Having grown up around the theater (my mother and father were both in show business) it��s not surprising I wound up there although there was a time I turned my back on it. In 1976 I was approached by Velma Sun of  the Orange County Lyric Opera Association to insert a couple of ballads into a production of ��Dark of the Moon�� as a contribution to their bicenntenial  celebration. I read the play and suggested it might make quite a full-blown musical. Velma readily agreed and we were off to the races.When we returned I started work on ��Dark of the Moon.�� (just kidding) It was eventually performed that summer of 76 at the Irvine Bowl in Laguna Beach California.


At the Berkeley Repertory Theater I worked as a musician/actor in another bicentennial offering, this one by the extraordinary team of Douglas Johnson and John Aschennbrenner, ��Yankee Doodle��, about a British terrorist named King George who hijacks a telethon (hosted by a amicable Lorne Green-type, played by Joe Spano, named Lyle Suedehammer) in an attempt to take back the colonies.


I also contributed a scabrous lyric to their production of Brecht��s ��Mann ist Mann�� to which their wonderful tech director Jeff Whitman responded, ��I don��t know if those lyrics are Brechtian or just plain Weill!��


The Laguna Moulton Playhouse came into my life in 1979, when I brought their artistic director Douglas Rowe a half-finished musical I had written about a true incident in 1870��s Dodge City, ��Tales of Fannie Keenan Better Known as Dora Hand��. After hearing me shuck,duck,yodel,cajole,scratch,sniff and bully my way through what I had written of it (the first act) his response could not have been more welcome �C ��Yeah. Finish it and we��ll do it��. Which I and we did.

The next big writing project was a life of Edouard Manet which went up in 1989. Originally titled ��Call the Cops �C the Art of Edouard Manet�� it was shortened to ��Manet!�� in deference to the marquee. When someone asked disparagingly why  

the exclamation point, I answered, ��Because ��Oklahoma!�� had an exclamation point.�� That effectively ended the conversation. ��Manet!�� is what I called ��an intimate pageant.�� It was virtually a life and times, including all of the (well, all those I felt were pertinent to the story, and there were a lot) marvelous characters in Manet��s incredibly creative and controversial life. The production used a staple of Laguna Beach history, The Living Picture,(an ingenious technique of ��tableaux vivant�� that has been an attraction here in Laguna since the early 1930��s) to bring the Manet paintings literally to life. The musical was very successful, breaking all box office records up to that time at this, the oldest constantly running playhouse west of the Rockies.


In the meantime I was musical director for quite a few productions (��Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road��; ��1776��; ����The Music Man��; How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying��; ��A Wonderful Life��; ��Big River��; ��Kean��; ��Lion in Winter��), the culmination of which was The Laguna Moulton��s production of ��Quilters��, which won the AACT Fest and went on to represent the U.S in Dundalk, Ireland. A splendid time was had by all.


As an actor �C Applegate (the devil) in ��Damn Yankees; Nathan Detroit in ��Guys and Dolls��; Harold Hill in ��The Music Man��; and a dual role, Jigger Craigen and The Starkeeper (an interesting twist) in ��Carousel��.


Other scores written for The Laguna Playhouse �C


By The Great Horn Spoon! (1999)

Charlotte��s Web (2000)

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (2003)

Tall Tales and American Legends 


An unproduced musical awaits �C ��Tex��, a dual biography of a country singer and his friend, a jazz violinist, based on a true story and utilizing both musical traditions in its score.


Copyright 2003-2007 Mark Turnbull

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