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The Tempest

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He and his daughter stand at the shoreline, she watching in horror as an enormous storm swamps an incoming boat, dashing it against the rocks, and presumably ending the lives of all aboard, he, the sorcerer whose power unleashed the tempest, anticipating his revenge upon those who had set the two of them adrift twelve years ago.

Thus begins Prospero’s story, a tale told by a master narrator, as he reviews and perhaps recounts the three stages of his own life: imaginative and clever youth, protective father, wise and judicious elder.  If Shakespeare could be in San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre audience, watching the unfolding of his last scripted romance play upon the stage under the stars, he might marvel at the timelessness and relevance to humankind’s and history’s saga. Tragedies, both natural and man-made, continue to inspire both individual and collective reflection.

Enchantingly presented, scrupulously acted and confidently directed, this production is communally and individually significant. Think: Thailand’s tsunami, Haiti and Japan’s earthquakes, global warming.  Think also: the graying of America, the changing forces of war and rebellion, each person’s finite lifetime.  Appreciate, while thinking, Ralph Funicello’s grand staging and imagination that transforms a vast sheet of blue silk into waves, sails and sky and that makes gongs into drums that become spirits speaking. Delight in Deirdre Clancy’s seaside period costumes, Shaun Davey’s original music and Alan Burrett and Dan Moses Schreier’s lighting and sound designs, respectively, that transform the familiar location into a fulfilling fantasyland where dreams and realities bump heads.

The Tempest contains both natural and personal tragedies that communicate life lessons, as well as momentous love and considerable laughter to defray the daunting and difficult themes of revenge and forgiveness.

Depicted so insightfully by Miles Anderson that he truly lives each moment on stage, Prospero as a younger man looked forward to a royal dukedom and a life of ease and pleasure.  Betrayed by his brothers Alonso (Donald Carrier) and Antonio (Anthony Cochrane), Prospero was forced to flee with his young daughter, Miranda (a lovely, athletic and spirited Winslow Corbett), to their current island home.  Here, in this idyllic setting, the middle-aged Prospero focused on fatherhood and wizardry, perfecting the latter with the aid of a youthful, mischievous and clever spirit, Ariel (amazingly wrought with stilts and wings and light abandon by Ben Diskant, graduate student of The Old Globe/USD theatre program).

The fun in this profound play comes in the characters of the jester Trinculo (John Cariani) and the drunkard butler Stephano (Adrian Sparks). Adopting Shakespeare’s penchant for slapstick clowning, the duo delightfully interrupts some of what could have become very  somber scenes, especially those showcasing the monstrous Caliban.

Along life’s way, Prospero took in the unfortunate Caliban (colossally played by Jonno Roberts), son of a wicked witch, who revealed the evil part of his nature in an attempted rape of Miranda. Wrathful and raging, Prospero enslaved the ogre, and he dishes out periodic torments and threats to keep him subservient. Prospero, the parent protector, will soon realize that his daughter will seek and find romance and a husband in princely Ferdinand (a very engaging Kevin Alan Daniels), one of the shipwrecked sailors, and he will have to let go of that life stage.

Note to Director, Adrian Noble: let go of the dancing shoes and the puppets. They are gimmicky and distracting, interrupting the flow of an otherwise flawless production.

It is the letting go of the revenge he has long contemplated, however, that gives Prospero his largest life challenge and motivates the play’s denouement, which Anderson faultlessly delivers in Prospero’s marvelous soliloquy. In the end, as Prospero frees his young spirit in the form of Ariel and delivers his only child to her husband, thus relinquishing his fatherly responsibility for her welfare, his wisdom overcomes his anger. Forgiveness, not revenge, is his bequest. And, in his final homeward passage to his rightful dukedom, he wisely understands that power earned but restrained is the most potent life legacy.

Would that Prospero’s lessons instruct us all.


William Shakespeare’s The Tempest plays on San Diego’s outdoor festival stage in Balboa Park in repertory (with Much Ado About Nothing and Amadeus) through September 23.

Performances are Tues-Sun at 8 pm, with some curtain times at 7 pm after Labor Day.

For reservations, call 619-23-GLOBE or go online at



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.”


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.