Stage Reviews

Rated 4.0

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Arranged Marriage Arranged Marriage is lovely. It’s also joyful, funny, exquisite, sad and thought-provoking. This world-premiere play looks at the arranged marriage of a young woman from India and her eventual immigration to the United States. Lead actress Shahnaz Shroff delivers a heartfelt, moving performance as young Sumita. This intimate piece presented by two main actresses and a four-person dance ensemble shares Indian ceremonies, customs, costumes, myths, music and dance. There is an abruptness in the second half that stops the flow of the story, but it’s forgivable considering the overall winning nature of the production.
Sacramento Theatre Company; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $16-$32. 1419 H Street, (916) 443-6722. Through April 25. P.R.

Click for LegendAround the World in 80 Days Phileas Fogg has 80 days to go around the globe. B Street Theatre has two hours to capture Fogg’s amazing and colorful journey on stage. Both succeed brilliantly. This production of Jules Verne’s classic adventure tale is imaginative, creative and enjoyable. Even more impressive, the play is done without props, scenery or a large cast. Five actors portray more than 30 characters. It’s hard to determine who’s having more fun—the talented cast or the appreciative audience.
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 2 p.m. Sunday; $17.50-$21.50. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Extended through April 4. P.R.

Click for LegendBeer and Ballet This program features 10 short pieces of choreography by dancers from the Sacramento Ballet, presented “in studio” before a small audience. You sit a lot closer to the dancers than at the Sacramento Ballet’s shows at the Community Center Theater, and there’s an opportunity to meet them during two intermissions. The show’s key word is “variety.” The selections range from Colby Damon’s Fedor, which is reminiscent of Eastern European folk culture, to Sunny Staton’s bawdy, story-driven piece about six femmes fatale, presented in high-energy Broadway style à la Bob Fosse. Jack Hansen’s By the Light of the Moon is an elegant pas de deux set to music by the undervalued Gerald Finzi. Sunchai Muy’s Untamed Prodigies is an ambitious, large-scale construction using world-beat tunes. Peter de Grasse’s moody Cycle of Gestures was perhaps the best-balanced modern piece. Dancer Easton Smith, recently arrived from San Francisco, performs well in several pieces.
Sacramento Ballet Studios, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (reservations advised), $15 (includes one beverage). 1631 K Street; (916) 552-5800, ext. 100. Through March 13. J.H.

Click for LegendGive ’Em Hell, Harry! Local actor Joe Larrea revives this popular one-man show, which enjoyed a long run in Sacramento. 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 Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and some rascally Ku Klux Klansmen back in his native Missouri, and delves into Truman’s feelings about inheriting the presidency from Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Larrea’s warm, winning performance as the candid Truman is a welcome contrast to some recent (and current) occupants of the Oval Office who have a lot more difficulty telling the unvarnished truth.
Motherlode Performing Arts Company; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday; $16-$22. Veterans Memorial Building, 130 Placerville Drive in Placerville. (530) 672-3322. Through March 28. J.H.

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Slow Dance on the Killing Ground This small, low-budget production takes on William Hanley’s long (two intermissions), serious play from the early 1960s. It’s a three-character chess game of ideas, set in the dead of night, touching on prejudice, prostitution, abortion, Nazism and education. Ultimately, it focuses on whether it’s better to flee when faced with overwhelmingly bad odds, or to take a difficult, principled stand and risk the worst. Director Vada Russell and actors William Powers, Michael Turner and Jamie Kale don’t hit the bull’s-eye every time, but they come close enough to bring this powerful, dark script to life. Recommended to lovers of serious work.
Celebration Arts, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, $10-$12 weekends and $6 Thursday. 4469 D Street, (916) 455-2787. Through March 13. J.H.

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Still Life with Iris Iris is a happy youngster in the land of Nocturno, where the residents scurry around at night to create the daytime world. One day, Iris is chosen as “the perfect child” and sent to the Island of the Great Goods, where they collect one of every perfect specimen. As part of the deal, her memory is erased. Eventually, Iris learns life lessons about family, community, diversity and the joy of imperfection. The cast is full of fun and vigor, the costumes are quirky and colorful, and the dialogue has heart and humor (with enough asides to keep the older crowd amused).
Children’s Theatre of California; 7 p.m. Friday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $15-$20. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through March 21. P.R.

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Woody Guthrie’s American Song Legendary folk singer Woody Guthrie is pure Americana. More than 25 of his songs are the central point of this handsome and heartfelt musical. The audience witnesses not only Guthrie’s admiration of the downtrodden people he embraced, but also his anger and frustration about the unfair treatment they received. There’s little dialogue. It’s more of a hootenanny than a play, with the audience singing and clapping along. It could use more of a story line, but it’s fun, thought-provoking and engaging.
Foothill Theatre Company; 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $11-$23. 401 Broad Street in Nevada City. (530) 265-8587. Through April 11. P.R.