Arts Devo

A new season of Chico theater

Usher in the new season When school is out, Chico theater is run largely by the young thespians on the scene, with many youth workshops and productions staged during the summer break. But with September approaching, the adult players are back on the boards at local community theaters, which are launching new seasons alongside the programming at Chico State and Butte College. Here’s a sampling of the early offerings:

Aug. 25-28: A Kid Walks Into the Bar, Blue Room Theatre. The premiere of an original dark comedy by local playwright and film buff Craig Blamer about a young woman who starts tending bar in Chico and “is quickly schooled by coworkers and regulars.” Four nights only.

Aug. 26-Sept. 18: Little Shop of Horrors, Chico Theater Co. The cornball comedy-horror flick-turned community-theater staple returns to Chico with its bright songs and man-eating plant.

Sept. 3-4: The Butcher Shop: The annual off-the-wall Labor Day weekend theater festival is back for its 11th installment. Expect the usual food trucks/booths, communal merriment and live-music preshow (a stacked lineup that includes Michelin Embers, Jasuka, Bran Crown, Scout, Donald Beaman, Lish Bills and Erin Lizardo). And, of course, an original Butcher Shop production (with music by Dave the Butcher) about “the rise/assassination/daring medical rescue of a Mysterious Future Foreign Dictator.” Two shows, both free, car-parking $5, biking encouraged, 2500 Estes Road.

Sept. 8-24: The How and The Why, Blue Room: Local acting superstar Amanda Detmer directs this drama by Sarah Treem (House of Cards, The Affair) about a couple of evolutionary biologists from different generations who clash over what it means to be female. Starring Joyce Henderson and Hannah Knight.

Sept. 8-Oct. 2: The Veil, Theatre on the Ridge. Butte County’s no stranger to Conor McPherson’s dark plays (The Weir, The Seafarer), and actor/director Joe Hilsee usually has his hand in the local productions of the Irish playwright’s work. This time he’s at the helm in Paradise, directing this tale about a defrocked priest in a haunted early 19th-century country house that “weaves Ireland’s troubled colonial history into a transfixing story about the search for love, the transcendental and the circularity of time.”

Fall highlights: In addition to a couple more intriguing community-theater choices (The Understudy, Oct. 20-Nov. 5, at the Blue Room and One Man, Two Guvnors—with a live skiffle band!—Nov. 10-Dec. 11, at Theatre on the Ridge), autumn sees the first offerings from local college theater departments. Chico State’s School of the Arts has two productions this semester—the fairytale mashup musical Into the Woods (Oct. 11-16, in Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall) and Charles Mee’s timely Under Construction (Nov. 9-17, Wismer Theatre), which examines the evolution of America’s identity from the 1950s to today. At Butte College, new theater instructor Jesse Mertz just wrapped up auditions for the department’s fall offering, the multiple-Tony-Award-winning 2006 Broadway rock-musical Spring Awakening, which will open in mid-November.