Fall Arts Preview 2021

Fall Arts Preview cover featuring various acts
To borrow from the Bard, it has been, by all measures, the spring, summer, autumn and winter of our discontent. Every theater shuttered, each seat unfilled, preview posters of musicals never performed hung in frames like broken clocks. But make no mistake, the stage is set for the arts to come roaring back as the curtains rise again this fall. So cue the music—it’s time to sit back and enjoy the shows.


THROUGH NOV. 7 Translated as “triumph over adversity,” the Japanese word gambatte is a rallying cry for Japanese-American photographer Paul Kitagaki Jr., a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for The Sacramento Bee. After discovering archival pictures of his father, aunt and grandparents waiting to be sent to detention camps during World War II, Kitagaki began seeking out and photographing survivors of the 1942-1945 internment. Those photos debuted in 2015 at the California Museum, alongside images by lens masters like Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, who documented the incarceration in real time. After traveling to nationwide galleries like the International Center of Photography in New York City, the show will return to its home base for an encore viewing. This updated and expanded version of the exhibit, titled Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit, will present new images and artifacts, including those from the Kitagaki family’s time in a Utah detention camp. Masks and advance tickets required. $10. Thurs.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. California Museum. 1020 O St. 916-653-7524. californiamuseum.org

Photo of young Anna Kaku standing behind a microphone

Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

Wayne Thiebaud Influencer

THROUGH NOV. 12 Since an artist’s legacy is manifested through the work of those they inspired, curators at the Manetti Shrem Museum are celebrating the titular Sacramento painter’s 100th trip around the sun by forgoing the traditional retrospective in favor of something more forward-looking. Only 15 of the 90 pieces displayed in Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation are by the UC Davis professor emeritus—the rest are by his former students and other artists influenced by his work. In addition to Thiebaud’s signature food paintings, such as Sun Fruit (pictured), expect to find a regal portrait of his late wife (and frequent subject) Betty Jean hung adjacent to Canticle, a 2008 diptych by British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye that depicts two stately black women in vibrant-hued suit jackets. Other works include a series starring Krazy Kat by Vonn Cummings Sumner, one of Thiebaud’s last TAs who was introduced to the comic strip character by his former teacher. Masks required; advance reservations recommended. Free. Hours vary by day. Manetti Shrem Museum. 254 Old Davis Rd. Davis. 530-752-8500. manettishremmuseum.ucdavis.edu

Wayne Thiebaud painting of lemons and oranges

Thiebaud painting courtesy of the Manetti Shrem Museum, © 2021 Wayne Thiebaud

Dance Nation

SEPT. 14-OCT. 24 In playwright Clare Barron’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated Dance Nation, a team of ’tweens and teens from Liverpool, Ohio, are hoping their boogie-down production—inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, no less—will earn them a win at nationals. But when the group’s most talented dancer, Amina, is passed up for the lead role in favor of her less-skillful best friend Zuzu, the dynamics of the group begin to fracture. Performed by B Street Theatre (its first live show in over a year), the actresses’ ages far surpass those of their characters, but that’s part of the play’s charm—the absurdity of watching fully grown adults regress back to childhood is how the work “conjures the passionate ambivalence of early adolescence,” leaving viewers ready to “cringe, cry or roar with happiness,” according to The New York Times. Masks and proof of vaccination required. $20-$47. Times vary by day. The Sofia. 2700 Capitol Ave. 916-443-5300. bstreettheatre.org


SEPT. 15-OCT. 10 After a two-year (if you don’t count the pandemic) residency in San Francisco, the West Coast cast of Hamilton is taking the stage at the SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center (formerly the Sacramento Community Center Theater) as the inaugural production at the newly renovated building—and the first show mounted by Broadway Sacramento since it went dark in early 2020 due to Covid. Featuring songs like “Guns and Ships,” with its militaristic meter, and the heartbreaking “Satisfied,” this musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda—who previously wrote and starred in the stage smash In the Heights—tells the tragic rags-to-riches tale of American founding father Alexander Hamilton through an exhilarating hip-hop and R&B score. The show is nearly sold out, but for those who can’t bear to throw away their shot at seeing this 11-time Tony Award-winning juggernaut, a limited number of $10 lottery tickets will be available on the day of each performance (visit hamiltonmusical.com for details). Musical theater lovers will also be able to get their fix this fall with Broadway Sacramento’s production of An Officer and a Gentleman, which is based on the hit 1982 film of the same name and will run Nov. 2-7. Masks and proof of vaccination required. $49-$399. Times vary by day. SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center. 1301 L St. 916-557-1999. broadwaysacramento.com

Four Hamilton actors in costume

Photo by Joan Marcus

Monet to Matisse

OCT. 7-JAN. 9 Depicting the duality of the French countryside and the urban sprawl of Paris, an exhibit featuring masterworks by French Impressionists will soon be on view at the Crocker. On loan from the Dixon Gallery & Gardens in Memphis, the presentation will feature 50 seemingly luminous canvases, including The Picture Book by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a portrait of the painter’s rosy-cheeked son with his nose in an illustrated page-turner; Port of Dieppe, Evening, a shimmering harbor scene by Claude Monet; and Jean-Louis Forain’s Woman in a Café (pictured), which captures a slice of 19th-century Parisian life. While Monet to Matisse will span the pre- to post-Impressionist period (late 1860s to 1910s) in Europe, visitors can mosey down the hall to the museum’s California collection to see how Golden State Impressionists like Granville Redmond and Edgar Alwin Payne were inspired by their contemporaries from across the pond. Masks required; advance tickets recommended. $12. Thurs.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Crocker Art Museum. 216 O St. 916-808-7000. crockerart.org

Impressionist painting of a woman in a café

Painting courtesy of the Dixie Gallery & Gardens

Gloria: A Life

OCT. 8-24 Channeling activist Gloria Steinem’s trademark bite and wit, Peabody and Tony Award-winning playwright Emily Mann has created a lively stage chronicle of the Ms. magazine co-founder’s personal history. Alongside projected archival images and video footage, an all-female cast will portray everything from Steinem’s difficult relationship with her mother to her rousing advocacy speeches promoting women’s equality and abortion rights. The second half of the Sacramento Theatre Company production will feature a “talking circle”—an audience-participation segment that Steinem, a 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, insisted upon before green-lighting the project—during which theatergoers can share experiences and dialogue with cast members. Masks and proof of vaccination or negative Covid test required. $43. Times vary by day. Sacramento Theatre Company. 1419 H St. 916-443-6722. sactheatre.org

Evil Dead the Musical

OCT. 8-31 Five college students vacationing in the woods get more than they bargained for when they stumble upon an ancient tome, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and accidentally release a legion of evil demons. Since the Sutter Street Theatre debuted this kooky rock musical in 2010, “deadheads” from Los Angeles to New York have flocked to the tiny 60-seat Folsom theater to see the performance. Inspired by the 1981 cult film of the same name, chainsaw-wielding protagonist Ash Williams slashes his way through monsters of all shapes and sizes while the cast belts out operatic rock numbers like “Do the Necronomicon.” Everyone can expect to see a lot of (fake) blood, but if you snag a seat in the “splatter zone,” consider a plastic poncho part of the dress code. And if you’re lucky, an internal organ or two might even land in your lap. Masks required. $24-$26. Times vary by day. Sutter Street Theatre. 717 Sutter St. Folsom. 916-353-1001. sutterstreettheatre.com


OCT. 13-NOV. 14 Progressive values collide with economic and ethnic privilege when an admissions officer at a prestigious college prep school and her headmaster husband—both white and proudly working to diversify the student body—find out their son didn’t get into Yale. Described as “an extraordinarily useful and excruciating satire” by The New York Times, this 2018 play by New York City-based writer Joshua Harmon predates (or perhaps foretold) the real-life college-admissions bribery scandal in 2019 that ensnared celebs like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. While the Sacramento rendition at Capital Stage only raised the curtain for one preview show in March 2020 before canceling due to Covid, the nation’s recent reckoning with its history of social, gender and racial inequities makes the themes of this biting, Drama Desk Award-winning comedy that much more poignant. Masks and proof of vaccination required. $25-$49. Times vary by day. Capital Stage. 2215 J St. 916-995-5464. capstage.org

The MacBeth Project’s King Lear

OCT. 15-NOV. 14 Now returning to the stage after a pandemic hiatus, it’s fitting that Carmichael’s Chautauqua Playhouse chose Shakespeare’s King Lear as part of the new season’s lineup. After all, the Bard likely penned this tragedy in isolation during an outbreak of the plague in England, and its tale about a self-righteous monarch whose love of flattery leads to his demise offers more than a few pertinent warnings for modern-day society. With the help of the recently founded MacBeth Project—a Sacramento organization that advocates for greater Black representation in the theater—this contemporary version of the Elizabethan tale includes a post-apocalyptic twist. An all-Black cast meshes Shakespeare’s original language with a set and wardrobe inspired by Afro-futurism circa 2500—a culture clash of epoch proportions. Masks and proof of vaccination required. $20-$25. Fri. & Sat. 8 p.m. Sun. 2 p.m. Chautauqua Playhouse. 5325 Engle Rd. Carmichael. 916-489-7529. cplayhouse.org

Margaret Cho

OCT. 16 By the time Margaret Cho was named one of the 50 Best Stand-Up Comics of All Time by Rolling Stone in 2017, the San Francisco native had been trailblazing for Asian performers for decades. Her ’90s TV show All-American Girl—the first network sitcom to feature an Asian-American cast—paved the way for next-generation comics like Awkwafina and Ali Wong. At the Crest Theatre, Cho’s edgy humor takes on current events in her latest show Fresh off the Bloat, with side-splitting anecdotes about living with her parents during the pandemic and sharp observations about the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. Masks required. $39.50–$144.50. 7:30 p.m. Crest Theatre. 1013 K St. 916-476-3356. crestsacramento.com

Photo of comedian Margaret Cho smiling

Margaret Cho by Sergio Garcia

Delfeayo Marsalis

OCT. 23 While trombonist and composer Delfeayo Marsalis might not be quite as recognizable as some other members of his legendary musical family (he’s the younger brother of Branford and Wynton), the Los Angeles Times assures that he “ranks among the more accomplished jazz instrumentalists today—even if the general public hardly knows it.” The New Orleans native has punctuated performances by bluesman Ray Charles and funk musician George Clinton with his classical jazz stylings, and counts influences as varied as Godfather of Soul James Brown to rapid-fire rapper J. Cole. Backed by his 15-piece Uptown Jazz Orchestra, Marsalis will slide improvisational riffs into standards like “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” and “When the Saints Go Marching In” at this Mondavi Center concert. Masks and proof of vaccination required. Prices start at $25. 7:30 p.m. Mondavi Center. Mrak Hall Dr. and Old Davis Rd. Davis. 530-754-2787. mondaviarts.org

Photo of Delfeayo Marsalis holding a trombone

Delfeayo Marsalis by Zack Smith

Elf the Musical

NOV. 19-DEC. 12 According to Buddy the Elf, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” That’s just what the Woodland Opera House (now celebrating its 125th anniversary) plans to do when it debuts a stage adaptation of Elf, the 2003 holiday film starring Will Ferrell. This tale narrated by Old Saint Nick (diverging from the movie version that was sublimely narrated by Bob Newhart’s Papa Elf) follows Buddy—an orphan who climbed into Santa’s bag of gifts and was subsequently raised by elves—as he sets out from the North Pole to find his curmudgeonly father, an old-timer on the naughty list, and encourage him to turn over a new leaf. In this jolly musical co-written by Tony-winning playwrights Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin, Buddy and his friends will sing and dance their way through yuletide toe-tappers like “Christmastown” and “Sparklejollytwinklejingley.” Masks required. $15-$25 ($7-$12 for children). Fri. & Sat. 7:30 p.m. Sun. 2 p.m. Woodland Opera House. 340 2nd St. Woodland. 530-666-9617. woodlandoperahouse.org

Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera

NOV. 20 Guest conductor Jeffrey Kahane, the former music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, will helm the Sacramento Philharmonic in its debut at the new SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center. The maestro, leading from the piano, will anoint the concert with Beethoven’s “The Consecration of the House” Overture. From there, the group will play Mozart’s classical masterpiece Piano Concerto No. 17, K. 453 before closing the night with Jean Sibelius’ manic composition Symphony No. 2, which the Romantic-era Finnish composer described as “a confession of the soul.” The orchestra’s busy fall season is also set to include backing up tenor Andrea Bocelli at the Golden 1 Center on Oct. 23 and performing the score of The Nutcracker for the Sacramento Ballet in December. Masks and proof of vaccination required. $25-$54. 8 p.m. SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center. 1301 L St. 916-476-5975. sacphilopera.org

The Nutcracker

DEC. 11-23 The Sacramento Ballet will leap back onto the stage for its first production in nearly two years with a beloved holiday classic, The Nutcracker, featuring the Sacramento Philharmonic performing Tchaikovsky’s enduring score. The ballet’s newly minted artistic director Anthony Krutzkamp, formerly of the Kansas City Ballet, has selected three choreographers—troupe member Julia Feldman and two company alumni, Colby Damon and Nicole Haskins—to reimagine this year’s rendition with an emphasis on childhood wonderment. To wit, the 19th-century Russian ballet, a tale of young Clara as she sets out to explore the Land of Sweets, will star hundreds of school-age dancers as partygoers, animated candies and even fighting mice. Masks and proof of vaccination required. $25-$98. Times vary by day. SAFE Credit Union Performing Arts Center. 1301 L St. 916-552-5810. sacballet.org

Photo of two ballet dancers in costume

The Nutcracker by Keith Sutter