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‘Jerome Robbins’ Broadway’ Is Probably a Long Way From Center

Notes from all over. . . .

Reports that “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” might bow in October at the Shubert Theatre in Los Angeles have generated interest among Orange County Performing Arts Center programmers. But don’t count on this season’s hottest musical playing the Center in its Broadway Series next season.

Gerald Schoenfeld, chairman of the Shubert Organization in New York, said Monday that when the show opens in Los Angeles it will have an open-ended engagement. Given the show’s critical and box-office acclaim on Broadway, that means it could sit for 6 months to a year at the Shubert, which would rule out a Center date in the near future.

“We hope this will be the next show at the Shubert,” Schoenfeld said. “And we hope it will be opening there for an indefinite run before the end of the year.” He added, however, that “this is all in the realm of the tentative.”

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“Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” opened Feb. 26 in New York. It is a compendium of highlights from 20 years’ worth of Broadway shows that choreographer-director Robbins helped create between 1944 and 1964.

Mystery theater is what you make it. More often than not, clues don’t add up even in the most charitable hindsight. Mystery dinner theater is what you eat. If you get a gourmet meal, you don’t much care about the inadequacy of the play.

Judging from a recent press preview of “The Laguna Baron,” which will have its premiere on April 29, the state of the art in Laguna Beach is a disappointment on both counts: The play was half-baked and the dinner was meat loaf.

The producers of the new Laguna Mysteries Ltd.--Upchurch-Brown Booksellers and Le Petit Gourmet Cafe--have provided pleasant surroundings and a game company of actors. You also get to walk up the town’s main drag with brief visits to the post office and an art gallery.

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But all the wine and Brie in the world can’t hide the fact that at $48 per person this is a steeply overpriced evening. At best it ought to be a $25 ticket--$10 for the show, $15 for the meal. Information: (714) 497-9742.

Apparently, crime dramas are in season. On Saturday, a mystery-theater train departs from the Santa Ana Amtrak station--destination unknown. Passengers understand only that the time is 1872 and they’re going to a stockholders’ meeting of a Nevada gold mine.

The play, titled “White Wash,” has no acting company. Each passenger plays a role and is asked to arrive in the appropriate Victorian costume. One of the travelers will be murdered. Another will be the murderer.

“We have about 60 people going,” says Frank Navarro, who arranged the trip for the Omni Service Club of Fountain Valley and helped write the script. “I’ve seen a lot of mystery theater, and most of the time you just sit around and watch and get to ask some questions.”

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In “White Wash,” he says, “the audience gets to ham it up. Everybody wants to be the victim or the killer. Ask people to put on a costume and they love it. The whole thing even gets to be a bit of a costume competition.”

The trip costs $125 per person for the train ride, overnight hotel accommodations and dining. Navarro says all profits are turned over to the Omni Service Club for charitable donations to help disadvantaged children. Information: (714) 964-5665.

Actor Hal Landon Jr. didn’t have an inkling that “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” in which he plays Ted’s father, would become Hollywood’s spring sleeper. Nor is he getting rich on the $34 million that the movie has grossed so far.

“We made that picture about 2 years ago,” says Landon, a founding member of South Coast Repertory. “I got something like 6 1/2 weeks’ work. I think I broke the five-figure barrier.”

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The movie about two teen-aged time travelers--reportedly made for slightly more than $6 million--has been “a box-office surprise to most people in the industry,” says John Krier of Exhibitor Relations, a Los Angeles company that tracks movie grosses.

In fact, the original distributor tried to peddle the movie and couldn’t, Krier says. Orion picked it up for distribution only after it had been re-edited. Fortunately, says Landon, none of his scenes ended up on the cutting-room floor.

“I actually read for the role of a teacher,” he says. “But they said I bore some resemblance to (co-star) Keanu Reeves. So they asked me to play his father. It was a bigger role.”

The actor recalls that during shooting near Scottsdale, Ariz., he received what felt like royal treatment. Instead of keeping him on location when he wasn’t needed, the production company flew him back and forth to his home in Long Beach.

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Landon has made three previous feature films--all low-budget affairs: “Prison” (a horror film), “Scavenger Hunt” (a comedy) and “Eraserhead” (the cult classic by David Lynch).

He says he’ll never forget his big moment in “Prison,” when psychokinetically animated barbed wire sneaked up on him and wrapped itself around him like a boa constrictor. “I spent 2 days shooting that scene, screaming my head off,” he says.

Though “Bill & Ted’s” excellent box office has prompted industry talk of a sequel, Landon has yet to hear from the producers. He is ready and waiting, guys. In the meantime, he’s not waiting around. Rehearsals have begun for his next role in “Dragon Lady.”

Despite the title, “Dragon Lady” is not a “B” picture but a play about suburban life by Robert Daseler that will have its world premiere May 5 on SCR’s Second Stage in the California Play Festival.

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“This time I play a character named Paul,” Landon said. “He’s a typical Californian. He tries to seduce his best friend’s wife.”

The founder of the Orange County Theatre & Film Industry Networking Group says he is expecting a large turnout for Wednesdays “Spring Fling Mixer” at El Paso Cantina in Huntington Beach.

So who is behind this mightily named organization? One Godfrey Huguley, a businessman who says he wants to change careers and become a professional thespian. “I recently fell in love with acting,” he notes, “and I found that the hardest thing was to get the straight scoop because there are so many charlatans in the industry.”

Huguley, who lives in Anaheim, says the first thing he did to straighten himself out was “pick up a couple of biographies” about Laurence Olivier and Sidney Poitier. The second was to sign up for acting classes at South Coast Repertory. The third was to organize the Networking Group.

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“The idea of the network is to get together and exchange information about what’s happening,” he says. “We had 200 people at our first mixer.”

The Spring Fling will feature, among other things, a contest for Most Original Spring Outfit, with $100 going to the winner. The network has already worked for Huguley. He says he has landed a role in “A Night in Casablanca,” now in rehearsal at the Genesis Theatre in Los Angeles.

Information: (714) 220-0021.


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