The Witch's Curse and Fallen Angels, High Flying Fun for Everyone!

Noel Coward’s “Fallen Angels” and Gilbert and Sullivan’s 10th Operetta, The Witch’s Curse, headline this week’s productions at the Orinda Starlight Village Players Theater and the upcoming production in the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

“Fallen Angels” soars, leaves you wanting more!

When was the last time you took the short little drive from Rossmoor to the Orinda Library and Community Center Starlight Amphitheater? I’ve reported several times in recent months that the Orinda Starlight Theater Players shows are getting better and better and are perhaps one of the best theatre values on this side of the Orinda Hills. I have been told that a number of Rossmoorians came to their production of “Comedy of Errors” recently and came away quite pleased (as I said they would). The current production of Noel Coward’s 1922 comedy, Fallen Angels, is delightfully funny and especially worthy of your attendance at this time.
Under the sage advice and artful direction of Charlotte Meyer, the stalwart cast (consisting of several repeat performers) has delivered a truly delightful and highly entertaining production under the stars in this old amphitheater in the Orinda Hills.

The story evolves around two middle aged attractive women (who have been friends since childhood) and who have married well and are ensconced comfortably in moderately well-to-do upperclass British society. Julia Sterroll (played by Susan England) and Jane Banbury (played by Lori Wolford) are constant companions, sharing life’s trials and tribulations and peripheral rewards. Their husbands, Fred Sterroll (Bill Chessman) and Willy Banbury (Ken Sollazzo), likewise, are good friends and golfing buddies as well.

As the show opens, Fred and Julia are becoming introduced to the Sterroll’s new maid who shall be known as Saunders (played by Jill Gelster). It seems that she knows a little bit about everything, has done everything, is a name-dropper par excellance and is always right!
Fred and Willy pack up their irons and woods and head for the local club, ostensibly to play golf.

Shortly after they leave, Jane bursts into Julia’s home extremely upset, excited, and confused. She wants Julia to pack a bag and retreat with her from their homesteads for the hinterlands of London, to avoid an encounter with a Frenchman with whom they have both had an encounter of the “most intimate” kind, in the years just prior to their current marriages. Certain that meeting up with their dashing, daring, and highly sexual former French paramour, Maurice Duclos (Geotty Chapple), will have potentially disastrous consequences on their present marriages and future libido levels, the two ladies fly and flutter, curse and caterwaul, trying to make up their minds what to do and where to go.

Shall they escape and leave a letter for the Frenchman that they have been called away, or shall they bear the cross of potential licentious behavior and stay! How convenient that their husbands are away for the evening (predictable a very long evening) when the Frenchman is anticipated. What a predicament - - What fun!

The acting is very good for cast, ranging from amateur to quasi-professional actors. While everyone is fun, the three ladies, Susan, Lori, and Jill are an absolute delight!

Comedy of Errors up next!

For those of you who came to see the previous production of “Tempest” will be probably be interested to see the new production of "Comedy of Errors" by William Shakespeare which will open on September 8th and run through September 30th.

The Orinda Starlight Village Players Theatre (OrSVP) is located at 26 Orinda Way, in the Orinda Amphitheatre adjacent to the Orinda Community Center, Park and new Library, on the Orinda Village side of town. OrSVP is local community theatre that has served Orinda and surrounding communities for approximately 30 years. Tickets are a very reasonable $15 for Fallen Angels, with discounts available for seniors and students. Performances are every Friday and Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m., and tickets may be purchased at the entrance to the amphitheater. The play continues through Saturday, August 19th. You may call (925) 253-1191 for additional information. Reservations are not necessary and seating is on a first come, first serve basis. There is plenty of parking adjacent to the park and community center. Remember to dress comfortably and bring a “Tush Cushion” or a folding picnic chair, as the natural rock seating is not the most comfortable.

Ruddygore is a musical hoot and much, much more!

Meanwhile over the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, I had the extreme good fortune to catch the Lamplighter’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta, “The Witch’s Curse” (also known as Ruddygore), in the Yerba Buena Center. This superb production will be opening in the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek on August 3rd for a three day run.

The story is basically a moral opera in which honor and moral absolutes are turned up-side down. Baron Sir Rutheven Mergatroyd fakes his death and changes his name to Robin Oakapple in order to protect himself from a curse inflicted by a witch many generations earlier in his family history. The curse inflicts unimaginable pain and suffering on the oldest living male member of the Mergatroyd family if they do not commit a crime every day of their life. By disappearing into a little local village where he is only known as the very handsome but painfully shy farmer, Robin, this Mergatroyd from Ruddygore has successfully passed the curse on to his next younger brother, Despard.

As time passes, Robin falls in love with the beautiful and petite Rose Maybud (played by two different actresses, Elena Krell and Karen Tesitor), as does his younger foster-brother, Richard Dauntless (John Brown), a seafarer, come home from the sea. A battle ensues over which of the three men (Robin, Despard and Richard) shall finally win the hand of the lovely Rose Maybud.

Two other characters just about steal the show, Mad Margaret played by Kathleen Moss and Sir Despard Mergatroyd of Ruddygore, played by Charles Martin. This is a huge cast that brings out a truly great production in this Gilbert and Sullivan musical.

This nineteenth century musical melodrama is full of silliness and whimsy, including a troupe of professional bridesmaids who bemoan the fact that until the prettiest girl in town, Rose Maybud, marries, no one else will marry either. From Bad Baronets to a bevy of beautiful bride’s maids, the story is guaranteed to make you laugh and come away with a good feeling.

The operatic voices are absolutely exquisite, the orchestra brilliant and the sets outrageous. In addition, this time they have added “Super Titles” projected on a small screen above the stage where they project the words to the songs. Sometimes the rapid alliteration typical of Gilbert and Sullivan are hard to follow, this makes it much easier.

Altogether this is a terrific musical experience and one that should not be missed. This madcap musical melodrama delights audiences proving that we still enjoy, perhaps even crave, comic relief.

Call the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts at (925) 943-7469 (SHOW) or visit for ticket and reservation information. This show plays August 3rd, 4th and 5th at 8 p.m., with a performance on August 5th at 2 p.m.. The tickets range in price between $11 and $46, The Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts is located at 1601 Civic Drive in Walnut Creek.