Barry Wisdom

Brittni Barger plays Della and Sam Arnold is James in the B Street Family Series production of "The Gift of the Magi," through Dec. 30.

Sacramento Live: Critters tell the story in 'Gift of the Magi'

Published: Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 10TICKET

Jerry R. Montoya's completely charming new adaptation of O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" shows how effective and accessible the 1906 story remains.

Montoya, who also directed the B Street Family Series production, sets the story in an imagined animal world where bears and badgers are married, porcupines are politicians, and mice play violins. Brittni Barger (last seen at the Sacramento Theatre Company as Helen Keller's teacher, Annie Sullivan, in "The Miracle Worker") and Sam Arnold are the young married couple, Della and James.

She's a badger with long, beautiful hair. He's a train conductor bear with a family heirloom watch. Things get tough for the pair when the railroad closes. Both eventually lose their jobs as a result, and just how to afford a Christmas gift becomes a challenge. Their best friends are relatives Winnie, who's pregnant (a clever adult-friendly performance by Stephanie Altholz), and her husband, Walter (the crafty John Lamb), who runs a music store. Michael Stevenson quick-changes through numerous members of the close-knit town.

Even with a diversion through a musical talent show, Montoya's adaptation and the sharp cast find the story's emotional heart.

"The Gift of the Magi" continues at 1 and 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 30, and on Dec. 26-28. B3 Stage, 2727 B St., Sacramento. Tickets: $18-$27.

For information call (916) 443-5300 or go to

The Fallen Idol

While English film director Carol Reed had his greatest personal success in 1968 with "Oliver!" for which he won the Academy Award for best director, many think his best run was the three movies he made in consecutive years from 1947 to 1949. First was the noir thriller "Odd Man Out" with James Mason, then came two seminal movies written by Graham Greene: "The Fallen Idol" and "The Third Man," the latter of which famously starred Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten.

"The Fallen Idol," the least-seen of the trio, receives a rare outing Monday anchoring the Mondavi Center's Focus on Film series. Greene adapted his own story about a household butler (Ralph Richardson) who has created a fantastic image of himself in eyes of the young diplomat's son with whom he spends much of his time. When the butler is implicated in a murder, the young boy tries to help him out.

Greene's trademark moral ambiguity is fascinatingly portrayed through Reed's direction with the story told completely from the boy's point of view.

In a town with no regular movie revival house, gifts like "The Fallen Idol" are few and far between. 7 p.m. Monday, at the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre. Tickets $5-$10. For information call (866) 754-2787 or go to

Sunday Jazz

The up and coming young tenor saxophonist and composer Anton Schwartz comes from the Bay Area to JB's Lounge and he's got a couple Sacramento A-listers working with him, as Joe Gilman (piano) and Steve Homan (guitar) will be in the band. The first set is at 5 p.m. and tickets are $13, $5 for kids 10 and younger. Call (916) 723-5517 or email Vivian Lee at for reservations. JB's Lounge is inside the Clarion Inn at 1401 Arden Way.

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Read more articles by Marcus Crowder

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