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, (916) 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, (916) 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, (916) 995-5464. Through March 8. J.H.
The Love Suicides at Sonezaki Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra takes on an ambitious project: a 300-year-old Japanese tragedy about star-crossed lovers in feudal Osaka. But this isn’t Romeo and Juliet in kimonos; these lovers are playing out their fate in a far different society. For the play to succeed, their deaths have to be both intensely sad and yet somehow beautiful, and they are. This very different drama is well-served by director Amber Jo Manuel and set designer David Minkoff, as well as another notable performance by Sacramento’s A.M. Lai.
Nevada Theatre ; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee on February 1; $13-$15. 401 Broad Street, Nevada City, (530) 273-6362. Through February 8. J.H.
Marriage of Saints It’s only 50 minutes long, but this gentle one-woman show features a fine combination of a good script (by Native American writer Dawn Karima Pettigrew) and a pitch-perfect performance by local African-American actress Shelandra Goss. She plays a devout churchwoman who falls in love with a guy who rides a Harley.
California Stage , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $12. 1725 25th Street, (916) 451-5822. Through February 9. J.H.
Waiting for Godot This quintessential Samuel Beckett play is an eclectic journey of existential theater, one that breaks conventional theater rules by throwing out plot, character and story arcs and pat endings. A warning: This comedy/drama is not for everyone, with its unconventional approach, layered meanings, quirky conversations and intellectual wanderings. With its talented cast, this production never bores, and the lush language and philosophical ramblings take the audience along on the two main characters’ trip to nowhere while providing just the right touch of humor.
Actors Theatre , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6579. Through February 23. P.R.