Cinderella Back again this Christmas, this show belongs to evil, monumentally avaricious stepmother Mrs. Baden-Rotten (tall, deep-voiced actor Mark Brey, in an escalating series of outrageous outfits), with an assist from her incredibly spoiled daughters. The show also features some winning songs by Sacramento composer Gregg Coffin, a lot of call-and-response involvement for the young ’uns, and some smart visual antics—both loosely drawn from the British panto style. Kids will have a blast, but the ambidextrous humor is layered in such a way that parents and grandparents will also find abundant reasons to smile. Sacramento Theatre Company, 7 p.m. Tuesday; Wednesday Thursday, Friday, Saturday; 12:30 p.m. matinee Wednesday, Thursday; 2 p.m. matinee Saturday, Sunday, $10-$32. 1419 H St., 443-6722. Through December 30. J.H.
A Lot of Life This isn’t so much a holiday production as a new Buck Busfield play in a December slot. The story involves an old Italian hardware store owner who’s about to lose his sputtering business (to a developer who wants to put up a gigantic home-improvement center) and his daughter (to a boyfriend he hasn’t met and probably wouldn’t approve of). The first half plays like situation comedy, as the various characters bounce off each other. But in the second half, fate arbitrarily intervenes, as everyone in the play experiences a personal setback, and then moves on (the way characters often do in a late Shakespearean romance). B Street Theatre, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10.75-$20.50. 2711 B St., 443-5300. Through January 6. J.H.
Quilters City Theatre’s latest offering—the much talked about yet rarely performed musical Quilters—is told entirely from a feminine standpoint. Unfortunately, not even top-quality performers, an experienced director and strong technical and lighting aspects are able to give Quilters the extra push it needs. While the show, performed in the round, includes a number of magical moments, it still falls flat in places, and several fine musical numbers get drowned out by a live band that spills over onto the stage. Sacramento City College Art Court Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. matinee Sunday, $10. 3835 Freeport Blvd. 558-2228. Through December 15. M.B.C.
The Secret Garden This is a new, dramatic interpretation of the classic children’s book by Frances Hodgson Burnett (not to be confused with the musical based on the same source). Director Carolyn Howarth draws on grim Victorian class distinctions, images of nature and regeneration, and even a bit of Hindu karma. The script is a little talky, and the use of symbolism will go over the heads of the very young, but if you enjoy plays with literary roots and redemptive endings, this one’s for you. Nevada Theatre, 7 p.m. Thursday, 8:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, $5-$20. 401 Broad St., Nevada City. (530) 265-8587 or (888) 730-8587. Through December 30. J.H.
The Shepherd’s Play
This community production is styled after 13th-century German Christmas plays. Joseph, Mary, three shepherds and domestic animals are played by members of the Short Center Repertory, which features actors with developmental disabilities. Also featured are singing and music for recorder quartet plus guitar. The show is to theater what the Special Olympics are to athletics—a conventional rating based on the usual criteria would be inappropriate. But there are several magical moments along the way. California Stage, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, with special performances in American Sign Language on December 8 and 15. $12-$14, or $25/family. 25th and R Sts., 451-5822. Through December 23. J.H.
Six Women With Brain Death This very campy revue is Sacramento’s longest-running show, having celebrated its fifth anniversary in October. It’s a series of skits and songs about midlife women with “expiring minds,” dealing with soap operas, high-school reunions, grocery shopping and getting away from the kids. While the show clearly tickles the funnybone of its core audience (females over 40), our critic found the appeal elusive and the humor generic. But then, he’s a middle-aged guy. Studio Theatre, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $14-$18. 1028 R St., 446-2668. Open-ended run. J.H.
Subject to Change (America: Revolution to Revelation) The set is little more than a huge white paint spot in the shape of the lower 48 states of the U.S., and several displays of votive candles. The production has few spoken words, no props, no fancy lighting and no music, other than a cappella vocals. Nevertheless, Doniel Soto, the director, composer and producing artistic director of Abandon Productions, brings to Sacramento something it has long been without: theater willing to take risks. Abandon Productions at The Space, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, $10. 2509 R St., 737-2304. Through December 22. M.B.C.