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Gene Kelly: The Legacy-An Evening with Patricia Ward Kelly

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For those fans who thought that they knew all about Gene Kelly, this retrospective delivered by his wife, Patricia Ward Kelly, is a glimpse beyond the celluloid and into the private life of the iconic dancer, actor, and director. Accompanied by numerous film clips, Ward Kelly's charming reminiscences make the intermission-free, 2 hours and 20 minutes an homage to creativity.

She met Kelly when she was writing a television special about The Smithsonian, and he was slated to be the narrator. He was 73, and she was in her mid-twenties. Their relationship developed as they shared quips, poetry, and found an intellectual connection. Ward Kelly discovered that Kelly spoke six languages, including Yiddish from his early years. When the project was over and he had returned to California, Kelly called her to write his memoirs, and in the following days they fell in love and married. She confessed that he publically added a few years to her age so that the discrepancy wouldn't be so startling.

She says, "I had the privilege of recording Gene's words nearly every day for over a decade. Some of these sessions took the form of lengthy, formal interviews; others were more spontaneous and intimate with my notes jotted on yellow legal pads or hastily scribbled on cocktail napkins and sugar packs as we sat listening to music in piano bars late into the night." She describes many hours at home listening to music, and confesses that he would sing to her.

More than just a series of dance scenes, the clips she has chosen heighten one's respect for Kelly's athleticism and attention to detail. Reputed to be a strict taskmaster, she explains that he wanted to make a contribution to dance and wished to be remembered for his innovation.

Her recollections include details about the women with whom he performed. He claimed Judy Garland promoted him to the studio and advanced his career. Surprisingly, he named Vera-Ellen to be one of the finest, all-round dancers, even though his fame generally was linked to Cyd Charisse, Leslie Caron, and even Rita Hayworth.

Small touching details humanize Kelly. She said he loved holidays and walked down to the card store to pick out special cards.  On one Valentine's day he left her a heart with "I'm glad you're my wife. Guess Who."

Less known, Kelly was a director, and one of Ward Kelly's final clips shows him on set directing Hello, Dolly's parade scene with an enormous cast. His talents seemed boundless.

This production is a traveling show that has been performed all over the world to acclaim. Ward Kelly's wit and genuineness help elaborate on the legacy Kelly hoped to leave behind. Kelly frequently left notes for her, and she found one underlined in Magill's Cinema Annual after he died. It encapsulates all that he wished.

"As a choreographer and a director, Kelly explored the possibilities of dance on film in a way that transformed the musical and gave birth to a wedding of cinematic and choreographic techniques that remain unsurpassed. As a dancer, the man who once dreamed of becoming a shortstop brought the common touch to a profession that had long seemed ethereal and beyond the reach of everyday concerns. Ill-suited to top-hatted elegance [think Fred Astaire], Kelly was the guy next door, clad in loafers and a sweatshirt and bounding through often dangerous routines with a combination of muscular athletic grace and irresistible Irish charm."

A bonus for the audience is that Ward Kelly mingles before and after the show to allow people to converse with her. Easily Kelly's intellectual equal, she recognizes his impact on ordinary folks who either followed his career over the decades or are a new generation finding out about the legend for the first time. The evening is a bit of history not to miss.



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.