After performing at various venues throughout town last year, Pittsburg Community Theatre now has a home, the newly renovated, historic California Theatre, where on Friday the troupe will be the first to stage a show in more than six decades.
PCT will open its 2013-14 season with the beloved Neil Simon classic "The Odd Couple," for a one-weekend showing at the 1920-era, beaux-arts theater, which recently reopened after a $7.6 million restoration.
Barbara Halperin-Jacobs will direct the first play at the venue, which she said fit nicely with the troupe's theme for the season: "A New Beginning with the Old Classics."
"We're all very excited about it," she said. "The theater has been dark for 60 years, and we're the first theater company to make our home there. I'm the guinea pig (director). We hope everything goes smoothly ... the facilities are very nice."
Halperin-Jacobs noted that the 300-seat theater has an advanced lighting system and tiered seating design so everyone has a good view of the stage.
"It's just beautiful. The decor is art deco and they have restored it beautifully."
PCT publicity director Dianna Schepers noted that the troupe, which in past years has performed at the local high school, decided to move to the new downtown location partly to increase its visibility.
"It's a little bit more expensive, but we felt that being part of downtown and having the marquee helps a lot in promoting the show -- downtown is where everyone expects you to be," Schepers said. "When you're at a school, it gives that picture that it's a school production. This gives us more credibility as a whole -- it's really exciting to be the resident company there."
The troupe fits well with the landmark theater because it too has a long history, Schepers noted.
"You feel that there's a sense of history here knowing there were vaudeville shows here at one time," she said. "You walk in and you can almost smell the grease paint. It's just gorgeous. This has been around for a long time and PCT has been around for a long time, so it really fits together well."
Though the stage is wide, Schepers noted that it isn't as deep, so the troupe has come up with "a whole new way" of staging a show.
"We have some challenge because the wings behind the stage are smaller," she said. "It's not going to be the traditional set. The set will have a wall on both sides -- stage left, right -- but the back will be open. ... We don't have room to move things on and off, so it's going to be different; it's going to be fun."
The comedy stars three-time Shellie winner Kevin Burns as Oscar Madison, the sportswriter slob, while George Doerr is newly single Felix Unger, the obsessive neatnik. Others include poker players Murray (Brady Hicks), Vinnie (Bill Schneider), Speed (Jason Thompson), and Roy (Michael Wilson); and the Pigeon sisters, Gwendolyn (Deborah Huaco) and Cecily (Lisa Marie Taylor, who also is stage manager).
Halperin-Jacobs said the cast is strong and the play is extremely funny.
"It's one of his (Simon's) funniest plays and there is a good lesson in there about friendship: They are good friends, they love each other but they can't live together ... They realize they don't have to change; they have to move forward into their new lives."
Other shows on tap for the season include Disney's "Aladdin Jr." (December); Rogers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" (March 2014) and Agatha Christie's mystery "The Mousetrap" (May 2014).
Reach Judith Prieve at firstname.lastname@example.org or 925-779-7178.
What: "The Odd Couple"
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 25, 26; 2 p.m. Oct. 26, 27
Where: 351 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg
Info: 925-439-PLAY or www.pittsburgcommunitytheatre.org or the box office at 925-427-1611 or www.pittsburgcaliforniatheatre.com
Cost: $10 children 2-11; $15 students 12 and older and seniors; $20 adults