Danville Express

Living - June 15, 2007

Alamo's theater duo

Mother directing play written by daughter that opens tonight

Laura Means Berchdorf is a busy woman. Besides raising three elementary school-aged children who attend Alamo Elementary School, and juggling piano recitals, homework and sports activities, she's managed to complete "Christenings," the final play of her "Life Cycles Trilogy."

Galatean Players Ensemble Theatre is opening the world premiere of "Christenings" tomorrow, June 16, at the Onstage Theatre in Pleasant Hill with a preview tonight, June 15. The play runs through June 30.

"Christenings" explores parenting from pregnancy through childhood. Means Berchdorf examines multiple perspectives, including young parents experiencing the birth of their first child, grandparents raising their grandchildren, as well as older couples welcoming "surprise" pregnancies.

"Laura writes with the perfect blend of comedy and pathos when examining the elements of life that most people encounter: birth, relationships and death," said director Helen Means, her mother, who has directed all of the pieces in the trilogy, which also includes "Vows" and "Eulogy."

This fall, Means is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Onstage Theatre, the company she founded.

Both mother and daughter live in Alamo and have been creating theater in the East Bay for over three decades, said Kathryn G. McCarty, artistic director for the Galatean Players.

"This mother/daughter combo are dynamos in East Bay theater," said McCarty. "This is Laura's third installment in the Life Cycle Trilogy. The other two both had several Shellie nominations and were very well received by both audience and critics alike."

"Christenings" features Heidi Appe, Beth Bemis, Beth Chastain, Carter Chastain, Bill Clemente, Roger Craig, Chuck Escover, Ann Kendrick, Karen Leigh, Kevin McCaffree, Kathryn G. McCarty, June McCue, Bill Oakley, Eddie Peabody, Jennifer Brown Peabody, Shanti Reilly, Stacey Reeves, Mikel Simon, Ryan Terry, Joyce Tubbs, and Melissa Vargas. Beth Chastain is joined by her son Carter, who is one of 22 freshmen admitted to the UCLA drama program for the fall.

Local playwright onstage

What: "Christening," the third play in the "Life Cycles Trilogy" by Alamo resident Laura Means Berchdorf

Who: Galatean Players Ensemble Theatre

When: 8:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays, June 15-29; 8 p.m., Thursdays, June 21, 28; 2:30 p.m., Sundays, June 17, 24

Where: SchoolHouse Cultural Center, 2050 Oak Park Blvd., Pleasant Hill

Cost: General, $15; senior and students, $12; Thursday, $7; all tickets $10 tonight, June 15

Tickets: Call 676-5705

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