in practical necessity, he earns both pity and respect from the audience in one of the shows most powerful and moving moments. In song he identifies himself as “Mister Cellophane,” the man invisible to all. And he departs with awesome dignity and philosophical poise.

The show finally unwinds with an unexpected twist.

With book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander, plus lyrics by Ebb, the Broadway production opened in 1975. It’s revival in 1996 proved to be one of the longest revivals in Broadway history. Since the latter date the show has had successful productions in 24 countries and 11 languages, but especially on London’s “West End” stage.

The one big drawback for the production is John Lee Beatty’s set, a grandstand tilted like a huge picture frame and occupied by an orchestra of thirteen musicians, led by Andrew Bryan. The set so dominates the action that the various locales, especially the jail, are never really seen. Thus the various scenes are played out on something like an Elizabethan stage, where the locale is defined through announcement by one of the characters.

As a result it’s easy to lose track of where an action is taking place, thus inviting some confusion among the audience. Otherwise the rest of the production is compelling.

“Chicago” continues through March 21 at the Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street, Sacramento. Tickets, $18-$65, are available at the Convention Center Box Office, (916) 808-5181. Advance tickets can be had at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, (916) 557-1999, or Call the box office for remaining dates and times or check

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

“Arranged Marriage” returns to STC

Courtesy photo

Years ago the Sacramento Theatre Company produced “Arranged Marriage,” based on a story by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. It was performed in the modest space now known as “The Pollock Stage” at the Wells Fargo complex in the heart of Sacramento. The new version is a musical—with colorful costumes, plus song and dance, all native to India—adapted and directed by Peggy Shannon, STC’s artistic director.

We get superb performances by Roshni Shukla, playing Sumita, an Indian girl who goes to California to be with her “arranged” husband, and by Katherine Cristina Miller, mainly as the goddess Parvati, who sees marriage as destiny. Warren leads an ensemble of seven polished dancers, mostly cast from STC’s Young Professionals Conservatory. Jim Sarb provides Indian male voices. The result projects authenticity to the core.

The colorful costumes by Gail Russell, coupled with the authentic choreography by Tyler Russell Warren and the poetry by Rabindranath Tagore, translated from the Bengali, augment an exciting taste of the arts of India.

The main weakness of the production seems to come from Divakaruni’s lack of experience as playwright. Unless you follow revolutionaries like Bertolt Brecht, you stick to Aristotle’s definition of drama as “an imitation of an action,” not an imitation of someone talking about an action. In “Arranged Marriage” two of the main actions are Sumita’s wedding and a murder at her husband’s convenience store, neither of which we see.

I brought this puzzle to Shannon, who explained that Divakaruni had demanded that such events be brought to us by report from Sumita. Even if drama is subdued, the play still offers us our money’s worth in color, authenticity, and the artistry of everyone we see and hear.

And what’s missing from view is compensated by lines inspired (probably) by Tagore. Late in the play, crushed by catastrophe, Sumita declares, “My unlived life gathered itself into a scream.”

Before concluding, I feel obliged to reveal my own connections with Divakaruni. In the eighties, as chair of the English Department at Contra Costa College, I helped to hire her as a teacher. We maintained a cordial relationship and she later moved on to a better job. She later left teaching, I learned, as she pursued a successful writing career. We had a friendly meeting during the first production of her story at STC.

“Arranged Marriage” runs through March 28 on the Mainstage at the Wells Fargo Complex, 1419 H Street. Performances are Wednesday at 6:30 p.m., Thursday at 12:30 and 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15-$46. There’s no intermission. Call the box office at (916) 443-6722.

Courtesy photo

If a musical team of evangelical young men came to town with the express purpose of saving your soul, would you go to their show? Probably not, regardless of whether your soul was saved or lost. But an award-winning musical spoof of just such a group brings irresistible entertainment to Sacramento’s Runaway Stage. Under Bob Baxter’s astute direction, and backed by a fine resident orchestra, the cast of five demonstrates superlative skills in singing, dancing and, above all, comedy.

For details and a review, go to If a musical team of evangelical young men came to town with the express purpose of saving your soul, would you go to their show? Probably not, regardless of whether your soul was saved or lost. But an award-winning musical spoof of just such a group brings irresistible entertainment to Sacramento’s Runaway Stage. Under Bob Baxter’s astute direction, and backed by a fine resident orchestra, the cast of five demonstrates superlative skills in singing, dancing and, above all, comedy.

For details and a review, go to

Monday, March 8, 2010

Audition Info from IT

Imagination Theater! March 2010

IT! Box Office: 530-642-0404 or

IT! Website:

IT! Insider’s Blog at


Sunday, March 14th, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Anyone who is interested is invited to come sing the songs from Grease at the first rehearsal of the "Fuzzy Dice." This is the band that will be playing the rehearsals and performances of the show. This sing-a-long is just an opportunity to sing the songs, get in the rock-and-roll mood, and have fun with the music. Anyone, regardless of age, or whether they are actually going to audition for the show is encouraged to participate. No preparation is necessary... this is not an audition. Lyrics sheets will be provided.

Monday, April 5th, 6:30-9:00 p.m. at Vanessa's Foothill Dance Studio in Shingle Springs. Participation in this audition is required for ALL ROLES in Grease. Please be prompt. Wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing and jazz or character shoes if you have theme. Auditioners will learn simple combinations and jitterbug steps.

Saturday, April 10th, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
This will be the general audition for all roles. (Parking in above lot due to Kids' Expo)

Singing Requirements:
All Auditioners will be required to sing a rock-and-roll type song and provide their own karaoke backing CD. An audition accompanist will not be provided. Auditioners being considered for lead roles by the Directors may be asked to also sing a song from the show with the live band that will be provided. Lyrics for the songs from the show will be provided at the audition.

Reading and Improvisation:
Auditioners will be asked to do cold readings from the script and group improvisations.

Partner Dancing:
If time permits, auditioners will participate in jitterbug partner dancing exercises. All auditioners should therefore wear loos-fitting comfortable clothing and suitable dancing shoes... no sandals or bare-feet!

Sunday, April 11th, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

This will be the CALL-BACK AUDITION for all roles. Due to the anticipated large number of auditioners, this Call-Back Audition is likely to be required for some, and maybe all, of the auditioners--- so all auditioners are asked to remain available.

SHOWS ARE SCHEDULED FOR DECEMBER 2010. Box Office: 530-642-0404

Friday, March 5, 2010

"Women of Juarez" at California Stage



by Rubén Amavizca-Murúa in the Wilkerson Theater

Directed by Dr. Manuel Jose Pickett

This dark tragedy is based on the deaths of hundreds of women in Juarez, Mexico, who are found raped, tortured, and buried in the desert with no real explanation. Since 1993, over 600 women have been reported missing and the bodies of more than 400 murdered victims have been found.

Play Director, Manuel Picket says, ‘California Stage and Teatro Espejo are hoping to raise the cry: ‘NOT ONE MORE!’ with this production”. California Stage Producer Ray Tatar says that “If 600 women disappeared from the streets of Sacramento; there would be hell to pay! We would find those murderers, yet most people don’t know about this on-going tragedy because the media which survives on the next gruesome tale does not see itself in a leadership role”.

The play tells the story of a family who refuses to accept complacent explanations by the Mexican authorities as to the disappearance of their daughter and their plight to find an immediate answer. Award-winning actress Diana Mandujano stars in “The Women of Juarez” playing a mother searching for her missing daughter only to discover an intricate web of misogyny, police and political corruption.

“Women of Juarez” plays between February 19 and March 21, 2010. in the Wilkerson Theater, 1725 25th Street, in Midtown Sacramento. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2 PM. Ticket prices are $20.00, for general admission, $15.00, for Students, SARTA members and seniors, and $12.00 for groups of six or more. The theater is accessible.


2010 play season is collaboration with The Sacramento Progressive Communities

and Matrix Arts, non-profits serving the greater Sacramento area. 916-451-5822

1725 25 Street sacramento, California, 95816--

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Holy Altar Boyz at 24th Street Theatre

...Message From Runaway Stage Productions

At the 24th Street Theatre in Sacramento
Hotter than Backstreet Boys! Cooler than N Sync!
And Holier than thou!

Sacramento—Winner of the 2005 Outer Critics Award for BEST OFF BROADWAY MUSICAL, ALTAR BOYZ is a foot-stomping, rafter-raising, musical comedy about a fictitious Christian boy-band on the last night of their national "Raise the Praise" tour. The Boyz are five all-singing, all-dancing heartthrobs from Ohio: Mathew, Mark, Luke, Juan and Abraham. With their tight harmonies and spectacular choreography, the ALTAR BOYZ will delight Runaway Stage Production's audiences. As they perform their signature hits such as "Rhythm In Me," "The Calling," and "I Believe," the Boyz question their loyalty to each other and ask whether or not faith is really holding them together. They finally deliver a message of unity, that "there is no star as bright as its constellation, no harmony in a single voice."

Multiple Elly Award winning Producer and Director Bob Baxter teams up again with award winning Choreographer Darryl Strohl and Musical Director James Lohman to stage this heartwarming and hilarious Sacramento Community Premiere!

ALTAR BOYZ performs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., March 5 - 28, 2010.

TICKETS Adults - $20, Seniors/Students/SARTA- $18, Children (12&U) - $15, Groups of 10+ - $16 each. Tickets can be purchased online at (Online Reservation convenience fees apply), or at the door.

Free parking is available.

Questions? Call (916) 207-1226

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Review of "Becky's New Car"

At B Street: “Becky’s New Car” toys with adultery

Foreground: Brian Rife, Ashley Padovani; background: Elisabeth Nunziato

Photo: b street staff

A playwright often succeeds by turning a cliché on its head. The prolific and fashionable Steven Dietz does so in “Becky’s New Car,” now on stage at Sacramento’s B Street Theatre. Like many middle-aged wives of our time, Becky Foster (Elisabeth Nunziato) holds down a job and takes care of her family.

She flips a cliché, though, when she embraces an adulterous relationship with a rich and elderly widower, Walter Flood (Dan Harlan), who’s almost overwhelmed by her eagerness, mistakenly thinking she’s also widowed. Based on today’s media it always seems to be the husband whose midlife crisis projects him into extra-marital dalliance.

Joe Foster (David Pierini), her good-hearted husband, is a working man of moderate income who seems to welcome her distracting labors in the office of Bill Buckley’s auto dealership, where she answers the phone and even makes a killer of a deal with Walter, who buys a fleet of cars through her.

Rounding out the cast are the Fosters’ son Chris (Brian Rife), a 26-year-old hanging on to his adolescence by staying in college long after the time when he should be earning a living in the workaday world. Lording it over his parents, and others, by spouting jargon from his major in psychology, he represents an interesting type rarely depicted on stage. A generation ago he would have been labeled a “scholarship bum.”

His female parallel in uselessness is blunt-speaking Ginger (Jamie Jones), financially comfortable but admittedly lacking in marketable skills. Sheila, Walter’s deceased wife, once described her as “sweet, angelic and completely non-stick.” Then there’s Steve (Greg Alexander), laid-back manager of the auto agency and the Fosters’ family friend. Finally, we meet Kenni Flood (Ashley Padovani), Walter’s daughter. She and Chris fall in love and wind up getting married.

Nicely directed by Michael Stevenson, this outstanding cast makes the most of Dietz’ material. Unfortunately, Dietz gums up the comedy by having the players interact with the audience, often bringing members onto the stage. This dalliance with shtick works well for a variety show but undermines our willing suspension of disbelief. The opening night audience, though, seemed to enjoy the diversion, and there was no shortage of volunteers.

This audience intrusion, though, helps to mask the flaws in the plot, for instance the coincidental romance between Chris and Kenni. Would their adulterous parents have introduced them to each other?

A serviceable set design by Samantha Reno is suitable for the B Street’s main stage, three-quarters in the round. Reno puts the office on the north side, the home on the south. But the setup takes some getting-used-to, as when the office becomes the Fosters’ home office and the home becomes other locations. On the plus side, though, the set avoids losing time with changes of scenery.

Those who enjoyed Dietz’ impressive “Fiction,” which closed on February 28 at Capital Stage, may be disappointed in the lightweight “Becky’s New Car,” though the audience at B Street gave it a standing ovation.

“Becky’s New Car” continues through April 11 at 2711 B Street, behind the Stanford Park Baseball Field. Performances are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 5 and 9 p.m., and Sundays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $22-$30. Call (916) 443-5300. See also

Monday, March 1, 2010



An old friend is returning to town. The musical "Quilters," originally presented in Placerville in 1987, will be back in March 2011 as a production of Imagination Theater, in conjunction with Ensemble Theatre Company. The director, Chrissie Addison, was in the original cast and can’t wait to share her new vision of this regional theatre favorite. Written by Barbara Damashek and Molly Newman, "Quilters" is the story of the courageous women who moved west to help settle this country, recording “the pieces of their lives” through the work of their hands. Their quilt blocks are first presented individually to represent episodes in their lives; the blocks eventually form a quilt that combines all of their stories into one.

In the 1987 production, construction of the various quilt blocks was done by local quilters, who donated their time. Chrissie intends to again tap into this rich source of talent for the quilts, but she wants to add another element. Since the finished quilt is called the “legacy” quilt, Chrissie wants it to be made from donated fabric. If someone has a favorite scrap of cotton (or other soft, non-synthetic fabric), that they would be willing to part with, she hopes they will let it be used for the construction of the quilts. Donated materials could be yardage, but it could also be skirts, tablecloths, aprons, or anything that could be cut up and re-used. Just as women of the prairie did, today’s quilters will be stitching together used fabric which is not only “green,” but authentic in living history.

Even though auditions are not until late October, Chrissie and her staff are already hard at work on all that goes into mounting a major musical. They would like to begin collecting fabric on March 15th, so the quilting volunteers have plenty of time for their creations. Collection will continue until there is enough fabric for the quilts needed. Fabric can be dropped off at the Imagination Theater office or at the Mountain Democrat on Main Street in Placerville. What’s more, if there is a story behind the fabric donated, please share that, too, by including a short note. For more information, or if you’d like to volunteer to work on "Quilters," email Chrissie Addison at .