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Chapter Two

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Chapter Two, which premiered in 1977 at Los Angeles’s Ahmanson Theatre, is Neil Simon’s sixteenth play. He has now written nearly three dozen plays and almost as many screenplays (mostly adapted from his play scripts). But, Chapter Two was the prolific scribe’s most autobiographical treatment to that point in his long and celebrated career.

Now, this play, inspired by the loss of Simon’s first wife to cancer and introduction to his second wife under the straightforward direction of veteran Andrew Barnicle is on stage at the Laguna Playhouse through February 3. But as morose as the set-up seems, it is among the most authentic scenarios that Simon has ever created. In fact, the play has nearly much pathos and desperation on display as comedy. Instead of fitting neatly into the category of romantic-comedy, Chapter Two is more akin to a dramedy than any of Simon’s other scripts.

George Schneider, a stand-in for Simon, is a writer (Geoffrey Lower in an intelligent interpretation). After a two-month foray to Europe, George returns to his New York apartment, attended to by his younger brother Leo (Kevin Ashworth in an amusing characterization). George is still grieving the death of his beloved; nevertheless, others are intent on getting George back into the dating game. This Includes Leo, who insists that George phone an actress acquaintance named Jenny Malone (Caroline Kinsolving in a commanding portrayal). Jenny is a successful soap opera actress who is currently divorced after a six year marriage to a pro football player.

Also, as a side story, we have Leo’s involvement with Jenny’s best friend Faye Medwick (a well-timed Leslie Stevens), as well as Leo’s complicating concern that George is rushing things when he announces that he and Jenny will be wed after just a two-week courtship.

With sterling production values – scenic and costume designs by Bruce Goodrich, lighting by Donald Guy, and sound engineering  by Corrinne Carrillo – Chapter Two is a genuine expression of the “feeling of numbness, inertia and confusion” that Simon writes of suffering  in the aftermath of the loss of his wife. It is also a testament to the truth that life goes on and time heals all wounds. Though Simon’s second marriage (to actress Marsha Mason) ended in divorce in 1981 after an eight-year stint, Chapter Two lives on as a charming affirmation of love, loss, renewal and survival.

Chapter Two continues at the Laguna Playhouse through February 3. The Playhouse is located at 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Evening performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. Matinees are at 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Some performances are held on Sundays at 7 p.m. For information, call (949) 497-2787. For online ticketing and more details, visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.


 

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.