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Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Theatre at Boston Court

Patrons outside the Theatre at Boston Court before showtime.

With the Pasadena Playhouse struggling and the Pasadena opening of A Noise Within a year away, did you think you'd have to wait to see professional theater in Pasadena?

You don't. You can go to the Theatre at Boston Court right now. Okay, maybe not right now, I don't know what time you're reading this. But between now and August 29th, you can see The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder, a world premiere by Moby Pomerance, directed by John Langs.

The play tells the story of James Murray who, in the 1880s, pretty much drove himself crazy trying to put together the Oxford English Dictionary on a meager budget with very little staff. Murray, his daughter Jane and their coworker Smythic (whom they mostly ignore, to his comic chagrin) work in a drafty garden shed. Brian Sidney Bembridge is credited with scenic and lighting design, both of which are gorgeous.

I'm no reviewer but I do have a 30-year acting career under my belt so I can tell you these roles require the kind of vocal and emotional dexterity you will see only in experienced, well-trained pros. The language itself would be enough to trip up any actor not at the top of his or her game.

It's hard to write about pedantry without being pedantic, but Pomerance doesn't fall into that trap. Director Langs may have done so, seeming to go for one high note for the first act. I would have liked more nuance, more variety of tone. But I would need to see more before I say for sure.

An intern at Boston Court set aside two complimentary tickets for me and asked me to blog about the play. And the full truth is I wasn't able to stay for the whole show. But as my profile says, I'm a lover of words, and The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder is packed with wordplay of the highest order. I was so intrigued by the first half that I'm just going to have to buy a ticket and see the second half.

This much I know: professional theater is thriving in Pasadena in the beautiful, comfortable, state-of-the-art space at the Boston Court.

17 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

It's great to read about anything creative that's thriving. Sounds like an interesting play, too!

Felicia said...

I haven't seen a bad production there yet. And we've walked out of not a few theatres at intermission if the show wasn't worth the loss of sleep. The artistic directors, Jessica and Michael, are really well connected and attract some of the best in the industry. AND THEY HAVE FREE PARKING. :)

Petrea said...

We saw that Billy Crudup had done a show there. It's not like he's hurtin' for work.

Have you seen this one yet, Felicia? If so, what are your thoughts? I saw Steve Julian's interview of the female lead. She really did some studying for her role and she carries the first act.

pasadenapio said...

I've been there several times, but never to see a play. I must remedy that someday. The last occasion that brought me there was the annual Playhouse District Association meeting about three months ago. Another was a walk-through a couple of years ago to see if it would be a suitable site for Mayor Bogaard's State of the City event (it wasn't large enough).

Pasadena is fortunate to have so many arts and cultural options. I do miss the Knightsbridge Theater.

Petrea said...

Boston Court's theatre is an intimate space. You don't miss a word there, even with a play such as this one, where words are bandied back and forth with aplomb. Aplomb!

Did you go to the Knightsbridge a lot, Ann? You might have seen me. It was years ago, and my first intro to Pasadena.

Shanna said...

This is exciting! I had no idea that this theatre was here. We had been to the Pasadena Playhouse several times.

Maybe Jim will want to see this. He collects dictionaries and owns most of a first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. It was published a section at a time, I think.

pasadenapio said...

I saw several plays at Knightsbridge back in the day (late 1990s/early 2000s?). I remember an Agatha Christie play ("The Mousetrap," I think) and a terrific production of Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest," among others. Were you in either of those?

altadenahiker said...

OED is my god, so I'm interested in the play. But I'm more interested to know who saw you at Knightsbridge.

You know how some actors/voice talent try to make it interesting by going up and down the scale? You don't do that -- yours is subtle and nuanced and everyone listens. You can be talking street directions, and we all listen. Pacing, partly; but something else you're born with, I expect.

Petrea said...

Shanna, I think you'll like it and it sounds like it's up Jim's alley. It's a play that makes you listen with your ears and with your brain.

Ann, those were my dates but I wasn't in either of those. I was in Measure for Measure, Titus Andronicus, Antony and Cleopatra and an odd but sweet little production compiled of Oscar Wilde bits not from "Earnest."

Gee, Hiker, I'm blushing. Thanks. I'm interested in how actors use their voices. You train and you train, but when you perform you have to forget training and concentrate on your fellow actors and the material. If your training's any good, it'll be there whether you're thinking about it or not.

Latino Heritage said...

Boston Court Performing Arts Center is a really cool, intimate complex. In addition to the larger house (~99 seats), they have a more intimate hall that can seat a little under 60 folks. The acoustics are great in both settings. Boston Court usually has some diverse and fun programing for Art NIght.

Petrea said...

I know they often have music performances. I follow them on Twitter and Facebook, so I hear about a lot of good stuff.

Bellis said...

Petrea, you can blush some more - I read a review of the most recent play you were in and they singled you out for praise.

I'd love to see the play. The book was so interesting. It's by Simon Winchester and is called "The Professor and the Madman." The title's different in the US, so I'm not sure which one this is. Read it asap if you love learning about words. When I lived in Oxford in 2008, I walked reverentially past the letter box that played a key part in the story.

My friend auditioned for the next play they're doing - it's about FONTS!!! My kind of play.

Speedway said...

A play about FONTS?! I love letterforms. What would be the title of that play and its writer? The fact that someone would write a play about letterforms, how words meant to be spoken would look on the page, is fascinating. After all, how the words look on the page determine how we feel about them, how we read them, even whether we read them at all. I'd love to see that play! (I wonder what the script looks like?)

J+P said...

Judging from Act I, it's a show for the logorrheic in us all.

Petrea said...

You're sweet to read my review., Bellis. It's been a couple of years, hasn't it? I've been putting everything into writing and not doing much acting except voice-over.

The book sounds wonderful, too. My kind of stuff. And Oxford! I love it there. I wish I'd known the story when I was there for the summer in '99, so I could have walked reverently past as well.

Speedway, from your enthusiasm about fonts I'm thinking you might like "The Good Book of Pedantry and Wonder," too. Click on the link in the post and see what you think.

J, I had to look that up on dictionary.com. Too bad the OED is out of my price range.

Susan Campisi said...

I rarely go out to see live theater, more apt to check out a film, but last week I saw a night of short plays way over on the westside and it was so enjoyable. I've been past Boston Court but never seen a production there. What a great place to have on my radar. Thank you. I'll try to get out to see this show. After reading all the comments, I really hope to see you on stage one day, Petrea. On the other hand, not if it would take you away from writing... No, we wouldn't want that.

Petrea said...

Live theatre is so different from TV or movies. As an audience member, you are much more involved. At least that's my experience.

Thank you, Susan. Right now, writing wholly involves me. If/when I get my book published, I'll have a feel for what to do next.