Backwater Park El Dorado County’s Laurie Blazich has written an engaging first play that operates on two levels. Plot-wise, it’s a timely polemic about leapfrogging development that threatens to displace a tumbledown neighborhood with a shopping center full of chain stores. Deeper down, the play is a portrait of the quirky, privacy-prizing characters (old and young) who live in the aging bungalows that stand in the way of “progress.” Blazich weaves a mother-son relationship, three romances (gay, straight and platonic) and a loopy loser amid the political maneuvering. The first half’s kind of slow and talky, as characters are established, but the second half opens with a vivid scene at a board-of-supervisors meeting. It’s both dramatic and realistic, as the play comes into its own.
Actor’s Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$14. 1616 Del Paso Boulevard, (916) 925-6579. Through December 5. J.H.
The Glass Menagerie There are thousands of local theatergoers—most age 45 and under—who recognize the title of this play and know that it’s a famous, highly regarded script but have never actually seen it! If you fall into this category, treat yourself to this well-structured little community production. Tennessee Williams was a remarkable American playwright, and this moody memory play about a disintegrating family in the years before World War II is his masterpiece. It’s funny, sad, introspective and highly personal but also universal.
Chautauqua Playhouse, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $10-$12. La Sierra Community Center, 5235 Engle Road in Carmichael, (916) 489-7529. Through November 20. J.H.
Pageant The Studio Theatre pays homage to cheesy, tacky beauty pageants. Watch “giddy girls” compete to be Miss Glamouresse in this over-the-top pageant complete with bathing-suit, evening-gown and talent competitions. We also get an over-earnest emcee, back-stabbing antics, questionable talents, and judges who are picked from the audience. The twist is that all the contestants are men portraying women, which makes it fun. The cast embraces the concept with endless enthusiasm and energy. However, the musical never really lives up to its potential, with mild, safe and silly humor. What saves it is the good-hearted intention of both the endearing, multitalented cast and the animated audience.
Studio Theatre; 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $16-$21. 1028 R Street, (916) 446-2668. Through December 19. P.R.
Return to the Forbidden Planet This science-fiction William Shakespeare spoof is fun, funky and fabulously weird. It’s a sendup of the cheesy 1950s B-movie space flick Forbidden Planet, but it also loosely tweaks Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Plus, it’s a musical that cleverly pays homage to 1950s and 1960s rock ’n’ roll while shamelessly shooting Shakespeare puns about. Yep, it’s all those things rolled up into one cult musical that includes campy dialogue, kooky costumes, a clever set and a cast full of energy and enthusiasm. Add a hot live band, and what’s not to love?
City Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, with special matinees at 2 p.m. on December 4, 9 and 11; $7-$12. Art Court Theatre at Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Boulevard, (916) 558-2228. Through December 12. P.R.
The Vagina Monologues 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 talented 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 funny, sad, angry, empowering and, most of all, great fodder for after-show conversations.
Geery Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12.50-$14.50. 2130 L Street, (916) 451-4152. Through December 19. P.R.