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Office Beat/Charming the Musical

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Office Beat, a new show created by Mindy and Gabe Copeland, is billed as a “tap comedy.” And I suppose that’s as good a description as any. But those words do little to relay the pure entertainment this genre-busting production offers.

It’s true that shows like Contact and Movin’ Out have told their stories through dance and, in the process, raised arguments about whether or not they were musicals. Office Beat’s official description skirts that issue, though it has a more solid claim to be a musical. Unlike their big Broadway brothers, the show features a charming original score by Andrew Van Vlear. (With the exception of one number staged to “The Girl from Ipanema.”)

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Kritzerland at the Federal

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The popular music of the 1970’s often gets a bad rap. It’s true that the decade spawned camp classics like “The Night that the Lights Went out in Georgia,” “I’ve Never Been to Me,” and “Angel Baby.” But it was also the heyday of the Singer/Songwriter, and Bruce Kimmel used his 68th Kritzerland Concert to remind us of the fact.

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The Boy From Oz

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I am old enough to have seen Peter Allen perform a couple of times in the late 70’s – early 80’s. Allen was a capable singer, a strong songwriter, and a fabulous, an adjective he would appreciate, force of nature on stage. To be honest, Allen, his pal Olivia Newton-John, Helen Reddy, and that Tristan guy from General Hospital were pretty much what my generation knew about Australian performers.

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The Barber of Seville

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Operatic tradition is honored at the Fort Worth Opera Festival with a production of Rossini’s indestructible buffa masterwork, The Barber of Seville. David Gately’s well-traveled production (it was first performed in 1977) is shticky, without going completely over the top. The directorial centerpiece of the production is a complex slow-motion, slapstick fight sequence, featuring the entire cast, in the finale to the first act.

 

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Endgame

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While waiting outside the Kirk Douglas Theatre before the opening night of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, I overheard two women talking. The younger asked her companion, “What’s the story of this play?” Friends walked up and greeted me, so missed the older woman’s response. I’m guessing that once the Beckett neophyte understood that the “story” of Endgame is immaterial and that the experience is all, she either tuned out or took the ride of her life.

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Absolute Zero/Warm Cheese

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Absolute Zero is a world premiere by Ryan Lisman. Lisman also directs and plays the central character of Charles, a 17 year-old who is lonely and contemplating suicide in the play’s opening moments. He is kidnapped by a neighbor, Jim (Daniel Ballard), who has fallen in love with the boy from afar. Jim keeps Charles in his basement, and Charles finds the kind of love he’s never known.

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But Enough About Me-Burt Reynolds Memoir

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During his six decades in the acting profession, performing onstage, in film and on television, he became a bona fide American sex symbol posing nude in a centerfold photo for Cosmopolitan magazine in 1972. He rose to the heights of Hollywood, becoming a major movie star – and the number one box office attraction from 1977 to 1981. But his career tended to go sideways and by the mid-1980s, Burt Reynolds was a Tinseltown pariah.

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Embedded and Buried Alive

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Buried Alive and Embedded are two newish American operas inspired by the works of Edgar Allen Poe. Buried Alive puts a modern spin on Poe’s Premature Burial as Victor (Christopher Burchett) dreams of waking in a morgue. But is it a dream? Victor soon finds it difficult to separate reality from his nightmarish fears. As Poe’s writings created the template for our vision of horror, it seems completely appropriate that the visuals of smiling embalmers doing their work and doctors sedating their patients in order to silence them remain unnerving. Burchett is never absent from the stage, and, aside from being tireless, his brave performance brings a palpable terror to the final moments of the opera.

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JFK

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While I’ve enjoyed each of my visits to the Fort Worth Opera Festival over the past few years, 2016 was truly something special. Not only was it the company’s 70th Anniversary and their 10th in the festival rather than seasonal format, but it saw the world premiere of a bold, new American opera. An opera born within the company. One with an extraordinary resonance for Fort Worth.

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Electricity

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For years small-cast romantic comedies, mostly pushing boundaries that film censorship wouldn’t allow, were staples on the Broadway stage. Voice of the Turtle, Two for the Seesaw, Any Wednesday and Same Time, Next Year were all successful shows in successive decades. By the mid-70’s, the collapse of the film Production Code, changing theatrical tastes, and higher costs for Broadway shows relegated most of these productions to Off-Broadway or dinner and regional theatres.

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Spotlight

Hollywood Fringe Awarded 10K from National Endowment for the Arts

Hollywood, CA -- The Hollywood Fringe Festival is proud to announce that it has been awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant of $10,000 to support the Fringe Scholarships program. This grant stems from more than $82 million approved by NEA Chairman Jane Chu to fund local arts projects and partnerships. The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.

“Hollywood Fringe began only seven years ago and has grown into a festival reaching tens of thousands of people,” says Festival Director Ben Hill. “This funding allows us to sustain that growth by supporting artists and programming that is diverse, inclusive, and relevant to the local community. We are truly honored to have been selected a recipient."

The Fringe Scholarships program strives to provide a platform for artists to exhibit the most diverse and cutting-edge points-of-view, by offering unique and underserved artists scholarships to participate in the 2016 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Scholarships will be awarded to artists whose festival participation will increase festival attendance and participation by local Hollywood residents, increase arts participation of ethnically diverse and/or low-income artists, and enrich audience experience through the presentation of unique, underrepresented themes and/or narratives.

“The arts are all around us, enhancing our lives in ways both subtle and obvious, expected and unexpected,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Supporting projects like the one from Hollywood Fringe Festival offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

ABOUT HOLLYWOOD FRINGE

The Hollywood Fringe Festival is an annual, open-access, community-derived event celebrating freedom of expression and collaboration in the performing arts community. Each June during the Hollywood Fringe, the arts infiltrates the Hollywood neighborhood: Fully equipped theaters, parks, clubs, churches, restaurants and other unexpected places host hundreds of productions by local, national, and international arts companies and independent performers. The 2016 festival runs June 9th - 26th and offers over 1,400 performances in over 30 venues.

Participation in the Hollywood Fringe is completely open and uncensored. This free-for-all approach underlines the festival’s mission to be a platform for artists without the barrier of a curative body. By opening the gates to anyone with a vision, the festival is able to exhibit the most diverse and cutting-edge points-of-view the world has to offer. Additionally, by creating an environment where artists must self-produce their work, the Fringe motivates its participants to cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurialism in the arts. 

Want more information? Contact us at press@hollywoodfringe.org or by visiting the website at www.HollywoodFringe.org/press.

 
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.