The Cal Lutheran Theater Department takes a major step this weekend with the opening of its first large-scale, off-campus production, Cole Porter's "Anything Goes!" at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza's Forum Theatre.
It's also the university's first production to link the resources of the theater and music departments. And most important of all, notes Director Michael Arndt, "It's the first production that we've done in a building that was constructed as a theater--ever."
The move was instigated in 1993 when Civic Arts Plaza was still in the planning stages. Thousand Oaks, which operates the facility, "wanted representation from the university, which has been the cultural center of this community for many years," says Arndt.
Dramatic productions at the university, which opened in 1959, have heretofore been produced in the Little Theater, the gymnasium and the Preus-Brandt Forum. The Little Theater is a 60-by-24-foot tin-sided shed, a far cry from the Forum Theatre.
"Anything Goes!" is too vast for the university's facilities, with more than 60 cast members, 400 costumes and an orchestra.
"There isn't even a place on campus big enough to put the stage setup," Arndt says, "so we can't see it until the last few days of rehearsal, when we move from the campus" to the Forum stage.
The smaller of the Civic Arts Plaza's two theaters, the Forum has twice the seating capacity of the university's Preus-Brandt Forum, space for an orchestra and a complete "fly" system suspended out of sight above the stage.
"What helped persuade us to make the move was the policy they've established of letting us use properly qualified students to run the lights and sound and be involved in technical construction," Arndt says.
Those students have had special training, Arndt adds, and some have even worked on touring shows at Civic Arts Plaza.
On the downside, Cal Lutheran must pay rent to Civic Arts, an expense it wouldn't have on the campus.
Arndt tries not to seem jealous of Moorpark College's on-campus theater complex, scheduled to open this fall. "Both Newbury Park High School and Thousand Oaks High School are upgrading their facilities as well," he notes.
The result will be a glut of seats in an area that hasn't been able to sell out existing facilities. But the new theaters will be a definite improvement, Arndt says. "I'm sure that in the future, people will no longer have to perform plays in converted living rooms or storefronts. That won't necessarily make for better theater, but it won't hurt, either."
The Cabrillo Music Theatre, which gave us a rousing "The Music Man" last year, becomes the first local group to announce a schedule extending into next year (other groups, please take note). Following "Peter Pan" in June, the group plans to produce "Oliver!" in late October, "Damn Yankees" next March and "South Pacific" in July, 1996. All plays will be produced at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza's Charles E. Probst Center for the Performing Arts. Season tickets will be available in May. For further information, call 375-6511.