The Las Positas College Theater Arts program is on a roll.
After the rousing success of last semester’s “Evil Dead: The Musical,” the program has tackled something a little more traditional, yet still unique with “Stage Door.”
It is a good production of a classic play with quality acting and sets and staging. It’s engrossing — funny but with moments of emotional heft.
It is yet another in a series of solid shows from the Theater Arts department and further proof that LPC is becoming a premier school in the Bay Area for aspiring actors and students interested in the art of the stage.
“Stage Door” was written by Edna Ferber and George S. Kaufman and was first performed in 1936. It features several inter-lacing plots all centered around a group of aspiring female stage actors who live under one roof, a boarding house known as The Footlights Club, as their individual fortunes rise and fall over the course of the two hour show.
The main plot centers on Terry Randall, played by Liva Langer, a mannered girl from the midwest looking to conquer the Broadway stage. Randall strives for stardom, becomes romantically involved with two very different men and confronts her prospects as an actor both on stage and on screen.
Other plots involve the struggles of trying to break into show business, various men in the women’s lives, professional rejection, the lure of Hollywood and its impact on the craft of acting and even suicide. The various plots amount to an almost non-stop juggling act, with the numerous threads floating above the show and coming in and out in an amusing, rapid-fire way.
The dialogue is written in the firecracker fast pace typical of stage and film of the 1930s and 40s, and the student cast is more than up for the task, keeping the show humming.
The costumes, makeup-work and set designs gave the show a realism and believability that is a credit to the work that the program’s students put in behind the curtain.
It’s a big, elaborate show.
There are large numbers of performers on stage at several points and the physicality and movement of the show was elaborate to say the least. It seems like it could have been a difficult show to stage and for it to be so polished was very impressive.
There were some minor issues, most probably having more to do with the production getting its feet under it on opening night — some stumbles both physical and in delivering dialogue (nothing that wasn’t recovered from quickly), and I thought the pace of the show sagged a little in its final stretch. These are small quibbles.
Ultimately this was another very high quality production that should only get better over the course of its run of shows.
Prior to the beginning of the show, director Dyan McBride discussed the opening of LPC’s Actor’s Conservatory, a unique, intensive two-year program for aspiring thespians that will be the first-of-its-kind for community colleges in the Bay Area. It’s an exciting development for the school, and based on the recent quality of shows on campus, will clearly be a boon for the arts community of the Bay Area.
In terms of the arts, the Conservatory (and the soon-to- be-launched Film Studies degree) has gotten LPC to a place where it’s really coming into its own.