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Sense and Sensibility

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Sense and Sensibility — a novel penned by Jane Austen and published in 1811– was originally put on the market anonymously; By A Lady, instead of Austen’s name, appeared on the title page. It’s the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor (age 19) and Marianne (age 16 1/2) coming of age. These two siblings have an older, uncharitable half-brother, John, and a younger sister, Margaret, age 13.

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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.

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Mamma Mia

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Mamma Mia has been entertaining audiences since its premiere in London's West End in 1999. With a book by Catherine Johnson, it featured ABBA's music, principally written by Benny Anderson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, who were actually involved in the theatrical production. Weaving ABBA's principal hits seamlessly into the storyline, the production tells the story of 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan (Flynn Hayward), who is preparing to marry her boyfriend, Sky (Clayton Jones). She lives on a Greek island with her mother, who owns a taverna. She would like her father to give her away, but the catch is that she doesn't know who he is. Her mother, Donna (Sophina Brown), has never shared that information. Finding a diary of her mother's, she sees the names of three men on dates that might coincide with her conception. She sends them an invitation to the wedding in Donna's name, and then the complications begin.

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Mutt House

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Mutt House is a relentlessly genial new musical aimed at a family audience. The routine storyline combines guileless comedy and a dash of Frank Capra sentimentality to tell the story of Eddie Corbin (the sensational Ryan McCartan), a misfit young man who lives in a city-run animal shelter which, apparently, houses only dogs. And, in a tribute to Dr. Dootlittle or, perhaps more aptly Mr. Ed,  he speaks fluent canine.

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Why Should Theatricum Botanicum Revive the Chalk Garden?

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Why, indeed, revive The Chalk Garden? Even today this comedy/drama skewering English society after World War II seems at odds with our times. But there is a very definite reason to pursue its take on British stuffiness. Directed by Susan Angelo, the Geer extended family finds ample opportunity to play together. Ellen Geer stars, along with  sister Melora Marshall, and daughter Willow Geer.

 

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I Am Not A Comedian...I'm Lenny Bruce

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Though he died in 1966 at just 40 years old, Lenny Bruce has left a legacy as a staunch advocate of the 1st Amendment of the U. S. Constitution and forged a comedy template that many a superstar stand-up comic has utilized over the decades since the original "sick" comic's demise, including the likes of Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Louis C. K.

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Mayakovsky and Stalin

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Padua Playwrights founder Murray Mednick serves up a dish of memories whispered during his growing years, finally finding form in the lives of long-ago heroes and villains during and after the Russian Revolution. Mednick’s extensive research is very much in evidence, as he conflates two suicides --- one of Mayakovsky, a flamboyant poet  who flew in the face of the Marxist materialist turn in art; the other of Nadya (Casey McKinnon), Stalin’s own high-strung wife.

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Haiti: Already Hit of the Season

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The sound of drums greets the ear as the preamble to Theatricum Botanicum’s Haiti, now running in repertory through the summer. Along with exuberant dancing, the drums herald a history lesson wrapped in a satisfying, swashbuckling adventure, where the clearly delineated good guys vanquish the foppish bad guys against all odds.

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Antaeus's Three Days in the Country Stays Close to the Source

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First let me get this straight: Anton Chekhov was 12 years old when Ivan Turgenev’s A Month in the Country debuted. But by the time he began writing plays in 1887, Turgenev’s play had become a staple in Russian Theater repertoire. I say this because there is a bit of confusion now that Three Days in the Country made its West Coast Debut last weekend at the Antaeus Theatre Company’s new digs in Glendale. Patrick Marber, the British playwright, revised and edited Turgenev’s original to create his own version that sits well in the 21st century. But in doing so, he incorporated more of the flavor of what we know of Russian drama from Anton Chekhov. The lines between Turgenev’s proto-Chekhovian play and Chekhov’s influence on Marber bring the piece full circle.

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La Gazetta

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Gioachino Rossini wrote 39  operas by the time he was 40. Perhaps exhausted by his compositional pace, the composer retired at the peak of his powers and popularity. His undisputed masterpiece, The Barber of Seville has remained a staple in the opera house over the intervening centuries, but few of his other operas come anywhere near Barber’s acclaim.

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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.