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‘Fools’ hopes to bring laughs for all ages at STAR Theatre

OCEANSIDE — Katie Betian has been attending stage performances since she was 3 years old.

[amt_override]Her parents were both high school teachers and they took her to nearly all of the school’s musicals, exposing her to the likes of “Oklahoma” and “Peter Pan” at a very young age.

“I’m pretty sure that’s how I got into this world because it was exposed to me at a very young age,” Betian said. “I knew most of Rodgers and Hammerstein by the time I was seven.”

Now the full-time production manager at the STAR Theatre in Oceanside, Betian hopes to give San Diego families the opportunity to share theater with their children by directing Neil Simon’s comedy, “Fools.”

The play revolves around a young schoolteacher, Leon Tolchinsky, who arrives at a made-up village in the Ukraine for his first teaching job. He soon learns that the entire town is under a stupidity curse and lacks even basic understanding of the world.

To break the curse, Tolchinsky must educate the town doctor’s daughter, whom he has fallen madly in love with, in 24-hours; otherwise, the daughter must marry the evil count who put the curse on the town.

“This is one of (Simon’s) works that can be for all ages because it’s very literal. There is a villain, there is a curse that needs to be broken, there is a woman who needs to be married,” said Betian.

But she added that the play offers adults, “A great escape because it’s a made-up world.”

Julie Ames, who plays the doctor’s wife Lenya Zubritsky, said that while much of the show’s humor is very literal, there is an ample amount of double meanings that will slip over kids’ heads and straight to the adults in the audience.

She agreed with Betian that the play offers a chance for families to expose their children to performing arts.

“Especially in this era of social media and video games, it’s rare to have the chance to let go of that for an hour or two,” she said.

She added that she welcomed the opportunity, as an actor, to do a straight play that for once wasn’t Shakespeare and gave her the chance to be lighthearted.

“As some point in your career, it’s fun to go back and be foolish,” she said. “(The play) reminds you not to take life too seriously.”

“Fools” opens Sept. 27 at the STAR Theatre at 402 North Coast Highway. Performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27, Sept. 28, Oct. 4, and Oct. 5, and at 2 p.m. Sept. 29 and Oct. 6. For more information, visit

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