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Colony Curtain Call!
The Newsletter of the Colony Theatre Company: Summer 2003

HIGHLIGHTS

Colony Receives $25,000 Grant

We are thrilled and honored to announce that we have received a $25,000 grant for support of our 2003-2004 Season from the Audrey Skirball-Kenis Theater Projects.

A.S.K. Theater Projects is a nonprofit organization that supports new work for the American stage and recently announced the first recipients of its new Los Angeles Initiative, a funding program that provides season support to local companies that have demonstrated a commitment to producing new work. Companies were selected on the basis of their work over the past three seasons.

Barbara Beckley, Producing Director for The Colony, noted, “In times like these it’s tempting to head into territory that’s entirely safe and commercial, and this grant encourages us--inspires us, really--to continue seeking out new work. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

The support is especially gratifying because it recognizes our commitment to producing new plays and musicals. Last season we featured the World Premiere Beautiful in the Extreme (a 2003 PEN USA Literary Award finalist), an historical drama about the Lewis and Clark expedition, by local playwright Leon Martell. Later this season we will be presenting the World Premiere of Clutter: The True Story of the Collyer Brothers Who Never Threw Anything Out by Los Angeles playwright Mark Saltzman.

In these economic times when state and federal funding of the arts is truly at risk (a recent headline in BackStage West read “State Arts Funding Under Siege”), support from private foundations such as the A.S.K. Foundation is more vital than ever for our survival and we are eternally grateful for their support and encouragement.

ADDENDUM:

Since the announcement of the grant award, a press release announced that as of September 30, 2003, A.S.K. Theater Projects will cease operations. This significant blow to local arts funding will impact not only The Colony, but every theatre in Southern California that depends on private foundations for financial support in an increasingly unsupportive economic climate. More than ever, we and every other arts organization will be looking to individual contributions to fill the gap left by the loss of the most prominent theatre arts foundation in Los Angeles.

Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to The Colony, to help ensure that theatre can not only exist, but can thrive, in any economic environment.

Thank you, as always, for your continued support.
 

2003 Encyclopaedia Britannica Almanac’s 25 Notable US Theater Companies
 
 
The Acting Company - New York, NY
Actors Theatre - Louisville, KY
Alley Theatre - Houston, TX
American Conservatory Theatre - San Francisco, CA
American Repertory Theatre - Cambridge, MA
Arena Stage - Washington, D.C.
Black Theatre Ensemble - Chicago, IL
Center Theatre Group - Los Angeles, CA
Circle in the Square - New York, NY
Cleveland Public Theatre - Cleveland, OH
Colony Theatre Company - Burbank, CA
El Teatro Campesino - San Juan Bautista, CA
Ford’s Theatre - Washington, D.C.
Goodman Theatre - Chicago, IL
Guthrie Theater - Minneapolis, MN
La Jolla Playhouse - La Jolla, CA
Long Wharf Theatre - New Haven, CT
National Actors Theatre - New York, NY
Pasadena Playhouse - Pasadena, CA
The Public Theater - New York, NY
Seattle Repertory Theatre - Seattle, WA
Steppenwolf Theatre Company - Chicago, IL
Studio Arena Theatre - Buffalo, NY
Victory Gardens Theater - Chicago, IL
Yale Repertory Theatre - New Haven, CT

Hellman’s Passion Builds Toys in the Attic

Lillian Hellman didn't just write about bold truths, she lived them. A legendary playwright and memoirist, Hellman first captured the attention and imagination of the country with her play The Children's Hour in 1934. A gripping and powerfully emotional tale of two teachers who are accused of being lesbians by a privileged student, the play, which culminates with one of the teachers committing suicide, was a huge hit on Broadway and brought the 28-year old playwright instant recognition. She followed The Children's Hour with In Days to Come (1936) and The Little Foxes (1939), which is widely regarded as her best work. Hellman was a curiosity in the largely male-dominated world of American theatre. After her successes, she soon found herself labeled as a "second Ibsen," or "the American Strindberg." 

But Hellman's work on stage seemed almost overshadowed by her growing legend off it. Her relationship with mystery novelist Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) made headlines and turned Hellman and Hammett into one of the first celebrity couples. (Their relationship was most recently the subject of a 1999 A&E made-for-television movie, Dash and Lilly, starring Judy Davis and Sam Shepard.) Her relationship with Hammett, along with her famous friends like Leonard Bernstein, made her fodder for gossip columnists, and as the glare of the spotlight shone brighter, so did the notoriety. PBS's American Masters series described Hellman's bold social and cultural presence: "She became a writer at a time when writers were celebrities and their recklessness was admirable. Like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, and Hammett, Lillian Hellman was a smoker, a drinker, a lover, and a fighter. Hellman maintained a social and political life as large and restless as her talent." She chose to use her fame to bring attention to her emerging political views, which were quite bold. Her anti-fascist works Watch on the Rhine (1941) and The Searching Wind (1944) directly criticized America's failures to address and fight Hitler and Mussolini in their early years. Hellman's FBI file was packed with documents chronicling her various political involvements, including her support of the Loyalists during the Spanish Civil War, her signature on a petition asking President Roosevelt to ban German-made goods from entering the U.S., participation in the Fourth Writers Congress, and even a favorable review for Watch on the Rhine from the Daily Worker, the Communist party newspaper. Her leftist political activism led her to be brought before Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952. Pressured to reveal the names of colleagues in the theatre who might have Communist associations, she famously replied: "To hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions, even though I long ago came to the conclusion that I was not a political person and could have no comfortable place in any political group."

Her courageous defiance on this national stage cemented her legacy as one of the most commanding figures in America's cultural life. It also led to her name being added to the Hollywood blacklist. Hammett, who also defied HUAC, was thrown in jail for six months and Hellman suddenly was burdened with a large and unexplained tax bill. With her primary source of income gone, she was forced to sell her house and stage a revival of The Children's Hour. It would be almost a decade before Hellman would write another original work. Toys in the Attic would prove to be her last play, premiering in 1960.

Perhaps her most personal play, Toys in the Attic was written in the aftermath of the blacklist and during a long, eventually fatal battle with lung cancer that would take Hammett's life in January, 1961, a year after the play debuted. Revisiting the old theme of money affecting a dysfunctional Southern family, Toys in the Attic is an examination of overpossessive and destructive love and what happens when we close our eyes to the truths that would blind us.

Director Jessica Kubzansky has chosen to set the Colony's production of Toys in the Attic in 1957, itself a politically charged time in this nation's history, as segregation proved a flashpoint for national debate. Set in New Orleans, Toys in the Attic is the story of two middle-aged sisters who have spent their lives protecting, rescuing and supporting their ne'-er-do-well brother. When he returns, filthy rich, they never bother to question the root of his sudden newfound wealth, turning a blind eye to the timebomb of ugly truths which eventually explode.

One critic highlighted the main character in this play: "money. It is the toy in this attic that stirs unspoken rancors and truths. It is the means to ends that turn out not to be what we wanted all along. A misjudged pursuit of it can beg disaster. Disinterest in it is…'a pretense the rich like to indulge in…a nasty game.' " The same critic summed up the timeless themes that thread through the play: "the need for control at the expense of love and the effect of money on our actions."

Award-winning director Kubzansky’s many credits include Heartbreak House at The Colony and the soon-to-be-mounted production of War Music by Bryan Davidson at The Geffen Playhouse (Opening January 13, 2004). Kubzansky is known for assembling powerhouse casts to inhabit her plays, which, more often than not, are about examining the inner demons which haunt the characters, and require a certain strength and delicacy from an actor. She has chosen a veteran cast, including a Colony Ovation Award winner. Bonita Friedericy, who won the award for Best Suppporting Actress for her role in Our Country's Good, plays Carrie, one of the sisters. Anna, the other sister, is played by Caryn West, whose credits include Crimes of the Heart on Broadway. Julian, the brother who is at the center of the play's storm, is played by Colony member Donald Sage Mackay, who last appeared in Fuddy Meers and as Meriwether Lewis in Beautiful in the Extreme.

Toys in the Attic will begin previewing on August 13 and will play through September 14. To order tickets, call (818) 558-7000. Due to strong subject matter, Toys in the Attic is suitable for ages 16 and older.
 

The Nerd Wreaks Havoc

Sometimes it takes some shaking up to get perspective back in our lives, some not-so-subtle reminders of how good we’ve got it and how lucky we are. Such is one of the themes of Larry Shue’s The Nerd, which recently completed its hugely successful run at The Colony on July 6.

Starring French Stewart of 3rd Rock From the Sun fame as the title character, The Nerd caused waves of laughter to erupt night after night as Stewart shamelessly flaunted his goofy genius and pinpoint comic timing. The Daily News praised his performance, “any eternal fans of the now-defunct NBC series...will want to hike it over to Burbank to see how winningly French Stewart handles a character several ticks more obnoxious than the daffy extraterrestrial he played on TV.” Daily Variety hailed “several sequences are guaranteed to make even the crustiest curmudgeon break into boisterous laughter.” 

Stewart was strongly supported by a brilliant cast of venerable Colony actors, including Ed F. Martin (still best loved as Charlie Brown in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown), as Willum Cubbert, the loveable but pathetic nice guy who is ultimately pushed to the limit by the houseguest from hell. Kevin Symons earned raves as Axel, the wisecracking sidekick and Faith Coley Salie delivered another perfect performance as Willum’s patient but ambitious girlfriend Tansy. Rounding out the inspired cast was Jonathan Palmer as Willum’s uptight boss, and Cindy Warden, who stole the show every night with her infamous pantyhose-removal antics. Colony newcomer Justin M. Bretter was perfect as Willum’s boss’s son, who is also terrorized by the Nerd’s bumbling behaviors. The Los Angeles Times echoed, “Stewart isn’t the only one with terrific timing. This evening is very much about the acting, and the sum of all these performances equals a hoot and a half.”
 

Tall Tales A Giant Success

On Monday, June 23, our theatre was transformed into a gathering place for lovers of the English language and all the beauty, wit, and passion that words can create. The event was called Tall Tales, but there was nothing hyperbolic about the enormous talent and support that created a perfect evening of short stories read by celebrity guest artists.

All proceeds for this fundraising event went directly to The Colony and everyone involved donated their time and talent to make the event a thundering success. Tremendous thank yous go out to our incredible celebrity readers Norman Lloyd, Edie McClurg, Stephanie Zimbalist, James Avery, Paul Dooley, Jane Lynch, John DeLancie, and French Stewart for their inspiring performances and a big thank you to all of you who bought tickets and helped make the evening such a success.

Tall Tales raised more than $3,000 for The Colony and every penny of it is due to the tireless efforts put forth by everyone involved in the production, particularly director David Rose, who guided the artistic vision of the evening, Conwell Worthington III, who stage managed the event, and Anjali Bal, who arranged for the spectacular post-show feast, donated by Colony sponsors BJ’s Brewhouse, Mi Piace, and Arnie Morton’s Steakhouse.

The biggest THANK YOU goes to producers Kevin and Darby Symons, who initially proposed the idea and were solely responsible for rounding up the celebrities and putting the entire evening together. Thank you, Kevin and Darby for a wonderful evening! 
 

Featured Restaurant Partner

Arnie Morton's, The Steakhouse is famous for a signature menu of U.S.D.A. prime aged, Chicago grain-fed beef, fresh fish and seafood, hand-picked produce, and elegant desserts -- prepared to absolute perfection and served in a lively and engaging ambiance. 

The first Morton's restaurant opened on North State Street in Chicago in 1978. It has now expanded to 65 restaurants world-wide. Since first opening the doors of its Burbank location in November 2002, Arnie Morton's, The Steakhouse has been one of the hottest tickets in the L.A. restaurant scene. Attracting Hollywood's elite and sports personalities, Arnie Morton's has set the standard for excellence by which all steakhouses should be measured. 

For those true connoisseurs of beef, Arnie Morton's is the place to go for the best steak in L.A. Arnie Morton's follows Morton's tradition of using exclusive purveyors of beef and provisions to guarantee the finest quality foods. 

The restaurant's interior retains the timeless feel of an old-fashioned, midwestern steakhouse. The solid elegance of dark mahogany woods, subdued lighting, engraved glass partitions displaying the signature Morton's logo, brass fittings, high backed leather booths, and classic white table linens, give the dining room an intimate appeal.

When it comes to the personal touch, Arnie Morton's excels on every level. Famous for its unique tableside presentation, in lieu of a written format, menu items are exhibited by friendly wait staff who wheel out carts laden with fresh, oversized, uncooked vegetables and entrée items to the table for viewing, then proceed to "show and tell" to the delight of guests. 

Menu items include domestic Rib Lamb Chops, Chicken Christopher, Broiled Center Cut Swordfish Steak, whole Baked Maine Lobster and, of course, legendary portions of mouth-watering beef. The Double Filet Mignon is so tender it defies comparison. The colossal, 48 ounce Porterhouse Steak for Two is as delectable as it is challenging. And last, but certainly not least, the flavorful and juicy Ribeye Steak. Sautéed Mushrooms, Baked Idaho Potatoes, and steamed Asparagus or Broccoli with Hollandaise Sauce are among the á la carte side dishes available to complement the satisfying entrées. A large selection of wines, delicious appetizers and decadent desserts make the perfect complements to your sumptuous meal.

Arnie Morton's, The Steakhouse in Burbank is located at 3400 West Olive (10-minute drive from The Colony). For reservations or additional information, call (818) 238-0424.

Open for lunch and dinner 

Lunch: Monday - Friday 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday - Friday 2:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Saturday - 5:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Sunday - 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Bar opens at 5:00 p.m. nightly
 
 

Enjoy Dinner & A Show! $25 Gift Certificate . . . For Subscribers Only!

Arnie Morton's invites you to dine with them before or after TOYS IN THE ATTIC and receive $25 off your bill!*

Make your dining reservations through The Colony and we will arrange for you to receive this very special offer. Your reservations will coincide with your tickets to TOYS IN THE ATTIC and  will give you enough time to enjoy a sumptuous dinner and still make the curtain on time! Reservations are required and must be booked through The Colony to coincide with the date of your tickets to see TOYS IN THE ATTIC.

(Dinner reservations for matinee ticket holders will follow the performance.)

For more information or to take advantage of this very generous invitation from Arnie Morton's, call The Colony at (818) 558-7000 x15.
 

COMING SOON for One Night Only: Fritz Coleman in “The Reception”
 

Channel 4 weatherman Fritz Coleman leads a very busy life when he’s not tracking the Santa Anas. He is an accomplished stand-up comic, writer, actor, and father. His one-man show, It’s Me, Dad, had a successful year-long run in 1997 at the Actor’s Forum Theatre in North Hollywood and his new show, The Reception, is another hilarious and insightful evening with one of LA’s most charming personalities. In an exclusive one-night engagement at The Colony on Saturday, September 20 at 8pm, Coleman will perform his show in a joint fundraiser for the theatre and the Glendale chapter of the American Red Cross, his favorite charity. (In conjunction with this event, we will be hosting a Red Cross Blood Drive on Thursday, September 18 from 2pm-8pm. Everyone is welcome!)

Written and performed by Coleman and directed by Richard Kline, The Reception takes place at a fictional wedding reception, during which Coleman reflects on every aspect of modern marital life. Fifteen characters are explored--beginning with the bride on her second marriage, and her groom on his third.

Critics have raved about The Reception: “A perfect fit for the sharp-witted Coleman” (Los Angeles Times), “devastatingly insightful and hilarious” (Daily Variety), “a humorous and acerbic solo play” (BackStage West).

Tickets for this one-of-a-kind event are $50 for general seating and $125 for priority center section seating (including a private VIP reception). More detailed information about this show will be mailed to you shortly, but tickets are on sale now! Call the Colony box office at (818) 558-7000 x15 to reserve your seats for this special performance!
 

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Producing Director
Barbara Beckley

Managing Director
Amanda Diamond

Administrative Director
Catherine Springer

Special Programs Director
Richard Ford

Box Office Manager
Abbie Bundy

Marketing/Public Relations
David Elzer/Demand PR

Artistic Advisory Board
 
Nick DeGruccio
Todd Nielsen
Robert O'Reilly
David Rose
Scott Segal
Michael David Wadler

Board of Trustees
Leon Alexander
Barbara Beckley
Stephen Blum
Priscilla Davis
Amanda Diamond
J. Kermit Floyd
Jan McElwee
Nonie Lann
Gary S. Maier
David Rose, Chair
Michael David Wadler

The Colony Theatre Company is a member of:
Theatre LA
Burbank Chamber of Commerce
Theatre Communications Group

The Colony Theatre Company
818-558-7000
FAX 818-558-7110
Email: boxoffice@colonytheatre.org

Visit our web site at WWW.COLONYTHEATRE.ORG

Colony Curtain Call!
Catherine Springer, Editor & Writer