Sometimes benefit productions can backfire.
Case in point: the revival at the Pasadena Playhouse of William Saroyan's sentimental, garrulous, plodding, five-act, 24-character, 1939 honky-tonk sermon "The Time of Your Life."
Billed as "an Actors' Equity Assn. sanctioned benefit engagement" for the Pasadena Playhouse College of Theatre Arts, its good intentions are undermined by egalitarian casting of professionals and students. The more experienced stage performers--including Terrence Beasor, Henry Capps, Jill Maina Capps, David Crandell, Cliff Emmich and Morgan Stock (whose Pasadena mainstage debut was 53 years ago)--gracefully merge into an ensemble of Saroyan's misfits and barflies.
But their experience can't compensate for the Playhouse workshop novices who apparently are lost without cameras and microphones. On the vast Pasadena mainstage, the difference between generations of actors is graphically demonstrated. The stage-savvy pros, trained to listen, overwhelm the media-saturated youngsters, conditioned to look. For example, the evening's only memorable exchange is a gum-chewing sight-gag: Two actors, their mouths stuffed with Juicy Fruit, argue incoherently.