The show will go on at Children's Theatre

Rehearsals for "The Giver" at Palo Alto Children's Theatre resumed at 3:45 p.m. Monday and the first performance, scheduled for Friday night, will open as planned.

The city's Department of Community Services also runs the Cubberley Theatre and the community theater at Lucie Stern Community Center and has enough technical stage staff to also handle the Children's Theatre production, Richard James, head of Community Services, said Monday morning.

In addition, the Mountain-View based company Theatreworks also called James and offered to provide technical staff if needed, James said.

James initially made the announcement shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday in a posting on the Town Square forum of the Weekly's community Web site, .

"I know there has been great consternation as to when the theatre will reopen," James said in the posting.

He said that "thanks to some incredible support from Palo Alto Police, the City Manager's Office and my own staff we are going to reopen the theatre tomorrow (Monday)."

Catching up will be a challenge, James noted.

"Because we've missed a few rehearsals this past weekend it will call for some hard work and dedication on the part of our actors and stagehands to pull this off for a Friday opening, but we have the appropriate supervision and talent in place to make a good go of it," he said in the posting.

He asked for help from "residents and participants of the Children's Theatre" to spread the word to staff members and their families about the rehearsal.

"We will be calling actors, stagehands and parents tomorrow morning, but your help in contacting participating families could be just the thing we need to make this a reality," he said.

He also said the Briones Elementary School production currently in rehearsal "will continue as scheduled" and information on other productions and classes will be released later in the week.

The Children's Theatre was abruptly closed late Thursday afternoon because of a police investigation into alleged financial crimes at the theater. It's staff of 7.5 fulltime equivalent employees has been placed on administrative leave, according to city officials.

But Phil Plymale, president of the Palo Alto chapter of Service Employees International Union, said four employees have been placed on leave: Pat Briggs, the theater's longtime director, assistant director Michael Litfin, costume supervisor Alison Williams and box office assistant Richard Curtis. The latter three are SEIU members.

Plymale said four hourly SEIU employees at the theater were not placed on leave.

Police Chief Lynne Johnson confirmed Monday afternoon that "not all the staff" have been placed on leave.

Johnson said Monday morning that the investigation "is very complicated" and didn't know when it might be completed. She also said that the police can't yet publicly clear any of the theater staff.

"We don't want to name anyone yet or say anyone is not involved," Johnson said. "We're trying to be careful."

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-- Don Kazak


Posted by a Palo Alto parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Yay Theatreworks! It's very cool of you to offer this help to the kids in their hour of need. It's great to have you as neighbors.

Posted by Co-Stage Manager, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 29, 2008 at 9:37 pm

I am so happy for this show to be back on track. All of the support has help so much! I knew from the beginning of this whole mess that some how and some way the staff would come through and keep the show on. The staff is so dedicated to every show, it is so crazy.

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