Virtual Theater

Feature by Mavis Manus

I'd heard about the good work done by Drama West Productions, a theatrical group headed by producer Catherine Stanley, and casting director Hettie Lynn Hurtes.. So when a friend and I found ourselves in Echo Park last Saturday we stopped by at the Edendale Library where Drama West puts on showcase readings of (mostly) new plays once every two months.

The first four one-acts were all well written and acted, but when it came to the fifth we were in for a surprise. "Dearly Beloved" took place in Las Vegas with a young couple trying to decide whether or not to get married. A shop-front minister gives them a hard sell on a photo package ("$199 but for you $19.99"), a video package ("$299 but for you $29.99"), a honeymoon package to Hoover Damn ($399 but for you $39.99 ). They still prevaricated, saying they hadn't bought rings. "That's no problem" said the minister rattling a box, "I've plenty of rings. I do divorces too." Finally the deals were made and the little ceremony began, the minister throwing in (for free) his wife to act as matron of honor. After the time- honored "You may kiss the bride," the minister stepped forward and spoke to the audience. "I am a real minister and I have just married Hettie and Randy!" Confusion and nervous laughter from the audience. Cries went up: "Is this for real?" "Did they really?" "What just happened?" The bride's mother, who thought she'd just come to see her daughter act in a play, responded with superb aplomb. She threw a kiss to the couple.

Hurtes, who is a news announcer with KPCC had been telling colleague Steve Julian that she and fiancé Randy Roberts couldn't decide on how to celebrate their nuptuals. "That's easy," said Julian, "I'm an ordained minister. I'll marry you and Randy!" The three of them came up with "Dearly Beloved" and what surely must be one of the more unusual weddings of all time.