By Michael Aushenker
Call it the “Peter Pan Syndrome.” Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie, co-artistic directors of Santa Monica Playhouse since 1973, are feeling young at heart as they celebrate their 43rd year of wedded bliss, and that zest for life has inspired their latest production.
“Loosely, it’s about nurturing the child within,” DeCarlo said regarding Adults, Keep Out!, which they co-wrote. It runs on weekends through Sept. 29 at the playhouse, 1211 Fourth St., Santa Monica.
“It is time for a change in the basic concept of ‘child’ and ‘adult,’” Rudie said. “Can the adult not teach the child restraint, responsibility, reflection, while, at the same time, relearning daily from the child the incredibly liberating attributes of wonder, optimism and imagination?”
The Santa Monica residents have previously staged this production only twice in the past: once in 1992 in Worchester, England; a second time in Anchorage, AK, in 1998. Rudie wrote the lyrics while Matthew Wrather wrote the music.
“One of the things which keeps us young is working with young people and becoming inspired by their freedom, their energy, their enthusiasm for life and their incredibly vast imaginations,” Rudie said. “And over the years, we have sadly seen these children lose that wonderful freedom at an ever earlier age to the pressures of the ‘outside world.’”
The cast of Adults, Keep Out! includes Kate Bergeron, Gina Rizzo Bishop, Patrick Censoplano, Ryland Dodge, Obi Ndefo, Jessica D. Stone and Sarai Jimenez.
Ndefo, who started acting at the playhouse at age 13, has since gone on to appear on such TV shows as “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “Stargate,” and “Dawson’s Creek.” Jimenez, 17, has been a playhouse actor since age 6. She also teaches and directs their Diversity-in-Education program.
“Kids 10 and up will enjoy it as well,” promised DeCarlo, a lifelong local who attended Venice High School while both of his brothers graduated from Santa Monica High.
Rudie broke down the zeitgeist of influences that inspired her and her husband while writing this musical.
“We had just spent a month gorging ourselves on a second or third helping of ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Dune,’ and (the) ‘Indiana Jones’ (movies),” she recalled. “A colleague had discovered a tattered and torn book of Ogden Nash poems and happened to bring it to me. Chris had just performed ‘The Mountain Whipoorwill’ by Stephen Vicent Benet, his favorite poem, for a poetry night. And Gilbert & Sullivan-esque songs always find their way into just about every Rudie-DeCarlo-Wrather musical.”
Added DeCarlo, “We’re not trying to preach, just expose (adults seeing the show) to different ways of doing things they may not have thought about.”
Admission: $25 general; $22.50 students, teachers, seniors and military; $17.50 for groups of eight or more; $15 for under 15. Information and reservations, SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com; (310) 394-9779, ext. 1
Young ‘Adults’ Santa Monica Playhouse original production celebrates themes of staying youthful
By Michael Aushenker