STC in tents

The Sacramento Theatre Company is living in tents.

Not quite literally, but close enough. Because of the long-anticipated remodeling of the company’s offices on H Street, STC has moved its administrative functions to temporary quarters at 428 J St. “We’re working out of boxes and folding tables,” said artistic director Peggy Shannon. “It sort of has the feeling of a political campaign office. And our phones are working, sort of.”

More important is the fact that STC’s upcoming season opener—Shannon’s production of the Steve Martin comedy Picasso at the Lapin Agile—also will be staged at a temporary location: the theater at Natomas High School, 3301 Rosin Blvd.

A high school auditorium? Don’t laugh.

“It’s actually a much nicer theater than we’ve had [on H Street],” Shannon admits. “And the irony is not lost on me. It’s a better space, hands-down.”

For starters, the Natomas High theater has 420 seats, compared with about 300 at the old STC space. And that extra 120 seats per performance could come in handy if Picasso catches the fancy of local audiences, as it has in other cities.

“Natomas also has fairly state-of-the-art sound and lighting, and a nice wide, deep stage, which works really well for Picasso,” Shannon says. “There’s also plenty of parking, and it’s free,” she adds, referring indirectly to the rather pricey new parking garage opposite STC’s regular digs.

The problem is that for decades, STC patrons have been conditioned to home in on the H St. location. “We keep telling everybody as they buy their tickets that Picasso will be at Natomas High,” Shannon says. “And we’ll be sending out a postcard or letter to subscribers to remind them.”

Shannon says that, contrary to rumor, she will not have the popular Aviva Jane Carlin patrolling the H Street sidewalk wearing a sandwich board saying “It’s over at Natomas High!”

But she did announce that she is bringing Carlin back for a special return engagement of Carlin’s signature piece, Jodie’s Body, from April 10 to May 4. “Because of our renovation, we thought this was an important year to just keep our visibility as high as possible. We’re still getting calls about Jodie’s Body, and Aviva is about to go to Los Angeles for a one-year run of the play,” Shannon said. So Sacramento audiences will get one last chance to see Carlin do her popular monologue about posing in the nude for art classes, dealing with apartheid in South Africa and other subjects.

Shannon said another one-person show has been added to STC’s lineup: But First, Sammy Shore, playing January 9 through February 2. Sammy Shore has been around for ages, having worked alongside Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand and Bob Hope. (Younger folks may think of him as Pauly Shore’s dad.) This show is a monologue about the ups and downs of his lengthy career.

But mostly, Shannon is happy that the long-planned renovation of STC’s facilities is under way. “I went through a kitchen remodel at home a couple of years ago,” says Shannon, a mother of two. “It was both nightmarish and exhiliarating. Doing the theater is like that, but on a bigger scale. But I know what’s coming [at the end], so that’s exciting.”