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Halloween Plays Can Be Silly or Serious

Courtesy of Chautauqua Playhouse
Ariel Elliott as Mary Shelley and Jason Titus as Lord Byron in "Frankenstein" at Chautauqua Playhouse. Courtesy of Chautauqua Playhouse.

Halloween is fast approaching and two community theater companies offer shows for the season — one serious, the other seriously silly.

Chautauqua Playhouse in the La Sierra Community Center in Carmichael has mounted a sumptuous-looking production of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” as adapted by local playwright Jerry R. Montoya. Montoya originated his script for a B Street Theatre Family Series production. Family Series shows cater to kids and their parents, but truth be told, this show plays better for adults.

Montoya made no changes to the script for Chautauqua, but anyone who saw the B Street production will notice that the adults here don’t react as quickly or enthusiastically as kids do. There’s a reserve among the grown-ups that fits the stately setting of the tale.

It’s in Lake Geneva, Switzerland in 1816 when 18-year-old Mary Godwin (Ariel Elliott), her husband-to-be Percy Bysshe Shelley (Jason Kaye), their friend Lord Byron (Jason Titus) and two others: Mary’s sister-in-law Claire Claremont (Shoana Hunt) and Lord Byron’s personal physician Dr. John Polidori (Chris Jensen) decide to tell ghost stories to pass the time inside during some really foul weather.

Shelley and Lord Byron are certain one of them will win the contest for best scary story because, well, Mary and Claire are women. Mary goes first, as if to show the guys, and, boy, does she. She spins a tale about a scientist whose dream of immortality leads him to unthinkable acts. Robbing a grave, he steals a body which he plans to reanimate, thereby “creating” life. The results are not what he intended.

As Mary tells the story, the other participants assume the roles of characters in her tale. Especially effective are Jensen, who changes his physical demeanor to become Victor Frankenstein, and Titus who portrays the Monster.

John Walck directs the play which boasts a somewhat hipper story and a younger cast than many Chautauqua productions. It’s the kind of production that should please the regular attendees but could attract some new folks, too.

The play continues at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 11. Tickets are $17-$22. Chautauqua Playhouse is in the La Sierra Community Center, 5325 Engle Road, Carmichael.

For more information, call (916) 489-7529 or go to www.cplayhose.org.

It’s ‘Rocky’ Time Again

Each year about this time, Green Valley Theatre Company, at 3823 V St., presents its wild, freewheeling version of “The Rocky Horror Show.” The play by Richard O’Brien is a British horror comedy musical that opened in London in 1973. It was adapted into the 1975 film “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and has played somewhere ever since. Green Valley has performed the show around Halloween each year since at least 2013.

“Rocky Horror” tells the It tells the story of Brad and Janet, a timid, innocent, newly engaged couple, who get caught in a storm and seek refuge in the home of a transvestite scientist from Transylvania who lives with a strange “family” of misfits. The scientist — Dr. Frank-N-Furter — insists the couple stay for the party unveiling his new creation, a hunky muscle man named Rocky.

Theater audiences dress up like characters in the play, repeat much of the dialog and dance The Time Warp. It’s all very funny and very kinky, which is why no one under 18 is allowed at the Green Valley shows.

Christopher Cook directs the play which features some fine Sacramento actors and singers.  Kevin Caravalho plays Dr. Frank-N-Furter; Shane Alan Bradley is Brad Majors; Corley Pillsbury is Janet Weiss; and Kevin Borcz is Rocky.

Shows are at 11:59 p.m. (midnight) Friday, 8 and 11:59 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday, and a special midnight show at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Halloween night. Tickets are $18, and some shows are already sold out.

To purchase tickets, go to GreenValleyTheatre.com and click on Get Tickets.

About the author

Jim Carnes

Jim Carnes has masters degrees in English and journalism and is a former National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in popular culture at Stanford University. He has covered Sacramento arts and entertainment for more than 20 years. He currently writes about and reviews theater, dance, music and events in the Sacramento area.

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