Palo Alto Weekly

News - February 8, 2008

Children's Theatre releases revised schedule

Only one program cut from theater's school-year season

by Becky Trout

Down two-thirds of its full-time staff, the Palo Alto Children's Theatre plans to continue productions by scraping together the contributions of part-timers, contract employees, volunteers, city employees from other divisions and its two remaining full-time staff members, Community Services Director Richard James announced Wednesday.

"We're able to do this for the relatively short term to get us into summer," James said. "Certainly with the loss of key staff it's not sustainable."

Four staff members — Director Pat Briggs, Assistant Director Michael Litfin, Costume Supervisor Alison Williams and Box Office Program Assistant Richard Curtis — were placed on administrative leave and the theater was closed Jan. 24 for a financial crimes investigation. A week later, Litfin died at Stanford Hospital.

James praised the efforts of Technical Director Michael Miranda and Front Office Program Assistant Emika Abe, the two remaining full-timers, and said other employees, contractors and members of the Friends of the Children's Theatre have been willing to pitch in to keep the theater operating.

One production, "Places!!!" — a show written by Briggs and Litfin to celebrate the theater's 50th anniversary — was cancelled Thursday. It had auditions scheduled for April 15 and 16, with performances opening May 16.

"The Tales of Beatrix Potter," the production slated to follow the current production, "The Giver," was postponed until May. Auditions were held Jan. 22 and 23 but will be redone in April, James said.

He said previously the staff who conducted the auditions were no longer available to share the results.

The new auditions are scheduled for April 15 and 16 at 3:45 p.m. and are open to children from age 8 through high school, James said. The play is now planned for a May 16 opening.

No changes were made to "Stuart Little" or the five remaining Outreach productions that are performed in area schools, James said.

On April 15, the theater plans to announce its summer schedule as previously planned, Abe said.

During the summer, the theater produces outdoor Hot Dog Suppertime shows and workshops, camps and productions for youth ages 6 to 24, Abe said. The summer workload is higher for staff, she said.

James said the current staffing structure probably wouldn't propel the theater through the summer.

"We don't know if and when staff will be returning. We're working in a vacuum," he said.

Mayor Larry Klein said his goal is to have the theater operations continue and for the police department to complete its investigation.

"I would just like to see it go a lot faster," Klein said Wednesday.

Anyone who bought tickets for a rescheduled or cancelled show can exchange them at the box office, 1305 Middlefield Road, Tuesday through Saturday from 1:30 to 6 p.m.

Staff Writer Becky Trout can be e-mailed at btrout@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by don wilkins, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 18, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Can someone please tell me what's going on. It seems that Pat Briggs and Michael Litvin have been a part of my adult life. I just clicked on Palo Alto right out of thr blue and Bingo! what's it all about?


Posted by Don Wilkins, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 10, 2008 at 4:46 pm

Hello Greenmeadow residents.
Just found this website, hoping to hear from anyone that recognizes the above name?


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