And to All a Good Night Buck Busfield has revived one his best holiday plays (first mounted at the B Street Theatre in 1997), and it’s even funnier the second time around. The play has hardly changed, but the times we live in have shifted. The self-important character of pastor Calvin Ridges has transformed from a do-gooder liberal into a compassionate conservative (played this time by Michael Stevenson, who’s excellent). There’s good give-and-take between actors Kurt Johnson and Dave Pierini as a pair of hapless thieves on Christmas Eve, and there’s an all-too-rare appearance by wise old Mitch Agruss as that fellow who shows up on the 25th.
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; $20-$25. Additional shows are at 2 p.m. on December 22; and at 7 p.m. on December 19 and 26, and January 2. No performances on Christmas or New Year’s Day. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through January 2. J.H.
A Child’s Christmas in Wales Dylan Thomas’ sweet remembrance of his childhood is a subtle celebration of small moments and simpler times in a wee Welsh village. Through a tapestry of warm tales, Thomas embraces the eccentricities of relatives and townsfolk, and the magic of the holidays. Above all, it’s a word-fest with Thomas’ lyrical language tripping off lips in a singsong symphony.
Foothill Theatre Company; 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $6-$23. 401 Broad Street in Nevada City, (530) 265-8587. Through January 1. P.R.
A Christmas Carol The Sacramento Theatre Company’s Carol is a revisit to its traditional musical version. The staging is done through overlapping narration, with the large cast delivering Charles Dickens’ descriptions of Scrooge on his journeys to past, present and future Christmases. The costumes and sets are handsome, and the troupe is enthusiastic and energetic. However, there is a strange lack of emotional resonance in this production. It may be because old Scrooge is played by a relatively young, spry Matt K. Miller. He does an admirable job, but his transformation isn’t a major arc. “Bah humbug!” aside, it’s still nice to see this handsome Carol back on the Sacramento Theatre Company stage.
Sacramento Theatre Company; 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $36. 1419 H Street, (916) 443-6722. Through January 2. P.R.
The Guys Beyond the Proscenium Productions bucks the mistletoe trend with this serious, sensitive show about a New York City firefighter who needs to draft too many eulogies after he loses most of his crew in the 9/11 disaster. Uncertain what to say, the firefighter turns to a writer (a woman he’s never met). Their one-on-one conversations form the play. It’s a delicate, well-acted 80-minute duet, as the two characters build their working relationship while dealing with the aftermath of an event that marked a sea change in both their lives.
California Stage; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday; $13-$16. 1721 25th Street, (916) 444-3232. Through December 19. 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. 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.
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. Plus, it’s a musical that cleverly pays homage to 1950s and 1960s rock ’n’ roll while shamelessly shooting Shakespeare puns about. 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 9 and 11; $7-$12. Art Court Theatre at Sacramento City College, 3835 Freeport Boulevard; (916) 558-2228. Through December 12. P.R.
Stories and Songs for the Holidays River Stage’s small, unassuming holiday variety show is based on diverse ethnic and religious traditions. Tammie Denyse tells an African story in honor of Kwanzaa, Michael Panush relates an Eastern European Jewish tale, and Samuel Iniguez raps his way through an updated Latino version of the story of the three wise men (los reyes magos). Our sentimental favorite is octogenarian Jack Lynn reading excerpts from Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales. It’s always a treat to see an old master like Lynn work his magic. Framing the stories are humorous, folky sing-alongs led by the Amazing Harmonatras. All told, it’s a pleasant 90 minutes of good-natured entertainment.
River Stage, 7 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, $8-$15. Cosumnes River College, 8401 Center Parkway, (916) 691-7364. Through December 12. J.H.
The Trials of Clarence Darrow This one-man show highlights local artist Paul Hauck as both a playwright and a community actor. Hauck’s script is impressive. It’s a deep, meaty look into the complex life of a great lawyer, social activist and skeptic. Hauck’s given himself a tough row to hoe; he looks spent by the end of this lengthy monologue. This could be an embodiment of Darrow’s world-weary later years, or just an exhausted actor who’s been on his feet for nearly two hours. Probably both!
Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $22-$24 including dessert. Reservations are required. 1901 P Street, (916) 444-8209. Through December 11. J.H.
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 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.
A Year with Frog and Toad This sparkling little musical—ostensibly for kids, but with broader appeal—features the two actors SN&R recognized in the recent Best of Sacramento issue for “Best theatrical performances by big men.” Rick Kleber and Peter Story strike up quite a buddy relationship while going swimming, baking cookies, raking leaves and sledding. It’s excellent material. The script (based on a well-known children’s book) and Broadway-style score were Tony nominees in 2003. Director Greg Alexander and choreographer Jackie Schultz keep things bright, brisk and bouncy. Look for Jeff Asch as the snail with the mail who “puts the go in escargot.”
Children’s Theatre of California; 7 p.m. Friday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $15 for children and $20 for adults. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through January 9. J.H.