Theatricum Brings Acclaimed Production of THE GIN GAME to its Outdoor Stage in Topanga

Theatricum Brings Acclaimed Production of THE GIN GAME to its Outdoor Stage in Topanga

Westside audiences are in for a treat.

Last season's acclaimed, Ovation recommended production of The Gin Game, directed by Christian Lebano at the Sierra Madre Playhouse, will be re-staged outdoors at Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum, with real life husband and wife team Alan Blumenfeld and Katherine James reprising their roles.

With Lebano again at the helm, performances of D.L Coburn's Pulitzer Prize-winning two-hander will run Aug. 17 through Sept. 29 in Theatricum's intimate S. Mark Taper Pavilion.

Longtime Theatricum company members, Blumenfeld and James star as a pair of elderly residents in a nursing home who strike up a stormy friendship while playing gin rummy. The irascible Weller Martin struggles with "the incredible run of luck" enjoyed by self-righteous Fonsia Dorsey, who beats him consistently - even though she's just learned the game and he's been playing for years. As they play, they reveal secrets that get used against each other, and the game becomes a metaphor for their lives.

"It deals with people who at a very late age confront many areas of their lives which have remained unexamined," Coburn said in an interview with The New York Times. "This coming to a greater knowledge of self is a painful experience - at any age. But, when nearing the end of life, to have revelations about your entire life and all the choices you've made, that's a cataclysmic experience. In the nursing home they repeat their life pattern. I guess the play says we can't get too far away from ourselves."

Partly inspired by his aunt's experiences at a nursing home in Coburn's home city of Baltimore, The Gin Game premiered at the 49-seat American Theater Arts in Hollywood in 1976. It opened on Broadway in Oct., 1977, directed by Mike Nichols and starring another married couple: Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. The Gin Game was awarded the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and has since had productions in virtually every country of the western world, as well as heralded productions in Australia, Japan and China.

A company member for over 30 years, Blumenfeld has graced the stage at Theatricum Botanicum dozens of times, including as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice, Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award), Gloucester in King Lear and Friar Laurence in Romeo and Juliet.

The Theatricum creative team includes costume designer Elizabeth Nankin, sound designer Barry Schwam and choreographer Cate Caplin. The stage manager is Kim Cameron. Will Geer's Theatricum Botanicum produces in partnership with the Sierra Madre Playhouse.

Performances of The Gin Game take place Aug. 17 through Sept. 29, with all performances starting at 1 p.m. on the following Saturdays and Sundays: Aug. 17, 24, 31; Sept. 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 29.

Tickets are $38.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or go to

Visit Theatricum on facebook: Follow us on twitter: @theatricum and instagram: @theatricum_botanicum.

Photo Credit: Gina Long

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