• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Happy Hour with Dean Martin

E-mail Print

He was the King of Cool, and he played straight man to Jerry Lewis’ fool in the seventeen films they made together between 1949 and 1956. In fact, Dean Martin was an undisputed star in quadruple domains of showbiz: concerts & nightclubs, music recordings, movies, and TV. The second son of an Italian immigrant, Martin (born in 1917, as Dino Paul Crocetti) spoke only Italian until he started school in his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio.  Nevertheless, the high school dropout went on to become one of the most familiar faces, if not voices, of midcentury pop-culture America.

Now Dean Martin fans, and those throngs of the uninitiated who’ve had only a vague acquaintanceship with the crooner – if that (after all Martin has been deceased since Christmas day, 1995), have an opportunity to see an amazing portraiture of the entertainer as rendered by tribute artist extraordinaire, Joe Scalissi in Happy Hour with Dean Martin, at the Encore Dinner Theatre.

From the mischievous twinkle in his lively brown eyes, to the lilt in his beautiful baritone voice, Scalissi exudes the easy appeal and effortless charisma that defined Dino the performer.  Like Martin himself, Scalissi is a Midwesterner of Italian heritage who too spent time in the ring as a prize fighter. Also like Martin, this pugnacious athleticism gives Scalissi an unforced command of the stage; with such a suave presence, no aggressiveness or mean-spiritedness is necessary to maintain the audience’s appreciation or adulation.

With crooner classics such as "That’s Amore," " Memories Are Made of This," and, of course, Martin’s signature song, "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime," Scalissi impresses us with his re-creation of Martin’s distinctive vocal style and politically incorrect humor. An example of the jokes, which are well dispersed throughout the two-hour show, is this: "How many divorced husbands does it take to screw in a light bulb? Nobody knows. The husband never gets the house."

With visual and aural accuracy, and backed by the full-sounding twelve-piece Encore Orchestra, a tuxedo-clad Scalissi pays homage to Dean Martin in a manner that is both fun and believable. And when he signs "Mambo Italiano," in Italian no less, the dynamism of Dino is alive and well as if it were channeled through the persona of Joe Scalissi.

Happy Hour with Dean Martin plays intermittently at the Encore Dinner Theatre, as does Henry Prego Sings Frank Sinatra Live From the Sands and Barbara Morrison Up Close and Personal: Singing Songs From the Great American Songbook. The Encore also offers the LMao Comedy Show, Along with various entertainments, the Encore includes with its admission price, dinner, with a full bar and desserts that are delicious (try the red velvet cake!).

The Encore is located at 690 El Camino Real, Tustin.  For reservations, call (657) 210-3200. For online ticketing and further information, visit Booking information for Joe Scalissi’s Happy Hour with Dean Martin can be made through his website 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.