Theater Preview by Jeanie K. Smith - September 2019
By Jeanie Smith
Everything’s Coming up Merman
6th Street Playhouse —September 20-October 20
For a real blockbuster, there’s the classic Gypsy, filled with memorable songs and Broadway performer Kathy Fitzgerald as Mama Rose, on the 6th Street Playhouse stage in Santa Rosa from September 20-October 20. The blockbuster, based on the memoirs of legendary stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and written with Ethel Merman in mind to play the quintessential backstage mother, has been called “the greatest American musical.” Mama Rose stands out as one of the most complex characters in the musical theatre canon. 6th Street does these big, sweeping musicals in a big, bold way, and this one is sure to raise the roof.
6th Street Playhouse
(707) 523-4185 ext 1
Merman’s Apprentice -
Sonoma Arts Live — September 27-October 13
See what all the fuss was about with that icon of the Broadway belt and head to Sonoma Arts Live for Merman’s Apprentice, running September 27-October 13 and starring Daniela Innocenti-Beem as Ethel Merman herself. She’ll be joined by Emma Sutherland playing young Muriel Plakenstein, who runs away from home to become a Broadway star and runs right into Merman. A friendship is forged as Merman takes Muriel under her wing and coaches her to stardom. It’s a new musical that’s been gathering fans in Seattle, London, and NYC— and now set to conquer Sonoma. If you loved Innocenti-Beem as much as I did in last season’s Hello, Dolly! you won’t want to miss her turn as the “Queen of Broadway.”
Sonoma Arts Live
Left Edge Theatre — September 6-29
Left Edge Theatre breaks their own rules (and why not?) regarding age of play and prior stagings in order to present the contemporary classic Nuts, often seen as the best-ever courtroom drama, and oh-so-timely in today’s culture. Its premises could indeed be ripped from today’s headlines, which is no doubt why the company decided it deserved a modern revival. Heather Gordon stars in the role Barbra Streisand made famous in the 1987 film. Runs September 6-29 in Santa Rosa.
Left Edge Theatre
Main Stage West — September 6-22
Body Awareness, one of American playwright Annie Baker’s earliest plays (2008), is full of fun and friction, chronicling a family dinner that turns into a meltdown— hilarious, but real and raw, even heartbreaking, with smart dialogue and plenty of surprises. It’s not so much about a healthy body image as it is about really seeing others and soul healing. Baker’s popularity has soared with recent hits such as The Flick (2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for Drama); now you can see the play that launched her career. At Main Stage West in Sebastopol, September 6-22.
Main Stage West
Pegasus Theater Company — September 13-28
New short plays in Guerneville “Tapas” festival
Plays that last only 10-20 minutes have become extremely popular in the U.S., with short play festivals popping up everywhere. Happily for Sonoma County, there’s been one every year since 2006 in Guerneville, mounted by Pegasus Theatre Company with the express intent of supporting Northern California playwrights. This year’s festival running September 13-28 features six plays, with six local actresses playing all the roles. See what happens when Lady Macbeth tries cosmetic surgery for her “damned spot,” or a sensitive executive order goes astray in the White House, or quarreling sisters are stranded in the Mojave. The plays include Grilled by L.H. Grant; Solar Flares by Stanley Rutherford; Heroes by Susan Jackson; Lady M Visits the Dermatologist by Margy Kahn; Stuff by Darlene Kersnar; and Executive Order by L.H. Grant.
Pegasus Theater Company
All Photos by vrs.