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Han Nah

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Since the celebrated television series M*A*S*H ended its 13-year run in 1983, rarely, if ever, has the Korean War been the focus of a script – not for TV, in film or on stage. It’s little wonder that that mid-century Asian conflict is referred to as either The Unknown War or The Forgotten War. Seldom is the Korean War celebrated; infrequently is it commemorated, even though the death toll from that calamitous clash is estimated to be at more than 1,500,000.

Now, however, in a one-woman show – written and performed by Joy Cha and ably directed by Gary Lee Reed – that long-ago struggle is recalled in a 70-minute play titled Hah Nah. Hah Nah Song is the name of the character so affectively portrayed by Cha.  She is a Korean-American serving as a nurse in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M.A.S.H.) unit near her father’s hometown of Kaesung.

Above and beyond her demanding duties as a combat RN, Hah Nah has a personal mission. She wishes to reunite with her father who has been missing for five years since he left their Los Angeles home to return to the house he owned in Korea, which was liberated from the Japanese subsequent to World War Two. Now, though, that house is located above the 38th Parallel, which puts the property under the authority of the communist regime of North Korea.

Not only is Hah Nah challenged by the cruel Korean winter, she may also face a court martial if she pursues her father’s trail into the North. What’s more, Hah Nah becomes the object of the would-be affections of two American soldiers who proclaim their love for her.

The time and place is well evoked (set design by Gary Lee Reed). The uniforms are period perfect (costumer is not credited), and vintage film footage appropriately placed between scene changes adds to the historic ambiance of the proceedings. There are many flashbacks, such as to the attack on Pearl  Harbor, in 1941. The sounds (by designer Corwin Evans) and the lighting (by Brandon Baruch) underscore the inherent drama on display in Hah Nah. Further, original music by violinist Kangwon Lee Kim truly tugs at our heartstrings.

Still, it would be a more fulfilling theatrical experience if all the parts were cast and the show were turned into a more traditional two-act play. Though Cha effectively plays to her imaginary characters, it would be more dynamic and dramatic to have living actors embody the other roles. Not only would this provide more energy for the effort, we in the audience wouldn’t have to strain so much in order to suspend our disbelief.

Hah Nah continues at The Lounge Theatre 2 – 6201 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood – through November 25. Evening performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. Matinees are at 2 p.m. on Sundays. For reservations, dial (323) 391-4694. 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.