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Oh My Gooodness, It's Paul Lynde

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Paul Lynde was a comedian and actor best known for his snarky witticisms on the long lived TV game show, The Hollywood Squares, and as the character of Uncle Arthur on the sixties sitcom Bewitched. Though Lynde also had roles in Disney’s Son of Flubber, as well as other movie projects, he made his big breakthrough in 1960 on Broadway, in Bye, Bye Birdie, playing the perplexed patriarch – Mr. MacAfee.

Now through September 27, Paul Lynde, the caustic comedian and strangely endearing character actor, is resurrected in Michael Arlington’s 90-minute solo-show, at Hollywood’s Hudson Backstage Theatre.  And it is riotously entertaining. Not only do we get a glimpse of Lynde’s daring cleverness, we are also given a quick survey of Lynde’s relatively short life (he died in 1982 at age 55).

As a child Lynde was stricken with peritonitis and was bedridden through a long period recuperation. During this period his mother overfed the inactive child until obesity set in and became another issue in the performer’s life.

Nevertheless, Lynde became a class clown, of sorts, in order to win approval and find acceptance in the world. Excelling in drama class and on the stage at his Ohio high school, Lynde auditioned for Northwestern University, where he majored Theater and had as classmates the likes of Patricia Neal and Charlton Heston.

A driven individual, Lynde went to Chicago to see actress Kay Ballard in a play. He waited backstage and invited Ballard to see him perform in a college production at the University. Ballard graciously attended the show and was so impressed that she began to spread Lynde’s name throughout the theater community of New York City.

Ambitious and singularly focused on success as an entertainer, Lynde’s arrival in the Big Apple was decidedly and disappointingly underwhelming. But soon Lynde was impressing the glitterati of the Great White Way in his Broadway debut in the popular revue, New Faces of 1952. In it Lynde recited a monologue in which he documented the journey of a crutch-bedeviled man on safari in Africa. That show was recorded on film and had its screen premiere in 1954 under the simplified title of New Faces. That’s when Lynde’s star began its ascent into the heights of celebrity.

Effectively directed by John Hall, and backed-up by three marvelous musicians (unaccredited in the press materials but indispensible to the show), Oh My Goodness… as scripted by Arlington is a droll portrait of a sad soul. As fast and funny as he could be, Lynde was plagued by alcoholism and loneliness. Arlington’s razor-precise delivery and the biographically based monodrama doesn’t shy away from Lynde’s afflictions. It does, however, shed light onto the dark side of showbiz success and the fortunes and misfortunes of fame. What’s more, the original host of The Hollywood Squares, Peter Marshall, lends his contributions to this effort via voiceover additives that enhance the program and revivify the hilarity of Lynde’s responses to the questions posed on that engaging game show. For example, when asked what’s to be done if you’re traveling down the freeway at 100 miles per hour and your brakes give-out? Lynde, without missing a beat, replies, “Honk if you love Jesus.”

Oh My Goodness…its Paul Lynde continues at the Hudson Backstage Theatre through September 27.  The Hudson Backstage Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Boulevard, Hollywood. Show times are Saturdays at 8 p.m. For reservations, call (323) 960-7773. For online ticketing, visit Plays411 - Free, half-price and discount theatre tickets in Los Angeles.

 

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.