Colony Curtain Call!
The Newsletter of the Colony Theatre Company: April 2005

A Season to Celebrate
Our 30th Anniversary Journey promises drama, romance, mystery and classic stories of love, betrayal, courage, and friendship

When a group of television actors wanting to return to their theatre roots formed a little acting company in April of 1975, it's pretty safe to assume that none of them expected that The Colony would have, thirty years later, transformed itself from a 99-seat neighborhood playhouse into a world-class, award-winning 276-seat Equity theatre that is widely regarded as one of the best theatrical houses in Southern California. But in 2005 the-little-theatre-that-could is not only going strong, but is forging ahead, making its mark on the national theatre scene, already named by the Encyclopedia Britannica 2005 Almanac as one of 25 Notable US Theatre Companies.

While all of the accolades and aspirations to outgrow our "small theatre" heritage may be important to us, we haven't forgotten the reason we've lasted this long: our audience. And the fact that our audiences keep coming back---some of you for 30 years--- is a testament to the quality The Colony consistently puts forth. It is the shows that make The Colony what it is. And while every season is special, picking the shows for our 30th Season proved to be a particularly exciting time for Colony Artistic Director Barbara Beckley, as she continues, season after season, to walk that fine line between commerce and art, always selecting titles that reflect her and The Colony's artistic sensibility, yet entertaining enough to make you want to come back. For Beckley, the selection of shows in a season has always been about what each show gives to the audience, what the experience of that show will mean to you. Never self-indulgent or pretentious, Colony shows are about the human condition, about the realities of relationships---with each other and with ourselves. Beckley wants to move her audiences. She has the same challenge for every script she considers: "tell me a story, make me care, take me on a journey to a place I've never been." It is more than a guideline, it is a mission.
Sherlock's Last Case
This season, we will take you on five more journeys that, we feel, are as magical, magnificent, and moving as any in our history.

Opening the season will be the mysterious and clever Sherlock's Last Case by Charles Marowitz, directed by David Rose. First presented as part of the Olympic Arts Festival in Los Angeles, this play centers around---you guessed it---the world's most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, as he attempts to sniff out and eventually snuff out a death threat that's been lobbed against him. As our hero attempts to flush out the villain who has him in his sights, we see Holmes more vulnerable than ever, as loyalties are betrayed and truths are shattered in this not-as-serious-as-you-may-think mystery.

Although not written by Arthur Conan Doyle, this play is very much in the spirit of the books and picks up where the classic stories ended, yet offers a fresh theatrical twist to the otherwise standard sleuthing caper.

The LA Daily News said of the play, "Sherlock's Last Case is certainly a wonder.... throwing social consciousness to the wind and simply entertaining an audience with a delightful sleight-of-hand." The Register echoed, "part spoof, part loving tribute and all fun." Finally, the Hollywood Progress proclaimed, "Éthe play combines light, occasionally absurd, humor with all the twists and turns of a first-rate whodunit."
Indoor Outdoor
Directing Sherlock's Last Case will be the Colony's own David Rose, a director with more than a few Colony classics under his belt, including The Front Page, You Can't Take it With You, The Living, The Man Who Came To Dinner, Fuddy Meers, and The Nerd. It will take only the surest hand to navigate the waters of humor and suspense that dot the landscape of this clever and captivating play, and Rose is certainly up to the challenge. Sherlock's Last Case will begin previewing on June 8 and will open on June 11, playing through July 10. Tickets go on sale May 9.

Following Sherlock's Last Case will be the West Coast Premiere of Indoor/Outdoor by Kenny Finkle. Indoor/Outdoor is a warm and funny romantic comedy with a twist---our heroine is a cat, our hero is her owner, and his rival for her affections is an alley cat. This love triangle is a romance even dog lovers can appreciate, as Samantha, the pampered housecat, falls for Oscar, the scrappy alley cat. Her lonely-guy owner is caught in the middle as he fights for Samantha's affections, but knows he cannot compete with the allure of the world beyond the thin pane of glass.

Indoor/Outdoor had its World Premiere at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York in July, 2004, where it charmed audiences and was a smash hit. One critic accurately proclaimed "This play certainly has more than nine lives in its future."
The Grand Tour
Directing Indoor /Outdoor will be Stefan Novinski, the man behind the Colony's recent hit production Around the World in 80 Days. Novinski's clever imagination and theatrical genius make a purrfect combination and will serve this unique comedy well. Indoor/Outdoor will begin previewing on August 17 and will open on August 20, playing through September 18. Tickets go on sale July 11.

Following Indoor/Outdoor will be the musical The Grand Tour, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman and book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble. If the name Jerry Herman rings a bell, it's probably because he is widely regarded as one of the great composers in musical theatre history, most famous for Hello, Dolly, Mame and La Cage aux Folles. The Grand Tour is another Herman masterpiece, as the rousing score will not only lift your spirits, but will leave you humming all the way home.

Based on the play Jacobowsky and the Colonel and set in war-torn France in 1941, The Grand Tour tells the story of a Jewish refugee who must join forces with an aristocratic and anti-Semitic Polish colonel in order to escape to England on the eve of the Nazi occupation. This unlikely pair, forced together by circumstance and a common enemy, must rely on their own courage and ingenuity to survive. Through their adventures and near-misses, the two men forge an uncommon bond that will touch your heart.
Much like our musical of 2004, Grand Hotel, the Musical, The Grand Tour is a story about the strength of the human spirit and its undeniable ability to overcome even the greatest odds. A sample lyric from one of the songs in the show, "I'll Be Here Tomorrow," reflects this powerful theme:

I'LL BE HERE TOMORROW
ALIVE AND WELL AND THRIVING
I'LL BE HERE TOMORROW
MY TALENT IS SURVIVING
IF BEFORE THE DAWN THIS FRAGILE WORLD
   MIGHT CRACK
SOMEONE'S GOTTA TRY AND PUT THE PIECES
   BACK
SO, FROM BENEATH THE RUBBLE
YOU'LL HEAR A LITTLE VOICE
SAY "LIFE IS WORTH THE TROUBLE"
HAVE YOU A BETTER CHOICE?
SO LET THE SKEPTICS SAY "TONIGHT WE'RE DEAD
   AND GONE"
I'LL BE HERE TOMORROW
SIMPLY GOING ON!

It's no wonder that Jerry Herman has adopted this song as his personal anthem!

The Grand Tour is destined to become another classic Colony musical, so be sure to get your tickets today. Only season ticket holders are guaranteed seats, so, if you are not already a subscriber, sign up today, so you don't have to hear "Sorry, Sold Out," like many single-ticket buyers did for our last musical, which sold out every performance! Call our box office at (818) 558-7000 or visit our website for more information: www.colonytheatre.org.

The Grand Tour will begin previewing on November 2, will open on November 5 and will play through December 4. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on September 19. You won't want to miss it!

The fourth show of our 2005-06 season will be the classic drama Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer. Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play and the Oscar for Best Picture, this provocative story examines the volatile and dramatic relationship between Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You may think you know the story, but until you have experienced Amadeus on stage, in its originally intended form, you have yet to experience the power and the genius that is.... Amadeus.

Amadeus Antonio Salieri has established himself as the pre-eminent musician in Austria, having given himself to God so that he might realize his sole ambition---to be a great composer. Salieri is the toast of Vienna, until, that is, a foul-mouthed, graceless man-child with genius unlike any ever seen arrives and reveals Salieri's gift to be merely ordinary. Full of envy and hatred for this boorish prodigy, Salieri sets out to destroy his rival, as the confrontation between mediocrity and genius build to a crescendo of breathtaking dramatic power.

Amadeus will be directed by Los Angeles theatre veteran Jessica Kubzansky, whose last Colony directorial effort, Toys in the Attic, won the coveted Ovation Award for Best Play.

Amadeus will begin previewing on February 8, 2006, will open on February 11 and will run through March 12. Tickets go on sale to the general public on December 5, 2005.

Closing the season will be a fifth show whose title is still to be announced. We usually reserve this space in the season for an exciting new work or a rediscovered treasure that will wrap up the season with the perfect touch. Play 5 will begin previewing on April 19, 2006, will open on April 22 and will play through May 21. Tickets go on sale March 13, 2006.

If you have not yet subscribed to this exciting season, call our box office at (818) 558-7000 or visit our website at www.colonytheatre.org and sign up today! You won't want to miss one minute of our exciting 30th Anniversary Journey!


A World Premiere: Climbing Everest by Margit Ahlin

Ever wondered what compels intelligent, accomplished individuals to put themselves through the unimaginable rigors of attempting to summit the most dangerous mountain on Earth? Perhaps this journal entry will offer some insight into the addictive nature of climbing and its inherently dramatic themes:

The Spirit of Mountaineering:
Why am I going back to Everest?


Last June, Tony Kelly and I were trapped in a tent at 25,000 ft. The wind was gusting to over 100 mph, tossing grapefruit sized rocks and sheets of ice bigger than manhole covers though the air. The tent in front of ours was hit, the nylon covering torn and shredded, weakening this critical shelter. We spoke to our teammates in other tents, barely 5 feet away, by walkie-talkie. Even if we yelled from tent to tent, they couldn't hear over the screaming of the wind. The snow drifted between the tent walls and the snow slope, pressing down upon us. Every few hours, one of us would bundle up in our summit gear, crawl from the tent and shovel the snow into the wind. If we didn't, the snow would bury us, seal off the needed fresh air and slowly asphyxiate us.

Inside the tent, though, we were patiently waiting for the storm to peter out. It was warm, acting as a greenhouse during the day. It would only drop to minus 20 degrees after sunset. We had plenty of food, but little appetite. We melted snow to brew hot drinks. We dazed in and out of little naps.

The walkie-talkie began to buzz, slowly waking me up. "Pull whatever gear you can and escape at the first sign of the storm slowing," said Russel, the expedition leader, to Andy, a guide in the closest tent.

"Let me get this straight, we are abandoning the climb."

Tears formed, and my chest began to throb. What had they said: the climb is over, I am at 25,000 ft. trying for the summit a second time, feeling great and now my chances are over because of this storm? The tears rolled down my face. Tony, too, was crying, a glove hiding the stream of tears. Fifteen minutes passed before I could talk, pushing the button on the radio to say, "We are crying up here, Russ, but know that you are right. Let's just get off this mountain alive."

Eight hours later, during a lull in the storm, we escaped the tents at 25,000 ft. and struggled down to Advanced Base Camp at 21,400 ft. Despite the exhaustion and disappointment, I knew I would return to Everest the next spring, hoping to make my dream of climbing Everest come true.

Mountaineering is obviously a sport of great risk. I've been tumbled by avalanches, fallen 500 ft. through the air (I did bounce ... once), gone for days with little to no food and water, suffered frost bite on nine fingers, and rescued many other climbers who weren't as lucky as I am. It is also an expensive hobby, costing more than $35,000 to climb Everest and many thousands to climb any other peak in the Himalayas. Let's not forget the months of being away from home, two showers in two months, canned hot dogs for dinner, and a herd of exotic illnesses stampeding through my intestines.

There has got to be a reason why I return to the mountains time and time again. After all, I've been on more than 70 international expeditions.

Great athletes, artists, musicians, and thinkers all agree that happiness comes from within, a side effect of our pursuit of a fabulous dream. "The best moments occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to the limit in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile." - M. Csikszentmihalyi's Flow

When we set a goal, develop the skills to achieve it, then go and "just do it," we enter into what's called the championship zone, the flow state. Everest and most of the other mountains I climb provide me with the experience of being in the championship zone. And boy does that zone feel good. When you are in the zone, your mind is clear, actions flow effortlessly, and super-human things seem to happen with ease. There is no fear, no emotions but satisfaction.

Imagine the sweet satisfaction that comes from solving the complex riddles of a life and death struggle. Once you've pulled that off, you carry that ability around with you. If you are wise, you'll apply these lessons to as many situations as you can.

On one level, climbing Everest is a test I've chosen for myself. It is a test of the skills and abilities that I've developed over the years. Standing on the summit isn't so important really, but climbing the mountain is. A picture of me on the top would simply be a reminder of my time in the championship zone, just like a picture of an Olympic athlete with a medal around their neck. These are symbols of the commitment we make to achieve a goal and the hard work, often painful but satisfying, we endure in the process.

Climbing Everest is also more than playing in the zone. Friendships are made. Great books are read. The dusty villages and ancient monasteries of Tibet are explored. Scenes of immeasurable beauty unfold with every foot of elevation gained. I think these alone are great to experience, that time in the zone cetainly sweetens the deal.

-Chris Warner, 2001

Warner is a three-time Everest climber and founder and director of Earth Treks, Inc., which operates two full service climbing centers specializing in mountaineering expeditions.
Reprinted with permission by Earth Treks, Inc.
Visit www.earthtreksclimbing.com

Accomplice Knocks 'Em Dead

The fourth production of our 2004-05 season was the comic thriller Accomplice, by Rupert Holmes. Directed by Simon Levy, this twisting, turning spoof took our audiences on a roller-coaster ride of plot twists, classic whodunit devices, and good old-fashioned  trickery, as the cast jumped in and out of character, and the audience themselves became the central player in the master game carved out by Holmes and his devious wit.

Accomplice
Accomplice cast members Lisa Pelikan, Barbara Beckley, Larry Cedar, Samantha
Raddock and J. Paul Boehmer play out the final, twisted scene of the play
Some audience members didn't know what to think as they left the theatre. Some actually believed that Colony Artistic Director Barbara Beckley was threatening an actor on her stage, others knew it was all part of the show---or was it? Either way, Accomplice achieved its intended goal: to take you on a ride that you'll never forget, hopefully laughing along the way at your own complicity in the author's shameless shenanigans.

The critics were kind to us as they did their best to review the show without giving away any of its secrets:

" 'Accomplice,' now playing at the beautiful Colony Theatre in Burbank, exemplifies the unique role live theater plays in the realm of modern entertainment. Television and film, while capable of telling a good story, cannot break through that fourth wall and toy with the viewer's mind the way a play can---and 'Accomplice' does so brilliantly."

-Burbank Leader
 

"From the second we glimpse Desma Murphy's wittily overstuffed country-house set, which could almost serve for the first act of 'Noises Off,' we can intuit the play's parodic thrust. This is a mystery in quotation marks, and director Simon Levy revels in its excesses with almost cartoonish glee."

-Los Angeles Times

"'Oh, dear, what can the matter be?' Janet hums seductively, a theme song that the actors repeatedly croon throughout Rupert Holmes' deft, daffy, complex comedy of terrors which is given the spiffy production it deserves by The Colony Theatre. It doesn't have a plot you can summarize or a cast you can itemize without spoiling the fun but that doesn't make much difference. Director Simon Levy gives full measure of chills and chuckles and has a sense of the Feydeau-esque farcical blocking so essential to making this play prance slyly and lasciviously along."

-curtainup.com

"Rupert Holmes has written a terrifically clever mystery comedy that knows its genre inside and out; it's no surprise that the Mystery Writers of America awarded this show its Edgar Award. Director Simon Levy does an admirable job of keeping the myriad red herrings swimming in the right directions, and he reaps the benefits from an adept cast."

-BackStage West


2005 Spotlight on Barry Burnett!

by Sara T. Painter

 
We were a little nervous in 2004 when we held the Inaugural Community Spotlight Award event honoring Council Member Stacey Murphy. We knew it would be a fabulous night, honoring an amazing and deserving civic leader, but, as with all firsts, we were unsure how our expectations would match up with reality.
 
We were completely unprepared for the level of success which greeted us. The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by all (some people are still talking about it!) and through ticket sales, sponsorships, and our matching grant challenge, the event generated over $100,000 for the theatre!
 
Thanks to the incredible support from The City of Burbank, The Colony Board of Trustees, and the community, we are pleased to announce that we are doing it again!
 
The 2005 Colony Community Spotlight Award event will be held Wednesday, July 20, 2005 at the theatre. Please join us this year as we shine our Spotlight on Honoree Barry Burnett for his service to The City of Burbank and his inspiration to the community.

For more information, or to become a sponsor, please call 818-558-7000 x20.

Future Generations

By Sara T. Painter


The Colony has teamed up with Burbank High School's Drama Department to provide an extension of their classroom learning in practical application.

On March 2, 27 students from BHS's Play Production class spent three hours learning improvisation from Patrick Bristow at The Colony's very first master class. Bristow, perhaps best known for his recurring role on the TV show "Ellen" is a Groundlings School teacher and alumnus, who graciously volunteered his time to teach the class.

The students had a fun afternoon, and their transformation over the course period from shy and somewhat nervous to confident and brave was truly inspiring.

Brooks Gardner, BHS drama instructor and an actor himself said the students will "likely apply the professional techniques they learned in the workshop to the [BHS] spring production of The Man Who Came to Dinner."

The Colony's volunteer Education Coordinator, Jen Burnett, will handle the program's logistics. Burnett has a daughter who attends BHS and has proven to be a valuable asset to the program.

The Colony is looking to the future and planning more activities for BHS, such as master classes in different subjects, including characterization and technical theatre.

We are involving students in The Colony's next production, Climbing Everest, by providing them scripts of the play, and inviting them to a special rehearsal with the playwright and director.

The Colony is very pleased to be able to give something back to the community by educating a future generation of artists, and as this program grows we hope to expand our reach to additional local schools. 




Original Artwork by Ricky Vodka