Bunnicula The Children’s Theatre of California clearly is counting on a Halloween tie-in for Bunnicula, but, frankly, we wish they’d picked a better script. The popular children’s book is a tongue-in-cheek spoof on the Gothic novel of horror, but Jon Klein’s adaptation turns out like a retread of The Simpsons. The setting, a typical home, doesn’t leave much room for adventure. The title character never says a word—which you can handle in a written narrative, but it proves problematic on stage. And there’s not much of a resolution at the end. These shortcomings are partially compensated by the energetic performances of Rick Kleber, Anna Ambrose, John Lamb and Mindy Stover, plus Amy Resnick, manipulating a Bunnicula puppet (created by local puppet master Richard Bay) like a Japanese bunraku performer. Libby Harmor contributes eye-catching costumes and crazy-stringy hair. Bottom line: Bunnicula will amuse younger kids, but it doesn’t possess the crossover appeal for adults found in CTC’s better shows.
B Street Theatre; 7 p.m. Friday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $15-$20. 2711 B Street; (916) 443-5300. Through October 31. J.H.
Deathtrap Delta King honors the holiday of Halloween by giving us the thrills and chills of murder and mayhem. Deathtrap made its debut in 1978, but it has all the earmarks of earlier mystery parlor plays. It has five characters: a playwright, his wife, his writing student, his lawyer and a neighborhood psychic. The plot is simple. Successful playwright Sydney Bruhl hasn’t had a hit in years and is facing paralyzing writer’s block. He blurts out, “I’d kill to have a successful play!” Sydney’s wife, Myra, laughs uncomfortably, and so do we. Sydney’s writing student, Clifford, mails him one of only two copies of a wonderful play he’s written. A juicy murder takes place, but watch out for twists, turns and red herrings. Deathtrap is formula, but it’s a fun formula.
Delta King Theatre; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $8-$22, with dinner and brunch packages available. 1000 Front Street in Old Sacramento, (916) 995-5464. Through November 7. P.R.
Lobby Hero Lobby Hero is a clever, quirky morality play. Under a slick veneer of comedy, the play slyly looks at the sliding scale of personal morals and ethics. This tale of a likeable loser is also laugh-out-loud funny with clever writing, memorable characters and a winning cast. It’s a story of two security guards and a couple of cops in a swank Manhattan apartment lobby who face personal dilemmas during a murder investigation. Jeff the security guard is an inspired central character—a lonely, charming schlump with absolutely no filter on his mouth. In a nonstop faucet of words, he innocently bumbles into verbal minefields while being wise by complete accident.
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 Wednesday matinees through October 13; $18.50-$23.50. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through October 24. P.R.
The Music Man It’s a big community effort at Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre, with more than two dozen people in the cast; a nine-piece band; and costumes, costumes, costumes. The stage can barely contain all the activity! One dancer almost lost his balance and narrowly avoided toppling onto a dinner table laden with dishes at the performance we reviewed, but don’t let that scare you. The bottom line is that if you enjoy songs like “76 Trombones” and “Ya Got Trouble,” you’ll almost certainly find yourself tapping your toe and enjoying this energetic dinner-theater revival. Actress Kitty Kean shines as Marian the librarian, and John Philpott does just fine as the opportunistic “Professor” Harold Hill. Director Ed Brazo of California State University, Sacramento, marshals his large forces effectively.
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.; $24-$39 for show and meal or $20 for show only. 12401 Folsom Boulevard in Rancho Cordova, (916) 985-6361. Through November 7. J.H.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead This production by the Actor’s Theatre is streaky. As usual, the theater has picked an excellent script. Tom Stoppard’s brilliant recasting of Hamlet is seen from the view of two minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who get sucked into a deadly struggle between powerful royals. Keep your wits about you because Stoppard’s dialogue is fast, witty and set against absurd situations with very dark overtones. When leading players Michael Claudio, Anthony D’Juan, Ed Claudio and Gabriel Montoya are at the fore, this show really shines on the strength of good acting and the script. The supporting cast, however, isn’t as consistent, and the technical aspects of the show are sometimes rudimentary. We recommend the show in any case. Those who value high-end literary fireworks will enjoy this one more than some of the glossier, entertainment-oriented shows around town.
Actor’s Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6579. Extended through October 31. J.H.
Under Milk Wood The Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre revives last year’s highly regarded production, with most of the same cast. In last year’s review, Patti Roberts wrote, “Dylan Thomas’ 1953 radio play is basically a Welsh Lake Wobegon, with a narrator introducing us to the gossip and eccentric seaside villagers of Llareggub. The Milk Wood Players present an impressive production that gives honor to Thomas’ intent that words should be felt as well as heard. The strength of the writing is in the details and descriptions. And the strength of this production lies with both the talented actors and their imaginative director (Maggie Upton), who all clearly love and respect the work. This is for lovers of language and lyricism, though it can be quite dense at times and hard to follow.”
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $16-$22. 1901 P Street; (916) 444-8209. Through October 24. P.R.