The 1920s get lots of attention this week as two local theaters present shows set in that colorful time period. First up, Lafayette's Town Hall Theatre produces the Bay Area premiere of Aaron Sorkin's "The Farnsworth Invention."
Yes, it's that Farnsworth, the one whose perseverance brought us television. Not only did the young genius have lots of scientific challenges, he had to battle CEO David Sarnoff as both raced to produce the 20th century's most influential invention.
Joel Roster directs with Michael Doppe as Farnsworth and Jeffrey Draper as Sarnoff. The show runs Feb. 7-March 2. Call 925- 283-1557 or go to www.townhalltheatre.com.
It's Hollywood at the end of the silent movie era when some actors became stars and others faded away as Diablo Theatre Company brings "Singin' in the Rain" to Walnut Creek's Lesher Center Feb. 8-March 2. To recreate Hollywood circa 1927, DTC has gone all out, with a cast of 32, lavish sets by Kelly Tighe and glamorous period gowns. Keith Pinto plays silent screen heartthrob Don Lockwood with the mesmerizing Ryan Drummond as Cosmo Brown. Melissa Wolfklain portrays ingénue Kathy Selden and Mary Kalita takes on the key role of Lina Lamont. For a singing, dancing and romantic extravaganza, call 925-943-SHOW or go to www.lesherartscenter.org.
Playwright Anthony Clarvoe takes a birders'-eye view of three generations of woman in his new work "Our Practical Heaven," playing at Berkeley's Aurora Theatre through March 3.
Developed as part of Aurora's new works Global Age Project, "Our Practical Heaven" brings three generations of women back to their beach house and refuge on consecutive holidays. Each year, the grandmother, her daughter, two granddaughters and her "adopted" daughter and her daughter return to go birding and enjoy the quiet serenity. Lying just below the surface, however, are the usual mother/daughter conflicts enhanced by the grandmother's age and one young girl's ill health.
Combining creative lighting effects and video with well-drawn characters, the Aurora production features the wonderful Joy Carlin as the grandmother Vera and a riveting Julia Brothers as her "adopted" daughter Willa. Ann Darragh easily portrays the challenging daughter Sasha, with Adrienne Walters and Blythe Foster doing a fine job as her techno-obsessed daughters. Lauren Spencer turns in a finely tuned performance as Willa's chronically ill daughter.
Kudos to set designer Mikiko Uesugi, whose versatile couch transforms into a pier with ease, and for the whimsical floats that with their tiny wheels seem to "float" through lighting designer Michael Palumbo's lake.
Clarvoe's work is strongest when dealing with the women's relationships and less so when he gets philosophical and, at times, a bit melodramatic. For tickets, call 510-843-4822 or go to www.auroratheatre.org.
Walnut Creek's Civic Arts Education has taught generations of visual and performing arts students over the years through a wide variety of art, music and theater classes, including the award-winning Youth Theatre Company. The Friends of CAE Foundation helps students who can't afford those classes by giving scholarships.
To build up that scholarship fund, the Friends have gone Cuban with the fundraiser "Midnight in Havana," slated for Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at CAE's Shadelands campus, 111 N. Wiget Lane in Walnut Creek. The evening includes the five-piece Cuban band Los Boleros plus performances by CAE's various theater, music and dance groups. The festivities also feature a sit-down dinner, catered by Havana Restaurant and Wilma Lott Catering, special Cuban Mojitos and a live auction with professional auctioneer Damon Casatico. Call 925-939-2787 or go to www.friendsartsed.org.
Contra Costa Children's Chorus is currently auditioning for its spring semester. Open to boys and girls 7 through 15 years of age, the choirs rehearse at Lafayette's Our Savior's Lutheran Church. The company has also begun a new class, "MetroGnomes," for children ages 5-6. For more information, call 925-945-7101 or go to www.childrenschorus.org.
The Playwrights' Center of San Francisco is seeking six male actors and two female actors plus directors, playwrights and crew for upcoming shows. Email Jennifer Roberts at Jennifer@playwrightscentersf.com for more information.
Contact Sally Hogarty at email@example.com.