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The Twilight Zone

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The classic television series The Twilight Zone ran on CBS Television from 1959 until 1964. Its creator, the Emmy-earning Rod Serling, served as the show’s host; he also wrote more than 80 episodes of the program. With often mind-warping plots with twisted conclusions, the anthology series gave a spotlight to many crafty actors who would go on to fame and fortune as movie stars, including Burt Reynolds, Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and Robert Redford.

Now Stages Theatre in Fullerton is turning live performances of The Twilight Zone into an annual summer celebration of Serling’s mid-century serial. This is fitting in that over the 4th of July and in the coming holiday season The Twilight Zone marathons begin telecasting. On Thanksgiving and over the Christmas holiday ( as well as on July 4th), some TV stations air Zone episodes for hours and hours. And while catching for the umpteenth time such Zone intrigues as "The Lateness of the Hour," "The Whole Truth" or "The Long Distance Call" can be a satisfying peek into the dimension of imagination, it’s a special treat and a fitting homage to see a theater company bring the sardonic and eerie tales to life.

Well directed by Darri Kristin and David Campos, the couple also lend their honed skills as actors to two of the three episodes presented (Kristin is convincing as Lavinia Godwin in "The Passersby", while Campos is perfectly cast as the drunken Gooberman in "Mr. Garrity and the Graves"). On a versatile set designed by Jon Gaw, with lighting effectively designed by Cari Noel, a sound motif by Barney Evans and admirable costuming by David Campos, this 70-minute installment of three Zone episodes demands attention and deserves appreciation.

The first scenario is titled "The Passersby" and is set in the American Civil War. It has to do with suffering and the afterlife, and it features believable performances by Bear C.A. Sanchez, Darri Kristen, Glenn Freeze, David Higgins, Michael Keeney, and Britt Dawson. What’s more, it offers a cameo appearance by Abraham Lincoln (Britt Dawson is a consummate Lincoln).

The second story, "Time Enough at Last," is about a mousey man (an engaging Glenn Freeze) who works as a bank teller, but would really rather spend his time reading. While lunching alone one afternoon in the bank’s vault, a nuclear blast occurs. The man is the sole survivor. He’s left with ample food, plenty of books and lots of time. Nevertheless, a cruel twist of fate awaits him. Kathleen Switzer, Wade Williamson and Chelsea Caracoza each provides fine supporting characterizations here.

The third installment, "Mr. Garrity and the Graves," takes place in the old west. Mr. Garrity, a mysterious huckster (played by the amusing Frank Tyron), arrives in town with the claim that he can rouse the dearly departed from their graves. His proof lies in the dead dog he brings back to the domain of the living (a charming canine actor named Tiki is employed here). Before too long, and in an ironic turn of events, the townspeople are paying Mr. Garrity to have the deceased citizens remain in their graves. This Zone installment has a dozen actors (not including Tiki), and they are each spot-on in a multitude of character incarnations. Especially noteworthy, however, are Michael Keeney as the bumbling sheriff, David Campos as the town drunk, and Nancy Tyler as Zelda Gooberman.

For those who are devotees of The Twilight Zone TV series, this live production of a trilogy of Zone installments should be high on the list of must-see events. For the uninitiated, see this show and you too will likely become Zone devotees.

The Twilight Zone continues at Stages Theatre in Fullerton through July 17. The Stages Theatre is located at 400 East Commonwealth Avenue. Evening performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. Matinees are Sundays at 5 p.m. For reservations, call (714) 525-4484. For online ticketing and further details, visit www.stagesoc.org.

 

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.