Julia Morgan was a pioneer. In an era when American women were supposed to tend babies in the parlor, she studied engineering and architecture, and designed the elegant Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, as well as William Randolph Hearst’s San Simeon, and other famous residences. That’s very much a part this play, “Becoming Julia Morgan,” featuring actress Janis Stevens.
Morgan mingled with the high and mighty, but she remained a very private person, who worked hard, lived modestly, and never married. Hers was not a flamboyant life – and that can make presenting her story on stage a challenge. Which is why actress Janis Stevens is so amazing in this production. Stevens etches Julia Morgan’s personality using small gestures, and carefully expressed emotions. And she’s perfectly sincere, not cagey. It’s a brilliant performance, not because it’s grand, but because Stevens believably creates a character who’s gifted, unique, and very much reserved.
“Becoming Julia Morgan” is at California Stage in Sacramento through February 12.