It is something of a feat to put on a theatre production. Much like film, it requires writers, actors, directors, costumes, lighting, props, art direction — and the chemistry that’s produced by the fusion of these elements. But unlike film, it’s all live — no editing, no retakes, no room for error. The subtle tension produced by the shared knowledge, on all sides of the stage, that at any moment one or more elements could fail — while simultaneously suspending disbelief so that what is happening on stage appears “real” — puts a charge in the air, something visceral and intangible yet permanent in its effect. This is the magic of theatre. Fall, with all its drama, seems the best season to harvest some of that mojo for full goosebumps and butterflies value. Ventura County’s vibrant and stalwart theatre community is serving up a delicious and soul-nourishing tonic this season made from family-friendly musical theatre, a handful of time-tested classics, humor and a salting of dance. Drink deep!

—Michel Cicero


En Boca de Todos, Bocanegra/On Everybody’s Lips, Bocanegra  

Through Oct. 9
Teatros de las Américas
Various locations
485-5445 or visit www.teatrodelasamericas.org.

Teatro de las Americas presents this play that touches on the human response to impending war in honor of the bicentennial celebration of the Mexican Revolution. Tickets are $7-$10. Oct. 2 at the Oak View Park and Resource Center, 555 Mahoney Ave., Oakview; Sunday, Oct. 3 at the Casa del Mexicano, 218 S. 11th St., Santa Paula; Oct. 8-9 at Café on A, 438 S. A St., Oxnard.


At Home at the Zoo

Through Oct. 10
Santa Paula Theater Center
125 S. Seventh St., Santa Paula
525-4645 or www.santapaulatheatercenter.org

Celebrating its 25th season providing outstanding community theater, Santa Paula Theater Center’s current production is a new work by Edward Albee. The theater company describes it as “a critically acclaimed new spellbinder. A meticulously calibrated look at the lives of three New Yorkers. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $16-$18.

cCurtains  
Through Oct. 17
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
583-7900 or www.simi-arts.org

Beautifully produced shows in a grand setting make productions at Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center a favorite among theatergoers. This current production is Kander & Ebb’s musical comedy whodunit about murder and mayhem with lots of great music. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14-$20.

curWait Until Dark  
Oct. 1-Oct. 30
Ojai Center for the Arts
113 S. Montgomery St., Ojai
646-0017 or www.ojaiartcenter.org

Directed by Tom Eubanks. Playwright Frederic Knott is out to scare the living daylights out of you with this 1966 play. It is a thriller about sinister crooks terrorizing a blind woman who has something they want. The prize is a doll full of smuggled heroin, and the heroine is forced into a deadly charade that she equalizes by turning off all the lights. You will be able to see it all unless you close your own eyes.

Not So Sneaky Sneak Peek
Oct. 1-2
Theater 150
316 E. Matilija St., Ojai
646-4300 or www.theater150.com

“Saving the world, one story at a time” is their tag, and given their prolific output and passion for the literary arts, the folks at Theater 150 might just do it. This fall, they present a bountiful harvest of 10-minute plays, fiction, memoir and poetry from their recent writing classes, groups and workshops. Tickets are $10.

Ghostwalk 2010
Oct. 15-31
Downtown Santa Paula
525-4645 or www.ghostwalk.com

The long-lived Santa Paula Theater Center presents its annual Halloween event that takes participant on a historical tour of Santa Paula with “ghosts” along the route to tell the stories of their demise. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, tours leave every 15 minutes from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $8-$15, $10 on opening weekend.

Tales From Autumn Knoll  
Oct. 17, 7 and 8 p.m.
The High Street Broadcast
45 E. High St., Moorpark
www.highstreetbroadcast.com

The popular tribute to the golden age of radio returns with more comedy and original music. This hour-long Halloween performance will include a collection of scary tales, including, “The Scarecrow of Autumn Knoll” and songs “Hay Ride” and “Trick or Treat.” Fun for the whole family and fans of Prairie Home Companion. The performance is at 7 p.m. and is free to the public with a $5 suggested donation. The performance will air on KCLU radio on Halloween night.

temThe Tempest  
Oct. 13-24
Rubicon Theatre Company
1006 E. Main St., Ventura
667-2900 or www.rubicontheatre.org

An enchanting new production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a grand visual adventure set on a mystical island made up of translucent glass seaforms, with mysterious creatures in brightly-colored costumes whizzing through the air.

Award-winning professional Rubicon Theatre Company puts its “oar in the water of that vast ocean,” this fall with a developmental staged reading. While actors speak Shakespeare’s lyrical language, images of models for a future imagined production will be projected overhead. General admission. By William Shakespeare. Directed by James O’Neil.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  
Oct. 15-31
Elite Theater Company
730 S. B St. Oxnard
483-5118 or www.elitetheatre.org

Local children will make up the cast of this classic fantasy by C.S. Lewis. The first in his Chronicles of Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the imaginative tale of four children living in London during World War II who discover a magical world inside a wooden armoire where good and evil are at war. Much like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, biblical metaphors are woven into the narrative. This production will be family-friendly and will make an excellent entry into the live theater experience for children. Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 p.m

felizHappy Days: A New Musical
Oct. 22-31
Cabrillo Music Theater at Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks
449-2787 or www.cabrillomusictheatre.com

The Ovation Award-winners and resident musical theater production company of the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza present this fun musical based on the hit TV series. Fonzie and the gang attempt to save their beloved hangout, Arnold’s, from demolition in 1959 Milwaukee, Wis. Written by its original creator, Garry Marshall (The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mork and Mindy, Laverne and Shirley), this production also features a score by Acadamy Award-winner Paul Williams. Recommended for all audiences, this is an ideal cultural outing for the whole family.

Acts2Grind: A Slew of One-Act Plays
Oct. 15-30
Santa Paula Theater Center Backstage Productions
125 S. Seventh St., Santa Paula
525-4645 or www.santapaulatheatercenter.org

Adult themes dominate five original stories about love, life, death and the human condition, authored exclusively by locals. Different directors will handle each short play, and the casts will feature both new and veteran actors. Helmed by John McKinley, Backstage Productions offers exceptionally affordable, high-quality community theater. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m. Two Thursday performances, Oct. 21 and 28, 8 p.m. with tickets on a pay what you can basis.

annieAnnie  
Oct. 30-Dec. 12
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
583-7900 or www.simi-arts.org

Actors’ Repertory Theatre of Simi presents this classic Broadway smash hit following the adventures of Lil Orphan Annie and her dog Sandy. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.; special Saturday matinees on Dec. 4 and 11 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $14-$20.

kissKiss Me Kate
Nov. 12-Dec. 11
Conejo Players
351 S. Moorpark Road, Thousand Oaks
495-3715 or www.conejoplayers.org

Musicals about theater productions never seem to disappoint, and this should be no exception. With music and lyrics by Cole Porter, the setting is late 1940s Baltimore, Md., on the set of a musical production of Shakespeare. The actors personal lives create just the right tension for acting out the play within the play. Ann Miller starred in the 1953 film adaptation.

Broadway Cabaret: Stars of Les Miserables
Nov. 12
Rubicon Theatre Company
1006 E. Main St., Ventura
667-2900 or www.rubicontheatre.org

Spend a fabulous Friday evening listening to the wonderful voices of talented Les Miserables’ stars Randal Keith and Joan Almedilla as they perform for one night only, singing duets and solos from their favorite Broadway composers, with a few final numbers from Les Miserables. A French-themed reception and meet and greet with performers will follow the concert.

Merton of the Movies  
Nov. 12-21
Ventura College Theater
4667 Telegraph Road, Ventura
654-6400

Originally adapted for the stage from a book in the 1920s, the plot centers around an aspiring film actor whose bad acting lands him a comedy role; but the catch is, he thinks it’s a drama. Directed by Jay Varela. Performances are Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday matinees.

aA Gentleman and a Scoundrel
Nov. 12 – Dec. 19
Elite Theatre Company
730 S. B St. Oxnard
483-5118 or
www.elitetheatre.org

A products analyst attempts to find his way out of a financial pickle by creating a second persona and position for himself — for the same employer. The situation gets extra-complicated when his girlfriend falls for his alter ego and he becomes his own love rival. How he manages it all, and keeps the girl, is what will make this quick-paced romantic comedy one of the season’s best bets for belly laughs. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 2 p.m.

Leading Ladies
Nov. 19-Dec.19
Santa Paula Theater Center
125 S. Seventh St., Santa Paula
525-4645 or www.santapaulatheatercenter.org

Ken Ludwig’s hysterical comedy about mistaken identity, mismatched lovers, greedy relatives and breakneck chases. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets $14-$18.

ballBallroom Dance Extravaganza
Dec. 1-19
Rubicon Theatre Company
1006 E. Main St., Ventura
667-2900 or www.rubicontheatre.org

If you love the film Strictly Ballroom or the television show Dancing with the Stars, you will not want to miss this. Cate Caplin (who choreographed Rubicon’s Man of La Mancha) is a world champion, grand champion and gold medalist in theatrical show dance. As director, choreographer or dancer, her work has been featured on Star Search and in performances at the White House and the Kennedy Center. She creates a glittering new event, exclusively for Rubicon audiences, where top dance couples take the Rubicon stage to perform a range of international and American ballroom styles.

 

HOLIDAY PRODUCTIONS

nutThe Nutcracker  Nov. 20-21
Ventura Ballet Company
Oxnard Performing Arts Center
800 Hobson Way, Oxnard
486-2424 or www.oxnardpacc.com

A holiday tradition for Ventura County families, the classic ballet is beautifully performed by the county’s premier ballet company.

Pasto-Re-La  
Nov. 26-Dec. 18
Teatro de las Américas
Various locations
231-0127

Christmas is going on the road with the family-friendly musical Pasto-Re-La, this roving theater company’s first foray into musical theater. Nov. 26-28 at the WAV Theater, Ventura; Dec. 3-5, at the South Oxnard Community Center; Dec. 12 at Casa del Mexicano, Santa Paula; Dec. 17-18 at Café on A, Oxnard. Tickets $7-$10, $25 for families.

San Fernando Valley Male Chorus Holiday Concert
Dec. 2, 7:30 p.m.
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
583-7900 or www.simi-arts.org

Join the San Fernando Valley Male Chorus as it returns with its celebrated annual holiday concert.  Enjoy the sounds of the season with this fun-loving group of singers. Tickets are $15.

xmasA Christmas Carol  
Dec. 3-19
Senga Classic Stage Company
Ojai Valley Grange, 381 Cruzero St., Ojai
646-4885 or www.franciscabeach.com

In a festive mood, the Farndale Avenue Townswomen’s Guild Amateur Dramatic Society’s ladies mount yet another assault on the classics with their stage version of A Christmas Carol. Enthusiasm is their middle name, and with the virile support of stage manager Gordon, the four ladies present an array of Dickensian characters and a little music.

Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.Tickets are $12-$15.

Blue Christmas with Raymond Michael as Elvis
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
583-7900 or www.simi-arts.org

The king of all Elvis impersonators, Raymond Michael, recreates Elvis and his Blue Christmas concert. Tickets are $18-$22.

merryA Very Merry Broadcast
Dec. 19, 7 and 8 p.m.
High Street Broadcast
High Street Arts Center
45 E. High St., Moorpark
529-8700 or www.thehighstreetbroadcast.com

Christmas stories and yuletide serenades on the county’s only old-time radio broadcast. High Street Broadcast’s Christmas show has become a favorite holiday tradition as the performers succeed at capturing the authentic sound of the simpler times of radio’s golden age. Free to the public with a $5 suggested donation. This performance will air Christmas Eve on KCLU radio.

Holiday Spectacular
Dec. 21-24
Cabrillo Music Theatre
Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks
449-2700 or www.civicartsplaza.com

Continuing a new tradition of providing family entertainment during the holidays, Cabrillo Music Theatre once again presents a special Holiday Show. Cabrillo Music Theatre also continues its commitment to those who serve in our country’s armed forces, with a special performance dedicated to local troops and their families.

New Year’s Eve Gala
Dec. 31, 8:30 p.m.
Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center
3050 Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
583-7900 or www.simi-arts.org

Come celebrate the New Year with the return of Rent on its opening night and featuring the sounds of Kounterfeit Change and the tastes of New York. $75 per person includes show and party, $45 for show only, $40 for party only.