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EST/LA Writers Strut Their Stuff

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EST/LA’s second series of one-acts begins with one of EST’s more renowned playwrights while introducing a young group of playwrights to strut their stuff. One cannot beat a play by Tom Lazarus; in this instance, helped along by edgy Lizzie Peet as Dana, with the inestimable Michael Mantell as Mitch. You must see it to really appreciate the subtlety of The Unraveling.

Sores by Stacy Osei-Fuffour is sabotaged by director Michael Shepperd, who doesn’t provide a third actor, no matter how inert that actor would have to be. The sensitive play confronts our shifting attitudes whenever a loved one enters the last stage of his or her life, and we must bear witness. Elijah R. Reed plays the young Arthur to Kimleigh Smith’s Ma as the two sit in a vigil to await a patient’s return to consciousness.

Dying love on the Rodeo circuit is the unusual theme of Cowgirls, by Mildred Inez Lewis, directed by Rachel Berney Needleman. The play is a meditation on cross-values that can thwart many a relationship. Ashley Romans is strong as rodeo performer D’Andria, and Sofia Correa plays her lover Lisette.

The Skateboard Play by Gabriela Ortega and directed by Shaina Rosenthal has a pair of teen boys feeling their ways through budding emotions. Anthoniy Garcia plays Luca and Marcos Ramirez Garcia is Andrew. Presumably, to get the parts, they both had to know how to skateboard.

The Long Drop by Astor Bonder and directed by Spoken Word artist, Hutchins Foster, is one of my two favorites in this grouping. Symbolic of the human need for connection, the setting is a porno theater over 20 years hence, when two men grope their way toward comfort with one another.  Ben Huth plays Philip and Clayton Farris is David.

Producers Christopher Reiling and Heather Robinson help the production staff work with a minimum of set pieces, properties, and lighting (Bradley Bentz). Costumes, helped by consultant Maggie Clapis, are efficient, and sound by Aaron Lyons proves to be essential.

EST/LA One-Acts continue weekends through June 10th; Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 P.M., Sundays at 2:00 P.M. at Ensemble Studio Theatre/LA, 3269 Casitas Ave., Atwater Village 90039. Reservations and tickets: $25 -17 (Students must show student ID at the door) at




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.