The British panto tradition, for all its surface anarchy, follows a number of guidelines.
That's what makes the plays so fun.
There is a "dame" a bigger-than-life narrator played by a man in drag. There is a prince played by a woman wearing short pants and boots. The story deals with good triumphing over evil, and at least one animal.
In Sacramento, we prefer the panto horse.
Local playwright Christine Nicholson has become a master of the form, and her latest, "Alice in Wonderland: A British Panto," is playing at the Sacramento City College Performing Arts Center Auditorium. Luther Hanson directs with musical direction by Bradley Moates and choreography by Diamond Rose Pedersen. Moates also plays the Dame, with Ashley Olson as Alice.
Other famous "Alice In Wonderland" characters include the White Rabbit, played by Tyson Wheeler; the Mad Hatter, played by Anthony M. Person; and the Caterpillar, played by Jes Gonzales. The show continues at 8 p.m. today and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 15-16. Performing Arts Center Auditorium, Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento. Tickets: $10-$15. Information: (916) 558-2228, www.citytheatre.net.
Hunter and Amendola
Guitarist Charlie Hunter has made an annual December stop at Harlow's for several years now, and this time he has drummer Scott Amendola in tow.
Hunter and Amendola go back many years together to the salad days of the Bay Area's acid-jazz scene and membership in the legendary band T.J. Kirk (a band dedicated to the music of Thelonious Monk, James Brown and Rahsaan Roland Kirk).
Hunter and Amendola have played often as a duo, and they are celebrating the release of a new record of original tunes called "Not Getting Behind Is the New Getting Ahead."
Though Hunter is known for tongue-in-cheek song titles (see: "Mitch Better Have My Bunny"), the new album, which he wrote while traveling across the country, has a political bent. "Rust Belt," "There Used To Be a Nightclub There" and "Ghost Mall" are three songs inspired by Hunter's time on the road.
The record was made with both musicians playing in the same room at the same time, listening to each without headphones. There is no mixing, editing or overdubs.
Hunter and Amendola play Harlow's, 2708 J St., on Wednesday. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show starts at 8. Tickets: $20-$25. Information: (916) 441-4693, www.harlows.com.
It just wouldn't be the holidays in Sacramento without Rodger Hoopman's "Scrooge (the Musical)." The story has been adapted from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" by Hoopman (who also plays the title character), with music by Rob Knable.
The show opens tonight and runs through Dec. 23, at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays and 8 p.m. Dec. 20. Tickets: $10-$17. At the Chautauqua Playhouse, 5325 Engle Road, in the La Sierra Community Center, Carmichael. Information: (916) 489-7529, www.cplayhouse.org.