Courtesy of California Stage

Jessica Goldman Laskey plays Blanche Sartorious and Robert August is Dr. Trench in the California Stage production of George Bernard Shaw's "Widowers' Houses."

Sacramento Live: 'Widowers' Houses' a play to think about

Published: Friday, Apr. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 12TICKET
Last Modified: Saturday, Apr. 13, 2013 - 7:58 pm

George Bernard Shaw's first staged play, "Widowers' Houses," premiered Dec. 9, 1892, at the Royalty Theatre in London. Since it was produced by the Independent Theatre Society, a private subscription club, the play and its critique of the wealthy wasn't subjected to censorship by Lord Chamberlain's Office.

Shaw, ever the provocateur, eventually published the drama – about hypocritical aristocrats (are there any other kind?) and exploitive landlords – as one of his "Plays Unpleasant," intended not to entertain Victorian audiences but to educate them.

Shaw's method, message and spirit live on in California Stage producer Ray Tatar, who likes nothing better than giving his audience a little instruction (though he doesn't mind entertaining them as well). In Tater's production of "Widowers' Houses," Janis Stevens directs a high-toned cast featuring Jessica Goldman Laskey as Blanche Sartorious, a young woman who enjoys the good life that her successful businessman father provides for her.

The too-little-seen-of-late veteran actor Loren Taylor plays Mr. Sartorious, her self-made (read "slumlord") father. The cast also includes Rick Murphy as the rent collector Mr. Lickcheese, and Robert August as Blanche's naive-yet- corruptable paramour, Dr. Trench.

Shows at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through April 28. At the California Stage Theater, 2509 R St. Tickets: $20-$25. Information: (916) 451-5822 or

Shell game

Trombonist Steve Turre's impressive résumé includes more than 230 recording sessions with artists such as Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Dizzy Gillespie, Laurie Anderson, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey and Carlos Santana.

A football player and music student during his days at California State University, Sacramento, Turre returns to town for a rare performance at his alma mater this coming week.

Turre has pioneered the use of conch shells in jazz, and his fine albums as a band leader include 1993's "Sanctified Shells," 1995's "Rhythm Within" (with Herbie Hancock and Pharoah Sanders), and 1999's "Lotus Flower."

Turre has been the trombonist for the Saturday Night Live band since 1985 and has taught at both Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music.

Turre joins the CSUS Jazz Ensembles in concert at the Music Recital Hall, 6000 J St., at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Tickets are $10 general, $7 seniors and $5 students, at the University Ticket Office. Information: (916) 278-4323 or

La-La Land

Playwright Arthur Kopit has a bitter, cynical view of Hollywood (as opposed to all the other writers who view work in the Southern California dream factory as creatively satisfying and life affirming), which he puts on display in his 1991 dark comedy "The Road to Nirvana."

The play examines the lengths people will go for those seductive and illusionary goals of fame, fortune, and a green-lit project with a red-hot star.

The Actor's Workshop production is directed by Mark Heckman and features Nicole DeCroix, Eason Donner, Stuart Campbell and Amber Marsh. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays, through May 5 at the Wilkerson Theatre, 1723 25th St., Sacramento. Tickets are $15. Information: (916) 583-4880 or

Call The Bee's Call The Bee's Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.

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