A Noise Within Is Expanding Its Idea of Classical Repertory

Don Shirley is The Times' theater writer

A Noise Within is planning an adventurous 2001-02 season that strays a little further than usual from the Top 40 Classical Theater Hit Parade.

Arthur Wing Pinero's "Trelawny of the 'Wells,' " an English comedy from 1898 about an actress and her high-society fiance, opens the season Sept. 28, to be directed by Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez Elliott. It will be joined in repertory by Shakespeare's "Pericles," staged by Art Manke for an Oct. 12 opening, and Moliere's "The Imaginary Invalid," directed by A Noise Within newcomer Joseph Graves and opening Nov. 2.

For Christmas, "we decided to give ourselves and everybody else a break from 'A Christmas Carol,' " said Geoff Elliott, one of the group's three artistic directors, and the result will be a weekend of staged readings of "A Wilde Holiday--Fairy Tales by Oscar Wilde," adapted and directed by Sabin Epstein, Dec. 14-16. Elliott said that "Carol" probably would return eventually--"we might do it next summer in the park," he joked.

Speaking of Wilde, last spring's hit "Hay Fever" will return for a week, Jan. 19-27, preceding an appearance at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert. It also will tour to Santa Fe, N.M., in May--A Noise Within's first journey outside California.

The spring repertory will consist of Shakespeare's "Love's Labours Lost," directed by Michael Winters and opening March 8; William Inge's "Bus Stop," staged by Epstein and opening March 22; and Ibsen's "The Wild Duck," opening April 12 and directed by another newcomer to the group, Romanian emigre Adrian Giurgea.

Next season will not have an overarching theme--other than "Plays That We Like," Elliott said.


GIBSON RETURNS: Diana Gibson, longtime producer at the Cast Theatre in Hollywood, has been working at the Fountain Theatre a few blocks away, "in innumerable small capacities," she said, for more than a year. Now she's producing her first show since her Cast years. Actually, it's the New Works Festival.

First up is a series of Monday and Tuesday staged readings of Stephen Keep Mills' "Hotel Lobby," Aug. 6-21, featuring Salome Jens. Next is a full production of "Hair Pieces: By Women, About Hair," a collection of shorts commissioned by the Jewish Women's Theatre Project, opening Aug. 25 at the Hudson Theatre instead of the Fountain, because of the extension of "Central Avenue" at the Fountain. Finally, a workshop of "Direct From Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys," by Mark Stein, will take place in the Monday-Wednesday slot at the Fountain, Sept. 10-26.

Gibson's exit from the Cast was very public, after a rift with playwright Justin Tanner and fellow producer Andy Daley. The Fountain has treated her well, she said. "It wasn't like they were taking in a poor relative."


A POWERFUL PERFORMANCE: West Valley Playhouse in Canoga Park, home of Woodland Hills Community Theatre, has installed a solar power system that will supply up to 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each month, which will meet an estimated 80% of the playhouse's needs. It's expected to eliminate more than 10 tons of carbon dioxide, 52 pounds of nitrous oxide and 168 pounds of sulfur dioxide air pollution per year. The theater is owned by the Clyde and Mary Lou Porter Foundation.


THE BALCONY SCENE: The Playhouse Balcony Theatre, the 142-seat upstairs venue in the Pasadena Playhouse building, is back in action as a professional stage after a year of use by an acting school. Brad L. Smith's "The Man From Aldersgate," a solo show starring Roger Nelson as Methodism founder John Wesley, opens Thursday. Booking the theater for owner David Houk is San Fernando Valley producer Ed Gaynes. *

HOPES FOR THE HOPE? Some Burbank theater people have been wondering about the possibility of professional theater in the new Bob Hope Center, a development owned by the comedian, that will rise at the intersection of Alameda and Olive Avenues. A 300-seat "legit" theater is among the plans for the development, but Hope spokesman Ward Grant said that the current intent for the theater is to focus on use by community theater groups or comedy. However, he cautioned that the project is several years from completion. The theater is planned as part of the second phase of construction, following an initial phase that will build offices and retail space.

FOR THE RECORD Los Angeles Times Thursday July 26, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction Wrong credit--Theater Notes in the July 22 Sunday Calendar should have said that Noel Coward wrote "Hay Fever." The column implied another playwright wrote it. For the Record Los Angeles Times Sunday July 29, 2001 Home Edition Calendar Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction Wrong credit--Theater Notes in the July 22 Sunday Calendar should have said that Noel Coward wrote "Hay Fever." The column implied another playwright wrote it.
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