Becoming Julia Morgan Architect Julia Morgan designed the remarkable, irrepressible visions of William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon, as well as more than 800 different projects throughout the state. California Stage co-commissioned playwright Belinda Taylor to dramatize the story of the first state-licensed woman architect. The challenge? Morgan was revealing in her work, but she built a concrete wall around her private life. Janis Stevens gives a subtle performance that captures this no-nonsense woman with small, constrained gestures and expressions. The script is a fascinating character portrait told in tight and compelling, imaginative scenes—though the second half needs tightening up.
California Stage; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$19. 1723 25th Street, (916) 451-5822, www.calstage.org. Extended through February 13. P.R.
Little Shop of Horrors This improbable but strangely sweet musical is about a man-eating (and woman-eating) plant that brings success to a skid-row florist and a happily-ever-after ending to two shy lovers. The Broadway Series touring show is a pleasant, though not remarkable, version. The two Audreys stand out: both the plant and the poor shop girl the plant is named after. So does the sassy Motown chorus. However, the nerdy Seymour isn’t quite nerdy enough, the evil dentist isn’t quite evil enough, and the overall production seems a bit wilted.
The Broadway Series; 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $15-$65. Community Center Theater, 1301 L Street, (916) 557-1999, www.californiamusicaltheatre.com. Through February 5. P.R.
Macbeth Women play many parts in this production, including husky-voiced Paula Dawson in the title role. She deliberately speeds through some speeches, but her darting gaze and deepening world-weariness are noteworthy. Director Emily Davis uses gestures and movement to illuminate the language and includes some oft-cut aspects like Hecate, goddess of witchcraft (a masked figure here). Davis also uses puppets—visualized by multiple actors holding disparate elements that invoke a figure—to depict several spirits. Although it’s a “campus production” with young actors, and certain limitations, this show is worth a look for its unusual elements.
Wyatt Pavilion Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $8-$12. UC Davis, (530) 754-2787. Through February 5. J.H.
A View from the Bridge This lesser-known but still powerful Arthur Miller play centers on Eddie Carbone, a Brooklyn longshoreman embittered by life and dealing with two new illegal-immigrant cousins from Italy. It’s an impressive offering by Big Idea Theatre. The company’s previous shows have been a mixed lot, both in subject matter and success, but this production showcases the theater’s ability to present thought-provoking material while offering up new local talent.
Big Idea Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with additional shows on February 5 at 2:30 p.m. and on February 9 at 7:30 p.m.; $10-$14. Polish American Community Hall, 327 Main Street in Roseville, (916) 789-8477, www.bigideatheatre.com. Through February 11. P.R.
Wait Until Dark Wanna get scared? This 40th-anniversary production of a classic Broadway thriller (later a film) describes a deadly battle of strategy between a blind young woman and a ruthless killer. Young actress Kristine David is very good as the lead, and veteran performer Scott Devine is thoroughly chilling. All in all, it’s a handsome community production. Doug Keowen’s set equals what you’ll find in professional shows.
Woodland Opera House; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, with an additional show on February 4 at 2 p.m.; $10-$15. 340 Second Street in Woodland, (530) 666-9617, www.wohtheatre.org. Through February 12. J.H.
What He Left There are plenty of jokes and funny stories in Jack Gallagher’s new one-man show, but it’s really a memory play, and a very personal one at that. Gallagher reflects on growing up and on watching his parents grow old, his dad in particular. His father’s voice, recorded before his passing, figures into the show, and you can feel his presence in the theater. The show is directed with sensitivity and understated style by Buck Busfield, but it’s very much Gallagher’s project. He uses both his skills as a stand-up comedian and a degree of revealing sincerity you don’t always sense in performers.
B Street Theatre; 6 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 some 2 p.m. Wednesday matinees; $20-$28. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through March 5. J.H.
Written on the Hill A nurse comes to help a famous, reclusive writer recover from a bad back—except this “nurse” has no training and burbles about how he adores his patient’s writing. Trouble’s brewing, and, as it turns out, both men have hidden agendas. Playwright/director Matthew Burlingame creates effective scenes in which literary shop talk, sexual attraction and calculated betrayal all simmer together. Actors Shaun Baker and Juan Flores bring this treacherous relationship to life. Baker also has a show-stopping monologue about a hostage incident. The comic interruptions by the kooky Teutonic housekeeper (Renee Gromecki) ultimately wear thin, and the ending could use a bit more work, but there’s some good material in this original play.
Lambda Players Theatre; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with special shows on January 22 at 2 p.m. and February 2 at 8 p.m.; $10-$15. 2427 17th Street, (916) 444-8229, www.lambdaplayers.com. Through February 4. J.H.
Yellow Fever Picture hard-boiled San Francisco detective Sam Spade as Japantown private investigator Sam Shikaze. Now sprinkle in some bilingual humor (quite funny if you understand a little Japanese), move the timeframe to the 1970s and turn the shadowy nemesis into a stealthy white-supremacist organization. You’ve got the major elements of Canadian writer Rick Shiomi’s smart script. This community production by InterACT (Interactive Contemporary Asian Theatre) is spirited, if not polished. The acting’s sometimes uneven, and the story doesn’t flow as smoothly as it might.
The Space; 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with additional shows on February 2 at 8 p.m. and February 12 at 3 p.m.; $12-$14. 2509 R Street, (916) 267-7280, www.interact-theatre.com. Through February 12. J.H.