Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat

"When a woman says she wants a new car, she wants a new life."So says Becky Foster in the comedic new play, "Becky's New Car," playing Friday through June 1 at Stage 3 Theatre in Sonora.

Becky is a middle-aged woman with a nice husband, a decent job, and a typical college-student son living in the basement.

What if Becky got the chance to lead a double life of romance and glamour? What if you and the entire audience got to go along for the ride?

First produced in 2008, "Becky's New Car" is the 30th original play by Stephen Dietz, who in 2010 was named one of the most produced playwrights in America.

"This new comedy is both hilarious and thought provoking," said Traci Sprague, who is directing the play for Stage 3.

Broadway Hour agreed, saying " 'Becky's New Car' is that perfect blend of hilarious comedy and substantial weight, a story about choices and consequences that could believably happen to anyone."

"There's more under the hood of 'Becky's New Car' than just the comedy," added the Everett Herald. "The story has depth. It has themes like confronting the unexpected. It has conflict such as a woman being pulled in two directions. It has, like Yogi Berra once suggested, a person coming to a fork in the road and taking it."

Becky Foster is caught in middle age, middle management and in a middling marriage - with no prospects for change on the horizon.

Then one night a socially inept and grief-struck millionaire stumbles into the car dealership where Becky works. She is offered nothing short of a new life - and the audience is offered a chance to ride shotgun.

Shari Schwiegler takes the wheel as Becky, Dennis Bowen is her husband Joe, and Travis Bainbridge plays their son, Chris.

Stephen Daly plays the extraordinarily wealthy widower who, through an innocent misunderstanding, gives Becky the chance to go on her wild ride.

Anthony DeGregorio, Kayla Steele and Catherine Gordon round out the cast, helping to bring plenty of plot twists and turns to this ensemble comedy.

" 'Becky's New Car' takes the bold choice to examine the midlife crisis from a female point of view through its own unique storytelling, a free-wheeling fast-moving comedic spin (out of control) sort, that is fun, poignant and filled with heart," said Sprague, who is also artistic director of the Center Stage Conservatory in Modesto.

"Feelings and yearnings seem to be problematic drawbacks, but prove instead to be a wake-up call. What begins as a gnawing question, 'Is this all there is?' might finally be answered with another question: 'Maybe … and isn't that wonderful?' Sometimes the best adventure of all turns out to be our own messy, beautiful, funny lives.

"For me, what makes 'Becky's New Car' so winning and so beautifully simple is that it is a play about people - knowable characters, 'real' likable humans, flawed and endearing, who can also surprise you - and who most definitely make you laugh," Sprague said. "I'm glad to have spent this time with them."

Performances will be given at 7 p.m. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at 208 S. Green St. in Sonora.

Tickets are $22 general admission, $15 for students.

For reservations or more information, call 536-1778 or visit