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A Delicate Ship

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It is Christmas Eve, and a delicate snow is falling on Brooklyn, courtesy of Sarah B. Brown’s graceful scenic design and Nick Santiago’s effective projections. Inside her apartment, Sarah (Paris Perrault) and Sam (Philip Orazio) are enjoying a romantic holiday evening. Outside the apartment stands Sarah’s childhood friend, Nate (Josh Zuckerman) – definitely not enjoying the holiday. So he amuses himself by sharing caustic biographical tidbits on each of the lovers.

Nate finally knocks on the door, and Sarah, unwisely, invites him in. The stage is set for battle, and Anna Ziegler’s Delicate Ship sets sail. Presumably up the East River. Ziegler is an award-winning playwright, and, after a successful Off-Broadway production and a couple of regional outings, her A Delicate Ship is having its West Coast premiere at the Road Theatre Company.

Once in Anna’s apartment, Nate kicks off his shoes, taunts the couple, hops on the coffee table, trumpets his prior claim to Sarah, and generally savages Sam and Sarah’s Christmas Eve. Nice guy Sam is understandably nonplussed by this unexpectedly vituperative visitation. And Sarah, who has never mentioned to either of the most important men in her life the existence of the other, makes feeble attempts to calm the escalating hostility.

Ziegler places this classic romantic triangle into a contemporary, urban world. Her dialogue is bright and biting, and she punctuates the unfolding drama with direct address comments from the characters on their thoughts, their past – even their future. While this technique initially enlivens a familiar situation, the constant interruptions soon undermine the dramatic flow. Even more damaging, they distance us from the emotional journey of the characters. Ominous intimations of the future, and the unsubtle use of Icarus as a thematic contrivance will probably clue you into the play’s climax long before it occurs.

Andre Barron directs with admirable skill and clarity, smoothing over the potentially problematic shifts from direct address to conventional scenes. His careful work with the actors makes even the most abrupt transition seamless.

Zuckerman’s Nate commands the stage with the kind of ostentatiously dazzling performance that is rare in contemporary plays. He swaggers, bellows, cajoles, intimidates, and seduces. One is equally astonished and appalled by him. Perrault and Orazio do their best to make sense of why Sarah and Sam don’t toss Nate back out into the snowy night. But eventually they content themselves with standing by and watching hurricane Nate self-destruct.

At 90 minutes, the play feels protracted. But the production is handsome, and Zuckerman’s ferocious and charismatic performance demands to be seen.

Road Theatre on Magnolia    January 19 – March 11, 2018



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.