Bard of Avon
In Central Park’s outdoor Delacorte Theatre, the most famous of Shakespeare in the Parks has kicked off its season in tragedy with its production Romeo and Juliet. This past weekend the tradition continued in Chico as well, with the 18th edition of the Ensemble Theatre of Chico‘s celebration of Shakespeare finding a new home in the refurbished Chico City Plaza. Arts DEVOté took in the scene at the opening-night festivities and was very pleased. By 7:15 p.m., the majority of the plaza was covered in the shade of the big, pink Waterland-Breslaur building, and the juggler/comedian duo of Dave & Anita revved up the crowd of theater-goers settling into a variety of outdoor chairs for a cozy, almost magical scene downtown. Once Much Ado About Nothing got under way, there was a collected leaning forward as the open-air mics strained to capture more actor voices than breezy air. It wasn’t impossible to hear, but you had to pay attention (and block out the homeless chorus at stage left). A couple of well-placed audience monitors would do the trick. First night grade: B+.
Players of Wall
Last Thursday, (June 21) in the Chico Events Center on the top floor of the former Brick Works building, The Wall Street Players presented a “grand opening gala” to introduce the new Monday-night dinner theater series starting July 2 (with a five-week run of the whodunit, musical comedy, Knock ’em Dead Kid). With walls of windows, a gorgeous skylight and wall-to-wall light-wood floors, the space is beautiful (especially suited for the dining part), but it’s not very theater-friendly. The energetic players at the opening seemed up to the challenge of bringing the show to the patrons on the other side of the unfortunately placed 3-foot-high glass barrier that surrounds the stage, but that big skylight is a sound-sucker and the P.A. speakers are going to have to be spread around if songs/dialogue are to work. The food selections are impressive ("Mmm, stuffed pork loins"), and just the novelty of being the only dinner theater in Chico might be enough for Managing Director Kenny Kirkham and company to get by while the technical bugs get worked out.
If you’ve been wondering what’s come of the riled-up crew of Blue Room ex-pats who gathered ’round recently departed Artistic Director Joe Hilsee, wonder no more. The promised new theater has been christened Rogue, and despite no place to call home as of yet, the familiar faces (Hilsee, Betty Burns, Jerry Miller, Paul Stout, Amber Miller, to name a few) have already gotten together a calendar of shows for the fall that adheres to the group’s mission of creating “theater of exceptional quality and imagination.” Irish playwright Martin McDonagh‘s dark child-murder mystery, The Pillowman, kicks things off Sept. 20 at 1078 Gallery, followed by (in venues TBA) the off-Broadway staple Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (October) and Patrick Stanley‘s 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning Doubt (November).
• Art First Saturday in July is happening on the luckiest day ever! 7-7-07.
• Blue Room Young Co.: The kids have been busy, and now it’s time to show off. Stinky Cheese Man opens Thurs., July 5.
• Hello/Goodbye: More change at the 1078—A.D. extends a big, fat warm welcome to the new director of the 1078 Gallery, Pat Macias, who moves over from her position as co-chair on the gallery’s board to take over for interim Director Janice Porter. Porter is sticking with the gallery as a volunteer, and will be putting together the July show with Dylan Tellesen and Stephen Beebe, so maybe there are no goodbyes. Hello again!