Baby, It’s Cold Outside Though billed as a holiday show, there’s not much of a Christmas connection here—just cocktails, thinly drawn characters and a pistol that seems to reappear whenever the plot runs out of gas. An energetic, funny cast—including the always reliable Elisabeth Nunziato and Greg Alexander, plus appealing newcomer Lowrey Raines—makes every effort to bring the thing to life. But the actors are harnessed to a hastily written, half-conceived script by director Buck Busfield. With revisions, this play might amount to more. But, for now, it’s half a loaf.
B Street Theatre , at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday. Special 2 p.m. Wednesday matinees are on December 11 and 18 and January 5, and 2 p.m. Tuesday matinees are on December 24 and 31. Additional 7 p.m. Sunday performances are on December 29 and January 5. No performances on Christmas or New Year’s Day, $16.50-$20.50. 2727 B Street, 443-5300. Through January 5. J.H.
A Christmas Carol Continued (The New Humbug) This original script by Sacramento’s Richard Broadhurst moves the story to the present day, where greedy chief executive officer Ebeneezer Scrooge V runs an empire of gift shops and cooks the books for personal profit. Long-suffering employee and single mom Roberta Crachit threatens to blow the whistle. Scrooge is soon visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past as well as clever new incarnations of Christmases present and future. The show could use more horsepower in terms of production values, but Broadhurst’s script is appealing. (He also wrote Benched, last year’s holiday sleeper).
Delta King Theatre , 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday (also Monday, December 23), and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday. Show-only: $16-$18. Dinner and show: $36-$40. Aboard the Delta King, 1000 Front Street, Old Sacramento. 995-5464. Through December 23. J.H.
Christmas on Mars Strange, stranger, strangest. This nervous, acrobatically absurd Synergy Stage play amounts to a sort of demolition derby involving four of the most self-serving, exploitive characters imaginable. Smiling lies, shrewd manipulation and multiple infidelities and betrayals unwind, interspersed with “mad scenes” in which individual members of this nutty quartet go bonkers and sail over the top. It’s the antithesis of every other holiday show in town, and playwright Harry Kondoleon (Ivy League, clearly talented, died of AIDS in 1994) drops in cool, deadly accurate passages of clarity amid the madness. This low-budget production has a few rough edges, but it comes to a boil.
California Stage , 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$15. 1721 25th Street, 451-5822. Through December 22. J.H.
A Christmas Story Ralphie is a kid on a mission—a Christmas mission. All he wants on the big day is “an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle.” Ralphie’s determination is thwarted by clueless adults who warn, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” As fans of the best Christmas movie ever made know, The Christmas Story is that ideal holiday blend—sentimental without being maudlin, sweet without being saccharine, nostalgic without being melancholy. The Foothill Theatre Company’s stage version follows the movie script word for word, scene by scene, absurdity by every blessed absurdity. No need to worry—every delicious moment is here. The Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring, the “fra-gi-le” leg lamp, the triple-dog-dare frozen tongue, the mother of all swear words, the “deranged Easter bunny” and the Chinese Christmas dinner.
Nevada Theatre, 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Special performances December 23, 24, 30 and 31, $17 - $21. 401 Broad Street, Nevada City, (530) 265-8587. Through December 31. P.R.
Cinderella There are a few changes in this year’s model of the Sacramento Theatre Company’s popular holiday musical. Mark Brey—for the past two years, the undisputed star as the wicked stepmother Mrs. Baden-Rotten—has moved on. New arrival Jay Rogers has gamely taken over the role, but he doesn’t display the same incendiary edge or dominate the show the way Brey did. At the same time, several roles taken by teens in past productions are filled this year by more experienced community players. Overall, it makes for a more even-keeled production, but, if you’ve seen the show before, there aren’t many surprises in store. Sidelight: Quite a few girls in the audience are coming decked out in little tiaras and pretty dresses. Think of them as Cinderellas in training.
Sacramento Theatre Company ; 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, plus matinees at 12:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $21-$36. 1419 H Street, 446-6722. Through January 5. J.H.
Copenhagen At long last, a local production of Michael Frayn’s physically compact, intellectually vast script. The occasion is a mysterious meeting in Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1941. German physicist Werner Heisenberg, on the Nazi payroll, makes a difficult re-acquaintance with his former mentor Niels Bohr, who is part Jewish and who will escape to the West soon. Director Ken Kelleher and actors Julian López-Morillas, Jessica Powell and Alex Moggridge do a bit of magic with an enormously potent piece of writing.
B Street Theatre ; 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Additional Wednesday matinees are November 27; December 4, 11 and 18; and January 8. $16.50-$20.50. 2727 B Street, 443-5300. Through January 12. J.H.
Fully Committed Our tour guide into the culinary confusion and demanding upscale clientele of a four-star New York restaurant is Sam, an out-of-work actor and restaurant employee in charge of the reservation list. This one-man theatrical tour de force is presented by Matt K. Miller, who masterfully portrays more than 40 different characters—changing personalities and accents within nanoseconds. Miller plays Sam as well as the pushy patrons, the chaotic kitchen staff and the cantankerous chef.
Sacramento Theatre Company ; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; $18-$36. 1419 H Street, 443-6722. Through January 5. P.R.
"?” (Question Mark) The 12-member Abandon Productions troupe, under the guidance of founder and artistic director Doniel Soto, presents vignettes that combine vocal experiments, dramatic interpretations and physical movements. The troupe’s current production brings all these aspects together. The a cappella vocals range from doo-wop to Gregorian chants and strange, tribal rhythms, while the movements portray spider webs, roller coasters, the Eiffel Tower, rivers, mountains and high-concept themes. The joy these performers project is highly infectious as they emote with their bodies, their faces and their voices. It’s a shared experience, with not a single selfish performance or ego-driven action onstage.
The Space, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$13. 2509 R St., 737-2304. Through December 21. P.R.
Random Acts It’s the time of year for holiday cheer. Everywhere except at the Thistle Dew Theatre, that is. For some inexplicable reason, it’s delivering three dreary, depressing dramas in December. Under the umbrella title of Random Acts, the three one-act shorts examine dysfunctional families, depression, drinking, disease, suicide, sexual molestation, gay bashing, Army vet breakdowns and major weight issues. Merry Christmas! But what these three plays lack the most, besides good seasonal timing, are real emotional tugs. We see scenarios, some touching moments, but are left with no lasting residue.
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $14-$18. 1901 P Street, 444-8209. Through January 11. P.R.
Sexual Perversity in Chicago David Mamet’s comedic look at the 1970s dating and mating scene is about sex. It’s also about Chicago, with four characters in 33 short scenes throughout the city, and a bit of perversity. But, although the language is raw and the sexual portrayals explicit, the content is hardly shocking. It’s more like a little titillating. In the skits, we watch as desires and fears both help and hinder a blossoming relationship between two of them. The cast members manage to add pathos and vulnerability to their scenes while making us care about four singles awash in a sea of sexual misadventures and emotional near misses. An impressive debut for new theater company SacActors.com.
Geery Theatre , 8 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, $12.50-$14.50. 2130 L Street, 451-4152. Through January 12. P.R.