A Summer Joy

Each summer, the public park directly across the street from our Sebastopol, (Sonoma County) California home is transformed into a site for festivals, concerts and live theater.  Ives Park is the summer home of Main Stage West, our resident theatre company, located two blocks away in “Downtown” Sebastopol.

sebastopol-signThis year, we were treated to two beautifully acted, staged, and costumed plays: a non-Shakespearean work: Carlo Goldoni’s classic comedy, The Servant of Two Masters and Shakespeare’s The Tempest.It’s hard to believe that theater can still be compelling, engaging and enjoyable when performances are carried out within earshot of nighttime Little League playoffs, but when it’s done as well as this, it is.   At its best, theater can transport an audience to another time and place, despite Billy’s cheering parents or the whoops of his teammates.



This year, I took my 12 year old Granddaughter, Marley, to both performances and she loved them. An out-of-town Granddaughter, Kelly (11), joined us for The Tempest. I wasn’t sure about taking kids this young to a Shakespeare play, but they loved it — especially the scenes with romance or slapstick humor.

I know I’m lucky to live where the arts and love theater are valued and where they are made accessible and affordable.

Thank you, Sebastopol!

Shhh. Don’t tell!

If you promise to keep it quiet, I’ll share a great discovery: The Summer Rep Theatre Festival at Santa Rosa JC. This is the first year I’ve bought season tickets and I couldn’t be happier.  So far, we’ve seen Fox on the Fairway by Ken Ludwig and Shreck the Musical. Both were extremely well produced with high-quality sets, elaborate costumes, tight direction, well performed live music and terrific acting. Students come from all over the USA to participate in this 5-show season.  Next week is Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance

For $15.00 a ticket, ample, close parking and two comfortable theaters it’s a package that’s hard to beat!

The fall season of the SRJC Theatre Arts Department looks good, too.  It includes Distracted, Les Miserables, and The Cherry Orchard.

To witness a new generation of students fall in love with theatre is more than enjoyable.  It’s hopeful!





Some Very Good Writing!

I just watched the National Theatre Live’s production of Helen Mirren, starring in The Audience by Peter Morgan at the Rialto Cinemas in Sebastopol.

The Audience

In the course of her (so far!) 61 year reign, Queen Elizabeth II meets with each of her twelve Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace.  These meetings are completely private and the contents are not shared with anyone, even spouses.  What Peter Morgan has done is to imagine what might have been said in these private meetings between Queen and Prime Minister in order to create a funny, insightful and often touching portrait of some of England’s leaders.

Mirren is excellent, but so too is Haydn Gwynne as Margaret Thatcher, Nathanial Parker as Gordon Brown.

What could have been two and one-half hours of tedious, one-on-one political conversation instead flew by, thanks to Morgan’s witty and perceptive dialogue; brilliant staging and costumes, and a dramatic structure that seamlessly shifts forward and back in the chronology of her reign.

During the intermission, Peter Morgan was interviewed on camera.  He admitted that since the meetings were all secret, he couldn’t be sure of their content.  However, he did know what was going on just before and after each of the weekly encounters so although he couldn’t claim accuracy, he could claim truthfulness.

Take a minute to watch the Audience Trailer.  You’ll see why each of us in our party of 5 left the theater wishing the show hadn’t ended!