Malibu Playhouse Reaches Out

Actor and Malibu Playhouse director of education Rick Wasserman (second from right) talks to music director Beverly Craveiro (center) and a group of children during the Playhouse’s open house event. 

The Malibu Playhouse displayed its wares to the community last Saturday afternoon during an open house event.

For three hours, the 99-seat theater was filled with cheering, laughing and applauding adults and children. 

Andi Howard, chair of the board of directors, said Playhouse organizers wainted “to open the doors to the community and have people come in and see what the theater is about, see who is involved in it and how beautiful the theater is.” 

Produced by Nancy Little and hosted by Claudia Zahn and Rick Wasserman, the free event offered entertainment from participants in the Playhouse’s several programs and many others. 

Seventeen youngsters ranging in ages from nine to twelve, and members of the Playhouse’s Once Upon a Time Children’s Theater, acted, sang and danced. They were directed by Julia Holland, Shoshana Kuttner and other leaders from the Playhouse’s Young Actors Project. 

Maria Newman and Scott Hosfeld, from Malibu Friends of Music at the Montgomery Arts House for Music and Architecture (MAHMA), played classical selections in their usual violin virtuoso style. Another husband-and-wife team, Nikki and Ethan White, of Dance and Shape Company, gave a ballet performance that drew deafening applause. Derek Manson, who will play the lead in “The 39 Steps,” recited the opening monologue from the play. Beverly Craveiro provided incidental piano music. 

Members of Malibu’s show business community were in attendance, including veterans Dick Van Dyke, Trish Van Devere and Louis Gossett, Jr., all long-time supporters of the Playhouse. 

Van Dyke, who has been involved in the Playhouse since it started, said, “This … is the start of a real good season.” 

Van Devere, a past performer at the Playhouse, loved the idea of the open house and was enthusiastic about the upcoming season. Gossett, an Oscar and Emmy-award winner, thought the open house was “an excellent idea, especially for the children. You help the young and you get the gold.” 

The first offering of the Playhouse’s three-play 2014-15 season, “The 39 Steps,” a comedic take on Alfred Hitchcock classic movie, opens Oct. 18 and runs through Nov. 23. A musical version of “The Little Shop of Horrors” is also on the schedule. The third play will be a drama, but has not yet been chosen. Wasserman announced several possible choices being considered and solicited reactions from the audience. 

“One of the purposes of the open house was to find out what the community wants, so we invited them in,” he said. 

The Playhouse‘s Performing Arts Conservatory, directed by Wasserman, offers classes in scene study, improv, acting for the camera and playwriting, as well as private coaching. A resident improv troupe called “Maliboom!” has just been formed. A fund-raising performance of A.R. Gurney’s iconic “Love Letters” is scheduled for Dec. 13 and will star Katharine Ross and Sam Elliott, another one of Malibu’s husband-and-wife performers.

The Malibu Playhouse was founded in 1990 by Charles Marowitz and Jacqueline Bridgeman, and performances began at Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theater. At the beginning of the 2002-03 season, it took up residence in its present site, formerly the Shepherd by the Sea Lutheran Church, which was converted into a fully equipped 99-seat theater.