Gaslamp Theatre Plans to Reveal 'Family Secrets'

The Gaslamp Quarter Theatre Company has substituted Sheri Glaser's one-woman hit show, "Family Secrets," for its previously scheduled Charles Ludlam play "Reverse Psychology." "Family Secrets," a co-production with Mark Anderson and Irene Pinn, opens Oct. 31 at the Hahn Cosmopolitan Theatre.

Steve Bevans, managing director of the Gaslamp, said Monday that finances are a key reason for the change. It is far less expensive to present an intact show than to pay the pre-production costs for a new one.

Also, after the disappointing box office business of "Tales of Tinseltown" and the currently running "What's Wrong With This Picture?" the company could use a hit, and Glaser's show was a sensation when it played at the Gaslamp as an independent production last October. It was also a hit at the Heliotrope Theatre in Los Angeles, where it played almost two years over the course of two separate runs.

Glaser, speaking from San Francisco, where the show is currently playing at the Improv, said she plans to make the Gaslamp production her last run before taking the show to New York.

She hopes to make her Off Broadway debut in the piece in the spring of 1992. "But according to my psychic, Juana, we'll be in New York in July, 1992," she said.

"Family Secrets," which Glaser wrote with her husband, Greg Howells, tells the secrets of a family much like Glaser's own. "Ninety-two percent of what I do really happened," Glaser said.

She plays a father, mother, two sisters and a grandmother. During the show one sister tries to gently break the news to her father that she's gay. I'm in love with a Jewish tax attorney, she tells him. You'll love her. Her?

The other sister, a teen-ager, discovers sex. The octogenarian grandmother discovers love. And the mother, striving for control, talks about how hard it is to be the perfect mother when your kids just won't cooperate.

Glaser, 31, is a graduate both of San Diego State University and a veteran of the local, disbanded comedy group, Hot Flashes, which also starred Mo Gaffney. Gaffney subsequently made a successful Off Broadway run in "The Kathy & Mo Show" with Kathy Najimy, another SDSU graduate.

Since last year's production, Glaser has added Miguel--who may or may not stay in the show--and fleshed out the others. She has also acquired a new director, Art Wolff, who directed "The Tracey Ullman Show" and "The Wonder Years" and the Obie award-winning "Penn and Teller." "The general story is the same, the ending is different and we still want to do more work on Mort," Glaser said, so she is going back to the source--her father.

"They (my parents) live in Carmel, so I'm going to Carmel to grill him. I'll ask him how did you feel when I did this and that and I'll tell him, 'Dad, you give me some good stuff or you'll be out of the show," and I know he doesn't want to be out of the show, so he'll come up with some good stuff."

Blackfriars Theatre, formerly the Bowery Theatre, will open its new season at the Bristol Court Playhouse, formerly the Kingston Playhouse.

What's in a name? The Bowery changed its name to Blackfriars out of a long-overdue desire to reflect its different venue and leadership, after changing artistic directors three years ago and stages two years ago. In the case of the Bristol Court Playhouse, the new name signals a change of ownership. The Kingston Hotel, owner of the Kingston Playhouse, was sold after it went bankrupt. The hotel will become the Bristol Court Hotel and the playhouse will be renamed in time for Blackfriars' first show of the season, the San Diego premiere of "Abundance," opening Sept. 29.

But one thing that won't change is the hotel's commitment to the theater. Blackfriars is going into the third year of a three-year rent-free lease it signed with the Kingston. Bristol Court intends not only to honor that, but also to "enhance the relationship," according to Dan Ponder, the new general manager of the hotel.

"We hope they'll be here for some time. It's a very unique feature to have a playhouse in a hotel. We've evaluated everything and it was apparent to us real fast that it was a smart move on the part of the former management."

Local actress Lynette Winter, who once played Sally Field's sidekick on the "Gidget" series, will do a spoof of shows like "Gidget" in "Psycho Beach Party," the second play in a San Diego Actors Theatre reading series in October.

Winter, 45, will play Burdine, the sidekick girlfriend to the Gidget-like lead, Chiclet. Patricia Elmore, the artistic director of the San Diego Actors Theatre, didn't have a hard time talking her into taking the role, Winter said.

"When she told me the title, I couldn't help but laugh because it reminded me of working with Sally Field," Winter said.

"They were silly scripts, but those were fun times for me."

Born in Illinois but raised in San Diego, Winter got her Hollywood start after appearing in "The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker" at the Old Globe at age 9. She moved to Los Angeles at 11 and had recurring roles in a number of shows, from "Family Affair" to "Petticoat Junction." She left Los Angeles to get married and returned here years later; she still performs locally and teaches at La Jolla Country Day School.

San Diego Actors Theatre's six-play reading series begins Monday at the Athens Market Restaurant with Oliver Hailey's "Kith and Kin" at 8 p.m. It will continue on the fourth Monday of each month with "Psycho Beach Party" by Charles Busch Oct. 28 and "Elliott Loves," by Jules Feiffer Nov. 25. The project will take a December and January hiatus and resume in February with three plays to be announced.

PROGRAM NOTES: A.R. Gurney's "The Snow Ball," an Old Globe commission which had its West Coast premiere at the Globe under the direction of artistic director Jack O'Brien, opens Friday at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, again under O'Brien's direction. . . .

Sunday is the last day you can catch a free production of "The Tempest," an amateur production by the San Diego All-City Free Shakespeare Festival running concurrently with the Old Globe's "The Tempest" in Balboa Park. The show concludes Saturday and Sunday with 4 p.m. performances in Zoro Gardens, and the company returns next year with its third annual Shakespeare offerings: "King Lear" and "Romeo and Juliet."

CRITIC'S CHOICE: "SHOW-OFF" CAST GIVES PERFORMANCE WORTH SEEING

George Kelly's insights in "The Show-Off" at the Old Globe Theatre may be modest, but they offer rich rewards, especially when the parts of the proverbially warring mother-in-law and son-in-law are played by the likes of Sada Thompson, who presides over the action like the Queen of Hearts in "Alice in Wonderland" and Don Sparks, a top banana in his own right. Performances at 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays with Saturday/Sunday matinees at 2.

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