Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Witty Eurydice at River Stage

According to poet Marianne Moore, poetry brings us “imaginary gardens with real toads in them.” But Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice,” based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, brings us imaginary gardens with imaginary toads. According to the myth, the poet and musician Orpheus seeks his dead wife in Hades, but when he breaks the rule and looks back at her as she follows him, she remains permanently among the dead.

While Ruhl’s dramatization borrows the skeleton of the myth, director Frank Condon, in his farewell production at River Stage, brings us what appears to be a surreal version, set in a nether world where there appear to be no rules. The central character, as the title predicts, is Eurydice (Destiny Robbins), who appears to be entirely free to do exactly as she chooses.

Orpheus (Spencer Tregilgas) appears in a minor role, scarcely daring to step off the elevator leading him into Hades. He carries an accordion to represent his musicianship.

What’s more, the society of the dead seem to make their own rules (if you can call them such), and the “romance” is between the spirits of Eurydice and her father (Paul Fearn). Since every inhabitant is dead, the laws of the living no longer pply. Thus adultery ceases to be an issue. In this cultural and moral chaos, we’re lectured by a trio of stones: Big Stone (Eric Alston), Little Stone (Joshua Carranza-Vick) and Loud Stone (John Hopkins). But in the anarchy of the dead, their comments seem meaningless.

While the acting and directing hold our attention, the story appears to unfold in a vacuum. With conventional surrealism the premise is based on the irrational and bizarre activities of an unconscious mind, usually functioning during sleep. Thus the “reality” is the product of a slumbering brain. Here we have no reality, merely an imaginary garden with imaginary toads.

Given the flawed premise, the production still holds our interest through Condon’s fine pacing and polished performances by the actors. It continues for about 70 minutes without intermission and offers some witty dialog, as when Eurydice’s father observes, “Be quiet about politics but vote for the right man.”

“Eurydice” continues through May 16 at Cosumnes River College, 8401 Center Parkway, Sacramento. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $16 to $18, with discounts. Call (916) 691-7364 or e-mail riverstage@crc.losrios.edu.

Jack climbs Sutter Street bean stalk

Ireland Bonds and Connie Mockenhaupt
Courtesy photo

The biggest challenge for children’s theater is entertaining adults. On that score Sutter Street Theatre, in Folsom, succeeds admirably with its current “Jack and the Beanstalk.” For starters, the ancient tale is adapted for moderns by Kathryn Schultz Miller, predominant playwright for children. Add to that Allen Schmeltz’ creative and savvy direction of an expert young cast, and success becomes unavoidable.

Of course we get some of the usual tricks, like audience participation, but the core of the success is wit and fine acting. The cast of four—experienced youngsters Kerrie Buehler, Ireland Bonds, and Brady Tait--includes the savvy Connie Mockenhaupt, co-owner of the theater and longtime professional.

Mockenhaupt starts off the first of her three roles as the Magic Keeper. In a sparkling purple dress with complementary fedora (costumes by Eileen Beaver), she boasts of her prowess to the other three actors, who at first scoff at her. But she quickly turns their skepticism to awe by turning Tait and Buehler into animals, at least temporarily. The action revolves around Jack (Bonds), who switches between male and female roles, and predictably swaps a cow for some “magic” beans.

Later, as Mama, Mockenhaupt instructs Jack to sell the cow. Horrified when he tells her that he swapped the cow for “magic” beans, she tosses the beans into a bush, which dominates center stage. Suddenly a long strand of greenery is yanked up to the ceiling.

What follows are some of the play’s funniest scenes, with Tait as an ogre and Buehler as his wife. In a grotesque black wig, he reveals his omnivorous appetite, declaring how much he enjoys eating little boys. Jack, meanwhile, is hidden with potatoes in a bin below the floor but later climbs the bean stalk.

Even more amazing is that the ghoulishness fails to faze even the smallest children in the audience, who take it all in with appreciative laughter. No mother whisked a hysterical child out of the theater. Afterwards, as traditional with Sutter Street’s children’s theater, the audience complimented and chatted with the performers on the sidewalk in front of the entrance.

“Jack and the Beanstalk” continues through May 30 at 717 Sutter Street in Historic Folsom. Performances are Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., and the show continues for about an hour. Tickets are $13 to $17 and are available at the door. For reserved seating call 916-353-1001. See also www.sutterstreettheatre.com or email mikonpro@sbcglobal.net.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Pictured: (L) Jeff Thomas, Marc Berman, Nicholas Palleschi

Photo credit: Warren Harrison

Chautauqua Playhouse announces the final show of its 33rd season, the classic comedy CHARLEY’S AUNT by Brandon Thomas, opening on May 7th at the Playhouse. The show will run on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm through June 13. 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.

Charley’s wealthy aunt from Brazil, where “the nuts come from,” will have to delay her visit. Time to press Lord Fancourt Babberly into action - and a dress. Comic confusion results in the world’s most famous farce. Guaranteed to move an audience to tears of laughter!

The production is directed by Diane Bartlett and features Jeff Thomas, Marc Berman, Nicholas Palleschi, and many other popular Sacramento actors. Set design is by Rodger Hoopman with costumes by Eileen Beaver.

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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A trailer park takes over Thistle Dew

Courtesy photo

Laura Sheperd, an Elly Award winner, brings a provocative revision of her “Last Resort Trailer Park” to Sacramento’s daring Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre, a haven and inspiration for local playwrights. A cast of oddballs, mainly female, come together in a laughter-filled comedy, set in a Winnemucca, Nevada, trailer park in what looks like a promising inspiration for a very special TV series.

In a revealing comment on her creative inspiration, Sheperd says that her play ideas start with characters, and the drift of the play confirms that process. What plot there is revolves around a minor crime. Somebody stole a truck belonging to Buk (Sean Williams), a habitué of the trailer park, and used it to break into a house on the other side of town.

Hank Trimble (Jeff Webster), a low-key deputy sheriff, seeks out Buk to ask questions, having noted his ownership from documents in the truck and listed under his formal name: Buford Ulysses Kingman. Hank’s “investigation,” in fact, provides one of the shows funnier scenes. For some reason he thinks that getting a DNA sample from Buk will determine the latter’s guilt or innocence. Buk, though, has a pathological fear of sharp instruments and creates a spray of cotton covered sticks, which frustrate Hank.

The play, though, is dominated by its three women. Rhonda (Gay Cooper) owns the park and lives on the premises. She’s the level-headed one who sets off the eccentricities of the other two. Nadine (Noemi C. Rios) is one of the park’s tenants and Buk’s paramour. She has a secret rival in her friend Charlene (Ashley Lucas), who hangs around the park.

One nice touch by Sheperd, who also directs, is an avoidance of glamour. The actors look like ordinary people, the kind we see regularly on lines at a supermarket checkout stand. One offbeat note comes from the Southern accents the characters employ. Though the locale is in Nevada, the characters sound like residents of Dogpatch.

Both Sheperd and Thistle Dew’s artistic director, Thomas M. Kelly, agree that “writing is re-writing.” Kelly, in fact, hosts meetings of playwrights and would-be playwrights at his theater, with sessions free and open to all. In that spirit we can look for possibilities in the current version of “Trailer Park,” now in search of a plot.

One kernel of possibilities lies in a detail from the story. Two characters discover that they are father and son. That’s a provocative situation that could be explored for development. But I may be presumptuous; I’m the critic, not the playwright.

“Last Resort Trailer Park” continues through May 1 at 1901 P Street, Sacramento. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 and include coffee, tea and “decadent desserts,” served during intermission. For tickets and reservations, call 916-444-8209 or go to thistledewplaywrights@yahoo.com.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Becky Shaw: an eye-opener about the sexes

True to form, Sacramento’s B Street Theatre offers a main stage show that’s both entertaining and instructive. Introducing us to nationally recognized playwright Gina Gionfriddo, director Buck Busfield, also the theater’s producing artistic director, opens a window on today’s emerging cultural values. If you didn’t know who wrote the play you would never imagine that it came from the pen of a woman.

Its four main characters treat promiscuity as a norm, like changing partners on a dance floor. A fifth character, the elderly Susan Slater (Elizabeth Benedict), mother of Susanna Slater (Lindsey Gates), is just about as sexually permissive as the others. Hearing that her late husband had a reputation as a gay, she replies that if people want to be gay they should go ahead and be gay. Her new boyfriend is not just a friend but her lover.

Daughter Susanna is married to young Andrew Porter (Brian Rife), after what appears a conventional exploration of sex and love through promiscuity, which encourages the unattached (and semi-attached) among us to explore their tastes, as if shopping for new clothes. Almost shrugging off conventional morality, she declares, “Sometimes lying is the most humane thing you can do.”

Dominating the play is her step-brother, Max Garrett, who was adopted by her mother. B Street veteran Kurt Johnson plays him with so much dash that he all but runs away with the play. He delivers most of Gionfriddo’s zingers, such as “love is a by-product of use.” His self-indulgent cynicism is a complement to his practical success in business and money management, and he knows exactly where to find a good lawyer.

He’s also contemptuous of Andrew, an aspiring writer, and sums him up by saying, “He scribbles and brews coffee,” and “He thinks 401k is a band.” With good intentions Susanna and Andrew set up the free-wheeling Max with the seriously disturbed and suicidal Becky Shaw (Samantha Sloyan).

Becky resists well-meaning attempts to help, declaring that “I don’t want Ghetto therapy.” She also declares that “happiness makes me mean.”

But her mental problems, including attempted suicide, don’t soften Max, who observes, “You force people to hurt you.”

“I would like you to try harder,” he tells her, “the next time you try suicide.”

While the play manages to be witty and clever, with touches of insight and revelations about current attitudes about sex and love, it seems too harsh and cynical to pass for comedy. With witty character development by the actors, and under Busfield’s tight direction, its satirical observations occasionally provoke laughter along with insight, despite some awkwardness from being played in the round.

“Becky Shaw” continues through May 30 at 2711 B Street, behind the Stanford Park Baseball Field. Performances are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 2 and 6:30 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m.; and Saturdays at 5 and 9 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18-$30. Call (916) 443-5300. See also www.bstreettheatre.org.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jack climbs a beanstalk on Sutter Street

The Classic Tale Jack and the Beanstalk continues at Sutter Street Theatre, Historic Folsom

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

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

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

Message from Falcon's Eye

Folsom Lake College Department of Theatre Arts
Artistic Director David Harris
10 College Parkway
Folsom CA 95630

Tony Award-winning musical comedy The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

Folsom CA April 8, 2010

The Falcon’s Eye Theatre at Folsom Lake College presents William Finn and Rebecca Sheinkin’s Tony award-winning musical, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee to conclude our 2009/2010 performance series.

In the musical comedy, 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 hilarious tale of overachievers’ angst chronicles the experiences of six adolescent outsiders vying for the spelling championship of a lifetime. The show’s Tony-Award winning creative team has created the unlikeliest of hit musicals about the unlikeliest of heroes: 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.

Showtimes for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee are April 30 through May 16, 2010, at 8:00pm on Friday and Saturday nights, and at 2:00pm on Sunday afternoons. There are special “student-night” performances on Saturday May 8 at 2:00 p.m. and Thursday May 13 at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets are 15 dollars for general admission and 10 dollars for students, seniors, SARTA and League members Student tickets on Thursday May 13 at 8:00 p.m. and Saturday May 8 at 2:00 pm, tickets are 5 dollars FOR THESE PERFORMANCES ONLY. At this time, The Falcon’s Eye can only accept payment by cash or check. We cannot accept payment by credit card or ATM card. The Falcon’s Eye box office can accept reservations at any time by calling 916-608-6800.
Henry V will be performed at Oak Hills Church, 1100 Blue Ravine Road, in Folsom.

This performance contains some mature themes. Parental Guidance suggested for those under 13. Children under 8 years of age are NOT ADMITTED

THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE started as a non-musical play entitled C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E, done by the improvisational group “The Farm.” One of the performers in the play, Sarah Saltzberg, happened to be the nanny of the playwright Wendy Wasserstein (The Heidi Chronicles). Wasserstein was impressed by what she saw and suggested to friend William Finn (Falsettos) that he may be able to take the show to the next level. Finn, his former student Rachel Sheinkin, and C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-E creator Rebecca Feldman worked together to turn the piece into a full-length musical.

“... it's the more private but enduring triumphs - the connection finally made with a member of the opposite sex, the discovery of previously unknown pockets of self-esteem - that are really being celebrated in "Spelling Bee," William Finn's score ... occasionally suggests a Saturday morning television cartoon set to music by Stephen Sondheim, that's not inappropriate. ... wistful songs provide a nice sprinkling of sugar to complement the sass in Rachel Sheinkin's zinger-filled book.”
-- Charles Isherwood, New York Times

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee QUICK FACTS
Director: David Harris
Producer: The Falcon’s Eye Theatre at Folsom Lake College
Location: Oak Hills Church
1100 Blue Ravine Road in Folsom
Musical Director: Philip Angove
Choreographer: Debra Davis-Worth
Scene and Lighting Designer/Technical Director: Jonathan Williams
Costume Designer: Nancy Pipkin
Stage Manager: Alyse Vogel
Cast: Jenna Cedusky, Dilan Endsley, Katherine Folsom, Donte Mayer, Samia LaVirgne,
Kevin Meinz, Matthew Provencal, Tyler Robinson, Robert Salls, John Reilly Saunders, Rebecca Scolnick, and Zachary Whitehouse.


Performance Times/Prices April 30th through May 16th.
Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 pm/$15 gen admin, $10 students and seniors
Sunday afternoons at 2:00 pm/$15 gen admin, $10 students and seniors.
Also: Saturday May 8 at 2:00 p.m. and Thursday May 13 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets for these two performances only are all $5.00.

About us:
The mission of the Department of Theatre Arts at Folsom Lake College is to provide the people of the region with theatre that speaks to their lives and experiences and that challenges their expectations. We strive to enrich the community by providing performing arts opportunities for the people of the region as actors, designers, and technicians in a fully-supported educational environment.

In spring 2011, Folsom Lake College expects to welcome the community to our new multi-million dollar performing arts complex. It will house FLC’s visual and performing arts programs, and will be the home of The Falcon’s Eye Theatre at Folsom Lake College.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Charlie Baker (played by veteran actor, Michael Bishop) discovers not all is what it seems at the lodge.

Tickets are still available for the final weekend of Imagination Theater's comedic farce, The Foreigner. The remaining shows are Friday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, April 17 and 18 at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $17 adults, $14 seniors, and $10 children/students. Tickets are available online (www.it-tickets.org), by phone (530) 642-0404, or at the door.

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!

Located on the El Dorado County Fairgrounds, Imagination Theater celebrates its' 10th Anniversary bringing quality, live community theater to Placerville and El Dorado County.

Richard III reigns over Del Paso Boulevard

Photo by Lori Ann De Lappe-Grondin

England’s King Richard III, despite a mere two-year reign in the late fifteenth century, remains a mysterious, colorful and controversial figure, especially in America. His reputation as a villain, enhanced by Shakespeare, still continues despite the controversy surrounding it. But Richard’s current English supporters–mainly the Richard III Society (which includes an American Branch)–is dedicated to restoring his crippled reputation.

Though he reigned for only two years, 1483-1485, Richard’s career mirrored the intrigues surrounding Elizabeth I and the Tudor kings, who supplanted him and the house of York. Shakespeare’s version, his fourth play, follows a trilogy about Henry VI and continues Richard’s reputation as a deformed monster. Thus the bard wooed Elizabeth and her court.

Mostly billed as a history rather than a tragedy, the play is obviously less popular here than in the British Isles. Though the cast includes characters who lived before Europeans discovered America, it also provides one of Shakespeare’s famous lines, “A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse!” And it opens with Richard’s dazzling soliloquy, beginning with “Now is the winter of our discontent/Made glorious summer by this son of York.”

Sacramento’s Big Idea Theatre deserves a medal for offering “Richard III” as its current production. Surprisingly, opening night drew an audience at least twice the usual size, though some freely admitted unfamiliarity with the play and Shakespeare in general. Under Justin L. Chapman’s sharp direction, Brian Harrower in the title role leads an accomplished and polished cast.

Jeffery Heatherly gives strong support as a forceful Buckingham, as do the others, mostly in multiple roles. Particularly memorable is Mariana Seda as both the luckless Anne and the cross-dressed Catesby with an eye patch. Justin Muñoz takes the versatility prize as King Edward, Richmond, Lovell and the ghost of Prince Edward.

The cast is capably supported by Renee DeGarmo’s flexible set design, plus fight choreography by Ernesto Bustos, who also appears as Brackenbury and Rivers. Katie Chapman’s colorful period costumes, though, are confusingly mixed with contemporary dress in what appears to be a fuzzy attempt to make the action timeless The inconsistency led one viewer to wonder if there was some hidden symbolism embodied by the blend of historical periods.

The scenes before intermission focus on what in the trade is called “set-up,” background for the dramatic conflicts to come. The complicated historical and political relationships among the characters, though, become wearying and may have cost the production some of its first audience. Unfortunately, those who gave up lost the dramatic clashes that kept the rest of us alert in the second part..

As the clever, witty and villainous Richard, Harrower had the biggest challenge but met it only in part. Although Richard’s traditional hunchback is minimized, Harrower appears clearly deformed, limping with a gamed leg and a hand that remained gloved and hidden. The complex role, though, demands more than a portrayal of a sore loser.

Shakespeare defines Richard in a traditional opening address to the audience. Yet Harrower’s one-dimensional delivery, words emanating from an embittered cripple, loses some of Richard’s complexity and fascination for us. Richard’s language also reveals a frustrated intelligence, barred from the rewards of the usual courtly life, and consequently seeking gratification through an ability to manipulate those around him. The words thus reveal a secret wink between Richard and the audience.

The production also brushes past a key early scene, where Richard, despite his crippled body, woos and wins the widowed Anne, whose husband he slew in battle. His triumph feeds his hungry ego, a substitute for his inability to love.

But although the production loses some of Shakespeare’s complexity, it provides an interesting revelation of the bard’s power and a rare glimpse at a historical context that we rarely have the opportunity to see.

Performances of Richard III are at 8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through May 9. Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m. (April 18, 25, and May 2 only). Regularly priced general admission tickets are $15, with SARTA/League/Seniors/Students at $12. All second weekend tickets are $10 (April 16-18 only). Big Idea Theatre is located at 1616 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815. Box office: 916-960-3036. Web site: www.BigIdeaTheatre.com

Lambda offers Opening Lines

Message from Lambda Players

It was 10 years ago that local film reviewer Tom Swanner decided to
try his hand at being a playwright. An avid theatre-lover and former
professional actor, he approached The Lambda Players and submitted his
first script.

A few months later the play, Opening Lines, was playing to sold out
houses. Now, on the 10th anniversary of its first reading, Opening
Lines is once again taking the stage with an updated script, a cast of
Lambda Players’ veteran actors and the return of director Matthew
Burlingame (Sordid Lives, Hedwig) at the helm.

“Opening Lines is the only Tom Swanner play I haven’t directed,”
Burlingame told Outword. “We’ve collaborated on five shows now and
when I heard them kicking around the idea of doing an updated version,
I knew I had to direct it.”

Opening Lines lead characters, Chris and Richard are being played by
long time Lambda regulars Mahlon Hall (Sordid Lives, The Nun Crashers)
and West Ramsey (Make Way For Dyklings, Oscar and Bosie). The two are
set up on a blind date by friends only to discover the possibility
that love at first site may truly exist.

Returning from the original production is Cynthia Davis who portrayed
Diane, Richard’s slightly insane, muscle-relaxer popping best friend
and fag-hag. Opposite Davis is Chris’ best friend played by Brian Judd
(Paperclip Messiah, The Coming Out Party) who is described as a loud,
bitter queen. Davis and Judd turn Diva-ing into an art-form as the two
clash in a local coffeehouse.

Rounding out the cast are Miacail Buse (Burnt Fields, Dear Harvey) and
Lynnette Blaney (Suddenly Last Summer, Burnt Fields) as Chris’ parents
who have come by to meet the new boyfriend.

The only problem is Chris doesn’t know that they know he is gay, and
isn’t quite ready to come out to them.

Described as “a sensational comedy” and “one of the best
romantic-comedy scripts produced by The Lambda Players,” Opening Lines
is the first in a string of plays that are gay-themed, returning the
players to their roots.

“We’ve spent the last year or so experimenting with different styles
of plays, trying to see what works for us,” said Swanner, who is also
The Lambda Players’ artistic director. “Our community is vastly
different than it was even 10 years ago. Do you still want to see
coming out stories, we asked? The answer we got is ‘yes’. LGBT
Sacramento wants to see their lives reflected on our stage, so we’re
gonna give it to them.”

To accomplish this, Swanner and Lambda Players’ board president Dave
Stewart, who also holds the Mr. Bolt 2009-10 title, enlisted the help
of former Artistic Director Matthew Burlingame who retired from the
troupe four years ago.

Returning last year to direct the hit comedy Sordid Lives, Burlingame
has signed on to direct a minimum of four shows in the upcoming
season, including his own play Paperclip Messiah scheduled to open in
July and also celebrating it’s 10 year anniversary on The Lambda
Players’ stage. The show chronicles a tumultuous love affair between a
Catholic priest struggling with inner demons and a down-on-his-luck
gay man who takes a job as the parish custodian.

Other shows being discussed for the upcoming season include past
Lambda Players’ hits such as Trolling, Coffeehouse, Countess Dracula
and several new works by local playwrights. Following Opening Lines
will be a Shakespeare adaptation entitled Romeo and Julian.

“We’ve had a tough road the last year with the tight economy, the
expense of the new theater space and the shortage of arts grants for
California’s arts community,” said Stewart. “We’re also in a city with
over 50 competing theater companies who are all struggling to make it.
The Lambda Players has survived this long because our community
supports the work we do. It’s our job to produce plays worthy of that
support and we are committed more than ever to doing that. Opening
Lines is just the start.”

Opening Lines will play at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays from April 16
through May 22, with no show on May 8. There will be two Sunday
matinees, dates of both are to be announced.

Visit www.LambdaPlayers.com for more information

Monday, April 12, 2010

and HABITAT FOR HUMANITY partner to raise awareness
of the need for affordable housing in Sacramento

National tour starring Melissa Gilbert as Ma
opens at the Community Center Theater
on Wednesday, April 14, for two-week run

Cast members to aid completion of North Sacramento home on Friday

Company members of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, THE MUSICAL arriving at The Sacramento Community Center Theatre on April 14, 2010 will help build a house at a Habitat for Humanity Sacramento build on April 16 at 10:00 a.m. on Mahogany Street in Del Paso Heights. This build is part of a nationwide effort between Habitat for Humanity International and Little House on the Prairie to raise awareness about the need for affordable housing. The tour, presented by California Musical Theatre's Broadway Sacramento series stars Melissa Gilbert as Ma.

"We are excited to work with Little House on the Prairie, the Musical," said Christine Roybal, Fund Development Officer for the Sacramento Habitat for Humanity Chapter. "We appreciate the cast and crew for helping us raise awareness of the need for more affordable housing and their generous commitment to helping to eliminate poverty housing."

Throughout its 34-week, 26 city tour, Little House on the Prairie will make a minimum donation of $1,500 per market to the work of Habitat for Humanity through June 2010. In addition, the cast and crew will help local Habitat for Humanity affiliates build homes in each location.

"Habitat for Humanity is truly one of the most important, most wonderful organizations in this country and around the world," said Ms. Gilbert. "An enduring message of Little House on the Prairie- the importance above all of a home and a strong family -- is exactly the mission of Habitat. There couldn't be a more perfect match between a show and an organization. As we travel across the country during the next year, we are looking forward to getting involved in a variety of ways in each city to do our part to aid in Habitat's mission to bring affordable housing to those in need."

Melissa Gilbert, who played the lead role of Laura Ingalls in the hit television series based on the beloved children's books by the same name, continues her legacy on the prairie and will now be playing the role of Ma Ingalls.

"We are extremely grateful to Melissa Gilbert, the cast and producers of Little House on the Prairie for supporting our mission and engaging audiences across the country to build greater awareness of the need for affordable housing," said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. "The Ingalls family's struggles in difficult conditions parallel the challenges many families face today in trying to secure better futures for themselves and their children. It's our hope this new interpretation of an ageless classic will remind fans both young and old of the importance of a safe, simple and decent home."

Little House on the Prairie has remained a celebration of early Americana for nearly 75 years. The musical premiered at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in a developmental production in August 2008.



Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built more than 300,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1.5 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.



Little House on the Prairie, a new musical based on the beloved Laura Ingalls Wilder series of classic American books is the uplifting story of an American family forging a new life amidst the mighty challenges, heartbreaks, joys and triumphs that face them in the newly-settled heartland. Melissa Gilbert, who rose to fame as a child playing 'Laura' in the hugely successful NBC television series "Little House on the Prairie" during the 1970's, now continues her legacy 'on the prairie' by taking on the role of Ma. This celebration of the pioneering spirit and the core values on which this country was founded will travel throughout the U.S. on a 26 city tour which culminates in spring 2010.

Tickets for the Sacramento engagement of Little House on the Prairie are on sale now. Advance tickets for Little House on the Prairie are available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, Sacramento, by phone at (916) 557-1999 or (916) 808-5181 or online at Tickets.com. Tickets are also available at the Community Center Theatre box office at 1301 L Street. Tickets are $18-$65. Discounts are available for groups of 12 or more by calling (916) 557-1198. To learn more about Little House on the Prairie and other shows coming to Sacramento, please visit www.BroadwaySacramento.com. Visit the official Little House on the Prairie website at www.littlehousethemusical.com.


Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 pmThursday matinees are at 2:00 pmSaturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 pm
Sunday evening, April 18th is at 7:30 pm

Melissa Gilbert in Sacto musical


California Musical Theatre presents LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, THE MUSICAL as the fifth show in the 2009-10 Broadway Sacramento season at the Community Center Theater. The national tour stops in Sacramento April 14-25. Broadway Sacramento is sponsored by Wells Fargo.

Melissa Gilbert, who rose to fame as a child playing Laura in the hugely successful NBC television series “Little House on the Prairie” during the 1970’s, now continues her legacy on the prairie by taking on the role of Ma. Little House on the Prairie will also star Steve Blanchard as Pa and Kara Lindsay as Laura.

"Little House on the Prairie" is the uplifting story of an American family forging a new life amidst the mighty challenges, heartbreaks, joys and triumphs that face them in the newly-settled heartland. It is also the story of young Laura Ingalls, as she begins her life as a young woman, finding purpose, and finding love. Above all, it is the celebration of the pioneering spirit and the core values on which this country was founded – a spirit that still resonates today.

"Little House on the Prairie," with Gilbert, Blanchard and Lindsay, had its world premiere production in August, 2008, at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, where it shattered all box-office records and sold-out for 12 consecutive weeks. Initiated for the stage by Adrianne Lobel (Frog and Toad) and Francesca Zambello, the show is directed by Zambello (Disney’s The Little Mermaid), with music by Academy Award winner Rachel Portman (Emma), lyrics by Donna di Novelli and a book by Tony Award winner Rachel Sheinkin (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee). Michele Lynch is choreographer and Kevin Stites is musical supervisor.

Tickets for the Sacramento engagement of "Little House on the Prairie" are on sale now. Advance tickets for "Little House on the Prairie" are available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, Sacramento, by phone at (916) 557-1999 or (916) 808-5181 or online at Tickets.com. Tickets are also available at the Community Center Theatre box office at 1301 L Street. Tickets are $18-$65. Discounts are available for groups of 12 or more by calling (916)557-1198. Visit www.BroadwaySacramento.com for more ticketing information.

MELISSA GILBERT (Caroline “Ma” Ingalls). Theatre: Off-Broadway: A Shayna Maidel (Outer Critics Circle and Theatre World Awards); Regional: Love Letters (Canon Theater, LA); The Glass Menagerie (Chautauqua Theater Company); The Miracle Worker (Royal Poinciana Playhouse, Palm Beach); Bus Stop and Love Letters (Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville); Little House on the Prairie, the Musical (Guthrie). Television: Series lead in “Little House on the Prairie,” starred in more than 40 movies for television, including Emmy Award-winning The Miracle Worker, and more than a dozen television series, including “Nip/Tuck,” and “Sweet Justice.” Ms. Gilbert served as President of the Screen Actors Guild from 2001–05, and is currently the Standing Board Chair and Spokesperson for the Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition. Ms. Gilbert is also a New York Times best-selling author with the recent publication of her autobiography, Prairie Tale - A Memoir, from Simon & Schuster.

STEVE BLANCHARD (Charles “Pa” Ingalls). Broadway: Beauty and the Beast, Camelot, A Christmas Carol, The Three Musketeers; Off-Broadway: Frankenstein, Johnny Guitar, An Oak Tree; National tours: Camelot, Phantom of the Opera, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Repertory Theatre of St. Louis: Esmeralda; Baltimore’s CenterStage: Sleep of Reason; Charles Playhouse, Boston: The Threepenny Opera; Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C.: Hot Mikado, Godspell; Guthrie: Little House on the Prairie, the Musical; Paper Mill Playhouse: Chess; Theatre Under The Stars, Houston: Chess. Film/Television Law at Randado, Rapmaser Ronnie, Warlords 3000, “Third Watch,” “Law and Order,” “Ed,” “Police Story,” “Sunset Beat,” “One Life to Live,” “Guiding Light,” “Another World.”Original cast recordings Johnny Guitar, Sundown, Frankenstein; debut solo CD Northbound Train

KARA LINDSAY (Laura Ingalls). Theatre: Denver Center for the Performing Arts: Quilters; Guthrie: Little House on the Prairie, the Musical; 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle: Lone Star Love; West Virginia Public Theatre:Thoroughly Modern Millie, Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Hello, Dolly!; Carnegie Mellon University: Side Show, After Miss Julie, Hello Again, Oresteia. Training B.F.A., Acting/Musical Theater, Carnegie Mellon University

FRANCESCA ZAMBELLO (Director). Theatre Broadway: Disney’s The Little Mermaid; London: Royal Albert Hall: Showboat; West End: Napoleon; Raimund Theater, Vienna: a new musical based on Rebecca; Seattle Children’s Theatre: Tibet Through the Red Box; Bregenz’s floating stage: West Side Story; Guthrie: Little House on the Prairie, the Musical. Old Globe: First Wives Club, Skylight Music Theater: artistic director, 1984-91; Opera: Metropolitan Opera: An American Tragedy (world premiere), Cyrano de Bergerac (with Placido Domingo), Les Troyens; Teatro alla Scala: Cyrano; Washington National and San Francisco Operas: The Ring, San Francisco Opera: artistic advisor; Royal Albert Hall: La Bohème; The Bolshoi: Fiery Angel; Chicago Lyric Opera: Salome; Royal Opera House: Carmen, Don Giovanni; Paris Opera: Boris Godunov, War and Peace, Billy Budd, William Tell; Film War and Peace (ORF), Amahl and the Night Visitors (BBC), The Little Prince (BBC/PBS). Awards: Three Olivier Awards; two Evening Standard Awards for best musical and best opera; two French Grand Prix des Critiques; Japanese Golden Prize; Helpmann Award; Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres; Russian Federation’s medal for Service to Culture; the Palme d’Or in Germany; the Golden Mask in Russia. Education: Colgate University; Moscow University. www.francescazambello.com

RACHEL PORTMAN (Music). Theatre: Little House on the Prairie, the Musical. Film: Grey Gardens, The Duchess, Emma, The Cider House Rules, Chocolat, Infamous, The Manchurian Candidate, Oliver Twist, The Lake House, Nicholas Nickleby, Hart’s War, The Human Stain, Life is Sweet, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Beloved, Home Fries, Addicted to Love, Marvin’s Room, Only You, The Road to Wellville, Sirens, Benny & Joon, The Joy Luck Club, Used People, Smoke, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, Where Angels Fear to Tread. Opera/concert: The Little Prince, The Water Diviner’s Tale. Awards: Academy Award for Best Original Score for Emma; Academy Award nominations for The Cider House Rules and Chocolat; British Film Institute’s Young Composer of the Year Award.

DONNA DI NOVELLI (Lyrics). Musical Theater/Opera: Little House on the Prairie, the Musical (lyrics); Florida (book and lyrics) Lyric Opera Cleveland, Public Theater’s New Work Now, New York City Opera’s VOX; No God but Yearning (book and lyrics) Public Theater’s New Work Now, Joe’s Pub. Theater: The First Eff (stage play) Mark Taper Forum, Duende Arts. Dance: Twelve Dancing Princesses (text) Los Angeles Modern Dance and Ballet. Commissions: San Francisco Opera; Chanticleer; BBC. Publications New Monologues For Women by Women (Heinemann Press), NuMuse, Brown University. Awards: Manhattan Theatre Club Fellowship, Rockefeller Foundation residency in Bellagio, Italy; National Musical Theater Conference residency, the Mac Dowell Colony and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. Professional Affiliations: ASCAP, Dramatists Guild. Teaching: Bookwriting, Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts; Playwriting, National Theater Institute, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center; Visiting professor, Brown University. Training: M.F.A., Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU Tisch School of the Arts (Ira Gershwin Fellow); A.M., Brown University.

RACHEL SHEINKIN (Book) Recent work includes Broadway: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Tony, Drama Desk awards); Off Broadway: Striking 12 (Lucille Lortel nomination), off-off: Serenade. Regional: Guthrie, Little House on the Prairie, the Musical; Center Theater Group, Sleeping Beauty Wakes (Los Angeles Ovation Award); London: Blood Drive. Residencies, fellowships, commissions include: Eugene O’Neill National Theater Center, Baryshnikov Dance Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Manhattan Theatre Club, Deaf West, McCarter Theatre, Playwrights Horizons. Rachel is a volunteer mentor for TDF’s Open Doors program, a visiting instructor at Yale School of Drama, and adjunct faculty member of NYU’s Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program.

MICHELE LYNCH (Choreographer). Paper Mill Playhouse: Happy Days. Broadway: The Coast of Utopia (Choreographer), Hairspray and The Full Monty (Associate Choreographer), Urinetown (Asst. Choreographer). Off-Broadway: Everyday Rapture (Second Stage), NYMF: Idaho; Yale Rep: Rough Crossing; Guthrie: Little House on the Prairie; Asolo Theatre: Pride & Prejudice; Mark Taper Forum: 13; St Louis MUNY: Breakfast at Tiffany’s; Stanford Center for the Arts: Empire; North Carolina Theatre: South Pacific; Ford Center: Leading Ladies; has traveled around the world setting companies of Hairspray and The Full Monty. Film: CAMP. Awards: Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Happy Days at Goodspeed Opera House; Garland Award for 13.

KEVIN STITES (Music Supervision, Additional Vocals, Incidental Music). Broadway: Tale of Two Cities, Color Purple, Titanic, Sunset Boulevard, Pamela’s First Musical, Children and Art, Les Misérables, Threepenny Opera, Fiddler, Nine, Oklahoma!, On the Town. National tours: Color Purple, Martin Guerre, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Titanic. Guest conductor: Grant Park Symphony, Guys and Dolls and Les Miserables at Hollywood Bowl. TV/Film: “Rosie Live,” Reefer Madness and others.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pilgrims Progress on 24th Street

Courtesy photo.

Inspired by John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, a seventeenth-century literary classic, One Way Productions of Sacramento has taken on the challenging task of converting allegory into drama. The work in question, an “allegory of ideas,” personifies character abstractions by treating them as people. In Bunyan’s story, for instance, we get Mercy, Love and Joy embodied as people. The pitfall is that, as drama, the characters become oversimplifications, challenging Coleridge’s “willful suspension of disbelief.” In contemporary terms, they seem “phoney.”

With Lynne Cimorelli’s original music, Ingrid Laurentiis-Wilson has done a remarkable job as playwright, director and choreographer. The production holds our attention and maintains our sympathy, in spite of its fundamentalist subtext. The play, like its model, rides on the assumption that salvation is the reward of those who interpret the Bible literally, rather than accepting a wide range of meanings. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, Unitarian theologians like William Ellery Channing made broad religious interpretations acceptable in polite society.

To its credit, One Way Productions offers an instructive and entertaining experience to audiences that include a wide range of beliefs. Led by Taila Viaovich, 17, as Christiana (female equivalent of the original “Christian”), the cast includes a large contingent of home-schooled youngsters, performing with skill and verve that have earned enthusiastic audiences.

Remaining production dates and details are Friday, April 9, at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday, April 10, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Advance tickets may be purchased for $9.00 (adults), $8.00 (seniors and military), 7.00 (groups of 10 or more), and $5.00 (children 12 and under). To order tickets in advance, contact One Way Productions at info@1wayproductions.org, or call (530) 676-8858. Ticket prices at the door are $14.00 (adults), $11.00 (seniors and military) and $8.00 (children 12 and under).

All performances will be held at the 24th Street Theatre in Sacramento. Go to: www.Sierra2.org for directions.

Beware of hunchbacks on Del Paso Blvd.

l to r: Justin Munez, Brian Harrower, Mariana Seda

courtesy photo

Big Idea Theatre is excited to continue its 2010 season with the opening of William Shakespeare's Richard III on Friday, April 9, 2010. Opening night includes a gala with wine, light refreshments, a meet and greet with the cast and crew, and live music featuring local artists. All opening night tickets are $20.

This show is directed by Justin L. Chapman and features BIT Company actor Brian Harrower as Richard. The show is filled out by a skilled cast of players including Jeffery Heatherly, George Sanford, Mariana Seda, and Carrie Joyner.

Performances of Richard III are at 8:00 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, April 9 through May 9, 2010. Sunday matinees are at 2:30 p.m. (April 18, 25, and May 2 only). Regularly priced general admission tickets are $15. SARTA/League/Seniors/Students $12. All second weekend tickets are $10 (April 16-18 only). Big Idea Theatre is located at 1616 Del Paso Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815. Box office: 916-960-3036. Web site: www.BigIdeaTheatre.com

THE STORY: Shakespeare's spellbinding play tells the tale of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, one of theatre's most memorable villains, as he gleefully murders his way to the top. Richard is a man with an eye to the crown and a heart of flint who is bent on seizing power, no matter the cost.

Big Idea Theatre's company is elated about our hit third season. We are committed to bringing high quality entertainment to the Sacramento area, and to making the theatre-going experience fun, affordable and accessible for all. Please help us get the word out about our continuing adventure by attending and telling everyone about Richard III. We look forward to seeing you in the house!

$5. PREVIEW performance of RICHARD III at BIT this Thursday, April 8 at 8pm.

Warning: this show is not for children...it's also three hours long. Tell them "Stanley" sent you!

Monday, April 5, 2010

"None of the Above" is a lot

From Another Square Production

“A snappy comedy by the playwright Jenny Lyn Bader about the risks people end up taking when they're trying to safeguard themselves. With wit and candor, the two characters deftly dissect entitlement, intelligence, and isosceles triangles." - The New Yorker

"An urban satire, intellectual caper and romance, all rolled into one. Plenty of charm and smarts!" - Time Out

Another Square Production presents:

"None of the Above"
Three Penny Theatre
1723 25th Street (25th & R Streets)
Sacramento, CA 95816

Event Dates: Apr 16 - May 16, 2010
Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm

Featuring: Carissa Meagher as Jamie and Brandon Lancaster as Clark

Jamie, 17, a sophisticated New York City private school student, answers the door one day expecting her drug dealer and instead finds her SAT tutor. Things degenerate from there. First Jamie tries to get out of being tutored and then she tries to cut a deal with the tutor, Clark. He doesn't have much sympathy for her plight. They clash right away and seem to have very different values and priorities. But as the play progresses, Jamie and Clark negotiate an unusual pact. Soon enough, all the snap judgments these two have about each other will get thrown out the window, and they'll both be surprised by what they learn.

Directed by Robin Henson
Penny Kline Meagher, Producer
P.O. Box 163120
Sacramento, CA 95816
phone: 916 448-0312
cell: 916 420-4517

Event Page: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/104570

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sutter Street Goes into the Woods

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

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

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

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