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'Caught in the Villain's Gaze' onstage in Sunol

Production raising funds to support arts program at school recovering from storm damage
From left: Performing in Sunol Repertory Theatre's production of "Caught in the Villain's Gaze" are Patti Balch (as Lotta Donna), Conover Smith (as The Great Santini), Annecy Hall (as Purity Dean), Chris Bobertz (as Frank Heartwrite) and Derek Johnson (as Randy Bilkyou).

The Sunol Repertory Theatre stages a melodramatic play each year at the small hometown school to support arts among youth and the community at-large in Sunol.

The 40th season production holds that much more significance for the local theater troupe. Proceeds from the original play, "Caught in the Villain's Gaze", over the next three weeks will benefit the arts program at Sunol Glen School, which is still recovering from serious damage sustained from the early-winter rainstorms and flooding.

"The Sunol Repertory Theatre Company was formed in 1982 to support the arts program at Sunol Glen School. It was envisioned as a way to give local people a chance to perform on stage," director and playwright E. Tom Harland told Livermore Vine.

"We produce one show a year and our production this year is even more important in that the community has suffered with the New Year's Day flood. Among other community losses the Art Building was destroyed at the school," Harland said. "The proceeds from this year's production will go a long way to bringing the arts to our students."

Harland's original play -- fully entitled, "Caught in the Villain's Gaze: Or...Your Mother Was Right About Those Theater People!" -- is set to debut this weekend in the theater at the school on Main Street in Sunol

The two-act play centers around a traveling group of thespians coming to small-town Sunol in 1910 with the intent of auditioning locals to perform in a production of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", but ... "things get out of hand with general mayhem that only true theater people can bring about," according to the plot description.

"I have written the play to include all of what I think melodrama should have: full of villains, a hero, heroine and supporting characters galore. Also I thought bringing a little Shakespeare to Sunol might not be a bad idea," Harland said.

"This production of 'Caught in the Villain's Gaze' has given me the opportunity to collaborate with a wonderful cast of characters. My unending thanks to all of them," he added. "I am particularly pleased that our cast includes four students from Sunol Glen School."

The play opens this Friday night (March 10) and continues on Fridays and Saturdays through March 25, with each show at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit


About the Author: Jeremy Walsh

Jeremy, a Benicia native and American University alum, joined Embarcadero Media in November 2013. After serving as associate editor for the Pleasanton Weekly and, he was promoted to editor of the East Bay Division in February 2017.
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