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Judgment at Nuremberg

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With the final devastating words of the American judge at the Nuremberg Trials when sentencing the guilty Nazi judge, "It came to that the first time you sentenced a man you knew to be innocent," the marvelous, powerful Judgment at Nuremberg comes to a close. In a deft, utterly absorbing reading of Abby Mann's great play, it opens at the International City Theatre for four weeks.


Appearing in the lead role as Judge Dan Heywood, Barry Lynch gives a fine, nuanced, and commanding performance. Neil Larson as Ernst Janning--a German scholar and judge charged with heinous crimes and conspiracy--is about as convincing as you can get. And both attorneys, prosecuting and defense, as played by Henry LeBlanc and Maury Sterling, are antagonists par excellance.


The play casts three women. One, a Nazi General's wife disturbingly played by Dyan Kane who, except for losing her German accent a few times, was very convincing when she protested that she "didn't know what was going on. Silvia Moore and MaryAnn Strossner as witnesses to the conflagration had every eye and ear in the mesmerized audience at attention. If you're getting the idea that this is a very important play, done most eloquently, you're right.

All the technical skills were employed to help create the mood. Shashin Desai's direction demonstrated the necessary drama and tension commensurate with such a play. My only criticism here are all the blackouts necessary for scene changes. However, each was accompanied by military, brass, and drum offerings which kept our attention on what was to come.

The set design by Don Llewellyn was two raised boxes--one for the judges, one for the prisoners--with everything in a deep, dull grayish-black. Most effective! Light and sound design by Bill Georges required constant fade-outs and were attended to skillfully, with Georges' deft hand showing restraint and intelligence throughout. The rest of the production staff responsible for the various aspects of a play's creation deserve a huge round of applause.

Mr. Mann wrote some poignant lines as the defense lawyer reminds us that Hitler had the chance to be stopped but wasn't. He tells that "Winston Churchill praised him in 1938; the Vatican signed a concordant with him in 1933; Russia joined him in 1939, and, perhaps worst of all, American industrialists built and supplied him with many of the tools of war!"

You will be exposed to issues of sterilization, films of the survivors, and those who did not survive. There is some brutally frank dialogue and blatant excuses that the judges were only doing their duty.

At the opening night performance, Shashin Desai, in a touching moment, paid tribute to the author of the play, Abby Mann. He was in attendance and got a standing ovation from the grateful audience. And, in one of the lovely moments of my life, I walked up to him later and personally thanked him for his extremely great efforts in all of America's behalf in writing such a remarkable and important play.

A good evening of theater? No, this time it was great!

Judgment at Nuremberg, presented by International City Theatre at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach. (562) 436-4610. Thurs.-Sat. at 8, Sun. at 2. $32-42.



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.