Arts + Culture

Audio Plays of the Legendary Firesign Theatre Performed by All-Star Cast Led by UCLA Live Artist in Residence Hal Willner April 1

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UCLA Live artist-in-residence Hal Willner continues hisresidency work with "Let's Eat: Feasting on the Firesign Theatre," featuringsequences from the legendary Firesign Theatre's four famed audio plays,performed by a kaleidoscopic cast of actors, singers and writers. This UCLALive exclusive event is scheduled for 8 p.m., Thursday, April 1, in Royce Halland is produced by Willner and Janine Nichols. For tickets, visitwww.uclalive.org or call the ticket office at (310) 825-2101.

Accompanied by onstage sound effects and musical flourishes,the cast features John Goodman, Brad Hall, Howard Hesseman, Julia LouisDreyfus, Nelson Lyon, Tim Meadows and Chloe Webb. Musical guests includeCaptain Billy's Whiz Bang, Ralph Carney, Todd Rundgren, David Thomas of PereUbu Steve Weisberg's "kind of" Big Band and other special guests. Please note:All artists are subject to change.

The Firesign Theatre was and remains anarchic melodramawritten and performed by one of the greatest gangs of four ever: PhilipProctor, David Ossman, Philip Austin and Peter Bergman. Conceived as radiotheater for the psychedelic era, the four Firesign records made between 1968and 1971 — "Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers!" "How Can You Be in TwoPlaces at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All," "I Think We're All Bozos onthis Bus" and "Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him" — constitute adazzling comic epic whose plots and subplots are still scrutinized, memorizedand revered by legions across the country.

Fusing the high-concept, comic vision of the trailblazingradio satirist Stan Freberg with expansive studio experimentation, the groupredefined the comedy album concept with their densely layered, surrealisticmontages of improvisational routines, overheard dialogue, media manipulation,commercial parodies and sound effects. Clearly reflecting the hippie mentalityof the times, their records won a tremendous following on college campuses andamong the counterculture.

Firesign Theatre members Proctor and Bergman became friendswhile drama students at Yale, where Proctor acted in several collegeproductions, some scripted by Bergman. Influenced by "Bob and Ray," and otherradio comedies of the '50s and '60s, the two eventually made their way to LosAngeles, where they began working with Austin and Ossman on "Radio Free Oz," alate-night freeform radio show broadcast from KPFK-90.7 FM. The group debutedon KPFK Nov. 17, 1966, with a performance of "The Oz Film Festival," athree-hour improvisational piece.

"Let's Eat" follows Willner's artist-in-residence debut,"Shock and Awe: The Songs of Randy Newman," scheduled for Jan. 24.

At UCLA Live, Willner also has produced "The Harry SmithProject" (April 2001) and two Halloween evenings of Edgar Allan Poe (2001,2002).

Willner is among the most wildly original producers incontemporary music. Growing up in the '60s and '70s, he turned childhoodobsessions of TV variety shows, '60s FM radio, comedy albums and any music thathis classmates hated into an inimitable career. Best known for concept recordsinterpreting the music of Nino Rota, Thelonious Monk, Kurt Weill, Walt Disneyfilms and Charles Mingus, Willner's productions also include records byMarianne Faithfull, Lou Reed, Allen Ginsberg, Laurie Anderson and William S. Burroughs.

Willner has been music supervisor on "Saturday Night Live"for 23 seasons. Among his other credits are the legendary "Night Music" show,and the films "Short Cuts," "Kansas City," "Finding Forrester," "Million DollarHotel" and the recent "Gangs of New York."

Tickets for "Let's Eat" can be purchased for $40, $30 and$20 at the UCLA Central Ticket Office at the southwest corner of the James WestAlumni Center, online at www.uclalive.org and at all Ticketmaster outlets. Formore information or to charge by phone, please call (310) 825-2101. UCLAstudents may purchase tickets in advance for $17. Student rush tickets at thesame price are offered to all students with a valid ID one hour prior to showtime.

An internationally acclaimed producer and presenter ofmusic, dance, theater and spoken word, UCLALive brings hundreds of outstanding and provocative artists to Los Angeleseach year. Committed to supporting the development of new work, UCLA Live haspresented both major and emerging artists including Pina Bausch, KronosQuartet, Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones and Robert Wilson. Lectures, residenciesand extensive outreach programs expand the impact of its unparalleledperformances, which include a lively mix of distinguished masters andinnovators from around the world.

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