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Theater Notes

High Profile

Rubicon's benefit 'Superstar' reading brings professionals to Ventura stage.


Several hands have tried, unsuccessfully, to bring professional theater to a city--Ventura--that can't seem to support a full-time community group. Yet more are on the way, and you have to admire their ambition.

Rubicon Productions makes its debut in two weeks with a high-profile benefit for itself: a staged reading of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's "Jesus Christ Superstar," featuring Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson, both veterans of the filmed version as well as countless touring productions. We have James O'Neil, Rubicon co-founder (with his wife Karyl Lynn Burns), to thank for this. O'Neil is a locally based (and Santa Barbara-born) 25-year veteran actor and director who has toured nationwide with "Superstar."

He rose from understudying for Dennis DeYoung in the role of Pilate to assuming the part himself.

Now he is calling on his friends for a favor. Neeley, who has also played leading roles in stage productions of "Tommy" and "Hair" (for a while, it seemed, you couldn't put on a rock opera in Los Angeles without him), will be driving up from his home in Texas; Carl Anderson, who plays Judas to Neeley's Jesus, lives in Los Angeles.

The cast will also include Paul Ainsley, who played Herod on Broadway; several actors from the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura County theater communities, and a live band.

Rubicon's stated goals include a strong community outreach program in addition to the wide range of plays projected.

"If Karyl Lynn and I have learned anything in the past several years," O'Neil said recently, "it is that the best theater is based in and around the community it serves, creating a dialogue with its audience."

* "Jesus Christ Superstar" will be performed at 8 p.m. Nov. 14 and 2 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Ventura Theatre, 26 S. Chestnut St., Ventura. Ticket prices range from $25-$45, with $100 Founders Circle seats available Saturday night only, which includes a champagne and dessert reception with the stars. Seating is limited. At press time, there was the possibility of a third performance. (805) 667-2900, Ext. 1.


Casting Call: The Conejo Players will hold auditions Sunday through Tuesday for their upcoming production of "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940" at the Conejo Players Theater, 351 S. Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks; roles include men and women 18 to 60 years old. The play, directed by Zachary Spencer, will run weekends, Jan. 22 to Feb. 20. For information, call Marisol Romero at (818) 700-7971.

The Conejo Players will hold auditions Nov. 15 for their Conejo Afternoon Theatre production of the musical "Brownstone," director unspecified. All characters may be played by any race or ethnic type, and those auditioning should prepare two contrasting songs, about 24 bars each, and be ready to read from sides (that's theater talk for "the script").

The play will run weekend matinees, Jan. 31 to Feb. 20. For information, call Melanie at 492-6745 (days), Amy at 987-7287 (evenings) or Shawn at (818) 506-6357 (evenings).

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