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Out & About / Ventura County | Theater Notes

Family Values

Two shows about relatives--'Fiddler on the Roof' and 'Baby'--are worth the money.

May 20, 1999|TODD EVERETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

What with constraints of time and space--and everybody seemingly opening plays simultaneously--it's occasionally necessary to catch up with some productions midrun. Such is the case this wee in looking at productions of the musicals "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Baby," both being staged in Camarillo.

Both shows concern families, though one is definitely more family-oriented than the other.

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Well into its own adulthood at 35, "Fiddler on the Roof" deals with a large, poor family in Czarist Russia. With even a number of wee ones in the cast, the play has something for everybody.

Damian Gravino, who plays patriarch Tevye, is a strong enough performer that he'd practically be able to carry the entire three-hour musical on his own shoulders; here, he doesn't have to.

The supporting cast includes worthy performances by Michelle Mak, Vicki Johnson and Heather Lease as daughters Tzeitel, Hodel and Chava, all defying the long-standing tradition of arranged marriage.

Also featured in Friday night's performance were Kathi Janca Gravino as Tevye's wife; Dennis W. Lueker as Motel, the tailor; Ken Jones, imposing as butcher Lazar Wolf; and Amy Sullivan as Yenta, the matchmaker.

Adrea Gibbs, whose many international credits crowd the Moorpark Melodrama (where she's worked often, with some of these actors) right off her program credits, is the director and choreographer; in any event, she really knows how to put on a show. John Gaston, who plays Hodel's suitor, is musical director; and Bob Decker designed the clean, functional stage set.

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DETAILS

"Fiddler on the Roof" continues through May 30 at the Camarillo Community Theatre, 330 Skyway Drive at the Camarillo Airport. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets to all shows are $12; $10 seniors and active military; $8 children 12 and under or groups of 20 and more. Call 388-5716.

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More modern in every respect, "Baby" follows three relatively well-to-do couples in an American university town as they prepare for parenthood. Now showing at the Marquie Dinner Theater, the play--for all its charm--gets a bit clinical.

The three couples in "Baby" have differing reactions to the impending good news. In the case of 40ish Arlene (Diann Alexander) and Alan (James Harlow), it's shock at the unexpected event. The other, younger, couples are played by Vince Lodato and Lisa Bohn; and David Meidenbaur and Robin Navlyt. They're all bright and attractive people, playing bright and attractive people and supported by an ensemble of five also attractive people, each playing multiple roles.

The show's cute as can be, but probably of more interest to those with children than those who abhor kids. And while the script is quite tame by most standards, it's probably not a good idea to bring anybody who doesn't already have a pretty good idea of where babies come from, if you get my drift.

Kevin P. Kern directed from Sybille Pearson's libretto; Barbara Howard is musical director, making what she can from the meandering songs. .

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DETAILS

"Baby" continues Thursday-Saturday through June 12 at the Marquie Dinner Theatre, 340 N. Mobil in Camarillo. Doors open each evening at 6:30, dinner is served from 6:45 and the show begins at 8:15. Tickets are $35; $32 seniors; $28 children under 12; prices include a buffet dinner with choice of entree, nonalcoholic beverages, the show, tax and tip. A pay bar is available. For reservations (mandatory) or further information, call 484-9909.

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Darrow to Plead in Ventura City Hall: The Rubicon Theatre Company, Ventura's next-to-most-recent professional theater group, will present the one-man play "Darrow" Tuesday through May 28..

Tobias Andersen, a 30-year veteran of regional theater, will portray attorney Clarence Darrow, whose celebrated cases included the Scopes Monkey Trial and speaking for the defense in the trial of the men accused of bombing the Los Angeles Times in a labor dispute.

The 1973 play was written by David W. Rintels, who subsequently scripted television movies and miniseries. Rubicon's previous productions include the Ventura Concert Theater staging of "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Shirley Valentine" at the Laurel.

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DETAILS

"Darrow" runs at 7 p.m. Tuesday-May 27 at the Ventura City Hall Council Chambers, 501 E. Poli St., and at 8 p.m. May 28 at the Laurel Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Tickets Tuesday night are $100 and include a post-show reception and $50 tax-deductible charitable contribution. Tickets Wednesday through Friday are $30 general; $25 for students and seniors; $20 for groups of 12 or more. Call 667-2900.

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