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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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The Full Monty

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The Full Monty is taken to mean the removal of all clothing, and it comes from a British film about six men who prepare to perform a strip tease in order to get enough money to help support their families after they have been laid off from their factory jobs in Buffalo, NY. It was a surprising success when it premiered in 1997, and it was swiftly adapted to the stage by Terrence McNally (book) and David Yazbek (music and lyrics) in 2000. It was nominated in nearly every category for the Tony Awards that year. Yazbek won for Outstanding Music.

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Kinky Boots

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Tony Awards often depend on what shows comprise a Broadway season. In 2013,  Kinky Boots was nominated for Best Musical along with Bring It On: The Musical, Matilda The Musical, and A Christmas Story, The Musical. Against those offerings, the splashy exuberant show created by its talented team (Harvey Fierstein-Book and Music and Lyrics-Cindy Lauper) garnered many awards when it debuted, including Best Musical, Best Score (Lauper), Best Choreography (Jerry Mitchell), Best Orchestrations (Stephen Oremus) and Best Sound Design (John Shivers). The touring show that has returned to the Pantages for a two-week run provides all the bells and whistles needed for an entertaining evening.

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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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Mozart vs. Salieri

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The ever-inventive Josh Shaw, Artistic Director for the Pacific Opera Project (POP), uncovered the fact that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri faced off against each other in an actual competition in 1786. While Mozart’s reputation as a composer has been elevated almost to deification since his early death, Salieri, who was probably the more popular musician during his lifetime, was virtually forgotten for centuries. That is, until playwright Peter Shaffer, inspired by a short Pushkin play, brought Salieri back to life as the jealous anti-hero who killed Mozart in Amadeus.

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Anton in Show Business

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Jane Martin’s Anton in Show Business opens with a brilliant monologue in which T-Anne (Courtney Sauls) excoriates the American Theatre, minimalist productions, New York-centric thinking, non-salaried work, Actors’ Equity, and Los Angeles. If no other writing in the play ever rises to this level of inspired satire, there are still plenty of laughs to be found in this sharp revival running at the Hudson Theatre.

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Page 22 of 28

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.