Endgame This staging of the great Samuel Beckett’s “other” dark, absurdist classic—the one that isn’t Waiting for Godot—fares well in this spare, effective staging by the Actor’s Theatre. Ed Claudio gives a marvelous performance, alternately whimsical and tyrannical, as the perpetually seated Hamm. Son Michael Claudio is good as the reluctantly obedient Clov, who can’t sit down. The other two characters (played by Beth Edwards and Mark Heckman) reside in ash cans at the back of the stage, offering nostalgic color commentary. Beckett’s script is a great, weird, vaguely futuristic, hugely funny and sad, compelling effort—one that’s seldom produced locally. Enjoy this opportunity; we don’t often get to see a show with this many brain cells.
Actor’s Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6579. Through October 26. J.H.
La Cage aux Folles The audience at this family-values musical is a refreshing blend of Runaway Stage season subscribers, seniors, families, teens, Lavender Heights residents and other theater lovers. And what the audience gets is one of the best shows the theater has produced—with leads who possess talent, stage presence and real chemistry, and a supporting cast with equal enthusiasm and charm. This old-fashioned love story with a new twist, based in a St. Tropez drag cabaret, looks at what really constitutes a family and what unconditional love is.
24th Street Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $10-$15. 2791 24th Street, (916) 207-1226. Through September 28. P.R.
Murder at Howard Johnson’s There are a couple murders afoot in Rancho Cordova, dastardly deeds plotted at the local Howard Johnson. For the next two weeks, Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre is reproducing a HoJo as the setting for a crime scene, and the theater company has recruited a talented trio to portray clumsy wannabe killers in the farce. This over-the-top comedy is about three self-centered dopes trying to dupe each another in a love triangle gone loopy. It’s simple fare, but it’s done well, with much physical comedy, silliness and funny lines. The energy drops off in the third act, but there are still enough laughs to make the trip worthwhile.
Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday (dinner seating at 6 p.m.) and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (brunch seating at 1 p.m.); $29-$34 for the show and a meal or $20 for the show only. 12401 Folsom Boulevard in Rancho Cordova, (916) 985-6361. Through October 5. P.R.
The Rainmaker This handsomely mounted Western romance features several assets, starting with the script by N. Richard Nash—a little gem from the 1950s that’s now obscure. The story involves a father, two sons and a daughter, who’ve drifted into some negative family patterns. In particular, the intelligent daughter worries that she’s “plain”; a brother predicts she’ll never get a man. But everything’s changed when a dubious, good-looking stranger arrives and offers to make rain (badly needed) in exchange for a hundred bucks. Actor Dick Mangrum is a standout as the strong, stoic dad, a role that’s right up his alley. Sarah Cohen wins you over as the daughter who’s having trouble believing in herself.
Woodland Opera House, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $7-$14. 340 Second Street in Woodland, (530) 666-9617. Through September 28. J.H.
Under Milk Wood This is a revival of a well-received Thistle Dew production that opened last February, drawing on 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 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 and 2 p.m. matinees Sunday, with reservations required; $12-$18. 1901 P Street, (916) 444-8209. Through October 5. P.R.
Wrong Turn at Lungfish The first half of this comedy has the quick banter and quirky characters of an old-fashioned television sitcom. But the second half turns schizophrenic with darker undertones and serious confrontations. Sometimes, it works; other times, it’s a stretch. But what makes this story, about a bombshell from the Bronx bringing books to a dying blind man, work is the cast, especially Chandra Ashton as Anita the Fran Drescher-sounding mangler of the English language.
Chautauqua Playhouse, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $12. 5325 Engle Road, Carmichael, (916) 489-7529. Through October 4. P.R.