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September 15, 2005

Shapeshifting Theater


I f you're a trekkie, you know René Auberjonois as Odo, the shapeshifting security officer on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Years ago, he created the role of Father Mulcahy in Robert Altman's film version of M*A*S*H. He currently plays Paul Lewiston on the TV series Boston Legal.

photo of René AuberjonoisTo Marilyn McCormick, Ferndale Rep's executive director, Auberjonois is "a most dear friend, and a champion of live theater." He is also her co-star in Love Letters by A.R. Gurney, essentially a reader's theater piece, which the author explains, "needs no lengthy rehearsal, no special set, no memorization of lines..." Details about the relationship between two lifelong friends come into focus as they read letters exchanged from childhood to old age.

Left: René Auberjonois

Love Letters plays for one weekend only as a benefit for the Ferndale Repertory Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 18, at 1 p.m. Call 786-5483 for tickets and reservations.

The Vagabond Players, Humboldt's venue-hopping children's theater company, are happy to report that they have found a home. In fact, the opening of their adaptation of Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are next weekend is a homecoming of sorts. The theater is in a portion of what is known as the Old Creamery Building in Arcata, a space that was the original location for the Pacific Art Center, a now-defunct theater group that spun off the Vagabond Players years ago.

The Players moved in this summer. "It's a dream come true," said Carole Wolfe, the troupe's artistic director. "Arcata was where we wanted to be." They began by offering classes for kids as they began work on the Wild Things show with Mark Dupre serving as producer and costume designer.

Working in the Creamery has already led to artistic synergy: Neighbors include New World Youth Ballet, and that company's new director, Victor Temple, choreographed movements for the monstrous Wild Things, drawing on multicultural dance with elements from salsa, African dance, Brazilian capoeira and even country line dancing.

Where the Wild Things Are opens Friday, Sept. 23 and runs until Oct. 15, with 7:30 p.m. shows Fridays, and a 2 p.m. matinee and a 7:30 p.m. show each Saturday. The Old Creamery Building is at 9th and L sts. in Arcata. Call Vagabond Players at 442-1533 for reservations or more information.

The same weekend the Vagabonds premiere their new piece in a new/old space, Redwood Curtain bids a bittersweet adieu to the old dime store in the Eureka Mall that they converted into a black box theater seven years ago. When the troupe's current production, The Drawer Boy, ends its run Sept. 24, Redwood Curtain will be homeless.

"When we moved in during the summer of 1999, we knew it would be temporary," said Executive Director Peggy Metzger. "It will be sad to leave, but we're thrilled about our future."

"This whole move will be a rebirth for us," said Clint Rebik, Redwood Curtain's artistic director. "It's an opportunity to move closer toward our dream. We've always wanted to be located in the Downtown, Old Town or Waterfront areas, to be a part of the burgeoning redevelopment movement and contribute to the growing tourism industry."

Got space? Redwood Curtain is looking for between 7,000 and 9,000 square feet of open, warehouse-type space to recreate the setup they built in the mall. They could also use about 3,000 square feet of storage on a short-term basis to stash their stage and gear.

By all accounts Redwood Curtain's final production in the Mall, The Drawer Boy, is among the troupe's best efforts to date, with James Read shining in the lead. Performances continue Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings through Sept. 24, with a Sunday matinee Sept. 18. Call 443-7688 for reservations.

What would have been the final show in the troupe's season, Going to St. Ives, originally slated for an October-November run, will be rescheduled once they find a new home.

Falderal Musical Theater Company was planning on staging their original Christmas show, Sweet Miracles, in the Mall space in December. "We're really very disappointed," said Falderal founder Shirley Groom. "We do not have another place. I've called everybody and their brother looking for a temporary location. What we were planning was a full-on musical; we're figuring we'll do that next winter." Falderal may still try to do a smaller scale holiday show, but plans are uncertain at this point.

North Coast Repertory Theatre is firmly ensconced in its home on Eureka's 5th St., a former Salvation Army hall. NCRT kicks off the 2005-06 season on Thursday, Sept. 22, with Steel Magnolias, a play by Robert Harling set in a Louisiana beauty shop where a group of ladies discuss their personal problems while having their hair done.

Steel Magnolias is one of a half dozen familiar pieces in NCRT's new season. It's followed by the musical Once Upon a Mattress, Shakespeare's As You Like It, Manuel Puig's prison drama Kiss of the Spider Woman, which was adapted as a movie and a musical, Bob Fosse's Roaring '20s musical Chicago, and Broadway Bound, the third and final chapter in Neil Simon's autobiographical trilogy.

Thursday's opening night show includes a champagne reception. After that the play runs Thursdays through Saturdays until Oct. 15, with an 8 p.m. showtime, aside from a single matinee performance at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9. Call 442-NCRT for reservations or go to Take a look at the season ticket price it's a pretty good deal.



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