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Curtain Calls: Go undercover in Orinda company’s ‘Valentine Mobsters’

Curtain Calls: Go undercover in Orinda company’s ‘Valentine Mobsters’

Here’s your chance to play undercover cop with little or no risk as you infiltrate the Black Badger Band and the Sapphire Sisterhood. All you really need is the Zoom link to Orinda Village Starlight Players’ latest offering, “Valentine Mobsters, Molls and Mayhem.”

I had an opportunity to “go undercover” myself in the company’s interactive game at a final dress rehearsal recently. There are lots of colorful backdrops as the game transports participants back to Valentine’s Day 1935. The place is San Francisco, where Detective Charlie Angel (Malcolm Cowler) battles mob crime and needs help infiltrating the local gangs.

Written and directed by Cowler, the show allows attendees to become part of the rival mobs in order to get dirt on the gangsters and create a war to wipe out both gangs. The loosely scripted improv event encourages information gathering and problem solving through a series of games. You might want to bone up on your mob lingo, gangster movies and classic cars before joining in the fun.

Thanks to the graphics, you’ll visit police headquarters, a night club, back alleys and more. Participants are encouraged to wear 1930s attire. Although you’re not on-screen for most of the game, you can show off your costume before and after the show. “Valentine Mobsters, Molls and Mayhem” continues Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. through March 11. The shows are free, but donations are encouraged. For more information, go to, call 925-528-9225 or email

Altarena: Alameda’s Altarena Playhouse offers a unique take on the moments before, during and after a couple says, “I do.” Streaming live at 7 p.m. Feb. 25-26, “Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays” explores a series of short one-act plays by Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison, Moise Kaufman, Wendy MacLeod, Jose Rivera and Paul Rudnick. Dealing with the universal challenges of relationships, the plays are warm and often wacky as they deal with one person’s commitment to another or lack thereof!

Timothy Beagley directs with Damion Clark, Roshni Datta, Tim Holt Jones, Kim Schroeder Long, Justin Lopez and Cynthia Roberts portraying all the characters. For more information, go to

The Altarena has also started a series of “Life in the Arts” interviews with various artists. I’m honored to be a part of one highlighting the cast of “The Savannah Sipping Society,” which performed at the Altarena in 2017. It’s scheduled as a live Zoom event Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. Actors often have favorite shows, and this is certainly one of mine.

I was so fortunate to be able to “play” with a fabulous group of talented women onstage and behind the scenes, including actresses Kimberly Ridgeway, Julie Etzel, Lisa Appleyard, director Katina Letheule, stage manager Kristin Smith and assistant stage manager Daile Rosickly. If anyone is interested in tuning in, just let me know and I’ll send you the Zoom invite.

Purim time: Actors Ensemble of Berkeley and Temple Beth Hillel in Richmond are co-producing “Beware the Ides of Adar — A Shakespearean Purim Spiel” on Feb. 21 via Zoom. Written by Deborah Bodin Cohen, this retelling of the Book of Esther through the words of William Shakespeare is directed by Michael R. Cohen (no relation to the writer). For details, go to

Diablo ballet: Theater companies aren’t the only ones being creative these days. Dance companies also have imaginative ways to keep audiences engaged. For instance, Diablo Ballet recently filmed “Balanchine & Beyond” at its black box theater and is offering the show to audiences Feb. 19-21 and Feb. 26-28.

The program features one of Balanchine’s most joyous ballets, “Who Cares?” with music by George Gershwin. Full of fast-stepping routines, it evokes the lively spirit of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The repertoire also includes Penny Saunders’ duet “Berceuse,” which explores the nuanced line between classical and contemporary dance followed by the virtual world premiere “Two One Self,” created by company dancer Michael Wells in collaboration with Derion Loman (recently seen on “America’s Got Talent” and “World of Dance”).

The program concludes with the wedding scene from “The Sleeping Beauty” featuring Princess Aurora and her handsome prince. Tickets are $35 per household and can be purchased by calling 925-943-7469 or going online to or

Smuin: For those who would like to do a little dancing on their own, Smuin Contemporary Ballet’s “Easy Movin’ ” class might just be the ticket. The low-intensity class features full-body exercises for strength and mobility. Designed for participants either seated or standing, the light resistance work is taught by former Smuin dancer Valerie Harmon. The company also offers a wide variety of dance styles in classes for beginning through advanced. Go to for more information.

Sally Hogarty can be reached at Read more of her reviews online at

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