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Thistle Dew Theatre offers drama and dessert

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You might have heard of Sacramento’s dinner theaters: Suspects Dinner Theatre aboard the Delta King, Tommy T’s Comedy and Dinner Theatre and the recently closed Garbeau’s Dinner Theatre.

So after attending dinner theater, why not stop by Sacramento’s only dessert theater?

"As far as I know, we’re the only one in the world," said Thomas Kelly, Thistle Dew Dessert Theatre owner, founder and artistic director.

Kelly, now a retired copy/printshop owner, was a playwright for about 20 years before he opened the theater in 1996. In 1992, he and his wife Eleanor Lediard purchased the 1894 Victorian, 1901 P St., where the theatre is housed.

"It had been a drug house before we got it, totally trashed," Lediard said. "It took us a year to remodel it (into) a very small theater with 39 seats, as far as I know, the smallest theater in Sacramento."

Lediard, a family law attorney, has a law office on the top floor of the house, while the main floor of the Victorian sits slightly above ground. The theater is located on the bottom floor, about three feet below street level.

Shows take place Friday and Saturday nights at 7 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. Exact times and dates can be found here.

About three years ago, needing "new and good material," Kelly started a Monday night playwright group which critiques plays and offers new wordsmiths community assistance. Now, with nearly 80 active members, each meeting averages about 25 playwrights, and five playwrights in the group have had 12 plays published by Massachusetts-based Jac Publishing.

Being able to help Sacramento’s budding playwrights is Kelly and Lediard’s proudest achievement of the theater, the married couple said. The theatre now shows exclusively original works by local playwrights.

Currently playing is The Trials of Clarence Darrow, produced by the playwright group several years ago. Written and performed by Paul Hauck, the play depicts the life of lawyer and American Civil Liberties Union leader, Clarence Darrow.

"It’s very interesting," Lediard said. "I’m kind of biased because I’m a lawyer, but it’s really of interest because the issues it deals with – social equality and civil rights – are all current issues.

Next month, the theater will feature Kelly’s original work Wake up, Jay! It’s Christmas!, winner of four 2006 Elly Awards including Best Overall Production. Given out by the Sacramento Area Regional Theater Alliance, the Elly Award honors outstanding achievements in the local theater community.

"It’s (about) two family pets, a cat and a brand new puppy, left alone Christmas eve," Kelly said. "The puppy just goes berserk, has a lot of fun and kids really enjoy it because the puppy just has a blast."

As for the desserts, Kelly recommends the apple pie and the chocolate cake, the two most popular of five dessert offerings. Desserts come with coffee or tea.

Ticket prices are $25 per person and seats must be reserved by emailing thistledewplaywrights@yahoo.com or calling (916) 444-8209.

Those who wish to join the playwright group should view information here. Those who want to audition for plays should view information here.

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