Blueprint for Paradise Review - A Piece of History Comes to Light

 

 

now playing at the Hudson Theatre

Anyone interested in history needs to hurry to the Hudson to see Blueprint For Paradise

 

Blueprint For Paradise - Ann Hu (Fenny) and Clara (Meredith Thomas) - photo by Ed Krieger

The date is November, 1941 - a few weeks before the Pearl Harbor attack.  A young Chinese girl Fenny (Ann Hu) and Alex (Alex Best) serve the wealthy Taylor couple - Clara (Meredith Thomas ) and Herbert (David Jahn) in their Hancock Park  home as they entertain two German visitors- Wolfgang (Peter McGlynn) and Ludwig (Steve Marvel) who are there to oversee the building of a "retreat." 

 

Blueprint For Paradise --Clara (Meredith Thomas) and Paul Revere Williams (Regi Davis) - photo by Ed Krieger

When the architect they hired quits on them,  it is left to Clara to find someone new - and she does.  Unbeknownst to her Paul Revere Williams (Regi Davis) is black - something abhorrent to both Herbert and his German visitors.

 

Blueprint For Paradise

Los Angeles currently appears divided between pro-German and anti-German groups.  Among those are the Human Betterment Society (preaching sterilization on those undesirables as Negros and Jews), Mothers of America, the union workers, anti-Communists, as well as those who believed that Jews had too much power in show business. 

 

Blueprint For Paradise - Wolfgang (Peter McGlynn) and Ludwig (Steve Marvel) - photo by Ed Krieger

At first swayed by the brainwashing Clara has received from her husband and her Nazi associates, she tells Williams to leave - but then he convinces her of his ability and then challenges the German notion that Herbert has adopted - women are to be seen and not heard and never to be educated. Clara discovers lies her husband has kept from  her and realizes that she is a prisoner in her own home.  Her journey of knowledge and friendship with Williams shakes her preconceived notions of how the world should work. In fact, Clara becomes convinced that not only she, a white woman, is worthwhile, but even Fenny, her Chinese maid, can reach further for a  career. 

 

Paul Revere Williams - the architect, Blueprint For Paradise

As the announcement of the Pearl Harbor bombing comes over the radio, the Germans realize they have outlived their stay and now let Clara know that the building is meant as a compound and training ground for Nazis in America as well as a refuge for Hitler so that he can rule from the west coast! 

 

Blueprint For Paradise --Clara (Meredith Thomas) and Paul Revere Williams (Regi Davis) - photo by Ed Krieger

According to local L.A. historian Randy Young, 50 acres of land in Rustic Canyon were developed by Winona and Norman Stephens, sympathizers of American fascist group the Silver Legion of America. Records show that the land was purchased in 1933 by Jessie M. Murphy, Winona’s mother, and a one-page affidavit by Dr. John Vincent, a professor at UCLA and the director of the Huntington Hartford Foundation, states that the Stephens intended the property to be a Utopian base for Nazi activities in the U.S., complete with its own water storage and fuel tanks, bomb shelter and various outbuildings and bunkers.

 

Blueprint For Paradise - Wolfgang (Peter McGlynn) and Ludwig (Steve Marvel) - photo by Ed Krieger

Later plans that were never carried out called for a four-story, 22-bedroom mansion. Rumor has it that neighbors in the canyon spied men patrolling the hills on weekends, in uniforms similar to those of the Silver Shirts. On Monday, December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, local police occupied the compound and detained members of the 50-strong caretaker force. The abandoned site, currently in a state of disrepair and covered in graffiti, is owned by the City of Los Angeles and has become a popular hiking destination.

 

Blueprint For Paradise - Clara (Meredith Thomas) and Herbert (David Jahn) - photo by Ed Krieger

In February, 2016, many of the structures were demolished due to safety concerns

Blueprint for Paradise will entertain and inform you. 

 

Written by Laurel M. Wetzork, and directed by Laura Steinroeder, Blueprint For Paradise is based on true events.   Debbie Bolsky of The Athena Cats was executive producer while Racquel Lehrman of Theatre Planners was producer. She was aided by Victoria Watson.  Set design was done by Gary Lee Reed, props by Bonnie Bailey-Reed, sound by Cricket S. Myers, while JP Rosenveldt served as technical director.   The fights were planned by Mike Mahaffey, Michael Donovan did the casting, while Matthew Gorka did the lighting and Lucy Pollak did publicity.

 

At the Hudson Theatre, the play is performed upstairs, which means there are stairs to climb.  However, if you do have a disability, the staff can lead you around.   The play runs from July 30 through September 4, 2016, with performances at 8 pm Fridays and Saturdays and 3 pm on Sundays.   Tickets are $25 and can be had by calling 323-960-4412. 

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