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Sharing a Love for the Stage : Directing dramas is not a lonely job for Geoff Elliott. He divides the work with his wife, Julia Rodriguez Elliott.

March 11, 1994|JANICE ARKATOV | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Janice Arkatov writes regularly about theater for The Times

GLENDALE — Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez Elliott aren't exactly joined at the hip--but sometimes it seems that way.

"In our particular case, it works out fabulously," says Geoff Elliott. He and his wife are joint artistic directors at A Noise Within, where they have staged a revival of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons" (1946), which opens Saturday.

"We think alike; as directors, we have the same vocabulary. We're able to go home after rehearsal and talk about it, hope we both saw the same things. Usually, directing is a lonely, lonely thing--and the person at the helm is expected to have all the answers. With two people, you don't have that kind of pressure," he says.

The pair--who last year co-directed an acclaimed production of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" at the theater--are equally passionate in their praise for Miller.

"Julia and I consider him one of the premiere American playwrights," says Geoff, who also plays the small role of next-door neighbor Doc Bayless in the production. "This story deals with ageless issues: family, blood being thicker than water, family ties that bind, guilt, lack of guilt, hoping those you love lack guilt, our responsibility to ourselves and to our immediate family--and to the family of man and woman. It's very relevant to our daily lives."

The story centers on the Keller family, post-World War II. "The son has just announced his engagement to the older brother's fiancee; the brother was reported missing in action three years before," explains Julia, who is also company executive director.

"It leads to (a disclosure of) the father's dark secrets, which have to do with the war. In the larger picture, if Joe Keller had not done what he did, his American dream would've crumbled. He's not a villain, he's a survivor--an extreme example. The play deals with the complex justifications we all have for doing horrible acts."

Joining "All My Sons" in the company's spring repertory season will be Moliere's "The School for Wives," March 23 to May 14, and Shakespeare's "All's Well That Ends Well," April 6 to May 15.

The Elliotts--who co-starred in last winter's staging of Garcia-Lorca's "Blood Wedding"--met at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

After graduation, Geoff ventured to San Francisco's prestigious American Conservatory Theatre; a few years later, Julia joined him at ACT, where they spent four years. In 1987, they moved to Los Angeles, and in 1988, their daughter Alison was born. "She's at the theater all the time," Geoff says. "It's great; several of the other actors have kids here too. I can't imagine living any other way."

Julia says the 2-year-old company, largely composed of ACT alumni, originated because "we were doing a lot of repertory, going out of town, and decided we wanted to stay put.

"You go through all that training and never get a chance to use it. We didn't anticipate this kind of growth, but the response has been so encouraging. Most of our audience is from Glendale, Burbank and Pasadena, but we're getting people from all over now. Some of them come and stay for the weekend--and see all three plays."

Where and When What: "All My Sons." Location: A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Hours: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday; 8 p.m. March 17 to 19; 7 p.m. March 20; 8 p.m. March 31, April 2, 13, 16; 2 p.m. April 17; 8 p.m. April 22; 2 p.m. April 23; 8 p.m. April 28; 7 p.m. May 1. Closes May 1. Price: $10 previews, $15 regular admission, $20 opening and closing nights. Call: (818) 546-1924.

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