We schlep into Berkeley or San Francisco to pay big money to sit binocular-distance from only sometimes enjoyable plays. Yet, here locally, we are fortunate to have remarkably good community theaters, where you can see great plays up close and personal for (ahem) dramatically less.
You probably know about Lucky Penny and perhaps about Valley Players (at the Lincoln Theater) but you probably don’t know about what may be our smallest community theater, the hidden treasure on an unassuming street in Vallejo that sounds far more impressive than it is: The Bay Area Stage located on Broadway Street.
The Bay Area Stage, a dream-made-true of multi-award-winning actor and director Jeff Lowe and equally awarded Stacey Lowe, has managed to stay afloat despite its gritty location, ticket prices not much higher than a movie, and marketing that is charitably described as minimalist.
Their efforts have enabled even modest-income people to see, up close and personal, great plays. In the last year, they’ve done plays from “Steel Magnolias” to “Death of a Salesman” to “Once Upon a Mattress.”
And then there are the benefits to the participants — to the actors, stage managers, costume makers, makeup artists, light/sound people, and yes, the woman who enjoys selling the soft drinks and home-made cookies ($1 for a biggie). These people are all volunteers, do it for the love, and it gives them a chance to leap from ordinary lives into helping to create magic.
But community theater, especially little, frou-frou-free community theaters like Bay Area Stage are, to use the current argot, vulnerable. And that’s why Napa County’s Superintendent of Schools and amateur (but quite good) actress Barbara Nemko and her audacious, story-telling, piano-playing husband — that would be me, Marty Nemko — and our doggie Einstein are doing my show “Odd Man Out” for free as a fundraiser for Bay Area Stage.
This two-hour show, which has been performed in venues from the Koret Auditorium in the San Francisco Civic Center to the Mensa Conference in Los Angeles, sold out to a standing ovation crowd here in Napa at Lucky Penny. The review in the Register was titled, “Marty Nemko’s Odd Man Out Hit It Out of the Park.”
Here’s an excerpt from the Register review.
“Wisely, Nemko’s vignettes and poignant tales of jobs gone wrong are peppered with appearances by two talented collaborators, including character actor and wife, Barbara Nemko (aka Napa County superintendent of schools), whose role as “messenger” repeatedly delivers language akin to “you’re fired” (and Einstein.)
When I wrote ‘Odd Man Out,’ I said, “I believe that theater is all about emotion, laughing and crying. Even successful, famous people are very different than what their profile may say. I’ll either strike out or hit a home run.”
That’s for the audience to decide.
The show is one night only, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 11. A $20 donation is suggested for this fundraiser for Bay Area Stage.
Bay Area Stage is at 515 Broadway St., Vallejo. Tickets and more information are at https://bit.ly/2Wx2gko or at the door.