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Local Review: Theatre in the Heights’ latest comedy deserves applause

Cast members of “All’s Well that Ends Well,” at Theatre in the Heights. // Image credit, Theatre in the Heights

By Thomas J. Sullivan–
Theatre in the Heights’ newest production of William Shakespeare’s “All’s Well that Ends Well,” a glorious and under-appreciated dark comedy, runs through Aug. 11 at the theatre’s small location on Auburn Boulevard in Citrus Heights.

“All’s Well” stays true to the Bard and truly delivers the goods. A bittersweet tale of love, war, and relationship, the play questions why we love who we love and who is deserving of love, romantic and familial.  It’s still-fresh whip-smart humor, and abundance of psychologically rich moments make it feel impossibly modern and fresh.

The central action of “All’s Well” concerns Helena, a beautiful woman, and her pursuit of a man of higher social position than herself in the French court of Rousillon. Set in France and Italy, the play is a story of one-sided romance, based on a tale from Boccaccio’s The Decameron.

The play opens in Rousillon in the south of France and the action quickly moves around among Rousillon, Paris and Florence in Italy.

Helena pursues Bertram, a young man of the nobility, who is in mourning for his late father, the Count. When Helen cures an ailing king, he rewards her with the mate of her choosing. She only has eyes for Bertram, but the young man does not return her love.

What will become of clever Helen as she navigates this complex comedy of courtships, class, mistaken identities, pain, loss, war and love?

The two-and-a-half-hour play with intermission contains sophisticated and mature themes. The ensemble cast handles its intricate language with ease.

Ronnie Duska Fowler as Helena and Dawn DeBenedetto Maurer as the Countess are superb.

Texan Kenneth Cates, making his debut with Theatre in the Heights and his first stage appearance in 13 years as the King of France, handles his regal role with great aplomb.

Torie Stoicich, witty, warm and bright, she plays the comic foil. Leading characters Bertram (Lyova Margaryan), Lafeu (Brian Boyle), and Parolles (Cary Babka) handle long stretches of dialogue with wit, physical humor and believable charm.

“All’s Well That Ends Well” is directed by Blake Flores, who ably handles set, sound and lighting design. Costumes are by Joanna Johnson. Choreographer is Veronica Jarboe.

Theatre in the Heights is located at 8215 Auburn Blvd., Ste. G, in Citrus Heights. All tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at, which also lists weekend performance times.

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