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Laugh with Friends Vying for Ray Bradbury’s “Wonderful Ice Cream Suit” at Fremont Centre Theatre

February 27th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

It looks good enough to eat—that natty tailored suit the color of vanilla ice cream! It hangs in the front window of Shumway’s Sunshine Suits, creating its own sunshiny glow. Gomez and his friends gaze at the suit, in worshipful awe, dreaming….
“If I had that suit….” thinks Gomez. “If I had that suit.…” dreams Dominguez. With The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit they’d be able to wow the ladies in their neighborhood! And Martinez—he dreams of getting Celia at least to look at him from her window. Villanazul, in a different type of dream, imagines himself as an influential speaker.
What stands in their way? Only the price tag: $99.99! But as they yearn for the creamy white suit, an idea is born. Gomez proposes they all chip in to buy the suit, then take turns wearing it.the-wonderful-ice-cream-suit-photo-7
Alas! Their pooled cash of $20 each doesn’t add up to the needed $100. Then along comes Vamenos. Do they want him? He’s a bit clumsy and oafish. Still, he does have $20. He’s in!
But will the Wonderful Ice Cream Suit fit all five young men? They measure. They weigh. They buy! And then Gomez portions out the hours each of them will get to wear the suit as they venture forth to seek the realization of their dreams.
What an hilarious hour or so we can spend at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena as we watch the antics of the fellows who set out to prove to themselves that anything is possible when you’re well dressed! Trading off wearing that wonderful ice cream suit are Rudy Rodriguez, Adrian Elizondo, Eddie Ruiz, Joaquin Garay III, and Daniel V. Graulau.
Verona Masongsong plays the disinterested Celia Obregon, and Joy Nash the buxom temptress,  Ruby Escuadrillo. Philip Sokoloff and Steven Robert Wollenberg trade off as Mr. Shumway. Paul Renteria, Andy Sell, and Robert Kerr complete the cast.
While the concept of The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit came from Ray Bradbury’s fertile imagination, its young men lusting after the suit did not. On opening night, the prolific writer shared how he had spent his twenties in a downtown Los Angeles tenement. He said he “knew these people and loved them,” so he even borrowed the names of his long-ago neighbors for the play.
The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit is one of an ongoing selection of Bradbury’s stories being performed on the Fremont’s stage. The intimate theater provides an ideal setting for the glimpses into unusual lives that Bradbury’s fantasies always depict. His Dandelion Wine, Fahrenheit 451 and Green Town have enjoyed recent runs there, and The Illustrated Bradbury is slated for Feb. 21.
Bradbury was honored recently by the Pulitzer Prize committee with a lifetime achievement certificate for his contributions to American letters. The French government awarded him the rank of Commander of Arts and Letters, and Bradbury proudly displayed the accompanying medal on opening night.
Alan Neal Hubbs, resident director of Ray Bradbury’s Pandemonium Theatre Company, directs The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit. Bradbury and Raquel Lehrman are the producers. John Blankenchip’s colorful set evokes the sense of an inner city block and, ultimately, a local bar. Scenic artist is Xavier Cabrera, with construction by David Mauer. Elliott Woodruff is stage manager, assisted by Robert Kerr. Costume designer is Kathryn Poppen. Peter Strauss is credited for lighting design, and Robert Arturo Ramirez for sound design. Graphic design is by Kiff Scholl. Philip Sokoloff is publicist.
So don your own best “ice cream suit” and come for a bundle of laughs at this lighthearted fantasy playing Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. through Sun., Feb. 15. The Fremont Centre Theatre is at 1000 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena. Tickets are $20 general, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students. For reservations or more information, call 323-960-4451; or for on-line ticketing, go to www.Plays411.com/raybradbury. Free parking is available on streets or behind the theatre.

By Fran Syverson

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