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Out & About / Ventura County | theater notes

Golden Moments

Dinner theater production polishes up a popular gem.

October 19, 2000|TODD EVERETT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Owing to a popular film adaptation and much subsequent community theater exposure, Ernest Thompson's "On Golden Pond" has become something of a cliche--although not as much as you'd think, with only three productions in Ventura County during the last decade.

So the current mounting by the Marquie (which seems to have dropped "Dinner Theater" from its name, though it remains one) will be welcomed by many, particularly upon learning that the consistently worthy cast is headed by Don Pearlman, a longtime local favorite; and Jennifer Leonard, who deserves to be.

Pearlman and Leonard play Norman and Ethel Thayer, here spending their 44th consecutive summer at their cabin in rural Maine. Norman is 80 years old and feeling it; Ethel, some years younger, protects him as much as she loves him. The Thayers' long-estranged daughter, Chelsea (Denice Stradling) visits, accompanied by her new fiance, Bill (Jon Riendeau) and his son, Billy (Dustin Snyder). Also around is the local mail carrier, Charlie (Keith M. High).

While not much happens, in a sense, the family dynamic is changed significantly, and the play is never less than interesting.

Norman is irascible, tends to support ethnic stereotypes and enjoys mental cruelty to those he feels beneath him; in other words, he could be played as a very unappealing man. That the stereotyping and marginal cruelty lead to laugh lines seems to excuse it. As for Ethel, she frequently dismisses him as a "poop."

Plot isn't Thompson's strong suit; character and dialogue definitely are, and he and director Marjorie Berg seem to know it, allowing the actors and audience alike to luxuriate in the playwright's words and the Thayers' hearts.

DETAILS

"On Golden Pond" continues Fridays and Saturdays through Nov. 25 at the Marquie, 340 N. Mobil Ave., Camarillo. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.; dinner is served from 7 p.m., and the show begins about 8 p.m. Tickets, which include the play, buffet dinner with choice of entrees, nonalcoholic beverages, tax and tip are $35; seniors, $32; and children under 13, $28. A full cash bar is available. For reservations (mandatory) or further information, call 484-9909.

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On Friday night, Ojai's Theater 150 begins this year's "Solo Series" of one-person performances. Previous performers have included Doug Motel, whose "Shiva Arms" subsequently moved to acclaim in Los Angeles and Thousand Oaks; Rick Cleveland, who became a writer on "The West Wing"; and Christopher Titus, whose "Norman Rockwell is Bleeding" was the template for the current Fox TV series, "Titus."

The current season features four people explaining (entertainingly, one hopes) what it's like to be them. Tony Abatemarco's "Cologne," which begins Friday, tells of coming of age as a gay man; future scheduled shows are by Joyce Guy, Alan Aymie and Nordhoff High School student Spencer T. Campbell. The theater is small, though newly air conditioned and with what's said to be more comfortable seating, so reservations are highly recommended.

DETAILS

"Cologne" opens Friday and continues Friday-Sunday evenings at 8 through Oct. 29 at Theater 150, 918 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai. Tickets are $20, with a two-for-one special on Sundays. For reservations, further information or season brochures, call 646-4200.

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There will be no reservations taken for Anne Kerry Ford's recital Saturday night, also in Ojai, of songs by German theatrical composer Kurt Weill. Ford recorded the pieces in Germany earlier this year with the West German Radio Orchestra's big band; here, her longtime arranger and accompanist, John Boswell, will "in a sense, play the [arrangements] the 28-piece orchestra played, with his two very capable hands," Ford reports. A U.S. deal for distribution of her recordings is in the works, she says. Meanwhile, the Ojai concert will also be recorded, perhaps for release.

"I think the point of doing it in the recording studio is to make it an event, with the audience juicing the performers," Ford said. "Lotte Lenya, the most formidable interpreter of Weill's music [and his wife] couldn't sing at all--but she was a great actress. I approach these songs as acting pieces, and you want to be able to tell the stories to a live audience."

DETAILS

Anne Kerry Ford's recital of music by Kurt Weill will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Zircon Skye Recording Studio, 408 Bryant Circle, Suite F-3, in Ojai. Tickets are $15, general; $25, if you want to sit in the control room and pretend to be running things. Admission is first-come, first-served, with no reservations taken. For further information, call the studio at 640-7995.

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Todd Everett can be reached at teverett@concentric.net

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