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Asbury Players' longtime director to take final bow ahead of retirement

'Done to Death' -- premiering this weekend -- will be Barbara David's last show with the theater group.

Livermore-based Asbury Players Community Theater is set to bid farewell to its longtime director Barbara David and her husband, Dave, who is also the group's set designer. 

The group's upcoming show, "Done to Death" will be the last production for the couple, who are moving out of the Tri-Valley area later this spring, according to a statement from Asbury Players. 

"Directing Asbury Players has been a very satisfying part of my life, '' said Barbara David of her time with the group. "The players are truly like family to Dave and me. I'll miss the laughs we've shared, and I will always treasure the trust they've placed in me over the years. I couldn't have created a more supportive group of people to spend my time with."

David first became involved with Asbury Players in 2006, playing Mrs. Kirby -- opposite her husband -- in the comedic production, "You Can’t Take it With You."

However, she had been connected to the group through Dave David who had been acting with the Players since the early 1990s.

In 2007, she was asked by then-director Chuck Johnstone to direct "Harvey," a Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy by playwright Mary Chase. David said that taking on the new task led her to discover a passion for directing. 

"The only experience I had until then was directing short skits for church and the kids at school, so I had to learn on the fly," David said of her introduction to directing. "And poor Dave got 'voluntold' to not just build sets but to create a working stage on the church's platform altar. We've both learned a little bit more with each production, usually because each play required something new and different, like revolving bookcases or disintegrating fireplaces, or the 'invisible door' on this set," she added. 

Most of the "Done to Death" cast has been with the Asbury Players for many years, including Lesleyann Medeiros Coker who is one of the group's original members. While she no longer lives in Livermore, Coker said she has remained involved with the theater group because of the family-like dynamic fostered by the Davids. 

"I’ve had the privilege of working with Barbara and Dave David since I was 17 years old when I played the role of Emily in 'Our Town' and Dave played my father-in-law and their 11-year-old daughter, Erin, played my little sister," Coker said. "Now, Erin has an 11-year-old daughter of her own, and 30 years have gone by in the blink of an eye."

"I’ve always treasured the sense of family we’ve created through Asbury Players and being a part of the milestones in each other’s lives. It has been more than a community theater group, which is why I continue to participate even though I no longer live in Livermore," she added. 

Following the Davids' departure, Martie Muldoon will take over the reins as producer next season. "I’ve enjoyed being a member of Asbury Players for over 15 years, and I can’t imagine it without Barb and Dave," Muldoon said. 

She continued, "I’ve agreed to be production manager, and make sure Asbury Players continues, but I can’t possibly fill all the roles that the Davids have covered. Producer, director, set designer and builder, lighting designer, publicity -- Barb and Dave have done it all. It will take a lot more than one person to keep Asbury Players going. And I’ll really miss Barb, not just as a favorite director but as a friend."

David said she chose "Done to Death" for her final show because, "it's a very creative mystery story that I've had on my radar for years. I can guarantee you'll be kept guessing throughout. I've wanted to do it since I first read it, but the technical and the performing requirements are pretty complicated. But it's my last chance to do it and they can't fire me now, so hey, let's put on a show!"

Asbury Players Community Theater's production of "Done to Death" is set to run this weekend (March 19-20) and March 25, 26 and 27. Friday and Saturday performances are at 7 p.m. and Sunday performances are at 2 p.m. 

Tickets are $10 and can be reserved by emailing asburyplayers94550@gmail.com and purchased at the door. All performances are at Asbury United Methodist Church located at 4743 East Ave. in Livermore.

The "Done to Death" cast includes Coker and Muldoon along with Tim Ackerman, Jim Lobao, Don Faul, Maren Haws, Diann McCannon, Bob Cowgill, Nancy Grover, Pat Goard, Elizabeth Owens, Allen Larson and Brad Biggerstaff. 

Organizers said that cast and crew are all fully vaccinated and the audience will be asked to show proof of vaccination at the door. Audience will be masked but performers will be unmasked.