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Rogue Machine Contributes to Jacobson Trilogy with Mexican Day

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If I was confused and intrigued by Tom Jacobson’s Plunge at Son of Semele Theatre (closing this weekend), Mexican Day brings clarity and perspective to an unspeakable crime, while rehearsing the perpetuation of another at the famous Bimini Baths.

This time, it is 1948, a few years after the war. The Japanese have been released from their mass incarceration, and African Americans, too, have been released from the munitions plants that kept them engaged throughout the WWII.  Although on the surface all seems calm, ethnic differences are fighting to come to the surface.

Zenobio Remedios (Jonathan Medina), whom we only heard about in Plunge, appears now as a porter at Bimini Baths.  He is lauded for being a hard working young man who knows his place and obeys the rules. But soon his peace is shattered by Hisaye Yamamoto (Jully Lee), a young, renegade reporter from the Los Angeles Japanese Daily News, who is researching a rumor about the baths. With civil rights worker, Bayard Rustin (Donathan Walters), she tries to penetrate the “whites only” policy that permits non-whites to bathe on Thursdays, designated “Mexican Day.” Issues of racial exclusion come to surface, complicated by Yamamoto’s enlistment of Everett Maxwell (Darrell Larson), the perpetrator of the crime that was examined in Plunge.

Tom Jacobson weaves his narrative around the true-to-life events of the period to create a fascinating portrait that fills in many of the blanks exposed earlier, while introducing new mysteries.

Expertly limned by Jeff Liu, the ensemble had to postpone the show’s opening; however, the delay only served to cement a seamless rendition of the play with every member pulling together. Darrell Larson, as the now broken Elliott Maxwell, is touching, and Jonathan Medina as his victim strikes just the right notes. Walters and Yamamoto, too are expert as historically significant hot-shots in the fight for racial equality in Los Angeles.

But Rogue Machine’s wondrous production values enhance the work at every turn. John Iacovelli’s Bimeni Baths lobby set is spacious; the 1940s music, augmented by Peter Bayne’s original music, sets the mood. Diane K. Graebner’s costume palette blends historically and visually, and Brian Gale’s workman-like lighting is always welcome Mexican Day is a taut, engrossing examination of past crimes amid shifting social contexts.  Another “must see” from Tom Jacobson.

Rogue Machine presents Mexican Day Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM; Sundays at 5:oo PM & Tuesdays at 7:00 PM through July 7th , 2018, at The Met Playhouse, 1089 N. Oxford Ave., Los Angeles CA 90029. Reservations and information 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.