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The Road twice taken

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Cooperstown

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The Road Theater Company in North Hollywood has just opened a second waiver theater on Magnolia, making The Road’s reputable reach twice as wide.

In their original 80-seat space, The Road on Lankershim, popular magic feat Smoke and Mirrors still runs mightily after 17 weeks.

In the new, slightly-smaller-but-still-stellar space located in the NoHo Senior Artist Colony, a new apartment complex catering to artists 62 and over, the West Coast premiere of Cooperstown is newly underway.

As two Roads run adjacent, so, too, do two Jackie Robinson stories. Cooperstown, which takes place in the town where baseball was born and where Jackie Robinson came to fame, made its West Coast premiere Friday night. The film 42 opened in theaters across America on April 12. Those who experience both stories will ponder all the more how sports arenas and theaters have long been places where Americans have converged and taken risks and cultivated an ever-evolving collective soul.

In deft two-act drama Cooperstown, written by Chicago-based Brian Golden, directed by Darryl Johnson and starring Cecil Burroughs, Jamye Grant, Alexa Shoemaker, Ann Hu and bright new talent T. J. McNeill, a black diner worker named Junior (Cecil Burroughs) strives to prove his worth to his elusive white boss just as Jackie Robinson is slated to come to town to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Junior’s activist sister, Sharree (Jamye Grant), strives to prove her might to fellow black activists by enabling a protest in the same spot. Wide-eyed baseball hopeful Huck (T. J. McNeill) brings to Cooperstown his innocent yearning and finds himself smitten by tomboy dreamer Dylan (Alexa Shoemaker) -- named after hippie singer Bob -- and white diner-owner’s Asian wife Grace (Ann Hu) envisions a life free of her trophy wife status.

All players on this ‘I Have an American Dream’ team want what any American -- or any person -- wants, which is freedom, power and love.

And, like many, they find out that in order to achieve what they most desire, they have to be willing to venture down a road that is less traveled.

The play Cooperstown inspires at The Road on Magnolia through July 20.

The movie 42 inspires, too, (so people say), at cinemas everywhere, now, and via DVD soon.

America’s common yearning displays itself at baseball fields and union theaters and waiver theaters and skateboard parks and pride parades and artist colonies and ever-evolving Los Angeles neighborhoods every minute of every day.

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