24th Street Theatre finds color in the lives of two orphan girls living in a silent film world of black, white and varying shades of gray. Debbie Devine directs the West Coast premiere of Kerry Muir’s magical, surreal, dream-like movie-within-a play, The Night Buster Keaton Dreamed Me, for an April 11 opening. Performances will continue through May 31, with low-priced previews taking place March 28 through April 5.
Maya Brattkus (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Crucible at Theatricum Botanicum) and Olivia Cristina Delgado (A Mexican Trilogy at the LATC, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest at the Broad) star as sisters Haley and Renata, fending for themselves in a fire-scarred apartment. So far, they’ve managed to elude Child Protective Services, but now it looks like Mrs. Giamatti next door (radio host/voiceover artist Keri Tombazian) might be on to them. Is this all a dream? Or are they being filmed for a movie like the ones their mother used to take them to at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax? (Tony Duran, seen at 24th Street in La Razon Blindada, portrays the “director”; the original silent movie score is composed and performed live by Bradley Brough.) When Buster Keaton (John Ellsworth Phillips, whose credits include Julius Caesar with Independent Shakespeare Company) mysteriously appears on the eve of Haley’s birthday, the boundaries of the girls’ reality are stretched.
The Night Buster Keaton Dreamed Me was the winner of the 2010 Maxim Mazumdar Award (under its original title, Cut-Ups). It premiered at the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, NY, where the Buffalo News called it, “A surrealistic play about personal loss and the power of the imagination… bouncy and moody, hungry and hostile, dreamy and daffy all at once.”This production is the latest in a string of emotionally rich and provocative productions from 24th Street that have successfully expanded the company’s audience beyond L.A.’s usual theater-going patrons to include families. Other critically acclaimed 24th Street shows that have triumphed with both adults and kids include Walking the Tightrope (remounted by CTG at the Kirk Douglas Theatre), Man Covets Bird, Hansel and Gretel Bluegrass, ICE and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.
In addition to sharing 24th Street’s trademark sensibility with its predecessors, Buster Keaton utilizes the same award-winning creative team, including director Devine; set designer Keith Mitchell; costume designer Shannon Kennedy; projections designer Matthew G. Hill; and lighting designer Dan Weingarten. Joining the team for this show are sound designer Gillian Moon, assistant director Jesus Castaños-Chima and stage manager Sophia Sanchez.
The play was recently published in a Spanish translation by Ercilia Sahores, and the production will include Spanish supertitles.
24th Street Theatre is a multiple award-winning professional theater company with a unique connection to its local inner-city community: the giant green doors to the theater (a historic 1928 carriage house located on the edge of L.A.’s historic West Adams historic district) are literally kept open to the street every day. Neighborhood residents, homeless people, local kids, students and visiting parents from nearby USC, and others stop in daily for coffee, conversation or to access educational, cultural and social service resources. Founded in 1997 as a more traditional theater, the community needs changed the theater’s focus from simply creating high caliber art to using that art to make a difference in the lives of the local neighborhood residents. With a mission to engage, educate, and provoke its diverse community and city with an eclectic array of high quality artistic programming, 24th Street Theatre serves over 10,000 people annually: 6,000 children and youth, and 4,000 adults, the majority of whom are low-income. The 24th Street brand, marked by resolute commitment to the integrity of the work and a heightened, minimalistic style, is reflected in its arts education programs as well as in its mainstage productions for families.
The Night Buster Keaton Dreamed Me opens on Saturday, April 11 and continues through May 31, with performances on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. (dark April 12). Previews take place March 28 through April 5 on the same schedule, with one additional preview performance scheduled on Friday, April 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets to all performances except previews are $24 for adults; $15 for students, seniors and teachers; $10 audiences under 18; and $2.40 for residents of the theater’s surrounding North University Park neighborhood. Tickets to previews are $5. 24th Street Theatre is located at 1117 West 24th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007 (at the intersection of 24th and Hoover). Secure parking is available for $5 in the lot on the southwest corner of 24th and Hoover. The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible. For reservations and information, call (213) 745-6516 or go to www.24thstreet.org.