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Originally conceived as a venue for working professional actors in the film and television industries to exercise their artistic skills in roles and material far different from what they were called upon to do in front of the camera, Theatre West first came together as an informal workshop led by Curt Conway. Among its early members were Joyce Van Patten, Naomi Caryl, Betty Garrett, Charles Aidman, Philip Abbott, Richard Dreyfuss, Jack Nicholson, Lee Meriwether, Martin Landau, Earl Holliman, Harry Dean Stanton, Sally Field, Beau Bridges, Carroll O'Connor, Harold Gould, and Marvin Kaplan. (More recent members include Chazz Palminteri, Ray Bradbury, Jim Beaver, John Cygan, Sherwood Schwartz, Pat Harrington, Cecily Adams, Bridget Hanley, Anne Haney, John Gallogly, Leslie Caveny, Eugene Pack, Mary Garripoli, Kelly Stables, and William Blinn.)
One of the company's earliest and most successful productions went on to become a Broadway hit and a treasured perennial of the American theatre. Spoon River Anthology, Charles Aidman's masterful dramatization of poetry of Edgar Lee Masters, was developed in the Theatre West workshop, was transferred to television, and since 1963 has been performed in thousands of productions around the world.
More recently, Chazz Palminteri's A Bronx Play was developed in the Theatre West workshop, produced by the company, moved to Off-Broadway and then became a feature film, A Bronx Tale, directed by and starring Robert De Niro. John Gallogly adapted and directed two poems by Poet Laureate James Dickey, author of 'Deliverance', that starred Bridget Hanley. May Day Sermon was nominated as Best of the Fest by BBC Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival. Bronwen, the Traw, and the Shape-Shifter premiered after Mr. Dickey's death. Both plays were selected by the California Arts Council for inclusion in the Touring Artists Directory and played throughout California as well as in Atlanta, South Carolina and other states. Love of a Pig by Leslie Caveny traveled to Dublin and is produced around the United States. Gene Pack's Celebrity Autobiography: In Their Own Words has recently been made into a television series with Pack and Dale Rehfeld.
A vital part of the company is Storybook Theatre, an acclaimed program of original musical plays for children. Begun in 1984, by Lloyd J. Schwartz and Barbara Mallory Schwartz Storybook Theatre has been honored with commendations from the United States Senate and House of Representatives in addition to scores of local theatre and civic awards and commendations. Storybook Theatre Live will soon be available in DVD and video. Storybook Theatre presents interactive, non-threatening musicals with a message.
The company is a democratic membership company, run by an artistic board of directors elected by the membership. In addition to producing plays, the theatre presents workshops for actors, writers, musical comedy performers, and students of William Shakespeare, and a special two-year free training class for young professionals, the associate membership. Membership is primarily by audition (for actors) and script submission (for writers). Current artistic moderators for the workshops are Mark W. Travis and Drew Katzman (actors), Doug Haverty and Christine DiGiovanni (writers), Betty Garrett (musical comedy), and Matt Ritchey and Rebecca Lane (Shakespeare). The executive director is John Gallogly. The current Artistic Board of Directors is composed of established Los Angeles based actors/writers/directors that includes Adam Conger, David P. Johnson, Sandra Tucker, Jill Jones, Maria Kress, Jeanine Anderson and Neil Elliot.
Theatre West recently produced Mornings at Seven with Betty Garrett, Marvin Kaplan, and Malachi Throne, May 18—July 1, 2007. Other recent productions include the lauded rendition of Patrick Hamilton's Gas Light and an original adaptation, Acting - The First Six Lessons starring Beau Bridges and Emily Bridges.
http://www.theatrewest.org. One of their recent Storybook Theatre shows was an original version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs which starred Lee Meriwether as the Queen. The current Storybook Theatre show, an original version of Jack and the Beanstalk, will run through March, 2011.
Many Theatre West members star and are involved in the production of member Mary Garripoli's comedic webseries, The Reel Housewives of Theatre West, which chronicles the plight of actresses in their fight to stay relevant and keep working in an age-and-talent-phobic Hollywood.