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Night Watch

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Written by Lucille Fletcher in 1972, Night Watch is the sort of old fashioned thriller that brings to mind others of a similar ilk. Gaslight, Rear Window, and Wait Until Dark are all examples of the genre that Night Watch is a part of, as is Fletcher’s own better known script, Sorry Wrong Number. Making its Broadway debut in 1972, Night Watch ran for 121 performances and was later made into a less-than-successful film, starring screen diva Elizabeth Taylor.

Now Night Watch is in an elegant production at Beverly Hills’ Theatre 40, through February 24. Directed with care by Bruce Gray, Night Watch is a convoluted yarn set in Manhattan, circa, early 1970s. Wealthy Elaine Wheeler (Jennifer Lee Laks, a consummate scream queen) is an insomniac. She loves her richie-rich husband, John (Martin Thompson, in a characterization that emphasizes superciliousness) and the high-life she leads surrounded by rare and valuable artwork in her fabulous big city abode (kudos to set designer Jeff G. Rack).

After Elaine starts claiming to have seen dead bodies through her window and in the neighboring building, John, as well as Elaine’s dear friend Blanche (lovely Christine Joelle), and Helga, the Wheeler’s maid (Judy Nazemetz providing ample comic relief) all become anxious about the state of Elaine’s mental health – so much so that John summons a psychiatrist (a credible Leda Siskind) for an in-home consultation. Subsequently it is agreed that Elaine will travel to a Swiss sanitarium for treatment.

Plot heavy, with twists and unexpected turns, Night Watch is a theatrical puzzle which must be assembled by an attentive audience. Is Elaine insane? Are her corpse-filled visions delusions or not? Who can we in the audience trust as the proceedings progress?

With skyscraper-high production values (Michele Young, costumes; Ric Zimmerman, lighting; and Bill Froggatt, sound and graphics), and juicy character roles ably fulfilled by Lary Ohlson (marvelous as nosy neighbor Curtis Appleby); Jonathan Medina (an enjoyable presence as Officer Gonzalez); David Hunt Stafford (convincing as a world-weary police lieutenant); and a juicy cameo appearance  by John McGuire — this Night Watch is worth a close look.

Night Watch continues at Theatre 40 through February 24. Theatre 40 is located at the Reuben Cordoba Theatre on the campus of Beverly Hills High School, 241 South Moreno drive, Beverly Hills. Evening performances are Thursdays, Fridays, and Mondays at 8 p.m. Matinees are Sundays at 2 p.m. For reservations, call (310)364-0535. 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.