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Tickled Pink

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Comedienne Rita Rudner has a uniquely droll style of delivering lines and punch-lines. Her observations are offbeat and unexpected. Rudner once noted that she received a credit card offer that was inflated to the point that “before I opened it, I actually heard a drum-roll.”

Rudner has had a long and successful career in the comedy spotlight, and she has a permanent performance place in the 742 – seat showroom of the Venetian Hotel and Casino, in Las Vegas. When she’s not in Vegas, she resides with her husband, Martin Bergman and daughter Molly in Dana Point, in The OC. And, when she’s not entertaining audiences in Vegas and elsewhere, she finds time to write.

In fact, Rudner is the author of five books, including the bestselling non-fiction, "Naked Beneath My Clothes." Now her semi-autobiographical 2002 novel, "Tickled Pink," has been adapted for the stage and is playing through May 20 at the Laguna Playhouse (Rudner has made three previous solo appearances at the seaside venue).

Like Rudner, Tickled Pink’s protagonist, Mindy Solomon (a cute and comically astute Emma Fassler) leaves Miami and travels to Manhattan in search of a career as a dancer. Soon, however, Mindy (like Rudner) is drawn to the big city’s comedy club circuit, eventually finding mentorship and a modicum of success at a storied comics' nightclub. It’s here where Mindy receives the tutoring that will change the trajectory of her career.

A veteran comic (Brian Lohmann in one of several roles) advises Mindy that her jokes need a twist. Her one about in high school being voted most likely to become a nun, though moderately amusing, becomes downright funny when she adds this twist: and that’s not easy at the Hebrew Academy.

Directed with much affection by hubby Bergman, the play, at two and-a-quarter hours (with one intermission) is too long by a third and often ambles in its storytelling. The plot centers on Mindy’s friendship with super-model-turned actress, Ursula Duran (beautiful Annie Abrams) and the inherent competition that exists in show business, among comedians and actors (as demonstrated in the behind-the-scene comedy competitions on display here).

Though there’s plenty of heart and lots of soul in Tickled Pink, with 13 actors (11 of which play three roles apiece) and 38 scenes, the show is unwieldy, and, at times, unclear. Is this a homey, heartfelt story about coming of age in the world of entertainment or is it an overly-episodic epic? It would be more effective to narrow the play’s scope and focus on the former rather that the latter.

Nevertheless, with a cast full of charming actors (including Greg Bryan, Eileen Galindo, Bert Glazer, Eric Curtis James, Michael Kirby, Nick Massouh, Betsy Reese, Floyd Van Buskirk, Robert Yacko and, in three roles, Rita Rudner) and surprisingly efficient production values, aided greatly by David Mickey’s media design and D. Martin Bookwalter’s scenic and lighting work, Tickled Pink is a wonderful work-in progress with much dramatic potential.

Tickled Pink continues at the Laguna Playhouse – 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach – through May 20. Show times are Tuesday – Saturday at 8 p.m. and at 7 p.m. on Sundays. Matinees are Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. (with special a Thursday matinee at 2 p.m. on May 10. For reservations, dial (949) 497 – 2787. 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.