• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Marion Bridge

E-mail Print

Daniel MacIvor is a well-known Canadian actor/director/playwright. But, like most Canadian artists, he is virtually unknown in the United States. Some of his earlier solo pieces have been performed by small American companies. His two-character play, In On It was produced Off-Broadway where it won both GLAAD and Obie Awards. Full disclosure, I directed that play’s Los Angeles premiere.

Marion Bridge is MacIvor’s most frequently produced play, and, though it was first performed in 1998, this guest production at Son of Semele is the West Coast premiere.

Agnes (Amy DeBourget) is the eldest of three sisters (The Chekhovian reference is subtle, but intentional). She has come home to Cape Breton to spend time with her dying mother. Disillusioned with her acting career and haunted by a youthful mistake, Agnes uses liquor to self-medicate. Her drinking and her messy life throw her into immediate conflict with the sister she calls “Saint Theresa.”

Theresa (Carolyn Reese Crotty) is, in fact, a nun, though one who is currently questioning her vocation. She is the responsible sister who takes charge of every family crisis. This is a role she seems to resent but is unable to shake off.

Louise (Sarah Boughton) is the youngest sister. She has remained at home, living with her mother, and avidly watching her soap operas. Labeled “strange,” Louise is tough, antisocial, and surprisingly innocent.

The forced family reunion surrounding a death is almost a dramatic cliché, but MacIvor imbues the familiar situation with rich characters and a stringently controlled realism. Ancient resentments and family secrets will flare up, but he refuses to allow the confrontations to disintegrate into emotional grandstanding or easy melodrama.

Director Don Boughton paints the scene with an appropriate air of melancholy. He has cast the show well and elicits strong performances from all three actresses. Crotty’s Theresa commands the stage with the same strength and determination as her character. Boughton reveals Louise’s loopiness, but she avoids the pitfall of falling into caricature. She also nails the moment when the taciturn Louise launches into MacIvor’s gorgeous gift of a monologue. Agnes is the trickiest role, and DeBourget understands and connects with the character. But opening weekend found her still shaping some of the emotional moments. No doubt a few more performances will smooth these out.

If MacIvor was American, Marion Bridge, with its single set and three stellar women’s roles, would probably be enjoying its 20th local production rather than its first. But the show has finally made it to Los Angeles and deserves to be seen.

Son of Semele Theater    September 8 – 24, 2017



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.