The Glorious Repertory Theatre Company presents the world premiere of the multi-media event The Music of Magdalena Bay, inaugurating their new space, The 24th Street Theatre, beginning previews April 20, opening April 27 and running through May 25.
The Glorious Repertory Theatre (GRT), originally dubbed The Glorious Players, has been producing critically acclaimed theatre in Los Angeles for more than 10 years; first as a children's company, then as a product for teenagers, and now as full service theatre company. The University of Southern California donated thirty-thousand dollars to the company to renovate a warehouse into a legitimate, 99-seat theatre, so that USC theatre graduates and undergrads would have a place to apprentice and intern. GRT founder and artistic director Debbie Devine, along with her life and business partner Jay McAdams, joined former Pacific Resident Theatre Ensemble administrators Stephanie Shroyer and Jon White-Spunner, to form the 24th Street Theatre Company.
Devine, who is also co-creator and director of Magdalena, says "We are excited to be able to build this space and create a piece of work for the Latino and Anglo-Saxon community." Magdalena is the 1999 story of an L.A. anchorwoman and her Latina nanny, during a time when the Latino population is fully emerging, despite a physically impenetrable "Wall of Liberty" along the Mexican-American border. When the city's demographic ratings cause the anchorwoman to lose her job to a Latina, prejudice surfaces and the Nanny, the anchorwoman and her son all undergo tragic, though transformational, consequences.
The play was specifically created to appeal to the theatre's neighborhood inhabitants, mainly Latinos and some Anglos. It also corresponds with the current political issues and uprisings raised by Proposition 187, a law passed in California to limit the civic rights of immigrants.
Devine says, "The play represents the struggle of these people to come over. . . Los Angeles is 67 percent Latino right now. We realized we [also] needed to give a fair look at the Anglo's being taking over. The play speaks to the city about a huge problem that we're all suffering. We are dealing with relationships. We provide no answers." Incidentally, 24 Street's landlady is a USC alumni, who is inspired by her love of antiques to convert the previously run down corner into a small victorian village. Devine shared with Playbill On-Line the wonder of the site: "Everyone in the city is involved. She [the landlady] put facades on all the buildings to upgrade them. . . The theatre is the cornerstone of the effort. It's an incredible space. Very urban and very beautiful."
It's beauty is having an effect on the community. Devine continues," The community wants to be a part of it. People come in, look around, and say, 'wow!' how can I help, can I usher?'...and it brings the USC students outside off the campus, whereas they used stay [on] and be very elitist about not going off."
The production is being done in GRT's signature "magic realism," style, consisting of original music, creative movement, very quick scenes, and no intermission. According to Devine, the fast-paced style "came out of our working with children-- and the attention span of our average Californian."
Devine continues, "Cinematic characteristics fool them [California audiences] into coming to the theatre...we'll tell the story using Mexican language, multi-media, video (because of the shows news-theme with the anchorwoman), and slides from [L.A. Times photo journalist] Don Bartletti, who spent over ten years on the Mexican border in immigrant camps." Some of the slides will be featured in a gallery exhibit in the theatre lobby, "Between Two Worlds- People of the Border," curated by the Oakland Museum.
The 24th Street Theatre has received funding to bring Los Angeles youths to the play. GRT places much emphasis on creating original plays, as well as bringing people, especially youths, out to their theatre, as opposed to going into the schools to perform. As Devine puts it, "You have to be in the temple to experience the art form."
For tickets or more information, please call (213) 658-4050, or refer to the 24th St Theatre regional listing on Playbill On-Line.
--By Blair Glaser