Bite Me, Cleopatra Wonder what happens behind the scenes during a production of, say, Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra? Here’s a comedy that addresses that premise; it’s written and directed by local actor, director and playwright Luther Hanson. Clever writing, subtle—and not so subtle—humor and a perfectly selected cast (Stephanie Gularte, Christine Nicholson, Tasmyn Dillow, Martha Omiyo Kight) makes this production a laugh riot from beginning to end. Perhaps the best offering from Synergy Stage this season, Bite Me, Cleopatra should prove to be a sheer delight for any theatergoer. Antony and Cleopatra has long been one of Shakespeare’s most famous and respected works, yet after Bite Me, Cleopatra one will be hard-pressed to watch it again and keep a straight face. Delta King Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, $14-$41. 1000 Front Street, Old Sacramento. 995-5464. Through April 28. M.B.C.
Flyin’ West This play is set on a farm in rural Kansas circa 1880—not a typical setting for a story involving African-Americans. It’s a family drama involving three sisters, an elderly friend, a loving suitor and a no-good husband. At stake are some hard-won homesteads (which are being sought by white speculators) and a utopian dream of a new community. Playwright Pearl Cleage, a favorite of Oprah, gives the story some melodramatic twists, but credible acting and the unusual topic save the day in this small, likeable, modestly mounted production. California Stage, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 6 p.m. Sunday, $12-$14, corner of 25th and R streets, Midtown, Sacramento. 451-5822. Through April 29. J.H.
Move Over Mrs. Markham Champagne, slamming doors, characters in underwear chasing each other round a big oval bed. … It’s British sex farce at Garbeau’s. Director Jack Lynn and lead actress Claire Lipschultz are better known for their serious work, but their timing’s crisp in this comedy and the supporting cast is good. Multiple levels of deception and jealousy result in some delicious situations in the second half. The script (oft produced at comedy houses around the country) works the formula effectively, and the show fits nicely into the dinner theater ambiance. It may not be high art, but it’s fun while it lasts. Garbeau’s Dinner Theater, 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (dinner seating at 6 p.m.); 12:30 p.m. Sunday (brunch seating at 11 a.m.). $15-$32. Old Nimbus Winery building, 12401 Folsom Blvd., Rancho Cordova (near the Highway 50/Hazel Avenue exit). 985-6361. Through April 29. J.H.
The Substance of Fire Vista Players, under director Aram Kouyoumdjian, scores another success with this drama about a New York publisher who’s taken his respected firm to the brink of bankruptcy by focusing on scholarly but uncommercial titles about the Holocaust. In the opening act, he’s challenged for control of the firm—a tense standoff in which the old man systematically slights his children and their accomplishments. In the second half, the unrepentant father is living bitterly on the edge of poverty. He gets a visit from a social worker who, as it turns out, has also fallen from the realm of high society. Ed Claudio and Jan Ahders head a well-chosen cast in this studio production of a serious script by Jon Robin Baitz. Actors Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday (4/22 only), $12. 1616 Del Paso Blvd. (near Arden), (916) 498-0477. Through April 28. J.H.