Bus Stop It’s the 1950s. A bus encounters an early-March snowstorm and makes an unscheduled overnight layover at a coffee shop in a tiny Kansas town. The passengers—an odd assortment including a nightclub bimbo, two cowboys and a professor of literature—get to know each other and a few locals. Several love interests develop or at least are attempted. Ranging from the noble to the opportunistic, these relationships are well-etched by playwright William Inge. This handsome small production features good acting from local stalwarts Dale Lisa Flint, David Campfield, Scott Devine and Richard Williams, each of whom has a strong track record in community theater. The show is staged outdoors, and the evening air and starlight add to the sense of occasion. Main Street Theatre Works, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$15. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. for picnics. Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre on North Main Street in Jackson, (209) 267-5680, www.mstw.org. Through September 9. J.H.
The Last Five Years The B Street Theatre’s summer offering is a “micro-musical”—a chamber piece in a 100-seat venue involving two professional actors and a cute four-piece band (piano, violin, cello and bass) and no mics. It’s a different kind of experience than a big Music Circus show. You’re closer to the performers, but you don’t get the elaborate choreography with a dozen dancers in eye-popping costumes. But The Last Five Years is still a musical, which is to say that it’s dominated by a love story, told with an interesting conceit. She starts with the breakup and works back to the beginning, while he tells the tale in linear fashion from start to finish. They get married in the middle. Writer Jason Robert Brown delivers clever lyrics and catchy melodies (which won Drama Desk Awards following the show’s New York run).
B Street Theatre; 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday; $23-$28. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through September 10. J.H.
Othello Director Scott Gilbert offers a fairly orthodox take on this classic, though he interprets the action in the deadly finale a little differently than it’s often done. As Othello, actor Reginald Andre Jackson skillfully articulates his character’s rising suspicion, frustration and fury. He could display more noble bearing and assured, natural leadership early on, and he could deliver Othello’s late speeches with more ringing authority—qualities that would make Othello’s swift fall even more tragic. Carolyn Howarth shines as Emilia. Actor Scott Coopwood makes for a “hot” Iago, sipping from a hidden flask, stewing and sweating as his scheme to undermine Othello evolves.
Foothill Theatre Company; 7:30 p.m. September 1, 7 and 9, and 4:30 p.m. on September 3; $11-$26. Fred Forsman Amphitheatre at the Nevada County Fairgrounds; Gate 4, 11228 McCourtney Road in Grass Valley; (530) 265-8587 or (888) 730-9587; www.foothilltheatre.org. J.H.
Pump Boys and Dinettes This amiable revue features four car mechanics (singing about catchin’ catfish) and two sexy waitresses from the cafe next-door (pourin’ coffee, bakin’ pies and hopin’ for good tips). There’s a lot of flirtation, but there are only flickers of a story. The cast (especially Andrea Eve Thorpe and Michelle Hillen) put zip into several of the up-tempo songs, which are a feel-good crazy quilt of borrowed country, rockabilly, blues and gospel styles. It’s very soft-focus and sentimental: The mechanics never get greasy, and disappointments are soon forgotten. But the point here is escapist fun, which is what the show delivers, in a friendly, small-scale, hokey way.
Studio Theatre, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, $22-$24. 1028 R Street, (916) 446-2668, www.thestudiotheatre.net. Through October 8. J.H.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz Too few Sacramentans have come to know this notable festival, which almost always offers at least one of the best shows of summer. This year’s offerings include a smartly executed, first-rate production of As You Like It, with Dan Donohue’s performance as the melancholy Jaques being the funniest you’ll see in many a year. There’s also a very strong production of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Paul Whitworth’s performance as a brilliant, messy, difficult Henry Higgins is worth the price of admission, but you also get Shaw’s critique of the English class structure (diluted in the musical My Fair Lady). Lastly, there’s a good production of King Lear, which starts slow but packs a punch in its second half.
Shakespeare Santa Cruz, various showtimes. UC Santa Cruz, (831) 459-2159, www.shakespearesantacruz.org. Through September 3. J.H.
Twelfth Night Director Nancy Carlin delivers the mellowest, most beguiling version of this oft-produced comedy we’ve seen in years. The setting is the psychedelic Pepperland (borrowed from the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine), with colorful garb by Callie Floor and a Beatles-influenced score by Michael Rasbury, who really nails the concept. Shakespeare’s text adapts naturally to this slightly stoned, soft-focus interpretation: Love is constantly in the air, albeit not always focusing on the most appropriate partner. Hence the comedy, mostly surrounding Viola (spunky, charming Megan Smith), who spends most of the play impersonating a young man. Carlin avoids the dark shadows other directors sometimes locate in this play; even the shipwreck that sets the story in motion seems more like a bad trip than a deadly disaster. But this “light” interpretation works well.
Foothill Theatre Company; 7:30 p.m. August 31 and September 2 and 8, and 4:30 p.m. September 10; $11-$26. Fred Forsman Amphitheatre at the Nevada County Fairgrounds; Gate 4, 11228 McCourtney Road in Grass Valley; (530) 265-8587 or (888) 730-9587; www.foothilltheatre.org. J.H.
Wishing Well Wishing Well opens on a stormy night in Bald Head Island, N.C., as Callie Quayle explains she’s been called to her childhood home, along with her younger sister, by their mother—who holds a 19-year-old secret. Not to be outdone, the sisters have planned to unveil their own lies and omissions. Seamless acting by the entire cast allows the audience to fully enjoy the laughs with a complete suspension of disbelief. B Street’s production values are top-notch, and author Jon Klein’s use of the family’s wishing well—with its own special rules—to oust the truth is compelling.
B Street Theatre; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday, with 2 p.m. Wednesday matinees through August 30; $23-$28. B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org. Through September 10. M.C.