Cabrillo Music Theatre brings stories of miracles
By Jim Spencer and Shirley Lorraine
Created in the early 1970s, formally incorporated in 1988 and the resident musical theatre company at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza since 1994, the Cabrillo Music Theatre (CMT) has been presenting big Broadway musicals in Ventura County for over 40 years.
So, many were deeply concerned when the CMT announced it was suspending production of its next season of shows.
Happily, CMT revealed this week that changed circumstances have permitted it to cancel its prior action. CMT Board Chair Bart Leininger explained the genesis for the turnaround came from intensive and creative Board action, operational restructuring, cooperation from the City of Thousand Oaks and anonymous financial support.
As a result, CMT will be proceeding full-tilt with its block buster, three show season for 2016-17.
This proves that miracles do happen – a messaged mirrored in CMT’s current delightful musical, Children of Eden. It plays through Sunday, April 17, 2016 in the Kavli Auditorium at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza.
With words and music by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin, Godspell) and a script by John Caird (Les Miserables co-director), Children of Eden emphasizes the dynamics among the family members in the Biblical stories of Adam and Eve (Act 1) and Noah, the Arc builder (Act 2).
Director Lewis Wilkenfeld, who is also CMT’s Artist Director, and his creative team pull out all the stops to fill the stage to overflowing with rich visual images, fresh and delightful dance numbers and exceptional production values, including a live orchestra.
In addition to the marvelous voices of the principal leads, Norman Large, Misty Cotton and Kevin McMahon, a standout vocal performance is turned in by Ryan J. Driscoll in the dual roles of Cain and Noah’s son, Japheth. The lead storytellers, Katie Porter and Kenneth Mosley, are also on the roster of vocally memorable cast members.
The adult ensemble boasts depth, experience and, like a good cup of coffee, a superb blend. And, as if back-up is needed, there is an off stage choir.
One of the joys of the piece is the reoccurring appearances of some 20 members from CMT’s famous youth outreach programs – the Kabrillo Kids (students 8-14) and the Cabrillo Teen Project. Participants receive free instruction in the various theater arts, plus opportunities to perform with professional actors. In this show there is a contingent over 20 members strong from the programs. Joyfully they sing, they dance, and they portray all sorts of animals – from penguins to snails, and big cats to elephants.
Undergirding the successful efforts of the entire cast, which numbers about 50, are the unsung costume designers, dressers, wardrobe assistants, make-up artists and wig wranglers.
The result is an opportunity to experience a live Broadway musical presented with Cabrillo Music Theatre’s trademark style and panache. A tradition that now promises to continue.
Performances of Children of Eden are Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Tickets: $35-$75. Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000.