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THEATER NOTES : Opening Lines : In its first full season, the Music Theater of Ventura County will perform 'South Pacific,' 'Cabaret' and 'Guys and Dolls.'


SANTA BARBARANS FLY SOUTH FOR THE SUMMER: The Music Theater of Ventura County, an offshoot of the Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera, has announced its first full season. Opening with "South Pacific" on July 3, the group will continue through Aug. 25 with productions of "Cabaret" and "Guys and Dolls," all at Oxnard Civic Auditorium.

Anxious to cement ties with Ventura County--and sensitive to charges of carpetbagging--the group has enlisted the aid of local officials and local corporate sponsors. Oxnard Mayor Nao Takasugi, one of 22 members of the Music Theater of Ventura County's new advisory board, has stated that the local organization's debut production last year, "Evita," employed more than 40 local actors, musicians and technicians and contributed nearly $30,000 in rental fees to the city-owned civic.

Ventura County Supervisor Maggie Erickson Kildee noted in a statement prepared for Tuesday's announcement of the new season that the Santa Barbara parent organization's annual attendance numbers upward of 100,000, with a subscriber base of more than 13,000, adding that "it seems a natural progression" for the group to "share its resources with Ventura County."

Tickets to all productions, starting at $11.50 each, are available, with season subscriptions starting at $27.50. For reservations or further information, call (800) 366-6064.

MUSINGS OF A HARRIED FIRST-NIGHTER: One of the more pointless and galling aspects of Ventura County community theater is the apparent parochialism of the various groups. (We deal more or less regularly with about 18 of them, including a couple of colleges). While cast members, crew and directors may wander from company to company, the heads of those troupes evidently never speak to one another.

One result is that more than one group will perform the same show during a season (witness the Plaza Players' and Conejo Players' admittedly quite different productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" this year). Another is that several different shows will open simultaneously.

For instance, on the weekend of June 21 to 23, first-nighters will be torn among openings of "Grease," "On the Town," and Nick Hall's comedy "Eat Your Heart Out" by the Cabrillo Music Theater, Conejo Players' Conejo Afternoon Theater and Plaza Players, respectively, plus the Moorpark Melodrama's "Phantom of the Melodrama." And that doesn't count shows in progress by the Santa Paula Theater Center, Performing Artists Guild and Conejo Players.

A similar weekend will take place in August, when the Plaza Players, Moorpark Melodrama and Music Theater of Ventura County open "For the Use of the Hall," "Lucky Dollar, Private Eye" and "Guys and Dolls" during the same three-day period. Other weekends, there's little or nothing opening.

PLAZA PLAYERS' PLANS DISCLOSED: Ventura-based Plaza Players have announced their schedule for the year, a big surprise being founder and Artistic Director Michael Maynez's absence at the helm for the remainder of 1991.

The group's production of "Eat Your Heart Out" directed by Gary Lunn, begins June 22, and runs through Aug. 3. Beginning Aug. 17, the group will perform Oliver Hailey's "For the Use of the Hall," directed by Braden McKinley and ending Sept. 28. Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing," directed by George Sandoval runs from Oct. 12 to Nov. 23, and from Dec. 7 to 21, actor Elmo Stokely is putting together a revue called "St. Elmo's Boxing Day."

FA LA LA AND YO HO HO: The Madrigal Revelers, who debuted as intermission entertainment at last year's Ojai Shakespeare Festival production of "The Merchant of Venice," are taking their act on the road--or, more accurately, to sea.

On Saturday at 5 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 4:30 p.m., and July 6 and 7 at the same times, the group will perform an hourlong show of Renaissance songs and loosely adapted scenes from Shakespeare on the 50-year-old, 90-foot schooner, Swift of Ipswitch, a replica of 18th-Century sailing ships that's moored in Ventura Harbor. Tickets are $12.50 on Saturdays and $10 Sundays, with this Sunday's performance free to children under 13 when accompanied by an adult.

For reservations, which are required, or further information, call (805) 658-7727.

AUDITIONS: The Conejo Players will hold auditions for its production of Neil Simon's "Biloxi Blues" at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and at 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. The players are looking for men ages 18 to 22, one man age 30 to 32, and women between 18 and 20 and 28 and 30 years old. This is a period-service comedy, Neil Simon's follow-up to "Brighton Beach Memoirs." Those interested should show up at the Conejo Players' Theater, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks. For further information, call producers Paul and Judy Marquie at (805) 498-1766.

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