B8 thrilled to present ‘White Guy’ in new Concord home

From My Sushi to “my theater,” B8 artistic director JanLee Marshall says finding a home for the theater company is “both exciting and terrifying.”

Roy Bell, Dave Harder and JanLee Marshall work on B8 Theatre’s new space in the El Monte Center in Concord. (Photo by Kathryn Mccarty).

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, B8 is soaring high at its new space – formerly My Sushi restaurant in the El Monte shopping center on Clayton Road in Concord.

Marshall said transforming it into a performance space is “completely worth all the work our volunteers, board members and designers have poured into this effort.”

In keeping with its production of cutting-edge dramas, the group will perform “White Guy on the Bus” through March 1. For updates on the season in their new home, visit b8theatre.org or call 925-890-8877.

Shellie Awards

Ashley Dionne won a Shellie for Clayton Theatre Company’s “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

At the 2019 Shellie Awards, Clayton Theatre Company’s Ashley Dionne won outstanding supporting actress in a musical as Olive in the “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” The play featured Tony award-winning lyrics and music written by William Finn.

“Clayton Theatre Company has taught me to always make the best out of what you have,” noted Dionne, who is studying to get a master’s in professional behavior analysis online through Florida Institute of Technology. “I currently work at an agency that provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services to children with special needs, primarily children on the Autism spectrum.”

She says that the Clayton troupe doesn’t let its small theater space limit the shows they put on. “They use their creativity and support from their community to find a way to make it work. I find that very inspiring.”

The “Spelling Bee” cast got to perform for the last time together at the Shellie’s. “There were so many talented people who performed on that stage that night, and it was such a cool experience to see that many people come together and speak so passionately about their theater experiences in this community,” Dionne said.

Click here for a full list of Shellie winners.

Upcoming productions

Clayton Theatre Company will start its 8th season with “The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940,” directed by La Tonya Watts with Roxanne Pardi assisting. The show runs March 19-April 4. Visit claytontheatrecompany.com or call 925-222-9106.

Lauren Stanovich brings on the drama as she awaits a tornado in “Natural Shocks” by Women of Words and Onstage Repertory Theatre in Martinez.

Lauren Stanovich stars in “Natural Shocks,” a tour-de-force one-woman play written by Lauren Gunderson. Drama ensues as she waits in her basement for an approaching tornado. She relates stories and, ultimately, we learn an unexpected secret. The Women of Words/Onstage Repertory Theatre production plays Feb. 21-March 14 in Martinez. For more info, visit campbelltheater.com.

“Workforce,” a musical by local playwrights Jim Maher and Alan Beliakoff, will have its debut Aug- 7-16 at the Martinez Campbell Theater. Visit campbelltheater.com.

Want more classics? See Townhall Theatre artistic director Susan E. Evans’ version of “The Cherry Orchard,” with a translation by Richard Nelson, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. The play runs Feb. 27-March 21 in Lafayette. Contact 925-283-1557 or c.

Artistic director Michael Butler directs Center REPertory Company’s production of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” adapted by Kate Hamill, March 27-April 26 in Walnut Creek. Call 925-943-SHOW or visit lesherartscenter.org.

“The Diary of Anne Frank” is one of the most famous and haunting stories to emerge from the 20th century, adapted for the stage by Wendy Kesselman, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Poison Apple artistic director Noelle Arms directs the show April 3-19 in Martinez. Visit poisonappleproductions.org.

Katrina Lauren McGraw stars with Wilson Brooks in “Bessie Smith” at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek. (Photo by Kevin Berne).

Transport yourself to 1937 for an electrifying evening with Bessie Smith, who recounts her incredible life, career, loves and losses and the songs that made her the show-stopping “Empress of the Blues.” Katrina Lauren McGraw stars in “The Devil’s Music, the Life and Blues of Bessie Smith,” through Feb. 22 at the Lesher Center. Contact lesherartscenter.org or 925-943-SHOW. Click here for The Pioneer review of “The Devil’s Music.”

Ghostlight Theatre’s 2nd annual play festival runs March 27-29. “A Treasury of 10-Minute Plays 2.0” showcases original, unpublished works by local playwrights as well as published works at the Theatre at Edna Hill in Brentwood. Visit it ghostlightte.org.

Pittsburg Community Theatre presents “A Raisin in the Sun,” starring Phillecia Rayshaun and Jason Anthony. Directed by La Tonya Watts and written by acclaimed playwright Lorraine Hansberry, the play tells the story of a family’s struggle for dignity and a better life. The performance runs Feb. 22-March 1 at the California Theatre. Visit pittsburgcommunitytheatre.org or call 925-439-7529.

Broadway Repertory Theater auditions for “The Sound of Music” will be Feb. 29 at Resurrection Ministries, 1275 Fairview Ave., Brentwood. Bring 32 bars in your key; an accompanist will be provided. To reserve a spot, email directorkinsella@gmail.com with “auditions” in the subject line.

Kathryn G. McCarty is well-known around the Bay Area as an educator, playwright and journalist. Send comments to KGMcCarty@gmail.com.