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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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Varla Jean Merman's Big Black Hole

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Varla Jean Merman’s Big Black Hole has brought the titular (Something tells me she likes that word) Varla Jean back to the Renberg Theatre after an astounding decade-long absence. This is not to say that Varla Jean (the nom de drag of Jeffrey Roberson) hasn’t been busy. As the only positive consequence of the ill-fated marriage of Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine, Merman fille has been busy with the nightclub, film, and television appearances that naturally come to theatrical royalty.

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Big Black Hole

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Varla Jean Merman’s Big Black Hole has brought the titular (Something tells me she likes that word) Varla Jean back to the Renberg Theatre after an astounding decade-long absence. This is not to say that Varla Jean (the nom de drag of Jeffrey Roberson) hasn’t been busy. As the only positive consequence of the ill-fated marriage of Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine, Merman fille has been busy with the nightclub, film, and television appearances that naturally come to theatrical royalty.

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Casa Valentina

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There’s something odd about the Casa Valentina and its guests. One might even call it queer. Though, as Harvey Fierstein’s Tony-nominated play reveals, that word is too loaded with other connotations. Certainly many of the locals in this peaceful corner of the Catskills would consider the goings on at best bizarre and, at worst, deviant. That’s because Casa Valentina provides a haven for cross-dressing men. It's an opportunity for them spend whole days in their wigs and frocks without the shame and danger they face in the outside world.

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Bach at Leipzig

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Playwright Itamar Moses first gained national notice with a New York production of Bach at Leipzig. Inspired by a deliberately obscure, except to music historians, biographical point in the life of Johann Sebastian Bach, the play makes little pretense of historical accuracy. Moses simply uses the background as a sandbox in which he can play with topics like art, ambition and backstabbing rivals.

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Children of Eden

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Stephen Schwartz claims that his score for Children of Eden is his favorite. Of course, most composers feel that way about a show which they feel has never gotten its due. And, while Children of Eden is performed regularly by community and church groups, professional productions are rare, and the show is unlikely to ever have a Broadway production.

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The Revisionist

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Most people know Jesse Eisenberg as a film star. But Eisenberg has published a book of short stories and written three plays which have been produced in New York. One of them, The Revisionist, is enjoying its Los Angeles premiere at the intimate Lovelace Studio Theater.

 

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Future Thinking

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Playwright Eliza Clark and Director Lila Neugebauer have successfully collaborated in South Coast Rep's world premiere staging of Clark’s Future Thinking. Not only is Future Thinking as thematically current as the latest iteration of Star Wars, it is also a psychologically profound character study, touching upon the perils of celebrity and the problem of social alienation. And, what's more, it's a comedy, albeit a dark one.

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The Merry Widder

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Premiering in the first decade of the 20th Century, Franz Lehar’s, The Merry Widow became an international success story that spawned multiple productions and revivals, enormous sheet music sales, numerous recordings, desserts, hats, and even ladies’ unmentionables. The score was plush and romantic -- the quintessence of European Operetta.

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Pocatello

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Pocatello plays out in such a familiar backdrop that you feel you have been there before. It is in an Italian restaurant painted in unmistakeable gold with clusters of grapes and chianti bottles as an additional identifiers. Perhaps playwright Samuel D. Hunter or scenic designer Stephanie Kerley Schwartz had this in mind when creating the generic space that is the melancholy center for the unhappy revelations of people with little to give them joy.

 

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Page 23 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.