Charley’s Aunt Veteran director Jack Lynn does a good job putting this hardy old chestnut (a genuine Victorian farce) through its paces. Multiple levels of deception, concealed identity and various permutations of matrimonial intent (romantic, financial and otherwise) are matched with preppy college sweaters and several bottles of champagne. Some of the actors are on the young side, but the show generates its share of laughs, particularly in the second half. Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre,8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday, show only, $17; dinner, $29-$34. 12401 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova,985-6361. Through September 8. J.H.
The Dazzle An absorbing look at people who intrigue us when we read about them—hermits secluded in trash-packed houses, bodies found amid canyons of junk. The play’s concept is based on a true account—Langley and Homer Collyer were raised in their stately Harlem mansion by society parents in the late 1800s, but were found dead inside the debris-dense mansion years later. The play’s first half is the most successful, with scenes that are all at once painful, poetic and pathetic. The second half, while still captivating, slips a bit when it loses the strange beauty of madness, while leaving a more cluttered, out-of-focus vision. But ultimately what we get is a memorable and haunting play that speaks to the heart, about the heart, and the mysteries of the mind. B Street Theatre, 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. $16.50 and $20.50. 2711 B St., 443-5300. Through September 8. P.R.
Just the Guy Jack Gallagher’s new one-man show contrasts his working-class youth, as an Irish-American kid back east, against his close encounter in Lotus Land with prime-time TV stardom. The show is peppered with jokes, reflecting Gallagher’s past as stand-up comic, but also contrasts two very different work ethics. It’s also a cautionary tale about the Hollywood meat grinder, and how Gallagher managed to survive the experience with his better sense intact. B Street Theatre’s Second Stage, 2711 B St. Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. $20-$25, or $15-$19 for subscribers. 443-5300. Through Sept. 8. Just the Guy is also scheduled to return for another limited engagement Nov. 5-17. J.H.
Miss Margarida’s Way Miss Margarida, an eighth-grade biology teacher from hell, comes on strong in this deliberately confrontational show. She yells (“Sing, you bastards!”), she berates her students (the people in the audience), calling them “morons” and “silly little fairies.” She writes things on the board that would get any eighth-grade teacher fired. Our reviewer interpreted the show as an unsuccessful effort at in-your-face, Don Rickles-style humor. The show’s producer suggests that our critic missed the point, and the show’s really an in-person lesson in the way that we grudgingly cooperate with dictatorial authority figures, no matter how loony, and eventually give in. Maybe so. Our critic isn’t inclined to recommend the show either way. But it’s possible that others may find value in Miss Margarida as a theater-on-the-edge experience. Be prepared to be yelled at, if you go.
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-18. 1901 P St., 444-6258. Through August 31. J.H.
Orphans A trio of riveting actors fills this intense, violent play about two dysfunctional brothers with raw language, raw emotions and raw, unforgettable performances. Not only does this production send out jolts of energy; its discomforting intensity stays with you for days. Phillip (Miles Taber) and Treat (Bill Voorhees) are two brothers in survival mode after being orphaned at an early age. Treat is a minor thug, mugging for money while keeping younger brother Phillip on an emotional short leash. Into the house comes Harold (Loren Taylor), a drunk Treat brings home in order to steal his briefcase. The play’s second half explores the relationship between this threesome as Harold goes from kidnapped victim to father figure, charming Phillip while trying to guide Treat into a more genteel method of crime. Stage veterans Voorhees and Taylor give the captivating performances they’ve become known for, but the breakthrough performance is Taber as the emotionally damaged yet touchingly endearing Phillip. California Stage, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. Sunday (call for dates; not all weeks have Thursday through Sunday performances), $12-$15. 1725 25th St., 452-4374. Through September 14. P.R.
The Shadow Box This award-winning drama by playwright Michael Christofer is about facing the final frontier head on, full of grace and gusto. The play centers around three dying patients housed in hospice cottages. Not only are we introduced to the individuals, but also to their families, so we get a glimpse of how everyone is dealing with the death card dealt to them. Because of its format of short vignettes, overlapping scenes and small monologues, it’s a logical choice for Vanity Productions, a showcase of students from the Scene Class of Miriam Gray’s Acting Studio. This is a talented bunch, though the results never completely elevate above a student showcase. But by the end scene, the entire cast comes together to deliver a moving conclusion and closure, bringing forth emotions each of us deal with on our road to death and living.
Geery Theater, 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, $10 - $12.50. 2130 L St., 448-9019. Through August. 31. 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, 7 p.m. Sunday, $16-$19. 1028 R St., 446-2668. Open-ended run. J.H.
The Taming of the Shrew Foothill Theatre Company’s production (fresh from the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival) frames this battle of the sexes in a Caribbean setting replete with spaced-out surfers and picturesque buccaneers. It’s an open invitation for the audience to party, with the clashes between Kate and Petruchio played for laughs rather than social import. Director Carolyn Howarth works in plenty of physical humor to go along with the barbed verbal exchanges. Sierra Shakespeare Festival, alternating with Taming of the Shrew. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 4:30 p.m. at Fred Forsman Amphitheatre on the Nevada County Fairgrounds, look for Gate 4 on McCourtney Rd. in Grass Valley. $17-$21. (530) 265-9320 or (888) 730-8587. Through Sept 22. Performances are outdoors. J.H.
Twelfth Night Long-separated twins, lonely (and wealthy) nobles, mistaken identity, and multiple marriages in the final scene. It’s Twelfth Night, of course, with director Robert Weinapple bringing out some touching turns of fate along the way. Standouts include Robert Sicular as Malvolio and Brad Myers as Sir Toby Belch. Fresh from Lake Tahoe, this production is now part of the Sierra Shakespeare Festival, alternating with Taming of the Shrew. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 4:30 p.m. at Fred Forsman Amphitheatre on the Nevada County Fairgrounds, look for Gate 4 on McCourtney Rd. in Grass Valley. $17-$21. (530) 265-9320 or (888) 730-8587. Through Sept 22. Performances are outdoors, bring long pants and a sweatshirt. J.H.