Local theater preview

Our theater critics recommend these piping hot shows to see in 2020

Catch <i>Dear Evan Hansen</i> on stage this season.

Catch Dear Evan Hansen on stage this season.

Photo courtesy of Matthew Murphy

A new year, a new chance to catch some ace Sacramento theater. But where to start? Our critics highlight some of the shows they’re looking forward to in early 2020.

The Drowsy Chaperone

The Drowsy Chaperone revisits a time before musicals had to have a hard-hitting message … or be a stage version of a beloved Disney animated film. It has no deep message, no memorable songs, no cute animals. It’s just good, clean fun, with a lot of laughs, a lot of groans and a lot of madcap mayhem. Davis Musical Theatre Company, 1/3-1/26 (B.S.)

Pump Boys and Dinettes

This countrified musical is a guilty pleasure of mine, and it’s a real treat to have the opportunity to see Sacramento-based singer-songwriter-and-actor Sam C. Jones as Jim, who runs the gas station down on Highway 57. His “pump boy” partner and “the dinettes” fill an evening of songs from “Farmer Tan” to “The Night Dolly Parton Was Almost Mine.” Sacramento Theatre Company, 1/8-2/16 (J.C.)

Sister Act

Deloris Van Cartier, a lounge singer who witnesses a murder committed by her boyfriend, goes undercover at a convent as Sister Mary Clarence. The mutual lessons Sister Mary Clarence and the mother superior learn from each other makes this not only a funny musical, but a nice lesson in the power of friendship. Woodland Opera House, 1/10-2/2 (B.S.)

Popcorn Falls

B Street favorites Dave Pierini and Greg Alexander play 20 roles—the entire town of Popcorn Falls—in this comedy that pits the residents against corrupt politicians who want to turn the town’s namesake waterfall into a sewage treatment plant. Pierini and Alexander play everything from a one-armed hardware salesman to a chain-smoking school teacher. B Street Theatre, 1/14-2/23 (B.S.)

Dear Evan Hansen

Evan Hansen is a young man with social anxiety disorder whose desire to connect with someone leads him to commit a lie that results in a tragedy, but ultimately leads to his salvation—and a chance to fit in. It delivers a personal yet universally touching message about life that is rarely explored so well in a contemporary musical. Broadway Sacramento, 1/15-1/26 (J.C.)

Dorothea Puente Tells All

Ray Tatar, artistic director of California Stage, worked three blocks away from serial killer Dorothea Puente’s F Street Victorian in the early 80s, and he remembers when the bodies were dug up and the unsuspecting murderer was unveiled. Fast track almost 40 years later, and Tatar has commissioned playwright Mark Loewenstern to write a play about the shocking story. California Stage, 1/24-2/23 (P.R.)

The Field

Longtime local theater veterans Adrienne Sher and Tom Rhatigan are debuting their new nonprofit company, Black Pointe Theatre, with The Field. The show, set in a small Irish country village, will play at California Stage, though the company will be nomadic with no permanent location. Black Point Theatre, 1/24-2/16 (P.R.)


When Capital Stage chose to produce playwright Joshua Harmon’s Admissions, the recent college admissions scandal had not yet been reported. But the play, which centers around a New England prep school admissions head who helps her son choose an Ivy League college, reflects both the admissions issue and another hot social issue—racial inequality. Capital Stage, 3/11-4/12 (P.R.)

Homegrown: A Festival of New Works

The overarching title of the new Sacramento Ballet season is “Sights Unseen,” and that is particularly true of the “Homegrown: A Festival of New Works” program. It features three world premieres, including work by Sacramento Ballet alumnus Nicole Haskins. Sacramento Ballet, 3/26-3/29 (J.C.)