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A battle on and off stage for Bua

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Gene Bua is turning a negative into a positive by adding his battle

with Parkinson’s disease to his character in the musical “2nd Wind.”

The production, co-written by his wife Toni Bull Bua, ends its

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revival run Saturday at the couple’s Magnolia Boulevard theater, but

negotiations are continuing to take the show to New York and Europe.

Compounding the Parkinson’s disease, Bua continues to endure a

back injury, making his once-a-week, two-hour stage performances

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grueling. But he does every show.

“People who see me in the day time ask me ‘How did you do that?’ I

say ‘How can I not?’ It musters up every ounce of energy I have, but

it makes me feel so alive,” he said.

Several references have been added to the show about the main

character, Teacher, played by Bua, who is also learning to face the

disease.

It’s a part of real life just as the play depicts Bua’s real-life

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experience years ago working with teens at the Penny Lane Residential

Treatment Center in North Hills.

“2nd Wind” is about an acting coach, Teacher, who rallies together

three celebrity volunteers to help him with a new program at

Strawberry Fields Residential Treatment Center. They try to teach

three street kids how to turn their rage, fear and shame into

positive energy through acting.

Bua believes adding the disease to his character in the play has

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given it another element of reality.

“Theater provokes. Theater is not some place you come to be

comfortable. It’s no ‘Hello Dolly’ or ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ although

‘Fiddler’ confronts issues, too. But other human stuff is going on

that happens in real life,” he said. “This is me. This is what’s

going on.”

Plans are to partner with Parkinson’s organizations to help them

with raising awareness and funds for research, Bua added.

While the Parkinson’s has slowed him down, Bua is determined to

continue as the lead character as the show goes out on the road. The

progression of his disease is not as fast as it affects other people,

he said, and he wants to use as much of the time he has to continue

in the lead role.

“I will go to New York, even if I can do only two shows a week.

But I want the option of doing something when I want to,” he said.

His goal is to get the production in an off-Broadway house and

then have it turned into a film.

“2nd Wind” played to sold-out houses during its first run, which

started in April of 2001, and during its reopened performance in

2002. It has been playing to packed houses since Jan. 25.

The Gene Bua Here’s To Life Foundation has sponsored more than

2,000 teens and people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction

and those recovering from loss of a loved one to see “2nd Wind”

performances.

The last local performance is at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Gene Bua

Theatre, 3435 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. Tickets are $25. For

reservations, call (310) 680-9109.

“A Night at the Opera,” featuring opera choruses, ensembles and

arias, will be performed in two free concerts given by the Burbank

Chorale this weekend at the First Presbyterian Church of Burbank, 521

E. Olive Ave.

The concerts are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. Music

of composers Carmen, Dido, Aeneas, Lohengrin, Nabucco, Rigoletto,

Tannehauser and more will be presented.

Directing the ensemble is Mikhail Shtangrud and John Tveit will

accompany the singers on piano.

Special guest appearances at both concerts will be made by the

Mayfield Singers from Mayfield Junior High School in Pasadena.

The chorale has been singing to Burbank and the surrounding

communities for 83 years. Its history extends to the 1920s where in

its second year, it appeared in the Rose Parade and in the 1930s

performed at the Los Angeles Olympics as well as the San Diego and

San Francisco world fairs.

Ayanna Nicole Floyd and Kathryn Marie Evans are organizing a

floating gallery exhibit, Nicole Marie Gallery, which begins at a

vacant space at 990 Hollywood Way at Magnolia Boulevard.

The opening reception is from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday. A closing

reception is from 5 to 9 p.m. May 10. Gallery hours are noon to 8

p.m. and by appointment by calling 841-1561.

The premise of the gallery is to showcase the talent of local fine

artists while moving the gallery to several locations.

Floyd is showing her new works depicting the Pine Barrens in New

Jersey. These large landscape paintings are rich in color and subject

matter.

Evans is focusing on new works involving dark horizon lines deep

within soft landscapes.

Neil Alan Wicks will be showing new sculptures made from wood.

There will be two bodies of work. One will involve human forms and

the other will involve geometrical shapes within forms.

In addition, 11 other artists will also be showing their works.

* JOYCE RUDOLPH’s column appears Wednesdays. For events happening

this weekend, read her 48 Hours column Saturdays. Reach her at

637-3241.


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