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
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.
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
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."
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.
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
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
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
SOMEONE'S GOTTA TRY AND PUT THE PIECES
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
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
cast members Lisa Pelikan, Barbara Beckley, Larry Cedar, Samantha
Raddock and J. Paul Boehmer play out the final, twisted scene of the
playSome 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
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."
"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
"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."
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
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.
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
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
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
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