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Marion Bridge

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Daniel MacIvor is a well-known Canadian actor/director/playwright. But, like most Canadian artists, he is virtually unknown in the United States. Some of his earlier solo pieces have been performed by small American companies. His two-character play, In On It was produced Off-Broadway where it won both GLAAD and Obie Awards. Full disclosure, I directed that play’s Los Angeles premiere.

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Madness, Mayhem, and Other Stimulants

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Evenings of one-act plays are popular. Audiences enjoy them, and theatres reap the benefits of involving more actors in a given production. The shows are usually a grab bag of short plays from a group of playwrights. An evening devoted to plays by a single author tend to be reserved for star writers like Christopher Durang and David Ives.

 

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Levi Kreis

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In the blackout, a shadowy figure strides to the piano and starts to play. The lights come up to reveal a smiling Levi Kreis straddling his piano bench while effortlessly playing his intro. He starts to sing. Absent the familiar arpeggio opening, it takes a moment to recognize Stephen Schwartz’s “Corner of the Sky.” But Kreis’ knows what he’s doing. His new arrangement brings a poignant note of vulnerability to this familiar anthem of youthful impatience and allows us to appreciate the song anew.

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Mancini Magic

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Mancini Magic was the well-chosen title of the latest Kirtzerland at Sterling’s concert. Henry Mancini’s composing career occurred at a time when American popular music was changing.It was a time when classic songs like Mancini wrote shared the music charts with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. While Rock eventually became the dominant style, Mancini continued to write a treasure trove of wonderful songs, mostly for films.

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Trouble in Mind

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Alice Childress’ Trouble in Mind is an extraordinary play, a richly satirical backstage story that is both traditional and groundbreaking. The structure is very much a well-made play of the mid-1950’s, but the content feels as fresh as the current casting fracas surrounding the Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.

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Once

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The musical Once began life as a that rarest of beasts, an independent foreign film which garnered critical praise, won an Oscar for best song, and became a box office success. Audiences connected with the moody not-quite-romance of the main characters and the working-class Dublin background.

 

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Kiss of the Spider Woman

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Having grown up in Northern San Diego County, I never expected to see Kander & Ebb’s Kiss of the Spider Woman on stage at the Welk Dinner Theatre. The production is certainly a risk for the theatre. It is, also, obviously a labor of love for Director/Choreographer Ray Limon and Producer Joshua Carr.

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Hamilton

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A touring show with as much hype as Hamilton has generated calls into question the extraordinary pricing and scarcity of tickets that has occurred since the announcement that the show would be opening in Los Angeles in August. With orchestra seats on a weekend commanding nearly $1500.00, it must be better than good; it needs to be transformative. Luckily, it is.

 

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Spamalot

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Adapted from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot is an inspired bit of lunacy from Python cast mate Eric Idle, who wrote the book, music (collaborating with John du Prez), and lyrics for this Tony-award winning musical. Similar to the film, with most of the best of the comic gags retained, it diverges some from the storyline and manages to create a fresh take on the Arthurian legend.

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As You Like It

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Tastes in Shakespeare plays have changed over the years, but As You Like It has retained its status as a favorite among performers and audiences alike. Rosalind is a dream role for any young actress, and, if the play is not as filled with popular quotes as Hamlet, Jaques’ “Age of Man” speech always makes the audience sit up and take notice.

 

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Page 11 of 27

Spotlight

Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.