The Sierra Madre Playhouse has been churning...

The Sierra Madre Playhouse has been churning out stage productions for 11 years now. All the old chestnuts of community theater have graced the little theater's stage: "On Golden Pond," "Life With Father," "The Miracle Worker" and "The Seven Year Itch." To say nothing of every play Neil Simon ever wrote.

This is theater from the heart. Actors and staff each get a share of 5% of the box office take, which may or may not be enough for a monthly car payment. Leading ladies pitch in to build sets, and wardrobe coordinators scour thrift stores for period clothing. The theater management is still trying to scrape up $2,000 for a main curtain, so scene changes can be hidden from the audience.

The playhouse has also endured its share of crises, of course, from missed cues and malfunctioning sets to rumors about shutdowns (all of them untrue, management says). So a little 5.8 shaker two weeks ago didn't faze anybody. Somebody swept up the shards from a couple of broken props and the cast got ready to go on with the show.

The show right now in the 121-seat converted movie theater is George Furth's witty play, "The Supporting Cast," about a novelist who writes roman a clef about some eccentric friends, then invites them to her Malibu beach house to plead for them to sign legal releases.

Aside from some funny dialogue, the action includes a series of offstage natural disasters: a landslide, a fire in the hills and, near the end, an earthquake.

"After the real earthquake, we had to announce to the audience what was coming up, so nobody would panic," said director Kathy Fitzpatrick.

"The Supporting Cast," featuring Danon Dastugue, Bette Archer, Jennifer Buttell, John Lizzi and Teri Prince, can be seen Friday and Saturday. The Sierra Madre Playhouse is at 87 W. Sierra Madre Blvd. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Admission is $7.50.

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