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FOR THE KIDS : Young TV Actor Dons a New Coat for Play : For Jason Narvy, it's a big shift from children's television to the lead role in 'The Overcoat,' a classic Russian tale.

January 27, 1994|JANE HULSE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

If your kids are hooked on the afternoon television show "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," they sometimes see Newbury Park teen Jason Narvy who plays "Skull" in the offbeat show about kids battling intergalactic monsters.

But this weekend Jason's acting takes a 180-degree turn. He stars in the Conejo Players production of "The Overcoat," an adaptation of a Russian story from the 1840s by Nikolai Gogol.

Despite its serious overtones, the play is billed as a family offering by the Conejo Players' Afternoon Theater group. It opens Sunday, with shows also scheduled for Feb. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20. All performances are at 2:30 p.m. at the Conejo Players theater, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks. All tickets are $5.

In "The Overcoat," Jason plays a pathetically poor Russian clerk named Akaky who spends his days making copies of government documents. It's a dreary job, but the hard-working Akaky takes pride in his penmanship and gives it his all.

It's a bitterly cold winter and Akaky's tattered coat is threadbare, but he's too poor to buy a new one. How he gets a new coat, and what happens to it and him form the basis of the play.

"This is far from anything I've ever done," the 19-year-old Narvy said during a rehearsal break. "Akaky is a little, broken man."

As "Skull" in the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," Narvy plays kind of a school bully. Along with a sidekick, the pair provide some comic relief for the show, he said.

The show airs weekdays on the Fox network at 3 p.m. and features five teens who periodically transform themselves into Power Rangers to save the world from Rita Repulsa and her intergalactic evil forces.

Narvy is not one of the Power Rangers. As Skull, he pokes fun at their outlandish missions and their robotic dinosaurs. Narvy started out with an occasional spot on the show a year ago and is now something of a regular.

He has lived in Ventura County since he was 7 years old and graduated from Newbury Park High School in 1992. It was there, as a freshman, that his acting career took root. He signed up for drama as sort of a fluke.

"I thought, why not try it--and I stuck with it," he said. While in high school he wrote, directed and appeared in a production he calls "Shoot Out at the Dead Cow Saloon."

That gave him the writing bug, and his goal, beyond acting, is to do more writing. For now, however, he is happy to have landed the role in "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," his first television part.

The part of Akaky in "The Overcoat" isn't easy. It calls for the lanky teen to do pantomime at times. Although the plot has dark overtones, it is something of a comedy and a fantasy with dream sequences.

The play is loaded with music--25 selections taken from the music of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, according to Georgeanne Lees, director of the production.

*

New Mexico puppeteer Loren Kahn will be in Ventura Friday with her entourage of characters including Natalia, the Jewish grandmother who tells tales, riddles, proverbs and dreams.

Kahn's show, called "You Can Lead a Horse to Water, If You've Got a Horse," takes to the Ventura College Theater stage at 7 p.m.

Kahn has worked in puppet theater since 1973 when she dropped anthropology studies and became a street performer, traveling through the western United States. Since then she has performed with several puppet companies and directed her own puppet theater in Albuquerque, N.M.

Her show is a collection of vignettes and short plays. One of her stories is "How Cat and Bear Went into Business," based on a Czechoslovak folk tale.

Advance tickets are $6 for children, $8 for adults ($1 more at the door). Tickets are available at Kideos in Ventura and Serendipity Toys in Ojai. To charge by phone, call 650-5900. For more information, call 646-6997.

Details

* WHAT: "The Overcoat," a play adapted from a Russian story and presented by the Conejo Players' Afternoon Theater.

* WHEN: Sunday and Feb. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20, at 2:30 p.m.

* WHERE: Conejo Players theater, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks.

* COST: All tickets are $5. There are no reserved seats.

* FYI: 495-3715.

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