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Colony Curtain Call!
The Newsletter of the Colony Theatre Company: Winter 2004
Catherine Springer, Editor

HIGHLIGHTS

Colony to Present The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey as the fifth show of the season A heartfelt comedy hailed as "a new classic" by TIME Magazine

At the end of most Colony seasons, we deliver a surprise, a post-holiday gift for our subscribers. Committing to only four shows at the beginning of a season allows us the flexibility to plug in that special something that comes along that we just can't resist. The 2003-04 Season was designed just that way, with the fifth show of the year previously announced as a TBA, but it is now time to reveal the surprise and magical ending to our spectacular, award-winning season, and we couldn't be happier to anno unce it to our subscriber family first.

The fifth show of our 2003-2004 Season will be Michael Healey's The Drawer Boy, a Canadian import about the bonds of friendship and the undeniable power of storytelling. The Drawer Boy looks in on the lives of two aging bachelor farmers in 1972 rural Ontario. World War II veterans and lifelong friends, the farmers share a quiet and uneventful life based on stories and routine. Their lives are comically disrupted when a young, energetic actor from the big city shows up on their doorstep wanting to live a nd work with them as research for a play about farming. As the actor immerses himself, the farmers' darkest secrets become part of the actor's play and the lines between theatre and life, and memory and reality, become blurred. Heartbreak and levity mix in this award-winning play about storytelling and how it transforms our lives. 

The Drawer Boy will be directed by Colony veteran David Rose (Our Country's Good, The Man Who Came To Dinner, Fuddy Meers), who says "this is the best play I've read in the last several years and I can see why audiences worldwide have embraced it." The play, since its debut in Canada in 1999, has won four Dora Awards (recognizing outstanding achievements in Toronto theatre), including Outstanding New Play and Production, as well as the Chalmers Award and the 1999 Govenor General's Award for Drama. Since then, it has toured across Canada and has been produced to critical acclaim all over North America and Europe. We are proud to be producing the Los Angeles premiere of this world-wide smash hit new play.

TIME Magazine hailed The Drawer Boy as one of the Ten Best Plays of 2001, calling it "a new classic," lauding it as "beautifully written, with sly and unexpected edges." Variety echoed those sentiments, saying the play has "heartfelt honesty and the kind of storytelling good theatre is all about." This element of storytelling is what drew Rose to the piece: "The author understands how stories and storytelling are woven into the fabric of everyone's lives. We all tell stories of how we came to be, who w e loved and the things we've lost along the way." He also feels this play is a perfect fit for our Colony audiences. "It is rich, poignant and full of humor. These men are like brothers who have developed a profoundly unconditional friendship in this remote place which is challenged by the arrival of a strange youngster from the city. He becomes a catalyst for these men to re-examine how they live their lives. It ends with a redeeming portrait of growth and change that reflects the power that art has to help all of us remember what is really important in life. In this way it is a quintessential Colony show."

The Drawer Boy will begin previewing on April 6 and will run through May 8, 2004. Your tickets that currently read “PLAY 5 To Be Announced” will be honored for The Drawer Boy. The Drawer Boy is appropriate for ages 12 and up.

Tickets for The Drawer Boy will go on sale to the public on March 6, but we are now offering a special 6-play subscription package that includes The Drawer Boy and all of next season for one low price! Call our Box Office at (818) 558-7000 to get your tickets today!
 

Urban Legends Revealed

March 21, 1947. New York City. The police receive a tip that famous recluse Homer Collyer is dead. Brothers Homer and Langley Collyer had lived for years in virtual seclusion in their elegant 5th Avenue mansion. News of the police investigating possible foul play involving New York’s most famous misanthropes turned the case into the first full-fledged media circus of the twentieth century. 

The story of the Collyers, however, goes much deeper than their strange end and their curious public image. In Mark Saltzman's world premiere play Clutter: The True Story of the Collyer Brothers Who Never Threw Anything Out, opening on February 7 and playing through March 7 and directed by Rick Sparks, the playwright examines not just the creepy circumstances in which the Collyer Brothers surrounded themselves, but their complexities, their history, and possibly even their motivations for shutting themsel ves off from the rest of the world. 

Homer and Langley Collyer were famous before they were infamous. Born the sons of a wealthy and beloved New York doctor and his equally famous wife, they grew up in luxury, living the happy family life, until 1909, when their parents decided to separate, a rare occurance at the time. The separation took its toll on the brothers, who apparently turned to each other for emotional support, shutting themselves off from the rest of the world. 

After their parents died, Homer and Langley continued to live in their luxury mansion, and, despite their wealth (estimated at more than $100,000 at the time), they stopped paying their bills. Their water, electricity and gas were shut off. Legend has it that Langley attempted to generate power inside the mansion using an automobile engine. In 1942, when the police attempted to evict the brothers for failing to pay the mortgage, Langley reluctantly paid it (in one $6700 payment) and then retreated even further, boarding up all the windows and cementing himself as New York's most famous recluse.

But the real story of the Collyer Brothers emerged only after the news of Homer's death. When police arrived at the mansion on that day in March to investigate the tip, they found they were prevented from getting into the house by walls of junk, piles upon piles of stuff that were built up, blocking any entrance. Police were eventually forced to enter through a second-story window, and what they discovered inside has become one of the most famous stories of the twentieth century. 

The story of Clutter touches on the possible motivations for Homer and Langley's strange obsession, but, mostly, Clutter examines the relationship between the brothers and their delicate support system which shielded them from the world outside. The play strips away the gossip and the newspaper reports and looks at two human beings who suffer real pains, pursue real dreams, and experience real joy. It is a touching, tender story, not of two crazy nutcases, but of two misunderstood people, who have a story to tell, as we all do. 

The play also features a parallel story-line of the relationship between two police officers, also brothers, who are assigned to investigate the case. Only Homer was found inside the mansion when police broke in, prompting a city-wide search for Langley, and the obvious question of whether Langley was responsible for Homer's death. The two police officers experience an emotional journey of their own during the investigation and the search for Langley, as the universality of brotherly love is illustrated on another level.

But no matter how touching any relationship in this story is, there is no getting around the real interest in the Collyer case. To this day, there are stories of "hoarders" and "clutterers" (there's even a Clutterers Anonymous) and the people that just cannot throw anything away, for whatever reason. And every single time one of these stories comes out, the Collyers are mentioned. Their story, although seemingly unique, continues to be repeated, though never quite to the same fantastic degree.

The Collyer’s story is a truly fascinating one, whether you're interested in the touching details of how the brothers cared for each other and what drove them to their mind-boggling obsession, or you are just wildly curious about how anyone can accumulate that much junk and can’t help but wonder---why? One thing is for sure: after seeing this play, you’ll never look at your junk-filled closet the same way again.

Tickets for Clutter are on sale now and may be purchased by calling the Colony Box Office at (818) 558-7000 x15. Clutter is appropriate for ages 12 and up. 
 

2004-04 Season Announced

It's usually a good sign when you have to schedule a play around a director's busy regional directing calendar. Such is the case with Lillian Groag, author and director of the second show of our 2004-2005 Subscription Season, Ladies of the Camellias. Such a scenario, combined with the other formidable directors we are proud to feature next season, prompt us to dub 2004-2005 as the Season of the Director.

That's not to say the plays we have lined up for you next season are shabby either. Quite the opposite. We've got an Edgar Award Mystery Winner, a Tony-Award Winner, and a play based on a beloved and classic novel, among others. The powerful stories these plays have to tell, combined with the talented hands that will guide them onto our stage and into your hearts, make us extremely proud to announce the titles and directors for our 29th Season. Colony Producing Director Barbara Beckley comments, "I'm n ot sure if I'm more excited by our season of shows or by the quality of accomplished directors whose unique visions will be realized on our stage! This is a remarkable season for any theatre company to put together. I know our subscribers and audiences are in for five exceptional evenings of theatre all guided by directors whose passion and talent promises them a lot of laughs, tears, surprises, and the kind of goose bumps one can only enjoy during a live theatrical experience."

The season will open with a bang with the Los Angeles premiere of a thrilling new telling of the classic story Around the World in 80 Days, based on the popular Jules Verne novel, adapted by Mark Brown. It is the vibrant, hilarious, and spellbinding adventure of Phileas Fogg, as he races to traverse the globe in 80 days in order to win a bet. The audience is carried along the breakneck ride as Fogg encounters every kind of obstacle, from human to animal to mineral. In the end, it is a play that demonstrates that the journey is in fact more important, fun, and meaningful than the destination.

Directing this epic adventure will be Los Angeles director Stefan Novinski, who recently dazzled LA audiences with his production of The Skin of our Teeth at the Evidence Room. LA Weekly highlighted Novinski's accomplishments last year in their 2003 year-end Best of Theatre wrap-up: "Director on a Streak: Stefan Novinski found just the right balances of contrary tones in a series of productions through the year, starting with Edward Kemp's adaptation of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying at Hollywood's Open Fist Theater. Novinski somehow held the play's morbidity and humor in check, allowing Faulkner's grim compassion to come through. In Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth at Evidence Room, Novinski got to the epic biblical grandeur behind Wilder's farcical family saga of catastrophe and recovery. Finally, it was a blend of elegiac and whimsical tones that marked his tender production of Scottish playwright David Grieg's existential comedy, The Cosmonaut's Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union, back at the Open Fist." Novinski will bring his unique ability to blend epic grandeur with whimsy to The Colony's production of Around the World in 80 Days, slated to open on June 9, 2004. 

Next up will be Ladies of the Camellias, written and directed by Lillian Groag. In this compelling and hilarious piece, we are transported to 1894, where political unrest is brewing outside a major Paris theatre, but inside two of the greatest rivals in the history of the stage---Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse---are girding for their perceptive, quick-witted and legendary (but imagined) encounter. Ladies of the Camellias takes wit to a new level as the forces that shape history are actually overshadow ed by the egos of two titanic divas as the play examines the lines that are drawn between art and life, and the stage becomes a ribald playground for wit, sword-play, and social commentary. 

Directing her own play will be nationally renowned director Lillian Groag, whose impressive directing credits include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Old Globe Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Mark Taper Forum's Taper Too, New York City Opera, Berkeley Repertory, Milwaukee Repertory, Seattle Repertory, Glimmerglass Opera, the Sundance Institute Playwrights Lab, the Virginia Opera, and Opera San Jose, just to name a few. 

October, 2004 will bring to The Colony the Tony-Award winning smash hit musical Grand Hotel, The Musical, with book by Luther Davis; Music and Lyrics by Robert Wright and George Forrest and additional music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. This musical extravaganza is set in Berlin in 1928 in Europe's most opulent hotel at one of history's most thrilling and dangerous times. The musical interweaves several storylines in a whirlwind of music and dance. Winner of 5 Tony Awards in 1990, Grand Hotel features vib rant characters, including a debt-ridden baron-turned-thief, an aging ballerina, and a businessman discovering the advantage of corruption. Failure and ambition, loss and love, death and birth are themes that swirl through the revolving door into a grand theatrical experience unlike any other.

Directing Grand Hotel will be Peter Schneider, a creative mastermind with an impressive resume. Best-known for his long tenure at Walt Disney, Peter oversaw the rebirth of the animation industry and was responsible for getting over 20 movies made, including Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beauty and the Beast, Lion King and Toy Story. Peter also served as the President of Disney Theatricals, where he produced Aida and The Lion King on Broadway. What most people don't know is that Peter started his professional career in the theatre and was very active in the off-off Broadway movement in the early seventies, directing at Circle Repertory Theater, the WPA theater, and Playwrights Horizons.   For 5 years, he was the Managing Director of the St. Nicholas Theater, one of the premiere theatres in America for developing new writers, and he was the Associate Director of the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, a 10 week Arts festival that changed the face of the Arts in Los Angeles. We are thrilled and honored to have such a pedigreed theatrical professional make his Colony debut with this grand and luminous musical, Grand Hotel. Grand Hotel will begin previewing on October 13, 2004 and will play through November 14, 2004.

A change of pace will follow Grand Hotel, as the comic thriller Accomplice by Rupert Holmes will be the first show of 2005. In this classic Edgar Award-winning whodunit, the trick is finding out who's doing what to whom. See if you can outguess all the surprising twists and turns fueled by the fiendishly clever writing of Rupert Holmes, author of The Mystery of Edwin Drood and, yes, the Pina Colada Song!. You won’t want to miss this truly original mystery.

Directing Accomplice will be yet another veteran of the theatre, Simon Levy, who directed the recent smash hit revival of Master Class at the Fountain Theatre, where he also serves as the Producing Director/Dramaturg. Simon has become best-known for his successful stage adaptations of F. Scott Fitzgerald's pieces, including The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night and The Last Tycoon, all produced at The Fountain. His recent directing credits include Lee Blessing's Going to St. Ives at the Fountain Theatre, and Uncle Vanya at the Actors Co-op, both named Critics’ Choice by the Los Angeles Times. Other local credits include the smash 2002 production of After the Fall, which ran for 7 months and won 4 Ovation Awards, Night of the Iguana, and Summer and Smoke. Accomplice will start knocking 'em dead on February 9, 2005 and will play through March 13, 2005.

The fifth show of our season, scheduled to play from April 6, 2005 to May 8, 2005 is still To Be Announced. We are savoring the opportunity to discover a thrilling new piece or unearth a forgotten gem to present to you as the final show of the season. But no matter what, it will be the perfect capper for an already amazing year. 

To subscribe to our spectacular Season, please call our Box Office at (818) 558-7000 or visit our website at www.colonytheatre.org.
 

Colony Wins Best Play for Second Year in a Row

The Colony took home the honor for Best Play in a Larger Theatre for the second year in a row at the 2003 Ovation Awards, held on November 23, 2003 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. 

The Ovation Awards annually honor the best in Los Angeles theatre and in 2002 we were proud to take home the Ovation for Best Play in a Larger Theatre for our critically-acclaimed production of The Laramie Project. This time, it was our production of Toys in the Attic that took home the top prize, beating out such competition as the Ahmanson Theatre, A Noise Within, and La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Nancy Linehan Charles, nominated for her stellar performance in Toys in the Attic, also walked away with an award for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
 

A Congressional Audience

This past November, Producing Director Barbara Beckley joined Julia Rodriguez-Elliott of A Noise Within and Alan Ziter of the San Diego Performing Arts League as they testified at a hearing conducted by the California Legislature’s Subcommittee on the Arts. 

The purpose of the hearing was to examine the State’s support of the Arts and Barbara was hand-picked to participate by State Senator Jack Scott.
 

Special Performances

In partnership with the Los Angeles Radio Reading Service, The Colony now offers Audio Description for one performance during each production. The service provides a rich description of the show giving our visually impaired patrons the full Colony experience. 

Audio Description Dates:
Clutter - Feb 21, 3 PM
The Drawer Boy - Apr 24, 3 PM

Each production also features two Talk-Back performances, after which the cast, director, producer and other artists gather with the audience to discuss the show.  This program gives the audience a rare opportunity to interact with the artists who create at The Colony. 

Talk-Back Performances:
Clutter - February 13 & February 26, 8pm
The Drawer Boy - April 16 & April 29, 8pm

To exchange your tickets for any of these performances, call the Box Office at (818) 558-7000 x15 and ask for Audio Description Saturdays or Talk-Back Performances.