Makin’ theater weird again

Eclectic, packed calendar of productions looming large

Every night is opening night for White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, a unique experimental theater piece showing June 1-18 at Theatre on the Ridge in Paradise.

With pandemic restrictions a fading memory, local theaters are once again in full production mode for the winter/spring season. Even the Blue Room Theatre! The company made a name for itself by presenting fun, offbeat, often challenging shows for 26 years in its downtown black-box theater, until COVID kept the audiences away, forcing the troupe to vacate.

California Regional Theatre swooped in, remodeled and took over the second-story space, and after several months in the dark, the Blue Room moved into a new home farther down First Street, on the other side of the railroad tracks. The transition has been slow-going, but it appears the company is starting to get its footing with a typically eclectic collection.

Up in Paradise, at Theatre on the Ridge, there’s a similar varied approach to the first half of 2023, culminating with the most experimental show in this preview, the daring White Rabbit, Red Rabbit.

Across the boards, classics are, as always, well represented—from Cinderella at Chico Theater Company to Birdcage Theatre’s production of Into the Woods at the State Theatre in Oroville—and with 19 shows already on the local theatrical calendar, there’s likely something for everyone to enjoy.

[Scroll to bottom for venue information.]

The Legend of Georgia McBride, Theatre on the Ridge (Jan. 12-28): The latest comedy on the Ridge features a drag show, a down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator, a small-town bar and Florida!

Cinderella, Chico Theater Company (Jan. 20-Feb. 12): The classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical based on the glass-slipper fairy tale.

The Laramie Project, Birdcage Theatre (Feb. 2-11): A “verbatim theatre” production that incorporates the words of townspeople in and around Laramie, Wyo., interviewed in the aftermath of the murder of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard.

The Twilight Zone, Blue Room Theatre (opens Feb. 17): An all-aliens installment of the live-action version of the sci-fi TV show.

Puffs, Wismer Theatre (March 1-5): Chico State’s Music and Theatre department presents this Harry Potter parody, subtitled Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic.

Circle Mirror Transformation, Theatre on the Ridge (March 2-12): Local musician Zac Yurkovic directs this story of a disparate group of amateurs who enroll in a community drama class, begin to experiment with acting games and end up revealing themselves through “tiny leaps of faith and creativity.”

Shrek the Musical, Center for the Arts (March 3-9): California Regional Theatre presents the popular Broadway musical retelling of the Dreamworks animated classic.

The Cemetery Club, Chico Theater Company (March 10-April 2): Rom-com about three widows who meet for tea and visit their husbands’ graves once a month. Things change when one of them meets a fella.

The Husband Whisperer, Birdcage Theatre (March 16-26): A comedy about imperfect women trying to create “the perfect man.”

DB Cooper: The Incredibly True Story, Blue Room Theatre (opens March 31): Locals Cohen Moreno and Sam Lucas have adapted the story of the infamous man of mystery who hijacked a plane in 1971 and parachuted out with the loot, never to be seen again.

Native Gardens, Theatre on the Ridge (April 6-23): This social comedy about feuding neighbors and the many walls—real and symbolic—erected throughout this modern world is one of the most produced contemporary theater productions in the country.

25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, First Street Theatre (April 6-27): California Regional Theatre presents the Tony Award-winning musical comedy centered on a sixth-grade spelling bee.

Blue Stories, Blue Room Theatre (April 22): A night of storytellin’ on Earth Day. This year’s theme: “The Camp Fire.”

First Date, Chico Theater Company (April 28-May 21): A blind date turns into a night of shenanigans as restaurant patrons break out in song in this musical comedy.

Wizard of Oz, Laxson Auditorium (May 4-7): This year’s spring musical for Chico State’s Music and Theatre department is the story of Dorothy, Toto and the rest of the Oz gang.

Chicago, First Street Theatre (May 19-June 4): Five, six, seven, eight … California Regional Theatre continues its run of big-ticket Broadway musicals with one of the biggest of them all, the tale of Vaudeville’s Merry Murderesses.

Death Clock Paradox, Blue Room Theatre (opens May 26): Local playwright Wade Gess finally gets a proper opening for his “original play with music, inspired by true events,” which he initially produced in a garage during the pandemic.

White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, Theatre on the Ridge (June 1-18): Every night is opening night for this experimental play about contemporary Iran by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour. There’s no director, no set, no rehearsals. Before the curtain goes up, an actor is handed the script for the first time and reads/performs the one-person interactive show on the spot.

Into the Woods, Oroville State Theatre (June 8-11): Birdcage Theatre brings Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical featuring Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and several other Grimm fairy tales characters to the big stage inside the State Theatre.

Birdcage Theatre
1740 Bird St., Oroville
(530) 282-5603

Blue Room Theatre
1005 W. First St.

California Regional Theatre
First Street Theater (139 W. First St.)
Center for the Arts (1475 East Ave.)
(800) 722-4522

Chico State Department of
Music and Theatre
PAC 144, Chico State
(530) 898-5152

Chico Theater Company
166 Eaton Road
(530) 894-3282

Oroville State Theatre
14898 Myers St., Oroville
(530) 282-5603

Theatre on the Ridge
3735 Neal Road, Paradise
(530) 877-5760

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