'Arsenic' in Riverbank, 'Samson' on big screen
Drama critic Mortimer Brewster has two spinsterly aunts with a poisonous "hobby" that ends the lives of lonely old men. His brother Teddy thinks he's Theodore Roosevelt, and his other brother, Jonathan, is a murderer whose plastic surgeries to avoid capture have left him resembling Boris Karloff. This is the dysfunctional family at the heart of the 1941 dark comedy "Arsenic and Old Lace," being staged by Riverbank Community Theater on March 28-30 and April 4-6. Directed by Robin Bjerke, the cast includes Brian Natzke (Mortimer), Elda Coleman (Abby Brewster), Phyllis Duncan (Martha Brewster), Shane Elliott (Teddy), Kenny Lindberg (Jonathan) and Dean Medek (Dr. Einstein). The show is in the Oakdale High School theater, 731 W. G St., which offers wonderful acoustics and a comfortable, unobstructed view for the audience, Bjerke said. Showtimes are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $10 adults, $8 seniors and children under 12; call 480-2601, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rcttheater.org. Half of the proceeds from opening night will be donated to the Modesto-based Christian organization LifeWind International, which is buying and delivering 550 wheelchairs to people in the Philippines.
Opera visits the movies
San Francisco Opera's cinema broadcast of Camille Saint-Saëns' "Samson and Delilah" opens March 29 at movie theaters across the country, including Cinema West Angels 5 Theater in Angels Camp and Galaxy Theatres' Riverbank 12. The sweeping biblical epic stars mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina as the seductive Delilah and tenor Clifton Forbis as the Old Testament hero who loses his heart, his hair and nearly his soul. The program was recorded at the War Memorial Opera House in September, is sung in French with English supertitles and runs three hours, including a brief intermission. In Riverbank, the opera will screen March 29 through April 1; in Angels Camp, it plays only March 29-30. For showtimes and ticket information, see www.galaxytheatres.com or www.cinemawest.com.
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Poetry reading, signing
Poet and author Gary Soto will do a reading and book signing on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Fireside Lounge of the Modesto Junior College East Campus student center. Soto is the author of 10 poetry collections for adults, most notably "New and Selected Poems," which was a 1995 finalist for both the Los Angeles Times Award and the National Book Award. He has written 23 books and two plays. In all, his books have sold more than 3million copies. He divides his time between Berkeley and Fresno, where he was born and raised. Soto produced the film "The Pool Party" for the Independent Television Service, which received the 1993 Andrew Carnegie Medal. He also wrote the libretto to the opera "Nerdlandia" for the Los Angeles Opera. Call 575-6149.
'Good Man,' good time
The Modesto Junior College music department will present the musical "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown," on March 28-30 in the recital hall on the east campus, 435 College Ave. The show is based on the "Peanuts" comic strip and features the characters Lucy van Pelt, Sally, Snoopy, Schroeder, Linus and, of course, Charlie Brown. A nine-person chorus supports the main roles. Musical direction is by Jeshua Franklin, with staging and choreography by Justin Súesúe. MJC is presenting the 1999 revival version of the show, which adds several musical numbers and reworks some of the dialogue from the original 1967 production. Showtimes are 7 p.m. March 28-29 and 2 p.m. March 29-30. Tickets will be available at the door 90 minutes before each performance and are $8 general, $6 students and seniors, $4 for children 12 and under. Call 575-6262.