Set designers constantly enthrall me. I've had the luxury of watching Kelly Tighe grow from a young man full of ideas into an award-winning designer, with his fascinating sets often gracing Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts as well as theaters in New York.
Nina Ball is another designer whose creative ideas seem to know no boundaries.
Several years ago, I had the privilege of performing on her finely detailed set for Town Hall Theatre's "Rabbit Hole," and this past week, her graceful arches and colorful glass structures set the stage for Cal Shakes' "Comedy of Errors."
With the sunset enhancing Ball's stained glass design, and lighting designer David Cuthbert adding his nuanced effects to the mix as the natural light faded, the Bruns Amphitheater came alive with Shakespeare's zany comedy about two sets of twins separated during a violet storm.
Director Aaron Posner brings a rough-and-tumble physicality to the piece featuring Danny Scheie and Adrian Danzig as both sets of twins, and Ron Campbell, Nemuna Ceesay, Tristan Cunningham, Patty Gallagher and Liam Vincent playing myriad roles.
While most companies cast four actors to play the twins, Posner has gone with just two -- but what a dynamic duo. Danzig's clowning is superb with Scheie's spinning hat especially effective, as well as physically exhausting. Hats also become a simple and very effective way for Danzig and Scheie to be in two places on stage at the same time.
This truly exuberant "Comedy of Errors" continues through July 20. Call 510-548-9666 or go to www.calshakes.org.
Here's your chance to get in on the action without getting on stage. Come to the Four-Eyed Jacks (aka Bill Chessman) production of two original radio plays and add your hoots and hollers to the recording of the shows.
It takes place at 8 p.m. July 11-12; and at 2:30 p.m. July 13, at OnStage Theatre's Martinez Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St. in Martinez.
The first radio play, called "You Only Eat Twice," follows the exploits of British secret agent Burt Suave as he tries to stop the evil Dr. V.B. Morbid.
The second production, "He's Mad, I Tell You," deals with a mad scientist veterinarian modifying family pets, but to what evil purpose?
Written and directed by Bill Chessman, the shows feature the voice talents of Conrad Cady, Alan Cameron, Patricia Inabnet, John Kopping, Charley Lerrigo, Sheilah Morrison, Linda Revelli, Hilda Roe, Tina Smith, Ryan Terry and Loralee Windsor. James Frankle and three of the actors perform the sound effects.
Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.
Butterfield 8 Theatre Company, in conjunction with Onstage Theatre, will perform one of its popular reading series on at 8 p.m. July 17 and Aug. 21, at the Martinez Campbell Theater. For more information, go to www.b8company.com.
The Lesher Center for the Arts comes alive with the sounds of children enjoying a plethora of fascinating performances as the eighth annual Chevron Family Theatre Festival comes to Walnut Creek from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 19.
Free performances take place inside and outside the Lesher Center as well as such activities as face painting, craft making and more. Of course, favorite costumed characters will also be in attendance.
Low-price ticketed performances include The World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater that blends the talents of juggler Gregory Popovich and the extraordinary talents of his performing pets.
Returning again is the wonderful Leslie Carrara-Rudolph. Now a Sesame Street puppeteer, Carrara-Rudoph got her start on Contra Costa stages and loves to return to her old hometown.
The festive day also includes Fantasy Forum Actors Ensemble performing "Cinderella," the Pushcart Players performing "Little Red Riding Hood and Other Stories," and Alex Ramon Magic.
For more information, call 925-943-SHOW (925-943-7469) or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.
Contact Sally Hogarty at firstname.lastname@example.org.