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Fixed

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Boni B. Alvarez’s Fixed thrusts us immediately into a fantastic landscape where Filipino and Latino ladyboys in gossamer gowns strut their stuff on the catwalk and bust moves like Lady Gaga’s backup dancers. The is the world of underground drag balls, where young drag queens compete for trophies to bring glory to their “Houses.”

Miracles (Chris Aguila) is the star of the House of Malacanang, a massage parlor ruled by the domineering and autocratic Gigi, played by Alvarez himself. Miracles has made the mistake of falling for the wrong customer, Mariano (Wade Allain-Marcus). Gigi forbids Miracles to see Mariano as the fact that his brother Hudson (Joseph Valdez) is running for County Sherriff brings the wrong kind of attention to the house.

Hudson and his advisors, Dana (Renee-Marie Brewster) and AJ (Adrian Gonzalez), are equally aware of how damaging the relationship could be to Hudson’s campaign. Dana admits that a gay relationship could be finessed, but the drag queen thing is too messy, not to mention a slow-simmering prejudice between Hispanics and Filipinos that the play reveals.

Despite the “families” keeping them apart, Miracles and Mariano are no Romeo and Juliet. Mariano’s ambivalence about their relationship has driven Miracles to consider gender reassignment. But, even without the opposing forces, it’s hard to believe these two would ever end up together.

Alvarez has used Calderon de la Barca’s El medico de su honra as inspiration for Fixed, though that appears to be more thematic than plot-based. Still, it’s a much more successful adaptation/modernization than Nicky, his attempt at Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya earlier this year. The scenes at the House of Malacanang are vibrant and original, including the committed performances of Miracle’s compatriots, Carmie (Tontiuh Elizarraraz) and Jenny (Allen Lucky Weaver). But the political plotting in Hudson’s office feels a bit pro forma, and it pales slightly when compared with the action in the massage parlor.

Director Rodney To stages the play tennis-court style with fewer visual problems than that staging usually generates. And it works beautifully for the ball competition scenes. To has also cast a talented and committed group of actors to play some genuinely tricky and demanding roles.

It is no surprise that Michael Mullen’s costumes bring the artificial world of the House of Malacanang to vivid life, but he also manages the subtler task of making sure Hudson looks the perfect, Hollywood-handsome candidate.

Aguila anchors the show with his too-trusting but tough portrayal of Miracles. Alvarez knows his strengths as an actor and tackles Gigi with the street-smart power of Barbara Stanwyck. Wade Allain-Marcus keeps Mariano’s true feelings a mystery, but he offers just enough to keep Miracles wanting him.

Fixed takes its place as the latest provocative and smartly-produced show to be introduced by the always intrepid Echo Theater Company.

Atwater Village Theatre    September 17 – October 22, 2017    EchoTheaterCompnay.com

 

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.