Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Out & About / Ventura County | theater notes

Keeping Pace

Good direction and notable performances do justice to farce that moves swiftly.

August 31, 2000|TODD EVERETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Just as several Ventura County theater groups' ad hoc Neil Simon festival ended, along come a pair of plays by Ken Ludwig, both presented by the Conejo Players.

In early November, the Thousand Oaks-based group will produce the musical "Crazy for You," with Gershwin songs and a Ludwig book. For the next several weeks, they're featuring Ludwig's backstage farce, "Moon Over Buffalo."

Set in 1953, the play--like Ludwig's "Lend Me a Tenor"--deals with mix-ups among actors of varying degrees of competence. This time, it's George and Charlotte Hay, a past-their-prime theatrical couple, aged hams doomed to touring the provinces with a small troupe that presents "Cyrano de Bergerac" and Noel Coward's drawing-room comedy "Private Lives" in repertory. Not surprisingly, the troupe is losing money.

Add a daughter, Rosalind, who has abdicated for a job in advertising, and her TV weatherman boyfriend, Howard; Eileen, an actress with whom George is having a barely concealed affair; George and Charlotte's attorney, Richard, who has his eye on Charlotte; Ethel, an elderly woman with severe hearing problems; and a stage set with six doors for people to dash through, and high jinks can't help but ensue.

The Conejo Players worked smoothly Saturday night under the direction of Lucien Coniglio Jervis, with notable performances by just about everybody: Paul Lewis and Rosemary DeLeonardis as the elder Hays; Lorraine MacDonald as their relatively sensible daughter; Greg Calvert as the weatherman; Rita Freeman as the woman whose hearing kicks in at just the wrong times; Kim Demmary as George's tootsy; B. Alan Geddes as the attorney with the roving eye; and Roscoe Gaines as Rosalind's former boyfriend.

Pace is essential to any farce, and Jervis and the players kept this production to a sprightly 110 minutes.

DETAILS

"Moon Over Buffalo" continues Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m., through Sept. 23 at the Conejo Players Theatre, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks. General admission tickets are $10 Thursday; $12 Friday, $14 Saturday. For reservations or further information, call 495-3715.

*

The Ventura chapter of TheatreSports will host the organization of improvisatory theater groups' fourth annual statewide tournament this weekend. Chapters from Santa Maria, San Diego, Los Angeles, Stanford University, the Bay Area and Eureka will be represented, said Tom Mueller of the local chapter. Groups from Palm Springs and Santa Cruz are unable to attend. By the end of the weekend, a state champion should be announced.

Why Ventura?

"We've been doing the tournament for three years," Mueller explained with pride. "And it turns out that we're pretty good at it. The contestants love coming to Ventura--they can park near the theater, they can walk the streets safely at night, and there's the beach."

With no formal TheatreSports organization to arrange such tournaments, Mueller said, the California groups arranged their own. But with what he estimated to be about 40 TheatreSports groups worldwide, he said the Ventura chapter plans to hold an international tourney as early as next year.

DETAILS

The TheatreSports Statewide Tournament opens Friday and continues through Sunday at the Laurel Theatre, 1006 E. Main St. in Ventura. Tournament matches will be held Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m., with finals Sunday at 7 p.m. Tickets for individual events range are $5 to $15; a passport for all performances is $50. For reservations or further information, call 643-5701.

*

A notice that--by order of playwright Alan Ball--no reviewers are invited to Sunday afternoon's opening of "Five Women Wearing the Same Dress" at the Conejo Players Theatre prompts one to wonder just why. Is Ball, a sitcom writer who won an Academy Award for his screenplay for "American Beauty," the best judge of his own work, or could this be a publicity stunt? Director Gary Robertson said that if so, it's not the Players' idea.

And as far as quality, Robertson, a longtime Conejo Players behind-the-scenes presence, said he chose this play for his directorial debut and likes it just fine.

"[Ball] deals with dysfunction, but in what I find to be a very interesting and comedic way," Robertson said.

Ball's television work included writing stints on "Grace Under Fire" and "Cybill."

It may require dragging out last year's Halloween costume and sneaking in (if you spot a bearded nun carrying a notebook, try to ignore him), but unless Ball is standing at the door with a baseball bat, there will be a report in this space next week.

DETAILS

"Five Women Wearing the Same Dress" opens Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and continues Saturday and Sunday afternoons through Sept. 23 at the Conejo Players Theatre, 351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the door only. This show is not recommended for children. For further information, call 495-3715.

*

Todd Everett can be reached at teverett@concentric.net.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|