Review: Airness at B Street Theatre

Showtimes: Thu 9pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 9pm, Sun 2pm, Tue 6:30pm, Wed 2pm & 6:30 pm. Through 6/10; $32-$46; The Sophia, 2700 Capitol Avenue; (916) 433-5300;
Rated 4.0

Chelsea Marcantel first thought the concept was “the dumbest thing in the world.”

But as the author of B Street Theatre’s latest production, Airness, which explores the world of competitive (and imaginary) guitar-playing, Marcantel said she learned to appreciate the art form.

And the critics really liked her play, too. This year, Airness won the Elizabeth Osborn New Play Award by the American Theatre Critics Association.

For someone unfamiliar with air guitar, this play is not what you’d expect. It follows a group of air guitarists trying to win a chance to participate at an international festival in Finland. The earnestness and dedication these guys display will win over the hardest of hearts.

Directed by B Street’s Dave Perini, the show features B Street regular Stephanie Altholz as “the Nina,” a real guitarist trying to learn the ins and outs of air guitar. B Street favorite Tara Sissom shows a whole new side in her powerful performance as “Cannibal Queen.” Peter Story, Sam Kebede, John Lamb and Josh Bonzie also shine as guitarists.

Special mention to Wade McKenzie Bahr and Dylan Ballesteros, the theater technicians whose work changing the many scenes was almost as much fun as the play itself.