The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) This demolition derby through the entire Shakespeare canon is a sort of “supergroup” affair, featuring three of the region’s best comic actors: Gary Alan Wright of Foothill Theatre Company, Matt K. Miller of Sacramento Theatre Company and Greg Alexander of B Street Theatre. Together, they take down Hamlet (forward and backward), turn the gory tragedy Titus Andronicus into a ghoulish TV cooking show, summarize Othello as a rhyming rap number and knock off all the comedies in a single frantic scene. There’s a lot of dubious humor and earthy innuendo, numerous bad wigs and kooky swordfights, and several deliberately awful death scenes. Each episode is scripted, but some jokes are improvised, and part of the enjoyment comes from watching these three capable funnymen work off each other’s onstage energy.
Foothill Theatre Company; 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday; $24-$26. Nevada Theatre, 401 Broad Street in Nevada City, (530) 265-8587 or (888) 730-8587, www.foothilltheatre.org. Through August 13. Also July 31 and August 7 and 14 at the
Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival; $22-$67, or $14 for those age 15 and under. Sand Harbor State Park, three miles south of Incline Village in Nevada; (800) 74-SHOWS; www.laketahoeshakespeare.com. J.H.
Key West Presented by Lambda Players, the loose story surrounds two longtime, gay friends—Tracy and Mel—vacationing at the clothing-optional resort Déjà Vu in Key West. Tracy, inhabited nicely by Dave Garner, bears more than a passing resemblance to Blanche Devereaux from The Golden Girls, while Mel, played by David Warpness, might as well be Dorothy Zbornak. The laughs are hit-and-miss. When they do come, their origins are in stereotypes, not three-dimensional characters or witty dialogue. Billed as a campy comedy with lots of male nudity, Key West unfortunately only delivers the latter. Cimarron Spell, as a young housekeeper, provides the best laughs and a strong sense of camp.
Lambda Players Theatre, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, $15. 2427 17th Street, (916) 444-8229, www.lambdaplayers.com. Through July 29. M.C.
The Last Five Years The B Street Theatre’s summer offering is a “micro-musical”—a chamber piece in a 100-seat venue involving two professional actors and a cute four-piece band (piano, violin, cello and bass) and no mics. It’s a different kind of experience than a big Music Circus show. You’re closer to the performers, but you don’t get the elaborate choreography with a dozen dancers in eye-popping costumes. But The Last Five Years is still a musical, which is to say that it’s dominated by a love story, told with an interesting conceit. She starts with the breakup and works back to the beginning, while he tells the tale in linear fashion from start to finish. They get married in the middle. Performers Jessica Rush and Eric Anderson display personality and charm, and writer Jason Robert Brown delivers clever lyrics and catchy melodies (which won Drama Desk Awards following the show’s New York run).
B Street Theatre; 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday, with 1 p.m. Wednesday matinees through August 30; $23-$28. 2711 B Street, (916) 443-5300. Through September 10. J.H.
Othello Director Scott Gilbert offers a fairly orthodox take on this classic, though he interprets the action in the deadly finale a little differently than it’s often done. As Othello, actor Reginald Andre Jackson skillfully articulates his character’s rising suspicion, frustration and fury. He could display more noble bearing and assured, natural leadership early on, and he could deliver Othello’s late speeches with more ringing authority—qualities that would make Othello’s swift fall even more tragic. Carolyn Howarth shines as Emilia. Actor Scott Coopwood makes for a “hot” Iago, sipping from a hidden flask, stewing and sweating as his scheme to undermine Othello evolves.
Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival; 7:30 p.m. July 28 and 30 and August 1, 3, 5, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19; $22-$67, or $14 for those age 15 and under. Sand Harbor State Park, three miles south of Incline Village in Nevada; (800) 74-SHOWS; www.laketahoeshakespeare.com. J.H.
Romeo and Juliet If teenagers Romeo and Juliet were hanging out nowadays, they’d be text-messaging instead of balcony bantering. The couple’s young age may explain this production’s odd decision to portray the two as bumbling geeks in Shakespeare’s most revered romantic tragedy. Without any sexual sizzle, they come across as “best friends forever” instead of star-crossed lovers, a shame since both are talented actors. What works are the fight scenes, where the energy bursts forth from this cast, and the choice of Brett Williams as Mercutio. Williams brings needed physicality and sexual force into his scenes. With his bravado and charm, you can feel the danger that propels the play toward its tragic end.
Sacramento Shakespeare Festival; gates open at 6:30 p.m., with showtime at 8 p.m. on July 28 and August 3 and 5; $10-$15, or free for children 6 to 12. William A. Carroll Amphitheatre at William Land Park, (916) 558-2228, www.sacramentoshakespeare.net. P.R.
Twelfth Night Director Nancy Carlin delivers the mellowest, most beguiling version of this oft-produced comedy we’ve seen in years. The setting is the psychedelic Pepperland (borrowed from the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine), with colorful garb by Callie Floor and a Beatles-influenced score by Michael Rasbury, who really nails the concept. Shakespeare’s text adapts naturally to this slightly stoned, soft-focus interpretation: Love is constantly in the air, albeit not always focusing on the most appropriate partner. Hence the comedy, mostly surrounding Viola (spunky, charming Megan Smith), who spends most of the play impersonating a young man. Carlin avoids the dark shadows other directors sometimes locate in this play; even the shipwreck that sets the story in motion seems more like a bad trip than a deadly disaster. But this “light” interpretation works well.
Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival; 7:30 p.m. July 27 and 29 and August 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 18 and 20; $22-$67, or $14 for those age 15 and under. Sand Harbor State Park, three miles south of Incline Village in Nevada; (800) 74-SHOWS; www.laketahoeshakespeare.com. J.H.
Two Gentlemen of Verona Set in the Roaring ’20s, this comedic romp is the perfect light dessert for the traditional Sacramento Shakespeare Festival pre-play picnic in William Land Park—sweet, funny and easy to digest. Written early in the Bard’s career, the plots and characters aren’t fully developed, but this production is filled with fun. Love propels; madcap mayhem ensues. The convoluted plot stretches believability, but the cast makes the confusion accessible and entertaining. And the play’s sidekicks really make this loopy lovers’ tale an appealing production.
Sacramento Shakespeare Festival; gates open at 6:30 p.m., with showtime at 8 p.m. on July 27 and 30, and August 4 and 6; $10-$15, or free for children 6 to 12. William A. Carroll Amphitheatre at William Land Park, (916) 558-2228, www.sacramentoshakespeare.net. P.R.