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.
Sci Fi Hotel: The Musical This locally written, surreal production brings together an eclectic cocktail of Sacramento’s experimental music and theater performers for a musical-performance-art hybrid. The story is about Witt, a “disgraced and disillusioned techno-geek” who has lost his focus and stumbles into a sci-fi convention. The songs are clever kitsch, but they come wrapped around a weak plot and weak characters. Though you might want to encourage such original thought, you’re stuck with the show in front of you, and this creative concoction is just not quite ready for prime time. But with script tweaks and a bit more rehearsal time, the Sci Fi Hotel would be worth a future stay.
Geery Theatre ; 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with 2 p.m. matinees February 9 and 16; $12-$16. 2130 L Street, (916) 922-9774. Through February 16. P.R.
The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife The allergist’s wife is in a terrible dilemma. She lives in beautifully appointed $900,000 New York apartment, she’s got a loving husband, and she supports good causes. But she’s a nervous, frustrated wreck because she can’t write a big intellectual book. Then suddenly, a mysterious stranger arrives—a long-lost childhood friend who’s led the most amazing life, traveling the world and hobnobbing with the rich and famous. But is the friend genuine? Playwright Charles Busch crams in many references to heavy-duty philosophers and artists, but the guts of this light-footed comedy are less innovative than the name-dropping implies. However, the cast—Amy Resnick, Richard Winters and Gigi Bermingham—and director John Lamb get this slightly flimsy script to handle like a sporty two-seater on a fast racetrack.
B Street Theatre ; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees Wednesday and Sunday; $14.50-$20.50. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through March 9. J.H.
Tea This is Velina Hasu Houston’s signature script; it’s better balanced than her other two plays mounted by the Sacramento Theatre Company. Tea examines the lives of five Japanese war brides who married American servicemen in the years following World War II and ended up living near a military base in Junction City, Kan. Houston, the daughter of a war bride, has a very accurate feel for her characters’ feelings of dislocation and difficulties in adjusting to life in this country. Aspects of the play are dark—the central character’s life ends in complete tragedy—but the play is ultimately more of a testament to these women’s gentle tenacity. Houston sometimes pushes her points about racial assumptions a little harder than she really needs to, but Tea still ranks as a worthy drama. Sacramento Theatre Company ; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 12:30 p.m. Thursday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $18-$36. 1419 H Street, (916) 443-6722. Through February 16. 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.