Life after Scrooge

We’re not in Dickensian England anymore! Michael McElroy and Tyrone Giordano navigate Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn<i>.</i>

We’re not in Dickensian England anymore! Michael McElroy and Tyrone Giordano navigate Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Last month, local stages were dominated by gift-wrapped presents, Christmas trees and a grouchy London gent who says, “Bah, humbug!” But once the tinsel’s put away, things get a lot more unpredictable—starting with this weekend’s reprise of …And the Dream Goes On! A Celebration in Song, Word and Dance.

Last year’s version of this show was a blast, but it was also a serious-minded effort drawing on black history. SN&R named it the “Best new musical” in the 2004 Best of Sacramento issue. This year’s model features several new songs and characters. Most of the talent is local: Anthony D’Juan wrote the book, the Rev. Charles Cooper composed the high-powered songs, and Lisa Tarrer Lacy directs. The show is presented by the Martin Luther King Jr. Theatre Project, an annual showcase sponsored by California Musical Theatre (which organizes the Music Circus and Broadway Series during the rest of the year). Performances are January 7-9 and January 13-16. Shows are at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 4 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets are free (two per person) and are available at the box office 45 minutes prior to each performance at the University Theatre at California State University, Sacramento.

The B Street Theatre opens Kimberly Akimbo, by David Lindsay-Abaire, with a preview on January 15. You may recall the playwright’s Fuddy Meers (produced by the B Street and also by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival) or Devil Inside (performed at the Actor’s Theatre). His specialty is dark, quirky comedy involving very eccentric characters and exceedingly strange coincidences. Look for those elements in Akimbo, as well. It deals with a 16-year-old girl who suffers from an exotic ailment that’s given her a prematurely aged body. Also in the mix: a hypochondriac mother, an alcohol-drenched dad and a scam-artist aunt. The show plays at various times through February 27. Call (916) 443-5300 for more information.

City Theatre begins the year with British playwright Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls, generally regarded as one of her best works. The story involves a diverse selection of women out of history, including Pope Joan; Victorian-era adventurer Isabella Bird; Lady Nijo (born in 1258), who was an emperor’s concubine and a Buddhist nun; Dull Gret (a.k.a. Dulle Griet, from a Pieter Bruegel painting); and Patient Griselda, an obedient wife from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Christine Nicholson, who also handled last year’s smart production of On the Razzle, will direct. Shows are at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays from January 21 through February 6 at the Art Court Theater at Sacramento City College. Call (916) 558-2228 for more information.

The Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra stages Tibet Through the Red Box from January 21 through February 12. It’s based on a Caldecott Medal-winning book for children, which David Henry Hwang (who won a Tony for M. Butterfly) adapted for the stage. Veteran director Diane Fetterly is in charge, and when’s the last time you saw a play set in Tibet? Shows are at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City. Call (530) 273-6362 for details.

The Broadway Series hosts Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a musical with songs by Roger Miller. It’s classic Americana dealing with carefree boyhood; rafting on the Mississippi; runaway slaves who fear for their lives; and an abusive, alcoholic dad. The original 1985 production won a Tony for best musical. This new production, which picked up several Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle awards, is by the Deaf West Theatre. It features a blend of singing, spoken dialogue and American Sign Language. Catch it January 26 through February 6 at the Sacramento Community Center Theatre. Show times vary. Call (916) 557-1999 for information.

Sacramento seldom stages a production of a 340-year-old French classic featuring a professional cast, which means the Sacramento Theatre Company’s production of Molière’s Tartuffe is rare indeed. It’s a comedy about a particularly opportunistic scoundrel who lines his pockets with other people’s money. Matt K. Miller, a comic actor who was the devil’s dessert in a previous Sacramento Theatre Company production of Arms and the Man, plays the title role. Tartuffe runs at various times from January 26 through February 20. Call (916) 443-6722 for information.

There’s even a romantic comedy on the boards this month. Jack and Jill features local pros Stephanie Gularte and Jonathan Rhys Williams. Previews begin on January 21 at the Delta King Theatre. The play opens on January 27, just in time for Valentine’s Day, and plays through March 6. Call (916) 995-5464 for ticket information.