A Doll’s House Nora, a young trophy wife who realizes shopping, adoring her husband and looking good just aren’t enough, is the compelling central character in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Not only is Nora one of the most enigmatic characters in theater, she’s also one of the most difficult to portray. Actress Chandra Ashton is up to the challenge, though. She presents a disarming blend of innocence and wily wit while drawing us into this Victorian-era story of secrets, lies, blackmail and social shams. The supporting cast also gives strong performances, under the direction of Diane Bartlett, though Shane Galloway, as the pompous husband, needs to tone down his affectations a bit. Chautauqua Playhouse , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (February 2 and 9), $11-$12. 5325 Engle Road, Carmichael, 489-7529. Through February 15. P.R.
Give ’Em Hell, Harry Local actor Joe Larrea revives this popular one-man show, which enjoyed a long run in the same venue last summer. Larrea is a solid choice to portray former President Harry Truman, in terms of both looks and temperament. This show covers Truman’s run-ins with Churchill, Stalin and some rascally Ku Klux Klansman back in his native Missouri and delves into Truman’s feelings about inheriting the presidency from Franklin Delano Roosevelt—a tough act to follow. The Thistle Dew Dessert Theater is smaller than the Oval Office, which magnifies the personal aspects of Larrea’s warm, winning performance. Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$18 including dessert and coffee or tea. 1901 P Street, 444-8209. Through February 8. J.H.
I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change This audience-friendly musical revue features an appealing, energetic cast, including Equity actor Eric Wheeler (last year’s Gunfighter). The show is in a cozy, 115-seat theater, which creates more intimate, un-amplified dynamics than you get with touring, big-venue musicals. The topics include dating, marriage, parenthood, divorce and death. Some of the lyrics (by Joe DiPietro) and music (by Jimmy Roberts) are superficial, but they go down easy and touch on everyday experiences; the off-Broadway production of this show has been running for years. Delta King Theatre ; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; $18-$22 for the show only or $38-$49 for a meal and the show. Onboard the Delta King, 1000 Front Street in Old Sacramento, 995-5464. Through March 8. J.H.
Stage reviews compiled by critics Jeff Hudson and Patti Roberts