Barefoot in the Park is a lark and the Nerd delights all in Alameda!

This week’s entertainment notebook opens with a reminder from Sharon Ladner, a Rossmoor resident and President of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), to tell you about the Vagabond Players coming to Rossmoor on Sunday, October 25th, with their production of Neil Simon’s female version of “The Odd Couple”!

Vagabond Players Director Sharon Redmond has brought many enjoyable theatrical productions to various Senior Citizen centers over the past several years, making access to good entertainment both affordable and easily accessible for a lot of people who might not otherwise be adventuresome enough to travel to unknown venues to see live theatre. I saw and reviewed her production of “Social Security” last year and gave it a very favorable recommendation.

While I have not seen this production of “The Female Odd Couple”, I know the play very well and highly recommend that if you have not seen it, then you might want to find a way to take in this production. The cast includes Sheila Morrison playing Olive Madison (the slob) and Carol Scott playing Florence Unger (the neat-nick), with Peter Richman and Thomas West playing the romantic Costazuela brothers who live upstairs! It should be a lot of fun!

Neil Simon is more prolific than any other American Playwright and probably one of the most popular playwrights ever in this country. He provides us with another opportunity to examine human relationships with a touch of wry humor with his female version of “The Odd Couple”. In 1965 Simon wrote the original version of The Odd Couple for a Broadway production, followed by a successful film and television series, as well as other derivative works and spin offs, even including cartoon versions. The plot concerns two mismatched roommates, one neat and uptight, the other more easygoing but slovenly. In the original play these characters were male, then, twenty years later, Simon made a version for a pair of female roommates, called The Female Odd Couple.

Simon has garnered seventeen Tony nominations and won three. He also won the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Lost In Yonkers. In 1966 Simon had four shows running on Broadway at the same time: Sweet Charity, The Star-Spangled Girl, The Odd Couple, and Barefoot in the Park. I reviewed his “Broadway Bound” last week and will be reviewing his “Barefoot in the Park” at the Willows Theatre shortly in this same article. I never seem to get enough of Neil Simon because his plays are so insightful and familiar, touching on subjects and situations that most of us have either experienced directly or through other relationships.

This one time fund raising benefit performance of The Odd Couple will take place in the Sierra Room in the Del Valle Clubhouse in Rossmoor at 2 p.m. (doors open at 1:30), and tickets ($15) may be purchased at the door or by calling Sheila Silver at (925) 945-1432. Light refreshments will be served at intermission.

Wacky at the Willows!

Moving on to another Neil Simon delight, the Willows Theatre in Concord is currently presenting “Barefoot in the Park”, first written in 1963 for Broadway and then re-written as a screen play in 1967, starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. The story focuses on newlyweds, Paul and Corie Bratter (Melissa Quine and Brady Woolery), who are madly in love and are just moving into their first apartment. The fifth floor apartment can only be accessed by walking up the stairs which are definitely not for the weak at heart. Corie is a very “turned on” young lady who apparently just discovered the joy of sex (not the book by the same name) and is anxiously awaiting the arrival of the newly purchased bed and other furniture so that she and her husband can properly inaugurate their first night in their own apartment. Paul is a very new attorney, having just passed the Bar examination, and is very nervous and excited about his first new trial, which he has just discovered, will take place the following morning. He arrives, staggering into the new apartment that he is now seeing for the first time, completely out of breath after climbing five flights of stairs with his arms full of legal briefs.

Conflicts are launched immediately with Corie having one set of expectations, Paul having another and Corie’s mother, Ethel (played by Sally Hogarty), arriving unexpectedly to examine her daughter’s unfurnished, unfinished, unadorned and minuscule abode! The stage is now set in this basically blah, one room empty apartment with no heat, a skylight with a huge hole in it, a snowstorm on the way, and totally oddball neighbors adding to the chaos and charm.

When you talk about opposites attracting each other, well, this story is about the epitome of such extremes with Corie as an outgoing, outrageous, free-spirited rebel and Paul the conservative, cautious and sober young lawyer perfectly fitting the image requisite of a young upwardly moving professional in the mid 60’s.

One eccentric neighbor, Victor Velasco, a former world traveler and connoisseur of gourmet foods, is down on his luck financially, and unable to enter his apartment because the landlord has changed the keys. Victor (Lawrence Robert Rose) has found that he can access it by crawling out the Bratter’s bedroom window and crossing the roof to access a window which provides access to his attic apartment. The telephone installer, Harry Pepper (Gary Grossman), scales the five flights more than once to install and repair the telephone, much to his chagrin.
This Simon play is a romantic and hilariously funny story that is well directed and perfectly executed. The acting is terrific by each and every actor, with special kudo’s deserved by Sally Hogarty for her simply brilliant portrayal of the loving and understanding mother, Ethyl.

This light-hearted fun filled production, “Barefoot in the Park”, takes place on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with matinees on Wednesdays at 3:30, Saturdays at 2 p.m., and Sundays at 3 p.m., now through November 8th at the Willows’ main stage theatre in the Willows Shopping Center, at 1975 Diamond Blvd. in Concord, California. Tickets range between $30 and $40 each with discounts for seniors and students. Call (925) 798-1300 or visit their web site at for more information or details.

Comedy and acrimony excel in Alameda at the Altarena Playhouse!

One of the oldest successful playhouses in the entire Bay Area delivers a terrific comedy with Larry Shue’s outrageous and clever play, “The Nerd”, closing this coming weekend in Alameda. With roots going back to 1938, the Alameda Little Theatre later to be renamed to identify its “arena” style of staging as ALTarena Playhouse, is again producing a Larry Shue play. I reviewed another of his plays, “The Foreigner”, in this same theatre in 2006 and gave it rave reviews. In fact, we went back and saw the play twice in the same run, it was so well done.

Shue’s success as a playwright was short lived as he died at age 39 in a commuter plane accident, but his two plays, both herein cited, were terrific successes, staged again and again by community theaters. This play is really a brilliant piece of writing, so clever that what appears to be the story of a guest from hell turning out to be a permanent fixture, turns out to be something that it is not. William Cubbert (Misha Madison) is an unassuming, easy going architect who has a hard time making tough decisions, even when he knows he must. His very loving, attractive girlfriend (Jillian Seagrave) is a weatherwoman who is preparing to leave Terre Haute, Indiana, where they both live, to move to Washington DC to take a job with more opportunity. At a birthday party for William, a surprise guest shows up, Rick Steadman (Timothy Beagley). It turns out that Rick is a soldier who saved William’s life in Vietnam, to whom William has promised eternal gratitude.

Rick turns out to be “The Nerd”, a character devoid of sensitivity to others, totally lacking in propriety, rude, crude and base. Rick purportedly has been turned out by his brother and has no place to go, no place to live, so he ends up moving in with a reluctant William. Within a week, Rick has cost William a huge architectural job and is driving him insane. William’s friend, Alex (Christopher A. Ciabattoni), comes up with a plan to rid William of his nemesis. The cast also includes the Waldgrave family; Warnock (Matt Beall), Cielia (Judy Beal) and their son, Thor (Noah Han), who are guests at William’s birthday party.

“The Nerd” is outrageously funny especially due to the incredible portrayal of Rick by Tim Beagley. Director Richard Robert Bunker excels with this show! He also directed “The Foreigner” which I previously mentioned.

This play has performances on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and closes on Sunday, the 25th, with the 2 p.m. matinee. Tickets range between $17 and $20 each which you can request by calling (510) 523-1553 or going to their website at The playhouse is located at 1409 High Street in Alameda, just a few blocks southwest of the High Street Bridge and near Central Avenue in Alameda.

Radio personality Brian Copeland to appear at the Altarena Playhouse in November.

And, while speaking of the Altarena Playhouse, Brian Copeland, radio and television personality, will be presenting his hit one-man show, “Not A Genuine Blackman”, which I reviewed several years ago when he appeared at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco. Brian appears on KGO radio as a show host and also as a co-show host with Ronn Owens. This is a story of his growing up in a very segregated and racially biased San Leandro as a child. It is funny, poignant and heart-warming, especially as we can see how far race relations have matured and improved in this country, especially here in the Bay Area in just the past 30 or 40 years.

Brian will be autographing his new book, “Not A Genuine Blackman”, which may be purchased at the champagne reception and book signing following the performances on December 4th and 5th , at 8 p.m. This show is well worth the trip to Alameda. Brian is a terrific guy, a great entertainer and lucid educator! Call the Altarena for more information or visit Brian’s website at

Disney's Princess Classics moves to San Jose's HP Pavillion this weekend!

Disney on Ice’s delightful production entitled “Princess Classics” is moving to the HP Pavillion at 525 West Santa Clara Street in San Jose this week with performances tonight and tomorrow night at 7:30, Friday at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 11 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and again at 7:00 p.m, and closing on Sunday with performances at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m..

This amazing combining of seven famous and popular princesses from Disney’s wonderful classics for children and the young at heart, is truly a richly rewarding experience. You will see Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Mulan and Snow White, all on a wonderful world of Ice!

Karen and I took our granddaughter to see the show and she was completely mesmerized. I don’t believe her eyes ever left the stage from the beginning of the show to the very end. Tickets range in price between $16 to $70 (front row) but on the opening night, tonight, ALL TICKETS ARE ONLY $15! Call (800) 745-3000 or visit and see if there are any tickets available for this limited run. This is a terrific family show.