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Theater News: A round-up of updates about local theater performers and productions

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For a city known better for Agriculture than, you know, Culture, Petaluma is the home of a surprising number of theater artists, actors, directors, and theatrical groups, from high school drama programs and small touring troupes who make Petaluma their home, to stalwart non-profit theater companies like Petaluma Shakespeare and Cinnabar Theater. Not surprisingly, all of this theatrical energy generates a fair amount of news from time to time. Here are some of the exciting things happening to, for, and because of Petaluma theater-makers.

Petaluma’s Eileen Morris gets Principal Actress nomination, and Cinnabar gets eight nominations for 2017 Critics Circle awards

Cinnabar strikes again. The Bay Area Theater Critics Circle has announced its nominees for the 2017 theatrical awards, with winners to be announced at a ceremony in San Francisco on Monday, March 26. Cinnabar Theater has received a total of eight nominations, including nods in the category of Overall Production in the Bay Area for last March’s “The Odd Couple” and September’s “Man of La Mancha.” Those shows were also nominated for Best Overall Production in the North Bay. “Man of La Mancha” also received nominations for Music Direction (Mary Chun), Principal Actress (Daniella Innocenti-Beem, who played Aldonza/Dulcinea) and Principal Actor (Daniel Cilli, who played Cervantes/Don Quixote). “The Odd Couple” also picked up a nomination for Set Design, for Joseph Elwick. Additionally, photographer Eric Chazankin, whose photos of Cinnabar shows have frequently run in the Argus-Courier and other North Bay publications, will be awarded the Circle’s annual Gene Price Professionalism Award. And Petaluma’s Eileen Morris picked up a nomination for her role as Marmee in Spreckels Theater Company’s December production of “Little Women: The Musical.” All around, a good showing for Petaluma. The ceremony will take place at the Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St., San Francisco, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.). Tickets are $25. For a full list of nominees visit SFBATCC.org.

SRJC’s powerful “Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter’ to feature two Petalumans

On March 9, Julie Mari Myatt’s acclaimed drama “Welcome Back, Jenny Sutter” will open a two weekend run at the Santa Rosa Junior College’s Newman Auditorium in Santa Rosa. The play, which had its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland in 2010. The SRJC production, directed by Wendy Wisely, will feature Petaluma’s Jenna Rechtseiner in the title role of a military veteran returning to the states after a devastating battle-field injury. Also featured is Petaluma’s Jeffrey Nixon, in the role of Buddy, an ad hoc preacher who comforts the colorful residents of Slab City, a vast squatter encampment near San Diego, established on an abandoned military Base.

The play has ten performances from March 9 – 18. For a full schedule visit www. theatrearts.santarosa.edu.

Casa Grande High to open William Shakespeare’s gender-bending comedy ‘Twelfth Night’

Set in the town of ancient Illyria, Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ is arguably one of the greatest comedies ever written about mistaken identity, and Casa Grande High’s Drama Club takes a stab (complete with wacky sword fights) beginning this weekend. The story of twins separated by a shipwreck, and the grieving sister who disguises herself in her (presumably) drowned brother’s style of clothing, is one of the funniest, craziest plays the Bard ever produced.

It runs March 2, 3, 9, 10, 11 at Casa Grande High School. All shows at 7 p.m., except for the matinee on March 11, at 1 p.m. $8 adults, $5 students, faculty, seniors, and kids. 333 Casa Grande Road.

Spreckels Theater Company’s ‘By the Water’ and ‘Peter Pan’ score Petaluma performers

An intimate drama about victims of Hurricane Sandy, deciding whether or not to rebuild the family home will have special resonance for residents of Sonoma County, given the very similar situation currently Being faced by so many burned-out home-owners. Though Spreckels Theater Company, in Rohnert Park, announced the show months before the October wildfires, the choice of Sharyn Rothstein’s “By the Water” — opening March 16 in the company’s small black-box Condiotti Theater — now seems remarkably prescient. The acclaimed play, getting its North Bay premiere at Spreckels, features performances by Petaluma’s Madeleine Ashe and Katie Kelley. The play is being directed by Petaluma resident Carl Jordan. Other Petalumans to appear soon at Spreckels include Lucy London, Maya Babow and Anderson Templeton, all of whom will be appearing in the company’s lavish May production of “Peter Pan.” London will be flying high as Peter Pan, while Babow will be playing one of the magical Neverland Natives and Templeton will embody the ominous ticking Crocodile and the lovable nursemaid dog Nana. The production will be directed by Sheri Lee Miller, a frequent director at Cinnabar Theater. For full information on these shows, visit SpreckelsOnline.com.

Cinnabar’s Young Rep takes on Greek Myths for comic effect

Call it the Mash of the Titans! With the upcoming “Olympiaganza!” the elastic and inventive actors of Cinnabar’s Young Rep program are doing for Greek Myths what the Reduced Shakespeare Company does with Shakespeare plays and stuff like that. A wacky combination of the greatest characters ever invented, all smooshed together into one evening. The show runs March 9 through March 11, at Cinnabar Theater, 3333 N. Petaluma Blvd. $15 adults, $10 youths. CinnabarTheater.org.

Cinnabar’s second annual Broadway Bash planned for April 14

Speaking of Cinnabar’s Young Rep.

Last year’s fundraiser for the popular local program, dubbed the Broadway Bash, was so much fun they’ve decided to do it again, with all new songs and new acts. The elegant “grown up” evening will feature an enormous cast made up of Young Rep teachers and some of the young performers, bringing to life their favorite Broadway tunes, from classics to really, really new stuff.

The music will be interspersed with stories and a live Broadway-themed auction, with beer, wine, and champagne along with special snacks.

The big show takes place Saturday, April 14, at the Carole L. Ellis Auditorium at the SRJC Petaluma campus, 680 Sonoma Mountain Parkway.

(Send comments to David at david-templeton@arguc-courier.com)