By Neil Leibundguth
Mark Medoff’s “When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?” debuted Thursday at the Valencia Art Center’s Academy Theatre and will run through Monday, March 2.
The play, set in New Mexico in the late 1960s, stars senior Matt Skjerven as Teddy, a Vietnam veteran who holds a diner hostage with the help of his hippy girlfriend Cheryl, played by sophomore Ali Fisch. Among the hostages are Stephen, a graveyard shift cook, played by Curtis Kempton; Angel, a waitress, played by Daniel Steub; Lyle, a gas station attendant, played by Andrew Winecke; and Clark, played by Bill Ronchak. Corey Ostroot and Caitlin Murphy are cast as a well-off couple named Richard and Clarisse.
Director Gary Diomandes said he chose to direct this play for a number of reasons. The 60s and 70s era was included in this year’s rotation of genres and periods, and “When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?” “jumped to the top of [his] list.”
“It is the first play that I teach in Theatre Appreciation, and every year the students in that class inquire as to why we do not do a production of it,” said Diomandes.
Diomandes likes how the play examines the themes of control and manipulation. He also likes how it reflects the 60s culture and how it compares to our culture today. Diomandes said he grew up in a diner and knew the same types of people as the characters represented in the play.
The stage manager for the show is Sara St. Laurent. Walt Claassen designed the set and lighting, Matt Clementz designed the sound, and Alice Flo designed the costumes.
The shows are Thursday through Saturday and Monday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets for the show are $8 each or $6 for students with their student ID.