Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog

“Enchanted April” in Sacramento — Theater Review
April 19, 2014, 8:41 am
Filed under: Theater (Plays

Our church’s own Theater One company, founded in 1960, launched this play last night on our stage.  “Enchanted April,” by Matthew Barber, was a Tony Award nominee for best play recently and it has won other awards.  Based on a 1922 novel, it also was a movie in the 1990s.

It takes place in London and in Italy in 1922, just a few years after the devastation of the First World War, which left many woman in widowhood.  But it’s still a man’s world, as we learn from the bored, frustrated married woman among the main characters.   Two of them reach out of their isolation to rent a castle together for a ladies-only retreat on the Italian coast.   Themes include marriage and gender roles, duty vs. freedom, religious piety vs. joy in life, and the transformation from self-limitation to daring self-expression, and from mistrust to friendship

I see a lot of theater in town and am glad to have seen this play too!   It’s a very enjoyable romantic comedy.

Tim Anderson’s lighting, set design and construction are amazing and beautiful, the results of many weekends of work for this local Elly Award winner and church member.  Sound effects are effective, and the music is lovely.  Lisa Karkoski and Mike Erwin, lay leaders at UUSS, have brought out the gifts of the script and of their gifted ensemble of actors.  I had not seen or met most of the cast before, as they are from the wider theater community and not members of my church.  All of them  inhabited their characters just right (highlighted by very good costuming)–lovely and moving performances.

Our Theater One regulars David Paul and Ron Galbreath played the leading ladies’ husbands, both going through a personal transformation after their wives have asserted themselves as autonomous beings and rent a house together in Italy for the month of April.

“Enchanted April” runs Friday & Saturday nights at 8:00 PM:  April  25, 26; May 2, 3.

And Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM:  April 27, and May 4.

Buy tickets at church after the 9:30 or 11:15 AM service or at




Local Holiday Music Concerts or Performances by Unitarian Universalists and our Friends in Local Groups

Feel free to add your choral, instrumental, dance, theater or other group’s blurb for holiday events. Include the website address, of course.  You may email it to me for posting, or just post it yourself by putting it in the Comments section.   I will publicize a link to this blog posting so UUSS folks can go to one place to see all that is available.   Break a leg!  –Rev. Roger


Kathryn Canan  is a long-time member of UUSS, a former Board member and Adult Enrichment Chair, and now serves on the Candidating Committee.  She’s also a musician in many venues and a teacher.

Kathryn Canan, recorders and flutes:
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2 p.m., Capitol Rotunda with Renaissance Choir of Sacramento, Free.

Saturday, Dec. 14, 7 p.m., Pioneer Congregational Church, Songs of the Season, benefit.

Sunday, December 15, 1-2 p.m. Capitol Rotunda with Sacramento Recorder Society

Thursday, December 19, 7 p.m., with Renaissance Choir of Sacramento, Christ the King Retreat Center, Citrus Heights.

Wed, Dec. 11 and 18, 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 22, 1:30, caroling at Nevada City Victorian Christmas

Rick and Paul are lay leaders from the North Bay UU Fellowship in Napa.  They come all the way to Sac to rehearse and sing with the Gay Men’s Chorus.  Rick and I have been talking about having them sing at UUSS on a Sunday in 2014.  

The Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus will be presenting its concert, “Cool Yule (A Big Band Theory)” early next month.  Performances will be at the First United Methodist Church of Sacramento, corner of 21st and J Streets in Midtown, these dates and times:
Friday, December 6 — 8 p.m.
Saturday, December 7 — 8 p.m.
Sunday, December 8 — 4 p.m.
Tuesday, December 10 — 8 p.m.
The program features a lot of seasonal tunes arranged with a big band jazz/swing style uptempo feel — you’re sure to love it!  There will be some surprises on the bill as well.
Tickets are $40 for VIP seating, which includes a pre-concert reception; or $25 for general admission seating.

Please visit to purchase tickets.  They are also available at The Gifted Gardener, 18th and J Street.


Meg Burnett is a member of our UUSS Board of Trustees and our Program Council.  She’s our volunteer choir director.  And she is president of her chorus organization.

River City Chorale:  “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

Directed by Dale Morrissey

Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, 7:30 PM–Northminster Presbyterian Church, 3235 Pope Avenue, Sacramento

Saturday, Dec. 7, 7:30 PM–Faith Presbyterian Church, 625 Florin Road, Sacramento

Adults $15 if preordered, at the door for $20.  Youth under 12 are $5.

Discount for orders of 10 or more tickets.  see to order yours!


Rev. Lucy Bunch–our Assistant Minsiter at UUSS– is a member of Sacramento Master Singers.  She often leads our singing on Sunday morning or offers an a capella solo!  

Sacramento Master Singers:  The World of Christmas

Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013, at 3:00 PM; Saturday, Dec. 14, at 8:00 PM; Sunday, Dec. 15, at 3:00 PM; Thursday, Dec. 19, at 7:00 PM.  All the above held at St. Francis Church at 26th and K Streets. Order tickets at

Master Singers Children’s Holiday Concert:  Jingle All the Way!  Saturday, Dec. 14 at 2:00 PM.  Order tickets at

Master Singers:  The World of Christmas at the Harris Center in Folsom–December 22.  Order tickets at

#5 (with 3 listings!)

Tom Derthick, UUSS member and bassist

12/7-8: performances by the Chamber Music Society of Sacramento. As opposed to various styles of holiday music, CMS always does a all-Baroque concert of popular classical concerti and chamber music. This year features Bach’s E major violin concerto with Kineko Okimura, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with William Barbini. I will be in the tutti (backup band). Saturday at Bet Haverim Temple, Davis; Sunday at St. Paul’s Church (right next to the Convention Center, 15th and J); both shows 7:30.

Also opening this weekend: Sacramento Ballet’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. Last year, the ballet used recorded music for all performances to save money. Needless to say much December employment for professional musicians was lost, and many audience members were very disappointed. This year they are trying an experiment: for about half of the shows, live music will be provided by the Sacramento Philharmonic (12/7, 8, 12, 15, 20 and 23) at a slightly higher ticket price…but without the riveting score performed live, you miss half the experience! Be sure you support the live music shows!

Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra December 14th, 8 PM at Memorial Auditorium–the premiere choral ensemble in Sacramento presents its annual Home for the Holidays Concert. Don’t be late and miss the candlelight entry of the chorus! Happy Holidays! Hope to see you at one of these events!

“Jules Verne Eats a Rhinoceros” — Theater One continues Saturday through Monday this weekend

– I was pleased and proud to attend opening night on Saturday of  an interesting play with a strong cast and an effective set.  Thanks to cast and crew for this gift, this fruit of your hard work. “Jules Verne Eats a Rhinoceros” is the story of Nellie Bly, once the world’s most famous woman reporter. The play centers on the New York newspaper wars that pitted Joseph Pulitzer against Randolph Hearst -giving rise to the tabloid news that now dominates media.

Friday and Saturday at 8:00, Sunday at 2:00, and Veterans’ Day Monday at 7:00 PM.  Sign-language interpretation is during the performance on Monday, 7:00 PM!  Last show Sunday, Nov. 18.
Tickets: $12 for students and seniors, $15 for adults.
See more and buy tickets at this link.
See a Youtube video of cast & crew interviews and scenes at this link.

Events Thursday morning, 3 entertainment events: Friday night open mic & headliner musician, Vagina Monologues Saturday

Alliance Program—the Alliance is longest continuously running discussion and fellowship activity in our church (since 1898!).  Meets Thursday, April 12, 10:45 AM in the Fahs Classroom.  Come for coffee. Guest speaker is introduced at 11:00.  Bring your lunch and visit with new and old friends after the discussion.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT!—3 events to remember

1–Open Mic Night–SHINDIG at the HEX.  UU headliner Jim Scott!

Friday, April 13—7:00 PM for an open-mic portion.  Sign up Sunday!

Then, at 8:30 PM, acclaimed acoustical guitarist Jim Scott performs an evening of his songs of peace and the environment.  A composer, guitarist, singer and ecological and peace activist, Jim was a member of the Paul Winter Consort for years.  He wrote many pieces the Consort recorded, including choral works in their celebrated Missa Gaia/Earth Mass.  In his world travels, Jim has performed concerts or led services at more than 300 UU churches.  His latest project is The Earth and Spirit Songbook, an anthology of songs of ecology and peace.  For more about Jim Scott, click his name above.

To sign up as an open-mic act for the first half of the show, please contact Music Director Eric Stetson at

Tickets are $10 general, $5 for performers; children 12 and under are free.

2– The Vagina Monologues—in Sacramento now!

Do you love good theater?

Passionate about ending violence against women and girls?

Have we got an event for you!

The V-Day Sacramento 2012 Community Production of Eve Ensler’s

The Vagina Monologues takes place next week.

This year’s production features a number of CHURCH members in key roles. Janet  Lopes and Julie Heston are cast members. Kristen Vedell is

Production Assistant, and JoLane Blaylock is the Producer. Come show your

fellow UUs your support and enjoy this amazing show.  It will make you

laugh, gasp, cry, and then laugh some more!

(It will make your family minister blush.)

Monday April 9, 6:00 PM—SOLD OUT!  Sneak Peek with Panel Discussion following, at The Guild Theater.

TICKETS AVAILABLE!  Saturday, April 14—Premier Performance, with Silent Auction before, 7:00 PM The Crest Theatre. For ickets and more information, visit  April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and we are proud of our UU women for bringing this production back to the community.


3—Save the date and buy a ticket:  Meg Barnhouse in concert!  Saturday, April 28 at UUSS.  Read more on page one of the April Unigram.

*  *  *

UU Readers Book Discussion–Our book for next month is The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.  It is a novel by a young writer about her memories of a grandfather living in the Balkans.  Tuesday, April 24, 6:30 PM in Classroom 12 (way back there).  Get reading!

“The Best Man” — 1960 Tony-winning play by Gore Vidal, at my church’s community theater

At last Friday’s opening of The Best Man, the UUSS playhouse had the highest opening-night energy level in my recollection.  Gore Vidal’s political drama was presented by my church’s 51-year-old community theater group, Theater One.   Roberta Stewart, here since the early years, is the director.  We have a number of experienced community-theater actors, some fairly new to the stage (or returning after a long interim since high school or college theater), and some members with professional experience on stage and screen. They are a dedicated team!

For me the play is a blast from the past of political history.  I was born in 1961, when it won some Tony Awards but lost the  Best Play prize to The Miracle Worker.  A Sacramento News and Review writer says it’s Gore Vidal’s best play.  It’s about a battle for the presidential nomination of an unnamed political party in 1960, but that was in the era of party-convention drama, smoked-filled room dealings, and last minute changes.   Nowadays, nominees usually have their delegates sewn up well before the convention, which is more of a coronation and PR occasion than a business meeting.  Few platform or campaign positions are determined now at conventions.  I can’t think we are better off, with SuperPACS (thanks to the Citizens United court ruling), bundling of campaign donations, and big-money and TV commercials determining decisions about the last man standing (still it’s a man, alas).

(If you want to read more–and weep–about the undermining of our democracy, check out Thomas Frank’s essay in the April 2012 Harper’s Magazine.  It’s not online yet, but you can get the gist of it from this blurb about his new book, Pity the Billionaire.)

  Now back to the show:

The lighting and sound design were well-planned and effective, and the set was evocative of the hotel suites where so much wheeling and dealing used to take place, while delegates haggled on the convention floor or perhaps hung out in the nearby taverns of an unfamiliar city.  (But no TGIF chain, Chili’s or Hooter’s in 1960.)   The leads in the cast really looked (and dressed) their parts, evoking both the public persona and the vulnerability, venality and some strong convictions that lurked behind the roles: candidates, political wives, king-makers, press corps members, and an ailing, plain-spoken, lame-duck president. As a nighttime worker  here in my minister’s office, I know they worked long and hard, and with creative thoughtfulness, to make it happen.

The drama is engaging, and Vidal’s humor a delight to hear.  On opening night, pauses in some of the dialogue kept the show from having as much dramatic energy as the script contains, but actors stayed in character and covered for one another when necessary, and after that first show I am confident they have picked up the pace.   Perhaps it would serve us well to have a discounted “preview” night for future plays, as happens in professional theater.  That way the audience would expect that there are a few bugs to work out, but we’d have an audience for the energy it gives back to the performers, which helps them in fine tuning for a later show.  Then opening night could be the next night.

This play is an excellent choice for this political year; Broadway agrees, for the revival of the play will open April 1 in NYC.   I might like to see it if I visit friends there in July, but I was happy to have a front-row seat at my church for 1/10th  of the cost of a Broadway show.  (No tickets here are more than $14.) We had a new feature, organized by our PR chairperson:  an opening-night gala reception before curtain, including dry wines poured by our own “Sweet” winemaker.  The snacks lasted through the intermission and I snagged a final slice of cheese after the show.  (The reception was free, because selling wine and beer costs more than it brings in, given the county alcohol-sales permit you have to buy for every event.)

It’s an enjoyable experience for a pastor to watch a great play presented by a cast and crew whom he knows and loves, and Friday night there were plenty of church friends and relatives in the crowd, among others, who also enjoyed the show.

I am grateful to Bobby, cast and crew for introducing me to this play, and providing a live and lively experience of it.

I recommend it!

Weekly Minister’s Message from UUSS–(excerpt)–Thursday, Nov. 16, 2011

[Every week our UUSS Office sends out a weekly message to all members, friends and visitors who have provided their email information to the office.  This is an excerpt of what I sent this week.]

Greetings from Boston! Thursday night I start two days of meetings on the grants panel of the Fund for a Just Society.

But I will spend all day Thursday doing research in the UUA archival collections at the theological library of Harvard Divinity School.

I am staying at the UUA-owned Eliot & Pickett guest house, on historic Beacon Hill, right next to UUA headquarters, which is next to the Massachusetts State House.

Wednesday, the state House and Senate both passed a statewide equal-rights legislation for transgender persons!  Gov. Patrick plans to sign the bill into law.  I spoke by phone with the development director of Mass Equality, key leaders on this issue.  He and his husband belong to First Parish Milton (UU), and were married by the Rev. Parisa Parsa, their pastor.  One is chair of the finance committee, the other sings in the choir.  They are proud Bay State UUs!  Read about the equal rights legislation at this link.

This email includes invitations and reminders about events in and around UUSS.  Please read the November Unigram newsletter and this week’s Blue Sheet Announcements.

The Laramie Project at Theater One atUUSS. Final shows Saturday at 8 PM, Sunday at 2 PM.  It lasts about 2 hours 40 minutes.  A chorus of voices brings to life the thoughts and feelings of the people of Laramie, WY, in the wake of the murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man.—I saw this powerful play last week and posted a review on my blog.

SUNDAY SERVICES @ 9:30 AM and 11:15 AM

Sunday, Nov. 20—“We Gather”—a Thanksgiving Service for all ages, with liturgical drama, our choir, reflections from Doug, plus me.  No RE classes this Sunday, but we will have nursery care for those 5 and younger.  ALL WELCOME!

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Thanksgiving Dinner at UUSS has been a tradition for many years.

It continues Thursday, November 24, 1:30 p.m. – 4;30 p.m.  Join us!

In addition to UUSS members, friends and  families, several of our Family Promise guests will be joining us for traditional and not-so-traditional Thanksgiving fare.  We are asking each adult to bring a food item to serve 6-8 people (i.e. casserole, veggies, salad, dessert) plus a $5 donation.  Main dishes (turkey and vegetarian alternative) and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided.

Kindly RSVP with the number in your party and dish(es) at church the next two Sundays, 11/13 and 11/20 — Look for the yellow tri-fold poster near Connections Central or out on the patio.

Last Chance to See “The Laramie Project” at UUSS: Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 2 PM (also with ASL interpretation!)

Final evening show is Saturday, November 19, 8:00 PM.  Final matinée (with Sign Language Interpretation provided!) is Sunday, November 20, 2:00 PM.

Theater One at Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento, 2425 Sierra Blvd. 95825.

This is a powerful play, and well worth seeing.  A theater company from New York went to Laramie, Wyoming, to interview people from all walks of life and perspectives in the wake of the brutal gay-bashing torture and murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998.  This play recounts both the experiences of the people in Laramie before and after the event but also the experience of the people who went to interview them.

Adults and youth of the congregation and the surrounding community have attended performances and have given it high marks for its power and poignancy.  It is well worth discussion after you see it.

This play has a large cast, with multiple roles for nearly every actor.  The blocking alone is a challenge, not to mention all the characters and lines an actor must assume and remember.  In this community theater production at my church, the set is beautifully built and painted.  The many light and sound cues went without a hitch on the night I saw it.

I was moved and impressed by the work of the cast and crew, most of whom I know as fellow staff or as beloved parishioners.  Some are friends of church members who just love to act and who gave of their time and talents to this company and this production.  Some of the cast are experienced actors; others are amateurs.

They all did a fine job.  And due to the “reporting” or monologue structure of much of the play, the occasional missed line or bit of slowness in timing did not detract from the flow or my attention to it.  In a normal drama or comedy, a few glitches can make it hard to stay engaged.  The basic material, the richness and depth of the real people in the story, and the deep heart of the community give this play its power.  It’s good that it kept me involved, as the play is three hours long, with an intermission.  Next time we have such a long show we should start it at 7:30 at night.

In general, my congratulations and my appreciation to our Theater One family at UUSS.

Final evening show is Saturday, November 19, 8:00 PM.  Final matinee (with Sign Language Interpretation provided!) is Sunday, November 20, 2:00 PM.  For tickets, see