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THEATER | THEATER NOTES

Short-Run Shows

Three local musicals, including 'Roar of the Greasepaint,' will end their performances this weekend.

March 13, 1997|TODD EVERETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Six plays opened around Ventura County last weekend, with three of them closing this weekend. The short-run plays are musicals--two classics and one seldom-performed relic of the experimental '60s.

The last is "The Roar of the Greasepaint--the Smell of the Crowd," Anthony Newley's and Leslie Bricusse's follow-up to their successful "Stop the World--I Want to Get Off."

Concluding this weekend at Moorpark College, "Greasepaint" holds up far better than its predecessor. With a nod to "Waiting for Godot," the story features two symbolic men: Sir stands for the upper classes, while Cocky is his social opposite, and thus, always the loser. Until, that is, someone comes along for Cocky to lord it over.

James Garrison plays Sir here, with Christopher Perez as Cocky and brief appearances by fellows known as The Blackman (Christian Ricks) and The Bully (Jeremy Crockett).

Other characters include The Kid (Sir's lieutenant, Jaime Elizabeth Gassel); The Girl (Amber Henley); and a sort of Greek chorus of young adult female Urchins in color-coordinated outfits, cleverly designed by Abra Flores Paudler.

The story isn't much, but many of the songs are pleasantly hummable (Tony Bennett's hit "Who Can I Turn To?" is from the score). At Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, Cal Lutheran University is presenting "Kiss Me, Kate," directed by Michael Arndt. Sam and Bella Spewack's book finds a professional troupe taking a musical version of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" to Broadway.

The (fictional) show is beset with problems including friction between leading players Fred Graham and Lili Vanessi, recently divorced but still obviously in love; and the presence of a pair of local enforcers, out to cash in a marker bearing Graham's forged signature.

Raymond Michael Hebel and Rachel Oliveros-Larsen are strong as Fred and Lili; Christopher Wade and Cyndi Schmidt even more so as comic leads Bill Calhoun and Lois Lane; and Tony Gardner and Corey Evans pretty well walk away with the show whenever they appear as the gangsters.

More Than O.K.: "Oklahoma!" was a groundbreaking musical (using song and dance to further the plot, for instance) when first produced in 1943. It remains a stunning piece of work in the Cabrillo Music Theatre's edition concluding this weekend at the Civic Arts Plaza's main theater.

Jennifer Beall and Mark Slama star as romantic leads Curly and Laurey; as Ado Annie, Jeannine Marquie spreads her affection between Chad Borden's naive cowboy Will Parker and Jamie Torcellini's wily peddler Ali Hakim; Charlie Jourdan is menacing as Jud Fry, and Mary St. Johns is affable Aunt Eller.

The show is blessed with some terrific, visceral dance numbers in "Kansas City" and "The Farmer and the Cowman." The "Laurey's Dream" ballet danced by Maria Larisa Ramirez and Murray Phillips is quite lovely.

BE THERE

"The Roar of the Greasepaint--the Smell of the Crowd" continues through Sat. at Moorpark College Performing Arts Center. Performances are at 8 tonight through Sat., with a matinee at 1:30 p.m. today only. Tickets are $10; $8, students; and $6, seniors. (805) 378-1485.

"Kiss Me, Kate" continues through Sunday at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza's Forum Theatre. Performances are 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., and 2 p.m. Sun. Tickets are $10 and $15. Call (805) 493-3161, or (805) 449-2787.

"Oklahoma!" continues through Sun. at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza Auditorium. Performances are 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and 2 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Tickets are $18-$28. Call (805) 497-8616.

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