Frank Condon brings war to California Stage

Axis Sally and Her Boys; 2 p.m. Saturday, February 28, and 5 p.m. Sunday, March 1; $5-$10. California Stage, inside the R25 Arts Center at 1721 25th Street; (916) 451-5822;

He’s back: Frank Condon, who ran the notable River Stage series at Cosumnes River College for years, has a new play that will get two staged readings at California Stage on Saturday, February 28, and Sunday, March 1.

Condon’s shows explore history, political conflict and social issues. His new script, Axis Sally and Her Boys, tells the harrowing story of Mildred Gillars, who became notorious as the subversive, sweet-talking Nazi radio personality Axis Sally.

Condon explained: “It’s about heroism, sacrifice, and treason during WWII and its aftermath. It focuses on real-life Axis Sally, a self-styled all-American girl from the Midwest, who became a New York showgirl … then she went to Europe and became the star of Nazi propaganda radio broadcasts.

“She sometimes graphically told American mothers how their sons were wounded and even died,” Condon said. “During her trial, she was called one of the most morally corrupt characters in American history. The play includes segments of Sally’s postwar trial, and is framed by the stories of Jake and Moe, two GI’s slogging their way through Europe.”

Condon’s River Stage productions in the 1990s and 2000s were also about war, including: The Chicago Conspiracy Trial, recreating the sensational trial of several 1960s political and anti-war activists; Ghost Dance, a play about the trial of a Sioux tribesman following the murder of a U.S. Army officer in the 1890s; and Gunfighter, a play by Tony-winning playwright Mark Medoff about a military trial following a 1991 “friendly fire” incident during the first Iraq War.

In the 1980s, prior to coming to Sacramento, Condon partnered with “Doonesbury” cartoonist Garry Trudeau to create Rap Master Ronnie, lampooning President Ronald Reagan. That show was produced in multiple cities.