Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day The Children’s Theatre of California (CTC) has gone “back to the book” again with another show based on a slim volume many parents have read aloud to their kids. It’s about a kid named Alexander, who’s having a day when everything goes wrong. Director Buck Busfield taps his reliable stable of actors (Rick Kleber, et al), musical arranger Noah Agruss and costumer Nancy Pipkin. Visiting actor Paul Wyatt is lots of fun in the title role, but the episodic story doesn’t really have a climax. And the songs, though pleasant, don’t stay with you. It’s a nice show—especially for younger kids—but it’s not quite as marvelous for adults as, say, CTC’s earlier A Year with Frog and Toad.
Children’s Theatre of California; 7 p.m. Friday, and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $15-$20. B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through June 5. J.H.
Five-course Love Sacramento composer Gregg Coffin’s second full-length musical is like a progressive dinner, with each scene offering a funny take on romance in a different restaurant (with the musical style changing to match the food). The Texas barbecue joint features country-western, the German restaurant has decadent Berlin cabaret numbers, etc. Coffin writes witty, suggestive lyrics to go with his melodic humor; the show adds to the frivolity with over-the-top costumes and quick choreography. It’s a varied goody bag of ear candy and funny situations: fast, frothy and flirtatious. To paraphrase the old Cyndi Lauper tune, Gregg just wants to have fun.
Sacramento Theatre Company; 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; $20-$36. 1419 H Street, (916) 443-6722. Extended through May 28. J.H.
Le Mariage Forcé (The Marriage Trap) You get two servings of this adaptation of a 1664 comedy by Molière (titled The Forced Marriage in some translations), which features pompous scholars, fortune-telling gypsies and a wedding that the husband starts regretting even before it takes place. First, you see the play in French, with elaborate period costumes by Libby Harmor. Then, the same cast does the play again, in English, with different costumes and broad physical humor drawing on the Italian commedia dell’ arte style of the late 1500s. The cast of 11 (some experienced and some new) was tutored for the French version; some are smooth, and others struggle a bit with their lines. But the story’s easy to follow, just read the one-paragraph synopsis beforehand. And it’s a treat to hear Molière in his mother tongue. This good-natured, ambitious community production is quite a lot of fun.
California Stage; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$19. 1723 25th Street, (916) 451-5822, www.calstage.org. Through June 12. J.H.
Long Shadow A decorated World War II vet is shot in the back on a hunting trip, and suspicion soon falls on “Wild Bill” Ebaugh, a longhaired, bearded mountain man. Did he do it? We’ll never know for sure, because Ebaugh was shot by a bounty hunter before he could answer any questions. This new play, based on a 1944 incident in Nevada County, delves into the community’s climate of fear, the political pressure on the sheriff to “solve” the case, and the willingness of many to accept that Ebaugh (whom they’d never liked) probably did it—even though the evidence against him was slender. There are a few aspects of the show that feel unfinished. But there are strong performances by Philip Charles Sneed, Gary Wright, Carolyn Howarth, John Sousa and others.
Foothill Theatre Company; 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $19-$23. Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street in Nevada City, (888) 730-8587. Through June 5. J.H.
Love and Taxes Monologue artist Josh Kornbluth—a fixture in the Bay Area and New York—delivers an outstanding example of his idiosyncratic art form in this delightful, rambling 90-minute show. He talks about the words in the title; his upbringing by his radical, leftist, Jewish parents; dedicated elementary-school teachers who get no respect; and the health hazards of playing the oboe. It’s a beautifully written, brilliantly performed one-man show. Given the semi-tsunami of educated Bay Area émigrés that has washed over Sacramento in the last 10 years, you’d think Kornbluth would have landed on a local stage before now. Better late than never; this show’s a treat!
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. B Street Theatre, 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through June 5. J.H.
Master Harold … and the boys Celebration Arts revives its fondly recalled 2000 production of a great script by South African playwright Athol Fugard. Actors James Wheatley and J.G. Gonsalves reprise their excellent performances as two black, middle-aged Southern men working in a tearoom. The white, preppy son of the owner (played by Galen Howard this time around) stops by. The three characters are well-acquainted, but their friendly banter turns stormy, and the yawning gulf between South Africa’s blacks and whites opens right before your eyes. This revival doesn’t pack quite the intensity of the earlier production, but it’s still a remarkable, powerful piece. And it’s arguably the signature role for Wheatley, among many excellent performances he’s given in this long-running series of Fugard plays.
Celebration Arts; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $8 Thursday and $13-$15 other days. 4469 D Street, (916) 455-2787, www.celebrationarts.net. Through June 25. J.H.
Pirates of Penzance This production of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s classic is a rollicking funhouse presented by a cast and crew whose main goal is entertainment. As with most Runaway Stage productions, the sheer eagerness of the thrilled-to-be-onstage young cast (supporting seasoned veterans) makes up for the show’s limited production values. The story of a band of do-good pirates who meet up with a general and his bevy of beautiful daughters is told with a contagious comedic spirit. So, although it may not be a polished pirate production, the audience can’t help but be swept up with can-do spirit and fun of this Penzance.
Runaway Stage Productions; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $12-$17. 24th Street Theatre, 2791 24th Street, (916) 207-1226. Through May 29. P.R.