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Classical Vibrations

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From Pink Floyd to the Beatles, tribute bands flourish worldwide and recapture the original vibe of the musical groups they pay tribute to. Such is the case with this lively, highly entertaining performance channeling the Beach Boys.

Beginning with "Surfin' Safari," the five guys--Christopher May, Dan Carson, Rick Pizana, Mike Sarafian, and Benjamin Chadwick--wearing the signature striped shirts and white jeans favored by the Beach Boys, deliver the sound that put California center stage. Their music was about eternal youth--sun, surfing, cars, young love, and endless summer. That they reached iconic status, though, was more than just about fun. Their music, with its close harmonies and original rock sounds, influenced artists who went on to become legends themselves. Elton John, the Beatles, and Eric Clapton have all paid homage to the quality of the Beach Boys' sound.

Brian Wilson's artistry is arguably the key factor in the success of the group. Carson easily captures the low-key delivery and high notes associated with Wilson. He is able to interpret the sounds of the early hits but can easily deliver some of the later ballads with the signature mellow sound.

Mike Love, probably the most contentious member of the group in private, was also the unofficial MC of the group onstage. May serves that function well, as he energizes the audience to join in singing along with the familiar songs, and keeping tempo clapping is the order of the day.

Carl and Dennis Wilson, brothers to Brian and now deceased, provided percussion and harmonies that gave the group its signature sound. Sarafian and Pizana fill the bill with ease.

Al Jardine, who was much admired by Brian, contributed to the group in many ways. He was an exceptional guitarist and added depth with his clear harmonies. He occasionally was a lead singer in several songs, including "Help Me, Rhonda." Chadwick enthusiastically embraces Jardine's sound, and his solos are pleasurable moments during the show. As a side-note, he appears as Paul McCartney in a Beatles' tribute band, easily capturing the essence of McCartney's sound. He is credited with being an expert on all-things Beach Boys.

The performance is an idyllic return to the music that captured the hearts of audiences everywhere. Act I delivers 16 pop favorites like "Little Deuce Coupe," "Be True to Your School," Surfin' U.S.A," and "Fun, Fun, Fun." "Surfer Girl," which brought teenage girls to prominence in California, was accompanied by a fourteen-piece orchestra largely composed of talented college students recruited for this concert. Conducted and orchestrated by Kevin Babuder, the group adds a lush sound to some of the numbers.

Credited are Alexander Myers, Garrett Smith, Scott Mascarenas, Sarah Widner, Victor Pesvento, Sabrina Rogers, Adam Leibreich Johnson, Daniel Garcia, Patrick O Konski, Lisa Grzanka, Caryssa Sells, Si Tran, Jake Wiens, and Alyssa Adamson.

Act II continues with the familiar songs, but it also stretches the group to perform numbers like "I Know There's an Answer" and "Caroline, No." In this act they perform the Beach Boys' first number one hit, "I Get Around" from 1964.

The most acclaimed album by the Beach Boys was called Pet Sounds. It has been recognized by nearly every critic as one of the top albums of all times. It became a pivotal moment for Brian Wilson, as he experimented with other instruments and refined the harmonies that were to become nearly perfect. During this performance, the artists refer to pet sounds as they acknowledge the Beach Boys' artistry.

This show is a bit of fun coupled with some melancholy, as we realize the passing of an era. For those who lived through the 60s, it is nostalgia personified. You fell in love with their ballads as a background, you danced to their rock music, and you cruised the boulevard listening to music that represented freedom and summer. For the couple of hours you sit in the theater, memories are overwhelming. For new listeners, even though the music is familiar, the stage show brings a new dimension to discovering the Beach Boys all over again. The camaraderie among the performers echoes the similar close relationships that the Beach Boys had onstage. It is a thoroughly satisfying show.



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.