Several good reasons to see a play—now

Are the planets in conjunction? Did the moon turn blue?

Whatever the reason, there’s a bounty of recent Pulitzer Prize-winning scripts all over town.

The Sacramento Theatre Company has the intense African-American drama about two brothers in a destructive relationship, Topdog/Underdog (Pulitzer 2002), through February 17.

Capital Stage has Dinner with Friends (Pulitzer 2000), through March 2. (See review on this page.)

Two companies are staging Doubt (Pulitzer 2005). The B Street Theatre’s production is in previews and runs through March 16. Foothill Theatre’s production runs April 24 through May 25. This creates a tempting opportunity to compare how different actors and directors interpret this ambiguous drama about a priest suspected of having sex with a boy.

Lambda Players has Angels in America, Millennium Approaches (Pulitzer 1993) through February 16.

And UC Davis is hosting Rinde Eckert’s Orpheus X (Pulitzer finalist 2007) for a single performance on February 16.

(Let’s also credit the B Street Theatre for last October’s stellar production of 2007’s Pulitzer winner, Rabbit Hole.)

We can’t recall anything like this happening before—and SN&R’s collective theatrical memory goes back nearly 20 years to the paper’s founding in 1989.

Is this a carry-over from Hollywood, which blitzes December audiences with trashy blockbusters, then trots out the artsy films in January?

Mark Standriff, managing director at the Sacramento Theatre Company, says it isn’t so. He indicated that STC scheduled Topdog/Underdog with the MLK holiday and Black History Month in mind. “Most likely, August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean will go in the same slot next year,” he advised.

And do the words “Pulitzer winner” have box-office clout? “I’m not sure how many tickets it sells,” said Standriff, “but it gives credibility to an otherwise unfamiliar show.”

Carolyn Howarth, artistic director at Foothill Theatre, agreed. “It doesn’t hurt. It tells people, ‘Hey, this play is important. Critically thinking people have found it of value.’”