Curtains rise and spirits lift as live theatre returns

Curtains rise and spirits lift as live theatre returns

Curtains rise and spirits lift as live theatre returns
Festival Opera showcases award-winning composer and pianist Jack Heggie’s “Triptych” at the Lesher Center on Aug. 13 and 15. (Photo by Karen Almond)

Columns Sally Hogarty Stage StruckCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA — Who couldn’t resist a parody of low-budget 1930s detective movies?

If that describes you, don’t miss “Bullshot Crummond” – a Plotline Theater Company/Onstage Repertory Theater partnership complete with misplaced British heroism, villain Otto Von Brunno and his evil mistress Lenya.

As usual, Brunno (Robert Marcus) and Lenya (Melynda Kiring) are up to no good. This time, they kidnap Professor Fenton (John Blytt) to get his formula for making synthetic diamonds. But they didn’t count on his daughter Rosemary (Erin Hurley) calling Capt. Hugh Crummond (Jacob Henrie-Naffaa) to rescue her father. Lots of silliness and fun to be had, especially with Blytt playing not only the professor but also six other characters.

Randy Anger and Matt Davis direct the production at Martinez’s Campbell Theater, 636 Ward St., running July 23-Aug. 15. For tickets, go to or call 925-350-9770.

Stripped down

Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy bring their “stripped down” show featuring intimate storytelling and dynamite dance routines to the Lesher Center on July 24. (Photo courtesy of Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy)

Are you ready for the “stripped down” tour? Now that I have your attention, it isn’t what you might be thinking, but rather deeply personal storytelling and breathtaking dancing experiences courtesy of the Chmerkovskiy brothers.

Maks and Val promise a genuine and heartwarming show that will take your emotions for a ride and have you laughing, crying and then laughing again as they inspire and entertain at 8 p.m. July 24 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr.

Maks is a Latin ballroom dance champion, choreographer, Broadway star (“Burn the Floor,” “Forever Tango”), actor and producer, just to mention a few of his talents. He first appeared on television as one of the professional dancers on season two of “Dancing with the Stars.” He continued for 17 seasons.

His brother Val is a 14-time U.S. National Dance Champion and two-time World Dance Champion. As a classically trained violinist, Val has performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In 2018, he released a memoir, “I’ll Never Change My Name,” which detailed his life, career and experience as an Eastern European immigrant. For tickets to “Maks & Val: Stripped Down Tour,” visit or call 925-943-7469.

Jake Heggie

Festival Opera celebrates its 30th anniversary season with the world premiere of “A Jake Heggie Triptych,” featuring award-winning composer and pianist Jake Heggie. Directed by Mark Foehringer and conducted by Bryan Nies, with members of the Festival Opera Orchestra, the opera features singers Carrie Hennessey, Diana Tash, award-winning actor Curt Branom and Festival Opera general director Zachary Gordin.

The triptych includes “At the Statue of Venus” with libretto by Terrence McNally, “Camille Claudel: Into the Fire” and “For a Look or a Touch” with librettos by Gene Scheer.

Most people are familiar with McNally’s award-winning plays, musicals and numerous television and film scripts. But the multi-talented writer not only collaborated with Heggie on the libretto for “At the Statue of Venus” but also the libretto for “Dead Man Walking.”

Unfortunately, this prodigious talent died from complications of COVID-19 on March 24, 2020.

“A Jake Heggie Triptych” takes place 7:30 p.m. Aug. 13 and 2 p.m. Aug. 15 at Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Dr. To secure tickets, call 925-943-7469 or go to

Celebration of life

Kathy McCarty

A celebration of the life of Kathy McCarty will take place Aug. 28. McCarty died on June 2. For information, please email

Sally Hogarty
Sally Hogarty

Sally Hogarty is well known around the Bay Area as a newspaper columnist, theatre critic and working actress. She is the editor of the Orinda News. Send comments to