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Anna Christie

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Written in 1921 by Eugene O'Neill, Anna Christie earned a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and, in 1993, some three generations after its Broadway premiere, it won a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play.  Again, in 2011, it was honored with an Olivier Award for Best Revival of a Play. Now So Cal theatergoers have an infrequent opportunity to experience an original staging of this American classic at Los Angeles' Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, through March 8.

This production, with dark, dank direction by Kim Rubinstein, is loyal to O’Neill’s script, mining it for rare, unexpected laughs and situational incongruence. Anna Christie (Zoe Perry, in a tour de force portrayal) is the hardscrabble adult daughter of erstwhile seafarer, the stridently Swedish Chris Christopherson (Jeff Perry, Zoe’s real life father, in a meticulous characterization and dialect). The two have long been estranged, but when Anna comes seeking refuge via her wayward father, who’s now captaining a coal barge between New York harbor and Provincetown, Massachusetts, Chris is ready for his call to parental responsibility, no matter how delinquent he may have been in his duties as a dad.

When Mat Burke (Kevin McKidd, in a commanding performance) – a blustery sailor made strong by shoveling coal all his manly days – lays eyes on Anna, it’s love at first fight. Forceful and unyielding, Matt is determined to make Anna his wife. This, however, is the last thing that Chris wants for his long forlorn offspring. What’s more, when both the men are told by Anna of her own sordid past, it causes disruption and upheaval amongst this unholy trio.

The time is 1910 and the high-sea culture on display is long-lived, if not enviable. The set design by Wilson Chin captures the soggy, ever-damp environment that O’Neill so eloquently explores. Surrounded by water on all sides, the centerpiece of the staging is a platform that serves as a seaside saloon as well as a bay-cruising barge. Further, Michael Gend’s lighting motif accentuates the dreary existence that life on the docks must have been. Additionally, Raquel Barreto’s costuming appears to approximate what sailors and their mates may have worn back in the day, a century ago.

To accentuate sound designer Martin Gutfeldt’s nautically themed acoustic design, Director Rubinstein adds a melancholy saxophone player (played by Gutfeldt) to the theatrical recipe. The haunting notes blown from the horn serve as background melodies, which underscores the singing interlude provided by Mary Mara in her role as barfly Marthy Owen. Additionally, sturdy character support is provided by Tait Ruppert as the quintessential seaside bartender

At two-and-a-quarter hours, Anna Christie delves into issues of love and loss, separation and anxiety, and finally, resilience, all with insight and revelation. Experiencing Anna Christie is akin to a trip back in time. O’Neill’s words still resonate, and the characters continue to speak to us.

Anna Christie continues at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble through March 8. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 South Sepulveda Boulevard, West Los Angeles. Evening performances are Saturdays at 8 p.m. Matinees are Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. For reservations, call (310) 477-2055. 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.