She’s found Midtown
New location for Capital Stage feels like home to co-founder Stephanie Gularte
Sacramento, CA 95816
For Stephanie Gularte, theater should be more than just entertainment. Good theater should, she says, “address issues that are vital to understanding the society we live in.”
Finding and presenting such plays is the reason why she, her husband, Jonathan Rhys Williams, and actor-director friend Peter Mohrmann are opening a new Midtown Sacramento theater on J Street for their production company, Capital Stage, after 12 successful years at the Delta King in Old Sacramento.
The opening of a new theater is certainly something that Midtown wants, according to City Councilman Steve Cohn.
“Capital Stage’s new theater will be a wonderful addition to Midtown,” Cohn told SN&R.
“Midtown is considered the creative center of the Sacramento region, and it’s already an area popular with locals. This wonderful urban theater company, with the cutting-edge plays it will bring will add to that.”
The new theater will have what is called a “thrust stage”—the stage juts out into the audience—and four rows of 125 cushioned seats wrapping around the sides and front. The conversion cost $300,000, an ambitious sum for a troupe with ambitions that were considerably bigger than its checking account.
Capital Stage’s first six-play season in the new theater commenced previews last Friday with its production of Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts. The show opens Saturday.
Gularte, 40, doesn’t have to face the ordeal of raising money to pay for a theater conversion. She had an established acting career in Sacramento playhouses when she decided to start her second career, producing plays.
“There was a group of actors I found who had similar ideas about the kinds of plays we wanted to perform,” she said, “and we started to do that, first in the Thistle Dew [Dessert Theatre], at 19th and P [streets]. I heard that there was a theater on the Delta King that was not being used, so I met with the owners and we reached an agreement, and I produced Crimes of the Heart there in 1999.”
But those early Delta King productions, while commercially successful, were not fulfilling, she said.
She met Rhys Williams while performing in a Bay Area play, and she found that they shared a feeling “about the work we were hungry for, that we were not doing.”
“Jonathan and I formed the new company, Capital Stage, in 2005. It became the city’s fourth professional equity company, joining California Musical Theatre, Sacramento Theatre Company and B Street Theatre. It’s always been part of our vision to have a home of our own,” she said.
“We believe our location says a lot about who we are and the work that we do, and the simple fact is, the Delta King doesn’t look like a theater. The new theater will, and it’s in Midtown, in what is a theater district.”
It’s not as if Gularte had a lot of choice in a career path. She first began performing, she said she was told by her mother, when she was 5, and was doing it in the family garage. The theater has been part of her life ever since.
The new theater will be a little fancier than the family garage where she first put on plays. The Capital Stage plays will have more substance. And, Gularte hopes, be just as entertaining.