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‘On Golden Pond’ a ‘Family’ Affair : Director recalls his longtime links to cast members.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The opening of “On Golden Pond” at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza’s Forum Theatre on Friday night will be the culmination of what director Allan Hunt calls a “family plot.” Co-starring with veteran actor William Windom in the play will be Hunt’s aunt, actress Marsha Hunt. A contract player in MGM’s golden age, she appeared in such films as “Pride and Prejudice” and “Blue Denim.”

“Like many people, I had seen the film of ‘On Golden Pond,’ ” says director Hunt. “It became a pet project that Marsha and I had been looking at for the last couple of years. Lane Davies [artistic director of the Santa Susana Repertory Company] was looking for ideas, and I suggested that I’d like to do the play with her.”

Windom, best-known for a long stint as Dr. Seth Hazlett on TV’s “Murder, She Wrote,” is a friend of Marsha Hunt’s, and agreed to play opposite her, if they could accommodate his schedule--the opening was postponed so he could perform his one-man show as author James Thurber in Florida last week.

The second leads, Anne Lockhart and Barry Van Dyke, can almost be considered the “family” of Allan Hunt. He directed the two in a weekend run of “Love Letters” at the Forum last month.

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“I’ve known Annie since acting with her and her mother, June, in [the stage play] ‘Forty Carats,’ in New York 20 years ago,” said Hunt. “Although Mr. Van Dyke’s isn’t a major role, he has one of the big scenes in the piece, and I’m delighted that he was kind enough to play it. I should add that he and Anne both auditioned for the parts, along with other actors.”

Allan Hunt was a child actor, as a teenager playing Shelley Fabares’ boyfriend in “The Donna Reed Show.” Ironically, Windom was working on a sound stage next door, filming the series “My World and Welcome To It,” playing a character based on James Thurber. Later, Hunt joined the cast of “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”; on the next stage was “Lost In Space,” co-starring June Lockhart.

As a director, Hunt--who has amassed a number of credits ranging from drama to opera--has worked in both the Forum and main stage theaters at the Civic Arts Plaza. Cabrillo Music Theatre producers Ray and Cheryl Mastrovito invited Hunt to direct “The Music Man,” their company’s first production at the facility. He has since directed the Cabrillo production of “Damn Yankees.”

Hunt came to the attention of Lane Davies as director of former “Star Trek” co-stars Mark Lenard and George Takai when Santa Susana brought their production of “The Boys in Autumn” to Thousand Oaks. Davies subsequently commissioned him to direct “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “The Fantasticks.” Hunt also returned to the boards as an actor, playing Bob Cratchit in December’s edition of “A Christmas Carol.”

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Speaking of his role as director, Hunt politely and modestly defers to his actors. “I liken it to a baseball manager taking credit for the success of his team: you’re only as good as your cast. Then if you do your job, the pieces should fit and the production should be a success.”

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Casting Call

Cabrillo Music Theater will hold auditions for “Pump Boys and Dinettes” on Saturday in Burbank, and Sunday in Newbury Park. The cast consists of four men and two women, between 20 and 44 years old. All must sing country-style music well; the men must play lead or rhythm guitars, bass or accordion; the women will supply percussion on pots and pans. Scott Rogers is director; Diann Alexander, musical director. Performances will be weekends, April 18-May 11 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza’s Forum Theatre. All auditions and callbacks are by appointment only; for further information, call (805) 497-8613.

BE THERE

“On Golden Pond” opens Friday and runs through March 2 at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza’s Forum Theatre, 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Thousand Oaks. Performances are Fri. and Sat., 8:30 p.m., and Sun., 2:30 p.m. Tickets for all performances are $22, adults; $20, seniors and students, and available at the Plaza box office or through Ticketmaster. For further information, or tickets for groups of 12 or more at $18, call 497-8616.


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