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A Few Good Men

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Most readers will associate the title with the 1992 film, in which a uniformed Jack Nicholson immortalized the line, “You can’t handle the truth!” But before it was a movie A Few Good Men was a stage play, written by Aaron Sorkin (who later adapted it to the screen). It debuted on Broadway in 1989, but didn’t burst into popular culture until it hit silver screens across the nation in the early nineties.

Every now and again, though, some theater group will attempt to mount a live production of Sorkin’s original script, usually underestimating the challenges of such an effort. Few ever get it right.
Such is the case with Rise Above Theatre Movement’s current iteration of A Few Good Men So amateurish and chaotic is this staging, under Kenne Guillory’s misdirection, one can’t be blamed for wondering whether or not this production is a parody of Sorkin’s brassy conceit. After all, how could A Few Good Men otherwise be so bad?
Sadly, however, this is no send-up of Sorkin’s military melodrama. Instead it is a deadly serious mis-take on a would-be morality tale. The plot center’s around JAG (Judge Advocate General) lawyers who, in the midst of a controversial court-marshal, discover an institutional conspiracy while defending their Marine Corps clients.
Mostly set in and around events at the U.S. Naval installation on Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba – this effort provides so little credibility and such poor production values as to beg the question, is there anything at all to recommend about this show?
Unfortunately, amidst the clumsy handling of scene changes and prop devices, along with often mangled line readings, the answer is a resounding no!
Nevertheless, there are a couple of actors here that do distinguish themselves as potentially talented thespians. Zachary Goodrich is intense, committed, and believable as Private Louden Downey, one of the Marines on trial. And though Marlon Sanders still isn’t entirely conversant with his character’s dialogue, he is appropriately challenging and intimidating as Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Jessep.
A performance or two from actors who have the ability to make sense of their roles, while offering a modicum of charisma, is, however, petty compensation for two-hours worth of substandard theater. If one is seeking to understand the notions contained in A Few Good Men it’s best to watch the more tightly woven film version of the story.
A Few Good Men, a Rise Above Theatre Movement production, continues at the Sky Lounge – 4930 Lankershim Boulevard, North Hollywood – through April 7. Show times vary. For reservations, dial (800) 838 – 3006. For online ticketing and further information, visit


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.