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 balanced out 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.
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 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.
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.
Dirty Blonde Dirty Blonde is a homage to Mae West, the buxom actress who always played the sexpot. We see Mae in vaudeville, on Broadway, making movies, and in old age (browsing through a scrapbook with an adoring young fan, z-z-z). It’s mostly her public persona; we never learn what made her tick. The show wants to be a musical—except that there’s only a little music and dancing. Stranger still, it also wants to be a romantic comedy about two awkward, lonely lovers finding each other. It’s the sort of sweet storyline Mae typically skewered with a ribald one-liner. Actress Jamie Jones is a hoot as Mae, Peter Story is funny as the fan, and versatile Matt K. Miller stylishly dishes up 15 small roles. But ultimately, the fun wears thin.
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; $20-$36. 1419 H Street, (888) 4-STC-TIX. Through November 7. J.H.
Iolanthe The Davis Comic Opera Company revives the Gilbert and Sullivan classic (dating from 1882), with a large cast, lots of costumes and a 20-piece orchestra. It’s popular entertainment from before the age of electricity, movies, radio, etc. But W.S. Gilbert’s satirical take on the nonfunctional British aristocracy still generates laughs, and with American politics increasingly dominated by third-generation scions of political dynasties (who probably wouldn’t have been elected except for the family name), that satire has a contemporary bite. Arthur Sullivan’s music remains as nimble and entertaining as ever. This production doesn’t transcend the community-theater category, but it does feature a sparkling appearance by Craig Morphis (a pro) as the Lord Chancellor, all procedure and nonsense.
Veterans Memorial Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $14-$18. 203 14th Street, Davis, (530) 758-3262. Through October 24. J.H.
Lobby Hero This tale of a likeable loser is 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; $18.50-$23.50. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Extended through October 31. 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! 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.
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.
The Nerd This comedy by playwright Larry Shue has become a regular on the community-theater circuit. The question is “Why?” Although the premise of a nebbish trying to deal with an irritating nerd is funny, it’s a one-note joke, interspersed with marginally funny characters and situations, outdated dialogue, old stereotypes and an implausible ending that is less than satisfying. That said, the Foothill Theatre Company presents a very good production of this not-so-good play, with a solid cast, good direction and a handsome set.
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, www.foothilltheatre.org. Through October 31. P.R.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 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.
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. 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 November 7. P.R.