Orinda Starlight Village Players – An Orinda Institution

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(Jill Gelster, Photographer)
Members of the Orinda Starlight Village Players started the 2019 season by framing the back of the theater. (L-R) John Chapin, Malcolm Cowler, Don Bialik, Bill Chessman, Betsy White and David Dierks.

    The Orinda Starlight Village Players (OrSVP) are celebrating their 39th year as Orinda’s community theater. Former Moraga Orinda Fire Department board member John Anderson said, “The OrSVP are part of the tapestry that makes up Orinda.”
    OrSVP was started by longtime Orinda resident, Charlotte Meyer, in 1983 when the Orinda Community Center Park Amphitheater was built. OrSVP has performed there ever since, except during 2020 when they took to Zoom for performances. Last year, OrSVP, minimizing productions to reader’s theater, performed without sets.
    This season OrSVP plans to be back with three full productions (CDC willing). OrSVP Technical Director David Dierks will head the set building crew. Dierks joined the group in 1993 when Artistic Director Geotty Chapple oversaw building. Dierks credits Chapple for teaching him everything he knows about set construction and enabling him to do home remodeling and wood working projects he would never have attempted prior to his experience at OrSVP.
    Dierks wants to continue this tradition of teaching volunteers the skills he picked up with OrSVP.
    “Because OrSVP volunteers are starting to age, I am hoping to be able to teach younger people who are interested in becoming more comfortable with tools and interested in joining this fun group,” said Dierks. “It makes me nervous to think of folks in their 80s up a ladder.”
    If you are interested in helping with set building, call 925.528.9225 for more information.
    Auditions, by appointment only (email info@orsvp.org), for OrSVP’s season are scheduled April 3 and 5. Actors will be asked to read from scripts. Prepared monologues will not be required. As of now, masks and proof of vaccination will be required. OrSVP, willing to train, is also actively searching for volunteers interested in stage managing, running lights and sound for performances.
    The first production of the season will be Agatha Christie’s Towards Zero, directed by Beth Hooper. Performances are set for June 3 through July 2, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 p.m.; Thursday, June 30 at 8 p.m.; and a Sunday matinee June 26 at 4 p.m. Rehearsals start in April.
    The second show will be L. Frank Baum’s The Marvelous Land of Oz, adapted and directed by Malcolm Cowler. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 p.m. July 22 through Aug. 13, with shows on Sunday, Aug. 7 at 4 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 11 at 8 p.m. Cowler is looking for actors of all ages (youth and adult) as well as a musical director and choreographer. Rehearsals will start in June.
    The final production will be Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, directed by Suzan Lorraine. Performances will take place Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:30 p.m. starting Sept. 9 and running through Oct. 1, with other shows on Sunday, Sept. 25, at 4 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. Rehearsals will start in August.
    OrSVP is completely volunteer run. Anyone interested in any aspect of theater who would like to help is encouraged to contact the group at www.orsvp.org, info@orsvp.org or 925.528.9225.

Jill Gelster can be reached at jill@aspenconsult.net.

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