Stage Reviews

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.

Eleanor: An American love Story Eleanor Roosevelt may not make the most likely subject for a musical love story. But Woodland Opera House’s production of Eleanor: An American Love Story is a lovely journey, at a stately pace, through our nation’s past, with several good songs and a strong sense of history. The large cast is dominated by three strong performances—Elizabeth Monet Nilsen as Eleanor, Don Hayden as FDR and Bob Baxter, who appears as Teddy Roosevelt and also as savvy backroom strategist Louis Howe. The show’s a bit long—particularly the first half, which runs 90 minutes. But this very ambitious community production is worth the time invested.
Woodland Opera House, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$18. Woodland Opera House, 320 Second St., Woodland, (530) 666-9617. Through May 5. 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.

Playland South African playwright Athol Fugard’s first post-apartheid drama explores the unsettled future relationships and unresolved painful pasts of two societies coming to grips with massive societal changes. Playland isn’t Fugard’s best play, but its second half builds the suspense to a nice payoff, and it has two remarkable performances: James Wheatley brings dignity and a sizzling anger to watchman Martinus Zoeloe, while Craig Pelusi is riveting as the puffed-up, pugnacious Captain Gideon LeRoux. The two actors eloquently elevate this play with their unforgettable portrayals of two oddly matched, kindred spirits, leaving a lasting impression.
Celebration Arts, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10, $12. 4469 D St., 455-2787. Through May 4. P.R.

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.