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Outside Mullingar

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Thanks to a stellar cast and its crafty director, Todd Salovey, San Diego Repertory Theatre’s engaging production of Outside Mullingar succeeds in pulling the wool over the eyes, just long enough and often enough to be pleasantly, often hilariously, surprising.

 

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Empire the Musical

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Empire the Musical is not to be confused with Empire, the television series. The TV program is a drama about ambition and the music industry. The Empire that is the focus of this review is a musical about ambition and architecture. Shortly before the Great Depression, in 1929, the idea of constructing a skyscraper that would in less than two years become the one of the seven man-made wonders of the modern world was a daring notion, ripe for drama, loaded with potential human conflict.

 

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The Madwoman in the Volvo/Another View

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Throughout her career as an essayist, a familiar voice on NPR, and a performer/playwright, Sandra Tsing Loh has used autobiography as a means to comment on her own life as well as broader issues in the world. Her new play, The Madwoman in the Volvo, now enjoying a world premiere at South Coast Repertory Theatre, continues and expands upon this model.

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Absolute

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In The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, a fourteen-year-old boy is missing from his sleepy Jersey Shore town. Solving the mystery of Leonard Pelkey’s disappearance is the job of local detective, Chuck DeSantis, played by James Lecesne. And, as this is a solo show, playwright/performer Lecesne also plays the other inhabitants of the town.

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Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities

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Cirque du Soleil has come a long way from its humble Montreal beginnings in the mid-80’s. Its brilliant synthesis of circus and theatre has revolutionized the world’s idea of the circus. Their latest touring creation, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, has settled into the parking lot at Dodger Stadium for the holidays and beyond.

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Dream Boy

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Eric Rosen’s adaptation of Jim Grimsley’s Dream Boy receives its Los Angeles premiere in a richly textured production by the Celebration Theatre. Under Michael Matthews’ vivid and pictorially elegant direction, the play admirably balances the story’s beauty and its bleakness.

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Ham A Musical Memoir

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For those of us who have been around Los Angeles long enough, Sam Harris exploded onto our radar when he sang in a variety of small venues in the early 80’s. The voice, the style, and the theatricality were already in evidence.

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1984

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In a radical and pertinent new stage adaptation of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel 1984, by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, the terrifying tale of Winston Smith, a conscious cog of a person caught in the machinery of the oppressive state of Oceania, unfolds with horrific tension and ample (and amply jarring) sensory disruption. What makes it all the more disturbing is that this Headlong Theatre production of 1984 (an import from Great Britain) echoes the tenor of our own time.

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The Madwoman in the Volvo

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In addition to being a longtime radio personality, who was recently recognized by Variety magazine as one of America's 50 most influential comedians, Sandra Tsing Loh is also a bestselling author and playwright. And now, Southern California audiences have the opportunity to see Loh in the world premiere of The Madwoman in the Volvo, on the Julianne Argyros Stage of Costa Mesa's South Coast Repertory Theatre.

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The Bridges of Madison County

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It's easy to dismiss Bridges as a romantic sudser with all the concomitant melancholy and passion required for women (mostly) to grab handkerchiefs and happily tear up. It certainly has plenty of loyal fans who read the book, saw the movie with Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, and are eager to relive the improbable love affair between a restless photographer who comes to photograph Iowa bridges and the lonely American transplant from Italy who falls for him. Middle age has its own rewards. The payoff for audiences, though, is in the casting of Elizabeth Stanley (Francesca) and Andrew Samonsky (Robert) as the lovers. Their voices in Jason Robert Brown's florid music and lyrics are worth a concert of their own.

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Page 25 of 29

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.