Having worked at Disney for 14 years, while volunteering as press representative at the old 99-seat Colony Studio Theatre on Riverside Drive, I am in a unique position to know the two entities quite well. Two things struck me about Mary McNamara's article ["From Big Time to Play Time, Oct. 17] about Peter Schneider directing "Grand Hotel" at the Colony Theatre.
She unfortunately presents Disney's Tom Schumacher in an unflattering, uninformed light, when he says about his friend Schneider, "Going from the head of a major studio to directing an equity-waver play?" The Colony, now a 276-seat house, hasn't been "equity waiver" for the past few years. Later, Schumacher's quoted as asking, "Who's going to see it? And with Peter's body of work, what does it matter?" With the Colony's popularity and wide subscriber base -- Plenty with a capital P! The Encyclopaedia Britannica Almanac has listed the Colony Theatre as one of its 25 notable U.S. theater companies. So the Colony's reputation is not limited to just the borders of Burbank -- or even California anymore!
Additionally, I found the don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it mention of Barbara Beckley, the Colony's artistic director, regrettable. Had McNamara bothered to interview Beckley, it would have unquestionably made for a richer, more balanced and more informative article.
Reading about Peter Schneider I couldn't help but chuckle at the ironies -- first of him directing a play here in town, and second of writer Mary McNamara describing the past head of theatrical productions for Walt Disney Co. as looking like a "longtime local stage director who passionately refuses to go to New York because he believes in L.A. theater."
He certainly didn't believe in our town some six years ago. In a Times article on the state of L.A. theater, Schneider bashed L.A. as little more than a theatrical wasteland, dismissing "Ragtime" for forsaking the big box-office bucks of Broadway by daring to open here first, and expressing reservations at bringing "The Lion King" to town for any kind of extended run.
Failing to recognize the region's broad and eclectic mix of productions and content to so shamefully lambaste this place from his former throne, Schneider was all commerce and little art back then. In switching seats and staging a show in the land he once so demeaned, now he wants his disenchantment forgotten and would like us to believe he has reversed those poles?