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She Stoops to Conquer

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Irish playwright Oliver Goldsmith’s comedy, She Stoops to Conquer, had its premiere in London, in 1773. Few plays of the 18th century have had the staying power of this comedy of manners. In addition to being regularly staged by companies in the United States and Britain (as well as other English speaking countries), She Stoops… has had several film and television adaptations – including a 1910 silent movie version, and a 1971 BBC TV production starring Brian Cox and Ralph Richardson.

 

Now the Independent Shakespeare Company of Los Angeles has mounted a rousing outdoor rendition of She Stoops…on the boards in beautiful Griffith Park. Moreover, it’s free admission for all comers. Under the steady, sterling direction of Melissa Chalsma, She Stoops…is a period piece brought to life as a model of timeless entertainment, accessible and suitable for all ages – with something for everyone.

 

The play has at its center the household of wealthy countryman Mr. Hardcastle (a winningly befuddled portrayal by Danny Campbell). He is intent on having his daughter, Kate (the gifted Claudia de Vasco), meet and wed Charles Marlow (the hilariously nuanced David Melville). Marlow is the son of a rich Londoner (a capable and powder-wigged Joseph Culliton). The problem with Marlow the younger is that while he is glib and chatty with ladies from lower social stations than his, he is tongue-tied and clumsy around women of his own class status.

Nevertheless, the fun-loving Kate still sees husbandly potential in Marlow. With the support of her slacker half-brother, Tony (a guffaw-inducing Andre Martin), and her cousin Constance (the lovely and comically adept Erika Soto) whom Tony seems obligated to wed. Kate schemes, along with Marlow’s buddy Hastings (a sprightly Nikhil Pai), who shares a mutual attraction with Constance, to elongate Marlow’s bewilderment while arranging for appropriate marriages perfectly fitted to the affections on display.

With a cast blessed with extraordinary performance power, including the scene-swiping Bernadette Sullivan as Mrs. Hardcastle, as well as Thomas Ehas, Kevin Rico Angulo, Matthew Callahan, and Julia Aks, each doing double duty in quite disparate roles. Several carry on a running- joke that not only is the epitome of a good sight gag but also underscores the class distinctions in evidence here. We have consummate professionals breathing vitality into Goldsmith’s 240-year-old script. Add to that the craftsmanship of Caitlin Lainoff’s inventive scenic design, Bosco Flannagan’s indispensible lighting work, and Kate Bishop’s 1970’s glam-rock inspired costuming, and you have a near-perfect theatrical concoction.

She Stoops to Conquer continues at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival through July 28. The festival is located at 4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles. The show runs in repertory with Macbeth. For further information call (818)710-6306. Visit the website for times and dates at www.iscla.org.


 

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.