Emmy-award winning actor Bill Oberst Jr. earned a prolonged standing ovation from an audience of more than 175 at the dynamic conclusion of his virtuoso performance as legendary author and visionary Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) in the Library Community Room last Friday evening.
The event was the debut performance of the touring stage tribute.
The 90-minute characterization of Bradbury presented by the South Pasadena Public Library, the Friends of the Library, the Bissell House Bed & Breakfast, and the Living History Centre Fund contained language from the author’s books, interviews and essays.
The glowing words were delivered arrestingly by Oberst as he crouched, climbed, and pointed across the stage before a customized screen that displayed swirling complementary images. Dramatic sound effects and original soundtrack music punctuated the proceedings.
Oberst’s script, which resulted in a dazzling tour de force, was polished through 19 drafts over three years. The result, “Ray Bradbury Live (forever),” was officially authorized for performance by the Bradbury family and Don Congdon and Associates, the prolific author’s literary agency.
Over the years, Bradbury’s plays were regularly performed at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena, and Bradbury himself made two public appearances. Once, for his 90th birthday celebration in the Library Community Room, there was such a large audience that two flat screens had to be set up in Library Park to allow the overflow crowd to view the event.
Since Bradbury’s passing, the library has presented many events to honor him and his enduring works. The second-floor meeting space overlooking Library Tree on Diamond Avenue has been renamed the “The Ray Bradbury Conference Room.”
The library is in the middle of adding about 200 rare Bradbury items to the room’s special reference collection with an eye on surprises to come, hopefully during 2020, the Centennial of Bradbury’s birth.