Bus Stop This gentle, slice-of-life 1950s drama invokes a spring snowstorm to strand a bus carrying a young Montana cowboy, a Kansas City nightclub floozy and a drunken ex-professor (quoting Shakespeare) amidst curious locals at a forlorn cafe in a tiny prairie town. Three efforts at intimacy ensue, ranging from idealistic love (seeing no faults), to predatory pedophilia, to a quiet quickie between consenting, working-class 40-somethings. Some performances stray on the broad side early on, but the second half is a keeper. Playwright William Inge deserves more recognition as the Steinbeck of the Great Plains.
Chautauqua Playhouse , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees on March 24 and 31, $11-$12. 5325 Engle Road (in La Sierra Center), Carmichael, 489-7529. Through April 6. J.H.
Crumbs From the Table of Joy City life can be a little daunting to a fresh-faced country girl, especially one in the throes of adolescence. Add a grief-stricken father who frowns on radio and television in favor of righteous living, a sister who’s boy crazy, an aunt who spouts Communist manifestos—a splintered family that’s the only African-American one in your 1950s Brooklyn neighborhood. California Stage captures the sentimental essence of Lynn Nottage’s coming-of-age play while keeping the strident speeches and underlining sadness in check. The cast, set and direction have a homespun charm that makes you care about this family and its ultimate survival. The pacing is a bit off, however, and the first half sputters in places. By the second half, however, this production has warmed up and is running smooth with a cast that gels and a story that captures a time and place in one adolescent girl’s life.
California Stage , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $14. 1725 25th St., 451-5822. Through April 7. P.R.
Death Trap Ira Levin, author of middlebrow best-sellers (Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil) had tongue-in-cheek when he wrote this “one-set, five-character money-maker” back in the ’70s—making smirking remarks about the clichés of the murder-mystery genre, while deploying them at the same time. Just about every character has a motive to kill, and there are lots of nasty weapons conveniently at hand. You can also smile over the dated references to such obsolete technologies as carbon paper. This production won’t make converts out of skeptics, but fans of the form will enjoy the ride.
Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre , 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 12:30 p.m. Sunday, show only $17, dinner/show $34. 12401 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova, 985-6361. Through April 28. J.H.
F-Stop Comedy and tragedy live side-by-side in this show, which alternates between campy parody of martial arts films (featuring a kickboxing actress called “Chop Suzy”) and the nastier consequences of dealing with a brutal, totalitarian military dictator in an unnamed African country. Emotionally, it’s a bit darker than usual for the B Street—but that’s not a bad thing. Several of the characters speak in clipped phrases like hardboiled detectives. The show also features two African-American actors (seldom seen on this stage).
B Street Theatre , 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday, 5 p.m. Friday, 9 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10.75-$20.50. 2711 B St., 443-5300. Through April 14. J.H.
Little Shop of Horrors At once both an audaciously campy and a strangely sweet sentimental story of Skid Row florist Seymour, who captures clerk Audrey’s heart and saves his boss’ failing flower shop when he discovers a hungry plant with an insatiable appetite. The Foothill Theatre captures everything that makes this musical so charming—it’s fun, irreverent, earnest, delightfully demented, and mysteriously moving. Out of a bouquet of good performances, two really bloom—Karen Casl as the voluptuous-yet-vulnerable Audrey and Fredrick Snyder as the evil-incarnate Orin, D.D.S.
Foothill Theatre Company , 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday,. $17-$21. 401 Broad St., Nevada City, (530) 265-8587. Through April 21. P.R.
Love Letters For Valentine’s Day (and after), this production features different couples from the local theater community, reading A.R. Gurney’s popular play, which relates the story of two lifelong friends (and lovers) from the time they’re growing up well into middle age, told through the exchange of old-fashioned letters—the kind the postman used to bring. We’re not rating it, because the cast rotates from week to week.
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. $16, reservations required. 1901 P. St., 444-8209. Extended through April 27. 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.
Talley’s Folly Lanford Wilson’s script (Pulitzer, 1980) tells of an unlikely romance between an urban, Jewish intellectual and a young woman from a conservative, rural Missouri village. The action takes place on a quiet night in a decaying old boathouse on a river—the Delta King Theatre, which is also on the water, is a nice complement, even if the venerable old boat’s a little noisy. Actors Dan Slauson and Heather Williams do well individually in their roles, but don’t seem entirely plausible as late-blooming lovers.
Delta King Theatre , 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Show only $14-$16, dinner/show $36-$41. 1000 Front St., Old Sacramento. 995-5464. Through April 13. J.H.
Tartuffe Old Molière as a New Romantic. Glam rock-inspired costumes for a 17th-century play. It’s a risky yet intriguing idea that director Christine Nicholson pulls off with great aplomb in this production of Tartuffe. It’s bawdy, bodacious Molière that takes the sometimes dense language and brings it to life through playful interactions and drama-queen antics, respecting both Molière’s words and the play’s intent while making it more accessible. Add a talented cast and you have a pretty entertaining venture. City Theatre, 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (no show Easter Sunday, March 31), $8-$10.
Sacramento City College , 3835 Freeport Blvd. 558-2228. Through April 21. P.R.