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Hedda Makes Perfect Fodder for a Remake

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Anyone who has taken a modern drama survey class in school is bound to encounter the frustrated and unhappy character, Hedda Gabler.  She is the subject of a trenchant play by Henrik Ibsen about the power of women to destroy themselves and, sometimes, everyone around them.

As a character study, Hedda Gabler is unparalleled, and therefore, makes a coveted role for any actress.  Presently, on stage at the Victory Theatre, Kimberly Alexander essays Hedda as a cheeky, wise, and prescient character, mistakenly cast in the 19th century melodrama that bears an astonishing likeness to Ibsen’s play.  But this time, playwright Jon Klein wants to help her escape her fate, and with every twist and turn of his clever script he pits the power of Ibsen’s forceful drama against Hedda’s strong will.

Even those familiar with the original will be drawn into the struggle:  Will Hedda escape her tragic fate?  Can she extricate herself from an impossible marriage of convenience?  Can she help her former lover with his own destructive tendencies? Laced with humor, Klein (and Hedda) thread their way through this minefield, only to arrive . . . well, you’ve got to see it!

The action in Resolving Hedda begins traditionally with the arrival of the newlyweds, Hedda and George (delightfully oblivious Den Atkinson) from a month-long honeymoon. Hedda takes advantage of a moment alone to let us in on her plan. “People love to see me die,” she confides, “But I’ve had it!"

Throughout the action, she interrupts with pithy asides, damning the ubiquity of the traditional “Norwegian Dramatic Structure;" or the Norwegian counterpart to “Impulse Control Disease.”  Throughout the inevitable unfolding of the plot, Hedda wonders, “Why am I the only one who doesn’t suffer from amnesia?" Tumbling pell-mell throughout the well-paced first act (thanks to Maria Gobetti’s honed direction), Hedda ends up at the frenetic first act break out of patience and out of breath, and so are we.

When the play resumes anew, Klein gives Hedda a new set of directions for the plot. Incessantly funny, she identifies plot holes in the original, explains why she’s shredding instead of burning the treasured manuscript of her former lover, Eilert Lovborg (an appealling Chad Coe), and insults her wide-eyed school friend, Thea (wide-eyed Marisa Van Den Borre).  Judge Brack (producer Tom Ormany) adds to the menace visited upon Hedda.

This clever and entertaining frolic through Ibsen’s carefully well-made play is nearly pitch-perfect.  However, Klein weights down the conclusion with a bit too much commentary, too many references, as if he wants to get them all in before the entire piece explodes. Ultimately, we must answer the question that Klein poses at the beginning:  Can Hedda Gabler escape her fate?  Will the play, Hedda Gabler, ever be performed again if she does?

Resolving Hedda continues  at the Big Victory Main Stage, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 4:00 PM; through November 12, 2017.The Victory Center is located at 3326 W. Victory Blvd., Burbank 91505. Tickets: $24.00 – 34.00. Phone (818) 841-5421.  For information online: www.victorytheatrecenter.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.