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Red Speedo

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Lucas Hnath is one of the hottest playwrights around, and LA theatergoers have had the opportunity to see three major works on local stages in the past couple of seasons. The Christians was produced by the Mark Taper Forum, and A Dolls House Part 2 ran at South Coast Rep concurrently with the Broadway production. Now The Road Theatre Company offers a taut production of Red Speedo. As the title indicates, Red Speedo is set in the world of competitive swimming. Peter (Conrado Romero) is doing his lawyerly best to argue the Coach (Jason E. Kelley) out of reporting the stash of the performance-enhancing drugs that the Coach just discovered in the team’s communal refrigerator. Peter feels that dumping the drugs and hushing up the story is best for the reputation of the Coach’s star swimmer and Peter’s brother, Ray (Adam Peltier). After all, Ray has already told the Coach which other swimmer was responsible for the drugs, and there’s no point in tarnishing the whole team for one bad apple. Especially during the ongoing Olympic qualifying meets.


Ray is not the brightest bulb, but he is adept at getting what he wants. When he meets with his ex, Lydia (Kimberly Alexander), we discover that the drugs actually did belong to him, and he needs more for the next race. After all, his Speedo endorsement is on the line. Lydia introduced him to doping and later got arrested for helping someone else get black market drugs. She blames Peter for exacerbating her problems and doesn’t have any way to help Ray.


Hnath’s characters hurl his Mamet-tinged dialog like weapons. But mere words won’t suffice. Belligerent testosterone rages throughout the play, culminating in a shocking scene of bloody violence. Doping may be the context, but the conflict is more primal. Winning is all. And achieving that win makes everyone’s morals more malleable.

Joe Banno encourages his talented cast to go for the dramatic jugular, and the result is a visceral production that barely allows you to breathe. Stephen Gifford’s smartly effective scenic design helps the production greatly by accenting his realistic poolside setting with a conspicuous touch of the fantastic. It's a constant reminder that Hnath’s themes resonate far beyond the confines of the poolhouse.

Romero ably charts Peter’s progress from a savvy lawyer who believes he can control the situation to a bitter and betrayed man lashing out at the world. And Romero dazzles in Peter’s opening aria of equivocation. Peltier crunches carrots and manages the difficult task of seeming nearly invisible when Peter is on his soapbox, despite the fact that his wears only the titular speedo. When he does speak, Peltier makes it clear that Ray may not be as smart as the people who surround him, but he is just as ruthless in pursuing his goals. Alexander is always an actor to watch, and she brings dramatic heft to her solitary scene. Kelley is excellent at portraying the trustworthy, no-nonsense coach whose needs may make him more corruptible than he seems.

The Road on Magnolia    May 11 – July 1, 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.