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Around the World of Eugene O’Neill All in One Weekend

September 12, 2008

By Margot Abbott VALLEY TIMES

THE NINTH ANNUAL Eugene O’Neill Festival begins Thursday, Sept. 18.

Last week I talked at length about this year’s honoree, the late actor Paul Robeson, but didn’t give you proper information about the festival. It opens at the Village Theatre, 233 Front St., with a posthumous presentation of the Tao House Award to Robeson. There will be a video presentation and a musical performance by baritone Lawrence Beaten.

Beaten, who claims Robeson was a major influence in his career, will sing Kern and Hammerstein’s “Ol’ Man River,” from their landmark musical, “Show Boat.” Robeson, of course, introduced the song, and it is the piece most connected with him.

The Tao House Award is given to individuals who have served the American theater with distinction. Past recipients include Jason Robards, Broadway producers Paul Libin and Theodore Mann and O’Neill biographers Arthur and Barbara Gelb.

The ceremony takes place before the 7:30 p.m. curtain of O’Neill’s 1924 production “All God’s Chillun Got Wings.” Performances are also scheduled at 8 p.m. Sept. 19 and 20, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 21. Tickets for all performances are $30 and $10 for students.

Now, pay attention. If you go on Sept. 18, you get the pre-show ceremony, the show and a champagne and dessert reception afterward at the Pioneer Art Gallery at 524 Hartz Ave. in Danville. While you enjoy your adult beverage and your sweet, you can check out the exhibit about Robeson — “A Hero for All Time” — at the gallery.

The art exhibit is one of the free events; others are Open House at Tao House on Sept. 20, between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Remember, you need to ride a National Park Service shuttle up to the site. You can catch it at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, at the corner of Prospect and Railroad avenues.

Also at 10 a.m. on Sept. 20, you can take a walking tour of downtown Danville, beginning at the O’Neill Commemorative in Front Street Park across the street from the Danville Library, 400 Front St.

After the tour, head down to the Village Theatre, 233 Front St., for a viewing of the 1933 film version of “The Emperor Jones,” which stars Robeson. The film starts at 11:30 a.m. and ends about 1 p.m.

This is important because “O’Neill 101,” begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Danville Town Meeting Hall, 201 Front St. This overview on O’Neill is given by Dan Cawthorn and is an excellent introduction — or even re-introduction — to the playwright and his importance to American theater. Cawthorn recently retired from St. Mary’s College after years of involvement in drama — both academic and not.

For more information, visit www.eugeneoneill.org or call 925-820- 1818.

SENIOR SUPPORT of the Tri-Valley will present its first fundraising event, “DeLovely Evening,” 8 p.m. on Sept. 27 at the Amador Theater. The evening features the popular scat singing group, The Jesters.

Singing music from the Roaring ’20s and the Art Deco ’30s in their inimitable style, will be Richard “Scrumbly” Koldewyn and Barrett Lindsay-Steiner joined by founding member A.C. Griffing and pianist Frederick Hodges.

Lindsay-Steiner is, as I hope you know, one of the creative brains behind “Reel Blondes” and “Wigged Out” that ran for years at Victoria’s Hair on Stage in Danville. Expect a professional and stylish show.

To aid in the ambiance, the audience is encouraged to dress up in black and white period outfits. You know that’s fun, so get your flapper pearls and fringe out of mothballs and 22 skidoo!

All the proceeds will benefit Senior Support of the Tri-Valley, which has served residents of the area for more than 20 years. They work to aid seniors’ independence and quality of life and provide a variety of free services including counseling, nutrition and caregiver support.

“We are so fortunate to live in a community that continues to support its residents, young and old,” says Marlene Petersen, executive director of Senior Support. “As everyone knows, the aging population is growing, and so is the need for our services.”

Tickets for “DeLovely Evening” are $50 per person and may be purchased at the box office, by phone at 925-931-3444 or online at www.civicartstickets.org. The theater is located at 155 Santa Rita Road, Pleasanton.

Reach Margot Abbott c/o the Times, P.O. Box 607, Pleasanton, CA 94566; or by e-mail: mabbott519@earthlink.net.

(c) 2008 Oakland Tribune. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.