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Stage Watch

The Ritters Give New Life to 'Time Flies'; Circle of Success for Le Cirque Du Soleil

November 19, 1987|SYLVIE DRAKE | Times Theater Writer

"Time Flies When You're Alive," Paul Linke's astonishing one-man tribute to his late wife Chex's struggle with cancer, is moving from the Powerhouse to the Tiffany Theatre, opening there Dec. 2 for an indefinite run of Wednesday-night performances.

His old college chum, John Ritter, and Ritter's wife Nancy, are financing the move and will be listed as producers of this rigorous and painstaking personal chronicle of bewilderment, bonding and--remarkably--potent reaffirmation of life. Clearly, Linke has tapped into an explosive wavelength.

"It's the bravest thing we've seen anyone do," Ritter said Tuesday. "Chex was one of Nancy's best friends. We have three children the same age as (the Linkes') three children. They go to the same schools. Chex and Nancy were pregnant at the same time. I went to USC with Paul. He was my friend from 1968 on. He and (director) Mark Travis will do what there is to do. Nancy and I will support the piece in any other way we can.

"I really started to know Chex just before their marriage. We were a nucleus of six couples. She was so bright and so wise, never made glib decisions. She took her own road and total responsibility for herself.

"I'm amazed at Paul. When he first talked of doing this, I (feared) for him. I couldn't imagine what it would be. Not everyone can take the intensity of the piece, but for those who can, it appears to be an extraordinary event."

CIRQUE-CESS: Le Cirque du Soleil's Jean Heon is totally composed, but the voice cracks slightly when he talks, betraying his elation at Le Cirque's unprecedented success in the Southland.

After launching the Los Angeles Festival with unparalleled dazzle, then wowing San Diegans for three weeks and returning to pitch their multicolored tent at Santa Monica Pier, Le Cirque's local acclaim continues unabated.

Not only did these young Quebecois (average age 27) extend their stay at Santa Monica by a week (they leave Sunday), but as of Monday there were only 1,000 seats to sell--out of 17,000 for the 10 added performances. By Wednesday most of those were gone.

"Los Angeles saw the show as a world debut," Heon said. "We had never been out of Canada. There was a great deal of risk for us. We were really fortunate in the context of that festival. We were so nervous at first, but I guess the show talks by itself. I will say that (our artists) are preoccupied with the quality of what they put in the ring. It's smartly done."

So when they finally fold the tent, pack up the ropes and the trampolines, they'll put everything on a slow boat to Australia (their next stop in early January) and fly home to Quebec for the holidays.

"We do the Sidney Festival until the end of February," Heon said, "then we tour other cities in Australia until May. We come back to western Canada for the summer and do the American (U.S.) East Coast next fall."

Will they be back in Southern California any time soon?

"Oh, I think we will. I don't know when." But never fear. They've fallen in love with the beach at Malibu. It's one way to be sure.

To reserve what seats are left, call (213) 458-6566.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Nothing feels better than celebrating a birthday one never expected to see, so no wonder everyone wants to make a fuss over the Pasadena Playhouse's 70th.

To mark the occasion, the playhouse will receive a Joint Resolution from the state Senate and Assembly and a letter of commendation from Gov. Deukmejian.

More to the purpose, producing directors Susan Dietz and Stephen Rothman will host a post-performance celebration with the audience and the cast of "Mail" in the playhouse courtyard. Cupcakes and candles have been ordered . . . .

PIECES AND BITS: The Heliotrope Theatre, home of Sills & Co. and, more recently, the Spolin Games Players, will be closing its doors permanently Sunday night.

"Paul (Sills) will be remaining in New York," explained actor/comedian Hamilton Camp, a longtime associate who's recently been holding down the fort. "Viola (Spolin, Sills' mother and creator of the Theater Games) is working on a book. I took it up as an emergency."

The building has also been sold and Camp, who's off to Rome to shoot a movie, is talking to the new landlord. "We may retain the space," he said, "but use it differently. . . . "

Finally, Dorothy Lyman, artistic director of A Director's Theatre at the Lex, will receive this year's Women in Theater's Outstanding Achievement in Theater award, to be presented at WIT's Dec. 7 membership meeting at the Odyssey. Last year's winner was Lily Tomlin.

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