Salinas-born novelist John Steinbeck receives a regional theater festival of sorts for the next few weeks as stage adaptations of two works each take opening bows this weekend. The writer’s best-known stage work is “Of Mice and Men,” which he adapted himself after writing the novella, but we’ll get stage productions of two novels set during the Depression, both of which were adapted for film, with David Ward’s hokey “Cannery Row,” which starred Nick Nolte and Debra Winger, not really comparing to John Ford’s lyrical elegiac “Grapes of Wrath,” starring Henry Fonda.
City Theatre at Sacramento City College presents J.R. Hall’s adaptation of the 1945 “Cannery Row.” Set in Monterey during the Depression, the episodic novel centers on the character of Doc, who is based on Steinbeck’s longtime friend Ed Ricketts, to whom the book was dedicated. Originally produced by the Western Stage of Salinas for the 1995 National Steinbeck Festival, the adaptation includes 35 actors playing more than 70 roles. Christine Nicholson directs a strong community cast including Michael Sicilia as Doc, Michael Coleman as Mack and Coleman Daniels as Hazel. The Sacramento premiere includes a four-piece band.
8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays, through March 23. Also 2 p.m. March 22. At the Performing Arts Center, Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento. Tickets are $10-$15. Information at www.citytheatre.net .
The UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance presents Frank Galati’s acclaimed adaptation of “The Grapes of Wrath,” Steinbeck’s 1939 work that won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The story focuses on the Joad family, poor tenant farmers who must leave Oklahoma and seek work in California as well as life with dignity. Granada artist-in-residence Miles Anderson directs the production, which features live original and period folk music.
8 p.m. Thursday-March 8 and March 13-15; and 2 p.m. March 9 and 16. Tickets: $12-$19. For information: (530) 754-2787, or (866) 754-2787; tickets. mondaviarts.org
The department also will host a “Grapes of Wrath” Symposium on March 7. Participants include Sasha Abramsky, author of “The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives,” and Ann Stevens, director of the Center for Poverty Research and chair of the Department of Economics. The free all-day event explores Steinbeck’s work and the cultural issues it raises. Starts at 10:30 a.m. in Lab A, Wright Hall, UC Davis. Information at www.theatredance . ucdavis.edu.
‘Arcadia’ at ARC
American River College bucks the Steinbeck trend by opening a new production of Tom Stoppard’s heady “Arcadia,” which toggles between two periods, neither of them the Depression. Tracy Martin Shearer directs, with set, light and costume designs by Elly Award winners Kathy Burleson and Gail Russell.
Performances in the American River College Theatre, 4700 College Oak Drive, Sacramento. Tickets are $10-$12. The production runs through March 9 at 8 p.m Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays and 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Tonight’s performance will be interpreted for the hearing impaired. Information at www.arctheatre.org or (916) 484-8234.