by John Hankins
Nobody does theater like Ventura County, thanks to the six theaters which are part of the Four-Star Theater Alliance, including Ojai ACT … and the thousands of patrons who benefit from a wide diversity of live and lively theater every year.
The Alliance has raised the bar in quality, variety, camaraderie and cooperation since it started during the 2008 season, culminating in a uniquely judged award ceremony complete with scenes and a photo montage. This year’s event honoring the 2017 season was on Jan. 14 at the High Street Theater in Moorpark.
For starters, the Most Outstanding Productions of each of the six theaters are: “Dogfight” (Camarillo Skyway Playhouse), “Young Frankenstein” (Conejo Players Theatre), “Steel Magnolias” (Elite Theatre Company), “My Fair Lady” (High Street Arts Center), “Peter and the Starcatcher” (Ojai Art Center Theater) and “Becky’s New Car” (Santa Paula Theater Center).
“The 2017 winners represent a totally unique, truly memorable array of work produced throughout the area over the last 12 months,” said Courtney Potter, the Alliance’s social media coordinator.
The theaters promote support and respect and share resources, like props, costumes, tech people and actors. They also brainstorm problems and publish a county-wide brochure of all their productions – 31 main stage productions in 2017 alone, ranging from “Agnes of God” to “When We Were Young and Afraid.”
As for the 2018 season, Umali says, “theater has always had many roles to fill in a community: to entertain, to challenge, to educate, to bring audiences together in the sharing of stories.” The upcoming season will do all that and more.
“Shows from the newest, most thought-provoking works of modern playwrights and composers will go up alongside many familiar and beloved favorites. It’s an opportunity to participate in a selection of exceptional theatre as wide and diverse as the community itself,” Umali said.