Starlight Players, Lesher Center offer Halloween treats

Starlight Players, Lesher Center offer Halloween treats
John Chapin is Duncan Dreadlock and Kelly Hansen is Medisa Oggorn in Orinda Starlight Village Players interactive “Halloween Haunts, Jaunts and Murder.” (Photos by Malcolm Cowler)

Columns Sally Hogarty Stage StruckIf the hype about the upcoming election or cabin fever are getting to you, try tuning into one of the live, Zoom productions our indomitable theater community is producing. You’ll find yourself transported to a better place.

In early October, I had the pleasure of being a test audience member for Orinda Starlight Village Players new live murder mystery game “Halloween Haunts, Jaunts and Murder.” The interactive piece runs at 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through October.

Audience members meet a selection of suspects who had been attending a ball at Count Caldura’s castle when he was murdered. Following the death, all the suspects are locked in various rooms of the castle and disembodied – a clever visual. The floating heads give their alibis, and audience members have the opportunity to question them as well as solve a variety of riddles. I even got a few of them right. Solving a riddle results in more information from a particular suspect, often accompanied by striking visuals. The performers aren’t recognizable until the curtain call, where clever backgrounds and disguises disappear and the actors emerge.

It was a totally fun evening that challenged my brain and gave me a new outlook on my world. After all, isn’t that the beauty of art?
To reserve your spot in the free game (donations gratefully accepted), go to, email or call 925-528-9225.

Lesher Center

Walnut Creek’s Lesher Center for the Arts plans a safe, fun outdoor Halloween party in Rudney Plaza – complete with Halloween treats, Monster Mash and decorated pumpkins. (Photo Courtesy of the Lesher Center for the Arts)

The Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek celebrated a very quiet 30th anniversary thanks to COVID-19. It’s hard to imagine it’s been that long since the beautiful arts complex opened its doors on Oct. 4. Managing director Scott Denison promises a much bigger celebration once audiences are again allowed to enter the facility.

In the meantime, the center will offer a special Pumpkin Patch on Oct. 24. Family-friendly costumes are encouraged for this safe alternative to traditional trick or treating. A donation includes a pumpkin to take home for carving or a pumpkin painted by a guest artist.

There will be a mini-Monster Mash party, with Halloween treats, special appearances, and photo opportunities with favorite villains and princesses. Each family signs up for a 45-minute timeslot. All surfaces will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized prior to each timeslot and face coverings are required for all over the age of 2.

To secure your timeslot, click here.

Arts are my superpowers

While the arts do so much for all of us, they also need help. So many are struggling to stay alive and still be around when we can finally attend theater again. To that end, Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT) has joined a coalition of youth arts organizations around the country in launching #ArtsAreMySuperpower. The nationwide letter writing effort uses these young voices to try to compel Congress to save the arts by supporting the DAWN Act (Defend Arts Workers Now) and to urge the U.S. government to pass a comprehensive arts relief package.

“We are asking children, young adults, families and classrooms to write letters to senators voicing support for the arts,” said BACT CEO and Lafayette resident Nina Meehan.

To get involved, go to ­

The deadline is nearing for local arts groups to apply for a grant through the Arts and Culture Commission of Contra Costa County. Thanks to an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council, the commission is offering Local Arts and Cultural Organizations Grants (LACOG) to fund general operations and/or project-based support to groups serving communities of color disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The total fund is $14,000, with each group allowed to request up to $5,000.

The deadline for sending in an application is 11:59 p.m. Oct. 19. The application is available by calling 510-255-1582, emailing or going to

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