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PHOTO BY CHARR CRAIL
Aaron Kitchin and Elyse Sharp co-star in "Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley."
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Last Chance for Several Fine Holiday Shows

As the days race toward Christmas and then the new year, the time to see several fine holiday shows is running out.

It can be said without prejudice that Capital Stage has reason for pride in its holiday program “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.” This romantic comedy by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon is an imagined sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” The charming play picks up two years after Austen’s novel ended.

The Miss  Bennet of the title is Mary (Elyse Sharp), the middle sister of the Bennet girls, and she is growing tired of being an overlooked, self-described “young spinster.”  She wants a little romance and maybe even love, as her sisters seem to have found. During a family Christmas gathering at Pemberley, the home of sister Elizabeth and hubby Mr. Darcy, it appears she may get lucky.

Arthur de Bourgh  (Aaron Kitchin), a friend of Mr. Darcy’s, arrives and, like Mary, he is bookish and socially awkward. He also has some baggage that may prove an impediment to any courtship. Family dynamics, rivalries and jealousy all enter the picture.

Peter Mohrmann directs with all the sense and sensibility required of an Austen aficionado, getting the pacing and required mannerly deportment just so. While Sharpe and Kitchin are super charming in their roles, the entire cast is excellent.

Capital Stage is at 2215 J St. Performances of “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley” are at 2 and 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Dec. 30. Tickets are $33-$42.

For more information, call (916) 995-5464, or go to CapStage.org.

A Dance Tradition

If you haven’t seen  the Sacramento Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker,” or if you have but it’s been awhile, you have three chances to see it this weekend — and all have live musical accompaniment by the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra. Ron Cunningham, the ballet’s co-artistic director (along with his wife, Carinne Binda Cunningham), choreographed the production which is now in its third decade.

Each year, Cunningham casts several hundred children to appear in the prologue and the party scene. Curiously, those cast as Clara and naughty brother Fritz Oftentimes, tend to grow up to become professional dancers. Several such former kids are now in adult roles in the production.

The set is magical (the Christmas tree “grows” and “snow” falls in the Snowflake Forest), the costumes are beautiful and the dancing is brilliant.

Remaining performances are at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday at the Community Center Theater, 1301 L St. Tickets are $40-$99.

For more information, go to SacBallet.org.

Another Classic Story

Sacramento Theatre Company resurrects Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” after a five year absence. Adapted by Sacramento playwright Richard Hellesen, with original music by the late David de Berry, this play is rich in Dickensian atmosphere and delivered in a consistent “classic” theater English. The acting is excellent and the direction is spot on.

Matt K. Miller stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in this holiday drama that is very much a ghost story. Scrooge is a miser who hoards his wealth at the expense of family, employees and everyone else. Three spirits — the ghosts of Christmas Past (Sydney Christoffersen and Bella Bagatelos share the role), Christmas Present (Michael RJ Campbell) and Christmas Yet to Come (the silent but ominous Jerald Bolden) — haunt Scrooge’s sleep as they show him the error of his ways and point toward his possible redemption. Other essential characters who make this tale complete are Jacob Marley’s Ghost (Jim Lane) and the eternal symbol of suffering in silence, Tiny Tim (a role shared by Miller Traum and Matt Miller’s son Max).

“A Christmas Carol” is presented through Christmas Eve at the STC Main Stage, 1419 H St. Show times are 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday,  8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20-$40.

For more information, call (916) 443-6722 or go to SacTheatre.org.

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About the author

Jim Carnes

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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