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4Play Sex in a Series

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As the lights adjust from pre-show to performance, The Ex (Marian Frizelle) steps onto a platform and sings a cool-jazz version of Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things,” complete with its too seldom heard verse which slyly mixes Dorothy Parker with Romeo and Juliet.

Porter’s saucy and decidedly urban paeans to physical love are the perfect accompaniment for 4PLAY Sex in a Series. Several more of his songs are used to bridge scenes or played during the intermission.

The script, by Graham Brown, Nathan Faudree, and Lisa Roth, chronicles a group of interconnected young New Yorkers in their search for love and their discovery of love’s convoluted possibilities. A series of briskly-paced scenes, peppered with clever dialog, introduce us to characters like The Director, The Best Friend, The Lesbian, and The Best Friend’s Boyfriend.

If the character names make the play sound disconcertingly abstract or too much like a production of La Ronde, the result is very different. 4PLAY’s interlocking stories and mostly comedic style resemble nothing so much as the better ensemble television shows.

4PLAY has been successfully produced in New York and Chicago. The LA production recreates those with its moderately immersive style. No actor will force you to play a scene with them, but, if you choose to be at one of the high-top bar tables, you will be sharing the stage with the cast. Though, if you choose one of the seats around the perimeter of the playing area, you may still be sitting with an actor who hasn’t yet made their entrance.

Brown adds Actor to his playwrighting accomplishments with his portrayal of The Director. And, in another burst of versatility, he directs the production. Oh, and to compound the meta-theatricality, some of the characters are rehearsing a play.

The complex plotting follows the characters as they meet potential mates and hesitantly move forward with exploring their new relationships. These include: The Director (Brown) and The Girlfriend (Eve Danzeisen), The Best Friend (Dustyn Gulledge) and The Best Friend’s Boyfriend (Cameron J. Oro), and The Lesbian (Ariana Anderson) and The Roommate (Zoe Simpson Dean).

As is natural in nascent relationships, not every detail has been shared. This becomes problematic when a few big secrets are revealed at a disastrous dinner party. At this point the story has become a bit too programmatic, but engaging performances from the entire cast mitigate the script problems.

Brown’s direction keeps the multiple storylines clear and focused. As an actor, he brings an awkward charm to The Director while Danzeisen plays his Girlfriend with an intriguing mixture of strength and vulnerability. Anderson’s opinionated Lesbian finds a softer side thanks to Dean’s experimentally inclined Roomate. Gulledge offers a relaxed sex-appeal and an incandescent smile designed to destroy all of the fussier Oro’s defenses. Their early courtship of science and sport is one of highlights of the show. But, though they work hard, neither is able to sell the oddly contrived dispute the script obliges them to perform.

4PLAY offers an entertaining evening, unconventional staging, and some truly wonderful performances.

The Actors Company    February 14 – March 17, 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.