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Character Building

Gilbert & Sullivan revue does justice to the 1st festival.


The first annual Ventura County Gilbert & Sullivan Festival continues apace, an artistic success that seems to be finding an audience as well. As "Ruddigore, or The Witch's Curse" (reviewed here last week) continues, the Festival has shifted into its second phase with the premiere of "Here's a Howdy-Do!" an original revue.

Written by its director, Toni Jourdan; Comedy Tonight Productions artistic director Gabriel Vega; and music director Jerry Ursetti, the show cobbles together scenes and songs from "H.M.S. Pinafore," "The Mikado," "Pirates of Penzance" and a few more, performed by a sharp, attractive cast of 20, many of whom can also be seen in "Ruddigore." Zachary Spencer provides the piano accompaniment.

The fast-paced affair treads the line between authenticity and parody, the least conventional sights being a couple of men in drag and a rubber chicken.

Those even vaguely familiar with Gilbert & Sullivan will recognize the Major General (Bill Hillstrom), the Pirate King (Greg Wood) and Mabel (the sweet-voiced Jessica House), Sir Joseph Porter (Hillstrom, again, and Davis Newton in different sequences), Dick Deadeye (a particularly amusing Ron Rosen) and Little Buttercup (Jennifer Appleberry).

* The first annual Ventura County Gilbert & Sullivan Festival continues through Sept. 4 at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave. (at Church) in Simi Valley. "Here's a Howdy-Do! the Best and Funniest of Gilbert & Sullivan" continues Thursday nights through Sept. 3. "Ruddigore" will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 6. All tickets are $16; $14, seniors and students; and $9, children 12 and under. (805) 581-9940.

Singers from throughout the county are invited to one of four Gilbert & Sullivan Sing-Alongs, 2 p.m. Saturday through Sept. 5 at the Cultural Arts Center: "Iolanthe," Aug. 29; and "Pirates of Penzance," Sept. 5. Audience tickets are $5. (805) 389-3193.


'Over the Checkerboard' at Marquie Dinner Theatre: Dinner theater fare traditionally balances substantial food with relatively light onstage action. Such is the case--even more than usual--with the Marquie Dinner Theatre's current production, "Over the Checkerboard."

A small Vermont town is about to be taken over by a shopping-center developer (Jason Rasmussen), and the locals devise a scheme to stave him off. The plan centers on a manuscript that nobody's actually seen, by a recently deceased author from the area. A New York City publisher (Lisa Bohn) and Hollywood screenwriter (Mark Sawyer) enter the picture, and high jinks ensue.

Director Kevin Kern and his cast (also including Rosemary DeLeonardis, Gene Bernath, Rose Colasanti, Lew Silverman and Brandy Snyder) get more from Fred Carmichael's script than the author may have known was in there, thanks to plenty of amusing stage business.

* "Over the Checkerboard" continues Thursday-Saturday evenings through Oct. 3 at the Marquie Dinner Theatre, 340 N. Mobil Ave. in Camarillo. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; buffet dinner is served from 7; and the play begins after 8. Tickets are $33, which includes dinner, show, nonalcoholic beverages, tax and gratuity; a full cash bar is available. Discounts available for seniors and children under 13. Reservations are mandatory. (805) 484-9909.


Casting Call: Cabrillo Music Theatre is casting for "Gypsy." Equity auditions will be held for the roles of Rose, Louise and Herbie in Burbank on Saturday, with nonunion auditions for the rest of the cast in Thousand Oaks on Sunday and Monday. There is some pay for nonunion parts. All auditions are by appointment only; call (805) 497-8615 for further information.

The Conejo Players will audition for "Kismet" at 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at the Conejo Players Theater, 351 S. Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks. For further information, call Doug Jocelyn at (805) 495-4560 or Georgeanne Less at (805) 498-7939.

The Artists Repertory Company of Simi will audition for "A Chorus Line," from 7-10 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave. in Simi Valley. All roles are open for singer-dancer-actors; actors should be age-appropriate. For further information, call (805) 529-3611 or (805) 581-2714.

Director Bianca Jansen is looking for a male actor, 18-22 years old, to play Jack Hunter in the Gothic Productions presentation of "The Rose Tattoo." Auditions will be Wednesday in Thousand Oaks. (805) 499-8095.

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