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Theater: Ventura County | THEATER NOTES

Local Stages to Spotlight a Variety of Shows


After a relatively dry spring, Ventura County community theater groups promise a summer filled with variety. It's a season of crowd-pleasing musicals and comedies, plus a couple of mysteries and a whole lot of Shakespeare.

The post-Memorial Day season creeps in with the thriller "Wait Until Dark" opening at Oxnard's Elite Theatre on June 6, and a new melodrama, "The Debt," is set to open at the Ojai Art Center on June 13. Then, nine groups, which have spent many weeks in rehearsals, will spring their enterprises on an unsuspecting public over the next two weekends, all opening around the county from June 20 to 29.

The onslaught begins June 20 with Neil Simon's "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" at the Santa Paula Theater Center; "Rashomon," based on the same source as the classic Japanese film, at the Conejo Players Theater; "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Cal Lutheran University; and "Mountie-Plicity" at the Moorpark Melodrama.

The following weekend, an adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians" opens at the Camarillo Community Theater, and the farce, "The Foreigner," back after five years and again with Martin Horsey in the title role, begins at the Marquie Dinner Theater.

"The Music Man" opens that same weekend at Matilija Junior High School Auditorium under the auspices of the Ojai Civic Light Opera; the long-awaited production of "Hamlet," featuring actors associated with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, will open at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center; and Terrence McNally's "Lips Together, Teeth Apart" begins its run of weekend matinee performances at the Conejo Players Theater.

Three more Shakespeare productions are promised between Memorial Day and Labor Day: "The Merry Wives of Windsor," playing at various outdoor locations under the auspices of Shakespeare in the Park, beginning July 5; "Twelfth Night," at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center sometime in July; and another production of "Midsummer," the Ojai Shakespeare Festival's featured play beginning Aug. 1.

If the Santa Paula production of "Laughter on the 23rd Floor" (which will move to the Simi Valley Center on Aug. 8) whets your appetite for more Neil Simon, look to the Conejo Players for "Rumors" beginning Aug. 29, and the Camarillo Community Theater for "The Odd Couple" on Sept. 12--that's after Labor Day, but we'll include it here anyway.

Another comedy, the little-known "A Company of Wayward Saints," about a commedia dell'arte troupe, opens at the Ojai Art Center on July 18.

Musicals? Besides the aforementioned perennial "The Music Man," there's "Hello, Dolly" from the Cabrillo Music Theater at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza beginning July 11; "West Side Story" at Camarillo Community Theater, starting July 25; and Gilbert & Sullivan's "H.M.S. Pinafore" at Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, also opening July 25.

"Noel and Gertie," a revue of songs identified with British theater royalty Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence, opens at the Elite Theater Company on Aug. 1.

There will probably be more shows that the producers haven't gotten around to announcing. Watch this space for details as the dates approach.

For information: Cabrillo Music Theater, 497-8613; Cal Lutheran University, 493-3410; Camarillo Community Theater, 388-5716; Conejo Players, 495-3715; Elite Theatre Company, 483-5118; Marquie Dinner Theater, 484-9909; Moorpark Melodrama, 529-1212; Ojai Art Center, 646-0117; Ojai Civic Light Opera, 646-1899; Ojai Shakespeare Festival, 646-9455; Santa Paula Theater Center, 525-4645; Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 581-9940.


Casting Call: A local producer is looking for a leading man, 35-45, for the comic lead in an original one-act play about dating in the '90s.

The actor should be at least 6 feet tall. Pay is "possible." Call Marion at 495-3318.

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