SN&R theater critics’ great expectations

A look ahead at the coming season on stage—and beyond

“Nothing to see here, move along.”

“Nothing to see here, move along.”

Photo courtesy of California Musical Theatre

Even as they celebrated the holiday season, SN&R’s theater critics paused to think about everything they’re looking forward to seeing in early 2016. Their top picks for the coming season include innovative productions, screen-and-symphony collaborations and a few classics, too.

Boatloads of edge

Finally, The Book of Mormon. Sacramento audiences are getting a chance to see the irreverent, clever, funny, and at times surprisingly touching production about young Mormon missionaries. It’s gathered boatloads of awards including nine Tony Awards and a 2011 Grammy. It runs March 9-20 at the California Musical Theatre and will be sure to sell out quickly. Learn more at www.californiamusical


Something old, something new

After last year’s wonderful production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, the Sacramento Theatre Company proved it’s possible to find an enthusiastic audience for the classics. They’ll have the chance to demonstrate that once again with an upcoming staging of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The play opens February 24 and runs through March 20. More information at

Meanwhile, the folks at Capital Stage continue to introduce new, thought-provoking works to the Sacramento area via participation in the National New Play Network’s Rolling World Premiere program. As a result, there will be four new Sacramento premieres in the coming months as part of its appropriately dubbed “Brave New World” series.


Treasure hunt

Sometimes it’s the play, and sometimes it’s the casting that makes the play. The Sacramento Theatre Company will offer a string of potential gems in the coming months. I’m most looking forward to Driving Miss Daisy, the Pulitzer-winning play by Alfred Uhry. Janice Stevens stars in the title role—and you can’t beat that. The production opens this Saturday, January 9, and runs through February 14.


Silver screens, concerts and RIP

There are several upcoming events at the Mondavi Center that combine classic cinema with live music: Friday, January 15, at 8 p.m., the 1928 French silent classic The Passion of Joan of Arc will be accompanied by a cappella singing from the Orlando Consort, a five-voice group that performs music from the 1400s. Then, Wednesday, February 10, at 8 p.m. the 1920 German silent classic The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari will be screened with improvised music by the flashy Cameron Carpenter. Tickets for these and other similar events are available via or by calling (866) 754-2787.

And, lastly, a farewell to veteran actor Mitch Agruss. Though best remembered locally as Cap’n Mitch for his long-running gig hosting kids’ TV shows, his lengthy acting career involved much more. Early on, he appeared on stage in Back East with Thornton Wilder, Katharine Hepburn and Bert Lahr, and worked in New York during the age of live TV drama. He later moved to Sacramento to raise a family and eventually returned to the theater. Buck Busfield of the B Street Theatre wrote multiple roles for Agruss, who died in November. He will be missed.