"A Pail of Grace," the 17th original holiday play written by Buck Busfield, slyly slips in as a smart comedy with thoughtful underpinnings. But Busfield, who also directs, has spirituality on his mind, and he explores the difficulties of looking for and finding salvation.
The modern-day story has real estate mogul John Finuken (a graceful performance by David Silberman) experience a spiritual epiphany while sitting in a park. Having felt the presence of God in everything around him, John decides he must become a vessel of God's word and work only for the Lord.
Dave Pierini plays his ne'er-do-well son, Stephanie McVay his sweet but clueless wife and Elisabeth Nunziato his type-A daughter. Kurt Johnson shakes the family up as the wild card Zjelko Krelko, who has some shocking suggestions and deep personal ties to John.
The production continues at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, 2 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursday-Fridays, 5 and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 30. B Street Theatre Mainstage, 2711 B St., Sacramento. Tickets: $23-$35 general, $5 student rush. Information: (916) 443-5300.
La Raza holiday movies
La Raza Galeria Posada screens two little-seen Chicano-themed holiday films this weekend.
At 7 tonight, La Raza Galeria Posada will show Luis Valdez's family-friendly "La Pastorela, A Shepherd's Play." At 7 p.m. Saturday, a different film, the more adult "Pastorela," plays.
"La Pastorela, A Shepherd's Play" was written by Valdez, director and founder of El Teatro Campesino, who is well-known for his films "Zoot Suit" and "La Bamba."
In "A Shepherd's Play," a young girl named Gila is transported into the story of the Pastorela, a traditional play about the shepherds who are told of the the birth of Christ and the triumph of God's angels over Satan's demons. Gila must journey to Bethlehem and find the Christ child's manger.
Linda Ronstadt (as the Arcángel Miguel), Paul Rodriguez and Cheech Marin appear in the movie.
Made in 1991, "A Shepherd's Play" was filmed in the Central Valley for PBS' "Great Performances" but was only available on VHS. Galeria Posada will screen the new DVD version.
"Pastorela," a bawdy 2011 comedy from director Emilio Portes, is set in Mexico City, where Joaquin, a local police officer, tries to maintain his role as El Diablo in the neighborhood's annual Pastorela performance.
On both nights, La Raza Galeria Posada director Marie Acosta (who performed the role Arcángel Miguel with El Teatro Campesino) will speak about the Pastorela tradition. Both screenings include holiday refreshments and music. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted.
At La Raza Galeria Posada, 2700 Front St., Sacramento. For information, call (916) 446-5133.
Sunday is the annual Holiday Jazz Show at JB's Lounge, during which the engaging vocalists Cy Young, Cynthia Douglas and Vivian Lee will put some swing into the Christmas classics.
Showtime is 5-8 p.m. Tickets: $10 or $5 for ages 10 and younger. Information: (916) 723-5517 or firstname.lastname@example.org. JB's Lounge is located inside the Clarion Inn, 1401 Arden Way, Sacramento.