Orinda and Castro Valley provide some great community theatre to crow about!

Orinda Starlight Theatre delivers a stellar comedy!

The Orinda Starlight Theatre is currently presenting a really fun-filled evening of entertainment with what has to be one of their absolute best theatrical productions in years, one of their best all around casts, one of their better sets, all combining to provide you with a comedic adventure that will stir a chuckle or a chortle when you least expect it, perhaps, even a couple of days after the show is over.

Director Susan Lorraine has the great good fortune of having three terrific male actors to play her “criminal” characters, three guys who have a lot of theatrical mileage together and who play off each other better than bowling pins in a championship tournament!

Albert Husson’s delightful comedy, My Three Angels, is a well-mannered screwball comedy that centers on a French merchant, Felix Ducotel (Malcolm Cowler) and his family, exiled by a wealthy entrepreneurial cousin, Henri Trochard (Eric Carlson), to the French Guinea capital city of Ceyenne, to manage a general store that serves the island’s inhabitants and prisoners.

The heart of the plot evolves when three convicts who are utilized by Felix to repair his store’s roof, overhear conversations between Felix and his wife, Emelie (Susan England), as they discuss Felix’s shortcomings as a manager and a potentially disastrous pending visit by Henri Trochard, who is arriving shortly to inspect the business books and inventory the store’s merchandise. On the eve of the untimely audit by the visiting Trochard, the Ducotel's family becomes unwitting hosts to the three convicts. These three convicts have been incarcerated in the French Guinea penal colony for murder, in addition to their other various criminal specialties. Jules (Mark Barry) was an accomplished safe-cracker, Joseph (Geotty Chapple), a white collar business criminal with an uncanny talent for manipulating accounting books, and Alfred (Shawn Bonnington), a convicted rapist. The three convicts pretend to be the Ducotel family servants and utilize their unique criminal talents to temporarily forestall the sinister Uncle Trochard’s impending audit. Then, there is Adolf, Alfred ’s pet viper, who plays behind the scenes in solving the Ducotel family’s impending financial disaster.

You may remember the 1955 movie version, entitled , We’re No Angels, starring Humphrey Bogart, Aldo Ray, Peter Ustinov, Basil Rathbone and Leo J. Carroll. I believe the play is even better than the Technicolor movie, which tended to be far less focused than the play, far less humorous, but at the same time was fairly successful at the box office.

The acting is absolutely superb for community theatre, in fact, for any theatre. Everyone delivers an excellent portrayal of their character and without question, Chapple, Bonnington, and Barry, exhibit great timing and characterizations, really making this particular production soar! My wife and I have seen this play many times over the years, and this production has to be one of the best. Don’t miss this one!

Tickets are $15 each, but only $7.50 for Seniors and Students. “SUCH A DEAL!” The theatre is located at 26 Orinda Way, in the Orinda Amphitheatre adjacent to the Orinda Community Center, Park, and Library. The OrSVP (Orinda Starlight Village Players have been serving Orinda residents and surrounding communities for approximately 30 years. Performances are every Friday and Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m., through August 4th, and tickets may be purchased at the ticket booth adjacent to the theatre or may be ordered by mail care of their post office box, 204, Orinda, California, 94563-0204. Reservations are not necessary as the seating is open on a first come, first served basis. Remember to dress warmly (perhaps even bring a blanket to cover the legs) as many of these evenings in the Orinda hills can be very chilly. My wife and I always bring folding chairs or “tush” cushions, as this outdoor theatre’s seating is very hard. The theatre does provide seat cushions if you want them.
The Orinda Starlight Village Theatre has been around for many, many years and continues to bring a very satisfactory mix of amateur and seasoned community actors to audiences, providing very reasonably priced entertainment.

Castro Valley Chanticleer’s Theatre has a terrific show to crow about!

The Chanticleer’s Theatre in Castro Valley, is another little theatre somewhat off my normal reviewer’s path, which has once again proven it can provide excellent entertainment at a very reasonable price.

Director Marty Nemko has chosen top quality actors over usual character-typing in his selection of Rich Dymer and Charlotte Jacobs as George and Doris, the only two actors in this classic Bernard Slade comedy, Same Time Next Year. I applaud his selection!

This wonderful little comedy focuses on love and adultery and a strange kind of commitment that takes place over a 30 year span of time in this one couple’s life. George and Doris meet in the Heritage House resort on the Mendocino Coast, beginning in 1950. They have never practiced adultery before, but on this particular night, both are lonely, both are engaged by each other’s personalities, friendship, and heightened by a glass of wine and the sharing of dinner.

Each and every year for 30 years, the couple has a particular reason to again visit the same area on the same date. They re-unite and continue to meet surreptitiously and share each other’s lives and family vicariously, over candlelight dinners and therapeutic sex (ie: good for what ails ya!). They both are pretty typical husbands and wives in their own married relationships, with all the ups and down that are chronicled for us in six scenes from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, in this very cleverly written play. The play demonstrates how couples change, grow and mature in and out of their own relationships, and in this case, in this extended and illicit relationship.

This is an adult play, not intended for children to attend, unless you are a child at heart. It is warm and funny and entertaining. The two actors, Charlotte and Rich, are exceptionally good actors and make this story very real. Typically, directors choose younger actors and age them up, but in this production, the actors are more mature and have to be aged down to play the characters in their younger years.

Director Marty Nemko has utilized a unique slide show to add a “film noir” quality to the story, by interjecting historical flash back vignettes corresponding to the time periods in which each scene takes place. In addition, Marty has introduced a “Same Time Next Year” trivia quiz to help us refresh our memories as to key events that take place during the time period that encompasses this play’s chronology. You will find this fun-filled quiz in the back of the show’s program.

This is a terrific production that is well worth a trip from just about anywhere in the Bay Area. “Same Time Next Year” plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., through August 4th, in the Chanticleers Theatre at 3683 Quail Avenue in Castro Valley, just a short drive from the junction of Highways 580 and 238 at Castro Valley Boulevard via Lake Chabot Road in Castro Valley. Call (510) 733-5483 for reservations or additional information. Tickets are a very reasonable $12 to $14 per person. There is plenty of free public parking as the theatre is located next to a city park.