The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Folsom's Gold
Organization Sutter Street Theatre
Date(s) of show May 31 - June 8, 2014
Reviewer Gerry Camp

As Folsom Street Theatre’s latest show “Folsom Gold” opens, eight-year-old Zoe Comstock and five-year-old Annie Mauro are asked by Christopher Celestin if they’d like to hear about the history of Folsom. Zoe replies “Boring!” but the show totally proves her wrong.

Written and directed by Sutter Street resident genius Connie Mockenhaupt, “Folsom’s Gold” immediately fills its tiny stage with 17 performers who tell the story of the role Folsom and the surrounding territory played in the California Gold Rush. The narration contains a lot of fascinating information (no, there won’t be a pop quiz after the show), but it is handed off from one performer to another who approach the facts with such enjoyment and enthusiasm that you are sure to see why history class in high school was never this much fun.

But the real fun of the show is the exuberant singing and dancing to the songs of the era. It seemed to me that the entire cast was on stage for the entire 90 minutes, segueing flawlessly between ensemble songs, brief solos, and enthusiastic dancing. And of course the history lesson.

There isn’t a weak actor in the show. Three hugely talented families make up a large percentage of the cast. Frequent Sutter Street regular Mary Comstock appears with her two wonderful daughters Mia and Zoe. The four Matta siblings Benjamin, Jonathan, Josh, and Rebecca have been seen frequently on this stage and always exhibit talent and stage presence that make them seem pros. Not seen enough is the beautiful natural actress Kelly Mauro and her two daughters Grace and Annie. And let me predict that the one performer you will be talking about after the show is the adorable Annie making her stage debut at age five. Her Irish jig and intro to “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra,” which she sings to her rag doll, were, for me, the highlights of this delightful show. I can’t wait to see her as she grows up to join her very talented older sister and her mom.

A few other performers also stood out for me. Dylan Thuss-Shelly has fully matured as an all-around song and dance man. David Valpreda, whom I have not seen before, has an outstanding voice. And Chris Celestine does an excellent job, as he has often done at Sutter Street in review-type shows, of holding things together with his humorous delivery, vigorous dancing, and terrific singing.

As is usually the case in shows here where music dominates, the keyboard work of John Wilder is nothing less than brilliant. A word to the wise—come early to see the pre-show performance of John on the banjo. Worth the price of a ticket!

The show, which has become a Sutter Street tradition, plays for only two weekends, so you must see it Friday, Saturday, or Sunday of this week. Though not officially a part of their Family Series, this is a show that will certainly entertain the whole family. The show concludes that the real gold in Folsom was the people who built the town. The real gold in “Folsom’s Gold” is also the people: Connie Mockenhaupt, John Wilder, and the talented cast.

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