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THEATER: Ventura County | NOTES

Coming Attractions

Community actors will stage works from Civil War epic to Shakespeare.


After spending two weeks reminiscing about last year's theater scene, today we'll look at some of the more interesting productions in the future.

Several Ventura County community theater groups have announced their plans well into 1998. We can even tell you that Comedy Tonight Productions plans to present "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center on New Year's Eve 1998.

The same group began its mini-tribute to actor Zero Mostel with "Fiddler on the Roof," now playing at the same venue. Mostel, you'll recall, starred in the original Broadway productions of "Fiddler" and "Forum."

Comedy Tonight is also known for its productions of Gilbert & Sullivan and will be presenting "Ruddigore" in August.

Fans of less-frequently performed G&S operettas may also look forward to Moorpark College's presentation of "The Gondoliers" in April.

Only a few Shakespeare productions have been announced so far. Santa Susana Repertory Company returns to the Cal Lutheran campus in June with "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (which the company did last year) and "Two Gentlemen of Verona."

And the Ojai Shakespeare Festival folk are talking about a triple-feature of "Hamlet," "As You Like It" and a youth production of "Twelfth Night" in August.

Other Cal Lutheran events include "The Heidi Chronicles" and--in collaboration with Santa Susana Repertory--an original adaptation of historian Shelby Foote's Civil War epic, "Shiloh." Moorpark College's spring schedule also includes "Equus," and look for Ventura College to produce Brian Clark's "Whose Life Is It Anyway?" in April.

We've harped on the inevitability of "Nunsense!" and indeed the show will return soon, for everybody who missed--or enjoyed--the recent Camarillo Community Theater production. Look for it plus a meal at the Marquie Dinner Theatre in March.

The Santa Paula Theater Center's schedule includes "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "An Inspector Calls" and "On Golden Pond." All of those productions may move to Simi Valley following their first runs. Likewise, Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center events, including February's youth production of "The Wiz," will move to Santa Paula.

Cabrillo Music Theatre's season includes "My Fair Lady" in March, followed by "Bye, Bye Birdie" in July. As usual, professional actors will be featured in leading roles.

The Conejo Players present a new production of Neil Simon's "Jake's Women" (which Santa Paula did last year) later this month, followed by, among other shows, "Stepping Out" (senior citizens learn to dance); "To Kill a Mockingbird" (the third local production in as many years), and the relatively seldom-performed musical "Kismet," whose best-known song is "Stranger in Paradise."

Flying H Productions' 1998 plans for the Ojai Center for the Arts includes an original adaptation of John Gay's venerable "The Beggar's Opera" in March, Robert Sherwood's "The Petrified Forest" (best-remembered as a Bogart movie) in April, George Bernard Shaw's "Saint Joan" in August, and John Guare's "House of Blue Leaves" in October.

Before any of those, though, will be an adaptation of S.E. Hinton's classic youth novel, "The Outsiders," in Meiners Oaks later this month.

Also at the Ojai art center, Theater 33's "Enter Laughing" opens Friday, with "Coastal Disturbances" and a yet-to-be-announced third production later in the year.

As sure as there will be weekends when nothing's opening, there will be weekends when everybody decides to open at once. In the latter group, three plays are already scheduled to open Friday, with similar multiple openings March 6, April 17 and April 24.

The simultaneous openings of two plays are already on the books for several other weekends.

This is meant as a note to producers, who may wish to think again before competing with several others at once.

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