Aisle Seat

New York Report Charlie Varon is now in New York, preparing to mount a new production of Rush Limbaugh in Night School. With him is Stephanie Weisman, the director of the Marsh, where Night School hit like crazy. She reports that the Second Stage has about 22 people working on the show, a setup that leaves her and Varon a bit bewildered — counting the box office, concessions and lights, there was a whopping staff of two on hand at the Marsh. Ah, the big time.

At the Wheel A followup to an item from last week's column: We didn't know if Laurie Carlos, who canceled her performance at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre's Lift Every Voice series due to family illness, would still be directing Hansberry's for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf this March. In fact, artistic director Stanley Williams will helm the seminal Ntozake Shange work in Carlos' stead.

Play It Again The P.G. Wodehouse adaptation of Ferenc Molnar's The Play's the Thing — the comedy that put Hungarian playwright Molnar on the map in America — opens this week at ACT. It's fitting that this play-within-a-play about theater people has spawned all kinds of references that cross and fold in on themselves: The production features ACT veteran Ken Ruta, whose long and illustrious career, it turns out, began when he played the very same role (that of playwright Sandor Turai) 40 (count 'em!) years ago (it was the part that earned him his Equity card). The work's title, incidentally, is a line from Hamlet, and its own play-within-a-play is the centerpiece of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, which just closed at ACT. Nice little Msbius strip.

Tall Tales Also at ACT this month is the ARS Brevis (Actors Read Short Stories) series, which starts up Mon, Feb. 27, 6:30 pm, at the Stage Door Theatre. It's an annual collaboration with Zyzzyva, the West Coast literary and arts quarterly. Here's the lineup: William Paterson, recently seen in ACT's Home, reads “This Won't Hurt a Bit” by Randall Lyman, a San Francisco journalist now based in Prague; Steven Culp, currently playing Joe Pitt in ACT's Angels in America, will do “Trout Fishing in L.A.” by Hart Schulz, a teacher at Cal State, Northridge, whose short-story collection, Wesley, was published recently by Anacapa Press; Cristine McMurdo-Wallis, who plays Hannah Pitt, Ethel Rosenberg and several other characters in Angels, reads “Lenny Loves Jane” by Leo Litwak, who taught English and creative writing for many years at San Francisco State; Dennis Matthews interprets “The Moon and Venus,” the first published story by the Silicon Valley-based writer Mark Smallwood; and Nina Gold, who recently played Electra in Charles L. Mee's Orestes, will read Mary Michael Wagner's “Acts of Kindness.”

Encores Gary Leon Hill's Say Grace has been extended through March 12 at the Magic Theatre, thanks to good reviews and full houses. It's the story of a man who goes to visit his grandmother and discovers the dirt about his family history. Also extended due to popular demand is A Traveling Jewish Theater's The Last Yiddish Poet, which now plays through March 5.

Laura Jamison

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