Things to do in Sacramento and Beyond

The Bee's guide to events, activities, arts and entertainment


By Marcus Crowder

mcrowder@sacbee.com

Frederick Knott's "Dial 'M' for Murder" has become a popular, iconic and much imitated thriller ever since the play first premiered on BBC television in 1952.

The stage version successfully went to both London's West End and New York's Broadway the same year. However, the play was indelibly stamped into the public consciousness through director Alfred Hitchcock's intense 1954 film version which starred Grace Kelly and Ray Milland.

The Sacramento Theatre Company opened its lumpy new production this weekend with a buoyant Matt K. Miller and a graceful Jackie Vanderbeck in the lead roles.

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Tony Award-winning actress Faith Prince and director/acting coach Natasha Burr are offering a master class series focusing on professional musical theater audition skills, acting for the stage and basic acting skills for the camera.

This first series consists of six consecutive weekly classes, each running for three hours. It will begin Oct. 17.

Saturday workshops for 12- to 18-year-olds also will be offered, and adults and college-age students will have access to weekly evening classes. Each series concludes with a student showcase.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

Performer Tommy Castro, a San Jose native who won the Blues Music Award for entertainer of the year in 2008, will lead a symposium on the music for area junior and senior high schools students. Castro is both a student of the seminal music, its history and its influence on other genres.

The Sacramento Blues Society is sponsoring the event as part of its Blues In Schools: Blues Symposium program from 2-3 p.m. Oct. 21.

Castro will be joined by other contemporary blues artists: Curtis Salgado, Bernard Allison and Deanna Bogart.

The California Stage production of "How Else Am I Supposed to Know I Am Still Alive?" has extended its run with performances through Sept. 25. The comedy drama by playwright Evelina Fernandez about two middle-age Latina friends stars S.J. Andrea "Yaya" Porras and Nicole Limon with Antonio Juarez directing.

The show plays 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $12-$15. At the Three Penny Theater, 1719 25th St. in the R25 Arts Complex. Information: (916) 451-5822, www.CalStage.org

By Marcus Crowder mcrowder@sacbee.com

The seemingly inexhaustible jazz guitarist Ross Hammond has organized an expansive musical benefit concert which comes off this Saturday. "March to the Beat of One Heart" will benefit the worldwide humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders and their efforts in Somalia.

The event takes place at Antiquité Maison Privée, 2114 P St. in midtown Sacramento running from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and there is $10 minimum donation. 100% of the proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.

The Somalian Aid Concert features a wide range of Sacramento musicians donating their time and music to the cause. Artists include Lee Bob Watson, Kathy Barwick and Pete Siegfried, The Ricky and Del Connection, Electropoetic Coffee, the Harley White Jr. Trio, Greenhouse, Sherman Baker, Jahari Sai and Dave Lynch, Crossing the River, and Walking Spanish. This is an all ages event. If you are unable to attend, you can still help Doctors Without Borders at the organization's
website or the Facebook page.

By Marcus Crowder

mcrowder@sacbee.com

It's very tempting to call Beth Malone's clever, engaging performance of Annie Oakley a bull's eye, so let's just do it.

Malone hits the mark in every way including originality while bringing the great American sharpshooter to life in the Music Circus production of "Annie Get Your Gun."

The story is a fictionalized account of the real-life sharpshooter Annie Oakley and her eventual marriage to Frank Butler, whose Wild West show she joins. Oakley became an international sensation through the vaudevillian-styled shows that also included Buffalo Bill Cody and Chief Sitting Bull.

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN****
What: Beth Malone shines as Annie Oakley in this Music Circus production of the Irving Berlin play. Berlin got his big chance after the sudden death of Jerome Kern, and a legend was born.
Where: Wells Fargo Pavilion, 1419 H St., Sacramento
When: Continues 8 p.m. today through Saturday; 2 p.m. today and Saturday; 7:30 p.m. Sunday (last show)
Tickets: $42-$74; tickets for ages 4-17, starting at $30
Time: Two hours and 30 minutes including intermission
Information: (916) 557-1999, www.tickets.com

By Marcus Crowder

mcrowder@sacbee.com

"Don't let it be forgot, that there once was a spot, for a brief shining moment, that was known as Camelot."

Those words, King Arthur's coda at the end of Lerner and Loewe's musical have come to symbolize so much more than the play they come from. Quoted by President Kennedy as his favorite lines from the play just a week before his assassination, the words came to symbolize his administration and its ambitions.

The musical itself still has much to recommend it as seen in the affecting production now at the Music Circus. Led by a powerfully compelling performance by Davis Gaines as the circumspect King Arthur, "Camelot" is one of the more heady productions that the Music Circus will present. Lisa O'Hare matches Gaines with her wonderful performance as his lusty queen Guenevere.


Camelot
What: The Music Circus produces the late Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe classic with bravura performances from Davis Gaines and Lisa O'Hare.

When: 8 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. today and Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday (last show)

Where: Wells Fargo Pavilion, 1419 H St., Sacramento

Cost: $42-$74

Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes, including one intermission

Information: (916) 557-1999, www. californiamusicaltheatre.com

3 1/2 stars

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

The Music Circus' new production of "Oliver!" has a rough, uneven charm about it, much like the story the musical tells.

Lionel Bart's truncated adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel "Oliver Twist" softens the edges on most every character, particularly Ron Wisniski's central Fagin, in telling the story of the foundling orphan boy Oliver.

Dickens' 1838 novel paints a considerably darker picture of Oliver's miserable world, though the musical suggests a bleak future for the boy who dares to ask for "more."

A crack in a main supporting beam in the ceiling of the Angus Bowmer Theatre of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival has forced major changes there. The theater is closed while repairs are being made. The festival operates three theaters in the summer and while the other two, the New Theatre and the Elizabethan Theatre are unaffected, the Bowmer typically has two performances a day six days a week. Those shows have now been transferred to a temporary tent structure named Bowmer in the Park. The tent seating 600, located in Lithia Park right next to the Festival grounds, opened last week. Festival Executive Director Paul Nicholson expects repairs and refitting the theatre to take four to six weeks. The festival has added performances in its other theaters and complete information can be found here.

B Street Producing Director Buck Busfield has just announced the 2011-12 season schedule for the theater's B3 Series. The series, now in its fifth season, is designed to present accessible but more challenging contemporary plays in an intimate setting.

The four plays shape up this way:

"Red" by John Logan

Sept. 3 - Oct. 2, 2011

"Red" won the 2010 Tony Award for Best New Play.

"Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them" by A. Rey Pamatmat

Oct. 15 - Nov. 12, 2011

"The Walworth Farce" by Enda Walsh

Jan. 28 - Feb. 26, 2012

"Freud's Last Session" by Mark St. Germain

May 19 - June 17, 2012

Information: (916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org

Stephanie Gularte, producing artistic director of Capital Stage, has announced the company's schedule for its 2011-2012 season at 2215 J St. After six seasons on the Delta King, the professional theater company specializing in challenging contemporary theater will finally have a home of its own. The schedule includes three Sacramento area premieres.

The Capital Stage 2011-12 Season

"Superior Donuts" by Tracy Letts, a Sacramento premiere: Oct. 7 - Nov. 12

"Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!)"
by Carleton, FitzGerald & Alvarez: Nov. 30, 2011 - Jan. 1, 2012

"In the Other Room (or The Vibrator Play)" by Sarah Ruhl, a Sacramento premiere: Jan. 25, 2012 - Feb. 26, 2012

"True West" by Sam Shepard: March 21, 2012 - April 22, 2012

"Dying City" by Christopher Shinn, a Sacramento premiere: May 16, 2012 - June 17, 2012

"How I Learned to Drive" by Paula Vogel, a Pulitzer Prize winner: July 18, 2012 - Aug. 12, 2012

April 5, 2011
"Memphis" at the Movies

If you can't get to New York in the next couple of weeks but still want to see a real Broadway musical you're in luck. "Memphis" Broadway's current Tony Award winning Best Musical, receives a four night movie house run at the end of the month.

The musical which was filmed live with the original Broadway cast plays 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 28; Saturday, April 30, and Tuesday, May 3 at 7:30 p.m., with a special 12:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday May 1. Local theaters hosting all four shows are Sacramento Greenback Lane 16, 6233 Garfield Ave., Sacramento and Natomas Marketplace, 3561 Truxel Rd. Sacramento. "Memphis" will also play April 28, May 1 and May 3 at El Dorado Hills Stadium 13, 2101 Vine St., El Dorado Hills. The event will be shown in more than 530 movie theaters nationwide.

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This is the first time a current Tony Award-winning Best Musical will show in movie theaters while still running on Broadway. The 50's set rock n' roll musical takes place in the segregated south where a young white DJ named Huey Calhoun (played by Tony nominee Chad Kimball) falls in love with up and coming black singer played by Music Circus veteran, Montego Glover.
Tickets for "Memphis" are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com.

Capital Stage has extended its hit show "Master Class" for one more weekend. Originally scheduled to close on April 10, the production has added four more performances and will instead close on April 17.

Starring Janis Stevens as Maria Callas, the cast includes Michael Wiles, Wendolyn Cooper, Ian Cullity and Laura Pyper. Jonathan Williams directed the production.

The regular show times are 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. The additional four performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, April 14 and 15, 7 p.m. Saturday, April 16, and the closing performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 17.

Tickets: $26-$33; student rush, $12; Senior Sunday matinees, $22.

For information, call (916) 995-5464 or go to www.capstage.org.

Vicki Lewis has suddenly become a go-to star for California Musical Theatre.

Lewis, a belter with style and heart, will come to Sacramento on May 8, performing a one-night-only benefit concert at the Cosmopolitan Cabaret. Lewis has been stunning in three Music Circus appearances debuting in 2008 as Mama Rose in "Gypsy," then returning in 2009 as The Baker's Wife in "Into the Woods" and then in 2010 as Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl."

This summer Lewis will bow as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter's "Anything Goes." California Musical Theatre artistic director Glenn Casale will help Lewis in developing the concert.

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Tickets for "An Evening with Vicki Lewis" are $125 for tables and $90 for the tiered seats. Proceeds will go to California Musical Theatre's artistic and educational efforts.

"An Evening with Vicki Lewis" starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Cosmopolitan Cabaret at 1000 K Street (between 10th and 11th). Tickets go on sale Monday at 10 a.m. through the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H St. or at (916) 557-1999.

By Marcus Crowder mcrowder@sacbee.com

Terrence McNally's Tony winning meditation on fame and talent "Master Class"
will be Capital Stage's next production.
Leading the cast will be Janis Stevens as Maria Callas, the tempestuous opera diva providing the often cringe inducing commentary. Stevens is a Bay Area Critics nominee for Best Female Lead in "Becoming Julia Morgan" which performed a limited sold out run at the Berkeley City Club last December. Joining Stevens are Michael Wiles, Wendolyn R. Cooper, Ian Cullity and Laura Pyper. Capital Stage Producing Director Jonathan Williams directs.
Previews begin March 11, and the production opens March 18. Show times are 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 7 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $26-$33. Preview tickets are $15 and Student Rush tickets are $12. All are available at the Capital Stage Box Office, (916) 995-5464 or online at www.capstage.org.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

faithprince.jpgSacramento's own Tony-winning actress Faith Prince (left) will star in the West Coast premiere of "Billy Elliot the Musical," which opens a San Francisco run on June 27 at the Orpheum Theatre on Market Street. Prince, who lives here part of the time with husband Larry Lunetta and their son Henry, will play Mrs. Wilkinson alongside Giuseppe Bausilio, Kylend Hetherington, Lex Ishimoto and Daniel Russell who will all rotate in the role of Billy. Based on the hit film about a boy boxer who becomes a ballet dancer, the show features music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, and direction by Stephen Daldry. The Broadway production won 10 Tony Awards. Tickets go on sale Friday, Feb. 4 starting at $35. You buy online at www.shnsf.com or by calling SHN Audience Services at (888) 746 1799.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

Natomas Charter School is competing for a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh program. If it wins, the school will use the funds to continue a project aimed at uniting teens in the United States and Turkey in a balanced discourse which brings together different groups of people through universal commonalities.

The money would also help Natomas send its original, multimedia production called "One Voice" to the Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C. next year.

To help Natomas text message "105107" to 73774 (PEPSI) and vote online at http://www.refresheverything.com/ovproject. You can vote once a day until January 31. For more information go to www.benarts.org and www.natomascharter.org.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

Sacramento's Capital Stage, the professional, nonprofit theater company, is reporting a significant increase in single ticket sales for the first four months of its 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Founding artistic director Stephanie Gularte said that the first show of the season, the critically acclaimed mystery drama "Mauritius," posted a 22 percent increase over sales from the same period last year.

"Then our holiday show ticket sales increased by 50 percent, putting us at a season-to-date single ticket sales increase of 43 percent," Gularte said.

Capital Stage is now in its sixth year of operation. Its fiscal year will end in August.

The company is also reporting that subscriber numbers are up 12 percent, and they have already passed their previous record of 762 subscribers in 2009.

General Manager Keith Riedell said the company has more than 800 subscribers and predicts it will be close to 900 by the end of the current subscription drive.

The good news buoys the company as they plan to move this spring from their longtime home on the Delta King to new performance space in midtown at 2215 J Street. When announcing the move in October, the Capital Stage also began a $300,000 fundraising campaign to support building renovations.

"We have achieved 50 percent of our fundraising goal to date," said Gularte, "We are carrying no debt. We have a balanced budget and our ticket sales are up. These will be important factors in helping us achieve the remaining 50 percent of our goal."

Call The Bee's Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

California Stage has just announced the limited production runs of two plays serving as fundraisers for Women's International Organization for Peace and Freedom.

Howard Zinn's "Marx in Soho" plays at 8 p.m. Jan. 12-13, while Wallace Shawn's "The Fever" plays at 8 p.m. Jan. 14-15. Actor Jerry Levy is the single performer in both solo shows. "Marx in Soho" is a fantasia about Karl Marx returning to earth and facing an audience in New York's trendy Soho neighborhood. "The Fever" is described as a Kafka-esque interior monologue in which the performer holds "an unflattering mirror up to his well-meaning, liberally inclined audience."

Tickets are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors and students. California Stage is at 2509 R St. in Sacramento. Call (916) 451-5822 for information or reservations.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

The dream is over for CivicTheatre West. The Roseville community theater abruptly closed its doors in November under the burden of $500,000 in continuing debt and will not be reopening.

Today Civic Theatre West sent out emails to supporters telling them that attempts to revive the theater through a contibution campaign had failed. The theater which operated two performing spaces on Vernon Street set a goal of $350,000 which it needed by Dec. 15, in order to reopen in the spring of 2011. The board calculated the figure would allow them to operate the theater in a financially responsible manner.

The pledge total was just about $57,000. The theater will not ask that the pledges be made into cash donations.

CTW board president Calvin Stevens said he felt "sadness and great sorrow" in sending out the letters.

"I know we were doing the right thing in the last year and half by working down debt and also designing an ambitious forward looking program," Stevens said.

The lingering effects of a stalled economy on the theater's cash flow ultimately doomed the organization.

"We did not anticipate, and some say we should have, the floor falling out in terms of donations," Stevens said.

At a town hall meeting on a rainy Friday night in November, the board met with supporters at the Roseville Theater and rolled out the new contribution plan and timeline. Although more than 150 individuals eventually pledged money, it wasn't enough.

"The desire was to pursue donors with larger gifts to bring the floor up, so to speak," Stevens said. "Those larger donations never materialized."

Call The Bee's Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120.

December 14, 2010
New Plays at B Street

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

B Street Theatre has just announced some schedule changes and additions to its winter 2011 programming. "The 39 Steps" based on the novel of the same name and Alfred Hitchcock's wonderful 1935 film which starred Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll, will open on January 9 on the main stage. The production is part spy thriller, part comic and all theatrical imagination. Four actors will play more than 150 characters during the show. Kurt Johnson, John Lamb, and Melinda Parrett are confirmed in the cast. Buck Busfield directs.

In the B3 Series, Conor McPherson's "The Shining City" opens on January 8, replacing the previously scheduled "Equivocation." Set in Dublin, Ireland the story concerns a man who seen the ghost of his recently deceased wife. Kevin Karrick and Phil Cowan star, Elisabeth Nunziato directs.

The main stage season continues in the spring with two newly scheduled plays. "The Walworth Farce" by Enda Walsh runs Feb. 27, 2001 through April 10, 2011. Yasmina Reza's "God of Carnage" will run April 17, 2011 through May 29, 2011. Both productions are based on the plays' availability.

December 7, 2010
Junie B Extends

By Marcus Crowder

mcrowder@sacbee.com

Because of popular demand, the B Street Theatre Family Series has extended the run of "Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!"
The production will now run through Dec. 31, with performances at 1 and 4 p.m. December 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30; and at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dec. 24 and Dec. 31.
The B Street Theatre Family Series Stage is at 2727 B St., Sacramento. Tickets are $22 general, $15 children. For information: (916) 443-5300 or go to www.bstreettheatre.org.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

Big Idea Theatre seems intent on living up to its name with the recent announcement of a heady 2011 season. The provocative list of plays reads like what you might expect from a professional regional theater rather than a collaborative community organization.

BIT has been loading up on local talent lately and to pull off the ambitious program they've scheduled they'll need all the chops they muster on stage and off. Though David Auburn's "Proof" and David Rabe's "Hurlyburly" seem to turn up with a certain regularity, the rest of the season features a number interesting surprises.

After opening next month with Jeffrey Hatcher's "Compleat Stage Beauty" the company will stage one of Shakespeare's most provocative and tricky plays "Measure For Measure."

Closing out the season will be another Shakespearean work, "Twelfth Night" and Martin McDonagh's stunning and complex "The Pillowman." Having seen "The Pillowman " on Broadway in 2005 with Billy Crudup, Jeff Goldblum, Željko Ivanek, and Michael Stuhlbarg and another production later at Berkeley Rep, I can attest to the play's gut-punching power. A quick word to BIT: The playwright's name is spelled "McDonagh." The complete season is below.

BIG IDEA THEATRE 2011 SEASON:

"Compleat Female Stage Beauty" by Jeffrey Hatcher, directed by Brian Harrower, Jan. 13 - Feb. 5

"Proof" by David Auburn, directed by Shannon Mahoney, Feb. 24 - March 19

"Measure for Measure" by William Shakespeare, directed by Kirk Blackinton, April 7-30

"Hurlyburly" by David Rabe, directed by Katie Chapman, May 19 - June 11

"King of Shadows" by Roberto Aguirre-Sarcasa, directed by Benjamin T. Ismail, June 30 - July 23

"Wonder of the World" by David Lindsay-Abaire, directed by Jessica Berkey, Aug. 11 - Sept. 3

"The Pillowman" by Martin McDonagh, directed by Kirk Blackinton, Sept. 22 - Oct. 15

"Twelfth Night" by William Shakespeare, directed by Brian Harrower, Nov. 3-26

For more information go www.bigideatheatre.com

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

Civic Theatre West has closed its doors and turned off the lights, but apparently there are still flickers of life.

At 7 p.m. Friday, the board of directors are inviting community members to a town hall meeting and support rally at the Roseville Theater, 241 Vernon St., in Roseville.

The theater abruptly shuttered all its operations last Wednesday. Since then a groundswell of community and civic interest has prompted re-evaluation of the situation.

All interested community members are invited to attend Friday's meeting where the board will present a plan to save and reopen the theater, asking for the community's assistance to make it happen.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

Sutter Street Theatre in Folsom has come to the rescue of "Plaid Tidings," the production that suddenly became homeless with the Wednesday closing of Civic Theatre West. The cast will perform at the comfy little theater in Folsom.

"Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings" opens Thanksgiving weekend with performances at 8 p.m. Nov. 26, 8 p.m. Nov. 27 and 4 p.m. Nov. 28. It will continue at 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 7 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 19 (no performance on Friday, Dec. 3).

The cast features Nick Adorno, Troy Martin, Michael Fortunato and Bryon Roope, with Ryan Adame directing. "Forever Plaid: Plaid Tidings" is the holiday version of the popular jukebox musical franchise "Forever Plaid" featuring songs associated with close harmony guy groups such as the Four Aces and the Four Freshmen. Some of the tunes include the hits "Sixteen Tons," "Chain Gang," "Cry," "Shangri-La," and "Love is a Many-Splendored Thing."

Sutter Street Theatre is at 717 Sutter Street in the historic Folsom District. Free valet parking is available at the corner of Sutter Street and Wool. Tickets are $15 - $23. Book reservations at (916) 353-1001.

Call The Bee's Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

Roseville's Civic Theatre West ceased operations Wednesday night, board president Calvin Stevens has confirmed.

The community theater produced shows in two venues, Roseville Theater and Tower Theater.

Stevens said the theater's continuing debt of $500,000 had become untenable, and the board decided the responsible course of action was to close its doors.

"We had continuing unpaid obligations, but no operational buffer," Stevens said. "The responsible thing to do is to stop operations rather than keeping the wheels turning and hoping against hope when it really can't be done."

The nonprofit Roseville community theater was founded in 1987 by Bob and Rosemarie Gerould as Magic Circle Theatre. In 2009, the Geroulds were dismissed by the board, then led by Brent Null, who eventually became the artistic director. Null was let go from that part time position last month. In April of this year, the name was changed to Civic Theatre West.

Last year, the theater company's annual operating budget was $1.1 million. Civic Theatre West also has one the largest children's theater workshops in the state, and had more than 1,200 subscribers for its season last year.

Actors were told to go home Wednesday night as they came to theater for rehearsals of the upcoming productions of "Forever Plaid." Michael Coleman, director of "Deathtrap," which had opened last weekend, was told Wednesday night by Michelle Raskey, Civic Theatre's program director, that his show was closed.

"We could not in good faith continue to ask people to rehearse when we knew we would not be making these productions," Stevens said. "We called a meeting of the board last weekend to discuss options. All of the discussion were about ceasing because we did not see a way to continue."

Call The Bee's Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120.

The Davis Musical Theatre Company has announced its 26th season of Broadway musicals, all to be performed at DMTC Performing Arts Center, 607 Pena Drive, Davis.

"Singin' in the Rain" (Sept. 10 - Oct. 3, 2010): The stage version of the great MGM movie musical gets its DMTC premiere.

"Annie" (Nov.12 - Dec. 5, 2010) : The classic family musical based on the long-running comic strip.

"Chess", the musical (Jan. 7 - Jan. 30, 2011): Tim Rice's Cold War musical.

"Guys & Dolls" (Feb. 25, 2011 - March 20, 2011): Features classic songs, "Luck Be a Lady," "I've Never Been In Love Before" and "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat."

"How To Succeed in Business, Without Really Trying" (April 22, 2011 - May 15, 2011): Winner of 7 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize.

"Peter Pan" (June 17, 2011 - July 10, 2011): The Lost Boys and Tinkerbell battle Captain Hook and his men in Neverland.

Season tickets are $80 and $90. For more information, (530) 756-3682 or go to www.dmtc.org

I know Sam Misner and Megan Smith as fine actors from their work at Capital Stage. They were both in the excellent 2008 production of Aaron Loeb's "First Person Shooter." Smith was also featured in productions of "Les Liaison Dangereuses" and "Three Days of Rain."

The couple has another facet of their performing life that is as a highly regarded -- as a folk music duo. Sam plays guitar, Megan plays the bass, and they both sing.

"We generally say that we are original acoustic folk/Americana with a focus on vocal harmonies and story-filled lyrics," Smith told me.

Misner--Smith-Alternative-Cafe.jpg

Well-known throughout the Bay Area, the duo will perform in Davis this afternoon for free at Rominger West Winery, which is becoming a favored venue for live music.

Misner and Smith will play from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today. Rominger is at 4602 2nd St. Ste. 4, in Davis.

Chris Peterson and Nora Unkel have been announced as winners of the Davis Musical Theatre Company 2010 musical theater scholarships. Petersen of Sacramento and Unkel of Davis will each receive a $500 scholarship. The scholarships are awarded to graduating high school seniors who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in community musical theaters. The recipients will use the money for their post high school education. This fall Petersen will attend Sacramento City College and Unkel will attend New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

Capital Stage has announced the casts for its Playwrights' Revolution Monday new play reading series, which takes place this month. Patricia Milton's "Believers," which opens the series at 7 tonight, will feature Lauren Bloom, Michelle Hillen, Michael Stevenson and Eric Wheeler, with Janis Stevens directing.

On July 19, "The Unfortunates" by Aoise Stratford will be directed by Stephanie Gularte and feature Katie Rubin.

On July 26, Michael Stevenson directs "Complete" by Andrea Kuchlewska, with Stephanie Altholz, John Lamb, and Jason Kuykendall reading.

The series concludes on Aug. 2 with "Encountering Light" by Carissa Meagher with Eric Wheeler directing, the cast has not yet been set.

There will be play discussions following each production. Tickets are $10 per reading or $30 for the entire four-play, staged-reading series. For information: (916) 995-5464.

Sacramento Theater Company has made a change to their previously announced 2010-11 season schedule. Replacing the musical "Calamity" by British playwright Bryony Lavery will be another musical called "The Musical of Musicals (The Musical!)," which will occupy the same Jan. 12 - Feb. 20, 2011 Pollock Stage slot. "Musical" by Eric Rockwell and Joanne Bogart is a satirical homage to several different musical styles and genres. The play received a 2004 Drama Desk nomination for best musical and show ran Off-Broadway for 583 performances before moving to London's West End.

The Tony Award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe, featuring Sacramento's own Brian Rivera (pictured left) , brings its 51st season of political theater to the Sacramento region in September.

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The show, "Posibilidad, or Death of the Worker," deals with a U.S. factory closing down and the workers losing their jobs, their severance pay and their retirements. Needless to say, it's a comedy.

The musical, directed by Wilma Bonet, features, along with Rivera, Velina Brown, Lisa Hori-Garcia and Michael Gene Sullivan.

The show plays in Nevada City on Sept. 9 and Sept. 10 at the Nevada Theatre (www.brownpapertickets.com for information), in Davis on Sept. 11 at Community Park, and Sept.12 at Sacramento's Southside Park.

Scott Adams is presenting a special one-time encore performance of his play "Sweetening the Broccoli: Reflections on Alzheimer's" June 27 at Sacramento State.

The documentary-style play re-creates interviews by Adams with various people involved with all aspects of the disease from early-stage patients, family members and professional caregivers. Adams plays acclaimed Sutter Neuroscience Institute neurologist Dr. William Au, and two other actors perform multiple roles.

The performance is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sacramento State Alumni Center, across College Town Drive near the Power Inn/Howe Ave exit off Hwy 50. Tickets are $15. For information: (916) 524-3108 or email Adams at smadams@surewest.net.

This performance is a warm-up for one in August at the American Theatre Higher Education Conference (ATHE) in Los Angeles.

Sacramento's little Peter Sinn Nachtrieb (pictured) festival comes to a close this week end with the last four performances of his "Hunter Gatherers" at Capital Stage.
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Nachtrieb's "boom" ran earlier this spring at B Street so the San Francisco based writer's dark humor and clinical obsessions have had a thorough airing here. Putting an exclamation point on it all, Nachtrieb will attend Capital Stage's Thursday 8 p.m. performance and then join the four person cast on stage for a chat-back with the audience.

Good seats are available at www.capstage.org
or through the box office at (916)995-5464.

Playwrights Collaborative who usually meet at Big Idea Theatre will have their next monthly meeting this Sunday June 27, 7 p.m. at the Arden Playhouse.

This is a one-time meeting for the playwrighting support group who will return to the Big Idea Theatre on Del Paso for a July 11 workshop.

At the Sunday, June 27, workshop Playwrights Collaborative will read and discuss short plays by Leo McElroy - "Going Up" and Scott Charles - "Dinners With Augie."

The Arden Playhouse is at 5640 Roseville Road Suite D (near Watt Ave). The building is in the back between West Coast Transmission and Tom Duffy Tile on Roseville Road near Palm.

For further information or if you have a play you would like workshopped, contact Gary Agid at gary@agid.com or (916)383-9267.

June 21, 2010
Zoppi Madness

Attention all you Nanci Zoppi fans (I know you're out there)! This weekend you can see Zoppi perform in a rather different circumstance than you've likely seen her in before.

Zoppi will substitute as Mrs. Shubert for Jamie Jones in the Cosmo Cabaret's "Shear Madness" at both shows on Saturday and Sunday.

And there's more for the uber understudy, next month Zoppi subs for Lindsay Allen as Barbara on Wednesday night, July 21, and at the Thursday matinee, July 22.

You might wonder how a quaint little town like Healdsburg in Sonoma County can have world-class mainstream jazz festival while a big city like, say, Sacramento has none. The answer is easy enough - someone in Healdsburg wants it to happen and makes it so.

The someone in Healdsburg is artistic director Jessica Felix, who books and runs the
Healdsburg Jazz Festival

Felix uses her career-long contacts in jazz presenting to create the multilayered programs while continually balancing the art and commerce of her standout festival.
"I can't pay the big bucks, but we do pay them," Felix said with a laugh. She said the artists also get treated very well during their Sonoma stays.

"The word gets out how nice a festival it is," Felix said.

This weekend programs feature the Esperanza Spalding Group on Friday, Charlie Haden with Ravi Coltrane and Geri Allen on Saturday, and a Sunday finale with Jason Moran and the Bandwagon, with special guest Bill Frisell, the Gretchen Parlato Group, and the Dafnis Prieto Si o Si Quartet with Peter Apfelbaum.

Felix acknowledges the difficulty of putting someone like Cuban drummer Prieto on a bill. "He's the hippest drummer around, but nobody in Sonoma knows who he is."

Haden and Ravi Coltrane are of course heavyweights and while pianist Allen might not be as well-known by the public, she's adored by musicians. Spalding has been the major up-and-coming talent in jazz the last few years. A charming, attractive woman bass player, who also sings, Spalding has an accessible profile.

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Even pianist Jason Moran (pictured), who is the darling of New York, isn't a surefire draw.

"I don't have a big budget for big names so I decided to take a reasonable risk because I really like the music," Felix said.

·

B Street Theatre's producing artistic director Buck Busfield has announced the two 2010-11 seasons for his B2 space. Both the B3 Series for adults and the Family Series for children will have four productions next year.

The B3 Series

"Neat" by Charlayne Woodard (Sept. 4 - Oct. 2, 2010)

"Well" by Lisa Kron (Nov. 6 - Dec. 4, 2010)

"Equivocation" by Bill Cain (Jan. 8 - Feb. 5, 2011)

"Awake and Sing!" by Clifford Odets (May 14 - June 12, 2011)

The Family Series

"Junie B. In Jingle Bells, Batman Smells!" adapted by Allison Gregory from the books by Barbara Parks (Nov. 20- Dec. 26, 2010)

"The Young Abe Lincoln" by Jerry R. Montoya (Jan. 22 - Feb. 27, 2011)

"Cinderella" by Buck Busfield (March 12 - April 17, 2011)

"Extraordinary Things Through the Eyes of Anne Frank"
by Dana Freidman (April 30 - June 5, 2011)

The hard working B Street Interns will strut their stuff on stage this week in the comedy "SPACEGRRLS!"

The comedy by Sharon Eberhardt tells of four young female scientists who are sent into space by a makeup mogul. The cast includes Kristin Wolfe, Ryann Lee, Tygar Hicks, Katie Walters, Ana Eligio, and Brittni Barger. Erin Island directs.

The Intern showcase is a free show but donations are welcome and encouraged to help support costs of the production. The show previews at 7 p.m. June 10th and continues at 7 p.m. on June 12, June 14, June 18, and June 19.

The B Street Theater is at 2711 B Street behind the baseball field.

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Bassist Dave Holland got the break of a lifetime when he joined Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" band in 1969. The group included Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Jack DeJohnette - all now giant figures in modern jazz. Holland has always maintained creative distinction and smartly followed Miles' lead by recruiting the strongest players available for his groups.

This weekend Holland comes to Yoshi's in Oakland to record a new album with his muscular quintet featuring trombonist Robin Eubanks, vibraphonist Steve Nelson, saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Nate Smith. The music may not be as legendary as the Miles Davis tracks Holland first cut, but the band is certainly one of the very best anywhere.

While California Musical Theatre atistic director Glenn Casale is completing casting for this season, the acting company, CMT has announced actors for most major roles.

Here are the highlights.

Tony Award-winner Gary Beach will star as King Arthur in the season opener, "Monty Python's Spamalot" (July 9-18).
Beach who appeared last summer at the Wells Fargo Pavilion as Nathan Detroit in "Guys and Dolls" won his Tony in 2001 as best featured actor in a musical in "The Producers."

Music veteran Max von Essen returns as Joseph in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (July 20-25). While Von Essen came through Sacramento last year in the national tour of "Xanadu," he's well-known from his Music Circus turns in "Sweeney Todd," "Cabaret" and "Jesus Christ Superstar."

Two more Music Circus favorites, Vicky Lewis and Brad Little, head the cast of "Funny Girl" (Aug. 10- 5). Lewis plays Fanny Brice opposite Little's Nicky Arnstein. Lewis' Music Circus credits include Mama Rose in 2008's "Gypsy" and the Baker's Wife from last season's "Into the Woods."

Little has of course played the title role of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" twice in national touring productions here while also starring in Music Circus productions of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and "Les Misérables."

Complete cast lists are available at www.SacramentoMusicCircus.com

This weekend Images Theatre Company presents the first of what it hopes will be an annual event - The Legacy Youth Project Performance Series. The production features local youth in original spoken word performances dealing with the legacy they hope to leave to the world.
It all happens at the Guild Theater, 2828 35th St. (35th and Broadway), in Sacramento.

Show times are 8 p.m. June 4, 8 p.m. June 5, and 3 p.m. June 6. Doors open one hour before curtain. Tickets are $10. There will be a limited amount of scholarships available for youth.

For reservations and information, call (916) 428-1441 or go to www.imagestheater.org

May 20, 2010
music benefit

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The passing of 91-year-old pianist Hank Jones on Sunday makes tonight's concert by Sonny Rollins at the Mondavi Center all the more poignant and bittersweet. In the photo below, Jones sits at the piano beside bandleader Benny Goodman and saxophonist Budd Johnson.

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Artists from the generation of jazz innovators that include Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie are nearly gone. Jones played with all of them.

Truly Hank and his brothers, Thad and Elvin, rank among those innovators. Thad was a master composer, arranger and bandleader. Elvin revolutionized jazz, drumming while performing in one the greatest bands in any era, the John Coltrane Quartet. Hank was often in the background, but he was revered by his peers. His place in jazz history is secure.

Saxophonist Rollins who plays tonight remains one of the unquestioned giants and, at 79 years old, still plays with the ferocity that fueled his legendary status. Rollins and Jones are united in Art Kane's famous 1958 photograph "A Great Day In Harlem," which brought together 57 jazz artists for the celebrated picture.

Sonny Rollins - live - tonight at 8 p.m. at Jackson Hall.

Main Street Theatre Works has announced their 2010 Summer Season at the Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre in Jackson. June 18 - July 24 MSTW presents Ken Ludwig's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island." The pirate adventure will be followed by the classic 17th century Italian comedy "The Servant of Two Masters," by Carlo Goldoni presented in a translation and adaptation by Jeffrey Hatcher and Paolo Emilio Landi.

Performances are Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m., with gates opening at 6:30. Patrons are encouraged to picnic and should bring chairs and jackets. The Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre is located on North Main Street in Jackson, next to the Country Squire Motel. Tickets are $17.50 - $12 and the Family Pack (2 adults/2 students) is $49. Tickets available on-line at www.mstw.org. and at the gate.


B Street Theatre has announced the title and casting of the first show in their 2010-2011 Mainstage season. The play "Love Child" written by Daniel Jenkins and Robert Stanton will star David Pierini and Greg Alexander in multiple roles. Buck Busfield directs the comedy which opens Sunday night June 6, at 7 p.m. at the B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street. For information call (916) 443-5300 or go to www.bstreettheatre.org


Stephanie Gularte, Producing Artistic Director of Capital Stage has announced the company's 2010-2011 season. All except the holiday shows, are Sacramento premieres.

"Mauritius" by Theresa Rebeck
October 8 - November 7, 2010

"Reasons To Be Pretty" by Neil LaBute
January 21, 2011 - February 20, 2011

"Master Class" by Terrence McNally
March 11, 2011 - April 10, 2011

TBA
April 29, 2011 - May 22, 2011

"Or" by Liz Duffy Adams
June 17, 2011 - July 17, 2011


The Holiday Shows

"Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!)"
by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald,& John K. Alvarez
November 26 - December 30, 2010

"It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" adapted by Joe Landry
Limited 6 Performance Engagement December 19 -26, 2010

Information: (916)995-5464 or www.capstage.org

May 10, 2010
Lena Horne: The Lady

Lena Horne, who died late Sunday at the age 92, was one of the greatest of all black stars - and one of the greatest entertainers ever. She had more class than beauty and, of course, she was truly stunning. Her passing represents the end of era when black stars were brought to Hollywood in the '40s and '50s with no intention of them ever being featured actors - just exotic background. Horne was victimized by this as much as anyone (though there were many others). Still, she was known and respected for what she was allowed to do and for the person she was.

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Horne was a tremendous vocalist, who commanded the music, living the songs like the actress she was. Marlene Dietrich was one of her biggest fans and the great composer Billy Strayhorn was one of her best friends. She dated Joe Louis and Orson Welles before marrying arranger and pianist Lennie Hayton.
As a teenager, my parents took me to see her Tony-winning show, "The Lady and Her Music," when it came to San Francisco on a national tour. I've appreciated it significantly more as time passed than I did then.

A wonderful photo gallery in the New York Times documents some the stars who came back stage after Horne's show when it played New York. Sammy Davis Jr., Coretta Scott King and Jacqueline Onassis, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier, Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, Aretha Franklin and Harold Arlen (composer of "Stormy Weather") are a few who stopped by.

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Numerous sources (including our own insider) are reporting locally born actress Greta Gerwig has been cast in the upcoming Warner Brothers remake of the 1981 comedy "Arthur." Gerwig broke big this spring with her highly lauded turn opposite Ben Stiller in Noah Baumbach's "Greenberg." She will be the female lead, the Liza Minnelli part, opposite Russell Brand (who?).

The original "Arthur" starred comedic actor Dudley Moore as a very rich, good-natured drunk, who takes a chance with a woman who adds true vitality to his life.
Jason Winer will direct the new film which also stars Oscar winner Helen Mirren. We can happily vouch for the the appeal and talent of Gerwig, and Mirren's record of achievement speaks for itself.

Russell Brand? I guess we'll see.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

There's plenty of plucky American pioneering spirit - together with waves of old-fashioned sentiment - in the national touring production of "Little House on the Prairie, The Musical."

The musical, at the Community Center Theater, was developed at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and has gone from its run there to this national tour, with a New York production under consideration.

Based on the enduring series of books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, this production features Melissa Gilbert, who came to popular prominence from 1974-1983, starring in a television series sourcing the same material. Gilbert played Laura on television, but here she has appropriately moved on to play Ma, with the bright Kara Lindsay taking the central Laura role.

The musical's story airbrushes Laura's teen years, at first focusing on her family's homesteading in DeSmet, S.D., and then the courtship of Almanzo Wilder, who of course eventually becomes her husband. The musical's creative team, book by Rachel Sheinkin with music by Rachel Portman and lyrics by Donna Di Novelli, fashion an often-affecting, though limited narrative.

The musical's dynamics feature the homesteaders dealing with unyielding elements including a brutal winter and Laura's competition with Nellie Oleson. While Kate Loprest gives Nellie a real spark, the weak character occupies too much prominence in the thin story.

Director Francesca Zambello smartly distracts from the flat storytelling with stylized tableaux and an attractive, minimalist visual approach. Portman, who has mainly done film scores, writes some beautifully evocative music here, but Di Novelli's lyrics are mostly cumbersome and trite, minimizing the songs. Only on the duet "Faster," between Kevin Massey's determined Almanzo and Lindsay's Laura, do we get a song that really reaches inside the characters.

Still, the heart of the story, the selflessness of the Ingalls family and the remarkable resilience of the settlers have an undeniable strength. Steve Blanchard as Pa, Alessa Neeck as Laura's older sister Mary, and Anastasia Korbal as younger sister Carrie form the tightknit family.

Though Gilbert's voice didn't really pack much strength or assurance, she still delivered the musical's pivotal number "Wild Child" with an emotional clarity that really defines this production.

Call The Bee's Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120.

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

The Sacramento Theatre Company has announced its 2010-11 season. The subscription packages, which go on sale May 18, range from $90 to $156. Information is available at the Wells Fargo Pavilion box office 1419 H St., (916) 443-6722 and (888) 478-2849. The theater's web site is www.sactheatre.org.

The Sacramento Theatre Company 2010-11 season

"The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde
Oct.6 - Oct. 31 (Main Stage)

"Talley's Folly" by Lanford Wilson
Nov. 10 - Dec.19 (Pollock Stage)

"A Christmas Carol" adapted by Richard Hellesen, with songs by David deBerry
Dec. 1 - Dec. 26 (Main Stage)

"Calamity" American premiere by Bryony Lavery
Jan. 12 - Feb. 20, 2011 (Pollock Stage)

"Brighton Beach Memoirs" by Neil Simon
March 2 - March 27, 2011 (Main Stage)

"The Belle Amherst" by William Luce
March 30 - May 8, 2011 (Pollock Stage)

"Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure" by Steven Dietz
April 27 - May 22, 2011 (Main Stage)

elvis costello.jpgBy Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

Elvis Costello charmed and entertained a sold-out Mondavi Center audience Wednesday night with an animated, wide-ranging, 90-minute solo performance.

Dressed in a gray suit with a wide-brimmed, tan Panama hat, Costello moved easily through songs from across his career, including three from his first album "My Aim Is True," two songs from his last studio recording "Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane," and even debuting three brand new tunes.

An elite songwriter, hugely underrated singer and inveterate musicologist, Costello also understands show business. He's able to give a crowd what it wants without pandering to them.

One of the greatest attributes of Costello's career has been his ability to grow artistically and continually redefine himself while bringing his fans -- old and new -- along with him. The qualities were evident Wednesday night as his new rootsy sounding songs meshed seamlessly with classics from his extensive catalog.

Opening with "45," an homage to his record collecting youth from 2002's "When I Was Cruel," Costello sang powerfully throughout, occasionally finding a sweet falsetto and even whistling a couple of solos. In the spare solo format, Costello broke down a few older songs into simpler more poignant versions than their record versions. On the "Veronica" (written with Paul McCartney) and "Every Day I Write the Book," Costello deconstructed the songs to their basic melodies, allowing the plaintive narratives to come forward. "Brilliant Mistake," one his most revealing and affecting songs, needed little but the straightforward reading Costello gave it. He expertly used the dynamics of Jackson Hall, moving off the microphone and singing out into the auditorium with an unamplified, but easily heard, voice adding a delicate dramatic dimension.

Even though Costello played some of his earliest and still most popular songs, "Watching the Detectives," "Alison" and "The Angels Want To Wear My Red Shoes," they weren't simply tossed off. The three songs from his 1977 debut album held down strategic moments of the smartly paced show.

"Watching the Detectives" came toward the end of the set bringing some sonic mayhem to the performance. Costello set up the familiar guitar figure then looped it and added some distortion and echo effects as well. He followed that with "Radio Sweetheart," one of his earliest songs, which segued into an audience clap and singalong of Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)."

The participation worked so well Costello asked for more on "God's Comic," which has been one his favorite performance pieces for years. The audience happily complied echoing the chorus, "Now I'm dead, now I'm dead, now I'm dead," each time it came up.

He closed with an elegant, understated version of "Alison" before coming back for a four-song encore.

Costello opened his encore with a bluesy "Sulphur to Sugarcane," which he wrote with T Bone Burnett and is the title track from his latest record. He added "The Angels Want To Wear My New Shoes" and another recent song "The Spell You Cast" before finishing with a gorgeous "Man Out of Time."

Call The Bee's Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120.

For a photo gallery of Elvis Costello's show at the Mondavi Center, click here.

March 3, 2010
Jazz station now rocks

Goodbye Kenny G and hello Flea. At noon today Sacramento radio station 94.7 FM switched formats from smooth jazz to a modern alternative rock format. A press release from Entercom Communications, which also owns 107.9 The End, 98 Rock and 96.9 The Eagle, said the station will feature more "mature" artists, such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, Green Day, U2, Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews Band, along with newer groups, such as Muse, The Killers and Kings of Leon.
At the Web site of the former KSSJ was a message that said in part "the audience for the station can no longer sustain the business of the station."

Last week I wrote about actor Peter Story, a longtime B Street Theatre favorite, and his fiancee, Megan O'Neil, who had entered an online contest to win the wedding of their dreams.

From more than 600 entries, they were selected as one of 10 semi-finalist couples in the 2010 Southern California Deam Weddings Giveaway. With more than 34,000 votes cast, the contest went down to the wire with Peter and Megan pulling a win. The wedding will be held June 27, 2010, at Rancho de Las Palmas in Moorpark.

If you go to www.socaldreamwedding.com and click on the "terms" tab, you can view the incredible list of gifts they'll be receiving.

February 10, 2010
Vote For Peter and Megan

By Marcus Crowder
mcrowder@sacbee.com

Peter Story has been one my favorite actors since seeing him steal the show in B Street Theatre's hysterical 2001 production of "Fuddy Meers." Story has returned to B Street numerous times, but in February 2008, it was a life changer. He met new B Street intern Megan O'Neil and that thing that sometimes happens between two people happened to them. A bond developed as they worked together. On April 14 for their first date, they went to a River Cats game. So the bond became, you know ... more.

But as William Shakespeare wrote, "The course of true love never did run smooth."

They realized they wanted to be together, but Story lived in Los Angeles and O'Neil went back to Chicago after her internship. It was during a trip to Alaska that Story proposed to O'Neil. And here their charming love story takes a wild left turn into the multi-platformed dimensions of modern media culture.

"Megan and I were crunching numbers and it just did not look feasible for us to get married this year," Story says.

"That was tough for us to deal with because we really wanted to be husband and wife. So Megan was searching the Internet and she found a link to something called the '$100,000 Southern California Wedding Give Away.' That would be a contest where the winners are treated to a $100,000 dream wedding."

So they entered - adding a creative flair to their application. "We wrote our entry in script form with stage directions."

Apparently it worked.

Out of 615 couples, Peter and Megan made it into the Top 10. Now it's down to the romance Internet voting.

"Our friend, Brian Kameoka, who's a marketing genius, told us about creating a Facebook fan page," Story says.

"We're using every man, woman, and child we've ever met in our lifetime to try and spread the word." It's going to be an uphill slog since the couple leading in the votes includes a fire fighter with cancer.

"We had no idea the response would be like this," Story says. "We've got over 1,000 fans on the fan book page.

"Three days ago I made a video about how I met Megan. I posted that on YouTube, that video has already got over 1,200 hits. We're just trying to get as many people to support us as possible."

Voting ends at midnight Feb. 11.

The link to Peter and Megan's Facebook Fanpage is

www.facebook.com/meganandpeter

Peter's video can be found at:
www.youtube.com

The wedding website is:
www.socaldreamwedding.com

On Feb. 11, he'll debut a new video that has footage of his proposal to Megan in Alaska.

Again, voting ends at midnight.

February 3, 2010
Call For Submissions

"Boom: A Journal of California" is now accepting submissions. The quarterly publication will explore arts, history, and culture of California with its debut issue dropping next February.

The new University of California, Davis-based journal will be co-edited by UC Davis History Professor Louis Warren and Carolyn de la Peña, an American Studies professor and director of the UC Davis Humanities Institute.

The UC Davis News & Information press release says, "the magazine-format, highly visual journal will feature scholars, independent writers and community activists engaging the most pressing issues of the day."

For submission guidelines, visit ucpressjournals.com

January 29, 2010
Discount Seats for "Rent"

California Musical Theatre has announced that seats in the first row of the orchestra are being sold for $23 for every performance of "RENT: The Broadway Tour." The $23 tickets go on sale at the Community Center Theater box office, 1301 L Street, the day of performance only, two hours prior to the show. They are available to anyone, cash only, with a limit of two tickets per person.

This national touring production of "Rent" stars Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp, two stars from the original off Broadway and Broadway productions. The limited Sacramento engagement runs February 3 through February 7. This is the tour's last stop.

For information, call (916) 808-5181 or (916) 557-1999 or go to www.californiamusicaltheatre.com or www.siteforrent.com.

Additional coverage:

Two original stars look back as last encore nears for 'Rent' - Jan. 31, 2010

January 6, 2010
Catechism Gives to Sisters

"Late Nite Catechism" has collected over $50,000 for the "real sisters" of America. The interactive play at the Cosmopolitan Cabaret has always included an appeal for audience donations for the religious women of America. Actress and writer Maripat Donovan who initiated the role of Sister and Nonie Newton-Breen who also played the role have stood in the theater's lobby after performances collecting money for the actual sisters who usually don't have Social Security benefits or pensions.

Newton-Breen said, since September the total collections in Sacramento have reached $50,000, mostly in dollar bills. $3 million has been collected at "Catechism" productions around the country. The Sacramento donations were sent to the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, whose mother house is in Oakland.
"Late Nite Catechism: 'Til Death Do Us Part" closes Sunday, January 10.

December 22, 2009
Xanadu Offers Stage Seating

California Musical Theatre will again offer on stage seating. As they did for "Spring Awakening" CMT will put seats on the stage at the Community Center Theater, this time for "Xanadu." The musical opens next Wednesday, December 30 and runs through January 10, 2010. Tickets for the seats are only $25. The stage seats are only available through the Wells Fargo Pavilion Box Office, 1419 H Street, or by calling (916) 557-1999.

December 21, 2009
January Casting

Casting has been announced for three new shows opening in Januray. Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's "boom" which opens on the B Street Theatre Mainstage features B Street Acting Company members Jamie Jones as Barbara and Peter Story as Jules with B Street newcomer Sarah Aili as Jo. Michael Stevenson directs the show which begins previews on January 9, 2010 and opens January 10 running through Sunday February 21, 2010.

The B 3 Series at B Street unveils Rolin Jones' "The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow" on January 17, 2010 with previews on January 16. The cast features Sylvia Kwan as Jennifer Marcus and Mayette Villanueva as Jenny Chow). Greg Alexander, David Pierini, and Joe Styron, will play a variety of roles with Los Angeles based director Marianne Savell directing. "Jenny Chow" runs through February 13, 2010.

Cosmopolitan Cabaret has announced casting for their new production of "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra" at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret. "My Way" begins a 15-week run on January 26, 2010 with three preview performances before opening on January 29, 2010 continuing through May 9. The musical features 58 songs made famous by the iconic vocalist. The four-person cast includes Michael G. Hawkins, Karole Foreman, Laura Dickinson and Jeffrey Christopher Todd. Hawkins has often been seen at the Music Circus over the last 20 years performing in a variety of roles from Adam in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," to Judge Turpin in "Sweeney Todd." Foreman made her Sacramento debut last year as Muzzy in the Music Circus production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." CMT artistic director Glenn Casale directs with Chris Schlagel as the musical director and on-stage accompanist.


December 18, 2009
Getting Your Wings On

One thing I look forward to at this time of year is sitting in front of a television snuffling into some Kleenex as George Bailey looks up to the sky and says "Atta boy, Clarence!" Frank Capra's "It's A Wonderful Life" never fails to enrapture me with its mix of drama, pathos, and hopeful fable.
This year as a special fund raising event Capital Stage will present "It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play." The adaptation by Joe Landry stars Cap Stage regulars Stephanie Gularte, Peter Mohrmann, David Harris, Janis Stevens, and Jonathan Williams playing all the characters from the film. They will perform the show as if they're doing a 1940's radio broadcast of the show complete with period forties clothes on stage. There are only two performances - one on Monday, December 21 at 7 p.m. and another on Thursday, December 24 at 2 p.m. aboard the Riverboat Delta King, 1000 Front Street, Old Sacramento. Tickets are $25. For more information go to (www.capstage.org) or call (916) 995-5464.

If you prefer Frank Capra's film version with James Stewart and Donna Reed it's playing at the Crest Theatre, Wednesday and Thursday December 23 and 24 at 1, 4, and 7 p.m. Admission:$9.50 - $6. Tickets available at tickets.com and information at www.thecrest.com or (800)225-2277.

- Marcus Crowder

Humorist and author Garrison Keillor is not coming to Sacramento after all.

Although he suffered a mild stroke over Labor Day weekend, Keillor had assured all concerned that he would be able to speak at a celebration of Lutheran Social Services of Northern California's 125th anniversary, which also was to be a fund-raiser for its homeless services programs.

However, Keillor has canceled his Sept. 22 appearance.

Classical jazz pianist Ricardo Scales, who was to share the bill with Keillor, has rescheduled and will play a benefit concert for Lutheran Social Services on Nov. 29 at St. John's Lutheran Church in Sacramento.

Ticket-holders will receive refunds for the Keillor event.


- Dixie Reid

This Thursday night at 7 p.m. America's tribal rock musical "Hair" returns in concert at Harlow's. Artistic Differences theater company who had a hit with their full production from two summers ago are bringing a slightly different version of the tuneful 60's celebration to the midtown night club.

Though every one from the original cast was invited back for this show leads Christian St. Croix and Jerry Lee were not available. Even so this concert version of the musical has been designed to focus more on the community story taking place and less on the particular individuals.

The cast includes Lindsay Grimes, Kevin Caravalho, Netty Carey, Tygar-Lynn Hicks, Inertia DeWitt, Nic Candito, Rashad Strother, Troy Thomas, and Maggie Hollinbeck. Hollinbeck also plays keyboards and serves as musical director for the band which includes a horn section along with Elaine Lord on drums and Ben Wormeli on guitar.

"Hair" in concert happens this Thursday, July 16 at 7 p.m. at Harlow's Restaurant, 2708 J Street. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. For information call(916) 441-4693 go to www.artisticdifferences.net or www.harlows.com.

The good people of the cast and crew of Capital Stage's upcoming production of "Erratica: An Academic Farce" are letting me drop in on their rehearsals. I'll be blogging a couple times a week about the production process leading up to the July 17 opening night. The play is a world premiere by Reina Hardy and supported by a new works production grant by The James Irvine Foundation. I thank everyone involved especially Ms. Hardy and director Michael Stevenson for allowing me this unique opportunity.

The first day of rehearsal on Tuesday included introductions, a bunch of paper work (actors had to sign contracts), and a table reading of the script. The play was selected by Capital Stage from nearly a hundred submissions from around the country. Reina Hardy is from Chicago and young but already an accomplished writer (there will be more about her later).

From the table reading (actors sitting at a table reading their parts) I can see Reina's intent on improving the work and rewriting during rehearsals.
As I was leaving after the reading Reina and Michael were huddled together talking about changes she wanted to make to the last sequence of scenes.

May 20, 2009
Dear Harvey at Lambda

The Lambda Players are presenting "Dear Harvey" a reader's theater production celebrating the life and work of Harvey Milk. The production runs Thursday nights at 8 p.m. and on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. through May 31 at the Lambda Players Studio Theatre, 1028 R Street. Included in the production are stories from Tom Ammiano, Cleve Jones, Anne Kronenberg, Dan Nicoletta, and Stuart Milk. The production is free but a $5 donation is being requested. For information go to www.lambdaplayers.com or call (916) 444-8229.

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Wayman Tisdale, the former Sacramento King, who went on to a major musical career died this morning from cancer. Tisdale had a 12-year professional basketball career, playing from 1989-1994 in Sacramento and averaging 22.3 points per game in his first season with the Kings. He retired in 1997 and then focused on playing music. Tisdale recorded eight albums as a band leader playing left-handed bass.

Lee Hansen, program director at Smooth Jazz KSSJ 94.7, reflected on Tisdale this morning.
"The first time I met him, he told me he used basketball as way to get a college education. He always considered himself a musician first. He wisely perceived that basketball and professional sports would secure his future and his family's future," Hansen said.

"When he walked in the room he always lit it up. We called him 'the big man with the big smile.' As much as he was respected for his basketball playing and he loved his music, there's no question his family and his faith were the two most important aspects of his existence," Hansen said.

"When we did a couple of in-stores where people got to meet him up close. We did one when he was on the rebound from cancer last spring as his new CD came out. He needed the assistance of a cane to get around. As he came out with the cane, this incredible physical specimen, he still had this big beaming smile. He talked about it a little bit and the crowd at Borders just about came out of their seats. They wanted to run up and hug him because he was so positive about everything. He made everybody else feel good in spite of the battle he was in," Hansen said.
Get to Tisdale's website at www.tisway.com


Capital Stage has announced it's 2009-10 season and the five play season includes three Sacramento premieres. The always interesting professional company will produce only five plays instead of six as its done in previous seasons eliminating its summer slot in 2010. Still to go this season for Cap Stage is the world premiere of Reina Hardy's "Erratica, An Academic Farce" which runs from July 11 through August 2.

Capital Stage's 2009-10 Season

"Speech & Debate" by Stephen Karam
A Sacramento Premiere
October 2 - November 8, 2009

"Santaland Diaries"
by David Sedaris Adapted by Joe Mantello
November 27 - December 27, 2009

"Fiction" by Steven Dietz
A Sacramento Premiere
January 22- February 28, 2010

"Someone Who'll Watch Over Me" by Frank McGuiness
March 19 - April 25, 2010

"Hunter Gatherers" by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb
A Sacramento Premiere
May 14 - June 27, 2010

Sacramento Theatre Company has announced their 2009-10 production schedule. The company will bring back several of its hits from past seasons as it wades through perilous, cash strapped, recession waters. The company will have high hopes for "Fully Committed" the one man tour-de-force for Matt K. Miller (currently on stage with his "Fits and Parts") and for a reprise of the musical "Always ... Patsy Cline."

The season will open with the delayed production of "Noises Off" the popular farce which was pushed back from this spring for economic reasons. STC will also move on with its August Wilson project bringing in "Joe Turner's Come And Gone" but only for one week end of a staged reading.

Here's the schedule STC provided.

"Noises Off" (Main Stage) Oct. 7 - Nov. 1

"Fully Committed" (Pollock Stage) Nov. 11 - Dec. 20

"Cinderella" (Main Stage) Dec. 2 - Jan. 3

Special Event: "Joe Turner's Come and Gone"
Staged Readings: Jan. 15 - Jan. 17

"Tuesdays with Morrie" (Pollock Stage) Jan. 20 - Feb. 28

"Arranged Marriage" (Main Stage) Mar. 3 - Mar. 28

"Black Pearl Sings" (Pollock Stage) Mar. 31 - May 9

"Always ...Patsy Cline" (Main Stage) Apr. 28 - May 23

May 5, 2009
Van Morrison Live

Van Morrison's performance Saturday night at the Berkeley's Greek Theatre was nothing less than quintessential Van. One of the most influential singer song writers of his or any generation, Morrison has always had an uneasy relationship with the public components of his art. Rarely speaking to the press (not truly a component of art but sometimes helpful in the marketplace), Morrison comes from the "music speaks for itself" school.

The circumspect one maintains the same approach at his live shows and his Saturday night performance was a signature example. Billed as "Astral Weeks - Live," Morrison first performed a selection of songs from his vast song book. He began the night at the piano for "Northern Muse," before taking center stage.

Alternating between acoustic and electric guitars, occasionally picking up his saxophone or harmonica he and a fourteen piece band (including a string quartet, two guitarists, three singers, and woodwind player) worked through a survey of his tunes. The set included "And It Stoned Me," "Queen of the Slipstream" "Wild Night," "Common One," "All In the Game," and "Moondance."

Morrison was strong voice - scatting, slurring, and growling his way through the material. He worked with out a set list calling out each tune to the band immediately after finishing a song. There was short intermission and then Morrison came back and led a smaller version of the band through the "Astral Weeks" set. While part of the fascination with seeing someone like Morrison is simply the anticipation of what they will play from all the material at their disposal, knowing what was coming didn't diminish the experience.

The expansive versions enhanced already fluid sensual music with Morrison stretching out most everything from the classic record with the highlights coming from the album's core of "Sweet Thing," "Cyprus Avenue," "Ballerina," and "Madame George."
Morrison tacked on a encore of "Listen To The Lion - The Lion Speaks" followed an audience satiating "Gloria" and he was gone. At one point he did say "How about it for the band?"


Mara Davi, the Folsom High School graduate who made her Broadway debut in the 2006 revival of "A Chorus Line" as Maggie (see photo), will be soon be appearing closer to home. Davi, who now lives in New York City, will return to Sacramento this summer. Davi has been cast as Millie in the 2009 Music Circus season opening production of "Thoroughly Modern Millie." It should be a very exciting opening.
For more Music Circus information go to www.californiamusicaltheatre.com


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April 17, 2009
Record Store Day


International Record Store Day kicks out the jams Saturday. The idea is to recognize independently owned music stores and acknowledge the value they bring to our community with their passion, depth, breadth and specificity of interests, and just plain eccentricity.

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As a record store rat in my youth where I served time behind the counter at the original Tower location (when they sold LPs and cassette's had a little section in the back) I can say there's nothing like hanging out in a place with people who love music as much as you do.

Independent record stores throughout the area will offer different activities reflecting the stores' own personalities. Numerous artists as diverse as The Smiths and New Order to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and The Grateful Dead ( special T Shirt) are making special releases available and many of the local stores will have these exclusive records available.

Rob Fauble, owner of The Beat (17th and J streets) in midtown Sacramento, told me, "What we're going to try and do is show our appreciation to the customers that normally come in that day. We'll be here having another great day of being a record store."
Fauble suggested The Beat may also have some surprises for people buying records in the store tomorrow.
"We've always been here and have a good loyal customer base, so we're gonna say thanks to those people who have always supported us," Fauble said.

Downtown at R5 (16th and Broadway) the celebration will be a little higher pitched with not only everything in the store on sale, but special offerings and in-store performances throughout the day. There will also be a garage sale rock 'n' roll style in the parking lot, a raffle, a record swap and general merry-making all day.

The R5 Record Day in-store performance schedule:
(as we all know musicians lead complicated lives and the schedule and times are subject to change)

12 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Musical Charis

12:45 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. - Baby Grand

1:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. - Trainwreck Revival

2:15 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. - Not an Airplane

3 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. - Silver Darling

3:45 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. - The Ancient Sons

4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. - The No-Goodniks

5:15 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. - St.Pierre

Area Record Stores Celebrating Record Store Day

Armadillo Music, Davis, 205 F St Davis, (530) 758-8058, www.armadillomusic.com

Gearhead Records (and Stuff)! Woodland, CA
39 5th St. Suite C, Woodland, (530) 662-7877, www.gearheadrecords.co

Dimple Records (2433 Arden Way, (916) 925-2600, www.dimple.com

Pearl Records, 1712 L St., www.myspace.com/334578rpm

Rare Records Records (1618 Broadway, (916) 446-3973, www.rare-records.net)


R5 Records, 2500 16th St., (916) 441-2500
www.r5records.com

The Beat, 1700 J St. (916) 446-4402, www.thebeatsacramento.com

Some time Sacramento resident Faith Prince, has returned to New York for a time to work on Broadway. Last week Prince joined the cast of Disney's "The Little Mermaid," performing as Ursula, the evil sea witch (photo below). Housed at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (205 West 46th Street) the musical based on the Disney animated film and a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen features songs by Alan Menken, Glenn Slater and the late Howard Ashman.

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Prince, who for the last several years has been living off and on in Sacramento with her husband Larry Lunetta and their son Henry, was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in the new musical 2008's "A Catered Affair." She won a Tony award for her performance in the 1992 Broadway revival of "Guys and Dolls." Prince also recieved Tony nominations for her work in the revival of "Bells Are Ringing" and her Broadway debut in "Jerome Robbins' Broadway.

April is Theatre Performance Month at Sacramento's Fairytale Town and the festivities start tomorrow.

Next Stage: Theatre for Young Audiences presents "Tomas & the Library Lady" this Saturday and Sunday.

Puppet Art Theater brings back the popular "Bunny Boot Camp" on April 11 and April 12 which coincides with Fairytale Town's "Spring Egg-Stravaganza."

Then the Fairytale Town Troupers kick off their second season with the world premiere of "Humpty Dumpty in Space!" This show plays two weekends: April 18 and April 19 and again on April 25 and April 26.
 
All productions have two performances per day at 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Puppet Art Theater performances are $1 for Fairytale Town members, $2 for non-members. Performances by Next Stage and the Fairytale Town Troupers are included in park admission which is $4.50. Children 2 and under are free..
 
 Fairytale Town's Spring and Summer Hours are 9 a.m. - to 4 p.m. seven days a week, weather permitting. Guests who are in the park by 4 p.m. may stay and play until 5 p.m.

The Park will be open on Easter Sunday, April 12, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., weather permitting.

For more information about Theatre Performance Month at Fairytale Town, call (916)808-7462 or got to www.fairytaletown.org.

 

April 3, 2009
Next Generation Jazz


The Monterey Jazz Festival, hosts its 5th Annual Next Generation Festival, this week end April 3 - 5 in downtown Monterey. The event includes the Next Generation Festival Jazz Competition with Big Bands, Combos, Vocal Ensembles, and individual musicians trying for spots atthe 52nd Annual Monterey Jazz Festival this September. The NGF supports artistic growth of young musicians from the ages of 12 - 18.

Fifty-seven bands from six states, from Alaska to Texas, are participating and California has bands from fourteen counties participating. The Sacramento area will be handsomely represented by ten different ensembles.

The Next Generation Festival officially starts tonight with the Kick-Off Concert at 8 p.m. at the Monterey Conference Center. Their will be performances by the competition judges, including pianist George Duke, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, trombonist Ron Westray, saxophonists Billy Harper and Paul Contos, bassist Ray Drummond, and vocalists Matt Falker, Jennifer Barnes, and Michele Weir.

The Jazz Competition starts tomorrow at 9 a.m. in Monterey's Conference Center.

There will also be auditions for the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship to Berklee College of Music, and for the Next Generation Jazz Orchestra, the jazz festival's all-star high school band.

All Next Generation Festival competition activities from April 3 - 5 are open to the public, free of charge. More information on all Next Generation Festival activities and events is available on the MJF website, www.montereyjazzfestival.org and by phone at (831) 373-3366.

Sacramento Area 2009 Next Generation Festival Participants

HIGH SCHOOL BIG BAND DIVISION

Folsom High School "A" - Curtis Gaesser, director

Rio Americano High School - Josh Murray, director

HIGH SCHOOL VOCAL DIVISION

Folsom High School "A" - Curtis Gaesser, director

Folsom High School "B" - Curtis Gaesser, director

Natomas Charter School Performing and Fine Arts Academy - Jacosa Limutau, director

MIDDLE SCHOOL BIG BAND DIVISION

Folsom Middle School - John Zimny, director

Sutter Middle School - John Zimny, director

COLLEGE BIG BAND DIVISION

Sacramento State - Steve Roach, director

University of the Pacific - Patrick Langham, director

COLLEGE VOCAL ENSEMBLE DIVISION

Sacramento State Jazz Singers - Kerry Marsh, director

For a complete schedule of activities and competition times, visit www.montereyjazzfestival.org.


California State University at Sacramento student actor Stephanie Zito nabbed first place in the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Competition. The junior theater major won in the Best Classical Actor category performing as Rosalind in Act III, Scene II of Shakespeare's "As You Like It."

The regional competition, part of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, involves more than 350 graduate and undergraduate student actors from universities across the West. Zito's win has earned her a trip to the six week festival program Summer Arts Scholarship in Fresno.
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Zito (left in the photo) performs at CSUS this week end in the current production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." See a video preview of the performance by clicking here.

For more information on the competition or the production call (916)278-6368 or visit www.csus.edu/dram.

Garbeau's Dinner Theatre in Rancho Cordova has a new lease on life.

The landmark theater raised the $8,000 over the weekend that it needed to avoid closure, reports Mark Ferreira, Garbeau's CEO.

Not only was the monetary goal met, but Ferreira says Washington-based landlord Andy Lakha has relented on certain terms and will discuss renegotiating the lease on Wednesday with the company.

"The community response to our story was overwhelming," Ferreira says. He added the increased media coverage was a significant factor in keeping Garbeau's open.

"The landlord was not expecting us to be as big a story as we were -- neither were we for that matter," Ferreira says.

Theaters throughout the region also rallied behind Garbeau's efforts to stay open. "The fact that all the other theaters said they would support us by honoring our season passes was huge. It really helped us sell an enormous amount of the passes," he says.

Ferriera also instituted a Thursday night karaoke party as a fund-raising event. He now plans to continue this as a regular weekly feature.

"On the one hand we raised money. On the other hand, the amount of money we had to raise came down significantly," Ferreira says. "The conditions changed. Primarily finding someone to sign on for five years as a personal guarantee on our lease and having a future rent deposit were no longer required."

Ferreira says Lakha could see the company has positive momentum and, more importantly, a significant amount of cash was put toward the back rent. Moving forward, Ferreira wants to create more community partnerships for midweek usage of the venue and also expects to partner with a Folsom group that wants to use Garbeau's as a live music venue.

"We're looking more and more at either renting out the space or finding groups we can team up with for some type of production which helps everybody."

Garbeau's Dinner Theatre in Rancho Cordova, which is in danger of closing, may still have some life. CEO Mark Ferreira says even though the company will fall short of the $100,000 goal it had for March 16 -- there is hope. Strong community support has helped convince landlord Andy Lakha to renegotiate certain terms.

Lakha is dropping the requirement for Garbeau's to either create an untouchable escrow account with future rent or find an investor to personally guarantee the remainder of their five-year loan. Ferreira still needs $8,000, but he believes a strong showing this weekend will give Garbeau's enough capital to move forward.

The musical "I Love You Because" plays at 8 p.m. today and Saturday and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $15.50 - $23.50.
For information go to www.garbeaus.com or call Garbeau's box office at (916) 985-6361.

March 13, 2009
OSF Announces 2010 Season

Oregon Shakespeare Festival artistic director Bill Rauch announced today the festival's 2010 season. The 75th anniversary season will include four plays by Shakespeare in the 11-play season, anchored by Rauch's production of "Hamlet."

There will also be two world premieres. The first, "American Night" by Culture Clash, will be the first play produced in OSF's new History Cycle. The second world premiere will be an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's classic film "Throne of Blood," itself an adaptation of "Macbeth."

2010 SEASON AT A GLANCE

Angus Bowmer Theatre

Hamlet by William Shakespeare
Feb. 26 - Oct. 24
Director: Bill Rauch

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
Feb. 27 - July 4
Director: Christopher Liam Moore

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Feb. 27 - Oct. 24
Director: Libby Appel

She Loves Me
April 17 - Oct. 23
Music by Jerry Bock; lyrics by Sheldon Harnick; book by Joe Masteroff
Director: Rebecca Bayla Taichman

Throne of Blood, world premiere
July 24 - Oct. 23
Adapted by Ping Chong from the film by Akira Kurosawa
Director: Ping Chong

New Theatre
Well by Lisa Kron
Feb. 28 - June 18
Director: James Edmondson

Ruined by Lynn Nottage
March 27 - Oct. 24
Director: TBA

American Night by Culture Clash, world premiere
July 3 - Oct. 24 (first preview 6/29)
Director: Jo Bonney

Elizabethan Stage/Allen Pavilion

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
June 11 - Oct. 8
Director: TBA

Henry IV, Part One by William Shakespeare
June 12 - Oct. 9
Director: Penny Metropulos

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
June 13 - Oct. 10
Director: Bill Rauch

Sacramento Theatre Company has set casting for its "Lysistrata" replacement production "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)" which begins March 11 and runs through April 5.

Michael RJ Campbell, last seen as Goneril in STC's "Cinderella" and current director of "The Last Days of Judas Iscariot" at the Wilkerson Theatre at California Stage, performs along with Miles Miniaci, and Aaron Wilton. Miniaci last worked at STC in "To Kill a Mockingbird" has professional credits across the region including Foothill Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, and Capital Stage. Wilton who played Curley in "Of Mice and Men" last season at STC has numerous New York and Bay Area credits as well. Peggy Shannon directs with Michael Laun assisting.

B Street has also announced casting for its new B-3 Series production of John Kolvenbach's "Love Song" which bows on April 4. Artistic director Buck Busfield has stocked the cast with a quartet of B Street veterans: Dana Brooke, Jason Kuykendall, Elisabeth Nunziato and Kurt Johnson.


February 27, 2009
B Street's Two New Shows

B Street Producing artistic director Buck Busfield has announced the next two productions at his busy theater. On the B-1 Main Stage, Canadian playwright Michele Rini's two-person, romantic comedy "Sexy Laundry," opens on March 8, following the currently playing "Mending Fences."
"Sexy Laundry" will feature B Street Company member Kathy Morison, most recently in "The Little Dog Laughed," and Bay Area veteran Rod Gnapp, making his B Street debut. Busfield will direct.

For the B-3 series, Busfield has replaced Arthur Miller's classic large-scale drama "A View From the Bridge," with a smaller quirky romantic comedy, "Love Song" by John Kolvenbach.
The four-person play, which premiered at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, hasn't been cast, yet, but opens April 4.


The Bee has learned that Sacramento Theatre Company has laid off eight employees over the last 1 1/2 weeks. Managing director Mark Standriff confirmed the staff cuts this afternoon. "Hopefully this will save us roughly $100,000 through the end of the year," Standriff said. He didn't specify which positions had been cut, though he did say the business office, box office and production personnel were affected.

Standriff also indicated he didn't anticipate bringing back anyone who was let go.
"We might not be finished yet. We just have to take it day by day right now," he added.
"We're trying to do it so it doesn't affect us from an artistic product standpoint."

In a similar cost-cutting action, B Street Theatre has just laid off marketing director Brian Kameoka and eliminated his position. B Street has also decided not to fill two positions that had been open.
B Street managing director Bill Blake said, "We're in a cost-cutting mode trying to reduce overhead as much as we can. We're not cutting fat now, we're cutting muscle."
Blake added that B Street had been interviewing for a development director, but won't pursue filling that position right now.
"Every cost-cutting measure we can make, we're making right now," Blake said.

When the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival begins it's 37th season on July 11 it will have undergone an artistic makeover. A new creative team replaces last year's creative team who replaced the Foothill Theatre Company who put up the plays the year before that.

Henry Woronicz a former artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (from 1991 to 1995) is the new executive producer and John Grüber is the new production manager. Woronicz followed the legendary Jerry Turner and preceded the recently retired Libby Appel at OSF. He recently has been acting and directing throughout the country and appeared on Broadway in Julius Caesar.

He has directed at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival and the Utah Shakespearean Festival while also performing with the American Repertory Theatre, the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville and the American Players Theatre.

Woronicz also was recently appointed as the Head of Graduate Acting for the School of Theatre at Illinois State University.

The shows announced for the season, which runs until Aug. 23, are Measure for Measure and Much Ado About Nothing which will rotate nightly Tuesday through Sunday at stunning Sand Harbor State Park amphitheater on the shore of the lake.

Tickets are available at www.LakeTahoeShakespeare.com or by calling (800) 747-4697.

The festival will be holding local auditions for the season on Saturday, Feb. 21 at the University of Nevada, Reno's Redfield Proscenium Theatre, 1664 N. Virginia St., Reno. The time is from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

A festival press release states: "Headshots will be processed and audition slots assigned beginning at 12:30 p.m. Actors may send resumes and headshots in advance to: Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Attention: Casting, 948 Incline Village Way, Incline Village, NV 89451. All auditioning actors must prepare two contrasting Shakespearean monologues no longer than one minute each in length. Due to space and time limitations, the Festival screens for all non-Equity resumes before scheduling audition times."

There will be national auditions on March 9 and 10 at the Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St. in Burbank. The hours will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Actors may send resumes and headshots in advance to:  Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Attention: Casting, 948 Incline Village Way, Incline Village, NV 89451

For either audition, actors must prepare two contrasting Shakespearean monologues no longer than one minute each in length.

For information concerning auditions contact production Manager John Grüber at jgruber@tahoebard.com or (775) 298-0150.

-- Marcus Crowder

If you're wondering who, if anyone, might be benefiting from the recession, early returns suggest the Reduced Shakespeare Company will do some great business. On the heels of Capital Stage announcing a reconfigured season due to economic considerations with a staging of the RSC's "The Complete History of America(Abridged)" (May 9 - June 21), the Sacramento Theatre Company has made a similar move.

STC will drop the ancient Greek comedy "Lysistrata" (likely a tough sell in any market) for their own Reduced Shakespeare title, "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)" (March 11 - April 5). The two theaters plan to cross promote the productions with - wouldn't you know - "reduced" ticket incentives for attending both shows.

Visit www.sactheatre.org for information.

Garbeau's Dinner Theatre in Rancho Cordova is facing possible closure next month. Mark Ferreira, CEO and co-owner of Garbeau's since June 2007, says he needs to raise $100,000 by the end of this month to satisfy his landlord, Lakha Investment Group.

Ferreira's for-profit theater had strong revenues the first nine months of his ownership and artistic direction of the theater business. But he ties his theater's problems to last year's crumbling economy - specifically gasoline prices.

"The last six months have been tough. Once gas hit $3.50 in just about a week we saw our averages drop in half," Ferreira says. "We were getting about 145 people a night and when gas spiked that dropped to about 60 to 70 patrons per show.

"For nine months, every month saw a revenue increase and we were dwarfing past revenue records. The only change between then and when we dropped to half-houses is the economy."

Ferreria says he hopes to raise money through the sales of either gift cards or season passes. Should Garbeau's have to close, many other area theaters are supporting the effort by saying they'll honor the season passes. Garbeau's Web site is listing the B Street Theater, California Musical Theatre and Stage Nine in Folsom as theaters that will in some way accommodate Garbeau's season ticket holders.

For more information go to www.garbeaus.com or call Garbeau's box office at (916) 985-6361.

January 27, 2009
STC's Good Vibes

There are galas and then there are galas. Saturday night's opening of Sacramento Theatre Company's new production of "Gem of the Ocean" had an extra zip about it with so many factors coming together.

There was certainly excitement and interest in the first local professional production in nearly 20 years of a play by American master August Wilson.


The event doubtlessly bathed in its proximity to the inauguration of our first African American president and the spirit that created. The presence of Mayor Kevin Johnson and the invocation Dr. Ronn Elmore also added some zip. Well known Bay Area actors Mujahid Abdul-Rashid and Margo Hall were there no doubt checking in on their collegue C. Kelly Wright who plays Black Mary in the production. The house had a special vibe going.

I had the privilege of speaking at the prologue with STC artistic director Peggy Shannon and was struck at how helpful these informal conversations can be for audiences. Of about forty people in the room only four indicated they had seen a play by Wilson before. Discussing the playwright and amplifying his artistic intentions hopefully gave those people another entry point to the work. Certainly that's the intention and I've seen how effective pre-play talks are when trying to bring something like make a Shakespeare history play more accessible. To that end STC has redesigned its website with a special enhanced section on August Wilson and its "Gem of the Ocean" production.


Capital Stage www.capstage.org is making some economic-based changes to its current season in order to cut production costs. Following "The Scene," which opens on Friday, the company will replace the next two scheduled plays - George Bernard Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession" and Yussef El Guindi's "Back of the Throat."

Artistic director Stephanie Gularte said Cap Stage will substitute David Mamet's three- man drama "American Buffalo" and the equally small cast comedy "The Complete History of America (abridged)" for the canceled productions. The company's Jonathan Williams and Peter Mohrmann will be in "American Buffalo," with Janis Stevens directing. No cast or director information yet for "Complete Works."

"Also, we are still ending our season with the world premiere of 'Erratica, An Academic Farce' by Reina Hardy," Gularte e-mails. "Michael Stevenson will direct and Eric Wheeler, Jamie Jones and I will be in the cast."
The season will end Aug. 2, two weeks earlier than originally planned.

There is currently an online brouhaha over whether or not Equity actors are performing in Runaway Stage's current production of "The Wild Party." Equity is the professional union for actors and stage managers regulating pay, benefits and working conditions.

The official Equity handbook states,"Equity rules prohibit members from working (with or without pay) for any employer who is not a signatory to an Equity Agreement or Code, unless Equity has given prior written permission." The handbook also says, "Working without benefit of a contract is a serious breach of your professional responsibility, and is subject to disciplinary action."

For the record both the Runaway Stage producer/director Bob Baxter and actor in question, Andrea Thorpe, say no rules are being broken. Thorpe wrote in an e-mail that she did in fact join Equity in 2006 in a contract with the Studio Theater. But she writes she no longer is an Equity member.
"In order to continue performing in Sacramento, AKA doing what I love in my home, I chose to give up my Equity status," Thorpe writes.

December 30, 2008
STC Facing Crisis?

Sacramento Theatre Company managing director Mark Standriff sent an ominous e-mail to STC subsribers and patrons on Monday. Painting a much more dire financial situation than Standriff described to me a week earlier, his message read in part, "Our theater company has managed to barely survive under these circumstances, but right now we're in need of raising a substantial amount of money in a very short time before things become strained beyond the breaking point. Frankly, we're facing the most serious financial challenge in STC's 67 year history."

Standriff then asks for donations and writes, "the rest of our season is in jeopardy unless we raise a significant amount of money in the next two weeks." Contacted today about the e-mail, Standriff said he's concerned about STC's cash flow over the next few months and wants to be "proactive" in his fundraising.
"I'm looking at the general outlook, what's happening to similar theaters and not wanting to put us in a similar situation," Standriff said.

Today STC announced a "restructuring" of the Pollock Stage season that includes consolidating the New Works Festival into one weekend of staged readings and delaying the production "The Illustrated Bradbury" to the fall 2009.

The staged readings for the New Works Festival take place in the Pollock Stage Jan. 16 through Jan. 18 and will be free. The schedule is "Black Pearl Sings" at 8 p.m. Feb. 16, "Brownie Points" at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 and "Beat Aside Apollo's Arrow" at 2 p.m. Feb. 18. For information: (916) 443-6722.

December 24, 2008
Foothill Theatre Company Lives

Nevada City's Foothill Theatre Company, the region's most economically distressed theater, has decided to carry on in 2009 with an abbreviated "demi" season of three plays, beginning in March and running through August. Executive director Karen Marinovich said the company doesn't want to obligate the board to a full season if things don't go well.

"Our hope is to earn the money we need to move forward. Then we will do two or three more plays toward the end of the year," Marinovich said.
The company has some new matching grant offers on the table and a major grant from the Irvine Foundation for an original Christmas show next year should they make it that far.

For 2009, the theater will open "Sylvia" their most requested show on March 5 at the Nevada Theatre. The one-woman comedy "Bad Dates" will run April 9 through May 16 at the Off Center Stage in Grass Valley and "The Andrews Brothers," a new 1940s style musical will run in June and August at the Nevada Theatre.

For more information: the FTC box office at (530)265-8587 or visit their Web site at www.foothilltheatre.org.

December 12, 2008
Remember the Night

One of my favorite under-the-radar Christmas movies gets a rare airing this week end. The Preston Sturges written "Remember the Night" starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray screens tomorrow night at 6 p.m. on Turner Classic Movies (It also shows again Christmas Eve at 11:15 p.m. and Christmas morning at 6:15 a.m.)

The romantic comedy isn't available on either DVD or VHS which is a little odd considering the pedigrees of all involved. Stanwyck and MacMurray are iconic stars who would team up again more memorably in 1944's "Double Indemnity." Sturges would use Stanwyck in arguably his greatest film "The Lady Eve." In "Remember the Night" the great actress is a petty thief and MacMurry's an assistant D.A. who throws her in the slammer for Christmas. Then thinking better of it MacMurray decides to takes her to his midwestern home for the holidays. While romance ensues - this movie being written by the great Sturges there is also clever wit and surprisingly affective pathos as well.

Sturges' success and a writer and director included a nearly unmatched string of artistic and commercial hits from 1939 - 1944. After watching Mitchell Leisen direct "Remember the Night" Sturges sold his next script "The Great McGinty" (1940) for $10 so he could direct it himself. The films which followed "Christmas in July" (1940), "The Lady Eve" (1941), "Sullivan's Travels" (1941) "The Palm Beach Story" (1942), "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" and "Hail the Conquering Hero" (both 1944). Sturges' career would slide from that point but his best work is some of the best ever.

There are several Sturges biographies including "Between Flops: A Biography of Preston Sturges" by James Curtis. The title comes from a Sturges quote, "I've had a few successes between the flops."

December 4, 2008
Black Nativity at CSUS

Langston Hughes' "Black Nativity" receives a special production this weekend at Sacramento State. The production features direction by T. Michael Gates, a former CSUS theater professor and original Sons and Ancestors player, and choreography by Linda Goodrich, chairwoman of the theater and dance department .
"Black Nativity" is a gospel-based retelling of the Nativity story with a black cast and traditional and original music. The show was first performed on Broadway on Dec. 11, 1961.
There will be only one performance at 3 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Sacramento State University Student Union Ballroom. Tickets are $10-$25. For information contact the box office at (916) 278-4323 or Voices of California for Arts, Culture & Diversity at (916) 616-9698.

The California Musical Theatre board of directors canceled a special meeting set for this afternoon. CMT has been receiving national attention since last week's revelations that artistic director Scott Eckern donated $1,000 to a Yes on Proposition 8 campaign fund. The proposition, which was passed by California voters, bans same sex marriages in the state. The CMT board was due to meet and discuss negative publicity generated from a proposed boycott of the theater by theater artists and professionals. Eckern has issued an apology concerning his contribution which was published by Playbill.com.
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Eckern has also donated $1,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, which works to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.
The CMT board has not scheduled a new meeting.

September 29, 2008
Free Theater Returns!

The successful Free Night of Theatre returns to Sacramento on October 1. That's right - free - as in you don't pay anything for tickets but you do have to have tickets.

Twenty area theatre companies are involved including American River College, B Street Theatre, Benvenuti Performing Arts Center, Broadway Sacramento and The Cosmopolitan Cabaret, Capital Stage, Celebration Arts, Chautauqua Playhouse, City Theatre, Garbeau's Dinner Theatre, Imprint Theatre Company, River City Theatre Company, River Stage, Rocklin Youth Theatre Company, Sacramento Theatre Company, Sierra College Department of Theatre, Stage Nine Theatre, UC Davis Theatre and Dance Department, Woodcreek High School Theatre Arts and the Woodland Opera House.

The expected participation of over 160 Sacramento region and Bay Area theatre companies in a collaboration of The League of Sacramento Theatres (The League), Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance (SARTA) and Theatre Bay Area (TBA) makes ours the largest Free Night of Theater (FNOT) event in the country. All show listings are available for a preview online at seeaplay.com. To access the listings a new Free Patron I.D. program is available so anyone interested can create a free login and see exactly what is there. Interested audiences will need a Free Patron I.D. to get Free Night tickets and should do so before the October 1 giveaway.

Now a national event with over 90 cities across the participating Free Night of Theater will offer an estimated 9,000 free tickets in the Bay Area and Sacramento with new groups of tickets available every Wednesday from October 1 through October 22 through at seeaplay.com.

Now in it's fourth year FNOT has proved incredibly successful at attracting new audiences to theater. 75% of the people who came to Free Night 2007 were visiting that theatre company for the first time, and 56% of them had seen two or fewer other live arts events in the last year. 80 %of the audience was under 50 years old and 41% were people of color.

This will be the third consecutive year Sacramento area theater companies will be involved in the event which has steadily grown in popularity.

You learn a lot about a band from seeing them play live. After seeing a heated, often searing set by Radiohead headlining the opening night of the Outside Lands Festival at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, I've learned the five piece British art band are indeed the state of art in 21st century creative rock music. They represent the times both sonically in their complex music and emotionally in their poetic, disaffected lyrics.

The band's 22-song set, nearly two-hour performance, including a five-song encore, leaned heavily on their latest record, "In Rainbows," (seven songs) and four from "OK Computer," the most acclaimed record in their distinguished discography. Songs had full muscular rock guitar sound live, and the band's electronica leanings added a pulsing, rhythmic push to much of the material.

Opening with the percussive funky "15 Step" and then "Reckoner" from "In Rainbows" (initially sold over the Internet as a pay-what-you-want offering), the band played seven tunes from their newest record. From "OK Computer" they performed "Airbag," "Paranoid Android," Exit Music (For a Film)," and "Karma Police" with Yorke at an upright acoustic piano wheeled out to center stage. Other tunes included "Pyramid Song" and "You and Whose Army?" from "Amnesiac," and "Idioteque" and "The National Anthem" from"Kid A" and they closed with "Everything In Its Right Place," also from "Kid A."

Throughout, lead vocalist Thom Yorke showed a strong, impassioned voice while guitarist/keyboardist Jonny Greenwood blazed through the effects-laden songs. Yorke moved from electric guitar to acoustic guitar and piano during the set, while the animated Greenwood worked fluidly between a keyboard station and lead guitar. Bassist Colin Greenwood (Jonny's brother) solidified the band's bottom, while drummer Phil Selway injected sharp often surprising flourishes. Guitarist Ed O' Brien added dense textural layers to the music's shifting moods.

Bands as eccentric as Radiohead often gain obsessive cult followings, but rarely combine it with equally strong commercial draw. The band builds on inspirations from diverse sources, including enigmatic singer song writer Scott Walker, modern composer and electronic music innovator Olivier Messiaen, and jazz composer and bassist Charles Mingus. Though the outsize hype initially blindsided the band in certain ways, they have clearly made peace with their appeal (a capacity crowd of over 60,000 was estimated at Friday night's show), and they brought an intense focused energy and spontaneity to the performance. As Yorke graciously apologized for some early sound problems (the music dropped out completely for long stretches of the third and fourth tunes) the singer said, "We didn't really have much time to set up our gear. But it's ultimately about the music, and we thank you for your patience with us."

They apparently had time to set up an intricate, often stunning lighting and video accompaniment to the show. Huge video screens split into four quadrants projected close-ups and treated images of the performers from both sides of the stage.

Outside Lands continues today and Sunday with headliners like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Jack Johnson still to come.

July 8, 2008
More sounds of "Music"

The current production of "The Sound of Music" at the Music Circus demonstrates not only the tuneful mastery of song writers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein but it also reminds us of their often invisable craftmanship as well. The production includes two songs ( "How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way to Stop It") performed by Elsa Schraeder (Elizabeth Ward Land), the presumptive fiance of the Captain, Max Detweiler (Dick Decareau) the charming chiseling family friend and Captain von Trapp (George Dvorsky).
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The songs function several ways pushing the plot forward while revealing character. They add lyrical diversity to the score as more urbane expressions that stand out in contrast to the other songs, which are much more earnest and pastoral.
"How Can Love Survive" comically tells us who Elsa is describing and the nature of her relationship with the Captain. The tune suggests this coupling of the very rich would be a marriage of convenience as much as anything. While wondering if their "love" can survive the "gold plated chains" which has them "trapped by our capital gains" the song also foreshadows the Captain's eventual embrace of Maria because of love and nothing more.
The cautionary "No Way to Stop It" has Elsa and Max suggesting to the Captain that he just let the Nazis think he is on their side, the way they do. Coming at the top of the second act the song lets us know the Anschluss has taken place and the Nazi's are now in control of Austria. It also tells us where each person stands with the new political regime. As Elsa and the Captain agree to part we also know he can pursue Maria.
Interestingly, because of their content, both of these songs were cut from the movie. Added, however, was the ballad "Something Good" between Maria and the Captain and though all revivals don't necessarily include the song it's being done here for the first time.

June 24, 2008
Playwrights unite

The Playwrights Collaborative at Chautauqua Playhouse has scored a double coup. Wednesday at their 7 p.m. meeting locally based professional playwrights Richard Broadhurst and Richard Hellesen will both be in attendance. Each has had works done around the country and will speak on the realities and difficulties of getting a play produced.
Hellesen is currently the literary manager for the B Street Theatre and recently had his short play "One Destiny" performed at the White House with First Lady Laura Bush in attendance. Broadhurst's drama "Resting Place" had its world premiere at the Sacramento Theatre Company in February.
Playwrights Collaborative, which has been existence for just over two months, hopes to be a resource for developing writers. Leo McElroy and Gary Agid lead the workshop and McElroy says he's looking for a "distilled respectful approach" to criticism that's adapted to current theater sensibilities. He says a committee selects the plays, which are read ahead of time so the people attending know what will be discussed.
Besides talking with writers Hellesen and Broadhurst, the short play "An Imperfect Child" by Frank Ingram and Mark Smith will also be read.
The Chautauqua Playhouse is located at 5325 Engle Road
For more information contact Gary Agid at gary@agid.com (916) 383-9267 or Leo McElroy at mcelcom@comcast.net (916) 564-0905.

June 11, 2008
Love and Politics


"Antony and Cleopatra" is one of Shakespeare's lesser seen but more highly entertaining plays. Take heart, the rarely seen epic romantic tragedy will be staged Sunday at the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival with Adrienne Sher directing.
"The biggest part of the job was editing the script down to two hours," Sher says.
"I've never edited a Shakespeare before and it was fascinating. It gave me a love of this play which I hadn't had before. It's very funny! I learned so much doing it."
The reading takes place in Room A6 on the City College campus at 7 p.m. Sunday night.
The staging is minimal and Sher says the actors will carry scripts and move "some, but not a whole lot."
"My main interest was in making sure the story got told, so I did some direction around relationships and dynamics."
Christine Nicholson and Luther Hanson will play the doomed lovers with Rod Breton and Ken Figeroid also taking part.
"I'd kind of like to direct it now that I've worked on it. I really, really enjoyed it," Sher says.
The reading is a fund raiser for the festival and tickets are $10. For information call 558-2228 or go to the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival website at www.sacramentoshakespeare.net

June 9, 2008
The B Street B3 lineup

B Street Theatre has set an impressive lineup for the second season of the edgier themed B3 Series. On Aug. 30 B3 will open with Douglas Carter Beane's Hollywood comedy "The Little Dog Laughed," which was nominated for the 2007 Tony Award for Best Play. It deals with a hard-driving agent who is trying to keep her star client's "recurring homosexuality" from becoming common knowledge.
In November, Irish playwright Conor McPherson's "The Seafarer" gets its Sacramento premiere. Set in an unruly old house in a town outside of Dublin, five hard drinking Irishmen find themselves in an unusual poker game on Christmas Eve. "The Seafarer" received a Tony Nomination for Best Play 2008. This year's awards will be announced on Sunday night.
In January of 2009, Margaret Edson's "Wit," the winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, comes to town. The play about an English professor dealing with terminal ovarian cancer deftly balances intensity and humor in a story that's also surprisingly uplifting.
The B3 season closes next April with Arthur Miller's classic "A View From the Bridge," the story about Italian immigrants living illegally in Brooklyn and Eddie the longshoreman who initially shelters them. It is one of Miller's most enduring and popular dramas.
This year B Street will also sell $60 subscriptions to the B3 Series. For information call (916) 443-5300 or go to www.bstreettheatre.org.

Locally based composer Gregg Coffin ("Convenience" and "Five Course Love" at the Sacramento Theatre Company and "rightnextto me" at the B Street") is on fire.

Actually, the modest, hard-working tunesmith is having a nice year, especially in Korea. Gregg reports that after a very successful two-month run at the Chung Mu Art Hall in Seoul, his musical comedy "Five Course Love" continues its Korean sojourn with an open-ended run at a new theater. So basically as long as people continue to come the show will play.

Coffin says the show has moved from its original home in Seoul to the new location in a kind of "theater row."

"The producers of the show have sent me lobby posters, playbills and placards as well as a DVD with about 15 minutes of the show to see," Coffin says. "It's a truly mind-bending experience to hear my music and not understand a word anyone is saying up there."

Gregg says the Korean Web site for the show - www.fcl.co.kr - is also a real treat.
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"You'll find three hearts on the graphic, besides the logo. The two on the right are to purchase tickets from different online venues; the one on the left is a fan page from an online club called CYWORLD. Select it, and there's a navigational bar on the left of that page and you can click on photos and movies of the production over there."

There's also a Facebook group page at www.facebook.co. Type "FIVE COURSE LOVE" in the search block and you'll find the fan site with pictures from all the productions and videos of the Korean version. Oh, and Gregg adds, "I'm not making this up - the Korean production has figurines. There's a picture of them up on the Facebook fan site."

Erik Daniells' feisty Artistic Differences production company made quite a splash last summer with its production of "Hair." The legendary "tribal love-rock" musical had a perfect mix of scruffy panache and top-flight musicianship, and audiences flocked to The Space at 25th and R streets to see the twice-extended show.

AD has kept a low profile since then, but will re-surface this weekend with a benefit show, at 7 P.M. Sunday at the Benvenuti Performing Arts Center, 4600 Blackrock Drive, Sacramento. It will also be a preview of the upcoming production of "bare" by Jon Hartmere Jr.and Damon Intrabartolo (opening July 25 at The Space).

"We've regrouped and have been restructuring the business side of the theater, trying to get that in order," Daniells reports. He's putting together a board of directors and hopes the company can reach a point where they're doing about three shows a year.

"Our goal is to do smaller, lesser-known works - things you don't typically see," Daniells says. He expects to announce the upcoming season at the benefit.

Daniells - who is currently working with the Willows Theatre Company in Martinez as well, teaching the songs of "Evil Dead: The Musical" (a campy horror movie spoof) to the cast - says he hopes the benefit also will introduce AD to a wider audience. (There will be songs from the company's two previous shows "Falsettos" and "Hair," along some tunes from the new show opening in July.)
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And Daniells is bringing in a couple ringers for the benefit. His sister, Kelly (pictured above, in the middle), who starred in the Las Vegas production of "Mamma Mia!" for a year and half, will sing "An Old Fashioned Love Story" from "Wild Party" (the Andrew Lippa version). Kelly brings along Ian Cullity from the Vegas "Mamma Mia!" cast and he'll sing "Pity the Child" from the musical "Chess" (lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson).

Besides the entertainment, the AD benefit will feature a raffle prize of two tickets and air fare to Las Vegas to see "Mamma Mia!"

For more information for for tickets - $10 in advance, $15 at the door - call (916) 708-3449.

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Capital Stage Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte (pictured above in this year's "Fool For Love") has chosen her company's 2008-09 season and it shakes out like this:

The season opens with "First Person Shooter" by Aaron Loeb (Sept. 20-Nov. 2). The 2007 winner of the Bay Area Critics Award for best new play deals with the connection between a violent video game and a schoolyard shooting.

Then, there's "Every Christmas Story Ever Told" by Michael Carleton, John K. Alvarez and James Fitzgerald (Nov. 20-Dec. 28), a three-ring circus comedy that returns for its third tour of holiday mania.

In 2009, Cap Stage will produce the Sacramento premiere of award-winning playwright Theresa Rebeck's "The Scene" (Jan. 17-Feb. 22), a comedy about dating and popular culture.

And the spring brings a classic from George Bernard Shaw, "Mrs. Warren's Profession" (March 21-April 26). In Shaw's (pictured below) thorny morality play, a conservative ingenue learns that her first-class education was financed by her mother's illegal occupation.

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In May, a politically topical black comedy, "Back of the Throat" (May 9-June 21) by Yussef El Guindi is another Sacramento regional premiere.

The season will close with the world premiere of a play (July 11-Aug. 16) from Capital Stage's "Playwright's Revolution" competition.

May 19, 2008
Jen and Faith

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Jennifer Smith, News10 anchor, e-mailed me after my recent post on Broadway actress Faith Prince. Prince, who has been living occasionally in Sacramento with husband Larry Lunetta and their son Henry, was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in the new musical "A Catered Affair." The production already has won the Drama League Award for Distinguished Production of a Musical.

Anyway, Jennifer wrote: "Faith and I grew up together in the town of Lynchburg, Va. We were both active in the community theater there as kids. In high school, I branched off and started working in television, and Faith starred in all the high school productions at E.C. Glass High School."

Jennifer adds, "I had the pleasure of seeing Faith in her Tony-winning Broadway performance in 'Guys and Dolls' (above). In this photo (below), Faith are I are sitting side by side on the front row as children in a wonderful production of 'The King and I.' (I'm on the end .. she's to my right.) I believe we were in the 6th grade."
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Hector Amezcua/Sacramento Bee file

Sacramento-based playwright Richard Hellesen,whose work has been seen around the country, can add a uniquely prestigious venue to his resume - the White House. Thats right - the one in Washington, D.C., where our president and his wife live.

On Monday, Hellesens play One Destiny, gave a special performance for First Lady Laura Bush, Salma Kikwete, the first lady of Tanzania, and students from several different Washington-area schools. (Check out the "official" press release.)

The play takes place in 1865, a couple days after President Lincoln was assassinated, and depicts the traumatic event from the points of view of two people who were there - Harry Hawk, the actor on stage when the president was shot, and Henry Ford, one of the theater's owners.

The 45-minute, one-act play was commissioned by Fords Theatre and Hellesen researched the historically accurate piece there before writing his play.

Hellesen has written numerous works for young people, including The Wind in the Willows, which is currently playing at the Young People's Theatre of Folsom through April 20; and Johnny Tremain and The Emperors New Clothes, both of which have been produced at the B Street Theatres Family Series. Hellesens most popular work may be his enduring adaptation of A Christmas Carol, with music and songs by David de Berry, which still lights up stages around the country during the holiday season.

Now Hellesen has had a command performance, so to speak.

April 7, 2008
Friday night Bruce

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Bryan Patrick/Sacramento Bee

While my colleague Chris Macias very effectively summed up Friday nights jumping Bruce Springsteen show at Arco, Id like to add a couple of observations.

The band opened in a smoking groove with Spirit in the Night, and it was obvious that Bruce was feeling good and feeling it from the crowd, as well. He kept up the pace throughout, and the songs from his latest record, Magic, sounded terrific live. Of the older material, it was especially cool to hear Because the Night, along with the three tunes from Darkness at the Edge of Town: Candys Room, The Promised Land and the set-closing Badlands.

Lots of Little Steven, which was welcome - featured as he was on Badlands, Ramrod and Murder Incorporated. The three guitars, including Nils Lofgren, were nicely integrated, with all of them getting appropriate solo space. Clarence Clemons didnt seem to be moving well, but his sound was as definitive as ever.

It was great to see Springsteen winging it through the set, changing out previously selected songs for others he felt fit the loose, energetic mood of the night.

We also got a great encore set with one more song than he usually plays - Rosalita!

December 12, 2007
Where's Tony Kushner?

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In a different world, this blog post would be reminding you to watch the brilliant documentary on one of the most fascinating artists of our time, playwright Tony Kushner.

Kushner (pictured above), who spoke at a well-attended appearance at UC Davis last spring, is the smart, funny, thought-provoking, Pulitzer Prize-winning, Tony Award-winning writer of such works as Angels In America, Caroline, Or Change and Homebody: Kabul.

The documentary, Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner by filmmaker Freida Lee Mock, will be shown at 9 tonight on most public television stations across the country. Most, but not all. One station not showing the program is our local affiliate KVIE (Channel 6). It's not showing the documentary tonight, and its unclear if it's planning on showing it, ever.

Apparently, the station doesnt think anyone in the Sacramento region would be interested in a revealing portrait of one of our most important living playwrights. The station is, however, showing a Chanukah Celebration, starring The Nanny Fran Drescher, which is interesting, considering that the Jewish Festival of Lights ends at sundown, before the program airs.

November 30, 2007
Actor at work

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Lezlie Sterling/lsterling@sacbee.com

Sometimes I interview people who give me much more material than I can use in a story. Id like to think its because I ask such good questions, but its probably more that these people have a lot to say or theyre just great talkers.

Actor David Silberman is a great talker who has a lot to say. (Check out my story on him - in today's issue of Weekend Ticket - and see a great video on him by The Bee's Andy Alfaro, by clicking here.

On working steadily in a very tough business, Silberman says hes gotten a few breaks.

Ive been able to go from job to job and situation to situation, Silberman says.
Thereve been some fallow times in there, which all actors experience, but Ive been really lucky in a profession where, at any point in time, 90 percent of the union members are unemployed.

"I consider myself really lucky that Ive been able to carve out a living over a number of decades, doing what I really love doing.

Other people also had a lot to say about Silberman, including former Sacramento Theatre Company artistic director Mark Cuddy.

Hes wonderful to have in a production because he not only plays his character in a role, but the role his character plays in the whole thing. He understands that, Cuddy explains.

Craft-wise, he has a sensational sense of timing and hes a very empathic character. He has a big heart. He really shows love for other characters when thats appropriate on stage. Thats a hard one and he does it without being sentimental, too.

The Capital Stage Company, now in its third year, announced today the receipt of a two-year, $40,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation in support of its new Playwrights Revolution project.

The playwright's project is set to debut in the spring of 2008. It is expected to spawn a series of readings and workshops, with the ultimate goal of creating plays for the company to produce.

Its been one of our goals to get new original work on our stage, says Capital Stage managing director Peter Mohrmann. It really comes down to, Where can we get some money to support artists in Northern California who wed like to work with?

Other local theaters already have programs that nurture new writers and works, including River Stage, the B Street Theatre, the Sacramento Theatre Company and Foothill Theatre, Mohrmann says.

The way for us to step up with the other companies is to be a place that is germinating our pieces, Mohrmann says.

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Certainly, the Irvine grant is an added boost to the growing company, which started the year strongly with its successful staging of John Patrick Shaleys political farce Dirty Story. The production starred Capital Stage's artistic director Stephanie Gularte (pictured between Timothy Orr and Harry Harris). "Dirty Story" showed a marked increase in audience support for a season-opening production, and subscription sales are on the upswing, as well.

Mohrmann says the company had planned to pursue a Playwrights Revolution project whether or not it received any funding. But getting the initiative off the ground - and some interesting playwrights involved - should now be easier.

In an unrelated gift, the Irvine Foundation recently awarded $4.1 million in grants to be divided among 15 Central Valley arts organizations, including five in the Sacramento area. They are the Sacramento Philharmonic, the Sacramento Ballet and the Crocker Art Museum, which is to each receive $325,000; the Sacramento Opera, a $250,000 grant; and the Magic Circle Theatre of Roseville, a $200,000 grant. The $1.4 million in grant money is to be used over a three-year period.


September 26, 2007
'Vivien' clarifies

I recently reported here that the Sacramento Theatre Company has added a production of Rick Fosters Vivien starring Janis Stevens to its Stage Two season, Dec. 12-Jan. 6.

While I stated the production was a perennial in Sacramento, Stevens has charmingly written to say that this will really only be the second local production in Sacramento.

It has only been produced once before in Sacramento: at California Stage in the 2000 season, when it ran for two weeks in May and was then extended, after I returned from Maine that summer, for another six weeks in the same venue.

(There have been, however, several other Northern California productions, including at the San Francisco Magic Theatre in 2001 and a production at the Mendocino Theatre Company in 2002.)

The production here will be directed by Peter Sander, Stevens long-time acting coach, who says she was instrumental in the production receiving its 2006 Drama Desk nomination.

Stevens also writes: We are taking the show to the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. I will fly out to NYC the Sunday that I close 'Vivien' at STCs Stage 2...and start rehearsing in Philadelphia on Jan. 8 for a preview on the 15th and official opening on the 17th. It will run at the Walnut Street through Feb. 3.

Stevens says she and Sander also had a successful run of Vivien at Lost Nation Theatre in Montpelier, Vt., earlier this year and theyve been asked back in May of 2008 to do Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie.


September 19, 2007
More free theater to come

The third annual Free Night of Theater returns in October, and 25 Sacramento-area theaters will be participating for a second year.

Here's how it'll work: On and/or around Thursday, Oct. 18, theatergoers across the country will be able to attend free performances presented by more than 600 theaters in some 50 cities coast to coast.

Another important (time) and date to remember: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, , when the free ticket sign-up begins (and likely ends soon thereafter, because tickets go quickly) online.

For more information, click here.

The area theater companies involved include the B Street Theatre, Beyond the Proscenium, Big Idea Theatre, California Musical Theatre-Broadway Series, Capital Stage, Celebration Arts, Chautauqua Playhouse, City Theatre, Davis Musical Theatre, Foothill Theatre Company, River City Theatre Company, River Stage, SacActors.Com, Sacramento Theatre Company and the Woodland Opera House.

Other cities taking part include Atlanta, Austin, Texas, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Philadelphia; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle/Greater Puget Sound, and Washington, D.C.

The Free Night will be produced statewide in Connecticut, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

The idea is to expose people to theater, and surveys of audience members who attended Free Night performances in 2006 showed that two out of three Free Night audience members attended a theater that they had never been to before, and 32 percent of them returned within six months.

The program will be presented in Sacramento by the League of Sacramento Theatres, SARTA and Theatre Bay Area.

As the Sacramento Theatre Company announced this week that single tickets are on sale for its 2007-08 season, it also announced a schedule change.

The English import Sophie Tuckers One Night Stand is out, and the near-perennial Vivien is in.

Vivien will play on Stage 2 from Dec. 12 through Jan. 6. The one-woman show, written by Rick Foster and starring Janis Stevens, not only has had several productions in Sacramento, but Stevens has successfully taken the show around the country, including a stop in New York.

Based on the life of actress Vivien Leigh, the show takes place in an abandoned theater as Leigh looks back on her tumultuous life and legendary career in film and theater.

Stevens New York run was nominated for a 2005 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance. The busy bicoastal actress will squeeze in the new Sacramento booking just in front of a Philadelphia engagement of Vivien.

For more information, go here.

August 15, 2007
Ed Brazo: In his spare time

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Director, choreographer and educator Ed Brazo puts his more than 25 years of professional theater experience to good use, teaching musical theater at CSUS. He also sometimes moonlights at the Music Circus, and this week, Brazo plays Rudy, the no-nonsense head waiter (pictured in the back of the photo) in Hello, Dolly! (Read my review.)

Dolly is well known for brassy leads, and Brazo has worked with a few. He toured nationally with Angela Lansbury in a production of Gypsy and, ironically, directed and choreographed the Dolly Gallagher icon herself, Miss Carol Channing, in A Salute to the Arts here in Sacramento this past spring.

Though I didnt see that show, Ill bet a paycheck that Channing delivered her own inimitable version of the title song. (Full disclosure here - the patient Mr. Brazo also choreographed and taught yours truly a dance for my wedding, for which I am eternally grateful.)

August 10, 2007
Missing 'Annie' moment

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I see a lot of plays - 50 to 60 a year - and what I remember or dont about a particular production years later can be sketchy at best. But some moments - for whatever reason - stand out. Before Tuesday night, Id only seen Annie once before, the 2001 Music Circus production directed by Leland Ball. There was a moment in the last number of the show when Oliver Daddy Warbucks (Mark Zimmerman) turned toward his efficient, classy assistant Grace Farrell (Rachel deBenedet) and much to her surprise offered her an engagement ring, which she happily accepted. It was something that had remained in my minds eye as an emotionally rewarding moment that made sense to me.

At Tuesday nights opening of Annie, at the Wells Fargo Pavilion, I found myself anticipating the exchange - but the moment never happened. Afterward, I cornered artistic director Scott Eckern, asking him if a different version of the play had been used. He said no - this was the same script they had used before, though there were some small alterations in the first act (actually mentioned to me at intermission by eagle-eyed Steve Issacson of the Davis Musical Theatre Company).

I insisted to Scott that something was missing in the final scene (Warbucks is again played by Zimmerman, by the way), and he calmly told me that they were doing the script they had always done. I went home disappointed and a little confused.

The next morning, the exceedingly thorough Mr. Eckern e-mailed me to say he had gone back and looked at the script Leland Ball had used in 2001. While it was the same script, Leland had in fact added the business of the ring and the proposal, which I had seen, and Eckern said he remembered after I asked him about it.

I felt a little better about my memory, though sad for Christy Mortons Grace Farrell (pictured) who gets no ring in this production.

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Capital Stages extended run of Neil LaButes Fat Pig finishes up this weekend with three performances (at 8 tonight, 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday) on the Delta King in Old Sacramento. Christin OCuddehy (pictured) and Shaun Carroll provide the flawed humanity in the powerfully acted piece.

The Sacramento Shakespeare Festival closes this weekend (its only August! What gives?). Kim McCanns Kabuki Macbeth ends Saturday, while Luther Hansons Moulin Rouge-inspired "Comedy of Errors has its last shows tonight and Sunday. Both play at 8 p.m. at the William Carroll Amphitheatre across from the zoo in Land Park.

Finally, the Music Circus production of Cole Porters Kiss Me Kate is well worth checking out. Besides star-caliber performances by Lynne Wintersteller and Paul Schoeffler, theres a strong attractive ensemble, plus you get some of the greatest songs written for musical theater performed by an outstanding band under John Johnsons musical direction. It plays at 8 tonight and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

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Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

While much has been made of Shakespeares rhymes and rhythm (iambic pentameter, if you must know), little is known of his skills as an MC. Interestingly, two productions this summer somewhat address this absence of knowledge.

In the Oregon Shakespeare Festivals genre-shifting production of Romeo and Juliet, a DJ breaks out some beats at the Capulets dance after the usual lute and recorder set. Though the scene is played straight, its hard not to laugh at the juxtaposition.

More intentionally funny is the hip-hop music lesson that Greg Bryans outrageous Hortensio gives Karyn Casls super-cool Bianca at the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festivals Taming of the Shrew (pictured above).This jammin interlude raises the roof (well, it would if it weren't under the stars) and gets heads nodding, thanks to the two actors' gleeful abandon to the ridiculous moment.

If you dont know the story, in order to gain access to Bianca, one of her suitors, Hortensio, disguises himself as the music teacher Lit-E-O. He must compete with Lucentio, also angling for Biancas affections, who has disguised himself as the scholar Cambio. (Check out my review.)

Its interesting how similar ideas come to the surface in such different ways.

During Tuesdays opening-night performance of Nunsense at the Wells Fargo Pavilion, actress Alyson Reed, who plays Reverend Mother, felt something pop in her left leg. Though she completed the performance, Reed knew something was seriously wrong, which a doctor's examination confirmed on Wednesday.

She cant put any weight on the leg. Thus, Reed performed Wednesday nights show from an electric cart, which necessitated some restructuring of the show for her and her four co-stars Allison Blackwell, Taryn Darr, Michele Ragusa and Erin Maguire.

And yes, the expectation is that, for Reeds protection, shell complete the shows Music Circus run in the cart.

By the way, you can check out my review of the show here.

July 19, 2007
You and the night

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The enterprising, industrious young people in the Barnyard Theatre of Yolo County are gearing up for their fourth summer production, which opens Friday.

This year, they bring Bertolt Brechts Galileo to the Schmeiser Barn, at 35125 County Road 31. To give the production just that much more verisimilitude, Barnyard Theatre will perform in the barnyard itself, placing Galileos explorations under an actual night sky.

Audience members should bring insect repellent and warm clothes for cool nights. Performances begin at 8:30 p.m., and the show runs Friday through Sunday nights - July 20-22, July 26-28 and Aug. 2-5.

Seating is limited. Tickets are $7 and $12 in advance; $10 and $15 at the door. For information, call (530) 574-1318 or check out their booth at the Davis Farmers Market on Wednesday nights.


July 13, 2007
August Wilson and STC

Sacramento Theatre Company's Mark Standriff called today to say that on Monday, STC will announce a dramatic programming initiative. Standriff, the company's newly appointed managing director, says STC plans on producing all of August Wilsons 10-play Pittsburgh Cycle in chronological order.

The Seattle-based Wilson, who died in 2005, wrote 10 full-length plays centered on the African American experience in the United States - one play set in each decade.

Standriff hopes STC can open the first play, Gem of the Ocean, in the spring of 2009. Gem was produced at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco last spring and a production currently runs at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

Standriff says as a former artistic director, he believes theaters sometimes worry too much about the short term and dont think enough about the long term. He also says that, as a managing director, announcing a 10-year commitment to producing Wilsons works gives STC an opportunity to court supporters for a long-term commitment to diversity in Sacramento professional theater.

Wilson hasn't been produced professionally in Sacramento since the late '80s. Under artistic director Mark Cuddy, STC did both "Fences" and "Joe Turner's Come and Gone."

In case you haven't heard, the Musical That Previously Couldnt Be Named in Broadway Sacramento's 2007-08 season is the multi-Tony Award-winning phenomenon Jersey Boys.

The show will kick off the season and run at the Community Center Theater Sept. 7-22; single-show tickets go on sale Monday, July 30.

Currently, tickets are available to Broadway Sacramento subscribers and to groups of 12 or more. For more information, go here.


July 2, 2007
Big girls don't cry...

... Jersey-Boys.jpg

...but you might if you don't make plans to order up some tickets to see "Jersey Boys" at the Community Center Theater in September.

"Jersey Boys" is the show that couldn't be named earlier by the new Broadway Sacramento organization because of its contract with the touring company, but with the announcement made today, now you - and everybody else - knows.

For more information, go to the California Musical Theatre Web site.

June 29, 2007
'Love' is alive

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Sacramento Bee file, 2005/Owen Brewer

Locally based playwright and composer Gregg Coffin reports that his musical comedy Five Course Love is alive and doing quite well - this time in Long Beach, with very strong reviews from the shows opening last week.

The show was a hit here for the Sacramento Theatre Company in May of 2005.

FCL has now had nine productions, including stops in Rochester and Albany, N.Y.; Coral Gables and Key West, Fla.; Houston, Texas, and off-Broadway at the Minetta Lane Theatre. Coffin says there will soon be a cast album, as well.

Coffin also wrote Convenience, which played at STC in 2004 and has had four other regional productions, including one he directed last year at the New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco.

Though Gregg travels constantly, he says hes happy at home here in Sacramento, working on his newest project, which he says centers around an Army wife and her husband, currently on tour in Iraq.

Its called rightnexttome and workshops will take place in Kansas City, Mo., and Rochester, N.Y., in mid-September and mid-October leading up to a first production in Kansas City in late November.

Of that show, Gregg e-mails: Its thru-sung...my usual m.o. Two actors, playing six characters. All about disconnection and crisis of one kind or another. Love and loss and the ghosts of things gone by, about what we will believe without any proof, and the longevity of some things and the brevity of others....

June 26, 2007
In memorium: Thom Bach

The highly regarded, longtime area actor and director Thom Bach passed away from cancer last Thursday, June 21. A celebration of his Life will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, July 9, at the Art Court Theatre at Sacramento City College.

Bach worked at most of the theaters in the area, including the Geary, Woodland Opera House, Chautauqua Playhouse and Lambda Players.

The 43-year-old started working in Sacramento community theater just out of high school. One of his first productions was Juno and Paycock at City College in 1983. There he met and developed a lifelong friendship with Kim McCann. McCann said Bach had made peace with his illness: He really faced it with grace and humor.

She said Bach expressed only one disappointment.

He said, Im really only mad about Im not going to know how Harry Potter turns out.

Bach scripted the celebration of life, considering it his last production.

June 18, 2007
Ashland: Change is good

Ashland, Ore. - The traditional Oregon Shakespeare Festival Sunday-morning press conference with the directors was a little giddy. Theres no doubt the transition from outgoing artistic director Libby Appel to the incoming Bill Rauch has put an edge on things. But the overwhelming feelings are renewal and creative rebirth.

Appels last day will be Aug. 1, while Rauch is already working full-time at the festival, having recently announced his 2008 season.

Appel and Rauch both had productions open in the Elizabethan Theatre this past weekend. Appel directed an earnest The Tempest, while Rauch staged a wild, unpredictable Romeo and Juliet. (Full reviews of both plays will run in The Bee on June 25.)

Large organizations so rarely positively and proactively reinvent themselves, so seeing one in the midst of such a conscious change creates a real charge. At one point during the press conference, Appel said, I believe when the book is written on how to change leadership in a major arts organization, this episode will be a central chapter.

Appel also told the story of calling Rauch to offer him the job of directing Romeo and Juliet, which opened Sunday night, and of his initial hesitation.

Rauch was in the process of applying for Appels job and told her he thought he might feel awkward about working there if he didnt get the artistic directors position. Appel told him she wasnt worrying about that - she was asking him to be a part of her final season. Rauch said her response convinced him immediately to accept the Romeo and Juliet assignment. Then a couple of months later, he was offered the artistic director position.


Ashland, Ore. - Oregon Shakespeare Festival artistic associate Tim Bond did some of his growing up in Sacramento. Bonds father, James, was president of CSUS in the '70s, though the former university president now lives in Ashland near his son.

Bonds production of August Wilsons Gem of the Ocean is a highlight of the current season, and Wilsons plays have become a Bond speciality.
Bond says he has had many opportunities to speak with the playwright about his work.

I had the good fortune of having August tell me the story of three or four of his plays while he was writing them. Id see him and hed say, Hey Tim, have you got a minute?

"No matter how busy I was, Id say 'of course. Wed just go sit somewhere and hed just tell me the story of the play. He was a storyteller, a real griot. The monologues and conversations would just flow out of him, and 45 minutes later, he would have told me the story of the play he was writing or thinking about.

"Im proud of the productions we did here at the festival because I felt like August was our modern-day Bard and it was appropriate to put him next to Shakepeare.

However, Bond (and his father) will be relocating soon, as Tim, who has been with OSF for the last 12 seasons, will be moving to a new position, likely on the East Coast; his father will come with him and his family.

Tim Bonds leaving is part of the administrative changes by incoming artistic director Bill Rauch that has eliminated some positions. Bond now hopes to lead his own mid- to- large-size theater company and hopes to have something definite by the end of the summer.

June 16, 2007
Ashland: Opening weekend

Ashland, Ore. - The Oregon Shakespeare Festival was established in 1935, so a fair amount of history and tradition exist here. The full-scale Elizabethan theater where the outdoor season opens this weekend is the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

When the trumpets (recorded) sound, signaling the raising (live) of the flag, it's a nod to the Elizabethan tradition letting the public know a play will be performed. Friday night was the opening of "The Tempest," Shakespeare's last full-length play. (Look for my full reviews of the outdoor season in The Bee's Scene section on Monday, June 25.)

The production is artistic director Libby Appel's last in her tenure leading the festival. Appel steps down after this season, with young Bill Rauch taking over, though she'll be back directing Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge" next year.

Like any outdoor arts festival, the first determiner of the overall experience is the weather. Leaving this week's first blasts of 100-degree Sacramento summer for the mid-80s of Ashland was certainly a pleasing development that bodes well for the weekend's two other outdoor shows - "The Taming of the Shrew" Saturday and "Romeo and Juliet" Sunday night.

June 13, 2007
Arts HQ

Studios.jpg Dreyfuss & Blackford

Up until now, you may not have heard of the E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts, but you'll be hearing more about it from this point on.

Its the building going up at 14th and H streets, which will house the Sacramento Ballet, the Sacramento Opera, California Musical Theatre (Music Circus and Broadway Sacramento), and the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra.

The name and designs by architectural firm Dreyfuss & Blackford were unveiled this morning after Joyce Raley Teel gave a $5 million donation to the project in honor of her late mother E. Clare Raley.

The four organizations will each have their administrative offices in the four-story, 47,000-square-foot structure, along with much-needed rehearsal space, classrooms, and the ballets Center for Dance Education.

The project has a budget of $25 million, and the complex is expected to be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2009.

Today's announcement comes on the heels of one earlier this month that the Joyce and Jim Teel Family Foundation would give an additional $5 million, on top of an earlier pledge of $8 million, to help fund a major expansion of the Crocker Art Museum. Local art benefactors Mort and Marcy Friedman also announced at that time that they would donate $5 million to the Crocker, bringing their total contribution to $10 million.

June 7, 2007
Now hear this

If you are fan of progressive music, smart new music, genre-defying improvisatory music, or just plain good music, listen up. Theres a show - well, its more like a program, really, Friday night at Capistrano Hall on the CSUS campus of CSUS that you shouldnt miss.

A cello player named Dana Leong will perform with a keyboardist named Jason Lindner and percussionist Scott Amendola. This is the kind of group you would get at the Knitting Factory in New York.

Lindner and Amendola both play a lot of jazz; Lindner has made a name for himself with his progressive big band and hell follow up Friday nights show here by playing with funky bassist Meshell Ndegeocello at the Independent in San Francisco. Amendola plays in so many different bands that Ive lost count, but lets just say hes a musicians musician.

Leong, whose gig it is, also plays trombone (in Lindners big band). Leongs Web site says, Dana's sound is a fusion of computerized electronic hip-hop funk rhythms and rock propulsions. While playing the cello or trombone, Dana also uses his laptop onstage to integrate electronic soundscapes.

The CSUS concert, part of the New Directions Cello Festival, starts at 7:30 p.m., with the Dana Leong group scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Tickets - available at the door only - are $20 general, $12 students and seniors, $6 for those under 12.


April 10, 2007
American Identity

Michael Height, general manager of the ID America Festival, a theater festival taking place this November on Manhattans Lower East Side, reached out to me, saying hes seeking plays on the topic of American identity. And hed like the Sacramento theater community to participate.

Says Height: We are seeking submissions of one-act plays that deal with this subject from all corners of America and the world. Our hope is to have these plays foster a dialogue between those with differing points of view.

Height represents an organization called Quo Vadimus Arts, which his Web site says is an international community of artists working to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences between cultures. Quo Vadimus means where are we going?

He says that between 10 to 16 short plays will be chosen for performances at the Clemente Solo Velez Center in New York City, from Nov. 6-21. Four to five plays will be selected for a national tour of universities and regional theaters in 2008.

Go here or here to submit your play or to learn more about the festival.

April 4, 2007
STC's 2007-08 season

The Sacramento Theatre Company has just announced its 2007-2008 season, with four Mainstage shows and four plays in the smaller Stage 2. Heres what theyve got going at 15th and H streets in the next year:

* Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Oct. 3 - Nov. 11) on the Mainstage: The classic story of friendship and morality.

* Virgo, Hebrew Rising by Brian Diamond (Nov. 7 - Dec. 2) on Stage 2: Diamonds autobiographical one-man comedy about growing up half Jewish in the inner city.

* A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted for STC by Richard Hellesen and David de Berry (Nov. 28 - Dec. 23) on the Mainstage: A reprise of the classic telling of the Dickens tale.

* Sophie Tuckers One Night Stand by Chris Burgess (Dec. 12 - Jan. 6, 2008) on Stage 2: English actress Sue Kelvin will portray Sophie Tucker in this play with music.

* Topdog/Underdog by Suzan-Lori Parks (Jan. 23 - Feb. 17, 2008) on the Mainstage: The Pulitzer Prize-winning play about two brothers - one named Lincoln and the other Booth.

* Resting Place by Richard Broadhurst (Feb. 20 - March 16, 2008) on Stage 2:
A world premiere from the Sacramento-based writer.

* Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmund Rostand (March 19 - April 13, 2008) on the Mainstage: Anthony Burgess translates and adapts the timeless romance.

* Magdalene by Katie Ketchum (April 16 - May 11, 2008) on Stage 2: Ketchums one-woman musical-comedy takes on the Gospel of Mary of Magdala with a '50s rockabilly slant.


March 29, 2007
Farewell, Dennis Bigelow

Friends and associates of the late Dennis Bigelow will convene Monday night at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Sacramento Theater Company for a memorial reception and party.

Bigelow, who transformed the Eleanor McClatchy Performing Arts Center into the Sacramento Theater Company, passed away in 2005 at the age of 52 in Portland, Ore.

He came to Sacramento in 1983 from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where he was a stage manager and director. He was named producing director of STC in 1986 and worked there until 1988, directing 29 productions and creating a semiprofessional company that became fully professional under successor Mark Cuddy.

Bigelow commissioned the adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" by Richard Hellesen and David DeBerry, which became the company's signature production.

In an obituary that I wrote about Bigelow, I quoted former Bee theater critic Peter Haugen as saying, "Dennis played an important and underappreciated role in the evolution of the performing arts in Sacramento. He challenged audiences who were used to tame community theater fare with productions the likes of which had not been seen in Sacramento before."

STC is at 1419 H St.; after the reception there, dinner will follow at the Esquire Grill. For more information, e-mail kdmorison@sbcglobal.net.

February 6, 2007
The Big Man

KLEBER.jpgThe tremendously talented actor Rick Kleber is in serious condition at Sutter General Hospital. Kleber's colon ruptured last Monday and he went into emergency surgery on Tuesday.

Kleber (left), has been a mainstay at the Children Theatre of California over the last couple of years and always brings a positive energy and generous spirit to everything he does.

An online message system has been set up for him at www.carepages.com, where you can also find information about his condition. Use the name "kleberonthemend" to find the latest on how he's doing.

January 9, 2007
'Catching Out'

I havent read very much of Sacramento-based writer William T. Vollmanns work, but what I have read is fairly stunning. Vollmann was awarded the 2005 National Book Award for fiction for his novel Europe Central, and he has written a great deal of literary nonfiction as well.

The New York Times Book Review described Vollmanns novel as: "His most welcoming work, possibly his best bookpart novel and part stories, virtuoso historical remembrance and focused study of violence.

The Times literary supplement called him one of the most important and fascinating writers of our time.

So hes got some impressive credentials. But what matters most is if an artist speaks to you through his work. Does he illuminate the world in a way that makes it both new and familiar? Vollmann did that for me.

The piece I read is his most recently published travel story, which appears in this months Harpers as a feature called Letter From a Freight Train: Catching Out - Travels in an Open Boxcar.

The piece follows Vollmanns recent experiences riding freights - often starting in and around Sacramento - going wherever the train takes him. Vollmann often makes these travels with a friend he just identifies as Steve (another Sacramentan and a longtime personal acquaintance of mine).

I had heard of the train trips for years and had seen many of Steves photo albums of the trips, as well. Vollmanns writing is a whole other vision, and a rather brilliant one, into a dark, anachronistic world.

The writer told me the piece is the abridged opening chapter of his latest book, which he just finished and which will be published sometime next year. Much of it takes place in and around Sacramento, Roseville and Marysville as Vollmann and friends try to catch out.


December 13, 2006
Ends and odds

Allen Schmeltz will be leaving his five-year home at Garbeaus Dinner Theatre at the end of the month. Schmeltz founded and was artistic director of Garbeaus Acorn & Oak Theatre for children. He is forming Allen Schmeltz Productions and will work with Ed Claudio at his new Actors Theatre of Folsom. Schmeltz and Claudio also will produce with Mike Jimena and Connie Mockenhaupt at their Back Lot Theatre, opening in El Dorado Hills in late February 2007.

Schmeltz plans to continue teaching theater arts throughout the area.

Meanwhile, director Julie Anchor is still casting for her production of Greater Tuna for Main Street Theatre Works. The auditions will be at California Stage (25th and R streets) at 7 p.m. Thursday. The majority of rehearsals will be in Sacramento, and two men are needed - age is open - to play 20-something characters. The show is set to run Feb. 16 through March 24 (with a possible one-week extension) at The Playhouse dinner theater at Sutter Creek Days Inn. Main Street Theatre Works offers a gas stipend. For more info: Susan McCandless, MSTW artistic director, at (209) 295-4499.


December 7, 2006
'G' Rated and 'R' Rated

Here are a couple late entries into the holiday theater derby - one G rated for the entire family and the other R rated for adults.

The first is A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas, which is playing at Cosumnes River College. The production is directed by Cheri Fortin, the new artistic director of Next Stage: Theatre for Young Audiences. (Next Stage will produce family-oriented theater at CRCs newly named Black Box Theatre, which is actually River Stage with a new name. Dont worry - River Stage isnt going anywhere, the theater space has just been renamed to avoid confusion, though it briefly added to mine.)

A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas performs at 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday and 2 p.m. Saturday; the last shows are this weekend. Tickets are $8 and $10. For more information: (916) 691-7364.

Meanwhile, over at the Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre, Scandal erupts at the North Pole when one of Santas eight tiny reindeer accuses him of sexual harassment in "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues." At least, so say the producers of the show, who also say this is NOT a child appropriate production, which just may make it appropriate for you.

Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 23 at the little theater on the corner of 19th and P streets. Reservations are required: (916) 444-8209. Tickets are $24 and include dessert, coffee or tea. There's more information at www.myspace.com/the_8_reindeer.

November 22, 2006
Once a year ...

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Sacramento Bee/Michael A. Jones

Nothing says the holidays to a theater critic as much as the proliferation of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol. It is easily the most produced play (in some version or another) in the United States each year. I havent counted this year's entries, but we are quite lucky to have our own locally grown adaptation (by playwright Richard Hellesen and the late composer David DeBerry) playing again at Sacramento Theatre Company. Of course "A Christmas Carol" is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to holiday theater productions.
Three years ago, I came up with the idea of a photo shoot combining various disparate characters in a fun salute to the numerous holiday-themed productions in our area. The spread would come out on the Friday after Thanksgiving as a sort of holiday season kickoff. It went so well (thanks to the photographers, designers, actors and costumers) that weve continued it in some variation each succeeding year since. This years theme is The Usual Suspects (courtesy of art director Val Mina) which really needs no more explanation. The photo spread has been pushed to Sundays Ticket+ and heres a taste.

October 12, 2006
This is the last ...

The not completely surprising demise of Tower has a deeply personal sting, of course, for many here in Sacramento. And for numerous friends and associates who are losing jobs, there is more than a sting.

As Dr. Johnson once famously observed, the end of anything brings forth some deep and uncomfortable emotions, and the end of Tower is no exception.
Like many, the record store (at Watt and El Camino) was an early high school hangout and endless source of information for me. In the days of more time than money, I whiled away the hours and learned a lot about music, especially jazz, standing in the stacks, reading liner notes. (And often surreptiously splitting the cellophane wrappers to open up double albums to read what was stashed away on the inside.)

Later, I worked at the 16th and Broadway store. We sold vinyl then (the mid-70s) and had a small cassette section in the back. From opening the store on a Sunday morning to closing at midnight on a full moon, it was a great gig. And my record collection was greatly enhanced during that time. After a couple years of trying to find that record by that guy - with that guy being anyone from John Kay to Perez Prado - I finished college and left the job. Many I worked with went on to manage their own Tower outlets from here to L.A.

My good friend and Bee colleague David Barton, who is currently on sabbatical in New York, sent a poignant message on Saturday, which I excerpt here:
Tower played as crucial a role in my development as my parents or my schools did ... The thing I still remember best is going up to Tower Watt with my little brother Bobby in the summer of 1967, dresssed in our best approximations of the Beatles Sgt. Pepper garb - me in my dads WWII dress jacket, a black wig and drawn-on mustache (I was George) - and casually thumbing through the records, which were, I believe, $1.99 for mono, $2.99 for stereo.

There's more that happened here than just a business failing.

To quote Dr. Johnson: There are few things not purely evil, of which we can say, without some emotion of uneasiness, This is the last.

October 5, 2006
Going, going ...

California Musical Theater artistic director Scott Eckern was on Seventh Avenue looking toward Central Park (thats in New York City, kids) as we spoke this afternoon, but he had glowing reports from Sacramento on the Free Night of Theater program.

We anticipated there would be a great response," he says. "My concern is always, Did we get the word out enough? and, apparently, we did.

While Eckern, along with CMT executive producer Richard Lewis, is in New York for the National Alliance for Musical Theatre fall conference, he's staying on top of the local news.

Free tickets to participating area theaters became available beginning Oct. 3 through the seeaplay.com Web site here and were so sought-after that the computers were initially overwhelmed.

Were in partnership with Theater Bay Area and it was their computer that was processing the requests, Eckern says.

Theyre making sure now that there arent duplicates. If there are, the campaign is set up to not have any so it may free up some shows, which are currently listed as being gone.

Eckern suggests people check back to the Web site on a regular basis between now and Oct. 17 to see if more tickets become available. The shows take place between Oct. 19 and Nov. 19. Eckern says theaters might also decide to make more tickets available, as well.

Here are the numbers as of this afternoon: 27 Sacramento region theaters... 29 productions ... 40 performances ... and 2,112 tickets claimed.

People got very excited about this opportunity, and I think there are people out there who are taking advantage of this by either going to theater for their first time or going to a theater they havent been to before, Eckern says.

Theres nothing to lose - take a chance. If you dont recognize the title, its OK -
check it out anyway. Any live theater production adds value to your life.


September 25, 2006
Moving on

EDCLAUDIO.jpg Sunday night at the sold-out Elly Awards ceremony, Ed Claudio not only picked up his first Elly for directing the outstanding production of Glengarry Glen Ross (after being nominated 15 times, he said) - read the story here - but he also announced his bittersweet farewell to Del Paso Boulevard.

Claudio will close the Actor's Theatre of Sacramento at the end of the year, completing 10 seasons at the complex creatively known as The Building. But as the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens, and Claudio will be opening doors in Old Folsom.

Claudio is to be a partner and artistic director with Mikon Productions (owned and operated by Mike Jimena and Connie Mockenhaupt), running a new theater at 717 Sutter St. in Folsom. For their first show, theyll be bringing back the sensational Alexandra Ralph in the one-woman song cycle by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tell Me On Sunday. The show will open Nov. 3 in an intimate, 49-seat Actors Theatre of Folsom, as it will be called.

Claudio says he will continue to operate a teaching studio in Sacramento and should have that location firmed up soon.

September 22, 2006
Homecoming

Nearing the eve of the Elly Awards, it was a happy chance Thursday to run into John Beaudry, who has meant so much to local theater.

Beaudry has been living in Korea the last few years, teaching English while studying and developing his spiritual awareness. But before that, he, along with business and artistic partner Ivan Sandoval, ran The Show Below at the Geery Theater on L Street. The pair was known for an uncompromising approach to producing truly professional-oriented theater with people who mostly went unpaid. They also took home a bunch of Ellys.

When they closed their doors after producing more than 50 plays since they opened in August of 1987, my predecessor at The Bee, Peter Haugen, wrote what sets The Show Below apart among small theaters is its unwillingness to say good enough.

To accomplish what they have - and it has been considerable - the team of Beaudry and Sandoval has asked a lot of their non-union actors," Haugen added. "The people who worked at The Show Below have been asked to put in professional-level effort even though they made their livings doing other things.

When I saw him Thursday, Beaudry was sitting with long-time friend and director Adrienne Sher, who often worked for him at the underground theater. They traded war stories about the old days, waxed philosophical on the current state of Sacramento theater, and seemed optimistic about the future.

September 12, 2006
Storm front

Tropical Depression (there are no Kates involved) was the title and/or theme of Sunday nights hugely enjoyable 29 1/2 Hour Playwriting Festival. The event, now in its seventh year and sponsored by City Theatre at Sacramento City College and Synergy Stage, is just what it advertises.

Plays are written, rehearsed and performed in the time it takes most of us to come up with half of an idea. There were eight plays in all, including Casting Slouch by Lorne White, Whats in a Name? by Jes Gonzales, Cause and Kate-fect by Nina Breton, and Underwater by Crom Saunders. And they are short - most ran about 10 to 15 minutes.

The idea is mostly for fun, but theres a lot of craft being learned and put on display as well (go ahead - try and write a 10-minute play; take a whole day). Performers and the standing-room audience alike had great times.

After the final play, festival coordinator Luther Hanson called the actors on stage for a deserved curtain call. He then brought out the writers, directors and, finally, the behind-scenes contributors. It was a master stroke of inclusion by Hanson, who deserves much credit for putting this together along with assistant coordinator Christine Nicholson, Lori Ann DeLappe-Grondin and Mariam Helalian.

August 28, 2006
Theater alternatives

Making good on their promise to offer alternative theater in Sacramento, Capital Stage last week announced an eye-catching 2006-07 schedule, which opens with the intriguing Rebecca Gilman and closes with the infuriating Neil LaBute, who has become their poster boy. Heres the schedule:

Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gilman, a Sacramento premiere (Sept. 23 - Nov. 5, 2006).

Every Christmas Story Ever Told by Michael Carleton, John Alvarez and Jim Fitzgerald, a West Coast professional premiere (Nov. 25 - Dec. 31, 2006).

Les Liaison Dangereuses by Christopher Hampton, from the novel by Choderlos de Laclos (Feb. 3 - March 11, 2007).

Three Days of Rain by Richard Greenberg (April 7 - May 13, 2007).

Fat Pig by Neil LaBute, a Sacramento premiere (June 23 - July 29, 2007).

Interesting titles all. This season, Cap Stage will also institute a five-play, staged-reading series. Though the performance details havent all been worked out, four of the five plays have been selected: The Exonerated by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, Doubt by John Patrick Shanley, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow by Rolin Jones and Frozen by Byrony Lavery.

August 24, 2006
Moving on

FL-SNEED.jpg

Northern Californias loss is Colorados gain as it was announced earlier this week that Philip Charles Sneed has been appointed the new producing artistic director of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Sneed guided the Foothill Theatre Company of Nevada City for 12 years during a period of remarkable growth before being terminated by the board 18 months ago. He is a wonderful actor; smart, sensitive director, and level-headed administrator - making him an ideal artistic director.

The CSF presents four shows in repertory each summer - two indoors and two in the Mary Rippon amphitheater. According to the Denver Post, which wrote about Sneeds appointment, CSF attendance last year was 28,226 - down nearly 14,000 from the year 2000; furthermore, its annual operating budget had dropped to $896,000, about $100,000 less than the last budget Sneed managed for FTC.

Sneed wrote in an e-mail: CSF is the nations second-oldest Shakespeare festival, and I will have the privilege of planning the companys 50th-anniversary season, to be held in the summer of 2007.

The loss is double for us because, not only will Sneed be leaving, but his wife, the highly regarded costume designer Clare Henkel, also will be heading off to Colorado.

Although we will miss Nevada City and our many friends here, we are happy to be starting this new chapter in our lives and in our careers, Sneed wrote.

Still, it will be something of a long good-bye, as Sneed will be back next month to direct To Kill A Mockingbird at the Sacramento Theatre Company; he'll also be directing its holiday production of A Christmas Carol.

In my dealings with Sneed, I found him to be thoughtful, articulate, passionate and consummately professional. He will be missed.

August 8, 2006
I get e-mails

chorus.jpg Following my review of the Wednesday-night opening of "A Chorus Line" in San Francisco, I was flooded with e-mails regarding Mara Davi (seated, in middle).

First, there was this nicely informational note from Marc Valdez: "Regarding 'Chorus Line' actors familiar to Sacramento audiences, there was a third that should be mentioned: Mara Davi (Maggie), who comes from Folsom, has appeared in numerous local high school and community theater productions, and who has a sizable contingent of Sacramento-area fans following her Broadway career (as well as that of her equally talented and younger sister, Melody) with considerable interest."

Wow. Cool, I thought. Thanks, Marc. I wish I had known before the show. I would have loved to do a story about Davi, or at least mention the fact that she's a local in the review. Well, I'll put something in my blog, I thought.

Then, Trina Lee sent a classy, informative note with some of Davi's background, and added: "I imagine you'll hear from many of us about Mara today. We are all thrilled about her much-deserved success! She is not only lovely and talented, but a truly delightful person."

And, the always-charming Mikey Coleman wrote proudly: "I directed her in her first and last Sacramento shows!"

But then, the tone of the missives started taking a turn.

Andrea St. Clair told me local community theater is suffering because it doesn't get enough attention from The Bee, and local performers get the short end of the stick from the Music Circus when it comes to casting, no matter how talented they are. "It is a blatant oversight to include (I think she meant 'exclude') someone that actually learned their craft here in Sacramento ...." St. Clair opined.

Like I said, if I had known...but Davi declined to mention her Folsom roots in her short bio, giving titles of regional shows though no specific theaters or locations. And while I'm quite sure she's proud of where she comes from, Davi only gives a shout out to Psalm 150.

Ray Fisher rightly pointed out that I "missed an opportunity to share a source of area pride," adding that community theaters "are constantly struggling with higher performance- and- rehearsal-space rent, skyrocketing energy prices, and diminishing audiences because we have less money to spend on advertising."

Finally this, from Laura Daniells: "I am writing to inform you that I am in the process of canceling my subscription to the Sacramento Bee."

She wasn't only upset that I hadn't written about Mara Davi, but also because I had declined to review a production by her son's new theater group, Artistic Differences Theatre Company (www.ArtisticDifferences.Net).

In any case, I hope it's not too late to say to Folsom's Mara Davi: Congratulations and break a leg on Broadway in September.

July 25, 2006
Art and craft

RP OTHELLO EMILIA.jpg The art and craft of the repertory actor has long been seen at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There, the excellent actors may have a leading role one night and a one-scene walk-on at the next days matinee. In either case, they are on top of their game.

Theres a similar strength at this years Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, where the level of performance continues to grow and one sees it in especially strong supporting work.

Two of the actors making outstanding character contributions are Carolyn Howarth, pictured above, and Barzin Akhavan, pictured at right, below. Both play supporting roles in the two shows playing in rep, Othello and Twelth Night, but the roles are vital.

Howarth has been a stalwart artist with the Foothill Theatre Company for 12 years and her versatility comes as no surprise. RP TWELFTH ANTONIO.jpg In Othello, she plays the essential role of Desdemonas lady-in-waiting, Emilia, who also happens to be Iagos wife. Then in Twelfth Night, she plays Maria, Olivias gentlewoman and the ... ehh ... romantic interest of Sir Toby Belch. In each play, Howarths character is integral to the plot and her supple characterizations elevates the production.

Similarly Akhavan, a Seattle-based actor making his third appearance at the LTSF, is entirely invested in both his weak-willed Roderigo in Othello and his more-vigorous Antonio in Twelfth Night. Akhavan gives the productions more overall depth as well - another plus.

Read my review of the show.

To see more images, check out The Bee's photo gallery.

July 14, 2006
Accordion love

Music Circus audiences have had a rare privilege. In the orchestra pit for the extended run of Fiddler on the Roof (read the review) has been accordionist Elaine Lord, who recently did same for the Broadway revival starring Alfred Molina.

Few scores call for the accordion these days and, when it is needed, what you mostly hear is a synthesized keyboard simulating the sound.

Lord - who grew up in Sacramento and went to Sacramento High - has been playing accordion since she was a young child; she remembers taking lessons at the legendary Fran and Delores Studio in Carmichael.

At Sac High, classmate Lee Lunetta introduced her to his father, master percussionist Stan, who eventually gave Lord percussion lessons. Stan Lunetta is, of course, the percussionist for the Music Circus.

Lord says her journey to becoming a musician was fueled by an overwhelming love of music. "It was never a question in my mind," she says. "I wanted to continue it at a professional level and earn a living.

Her jobs have included national tours of Singing In the Rain, The Mystery of Edwin Drood summer stock, and even performances at the Kennedy Center.

Broadway was really the only venue I hadnt conquered, she says, laughing. But then, she heard about the revival of Fiddler On the Roof."

The magnitude of the accordian part in the Fiddler score is incomparable," she says. "Its very challenging and very, very fulfilling to play.

Lord says playing in a Broadway orchestra was an unbelievable experience made even more sweet with the attendance of her mother, Dani Lord, on opening night.

It was just a dream come true to get to Broadway playing the accordion.

-- Marcus Crowder

July 13, 2006
Tony, Tony, Tony!

While the Tony Awards take place in New York and celebrate Broadway theater, there is more than a modicum (apparently significantly more) amount of interest in them here in Sacramento.

We at The Bee recently received a letter complaining of our lack of Tony coverage before and after the June 11 airing of the telecast. The letter writer, David Czarnecki, general manager of Garbeaus Dinner Theatre, wondered what Tommy Tune must have thought when he opened the arts section and there was no story. For the record, Tommy Tune was performing in Grand Rapids, Mich., that day and I suspect what he mostly wondered was, What am I doing in Grand Rapids?

But Czarnecki may have a point, considering Sacramento television ratings for the Tony Awards broadcast on CBS affiliate Channel 13: The Sacramento-Stockon area was the eighth-highest viewing market in the nation for the program - significant considering were the 19th-ranked market in overall size. We had ratings of 7.8 and a 13 share. Our ratings were higher than Los Angeles (second-largest market), which had 6.1, and San Francisco (sixth-largest), which had 5.7. Both had shares of 10.

(As my television savvy colleague here at The Bee, Sam McManis, succinctly explains it: Ratings chart the percentage of all homes with TVs; shares measure the number of TV sets turned on at a particular time.)

I dont completely understand it, either, but I think it means The Bee needs to send yours truly out to New York to cover theater a little more often.

-- Marcus Crowder

June 30, 2006
Artistic expression?

B Street window smashed.jpg
Some things do manage to penetrate all the false heroics, all the flimsy ideology. Were suddenly stung by our duty to a higher purpose. Our natural loyalties fall in line and were amazed how simple it is to honor our true heritage.

So says Welch, the uber-American operative in Sam Shepards play The God of Hell. The speech comes near the end, when Welch has ostensibly taken control of a modest Wisconsin dairy farm and begun molding it to his own super-patriotic devices. Shepards play is a surreal political satire suggesting the current political administration has forced a kind of fascism on the populace.

The play is currently running at the B Street Theatre until July 16. (Read the review).

There appear to be some in our community who are less than tolerant of Mr. Shepards message and the B Street production, alhough it's also possible they're just not happy with the play's title and what they think it references.

Twice in the last two weeks, in the early morning hours, windows have been smashed in the front lobby of the theater where The God of Hell poster hangs.
Were debating whether the vandalism is in response to the show. But twice since the show opened...does raise questions, says Buck Busfield, B Street's artistic director.

Busfield says this particular show has generated the most audience response in the form of letters and messages of any show hes produced in over a decade of producing over a hundred shows. With letters, the communication is fairly straightforward. We dont like this play or Were glad youre doing this kind of work.

But what does a brick through the window mean besides steady work for the glass repair man? Dont do plays criticizing the government?

To use the character Welch's verbage - does brick/rock throwing fall under false heroics or natural heritage?

Im not a political scientist, but it seems to me that one of the points of our countrys origin was to have a system that is open to question and criticism.
Art and artists, whether we agree or disagree with them, are necessary elements of that process.

The most intersting reponse to me is the patron who wrote Busfield saying he didn't want to see the play but included a check with his letter because he wants the theater to keep doing what it does.

-- Marcus Crowder

June 23, 2006
Back in the day

Preston.jpg

Billy Prestons passing on June 6 and his funeral on Monday reminds me of a concert of his at Memorial Auditorium in the mid-70s. Preston and his band were headlining a show that included Tower of Power; the Buddy Miles Express opened.

Preston was riding the crest of his radio hits Outa-Space and the not-so-complex pop ditty Will It Go Round in Circles. His band included the teenage guitar/bass tandem of George and Louis Johnson (later known as the Brothers Johnson). What I remember most was the exuberance Preston and his fellow keyboardist (whose name I dont recall) showed as they crossed the stage between the acoustic piano on one side and the Hammond B-3 on the other, always slapping hands as they passed each other.

I saw numerous shows at the Memorial Auditorium during the early '70s - pretty much anything that came there - because I had figured a way to sneak in. The method wasnt particularly complicated - just wait around near the backstage door on I Street. At some point, when bands or entourages were coming or going, or both, one could simply blend into the scenery and scoot inside. From there, it was just about 10 feet or three long strides to another door, which leads out to the main floor. I worked it for more shows than I can remember and became so accomplished I even brought a couple of friends.

On this night, there hadnt been any openings, and all the musicians for all the bands had arrived. All except one: The lead singer for Tower of Power, the ill-fated Rick Stevens. Their manager occasionally came out, casting frantic looks up and down the block. TOP was working their first national hit, Youre Still a Young Man, from their Bump City album, and Stevens vocal on that tune remains memorable.

The street was now deserted because the Buddy Miles band (still playing Them Changes) was already on. Suddenly, an old sedan came careening down the street and skidded to a stop in front of me.

"Is this Memorial Auditorium? the driver asked, and I nodded. Stevens, in a tank top and creased straw hat, popped out with a couple of friends and they rushed up the steps and knocked on the door.

I naturally followed and we were all hustled inside, and I made my accustomed dash for the next door - melting into to the crowd to watch Mr. Preston do his thing.

-- Marcus Crowder

June 21, 2006
Romantic theatrics

There's nothing quite as dramatic as a real surprise. Theater people know that better than most so it's probably not a shock that two local actors pulled off some real live drama.

Friends and family of Katherine Pappa and Matt Miller knew the two planned to be married in Jamaica. They had planned a pre-wedding send-off party in the lobby of the Sacramento Theatre Company. The giddy fun of the Polynesian- themed party spun into a whole other level, however, when the two casually dressed hosts briefly disappeared.

Suddenly a rumor rippled throughout the room that Katherine and Matt would be getting married then and there. People quickly arranged themselves to watch the spectacle, all asking, "Is it really happening?"

There was now a feeling of emotional electricity in the room and when they re-appeared, dressed for the occasion (their wedding, that is), the reactions ranged from laughter to tears to applause.

Kim McCann officiated, Michael Stevenson and Cheantell Munn read sonnets, and the bride and groom both said "I do" to whoops and hollers. It was dramatic. It was real. It was a wonderful surprise.

-- Marcus Crowder



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