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SCR OM SINGAPORE : After Long Road to Singapore, Company Tackles Jet Lag : Arts: The 25 members of the Orange County group come up with a variety of ways to deal with fatigue before taking the stage this weekend.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dealing with jet lag was the first order of business for the contingent on South Coast Repertory’s 8,767-mile journey to this Southeast Asian city at the invitation of the Singapore Festival of Arts.

Beating the fatigue of the 19-hour flight from Los Angeles had little to do with mounting George Bernard Shaw’s “You Never Can Tell” or Terrence McNally’s “Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,” but everything to do with keeping the show on the road.

And there wasn’t a person in the 25-member group, which straggled off the plane in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday, who didn’t have some sort of strategy to ease the the pain.

Veteran traveler Warner Shook, who is directing “Frankie and Johnny,” chose a homeopathic regimen prescribed by his physician: no alcohol, no sugar, lots of water, regular doses of vitamins and little green “herbal pills,” not to mention a self-prescribed ticket upgrade from coach to first class, where he could stretch out.

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Company manager Donna Ruzika went in for exercise, namely fast walking. She led a handful of haggard-looking actors on laps of the Tokyo airport terminal during a one-hour stopover there. Actress Sally Kemp, however, was not one of them. She opted for the solace of the airport’s duty-free stores. “Frankly,” said Kemp, “I loathe airplanes. It would have been a good idea to take a ship. That would have been comfortable.”

A trio of founding SCR actors had other ideas. Don Took armed himself with a bottle of high-performance sleeping pills, one of which he planned to take as soon as he got to his Singapore hotel room. Hal Landon, his nose buried in a paperback novel “Skinwalkers,” claimed to have the most natural strategy: “When I get tired, I’ll sleep. And when I’m not tired--like now--I’ll stay up.” Richard Doyle said he managed two hours of uninterrupted sleep that had the further advantage “of letting me miss the in-flight movie.” Meanwhile, SCR actor-director John-David Keller, who will be staying on in Singapore for three months to direct a local production of “Room Service,” expressed what sounded like the most interesting (if least scientific) response to jet lag:

“In the battle between the sleeping pills and the homeopathic medicine cures, I’m going to party all the way. Just the excitement of coming here will keep me awake.”

Later, as the contingent’s first day in Singapore drew to a close, various company members rushed around the city to sample its offerings.

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Shook, proving perhaps that his homeopathic jet-lag remedy had something to recommend it, quickly found a tailor and had himself custom-fitted for two suits and two sports jackets.

Doyle and his son Brennan, who has a small part in “You Never Can Tell,” decided to go out and find themselves a tailor, too.

Landon went shopping for camera equipment, while Karen Hensel, who stars with Doyle in “Frankie and Johnny,” wandered through Chinatown with several other actors. They eventually landed in another part of town at Newton’s Food Circle near Orchard Road, one of the most famous hawkers’ stands.

“I never saw anything like it before,” she marveled. “You watch lobsters dance while you eat.”

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Said Keller: “They thrust lobsters in your face and yell at you. It’s very aggressive. It became an eating frenzy. Happily, we did the eating.”

Earlier, scenic designer Cliff Faulkner and production manager Paul Hammond got a peek at an Indian snake charmer, Chinese acrobats and Indonesian dancers performing at a waterfront park.

Tom Harrison, who stars in “You Never Can Tell,” came equipped with a mountain bicycle, a fishing rod and all sorts of cameras for a side trip to Bali that he’ll take after SCR strikes the Shaw set at the end of next week. He rode off by himself into the heavy city traffic to explore the nearest coastline.

In the meantime, officials of the Singapore arts festival took a cue from the title of Shaw’s play and decided not to add a fifth performance of “You Never Can Tell” as they had expected to do.

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“We have sold out the four scheduled performances of the Shaw play,” festival spokeswoman Tisa Ng said. “We thought we would need an extra matinee on Saturday. But it looks now like we won’t.”

SCR will stage “You Never Can Tell” for four consecutive nights beginning Friday. “Frankie and Johnny” will run four times, beginning Tuesday.


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