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Props for Mr. Takemoto

March 6, 2010 | 12:00 pm

KenProp masters are among the theater's unsung heroes. The audience rarely notices what they do -- or, rather, it may appreciate seeing that Victorian teapot or old icebox but have no clue about the effort it took to get them onstage.

Their colleagues, however, realize that good prop people are essential to making a production work and feel right. They value those with a knack for knowing just what item is needed and -- especially in these tough times -- how to beg, borrow or build whatever they can't afford to buy.

Which is why East West Players loves Ken Takemoto.

The 75-year-old prop master's Rube Goldbergian creations are legend at East West -- the nation's leading Asian American theater company -- as is his eye for detail and penchant for bargains.

Plus, Takemoto is as fun-loving and feisty as colleagues half his age -- and busier than most of them. When he's not working at East West, he is helping out other stage groups, scouting thrift shops and the occasional Dumpster for treasures and pursuing a side career as an actor and  dancer.

To find out more about Ken Takemoto, see my story in Sunday's Arts & Books section.

 -- Karen Wada

Photo: The master, with "Pippin" duck. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times