Actors from left, Marlowe Weisman, Oliver Georgiou and Janelle Sonenburg perform in the old-time radio show - "The Man with Bogart's Face" at the Newhall Family Theater for Performing Arts in Newhall on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

Radio on Stage: Newhall Family Theatre foundation holds first production

In a historic night with history on stage, the Newhall Family Theatre and its supporting foundation Raising the Curtain put on a theatrical rendition of “The Man with Bogart’s Face” Saturday night.

The event, held inside of the historic theater, marked the foundation’s first-ever fully supported play. The live-radio play transported those in audience back to a time when high-stakes mystery dramas were performed live over radio waves.

Oliver Georgiou as the character Sam Marlow during the live radio show performance of The Man With Bogart’s Face at the Newhall Family Theater for Performing Arts in Newhall on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

“It was a good first event and it brought a different type of production that audience members really haven’t seen so far before,” said Tom Lund, the Newhall Family Theatre director as well as the director for the play. “I think it really is a launching point for the theater and the foundation as a whole. It shows the community the type of entertainment we are capable of doing.”

The event featured cast members in period-piece costumes speaking with guests, “mocktails” as the event was on the Newhall Elementary School campus, food catered by Fraiche Kitchen and a live jazz performance from West Ranch High School band members.

The event, according to officials in attendance, was 25 years in the making. For nearly three decades, members of the community worked to refurbish the Newhall Family Theatre, which has been in the community since 1925.

Actor Robert Leh as Dr. Inman during the live radio show performance of The Man With Bogart’s Face at the Newhall Family Theater for Performing Arts in Newhall on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

A parent and community organization, named Theatre Arts for the Children, attempted to lead revitalization efforts through the years, hoping to return the theater to its original glory. But in 2011, after it was determined that any full revitalization effort would cost more than $4 million, Measure E, a bond measure, was deemed necessary to finish the work started by Theatre Arts for the Children, according to Marc Winger, former Newhall School District superintendent. 

“There was no way a nonprofit can raise that kind of money,” Winger said on Saturday. “And we very purposefully put this project on Measure E as a stand-alone project and defined it as a piece of the art district in downtown Newhall that would be dedicated to kids and to families.”

A number of those responsible for leading the revitalization movement over the years were in attendance at the Raising the Curtain event, including Sue Solomon, current NSD board president and one of the founding members of Theatre Arts for the Children. 

Actors wait for their cues during performance of The Man With Bogart’s Face at the Newhall Family Theater for Performing Arts in Newhall on Saturday, October 12, 2019. Dan Watson/The Signal

“After 25 years, we finally have the vision for the Newhall community and the Santa Clarita Valley for the Newhall Family Theatre,” said Solomon. “It’s personal, but from the educational standpoint, it’s going to give students of the arts a place to learn, perform and hone their craft.”

Although “The Man With Bogart’s Face” was only showing for one night, Lund said the theater hoped the event would introduce the community to what the theater is capable of, and that residents would consider attending or getting involved in future productions. 

“We are starting to plan a season for a 2020 year, but we’re looking at comedy productions, children’s productions,” said Lund.

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