Amadeus The first half of this community production falters at times. Allen Pontes, as the jealous Salieri, is sometimes hard to hear. Bill Voorhees, a local favorite, playing Mozart, excels with his character’s naughty chatter and blurted remarks. But Mozart also needs to morph into an artist touched by God whenever he sits down at the keyboard. The sound design is problematic, also. However, everything about the show improves after intermission, as the story tilts toward its fateful conclusion, which is tragic, ironic and, in the end, moving.
Main Street Theatre Works at Sutter Creek Theatre ; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$14 or $5 for students under 18. 44 Main Street (Highway 49) in Sutter Creek, (209) 267-5680. Through March 22. J.H.
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. P.R.
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. Extended through April 13. J.H.
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. J.H.
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. J.H.
Rhinoceros This absurdist classic by Eugene Ionesco from 1959 (with resemblance to Waiting for Godot) is one of those famous plays you read about but rarely see—except at a university. That’s a pity, ’cause it’s funny and all too close to the bone. Ionesco said it’s about “totalitarianism” and “collective hysteria,” but movie-weaned viewers with pop-culture lenses may liken it to Body Snatchers: ordinary townsfolk turn into rampaging rhinos, with bad consequences for those who lag behind the trend. This production features technical pizzazz second only to the Broadway Series in this market, and strong performances from Equity actors Ruben Gonzalez and Timothy McNamara. The first half is an exhilarating blast, but visiting British director Indhu Rubasingham has trouble sustaining the intensity as the walls close in after intermission. Even so, this largely successful effort is a rare opportunity to see a landmark play that no commercial theater in the region would dare attempt.
UC Davis Main Theatre , 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $9-$12. UC Davis, (530) 754-2787 or (866) 754-ARTS. Through March 16. J.H.
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. matinee Sunday, March 16; $14-$18. 1901 P Street, (916) 444-8209. Through March 29. P.R.
You Can’t Take It With You In these gloomy times, the best antidote may be fast-paced, frolicking fun. So, put aside all the serious stuff and surround yourself with the old-fashioned silliness of the Sycamore family. In this story, based in 1937, each family member is an odder duck than the next. Normal daughter Alice fears introducing her fiancé and his old-fogey family to her strange but endearing relatives. You can imagine the frazzled frenzy that ensues when the two families get together—one loosey goosey, the other tighter than a bug’s butt. The enthusiastic and zany Foothill Theatre Company cast carries the comedy through rather broad comedic moments. Subtlety is in short supply, but big moments and messages aren’t the goal here; fun is. And the cast delivers.
Nevada Theatre ; 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $18-$21. 401 Broad Street, (530) 265-8587. Through April 13. P.R.