once-photo_1_w300_h324MST Presents Comedy About When Sound Turned the Movie Business Upside Down

Movie people may seem nuts today, but in the late 1920’s the motion picture business was even crazier.  That was when the industry was turned on its ear by the introduction of “talkies” (talking pictures).

Once in a Lifetime, to be presented by Marin Summer Theater on July 14, 15, 16, and 17 at San Marin High School in Novato, is a comedy that tells the story of three on the skids vaudeville actors who head to Hollywood in 1927 after the release of The Jazz Singer.

 They hope to cash in on the panic at the end of the silent picture era by providing voice and elocution lessons to the stars.  Before 1927, movie actors did not speak in films and many did not have voices that matched their beautiful screen image.

once-photo_2_w300_h324 Written by Kaufman and Hart (You Can’t Take it With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner) in 1930, Once in a Lifetime is a first-hand satiric tale of a movie business filled with absurd Hollywood starlets, insane movie studio executives, crazy gossip columnists, desperate wannabes, dim-witted stage mothers and jaded studio hands.  This gem is a wild send-up of the excesses of the movie business before it was the movie business.

“George Kaufman hated Hollywood.” said Director Patrick Nims.  “A playwright and drama critic for the New York Times, Kaufman had no respect for the overacting of most silent film actors stars, and thought even less of the directors, producers and studio execs who ran things.  He went to Hollywood when movies were made based on his stage plays.  Sometimes the movie version was so different from the original play that Kaufman refused to allow his name to be included in the credits.  To him it was a business run by incompetents who wasted thousands of dollars a day without a thought.  In Once in a Lifetime, nothing is safe from Kaufman and Hart’s skewering wit.”

“This play will be very fun for the audience.“ continued Nims.  “Once In A Lifetime is one of the fastest and funniest scripts I know.  There are over 60 parts, and our cast of 21 plays them all.  Frequently an actor will walk off stage as one character and turn around and come right back on as someone completely different.  The production also includes silent movies and a live jazz combo. You don’t want to miss this show.”

Rachel Watts (College of Marin), Sam Levy and Taylor Brindley (both of Marin School of the Arts) play the three New Yorkers lost in La-La Land.  Also featured are MST company members Jane Reagan (Terra Linda High School), Samantha Roberts (Marin School of the Arts), Jessica Mason (Redwood High School), Jesse Penber (Cornell University), Meaghan Collins (Johnson and Wales University) and Jacob Vorperian (Drake High School).  The cast includes students from San Marin High School, Branson School, Oberlin University, Marin Catholic, Novato Charter School and American Musical Dramatic Academy.

once-photo_3_w300_h200Tickets for all MST performances ($15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors) can be purchased online at MarinSummerTheater.org and at the San Marin High School front office.  A limited seating pay-what-you-will preview performance of Once in a Lifetime are will be given on July 14 at 8pm.  Performance times for Once In A Lifetime are 8pm on July 5 & 16 and at 2pm on July 17.  All performances are at the Emily Gates Student Center at San Marin High School in Novato.

The final offering of the MST 2011 season will be West Side Story on July 28, 29, 30 and 31.  A landmark Broadway musical and one of the theatre’s finest accomplishments, West Side Story is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet transported to modern-day New York City as two young idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs, the “American” Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of our time’s most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas.