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

Six Characters in Search of a Play

E-mail Print

For more than 30 years, actor, producer, and director Del Shores has been a fierce satirist, social commentator, and wickedly funny creator of plays, movies, and television productions widely honored for their humor and insights. Drawing on his experiences growing up in a small town in Texas, he has a nearly iconic stable of characters well known and loved by his fans from productions like Sordid Lives, Southern Baptist Sissies, and The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife. In Six Characters in Search of a Play, he introduces a new set of people who have not yet found a home in his works. They are as eccentric as we have come to expect, and his pleasure in knowing them and bringing them to life is contagious.

First off is Sarah. She's an aging yellow dog Democrat whose fierce hatred for Donald Trump is such that she hopes she dies before he becomes president. With cigarette and inhaler in hand, she rails against politics. She calls Del with the news that she has been called to audition for the "ugliest woman alive," and that is the laugh-out-loud portion of the show.

Next is a lesbian named Marsha. She has COPD and has saved Del from an attack by a monkey he encounters when meeting fans who want his photograph with the animal. Her breathy pronouncements and fan worship add to the hilarity.

Next is Lorraine. She is Del's momma who has had the most profound influence on his life and work. She's a former drama teacher married to a Southern Baptist preacher, who Shores admits never really understood him. In the last two years of her life in a senior care facility, she has delusions that they are taking the residents to the basement to make porn movies called "The Elderlies and the Orderlies." This humor is mixed with a characterization that packs the most emotional power in the production.

From a deeply affecting tribute, Shores transforms into Jimmy Ray, a Mississippi redneck with latent tendencies whose homophobia and disapproval of the SCROTUS (sic) decision in favor of gay marriage is belied by his fascination with Channing 'Tater', "I think if he wanted to kiss me, I wouldn't mind."

Yvonne is number 5, and her irritation at Shores' calling her by the conventional pronunciation, "It's Wy-vonne," sets the tone for their subsequent exchanges. She works at a famous restaurant, Mama's Daughters, and has hair that is more terrorized than teased, according to Shores. She is a comic piece of work.

Last of all, and probably the most endearing, is Shores' Aunt Bobbie Sue. She's a Southern Republican with all the stereotypical prejudices, but she lets Shores know that when he decided to be gay, she decided to love him anyway.

Taking his title from Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, Shores proves his innate skill as an actor with this wonderful group of eccentrics who populate his world. He is a gifted mimic, and the ninety minutes are over far too quickly. Director Emerson Collins, an actor who had the lead in the Baptist Sissies movie and has worked extensively in many Shores' productions, allows the storytelling to take center stage with little artifice.  Matthew Brian Denman's lighting also sets the mood appropriately.

This show is set for Mondays and Tuesdays through March 27. I suggest that you make sure to see it, as Shores makes one-man morph into many unforgettable characters.

Celebration Theater at the Lex, 6760 Lexington Ave, Los Angeles. Monday and Tuesdays at 8. There will be an additional performance on Sunday, March 25 at 7 pm and no performance on Monday, March 5. $25.



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.