Steering your way through fall’s local theater offerings
Thirteen weeks to see 22 plays. Can you navigate overlapping opening weekends, cartoon spoofery, sexy angels, buckets of French blood, nine musicals and one Sally Struthers? There is a lot to take in. There are updates on Faust, updates on the English Renaissance, updates on Christmas fantasies and updates on Spanish fascism. There is one Pulitzer Prize winner, a handful of Tony Award winners, at least three contemporary American hotshot playwrights and two local writers. As always, there are a few standards (What? No Guys and Dolls this year?), but there are even more offbeat choices than usual. Are you up to it?
Check with individual theaters and in upcoming issues of the CN&R for exact show dates and times.
Through Sept. 20, Chico Cabaret
The classic ‘60s “tribal love-rock musical.”
Through Sept. 27, Theatre on the Ridge
Local debut of David Linday-Abaire’s 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.
Sept. 11-27, Blue Room Theatre
The Blue Room is taking this short-play cycle by writer/filmmaker Neil LaBute seriously, parsing out the seven scenes to a group of quality local directors, including Shakespeare in the Park honcho Jerry Miller, Tamara Jensen, Steve Swim, Blue Room co-founder Denver Latimer and Ben Allen. Each scene explores a different relationship crisis set in the confines of a car’s front seat, giving LaBute (Your Friends and Neighbors, The Shape of Things, Lakeview Terrace) just the sort of claustrophobic confines in which he can play out a variety of interpersonal dramas.
Over the River and Through the Woods
Sept. 12-28, Birdcage Theatre
Another comedy by I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change author, Joe DiPietro.
Sept. 12-Oct. 18, Chico Theater Company
The classic musical comedy about selling one’s soul to the devil for baseball glory.
An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf
Sept. 18-27, Rogue Theatre (1078 Gallery)
For now, the vagabond Rogue Theatre company has a found a fine home in the friendly, expansive space of the busy 1078 Gallery, and its first major feature of the new season is a star-studded production (directed by Joe Hilsee and starring, among others, Jerry Miller, Erik Pederson and Amber Miller) of American playwright Michael Hollinger’s comedy about the owner, and sole patron, of the world’s greatest restaurant, the Parisian café of the play’s title. When the depressed owner announces one day his intention to die of starvation at his own table, and insists that the final meal being prepared for him must stay in the kitchen, the frantic staff can only describe to him, one empty plate at a time, the masterpiece that is being created.
What Ever Happened to Scooby Doo?
Sept. 19-27, Blue Room Theatre
A ribald late-night spoof of the Mystery Inc. crew.
Oct. 1-5, Chico State Theatre Deptartment (Wismer Theatre)
Larry Gelbart (M.A.S.H., Tootsie) has moved Ben Jonson’s Volpone from 17th-century Venice to turn-of-the-century San Francisco in this Broadway comedy.
Oct. 2, Chico Performances (Laxson Auditorium)
A touring 25th-anniverary production of the musical comedy starring Sally Struthers.
Rocky Horror Live
Oct. 2-Nov. 1, Chico Cabaret
High-energy, sassy musicals are what the Cabaret does best, and the timeless, sexually ambiguous, horror-rock show is the company’s annual crowning glory. By overwhelming popular demand, the show is back for its sixth season, complete with live band and flying rolls of toilet paper. As always, audience participation is encouraged, so put on your ripped fishnets, rehearse your callbacks and remember that it all starts with “a jump to the left.”
Al Gore Memorial High School
Oct. 3 and 4, Blue Room Theatre
Aaron Ross’ one-man sketch-comedy show returns.
The Grand Guignol
October (dates TBD), Blue Room Theatre
The tradition of live, ultra-gory, blood-drenched French horror returns.
Oct. 22-26, Chico State Theatre Department (Harlen Adams Theatre)
French writer Alfred Jarry’s work predicted later movements in surrealism and Theater of the Absurd, and this seminal work created near riots during its premiere in 1896 upon the utterance of its very first word, merde ("shit"). The play is a parody of power as exhibited by the gluttonous anti-hero, King Ubu, who murders his way to the throne. Professor Katie Whitlock directs this Chico State Theater production.
The Laramie Project
Nov. 6-21, Blue Room Theatre
The Tectonic Theater Project’s piece on the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.
Nov. 6-Dec. 6, Theatre on the Ridge
Neil Simon’s fractured fairy tale set in late-19th-century Russia.
Chicago: The Musical
Nov. 7-16, Butte College Theatre Department (Paradise Performing Arts Center)
Butte’s theater students’ fall production of the ultra-popular Broadway musical.
Nov. 12-16, Chico State Theatre Dept. (Wismer Theatre)
Musical update of Garcia Lorca’s dark play about a newly widowed woman who locks herself and her grown daughters away in mourning.
Nov.14-Dec. 20, Chico Theater Company
It’s sometimes easy to overlook the kind of classic Broadway productions that CTC is known for in favor of investigating the eclectic choices available at Chico’s many theaters. But, gee whiskers! Why not stop for one evening during the busy holiday season and bring a few generations of family together for the feel-good story of the little red-headed orphan with the big pipes.
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Nov. 19, Chico Performances (Laxson Auditorium)
The touring Tony Award-winning musical comedy about a group of quirky spelling-bee contestants.
Holiday Burlesque Show
Nov. 20-Dec. 20, Chico Cabaret
Celebrate the season with the Cabaret’s annual spicy revue.
The Husband Whisperer
Nov. 21-Dec. 7, Birdcage Theatre
Magalia playwrights Lori Kennedy and Anne Wycoff take on the next logical subject in the progression of the horse and dog whisperer phenomenon—husbands. The co-authors’ original work is a comedy about imperfect women trying to create “the perfect man.” Director Lucille Beatty calls it an abstract story about family relationships. Add your voice as well. Auditions take place Sept. 15-17 at 6:30 p.m.
Times Square Angel
Dec. 4-13, Rogue Theatre (1078 Gallery)
Charles Busch’s Christmas farce featuring gangsters, angels and wisecracking leading lady Irish O’Flanagan.