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Reunion

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Gregory S Moss’s latest play, Reunion, is making its world debut, through March 30, on the Julianne Argyros Stage, at Costa Mesa’s South Coast Rep. It’s a two-hour peek into a trio of Gen Xers flashing back on their years together as high schoolers in the 1980s. The 25th reunion of their graduating class is the occasion for this rekindling of old friendships – a quarter century down the paths of their once so closely intersected lives. After the official reunion gathering, the three old pals have arranged to have a stay-over in the old motel they once crashed in during their party-hardy youth.

Set in present-day Boston, Reunion is in the off-beat tradition of Edward Albee’s Zoo Story and Sam Shepard’s True West, with a touch of Good Will Hunting thrown into the milieu and sprinkled with the expletives of a David Mamet script. As the story opens, Peter (Kevin Bernston in a convincingly pathetic portrayal) – known as Petey among this crowd – is haranguing Max (an initially repressed Michael Gladis) to stay the night, or at least wait until Mitch arrives and the party starts before departing. When Mitch (the formidable and intimidating Tim Cummings) does at last arrive, he takes charge of the proceedings in a most commanding manner.

Confidently directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, this man-on-man-on-man configuration proves to be a sturdy vehicle for challenging perceptions of truth, memory, and dominance. At one point, as the three acquaintances reminisce about events, there’s some discrepancy in their recollection. Max denies committing a cruel act that Petey and Mitch are certain occurred just the way they are remembering it. When Max objects, how is it settled? According to Petey and Mitch, it’s the old two-against -one fallback, majority rules. If two remember it one way and the third person is at variance with that remembrance, the memory of two has twice as much validity as the recollection of one.

Played out on a stage that ably replicates the cheap no-tell motels that line the outskirts of towns across the country (scenic design by Sibyl Wickersheimer), and under lighting that seems as colorfully dingy as the bedspreads in a Motel 6 (Elizabeth Harper lighting design), it’s the subtle markers of the mise en scene that infect the proceedings with a nightmarish sensibility – including the range of costuming sported by the trilogy characters (Stephanie Kerley Schwartz costume design)and the tone-setting Metal music  that blares away as the plot unnervingly unfolds  (M.L. Dogg sound design).

With a no-holds-barred cast (kudos to these daring three thespians), Moss’s disruptively dramatic script, sturdy direction by Campbell-Holt, and meticulously accurate production values, Reunion is a gripping tale torn from seemingly ordinary circumstances – this is an adult show with revelations that may shock and astound certain theatergoers.

Reunion continues on the Julianne Argyros Stage of South Coast Rep, through March 30. SCR is located at 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Evening performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7:45 p.m. Matinees are Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. For reservations, call (714)708-5555. For online ticketing and further information, visit www.scr.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.