Time to try out your spelling skill and have some fun as Center Repertory presents "The 25th Annual Putnam Count Spelling Bee" from May 16 through June 21 at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts. Jeff Collister directs with musical direction by Brandon Adams and choreography by Jennifer Perry. A cast of nine talented actors tell the story of six adolescent over-achievers as they vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime.

For tickets, call 925-943-SHOW or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.

  • n n

    Unfortunately, Onstage Theatre must postpone its opening of "Shipwrecked! An Entertainment, The Amazing Adventures of Louis De Rougemont (As Told by Himself)." Evidently, lead actor Tim Biglow is recovering from surgery and not quite ready to tell his amazing adventures.

    Stay tuned for a new opening date, or call 925-518-3277.

  • n n

    Favorite local actors, including Rhonda Taylor and Jerry Motta, will appear in scenes designed to delight, surprise and tickle your funny bone when "Relationships: Significant and Other" comes to the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, 55 Eckley Lane, in Walnut Creek.

    Produced by the Uniplayers, "Relationships" takes place May 23 at 7:30 p.m. and May 25-26 at 3 p.m. in the Unitarian church's Bortin Hall. Formed in the 1970s as a fundraising review for the church, the Uniplayers have moved from musical numbers and skits to dinner theater and more.

    Last year, the group produced "Shirley Valentine" as a tribute to founder Tom Wills.

    Tickets are $10 seniors and $15 general and will be available at the door. For more information, call 925-934-3135.

  • n n

    Whether you're a die-hard country music fan or don't really care for the genre, you'll be charmed and highly entertained by "Always ... Patsy Cline" playing at the Altarena Playhouse in Alameda through June 15.

    The woman sitting next to me on opening night admitted that she was not a country music fan but that she enjoyed the show immensely.

    That was certainly evident when she jumped up and joined the performers and other audience members in an enthusiastic dance. Her date joined her on the dance floor as well, but I think he was looking more for a tape machine since he couldn't believe that Margaret Belton could match Cline's vocal style so precisely and was convinced she must be lip-syncing.

    But Belton, who has her own Patsy Cline Tribute Band, had no need for lip-syncing, as the multitalented performer caressed the audience with her warm vocal tones and charming demeanor. Belton must have been channeling the real Patsy Cline, as not only her singing voice but also her movements and shy sad smiles brought the rising country star to life again.

    For those of you not familiar with Cline, she was a rising star in the late '50s and early '60s when a plane crash took her life.

    She was only 30 years old and had only recorded around 100 songs.

    A favorite with the Grand Old Opry, Cline brought a lot of emotion to her music while also connecting with the audience like an old friend.

    Written by Ted Swindley, "Always ... Patsy Cline" focuses on Cline's unlikely relationship with a Houston housewife, a dedicated fan who becomes a close personal friend.

    Richard Robert Bunker directs the Altarena production that stars Belton as Cline and a dynamo of enthusiasm known as Julia Etzel as her friend Louise.

    With her big voice and even bigger smile and infectious energy, Etzel makes the audience part of the action and contrasts beautifully with Belton's more reserved character.

    Belton and Etzel are joined on stage by The Bodacious Bobcats, a finely tuned five-piece band under the direction of music director Tania Johnson.

    Special kudos to costumer Janice Stephenson, who found a plethora of period-perfect outfits for Belton and Etzel and to Lexie Lazear, whose wig design and makeup transformed Belton into the legendary singer.

    For tickets (which are going fast!), call 510-523-1553 or go to www.altarena.org.

    Contact Sally Hogarty at sallyhogarty@gmail.com