Tragedy, triumph and thespians

SN&R previews the fall theater season

Broadway Sacramento kicks off its season with a touring production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which won a Tony Award for Best Costume Design in 2011.

Broadway Sacramento kicks off its season with a touring production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which won a Tony Award for Best Costume Design in 2011.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Prominent scripts that contended for recent awards, plus some loveable old chestnuts and timeless tragedies: That’s the scoop on fall theater.

Capital Stage begins with Clybourne Park, a drama about race and real estate, winner of 2011’s Pulitizer Prize for Drama and 2012’s Tony Award for Best Play (through October 6). Then, Cap Stage adapts Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy of witchcraft and revenge, Macbeth (October 23 through November 24; Closing out 2013 will be The Santaland Diaries, the sarcastic David Sedaris tale of a department-store elf (December 5 through December 29). Underlying question: Who takes the reins as artistic director Stephanie Gularte moves on?

The B Street Theatre’s Mainstage season is already underway with the widely admired Other Desert Cities (through September 29; Then comes Detroit, a drama about suburban couples during hard economic times (October 6 through November 17); it was a 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama finalist, and won this year’s Obie Award for Best New American Play. In December, B Street mounts a (still untitled) new play by producing artistic director Buck Busfield, who annually creates a fresh script for the holidays. Underlying question: When will B Street break ground on its long-planned Midtown venue?

Meanwhile, B Street’s B3 series (“for the sophisticated theatregoer”) offers My Name Is Asher Lev, based on the 1972 novel by Chaim Potok (September 20 through October 20). This recent script won honors from New York’s Outer Critics Circle. B Street’s Family Series starts its 10th season in November with Beauty and the Beast—aimed at kids, but with professionals in the cast.

The Sacramento Theatre Company goes retro with a stage version of Jane Austen’s 19th-century novel of courtship and marriage, Pride and Prejudice (October 2 through October 27; Then comes Crazy Horse and Custer, set amid the Indian wars of the 1800s (November 6 through December 15). Its holiday show is It’s a Wonderful Life: The Musical (November 27 through December 22), reprising the 1946 film. Underlying question: Will contemporary audiences warm to three shows set in the (sometimes distant) past?

New Helvetia Theatre hasn’t announced a fall show. But New Helvetia favors new and edgy musicals (and lesser-known shows from decades past). Underlying question: When will New Helvetia ( capitalize on community goodwill by announcing shows in a timelier manner?

Broadway Sacramento—which hosts big-box touring musicals—gets underway with Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, a musical based on the 1994 film that picked up the 2011 Tony Award for Best Costume Design for its outrageous costumes (November 5 through November 10; Then, Buddy—The Buddy Holly Story, a 1950s rockabilly songbook show (December 27 through January 2, 2014). Underlying question: When will the long-delayed modernization of the Community Center Theater begin?

The smaller companies have plans, too.

Big Idea Theatre ( offers Lonesome Hollow, a near-future dystopia about the imprisonment of a photographer of artistic nudes (September 27 through October 26), followed by Outrage, a time-bending journey from ancient times into the present (November 15 through December 14).

Green Valley Theatre Company ( revives The Rocky Horror Show for Halloween (October 11 through October 26).

City Theatre ( does After Juliet, set in fair Verona after the suicides of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers (September 20 through October 13), then, a raucous holiday-season production of Snow White: A British Panto (dates to be determined).

Runaway Stage Productions (, which favors musicals, does How to Succeed in Business (September 6 through September 29), followed by Monty Python’s Spamalot (November 8 through December 1).

Ovation Stage (, which favors dramas, has Time Stands Still through September 15, followed by Sam Shepard’s 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child (November 2 through November 24).

The Actor’s Workshop of Sacramento ( will stage River City Anthology (September 20 through October 20), featuring poems describing Sacramento.

Synthetic Unlimited ( in Nevada City mounts Harold Pinter’s Betrayal (September 19 through September 29), followed by Shakespeare’s Othello (October 17 through October 27).