A Clockwork Orange Anthony Burgess—the novelist and composer who wrote the original story in 1962—reclaimed his work from Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic treatment with this 1986 musical. It’s a fascinating morality tale about a smirking, antisocial punk with a penchant for random violence. Burgess created the prescient character just before the Rolling Stones made it big and 15 years before the advent of the Sex Pistols. The story contrasts the needs of the greater social good against the ugly downside of government-sponsored mind control. The score (also by Burgess) draws extensively and wittily on Ludwig van Beethoven. This production by the Actor’s Theatre runs on a slender budget and features a few student actors who are still learning their chops, but Michael Claudio stands out in the leading role.
Actor’s Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6569. Through June 27. J.H.
The Producers The Broadway Series brings us the musical version of Mel Brooks’ 1968 movie of the same name. The story remains the same: A failed Broadway producer realizes that, with the right financial high jinks, he could make more money with a flop than with a hit. He comes up with Springtime for Hitler, featuring singing Nazis and a dancing Führer. Brooks expanded the story by adding a slew of clever songs and funny scenes. The result is a good old-fashioned song-and-dance Broadway musical with a twisted sense of humor. The two leads are up to the daunting task of making the roles their own. The supporting cast is also a font of musical talents, singing and dancing with energy and enthusiasm aplenty.
Community Center Theatre; 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Friday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$69. 1301 L Street, (916) 264-5181. Through July 4. P.R.
The Trials and Tribulations of Staggerlee Booker T. Brown This comedy features the devil’s emissary (Asian-American actor Larry Lew, having a blast) vs. a headstrong black American named Staggerlee (Brandon Rubin, who plays the part as both a sexy young stud and a withered old pastor). Comic relief also comes from Bertha Butt, played by an overripe and breathless Elise Reese. Kwesiu Jones plays a charming drunk. Several scenes are quite funny, but this community production also gets bogged down in prolonged set changes and top-down tongue-in-cheek commentary from playwright Don Evans.
Celebration Arts; 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, with no show on July 10; $10-$12. 4469 D Street, (916) 455-2787. Through July 11. J.H.
The Underpants There’s a lot of Steve Martin in this broad comedy filled with sexual innuendoes, crazy characters and slapstick humor. Martin adapted a classic 1910 German farce about a young wife who loses her knickers just as the king rides by, creating a social scandal and marital upheaval. Underwear humor becomes a running gag and sets an over-the-top tone. Adding to the madcap mayhem are a nosey neighbor, a couple of randy roommates and the king himself. There isn’t an ounce of subtlety or a smidgen of sophistication to be found, but amusing absurdities abound.
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, with a Wednesday matinee on June 30; $18.50-$23.50. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through August 15. P.R.