Area playwright’s new show premieres at Woodland Opera House

By From page A9 | March 05, 2014

The Woodland Opera House will present the world premiere of “Second-Best Bed: A New Comedy about a Very Old Mystery” by Sacramento playwright Matthew Abergel.
The contemporary farce and romantic comedy will debut at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, and play throughout the month at the historic theater in downtown Woodland. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Abergel’s new play is evidence the growing bounty of theatrical works getting their start in Sacramento.

“This production is 100 percent locally grown, from the script to the stage, and it’s all local talent,” says director Bob Cooner.

“The play was nurtured by my local writing groups — offshoots of the former Sutterwriters,” Abergel explains. “Then it was workshopped at the Playwrights Collaborative at the California Stage in midtown. It was a community effort all the way.”

The Playwrights Collaborative of Sacramento has helped give rise to several works that have achieved success.

“It’s a collaborative process of peer review,” said Leo McElroy, a local playwright active in the group. His play “Echoes in the Heart,” coauthored with Susanne Sommer, won the Elly Award for Best New Work of 2012-13.

Abergel was inspired to write his script when he performed in a Woodland Opera House production of “Noises Off!,” which some consider the best British farce ever written.

“I definitely had that and some of my favorite ‘Frasier’ episodes in mind,” Abergel said. “I love comedy about smart people doing dumb things and getting themselves into all kinds of trouble.”

In traditional bedroom farce, the characters typically connive to get one another into bed, but “Second-Best Bed” turns the genre on its head. The nerdy protagonist, Judy Cobb, is more concerned with finding a particular bed — the “second-best bed” that will lead her to a priceless lost Shakespeare play. If she doesn’t find it, Judy’s budding academic career is dead, and her star-struck pal Jerry may never get his name in lights.

But when they go searching at the Cock and Bull Inn, they find more than they bargained for, starting with the sinister innkeeper. And when they face competition from the inn’s other crazy guests, Judy and Jerry’s friendship is put to the test as they tear through the old house, slamming doors left and right, trying to solve one of the world’s greatest theatrical mysteries.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to produce a new work by a local playwright,” says WOH’s new executive director, Angela Baltezore. “It was clear after the first reading that our audiences would delight in this fun and clever comedy.”

Tickets are available at the box office, 340 Second St., which is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Tickets also may be purchased by calling 530-666-9617 or visiting www.woodlandoperahouse.org.

Enterprise staff

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