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Lighting the way

Church performers stage mystery to raise funds for light and sound board for the future productions.

October 16, 2010|By Joyce Rudolph,
  • Cheryl Butler, from left, Donna Michel and Russell David Goins rehearse for a play called "The Gazebo" at the First United Methodist Church in Burbank on Thursday, October 13, 2010. The radio theatre performance is filled with murder, mystery and comedy, which will be performed on Sunday, October 17, 2010.
Cheryl Butler, from left, Donna Michel and Russell David… (Cheryl A. Guerrero,…)

A performing church troupe is using its creativity to fulfill a necessity.

The Burbank First United Methodist Church Players (BUMPS) had planned to produce a full staged production of its Mystery Radio Theatre performance of "The Gazebo" by Alex Coppel but found the show called for area lighting and dimming on the stage, said co-director Cheryl Butler.

"There were a lot of lighting requirements that we can't do," Butler said. "Since we had a cast in place and the rights to the show, we decided instead to use it as a fundraiser for a more professional lighting and sound system in Trever Hall."

BUMPS had been performing two shows a year, but recently had to lay off, in part because they lost their contact from a professional lighting company that allowed them to borrow the equipment.

A band of the original players is trying to get BUMPS back on the stage, and this show is kicking off an Angel program to recruit sponsors to back their theatrical productions, Butler said. Those who donate will be treated to incentives like having their name listed in the program and an Angel pin.


"So they will have earned their wings, which is a great tie-in because we are a church group," Butler said.

Several other groups use the multi-purpose room including the women's, men's and youth church groups, and the church sponsors Boy and Girl Scout troops that meet there.

Sunday's production will be a staged reading done in the style of an old-time radio show, said Butler, who shares the co-director title with Donna Michel.

"The Gazebo," a mystery/comedy, is about a writer of TV whodunits, Elliott Nash, who is being blackmailed about his wife Nell's past. Elliott has to put an end to the blackmailing.

The fun part for Butler is that she's playing Nell opposite her real-life husband, Kent Butler.

Kent Butler had pursued an acting career early in his life. He had small roles on "General Hospital" and "The Young and the Restless" in the 1970s and 1980s. He continues to perform in equity waiver theatrical productions for the Group Repertory Theatre in North Hollywood.

The charm for doing this production is the uniqueness of the radio show concept, he said.

"I've been told I have a good voice, and just being able to use that voice, like what they did in radio — the voice was all you had — I find that interesting and fascinating," he said.

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