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New-fashioned fun at OACT’s ‘All in the Timing’

Screen Shot 2022 04 22 at 9.22.19 AM

Photo by Trent Jones

From left, the cast of Ojai Art Center Theater’s “All in the Timing”: Daniel Ruark, Anna Kotula, Steve Grumette (also director), Sherry Owen and Larry Swartz.

By Mimi Walker Special to the Ojai Valley News

All in the Timing,” an award-winning compilation of one-act comedies by wordsmith David Ives, is a classic word nerd’s type of show. 

Each one-act uses language to unfurl the most outlandish of human vulnerabilities. And for Director Steve Grumette, a true classic never goes out of style. Opening at the Ojai Art Center Theater on Friday, April 29, and running through May 15, performances will be on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit ojaiact.org or call 805-640-8797.

This marks Grumette’s sixth turn in a new production of the complete show — the vast majority as director, but also simultaneously as an actor.

Grumette first encountered part of the “All in the Timing” canon in 2002 when he acted in “Mere Mortals” at the Ojai Art Center Theater. He took the helm as director in 2004 at a former Ojai dinner theater, then again in 2012 at the Ojai Youth Entertainers Studio, and in 2018 at the Ojai Underground Exchange. The “timing” has come through again for Grumette in Ojai Art Center’s 2022 season. 

“This time it wasn’t even my idea to do it,” he said. “Tracey Williams Sutton, the new artistic director of the Ojai Art Center, called me up last year. … She wanted to come back (after the pandemic shutdown) with a bang. So she decided to have a really full season of seven plays.”

“Of course I said yes,” Grumette said, when asked if he would direct “All in the Timing” in 2022. 

The cast of 2018’s Ojai Underground Exchange production is returning again to the Art Center Theater, with a new addition of Sherry Owen, who also happens to be the production’s stage manager. On reuniting with familiar faces, Grumette said: “Well, it’s always a pleasure to work with the same people again. In a way, it’s like a family reunion. The post-pandemic makes it even more appealing, because for the last two years, there was very little live theater anywhere in this area and people have a hunger for it.”

Actor Larry Swartz appears in three of the five one-acts. He described his role as Charlie in “Mere Mortals,” a glimpse into the wild histories of three construction workers: “He’s just a great character; he’s a construction worker who’s kind of an Archie Bunker-type character in that he appears to be knowledgeable and makes up quite a bit of what he considers his bank of knowledge. And I never really saw that the first time I did it. And that’s what’s the neat thing about having the opportunity to do something for a second time. It’s really a nifty, kind of fun, out-of-the-ordinary experience where you get to create somebody and then you get a chance to make them different.” 

Grumette said the play’s trademark is its witty repartee, and each one-act has something to say about human nature. “It’s really just an opportunity for people to get together and have a good time. It’s always great to laugh. They’re very, very clever, very unique, they’re mostly surrealistic humor, but something that’s pretty accessible to almost everybody. You don’t really have to have any specific knowledge or background to appreciate them. They’re so much fun to do and to watch.”

Not only will each of the actors have a chance to put a new spin on old roles, the audience, too, will be graced with inventive new surprises to be revealed on opening night at OACT (113 S. Montgomery St.), Friday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m.

 

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