Fossils Playwright Claudia Allen gives us two exceptional characters in her look at a generation of frustrated women who spent years in proper roles and living lives for others. Prim retired professor Abigail and free-spirited retired teacher Carrie meet while vacationing at a cottage and converse about everything from old loves to new dreams, from regrets to remembrances, and from secrets and lies to truths and dares. The acting and directing are seamless; the characters are wonderful. So, it’s a shame the playwright disappoints us by dancing around the obvious and slapping on a completely unrealistic ending. But it’s still a wonderful visit with two great ladies.
Sacramento Theatre Company , 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $18-$36. 1419 H Street, (916) 766-2277. Through April 6.
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.
Laughing Zen and Other Stories of the Path This ambitious one-man show, part of the Sacramento Solo Festival, samples the fascinating life of Ed Shaw. He emerged from American industrial nowhere to wander through Greenwich Village in the early 1960s, before serving as a merchant marine transporting Korean soldiers to the Vietnam War. The story has layers of Zen—via Alan Watts and more authentic but less famous Japanese masters—in the mix. Tall, slender actor Derek Byrne portrays Shaw with guts, intelligence and irreverence. Not all spark plugs fire consistently in this engagingly ambitious show, but it’s recommended for those who enjoy thinking outside the box.
California Stage , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$12. 1723 25th Street, (916) 451-5822. Through March 16.
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse The new, high-standard Children’s Theatre of California skips old-style fairy tales in favor of a present-day suburban story—with a moral, ’natch. It’s all about school, including buddies and bullies, as well as getting along with busy parents and a bratty baby at home. It’s a glossy, fast-paced, 90-minute production with a cast of nine (plus a musician) and sharp production values. The show is geared primarily toward elementary school children, but adults will find aspects to enjoy, as well. The show is a superior choice to family movies in local cinemas, in no small part because live theater is an interactive experience—when a kid squeals with delight, the performers reflect the joy.
B Street Theatre , 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, $15 for kids and $20 for adults. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through April 6.
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.
Talking Bones Shay Youngblood’s intriguing script features three generations of women who run an obscure African-American bookstore and respond to inner voices—the voices of their ancestors. A good-natured delivery boy and a self-serving con man who’s bent on property acquisition via romance go into the mix. The combination of cultural pride and matriarchal mysticism is appealing, but this well-intentioned production moves in fits and starts, and it doesn’t always manage to deliver the goods.
Celebration Arts Theater , 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$12 (or $6 Thursday), 4469 D Street, (916) 455-2787. Through March 7.
Under Milk Wood Dylan Thomas’ 1953 radio play Under Milk Wood is basically a Welsh Lake Wobegon, with a narrator introducing us to the gossip and eccentric seaside villagers of Llareggub. The Milk Wood Players present an impressive production that gives honor to Thomas’ intent that words should be felt as well as heard. The strength of the writing is in the details and descriptions. And the strength of this production lies with both the talented actors and their imaginative director, who all clearly love and respect the work. This is for lovers of language and lyricism, though it can be quite dense at times and hard to follow.
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre , 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with 2 p.m. matinees Sunday, March 9 and 16, $14-$18. 1901 P Street, (916) 444-8209. Through March 29.