Boston Marriage Playwright David Mamet revisits the America of the late 1800s in this comedy of outrageous duplicity and cool manipulation. Boston Marriage deals with same-sex relationships and dubious moral situations that were off-limits on the stage in that era. Characters include a mistress kept by a wealthy businessman, her longtime female friend (who is bent on seducing an underage girl) and a simpleminded Scottish maid. The dialogue is very funny at times, as mistress (Amy Resnick) and friend (Jamie Jones) make—and defend—their very selfish deals. But there’s not a lot of story to support the verbal fireworks, Resnick bites off a few too many words in her numerous speeches, and the atmosphere is hampered by an inconsistency between the costumes (1800s) and the music (modern pop).
B Street Theatre; 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. Through May 23. J.H.
The Boxcar Children This is a fun and very amusing adaptation of a popular children’s-book series about the adventures of four Depression-era orphans. It’s a quick trip—just two half-hour acts. This makes the plot a bit choppy, but the end result is an entertaining story about plucky, enterprising kids who just want to stay together as a family. Great period additions include 1930s songs, a movie-organ soundtrack, handsome costumes, and Laurel- and Hardy-like sidekicks.
Children’s Theatre of California; 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday; $15-$20. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Extended through June 13. P.R.
Jesus Christ Superstar This family-friendly production has a lot of heart and soul. Though considered scandalous when it first came out, this musical now comes across as quaint. Compared with Mel Gibson’s graphic take, it’s the “less blood and more love” version of the Scriptures. That said, seeing Jesus Christ Superstar as dinner theater is a bit disconcerting, with a large crucifix and a suffering Jesus looming over diners.
Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre; 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (with dinner at 6 p.m.), and 2:30 p.m. Sunday (with brunch at 1 p.m.); $39 for show and meal, or $20 for show only. 12401 Folsom Boulevard in Rancho Cordova, (916) 985-6361. Through May 23. P.R.
The Laramie Project River Stage artistic director Frank Condon has presented many important American plays in recent years. He comes through again with The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman. It’s a big, broad mosaic of a show, examining the community reaction (through many viewpoints) in the tight-knit town of Laramie, Wyo., after a gay student is brutally beaten and left to die. This is gripping, reality-based theater. Condon’s understated presentation magnifies the power of the plainspoken dialogue, drawn from interviews with hundreds of Laramie residents. Watch for actor Peter Mohrmann’s sterling monologue as the dead student’s father.
River Stage; 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $13-$15. Cosumnes River College, 8401 Center Parkway; (916) 691-7364. Through May 23. J.H.
On the Razzle City Theatre, a community group using experienced community actors and students at Sacramento City College, bites off a big project with this production of leading English playwright Tom Stoppard’s homage to 19th-century European farce. The plot is a three-ring circus, the cast is huge, and the costumes are elaborate. Stoppard’s script piles up more spoonerisms, malapropisms, double entendres and puns than you’ll hear in a year’s worth of “ordinary” shows. Director Christine Nicholson sustains a nimble, goofy pace. Nichole Sivell’s costumes incorporate suitably lurid Scottish tartans, in honor of Verdi’s popular opera Macbeth, which was a hit at the time. Not all of the delicious laugh lines hit the mark, but it’s unlikely that we’ll witness a professional production of this wonderful play anytime soon. So, by all means, go and enjoy.
City Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$12. Art Court Theatre at Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Boulevard; (916) 558-2228. Through May 22. J.H.
Our Town Thornton Wilder’s classic play about life in 1913 in Grover’s Corners, N.H., is deceptive in its plainness and grace. This simple tale of simple lives in a small town is presented in three acts: “Daily Life,” “Love and Marriage” and “Death and Aftermath.” Wilder’s message is that life is a series of simple moments. Wilder gives us a stage manager who faces the audience and sets the visual scene. There are no real sets; the actors mime props; action is stopped and started; and the past, present and future are not linear. It’s a great concept, one director Anthony D’Juan and these acting-workshop students pull off with impressive results.
Actor’s Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6579. Through May 30. P.R.
Slider Abandon Productions applies its low-tech, high-concept style of physical theater to a linear, biographical storyline. The focus of the tale is Slider, a tough girl growing up in the 1940s (played by Dana Hudson, with a marvelous squint and scowl). Her life takes several heartbreaking turns, but she survives the setbacks, albeit with scars. The limber cast members—wearing climbers’ helmets and hard plastic kneepads and wrist guards—run, slide, climb and collide on the concrete floor, in addition to singing well-layered a cappella vocals. Director Doniel Soto conjures gorgeous visuals of childbirth, a drowning at sea and more, using only his actors’ intertwined torsos and limbs.
The Space, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$13. 2509 R Street, (916) 737-2304. Extended through June 19. J.H.
Struggling Truths Interactive Asian Contemporary Theatre was forced to switch locations for this show when repair work at the company’s usual venue took longer than expected. The play is an impartial, concept-driven polemic dealing with the Chinese takeover of Tibet, observed from three points of view—that of the Dalai Lama and those of a brother and sister who unexpectedly find themselves on opposing sides in the conflict. There’s a lot of interesting dialogue about Buddhism, enlightenment and Eastern vs. Western thinking. The show earns an ‘A’ for ambitious intent and sincerity of effort but barely passing grades for overall acting and technical execution. It’s recommended, with reservations, to those who are interested in the topic and those who want to show support for this determined, struggling little Asian theater group.
Mel Lawson Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. No shows on May 21 and 22. Sacramento High School, 2315 34th Street. (916) 452-6174. Through May 30. J.H.