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Theater Quarterly - Fall 1999

[Tis the Season - Photo of James Floss]


Happily for all of us, the theater playbill for the holiday season is capacious a sumptuous feast for every age, every taste. There are eight shows set to play, some new, some traditional. Virtually all of the productions are family fare or specifically created for children, which is in keeping with the season. I like that. Two of them open tonight, Nov. 18. And two are world premieres, never before produced. One is by local director/actor-and-now-playwright James Floss called The Traveller, an ambitious adaptation of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, precisely timed to welcome the millennium.
(Season schedule of theatres following.)

The Traveller

[Pacific Art Center Theatre]When you ask James Floss (in photo above) how he came upon the idea to bring The Time Machine to the stage, you get a lifetime of answers. He remembers making a diorama in the fourth grade. That's what you did in fourth grade, make a diorama, a Buster Brown shoebox with one side cut out (the fourth wall) made to look like a box stage in which a tableau depicted a historical scene. Perhaps it was the somberly robed Father Serra, toothpick cross in hand standing in front of a sugar cube mission. For Floss, about 31 years ago, it was Weena handing the traveller a bouquet of flowers, a scene from The Time Machine.

"This story's been with me a long time," says Floss, stretching the single syllable to a rubbery length. "I loved science fiction when I was young.

"I've never lost my love of speculative fiction," he continues. "Wells called it a `scientific romance.'"

Does Floss continue to read science fiction?

"I hardly have any time for recreational reading anymore."

This isn't strictly true. Later, in describing the ways in which The Traveller has embedded itself in his life, he tells of trying to lose weight to play the role of the traveller. On an afternoon, you can often see him walking earnestly up and down J Street holding his script in front of his face as he moves briskly along the sidewalk trying to learn his lines and shed pounds.

Floss is a short, powerfully built man, graying, with a mustache that can honestly be described as bristly, and wide eyes that bespeak his enthusiasm, an energy that wants to tell you all about it, all at once.

As a long-time member of the Chamber Readers, Floss is practiced at adapting literature to theater. Perhaps it was the role of the narrator, the storyteller, that charmed him, for in making the Wells' adaptation he was forced to juggle perspectives so the storyteller role became predominant.

"I adapted John Gardener's Grendel , which tells the Beowulf saga from the monster's point of view. And I did a radio drama of that. It was my master's thesis project. We broadcast that on Halloween several years ago on KHSU.

"I like the immediacy of a storyteller talking directly to an audience," he says.

Wells' novel, he notes, was originally titled The Chronic Argonaut, which put the emphasis on the traveller. And that is what he has adapted: The Traveller is an extraordinary man telling the story of what happened to him when a time machine thrust him into the future for one week. On stage, the time-traveller leaves for a short time and returns to tell the audience what he saw and experienced.

This project's demands shaped Floss into something of a Wellsian scholar and more than a fan of late-19th century Victorian technology. What Wells wrote for the end of the 19th century Floss sees as being "just perfect for the millennium." And out of his research comes a surprising insight: "How NOT different 100 years ago was."

He shows me a book called "Victorian Inventions," which details what was shown at "The Hall of Electricity" at the turn of the century. It's fascinating reading, long forgotten. He finds me a description and picture of a talking watch! (Yikes! I thought Dick Tracy invented that in 1946.) He compares the explosion of communication inventions then with the impact of the Internet now. Floss becomes more animated and excited as he talks.

He tells me about the better peach and a more convenient breed of cattle. "They had already developed seedless grapes; so today's genetic engineering of food is not so surprising," he continues.

In his play Floss is a traveller who has been to the future and returned. The show runs about an hour and a half.

"I thought that was about as long as I could dare hold an audience as a solo performer." Smack in one of the most intense points of the adventure there is an intermission. He has to leave the room to refresh and relieve himself.

When he returns he continues to tell us about his exotic, extraordinary expedition from 7:52 p.m., Aug. 19, 1899, to the year 802701. That's a lot of tomorrows.

Well's vision of the future was shaped by certain closely held political and cultural ideas. How do his ideas fit in now, more than 100 years later? Are Wells' political leanings, his humanist viewpoint, a part of the story?

Floss answered simply and emphatically:

"Sure! " To an extent the play is a "social comment on his world." The destructive nature of a rigidly bound class society was a dominant part of Wells' Fabian thinking. It also interests Floss and he hopes it will not escape The Traveller's audience. But just as important to Floss is the story and the fact that Wells was such a good storyteller.

In writing this play Floss tried to maintain the quaint curl and precise Victorian nature of Wells' language. Fully "one-third of the words in the book are in the play," he says.

And it is a language to marvel at, a really engaging style.

Floss has endured the joyful discovery that research promises, the wondrous tickle of writing creatively, and the frustration he was depressingly unsuccessful in getting grant support for his work of a project that has dominated his life for two years. Now the time has come.

Floss has help from plenty of supporters Ronn Campbell, Tracy Jordan French, Charlotte August, Beth Lanzi, David Cash, Joe Donovan and Pamela Lyall. But it's Floss' neck on the line. It all comes down to one man's vision and one man's work when the lights go up on PACT's production of James Floss's The Traveller on the stage at the World Premiere Theater on the first day of the millennium.

And this could be just the beginning. Floss hopes to take The Traveller on the road. A tortuous trail must be traversed by any new play on the road to success. It starts in the hinterlands (as in Humboldt), gets rewritten and re-produced, and performed again and again before it hits the Great White Way or any other stage in a significant somewhere.

For us here at the beginning of his travel into the future, it sounds like it could be a good time. Mark it on your calendar.

[photo from Gift of the Magi]
     Gift of the Magi: Claire McKnight, Nathan DuPré and David Strock

Gift of the Magi

[Ferndale Repertory Theatre]Folks used to say, "Christmas comes but once a year." Nowadays Christmas comes clamoring down the chimney before Halloween ghosts have slipped out of the house. Whatever happened to Thanksgiving?

Ferndale Rep previews its holiday offering, The Gift of the Magi, tonight, Nov. 18. It "officially" opens the following night, a benefit performance for Hydesville Community Church. Ducats (don't you love that word?) are $15.

The Gift of the Magi is a traditional holiday show, a story of sacrifice and plain old love without a whisper of premarital contact, contract or fine print. And although most of us know the O. Henry genre and what to expect at the end of the play, many in today's generation have never heard this story. Magi offers us one of those increasingly rare family entertainment moments. Another positive twist: This production is a musical adaptation by David J. Mauriello with music and lyrics by Robert Johnson.

"There is a bunch of good songs," Marilyn McCormick, FRT's artistic director, told me the other evening as we sat in front of the warming nobility of the Eureka Inn's fireplace.

Director Tinamarie Ivey, who is studying directing in the master of fine arts program at Humboldt State University and has a musical/choreography background, has cast David Strock and October Blaise as the newlyweds, Della and Jim. Nathan Dupre, Katri Moss, Claire McKnight, Veronica Stahl and Sawyer Tatman play multiple characters, and Musical Director Dianne Zuleger (piano) is joined by Kathleen Petersen on bass. The production staff includes Joe Collins, known for wonderful lighting design, Vikki Young, costumes, and Ivey's husband, director/playwright/set designer Dan Stone.

Exceptionally high lumber prices have taken a toll on set design throughout the area. Creative financing has replaced creative set design. FRT, known over the years for its imaginative, no-holds-barred, detailed sets, has suffered in some recent productions. When one remembers the years of lush costumes, lavish sets and wonderful costuming that supported, say, A Christmas Story, with Father Ducker under the Christmas tree, trepidation sets in.

"But," says McCormick, "expect a completely new and wonderful set" for this show.

McCormick found this show at a theater in Connecticut which had ditched Scrooge after many years and refined this musical adaptation until it succeeded with Boston area critics and audiences.

"They actually came out to see us and the theater and liked what they saw," she said. "In fact, they want to come back at Christmas and see our adaptation of it."

More interesting to me was McCormick's excitement about the companion piece she, Ric Streiff and Ed Olson have fashioned out of the Magi story for the children's matinee productions. This play, about an hour long, is performed for school groups it's K-6th-grade appropriate on several dates at 10 a.m. (see schedule, page 14.)

McCormick says she doing it because "they couldn't find anyone else who would get on stage at 10 in the morning."

There are also two public performances on Dec. 4 and 11.

The show began as a clown sketch loosely based on the Magi story. When I asked her if it was a more basic treatment, she said, "Yes, in a sense. In our adaptation there is no time or place, just the essence of the story about people giving something precious of theirs. It's all costumed. There is a lot of audience participation, magic tricks. Now it has evolved to sort of a doll's thing in which the story is presented through them."

She laughs a lot in our interview. When I ask who is directing, she laughs again. The answer appears to be everyone.

"We have a narrator and play a lot of different characters. We ask the kids what to do to get out of a terrible situation" especially when they are not sure they remember their lines.

And they appear to be having too much fun rehearsing, if you ask me. The show is followed by a question-and-answer period with the kids.

Taken together, the FRT's holiday productions promise cheer for the whole family.

[photo from Carefree Drive]      Carefree Drive: Sabrina Adams and Ray Noggle

Carefree Drive

[Plays-in-Progress, World Premiere Theatre]Humbug! Some folks may be looking for respite amid the stress brought about by the demands of the season. PIP/World Premiere Theater has you in mind. New York playwright Paul Buzinski's Carefree Drive opens tonight, Nov. 18.

It took me awhile to figure out how to get into the theater office above the Lost Coast Brewery to meet with Susan Bigelow-Marsh. The door was locked and there was a little sign saying bell for June and Phil's (or something) apartment to the left and one saying "Theater Bell" with an arrow pointing to the right.

I poked around, but I just couldn't see any bell anywhere. Then I walked backward across the street hoping someone gazing out the window would accidentally spot me. No luck. When I returned to the door, I noticed what I had previously overlooked a thin, clear fishing line hanging down, invisible to fish with even the keenest of eyesight. I tugged on it and a gong rang. I am ushered in to a tiny, high-ceilinged room.

On the wall above a desk buried in official-looking communications, a "Gone Fishin'" sign is pinned right next to the "Sold Out" notice. One corner of the room is occupied by the ubiquitous computer, another has a microwave on top of an apartment-size refrigerator. Take-out food containers and piles of books, magazines and scripts are everywhere.

"It's lighter, funnier and happier than the last piece we did, and I guess that makes it our holiday fare," Bigelow-Marsh begins.

"It's unusual for PIP to do a Christmas show, partly because," she pauses, "Ferndale does it so well."

Nor does PIP do many comedies. But the script came to Bigelow-Marsh through a New York theater contact who thought it was hilarious. PIP people read it and decided quickly to give Carefree Drive its world premiere.

Trying to figure out exactly what goes on in Carefree Drive isn't easy. And either Bigelow-Marsh doesn't want to divulge too much or isn't clear herself about the plot line.

I am easily distracted. Also, the phone keeps ringing. The callers all have problems that need solving now.

Apparently it's a play that makes fun of the automobile's outlandishly significant place in our culture and our reliance on it, a great topic for end of the century and millennium. Commuters spend hours a day in vehicles, need a car to go itsy- bitsy distances, and eat, drink, sleep, communicate with the world, watch videos in their cars. Why would one need a four-wheel drive sport utility vehicles to maneuver down a six-lane freeway to a downtown office? And what's with those cupholders?

When Bigelow-Marsh describes the roles played by Director Vince D'Augelli's cast, the confusion in my mind thickens. Sabrina Adams plays Chet, the roadkill expert. Deborah McDermond (Debbie) and Craig McKnight (Ben) are the beleaguered parents. Bob, the vehicularly challenged brother, is played by Kevin Johnson. Veronic Lockwood is the young driver who meets a pedestrian. Farrah (Stephanie Morrow) falls in love with the pedestrian (Ray Noggle) who walks into their lives. Ruth (Mary Severdia) is the crazy neighbor.

Bigelow-Marash says the show is funny from start to finish. It should resonate especially with those of us who have a teenager of questionable driving skill poised to unleash upon civilization as we know it a threat heretofore unimagined.

Hana Hillerova is responsible for the abstract set design, which also sounds very interesting. There are no matinees.

"This play," says Susan, "takes no thinking or effort. Just sit back and enjoy it."

Incidentally Playwright Paul Buzinski "just about as funny as his play" will visit PIP from New York on Dec. 9-11.

[photo from Pirates!]      Pirates!: Emilia Sumelius, Stephen Buescher and Bridget McCracken. Behind is Mary Jones.


And then you could go backward in time this theater season, in a matter of speaking.

Judging from Dell'Arte's past holiday productions (Out of the Frying Pan, Ebenenzer and Bob, and last year's Robinson Crusoe's Humboldt Adventure) the performances promise a banana waiting patiently on the floor around every corner up ahead. The least you can expect is time wiggle if not time warp.

This year it's Pirates! touring locally from Nov. 26 to Dec. 19. Pirates! is another grand mix-up of music, madcap humor and not-so-sly punnery amid every-man-for-himself fun. The show's storyline is a collaborative effort by Artistic Director Michael Fields, dramaturg Stan Mott, and performers Stephen Buescher, Marya Jones, Emilia Sumelius, Brigit McCracken, designer Dan Stockwell, musician Tim Gray and maskmaker Bruce Marrs.

Without giving away too much of the plot, one can say it concerns a lonely girl in Trinidad, a buried treasure chest, naturally, mutiny, of course, and, as one might expect, a legend of all the pirate happenings in Humboldt County over the last 100 years.

Not surprisingly, the show will have its share of bad pirate jokes. There are lots to choose from. Maybe this one:

Retired Humboldt County Pirate: I used to be a buccaneer. I had a price on my head.

Local Landlubber: Oh, really? How much?

Retired Humboldt Pirate: I just told you. A buck an ear.

The price of admission is very family-friendly. In fact, it's free if you pick up advance tickets at your North Coast Co-Op or Coast Central Credit Union. Dell'Arte and the sponsors encourage patrons to bring a canned food donation to the theater door.

The show plays at the Dell'Arte Theater in Blue Lake, at the Van Duzer, in Willow Creek, Crescent City, Trinidad and Orick. There are also a couple of performances at the Eureka Inn where admission will be charged. Check the calendar for performance dates. This is always a terrific show for family and kids.

[photo from A Wrinkle in Time]     Rehearsal on the stage of A Wrinkle in Time.

A Wrinkle in Time

[Vagabond Players]If there is a coincidental theme weaving through theater fare this holiday it is the flex of time. A Wrinkle in Time is the production set to open at the Vagabond Children's Theater at the Manila Community Center Dec. 3. It runs consecutive weekends through Dec. 19.

In past productions the Vagabond Players have cast both adults and children. A Wrinkle in Time features strictly young people, ranging from 7 to 14 years old, in 16 roles. This is children's theater.

The adaptation of Madeline L'Engle's Newberry award-winning children's story was accomplished in a most extraordinary way. Michael Jensen, who is directing this production, suggested it at a Vagabond Players' play selection meeting. Jensen had been involved in a couple of earlier productions, worked at close-by Peninsula School, and has been an Americorps volunteer for the past couple of years. He offered to help with adaptation and direct the production.

Jensen is young and extremely enthusiastic, I realized in talking with him over the phone. He loves and respects the play they are doing. He loves and respects the cast doing it. He is the right person for this production.

So Jensen got in touch with Armeda Reitzel, who teaches an adolescent communication class like, at HSU to, you know, help with the project. Reitzel divided her class into seven small groups and asked each group to read L'Engle's classic and adapt it to the stage. In a few weeks those seven rough drafts were turned over to Jensen who drafted a final adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time.

Consider for a moment not only Jensen's contributions, but parents schlepping their kids back and forth to rehearsals and helping with set construction (under the direction of Haley Newberg and Carol Wolfe) and costuming. Add Americorps members popping in and out assisting with painting, hammering, nailing, sewing costumes and other production chores. This is community theater in trump!

Typical of most Vagabond productions, A Wrinkle in Time is written to appeal to all age groups. Keeping huggably close to the book's story line, the adaptation uses slapstick, high comedy and adventure.

"I remember it as a tough read," Jensen told me. "And I want to hang on to that for today's kids."

The three main characters, all strong roles, are played by Elizabeth Wright (13, as Meg), Ethan Cardoza (8, Charles) and Nathan Wells (13, Calvin). Jensen points out that all of these characters "have lots and lots of lines." He says Elizabeth is a "fantastic actress." And, he says, "Charles has just as many lines as Meg!"

In the play Charles is a 5- or 6-year-old who "talks like an adult." The first time Charles meets Calvin, Calvin says that he is a "sport." Charles notes that he is a sport, too. Calvin explains that he did not mean it in the sense of basketball or football. Charles says he didn't mean it that way either and proceeds to rattle off this line: "A sport: a change in gene resulting in the appearance in the offspring of a character which is not present in the parents, but which is potentially transmissible to its offspring."

Ahhhh, children's theater: 8-year-olds acting out the lives of 5-year-olds to make sense of the adult world.

The play also includes the Fabulous W Ladies, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Whatsit, who speak occasionally in one or another foreign language.

Like other productions previously mentioned here, this story, too, involves time warps and zones, Good and Evil, culture and charm, romance and adventure, outlandish mind control and satisfying rescue.

It looks promising to me. Don't forget: Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. and ticket prices ($5 for adults) are cheap.

Productions at Vagabond are sometimes characterized by a lovable funky quality. This show will probably continue that tradition. But the daring of the idea, the gracious community collaboration, and the enthusiasm Jensen brings to the production give us much hope. This could be the sleeper of the season.

[photo of Messiah singers]     Performing the Messiah.

The Messiah

[Humboldt Light Opera]If your cup of eggnog is the more traditional, the annual Messiah production is an excellent choice. Carol Ryder, Humboldt Light Opera Company artistic director told me about it the other evening.

Every year for the last 15, Jim Stanard has directed the holiday performance and this year will be his last. His steadfastness, inspiration and creative energy over the years seem irreplaceable. He will be honored at the opening night reception at the Eureka Inn. The Messiah orchestra and chorus will perform some of Stanard's compositions this year as a special part of the program.

"He is an incredible composer, because he knows the voice so well," Ryder said.

Aside from the powerful, moving inspiration The Messiah always evokes, the best thing about it is that you know it will do that. It's guaranteed. That's a good deal.

It comes but once a year and it will be just as wonderful this year as it was last. The usual bunch of teachers, ranchers, insurance salesman, clerks and everyone else who could be your neighbor will be singing and playing their hearts out in the 40-person chorus and the 20-member orchestra. There are always a few newcomers, but for the most part the Messiah veterans show up again every year as regular as sleigh bells.

Christ Episcopal Church at 15th and H in Eureka is where the "Hallelujah Chorus" resounds and reverberates every year at this time. Although the nave seats 300, it feels intimate and comfortable and ensures rich, resonant sound in the burnished ambiance of the setting. The chorus is noted especially for its lustrous, deep-colored bass and tenor sections. Again this year John Ector will conduct the orchestra.

Feeling the power and peace of The Messiah lends itself to tradition. For many it is a family tradition. Tickets are available at North Soles Footwear in Eureka and Arcata, and Green's Pharmacy in Fortuna. They are $10 and $7.

[photo from Back Swing]     A scene from Back Swing.

Back Swing

Up at HSU at the Studio Theater, Back Swing, an original student play written by Samuel Dyches and directed by Jyl Hewston plays Dec. 2-5 and 8-11. Curtain is 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 down to free for HSU students.

Back Swing is a coming-of-age family drama in which Dysches "portrays the love/hate dynamics that figure into both the culture of handball and family, in a style and feel unique to his New York experience."

Dyches is an undergraduate theater arts major with an emphasis in new forms of film production. He is also a lifelong musician, both performer and composer.

As playwright, his work reminds us that being a rookie is something we all have experienced in one way or another, and Back Swing gives us another rookie to remember with, to cheer for.

This production has been entered in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

[photo from The Tempest]     Cast of The Tempest.

The Tempest

[North Coast Repertory Theatre]Although North Coast Repertory Theater's production of The Tempest, directed by Linnea Conway, does not open until Jan. 14, a brief mention here is appropriate. The energetic and talented Conway annually directs the Shakespeare-in-the-Park production. Fortunately for all of us, the play selection committee at NCRT decided to include Shakespeare in its regular season and Conway was asked to direct.

Gary Sommers, Courtney Greenlaw, Patrick Jones, James Read and Izak Chenevey as Ariel head up a cast of 27 that has just gone into rehearsal. Lights, sound and set are designed by Edmund Deraedt. Conway is especially enthusiastic about the costume design by Bluebird, a specialist in period costumes.

The Tempest is an interesting choice for a variety of reasons. As Shakespeare's last play it has been subject to centuries of critical interpretation both allegorical and cultural. Good and evil in the grand grim manner of a fairytale, the kind that can sometimes be basic and ferocious, thrash about in a mashing of fiction and folklore. But what especially attracts Conway to this Shakespeare's story is that it is the only one of his works that reflects the impact of the New World and America on the dramatist.

Much of Shakespeare's play is based on eyewitness accounts of the shipwreck on Bermuda in 1609 of the expedition to Virginia led by Sir Thomas Gates. The colonization of Virginia stirred the interest of writers and audiences of Shakespeare's time and here it is brought to life in rich, wonderful language and magic of Shakespeare's imagination.

This is will be one of the most important productions of the new season. Watch for it.



Dell'Arte Players
131 H St., Blue Lake. 668-5663.
Pirates! The annual Dell'Arte Holiday Touring Show offers a swashbuckling evening of music, mayhem and wooden legs, featuring Dell'Arte's trademark mix of humor, masks and fun. Nov. 26 and 27, 7:30 p.m. Dell'Arte Studio Theatre; Sun. Nov. 28, 7:30 p.m. Van Duzer Theatre, HSU; Fri. Dec. 3, 7 p.m. Trinity Valley School, Willow Creek; Sun. Dec. 5, 7:30 p.m. Trinidad Town Hall, Trinidad; Sun. Dec. 12, 3 p.m. Crescent Elk School, Crescent City; Mon. Dec. 13, 10:45 a.m. Orick Elementary, Orick; Dec. 16, 17,18 and 19, 7:30 p.m. Dell'Arte Studio Theatre Matinee; Dec. 18, 2 p.m. Dell'Arte Studio Theatre, Blue Lake. Admission is free with tickets picked up at tour sponsors Northcoast Co-Op or the Coast Central Credit Union. Bring a non-perishable food item to help feed those in need this holiday season.
Coming Jan. 6-8 and 13-15 Laundry of Dreams, a clown theater piece written and performed by Rudi Galindo with Bruce Marrs and Gail Grigg. Funded in part by Northcoast Cultural Trust.

Ferndale Repertory Theatre
447 Main St., Ferndale. 786-5483.
The Gift of the Magi O. Henry's Christmas story about giving and sharing comes to the Rep stage in this musical adaptation by David Mauriello with music and lyrics by Robert Johnson. Gala champagne reception Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m. $15; Fridays and Saturdays Nov. 18 - Dec. 18, 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees, 2 p.m. Nov. 28, Dec. 5, 12, and 18. $11/$9 students and seniors. Christmas matinee shows for schools Nov. 29, 30, Dec. 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, open to the public Dec. 11.
Coming Jan. 20 - Feb. 12, The House on the Cliff by George Batson. The house is rumored to be the last stop on the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. Do spirits still walk the halls? The adventure begins with murder and ends with a chilling surprise.

North Coast Repertory Theatre
300 5th St. Eureka. 442-NCRT.
Holiday Festival of Entertainment. A variety of acts include the Arcata Interfaith Teen Choir, Chamber Readers, Fusuikan Martial Arts, Redwood Area Theatre Sports, solo performing artist Jeff DeMark, Irish folk music and a youth chamber music group Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m. Special appearance by Santa during the Sunday matinee. Dec. 12, 2 p.m. $5/$3 for kids under 12
Coming Jan. 14 - Feb. 5, The Tempest by William Shakespeare. The drama begins with a storm at sea conjured up by Prospero, duke-turned-sorcerer. He and his shipwrecked victims lead us through a tale of treachery, revenge, love and ultimate forgiveness. Champagne gala opening Jan. 14, 8 p.m. $15.

World Premiere Theatre

615 4th St., Eureka. 443-3724.
Carefree Drive by Paul Buzinski, a comedy about the suburban Warnick family whose lives are completely centered around cars. In the midst of planning for their daughter's coming-of-age party (she is getting her license), in walks the much feared pedestrian, and their whole world is turned topsy-turvy. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 Nov. 26-27, Dec. 2-4 and 9-11. $7.

Pacific Art Center Theatre
World Premiere Theatre, 615 4th St., Eureka. 443-3724.
The Traveller A stage version of H. G. Wells' story The Time Machine, this original work takes an 1890s inventor time-traveling far into the future where he finds a utopia that hides a sinister secret. Written and performed by veteran PACT director/actor James Floss. Gala champagne opening, Jan. 1, 6 p.m. Performances run from Jan. 1 - 29

Vagabond Players
Manila Beach and Dunes Community Center,
1611 Peninsula Dr. 442-1533
A Wrinkle in Time An adaptation from the book by Madeleine L'Engle. Directed by Mike Jensen. The classic children's story about three kids who embark on an adventure through time and space. Dec. 3 -19 Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30, Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2. $6/$4 children under 12.

Humboldt State University
Department of Theatre, Film & Dance

Tickets 826-3928.
Back Swing by Samuel Dyches, directed by Jyl Hewston. The coming-of-age story is an original production written by an HSU undergraduate and entered in the American College Theatre Festival. HSU's Studio Theatre. Dec. 2-5 and Dec. 8-11, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday $6/$3.50/free to HSU students, Thursday and Sunday $6/$2/free to HSU students.

Recycled Youth, Healthy Start
& the Mateel Community Center

59 Rusk Ln., Redway, 923-3368.
Through Our Looking Glass
The 17-member teen ensemble worked for 12 weeks with artists Joani Rose, Barbara Penny, Susan Alexander and Andy Barnett to create a series of original vignettes that highlight issues including teen suicide, homophobia, tobacco addiction and Y2K. Dec. 3 and 4, 8 p.m. $5/$2 under 19/under 11 free.

Jeff DeMark
will perform his one-man-show, Writing My Way Out of Adolescence, at Beginnings Octagon in Briceland. Dec. 10, 8 p.m. A benefit for Californians for Alternatives to Toxic Sprays. 822-8709.

Redwood Curtain
will announce its 2000 season in December. Eureka Mall, 800 W. Harris St. 441-6965.

Holiday Classics
Redwood Concert Ballet
presents The Nutcracker at HSU's Van Duzer Theatre. The company is in its 26th year performing under Artistic Director Virginia Niekrasz-Laurent. The performance of this Christmas classic by Tchaikovsky will include solos by members of the American Repertory Ballet, the San Francisco Opera Ballet and Pacific Dance Theatre. Dec. 17, 18 and 19, 8:15 p.m. Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. Matinees Dec.18 and 19, 2 p.m. General admission $10/$8 students and seniors seats, reserved orchestra center $15/matinee $8. Dec. 17 Opening night gala $15, benefit for St. Bernard Schools. 443-4390.

The Humboldt Light Opera Co. presents Handel's Messiah at Christ Episcopal Church 15th and H sts., Eureka. Dec. 16, 17 and 18, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19, 2 p.m. 445-4310.George Frederick Handel's classic oratorio under the directon of Jim Stanard. Opening reception Dec. 16 following performance at Eureka Inn. No-host bar, hors d'oeuvres and desserts. Tickets $17.50/$12.50 students and seniors. 445-4310.

Feet First Dancers perform its holiday show, Season of Light Dec. 16-19, 7 p.m. at the Mateel Community Center, 59 Rusk Lane, Redway. Set in merry olde England, the show centers on a feast scene with minstrels, jesters and dancers. The wizard Merlin appears to tell the story of how cultures around the world celebrate the return of the light. Reserved seats $10/$7 children/$7 general admission (no seat). 923-9384.



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