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Confederates Reveals Human Foibles at the Grove Theatre

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After many delays, I finally got to see one play from this potent double-header, now playing at the Grove Theatre in Burbank. Confederates packs a wallop, not so much for the situation, as for the self-serving propensities that come through in a play about humans jockeying for position.

The situation is simple enough. Once a Big Man at camp, Will (Darryl C. Brown) runs into Maddie (Miranda Lichtman), a younger camper who idolized him. Now he is an aspiring journalist on the rise, while Maddie turns out to be the daughter of a US senator who has just announced for president. What are the odds they’d find each other again?

The audience and Will alike are quick to register the possibilities for advancement in Maddie’s news. It seems to be a natural thing for him in confide in Stephanie (Melissa R. Randel), his mentor.  But, for reasons of her own, she usurps his claim, urging him to cultivate the gullible Maddy as a “source.” When Will begins to exploit his slight friendship, he discovers that, as a budding artist, Maddy wrapped herself in a confederate flag as a “statement,” only to have Stephanie take the situation and the flag itself out of context, resulting in horrific consequences for the candidate.

Playwright Suzanne Bradbeer pits characters who encounter each other in the soup of media’s sensation-seeking, 24-hour news cycle, and pressures them to answer consequential questions requiring almost instantaneous decisions. In Confederates, she achieves characterizations so well-delineated that we completely understand the psychology of each person, even while decrying the paths they choose for themselves.

The well-nuanced actors, helmed by a sensitive director in Christopher Hart, always bring their humanity to the fore. Melissa R. Randel is particularly effective as the icily ambitious journalist whose smile never fades, even while destroying a young girl’s reputation.

The cosy Grove Theatre hosts Confederates and Exit Wounds, winners of the Moss Hart and Kitty Carlisle Hart New Play Initiative, made possible only through the use of a simple, yet versatile, set designed by Leonard Ogden, who also provides costuming. As with most recent playwrights, though, Bradbeer’s disregard for the exigencies of a small stage make the constant set changes rather clunky. Lighting by David Darwin and sound by Hunter Stephenson are top-notch.

Hurry on over to Burbank for the last weekend of both plays before at least one heads off to New York.

Confederates performs in repertory with Exit Wounds through this weekend; Exit Wounds continues Thursday through Friday at 8:00 PM and Saturday at 2:00 pm, with Confederates running Saturday at 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 2:00 and 7:00 PM; through December 16th, 2018 at Grove Theatre Center, 1111-b West Olive, Burbank. Tickets: one for $38.00 and two for $60.00. For reservations and ticketing, phone (800) 838-3006 or online 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.