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Taming of the Shrew

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The mission statement of Queer Classics is to produce “Classic stories re-imagined through a queer lens: Art for the LGBTQ Community and its straight supporters.” The company’s entry into this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

 

The adaptation, by Mike Wamser and Casey Kringlen, is an edited but essentially faithful production of the play, minus the Christopher Sly framing device. Kringlen, who also directs, conceives the play as a comic romp in the style of I Love Lucy. As both Lucy and Shrew are highly physical farces which send up masculine/feminine conventions, this seems a strong, though not surprising, choice. Where Kringlen gets transgressive is in the gender-bending casting of the roles.

 

Shaan Dasani is Kate, the shrew who must be married before her more conventionally appealing sister, Bianca (Lauren Parkinson), can wed one of her many beaus. And Petruchio (Julie Rei Goldstein) is the man in search of a rich wife who agrees to tame her. The end was, most likely, a foregone conclusion even in the 16th Century, but Kringlen proves that the play can still supply plenty of laughs with his energetic ensemble.

Stalking about in a navy polka dot dress, sweater, and dark curls, Dasani’s Kate more resembles Anna Magnani than Lucille Ball. The regal Goldstein certainly has the presence for Petruchio, but, together, they generate little heat in their famous sparring scenes. It is only when Kate begins to thaw that we sense a true connection. And, while both actors are clear and comprehensible, they are rather one-note throughout.

The buoyant supporting cast throw themselves into the comic anarchy with a shared gusto. Nathan Mohebbi is a matinee-idol Lucentio channeling the plummy tones of a loopy Ronald Coleman. As Tranio, Bobby Gutierrez has great fun playing the boss when disguised as Lucentio, but he can’t help revealing his Jersey Shore origins with friends. Lauren Parkinson is a feisty Bianca who gives as good as she gets, while Suzanne Fortin is her understandably frustrated father, Baptista. Ryan Leslie Fisher’s Hortensio is more attractive than usual, but he ramps up the character’s dimness to compensate. Dawn Medina is a suitably crotchety and befuddled Gremio, while Gordon Meacham is an amusingly wide-eyed Biondello. Jeffrey Masters’ Grumio is a veritable comic whirlwind who also displays an ease with improv and the ability to fill his short shorts nicely.

Kringlen moves the action through the audience at times, and two audience members are brought onstage to join the chaos. But even the terminally shy will have fun with this welcoming cast.

Actors Company    6/6 – 6/21, 2015   Tickets: http://hff15.org/2349

 

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.