In the mid-1800s, Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin was able to parlay 2,000 shares of a mining stock (paid to him in lieu of debt) into a fortune, thanks to the Comstock Lode.
Building on that windfall, he eventually founded Santa Anita Park racetrack in Southern California (his estate comprised the land now occupied by Arcadia, Sierra Madre and Monrovia). His real-estate holdings also extended north, allowing his heirs, particularly daughter Anita, to enjoy summers in one of Lake Tahoe's grandest estates.
The Baldwin House is now a part of the Tallac Historic Site, which every summer offers not only lakeside places to picnic and re-create, but also presents the Valhalla Arts, Music and Theatre Festival. The theater portion of that program opens this weekend.
Its first show ran in London for more than a decade and has become a standard of summer festivals: "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" crams something from all the Bard's plays into 97 minutes and emphasizes his love of bawdy humor and physical action. It runs today through Sunday and June 11-12 at 7:30 p.m. and June 13 at 2 p.m.
Also on the schedule are the Tahoe Improv Players July 9 and 23, and Aug. 6 and 20 (7:30 p.m.); comedy "Motherhood Out Loud," July 18-20 at 7:30 p.m. and July 21 at 2 p.m.; "Better Late" by Larry Gelbart, July 26-28 and Aug. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 4 at 2:30 p.m.; "Young Shakespeare" for families, Aug. 2 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; and the annual Gatsby Murder Mystery Dinner, with participants solving a murder while celebrating the roaring '20s, Aug. 10 at 6 p.m.
Performances are in the historic Boathouse Theater; tickets are $18 prepaid or $20 at the door; valhallatahoe.com.
At Harrah's Tahoe on Saturday, the Fab Four brings back the Beatles. Fifteen years ago, Ron McNeil, who loved to perform as John Lennon, ran into Andy Sarraf, who specialized in Paul McCartney, at a Beatles conference. They then formed one of the most successful of the Beatles tribute bands, aiming for accuracy in both looks and vocals.
McNeil describes the show as "copying (The Beatles') career. We do not reinvent the wheel." Moving through the band's songs chronologically, the performance also includes a multimedia presentation, but "we play and sing everything live," McNeil said.
"We have a little bit of a surprise too," he added. "A gentleman portrays Ed Sullivan (in the show), a comical version. Of course, most presentations of Ed Sullivan are comical, but this one is so stiff it's funny." (7:30 p.m.; $44; Ticketmaster)
Eldorado, Reno Showroom: "Menopause the Musical," through July 14. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe The Fab Four, Saturday, (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Reno Taylor Hicks, today-Sunday. (800) 427-7247.
Harveys, Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena: Tim McGraw, July 16. (800) 427-8397.
MontBleu Resort, Lake Tahoe Outdoor Event Center: B-52's, KC & the Sunshine Band, July 14. Showroom: Wayans Brothers, Saturday. (888) 829-7630.
Silver Legacy, Reno Biggest Little Wing Fest, today-Saturday. (800) 687-8733.