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At Right: DOOL's Arianne Zuker
with Todd Babcock
The Tangled Snarl and Murder Me Once, two one act plays directed by Days of our Lives’ James Reynolds and starring Arianne Zuker, Daphne Bloomer both of DOOL and at one time, Mary Beth Evans (Sierra, ATWT), played to delighted crowds at the Fremont Theatre in Pasadena. The run closed initially back in the summer, after being extended another month. In September, due to popular demand, the one acts were presented again, and ran for another couple of months. Soapdom’s Yolanda Lawrence got the opportunity to attend the most recent closing night. Get Inside the Bubble…
James Reynolds (Abe, DOOL) has the distinction of being the African American with the longest continuing role in the history of television. What you may not be aware of, is that he is the co-artistic director, along with his lovely wife Lissa Reynolds, of the Fremont Centre Theater in Pasadena, California. We were fortunate enough to get tickets to the closing weekend of their most recent plays – two one acts called: The Tangled Snarl and Murder Me Once, both directed by James.
On the evening of November 6, 2004, I went along to closing night with my friend Tammy. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for several years and most of my friends are actors, so I’ve attended quite a few small theaters. Most of the time, it’s an unpleasant affair. The theaters are smelly and so claustrophobic, you feel as if you’re sitting at a kindergarten-sized desk. When you consider that I’m a woman who’s almost six feet tall, you can understand my point. The Reynold’s Fremont Theater was the exact opposite of my past experiences. In fact, it was the most attractive theater of this size that I’d ever attended.
Moreover, the place was packed that evening. It was standing room only at one point! And the audience was very involved and engaged by the material. It was nice to observe. I’ll be honest, as a writer for this site and a soap opera fan, I had my eyes peeled, on the look out, for any soap stars in the audience. I wasn’t disappointed—Kyle Lowder (Brady Black, DOOL) was there, lending support to his wife Arianne Zuker (Nicole). In case you were wondering, he’s even more handsome in person. But, I digress.
Both plays were send-ups to Film Noir flicks in the tradition of movies like Double Indemnity and DOA. They featured the same central character, Spuds Idaho, a Colombo-like hapless detective, as he attempts to solve crimes. The plays themselves were fast paced and very funny. Despite the overall ironic tone, the playwrights managed to capture the language and nuance of Film Noir. They had everything from the gorgeous, black widow dames to the gangsterese spoken by the characters in every Film Noir flick.
The murder mystery in both plays unfolded quickly. The pace throughout was quick, while still maintaining the overall humor and was careful to spoof and not ridicule the genre. The actors were first rate. The casting was non-traditional, in that the actor who played Spuds was white, but women of color played his love interests.
As a fan of Film Noir, I must commend them for the costuming and set design. It truly felt as if I was watching a group of people trying to solve a murder in the 1940’s.
Arianne Zuker (Nicole, DOOL) gave a wonderful performance. She played the femme-fatale in Murder Me Once. She was just slimy yet, funny enough to make things seem realistic, while keeping things light and humorous.
I had a great time and truly enjoyed each play. So much so, that it helped me to forget that it was a Saturday night and I wasn’t spending the evening with a handsome man. Preferably, Mark Collier (Mike Kasnoff-ATWT), being fed chocolate covered strawberries and drinking champagne. In other words, a great time was had by all.
After the show, both actors were kind enough to speak with us.
Soapdom: How do you think theater and soap work is similar?
Reynolds: They’re very similar. In both mediums you’re looking to the fourth wall. The only difference with theater is that the audience is live and the response is immediate. But technically it’s very close. It takes a lot of dedication and study.
Soapdom: You’ve directed several plays do you have any interest in directing for television/soap operas?
Reynolds: Sure, I have an interest. But I must admit that I’ve thought more about directing films.
Soapdom: We couldn’t help but notice that your next play at the Fremont Centre Theater will be National Pastime, starring your son Jed. How do you feel about directing your son?
Reynolds: I’m excited about the prospect and have great respect for his talent.
Soapdom: You’re an actor and so is your wife. As you know acting can be a tough life, did you both encourage or discourage your son from following in your footsteps?
Reynolds: I didn’t encourage or discourage him. I really think if you give your children certain interests: reading, art, sports; they will find their own way. My only encouragement was for him to find his passion and he has. He’s a smart, caring, energetic guy and we’re very proud.
Soapdom: What inspired you to start this theater?
Reynolds: I’ve run four theaters in my life and when you see the joy theater can bring how could you want to do anything else?
Soapdom: What can you tell us about where your character will be going over the next few months?
Reynolds (with a smile): Sorry you’ll need to watch DOOL for those answers.
Soapdom: Was working in theater different for you than working in Soaps?
Zuker: This was my first experience with theater, so yes!
Soapdom: What made you decide to make this your first theatrical experience?
Zuker: James Reynolds is the kindest, most wonderful man, when he asks you to do something, you can’t say “no.”
Soapdom: As an artist what have you learned from doing theater?
Zuker: It makes you a better actress. It teaches you so much. For example, our play is very funny; I had to learn how to stay in the moment and not to laugh. I had to learn how deal with crises, like missing props. Theater is a lot more freeing.
Soapdom: We have to ask, what’s it like working with your husband?
Zuker: It’s great. Like most couples, we have separate interests so working together helps to ensure that we see each other more often.
Soapdom: We have to ask you as well, any hints you can give us about your character in the next few months?
Zuker: Suffice to it to say Nicole and Brady will be very busy over the next few months and they’ll be involved in an interesting love triangle.
Be a Part of Soap History! The Freemont Centre Theater is a non-profit organization and as such is seeking donations to keep the theater up and running. Currently, they are running a “chair” drive to encourage donations toward reupholstering the theater’s chairs. For a donation of $750.00 they’ll reupholster a chair and put your name, on a gold plaque, onto the chair itself. So even if you don’t live in Los Angeles, you can be a part of Soap Opera History! For more information on the theater and future productions, check out their website at www.FremontCentreTheatre.com
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