Mountain Mermaid Hosts Benefit for Theatricum Botanicum, 11/20

The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum is best known for al fresco performances of Shakespeare and the classics under the summer sky. But this fall, the stars will come out for Theatricum in November - that is, the Hollywood stars. A Sunday afternoon benefit for the theater company, one of Los Angeles' oldest and most respected, is set to take place on November 20 @ 3:30 pm at Topanga's historic Mountain Mermaid. Celebrity guests will include Hector Elizondo, Ed Harris, Piper Laurie, Amy Madigan, Amanda Plummer, and Edward Asner, who will perform his acclaimed one-man show, FDR, for the occasion.

Edward Asner has earned outstanding reviews for his solo performance that explores the life of one of America's best-loved presidents and the events and decisions that shaped a nation. This powerful play, based on Dore Schary's Tony award-winning Broadway hit, Sunrise at Campobello, follows the iconic president as he reflects on his years in office, from inauguration to the trials of World War II.

Leading the post-performance discussion will be author Rose EichenbauM. Rose's latest book, "The Actor Within: Intimate Conversations with Great Actors," includes interviews with many of the actors who will be present at the event, as well as other notable acting icons.

The beginnings of Theatricum Botanicum can be traced to the early 1950s when Will Geer, a victim of the McCarthy era Hollywood blacklist (before he became known as the beloved Grandpa on TV's The Waltons) opened a theater for blacklisted actors and folk singers on his property in Topanga. Friends such as Ford Rainey, John Randolph and Woody Guthrie joined him on the dirt stage for vigorous performances and inspired grassroots activism, while the audiences sat on railroad ties. Today the theater is run by his family. Two outdoor amphitheaters are situated in a natural canyon ravine, where audiences are able to relax and enjoy the wilderness during an afternoon or evening's performance.

The Mountain Mermaid, a designated California Point of Historic Interest, was originally built in 1930 as the Sylvia Park Country Club. It was converted into a boys' school for a time and during World War II became a gambling house and brothel operated by mobster Mickey Cohen. It was reborn as an American Legion hall, movie theater, and later, in the '50s, as a gay nightclub called The Canyon Club. In the ‘70s it reemerged as the legendary Mermaid Tavern featuring world-class music. The Mountain Mermaid is now a B&B and a horticultural garden dedicated to the preservation of Topanga's architectural, cultural and natural history. Photographers from all over the world come to shoot at the Mermaid.

The Stars Come Out for Theatricum includes a full-length performance of FDR starring Edward Asner; a post-performance discussion, led by author Rose Eichenbaum, with Mr. Asner, Hector Elizondo, Ed Harris, Piper Laurie and Amanda Plummer, who were all interviewed for Eichenbaum's latest book; and a dessert reception catered by Bon Mélange Catering. The event takes place on Sunday, November 20 @ 3:30 pm. Free parking is available at Theatricum Botanicum, 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd., with shuttle service to The Mountain Mermaid. Tickets are $100, a portion of which is tax deductible; all proceeds benefit Theatricum Botanicum's performance and educational programs. To purchase tickets contact Matt Van Winkle at 310-455-2322 or More information at


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