The not-so-quiet guy

Capital Stage’s Peter Mohrmann talks to SN&R about the company—and that vibrator play

Peter Mohrmann’s gotta sing! Gotta dance!

Peter Mohrmann’s gotta sing! Gotta dance!

Photo By louise mitchell

Capital Stage, 2215 J Street; (916) 995-5464;

Capital Stage

2215 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95816

(916) 995-5464

As Capital Stage blossomed in its new venue on J Street earlier this year, most reports focused on founder/producing artistic director Stephanie Gularte and co-founder Jonathan Williams, Gularte’s spouse. But Capital Stage’s other co-founder—Peter Mohrmann—deserves recognition as well for his behind-the-scenes work bringing Capital Stage to prominence, and for the impressive performances he’s given there and with other theater companies over three decades.

Recently, Mohrmann reprised his role in Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some), Capital Stage’s three-actor spoof.

“We like to joke about this year’s show being the 3-D version, not that there are cardboard glasses,” Mohrmann said. “But now we are on a thrust stage, with the audience on three sides,” rather than framed on a tiny proscenium stage.

“We’re getting a lot more audience comments, it has to do with the more immediate and intimate quality of the space.”

This year’s version includes a pepper-spray joke, inserted during November rehearsals after the now-notorious UC Davis incident created an international ruckus.

“It’s in the same location where we had a BP oil spill joke last year,” Mohrmann said. “We have several topical references this year, but [the] pepper-spray joke always gets the biggest response.”

Mohrmann became co-founder of the company in 2005, as Capital Stage became an independent nonprofit.

“I left a day job as an office manager at Sutter Medical Center,” Mohrmann recalled. “But Stephanie had been working toward the idea of a professional theater. I came aboard—literally—as managing director, to help build the subscription base, raise donations and seek grants.”

But Mohrmann’s deep commitment to the theater goes back much further than his involvement with Capital Stage. In the early 1980s, Mohrmann played the male lead in a UC Davis staging of the dark drama Equus, a role still sought by brave young actors.

“I was young and skinny and naked,” quipped Mohrmann.

He also hit the ball out of the park with his intense, riveting monologue as gay-bashing victim Matthew Shepard’s middle-aged dad in the 2004 River Stage production of The Laramie Project.

“I saw Frank Condon was doing that show, and I made a beeline for those auditions,” Mohrmann said.

And he turned in another remarkable appearance as the mysterious Lord Cerimon in the Sacramento Theatre Company’s 1998 production of the fantastical late Shakespeare romance Pericles. Mohrmann performed in a wheelchair as a “wounded healer” à la Stephen Hawking.

Mohrmann now serves as Cap Stage’s part-time marketing director, which leaves time to teach at Sacramento City College and Folsom Lake College. His next assignment: directing Cap Stage’s production Sarah Ruhl’s much discussed script In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play), about women being treated for “hysteria” in the 1880s.

“It’s a period costume show”—with long dresses and such—“and it explores this idea of changing society and changing relationship between men and women, and the need for women’s recognition of their desires and abilities,” Mohrmann said.

“It’s also a very funny play—remember that!”