The Gin Game Veteran actor and director Ed Claudio and actress Connie Mockenhaupt give solid performances as card-playing retirees in D.L. Coburn’s popular, durable, Pulitzer-winning script. Don’t be fooled by the light banter in the cheerful opening scenes; there’s darkness in the final act. This show marks the first season at the new Stage Nine Theatre in Old Folsom, which operates as a “showbiz store” by day and becomes a 45-seat performance space on weekends. Folsom has an affluent audience of potential theater-goers (without a lot of competition for live entertainment), and already supports a small restaurant scene. This new venture could provide an ingredient to complete the picture: quality theater in an intimate setting.
Stage Nine Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday; $22. 717 Sutter Street, Folsom; (916) 353-1001; www.backlottheatre.com. Through March 4. J.H.
Johnny Tremain The classic novel about a Boston teenager during the onset of the Revolutionary War is successfully transferred to the stage in this new musical. Sacramento playwright Richard Hellesen retains the danger in the colonists’ struggle for independence. Those Americans were taking a gutsy stand, and this show doesn’t sweeten the sometimes bitter, bloody consequences of the rebellion against Imperial Britain. Composer Noah Agruss skillfully adapts songs from the era, costumer Nancy Pipkin gives characters the right look, and director Buck Busfield guides 300-plus pages of novel into 90 minutes of performance. The cast, six professional actors plus three community actors, portrays a cavalcade of characters in this ambitious production. The show is primarily geared toward teens and their parents, but savvy youngsters will get it.
Children’s Theatre of California; 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday; $15-$20. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org. Through March 11. J.H.
The King and I Director and lead actor Dennis Yep does a good job with the usually unsympathetic role of the overbearing monarch and Elizabeth Nilsen, despite recent surgery, is an engaging Anna with a warm voice. There is a stage full of charming children, a wardrobe of beautiful costumes, an intriguing dance number and a wealth of enthusiastic cast members. Unfortunately, on opening weekend, the show was plagued with technical problems and by a need for more rehearsal time for the relatively inexperienced support cast. With a little more tightening and a couple of performances under the actors’ belts, this could be a fun family outing.
InterACT; 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday; $12-$18. 24th Street Theatre, 2791 24th Street; (916) 267-7280; www.interact-theatre.com. Through February 18. P.R.
Private Lives The beauty of Noel Coward’s sophisticated comedy of manners is that the audience cares at all whether combustible divorced couple Elyot and Amanda reunite. Coward makes their contrived comedic meltdowns delicious to watch, and two Sacramento Theatre Company actors make this match-made-in-hell a hoot. Coward’s characters usually are cool and collected even when colliding, but this cast adds a physicality that stirs slapstick into the mix. Some of Coward’s references are dated with respect to gender roles and social mores, but we’re pulled into another era and social stratosphere, where dressing gowns are de rigueur, cocktails are imbibed with panache, and phrases like “shilly shally” are shimmied about.
Sacramento Theatre Company; 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $32-$36. Sacramento Theatre Company, 1419 H Street; (916) 443-6722 or (888) 4-STCTIX; www.sactheatre.org. Through February 18. P.R.
Statements After an Arrest Under the Immorality Act This one-hour, one-act play by South African playwright Athol Fugard explores the pain, heartache and dehumanization caused by a law that tries to dictate love between two consenting adults. It takes place in 1970s South Africa under apartheid, where the Immorality Act makes sexual relations between “coloreds” and whites illegal. The play is short but intensely powerful. Rob Anthony delivers a sharp, memorable performance as the “colored” school principal involved in a relationship with a white librarian. Linda Taylor, in a lesser role, brings a delicate, realistic portrayal of a fearful lover who uses her library floor for the hidden rendezvous.
Celebration Arts; 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $8-$15. 4469 D Street; (916) 455-2787; www.celebrationarts.net. Through February 24. P.R.
The Vagina Monologues SacActors.com revives its long-running show. Reviewing it in 2005, Patti Roberts wrote, “This play with the gutsy title takes a taboo subject matter—a basic body part of every woman—and makes it acceptable to talk about. For this production by SacActors.com, three actresses trade off monologues in front of deep-red velvet panels. The performances examine not only the word, but also the body part, and all the shame, power, fear and beauty that vagina owners carry with them. The play is great fodder for after-show conversations.”
Geery Theater; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $14.50-$17.50. 2130 L Street, (916) 451-4152. Extended through March 31. P.R.
What the Butler Saw Joe Orton’s dark comedy dates from 1969, when lots of people were humming the Beatles “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” The blurred gender identities in that song are ever-present in this play, which takes the formula of the British sex farce and uses it to create a sharp-edged (and very funny) portrait of polite English society. Spouses argue and deceive each other. A marginally sane government official casually certifies as insane any unfortunates who get in his way. A bellhop uses compromising pictures to blackmail a hotel guest. Basically, everyone’s on the make. Director Jerry Montoya and a well-chosen cast keep the onstage chaos cooking.
B Street Theatre; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday; $25-$30. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org. Through February 25. J.H.