Some advice for those wanting to get involved in local theater

Sometimes the question comes from a serious young actor, or someone new in town just looking to meet other people, or a recent retiree seeking a hobby. For a variety of reasons, “How can I get involved in the local theater scene?” is the most common e-mail I get from readers.

So, we pause here for some common sense advice.

■ Read articles and reviews about local theaters — not to help you decide what to see, but to figure out where you might fit in. Some specialize in musicals with professional-caliber performers. Some feature light comedies, and actors with widely varying experience levels. Some do almost nothing but experimental dramas. If a playhouse interests you, go to one or three of their shows. (It’s surprising how many people tell me they want to get involved, but have never taken the time to see a local production.)

■ If you see a show that excites you, hang out afterward and talk to a couple of the people involved. You might be amazed at how badly a company needs what you have to offer. And you’ll get a better idea of the playhouse’s “karma.”

■ If you’re not going to shows because you can’t afford the ticket prices, call the theater anyway and see if you might be able to usher in exchange for watching a production.

■ If you’d like a handy reference guide to local theater troupes, their phone numbers, web addresses and season schedules, check out the Sept. 9 Thursday Neon. …

I didn’t much like Theatre in the Valley’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (which continues its run at various times and locations through Oct. 23), but I was riveted by all the liquid the cast had to drink throughout the show. The play features four characters getting visibly drunker as the evening goes on, and it seemed to me there were few moments when an actor had an empty hand. And on some days, they do two performances! Lots of eating and drinking onstage is always a tricky thing, especially when you consider the amount of time spent rehearsing. I wish the cast plenty of functioning nearby restrooms (theatre
inthevalley.org). …

Someone must be enjoying Chazz Palminteri. The Oscar-nominated actor was scheduled to return to The Venetian last night for his third limited run of his one-man, 18-character show, “A Bronx Tale.” I’ve seen this production twice — a coming-of-age story centering on a gangster, a naive kid, and his concerned father — and both times found it riveting. Of course, the big question here is: Will other dramatic actors follow suit? If Palminteri can get three engagements on the Strip of a monologue, can Williams, O’Neill, Albee, Mamet be far behind? Maybe I should make this more of a plea: Mr. Palminteri, you’re a dramatic pioneer here. Help us? Can you bring some more quality drama to the Strip? (“A Bronx Tale” plays through Oct. 18; Venetian.com.)

Anthony Del Valle can be reached at vegastheaterchat@aol.com. You can write him c/o Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas NV 89125.

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