I Won’t Grow Up! Awwww, Do I Have To?

Last night we went to one of our favorite venues, the REP East in Newhall, to see the play “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, based on the books by Robert Fulghum, as adapted by Ernest Zulia. This was not your typical comedy or drama with a connected plot. Rather, it was a series of scenes illustrating various life lessons, all with the general theme of reminding us with what we learn as we grow up. As a result, the title served only to refer to the first scene, wherein we learned that when we were in Kindergarten, we were willing to try and do anything (whether we knew how or not)… but as we grew older, we became more aware of our abilities and limitations, and tried less and less–the point being (I think) that we should continue to have that childish enthusiasm and constantly try. It is OK to fall on our face and look silly sometimes. We do forget that as adults (well, most of us, that is).

As I said, there were a number of scenes, and I don’t recall them all. There are a few that stick in my mind, however. “Cinderella” was about a shy boy in Kindergarten who decided to be the pig in Cinderella (yes, I know there isn’t one in the story)–and his pig became the star of the show. This boy was unaware of conventional limitations, and succeeded because no one told him they existed. There is a lesson there. “The Stuff in the Sink” was about the gunk that collects in the sink when you do the dishes, and you have to periodically clean it out. Adults recognize this as a part of life, but kids hate dealing with the gunk. The segued into a high school graduation, where the speaker reminded the kids that growing up means being willing to deal with the gunk in the sink, changing the poopy diapers, cleaning the vomit of a friend off the floor, and so on, and the kids all quickly decided they didn’t want to grow up. But it is something we forget. There was also a scene called “Problems and Inconveniences”, reminding us that what so often seem to be problems are really just inconveniences, or as the play put it, “A lump in your oatmeal is very different than a lump in your breast.”

The second act had more scenes along these lines: “MOTB” made me think of the upcoming Bat Mitzvah: it was about a mother of the bride who worked to have everything perfect for her daughter’s wedding… only to have the bride eat too much while getting dressed, and rolf over the entire front pew at the ceremony. They all learned to laugh at this. There was a scene about the relationship about “Fathers and Sons”, as well as how that mirrors how children approach “Pigeons” (one can never get too close). There was a scene about “Geek Dancing”, which was about how one needs to find the joy in doing this, and who cares what the rest of the world thinks. The last scene, “Are There Any Questions”, was about the purpose of life… and how it is to be a mirror that helps shine others into the deep crevaces of life.

Gee, I guess I got more out of this play than I thought six hours ago. That is the mark of a good play: one that upon reflection gets even stronger. Of course, I think this was helped by the excellent cast (playing a variety of roles): George M. Chavez II, Marla Khayat, Jeff Lucas, Jymn Magon, and Erin Rivlin-Sakata. Some of these are regular REP folks we’ve been seeing throughout the year; some are new. All were excellent. I particularly enjoyed the enthusiasm of George and Erin, and I loved Jymn and Marla’s facial expressions and glee. There were a few line hesitations, but that is part of life, and they didn’t serve to distract from the show at all.

The uncredited stage design was simple and worked well, with much of the mood established through the lighting of Tim Christianson. Sound was by the always excellent “Nanook” Burkholder, with costumes (primarily clothes that didn’t distract from the actor) by Ryan Todd. Stage management was by Lauren Pearsall, with direction by the theatre’s artistic director, “O” (Owington Michael Owston). The show runs through October 20.

At the performance, REP East announced their 2008 season, which looks quite good. No dates as of yet, but the shows planned are: “Steel Magnolias,” “W;t,” “The Full Monty: The Musical,” “Of Mice and Men,” and “Ten Little Indians”. The 81 Series (short run shows for mature audience) are “Hurleyburly”, “Necessary Targets”, and “Suburbia”. I don’t know about the 81 series, but the main stage shows look great. I haven’t figured out if we’re doing season tickets (as they are good and start their season in January, not June like everyone else, which helps the pocket book), or will continue to go through Goldstar.

This debate occurs because they still have trouble coming up with a season ticket packet that works for us. All of their subscription packets consist of 8 shows, and I really just want a main stage (5 show) subscription (which I think many families would want). There’s also the pricing question. There are times I get season tickets because the shows don’t always show up on Goldstar with suitable times (Pasadena Playhouse), at all (Cabrillo Music Theatre), or might have great demand (Ahmanson). REP East shows up regularly on Goldstar, and the discount is better than the season discount. The only reason to get the season pass would be to show support for the theatre. This could easily be done by showing that the season tickets are not just paying for the tickets: the tickets are effectively at Goldstar prices, with the remainder of the season fee being a (tax-deductable, hopefully) donation to the group. The packages are also oddly structured: the Patron Circle and Members Circle are essentially the same goodies (the former is for one, the latter for two)… except that the latter is more than double the former. The only difference is where you are in the program. Again, making clear that this is a greater donation to the theatre would really help here. I know that folks from the show read these reviews, so hopefully these ideas will help them (or they will comment here–I invite you to join Livejournal).

Speaking of upcoming shows, here’s how our calendar is looking: Next weekend, we have “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center on 10/13 @ 8:00pm; followed by “7 Brides for 7 Brothers” at Cabrillo Music Theatre on 11/3 @ 2:00pm. The rest of November is taken up by other activities: 30th High School Reunion, Thomas at OERM, and isn’t programmed. Theatre starts up again in December, with “Ray Charles Live” at the Pasadena Playhouse on 12/1 @ 8pm; Tom Paxton at McCabes on 12/2 @ 7:30pm; and the highly anticipated “The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales” at Nobel Middle School on 12/6 @ 7pm, 12/7 @ 7pm, and maybe 12/8 @ 5pm.