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Yellowface

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This ingenious play, now on view at The Beverly Hills Playhouse, has a long track record, having debuted at The Mark Taper Forum 10 years ago with subsequent productions in New York City and London.

Yellowface is a half-autobiographical, half-fantasy about Hwang’s fight for casting equity when Miss Saigon came to New York from London, retaining non-Asian casting in a key role. The play relates how Hwang (as DHH, played here by Jeffrey Sun) encounters difficulties in casting his own play, the fictional Face Value. Mistaking the charismatic Marcus G. Dahlman (Roman Moretti) for an Asian of mixed ancestry, he becomes embroiled in an elaborate cover-up that is overturned when Marcus, now Marcus Gee, returns from his first visit to a Dong village in China as an enthusiastic cultural convert.

Despite the obvious moral dilemma of the cover-up. Hwang asks his audience to unpack what, exactly, cultural and ethnic identities mean. Are they inherent or constructed? The answer hangs over this tantalizing play without offering a clear answer.

For this rendition of the play, Director Robert Zimmerman brings together an ensemble that interweaves skillfully, playing multiple characters between past and present, “reality” and fiction. Remounted from its San Francisco production by Firescape Theatre and Yolk Productions, this Yellowface remains an entertaining and thought-provoking ride. Alphonso Faustino is touching as DHH’s aging father, while Dennis Nollette and Lisagaye Tomlinson provide ballast for the rest of the cast that includes Jennifer Vo Le and John Pendergast. The uncredited, simple scaffolding backdrop provides an ideal foil for quickly intercutting scenes, and minimal lighting functions cinematically to move the action between now and then.

Ten years have past since Hwang began to investigate the subjectivity and fluidity of Asian identity, and since that time gender identities have joined the conversation. Yet these are still difficult concepts, and this production engenders a perfect opportunity to exercise one’s own ethical muscles.

The Beverly Hills Playhouse in association with Firescape Theatre and Yolk Productions presents Yellowface, playing Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sundays at 2:00 pm  through September 26th, 2018.  Reserve tickets at 411.com at $30.00; $20.00 for seniors and students.  Find the Beverly Hills Playhouse at 254 S. Robertson Blvd. in Beverly Hills, 90211.

 

Spotlight

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.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

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.