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Much ado about something

February 11, 2006|By By Joyce Rudolph

shakespeareThe Colony Theatre and Shakespeare at Play are teaming up to bring classical theater to the community.Two local theater companies are making much ado about a new partnership.

The Colony and Shakespeare at Play have joined forces to provide classical theater experiences for youngsters.

Through the new partnership, The Colony Theatre is providing theater space for Shakespeare at Play's Festival of Shakespeare program, said Debbie Gates, executive director of Shakespeare at Play.

Students are bused from schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District to the Colony Theatre to see a production of "Romeo and Juliet."

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Performing the production are the actors of Shakespeare at Play, Gates said. Each student receives their own paperback book of the story as a souvenir.

Many other theater programs are planned and the companies hope to keep them afloat by sponsoring fundraisers, applying for grants and seeking corporate donations, Gates said.

The first fundraiser they are co-sponsoring is a St. Valentine's Day Massacre Murder Mystery Dinner on Sunday at The Castaway, Gates said.

The event will include hors d'oeuvres, live music by Davidson and Colman, a no host bar and silent auction and the dinner followed by dancing to the music of Bluz Blu Johnney.

In August, the companies will co-produce a free program called Shakespeare at the Park at Lincoln Park in Burbank. The Colony will provide the rehearsal space for Shakespeare at Play's actors for these presentations. Many of the actors are part of both theater companies, Gates said.

The Festival of Shakespeare will resume in September along with a new regional occupational program for performing arts in collaboration with the Burbank Unified School District.

"Students enrolled in the program will not only learn about acting, but the administrative and technical sides of theater, including theater management, lighting and costume design," Gates said.

Gates plans to include a grant writing class.

The program will be offered as part of the curriculum to high school students ages 16 and older.

Classes will be taught by accredited teachers who are professionals in the performing arts fields, Gates said.

Sean Alan Cutler, managing director with The Colony, is working with Gates on the partnership.

Officials at The Colony Theatre had been trying to create a community outreach project when Gates approached them, Cutler said.

"I thought it was a great idea," he said.

"We want to provide support and space to get young audiences into the theater experience."

Cutler is especially enthusiastic about the ROP partnership with the Burbank schools, he said.

"We want to give back to the community that supports us, as well as open the door to the theater experience to young people for two reasons: one, it is an enriching artistic experience, and two: it lays the groundwork for a lifetime of theater going," he said.

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