Sonoma County live theater rolls out its best for March

"Noises Off," a farce written by Michael Frayne and directed by Craig A. Miller, involves a play-within-a-play and a traveling theater group rehearsing a flop called "Nothing On." (6th STREET PLAYHOUSE)


High-tech entertainment is available everywhere, all the time — on your home screen, in movie theaters and even on your phone. But there’s still nothing quite like watching live actors onstage and knowing that what you see is happening in real time, right before your eyes.

March is shaping up to be a busy month for live theater Sonoma County, with varied fare that ranges from farce and contemporary drama to classics.

Two stage productions, both in Santa Rosa, open tonight: “Noises Off,” often cited by critics as the funniest farce ever written, and “Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter,” a drama about recovering from the wounds of war.

Part of the fun of “Noises Off,” to be presented the main stage of the 6th Street Playhouse, is that a play about a play, being staged by a particularly inept theater company.

“It’s a farce about all the pitfalls and pratfalls of theater,” said Artistic Director Craig Miller, who is also directing this production. “It shines a spotlight on everything that can and does go wrong.”

“Noises Off” opens with the final dress rehearsal of the play within the play, “Nothing On,” a show partly bankrolled by its leading lady, a middle-aged TV star, and the moves backstage for a matinee performance month later, as the audience gets to see all the backstage backbiting and other action.

At the other end of the theatrical spectrum, “Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter,” opening tonight at Santa Rosa Junior College, tells the story of woman Marine who has lost a leg in the Iraq War and the issues she faces upon returning home, said the show’s director Wendy Wisely, who teaches theater at both Santa Rosa Junior College and at Las Positas College in Livermore. The play also deals with the challenges facing the other people in a veteran’s life.

“How do you welcome people home from a war?” the director asked. “Do you put together a big party, or do give them some space?”

“Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter” made its debut a decade ago, but Wisely considers the play even more timely now.

“We’re getting more and more veterans on campus,” she said. “I have an actress in the show who’s a veteran. My lighting designer is a veteran.”

Here is a quick look at local theater productions coming up during March:

Friday, March 9, through March 31 — “Noises Off!” The 1982 comic farce by English playwright Michael Frayn, about the backstage antics of a hapless theater company. 7:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 2 p.m. every Sunday, plus extra performances at 7:30 p.m. March 15 and 2 p.m. March 17, 24 and 31. 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. Sixth St., Santa Rosa. $20-$30. 707-523-4185,

Friday, March 9, through March 18 — “Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter,” Julie Marie Myatt’s 2008 drama about a mother, who is also a combat soldier and amputee, healing from the trauma of war in Iraq. Recommended for ages 14 and older. 8 p.m. Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, and March 14-17, with matinees at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and March 17-18. Newman Auditorium in Emeritus Hall, Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa campus. $12-$18.

Wednesday, March 14, through March 31 — “Twelfth Night,” William Shakespeare’s classic madcap comedy, directed by Paul Draper. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through March 16 and March 28-31. Person Theatre, Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. $10-$17, with the March 29 show free to SSU faculty, staff and students, plus $5 tickets for seniors and visiting students. 707-664-4246,

March 15-April 1 — “Blackbird,” a powerful drama by David Harrower about a man and woman who haven’t spoken since their affair ended a dozen years earlier, and clash upon meeting again. Directed by David Lear. 8 p.m. March 15-17, 22-24 and 29-31; 5 p.m. March 18 and 25 and April 1. $15-$30. 707-823-0177,

March 30-April 15 — “Amadeus,” Peter Shaffer’s historical drama about young musical genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a newcomer to the court of the Austrian Emperor Josef, and his complex and disastrous relationship with Antonio Salieri, the established composer on the scene at the time. Directed by Jennifer King. 8 p.m. March 30-31, April 6-7 and 13-14; 2 p.m. April 7-8 and 15. $15-$35. Cinnabar Theater, 3333 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 707-763-8920,

March 30-April 12 — “Death of a Salesman,” by Arthur Miller, starring Charles Siebert as Willy Loman. 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays. 6th Street Playhouse Studio Theatre, 52 W. Sixth St., Santa Rosa. $18-$28. 707-523-4185,

March 30-April 15 — “Lost in Yonkers,” Neil Simon’s comedy about the challenges facing an unusual family. 8 p.m. March 30-31, April 5-7 and 13-14, with 2 p.m. matinees at April 1, 8 and 15. Raven Theater, 115 North St., Healdsburg. $25 for adults; $20 for age 65 and older; $10 for students with ID; $15 value night for adults and seniors April 5. 707-433-6335,

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or Read his Arts blog at