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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Cinnabar Theater Plays to the Camera in New Production

Posted By on Thu, Sep 17, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Laura Jorgensen is Ann Landers in Cinnabar Theater's latest.
  • Laura Jorgensen is Ann Landers in Cinnabar Theater's latest.

As the North Bay continues to stay socially distant due to Covid-19, local theater companies are inventing new ways to perform, including Petaluma's Cinnabar Theater. This week, the acclaimed organization goes online and opens its virtual run of the one-woman play, The Lady With All the Answers.

“Despite the restrictions of COVID-19, we want to provide the community with a unique theater experience, the opportunity to enjoy streaming theater from the comfort of your home,” says Cinnabar Theater executive director Diane Dragone.

Filmed in Cinnabar's playhouse in Petaluma with a small staff on hand, the show stars Cinnabar veteran Laura Jorgensen as beloved advice columnist Ann Landers, aka Eppie Lederer, the midwestern woman who took over the popular advice column after Ruth Crowley, the creator of the Chicago Sun-Times' Ask Ann Landers, died in 1955. Lederer wrote the column for 47 years, and she addressed several taboo topics in that time; writing columns about infidelity, addiction, and even the proper way to hang toilet paper.

The Lady With All the Answers is set in 1975 as Lederer struggles to write a particularly personal column. While she tries to find the words to address her readers, Lederer flips through old newspaper clippings and shares them with the theater audience—essentially talking directly to the crowd throughout the show. At one point she even surveys the audience to get their opinion on the toilet paper topic.

That presents a particular challenge to Cinnabar's new virtual theatrical experience, though the staff and crew–under longtime director Michael Fontaine–have been preparing all summer, and Jorgensen as Lederer learned to interact with the camera as if it was the audience.

Cinnabar Theater was actually one of the first North Bay theater groups to invest in digital video technology, as the Bohemian reported in July, and before working on The Lady With All the Answers, the theater company honed their video skills by presenting two 30-minute episodes of a new online production, "The CinnaTriv Theater Game Show." Hosted by another Cinnabar veteran, Clark Sterling, the "Jeopardy"-style game, in which three contestants are tested on their knowledge of all things theater, is available to watch on YouTube now.

The Lady with All the Answers begins streaming online Friday, Sept. 18, and features online performances Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm and 7:30pm through Oct. 4. Tickets are $20 for one device or $40 for multiple devices. Ticket sales will offset ongoing expenses and will support the cast and crew, including set designers, lighting designers, stage managers and videographers involved in the production.

“During these uncertain times, it’s important to keep local theater and the arts alive," Dragone says. "These virtual performances require the same production efforts and cost as their live counterparts. We hope our patrons and the community will discover the same value, joy and entertainment in our virtual productions that we do in creating them. Theater allows us to escape for a time and encourages us to laugh and listen and be connected, even if we can’t be together in person.”

'The Lady With All the Answers' streams online Fridays–Sundays, Sept. 18–Oct. 4. 2pm & 7:30pm. $20-$40. Cinnabartheater.org.
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Happy Tour of California Day

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2008 at 4:00 AM

I suppose today is actually some sort of real holiday or something, but for the past three years it's meant one thing in Santa Rosa: The Tour of California!

The race hits downtown Santa Rosa between "2:23pm-2:58pm," according to estimates. I'd get there at 2:00. Really, go. It's the most thrilling thing to happen to downtown since the Fixx played there in 1998. (Okay, I jest. But the Fixx really did play there in 1998.)

Last year's finish is going to be hard to top: dozens of cyclists going down in a huge pile-up, Levi Leipheimer's buttcheeks hanging out of his ripped-up Spandex, and the controversial decision by race commissaries to award him retention of the yellow jersey made for mind-blowing, in-person drama.

Also, as pointed out in my Bohemian article this week, it's unlikely that the Tour of California will make a return to Santa Rosa next year, due to a combination of race organizers' demands and Santa Rosa's budget woes.

So get on down, be part of the exciting crowd, buy a hot dog from Ralph's, and watch the action. Plus, if you're on your bike, you can't beat the royal feeling of riding around town afterwards: it's the one day out of the year when every car in the city seems to be aware of your presence. ¡Vive la Peloton!

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