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Long Day's Journey Into Night

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The Mad Tyrones are at it again. Drinking, fighting, shooting up, and tearing into each other with the expert ferocity that can only come from a family’s twisted intimacy. Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night has long fascinated audiences with its brutal honesty and barely concealed autobiography.

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TAR Begins and Ends Tom Jacobson's Tryptich on Bimini Baths

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Tom Jacobson’s trilogy of productions concludes with Playwright Arena’s TAR, the most straightforward of his three plays. Situated in the middle of the trajectory of stories (1915, 1939 and 1948), if given the opportunity, this may be the first play you should see.

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Rogue Machine Contributes to Jacobson Trilogy with Mexican Day

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If I was confused and intrigued by Tom Jacobson’s Plunge at Son of Semele Theatre (closing this weekend), Mexican Day brings clarity and perspective to an unspeakable crime, while rehearsing the perpetuation of another at the famous Bimini Baths.

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A Tale of Two One-Acts

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With the Fringe Festival now in full swing, the one-act form is getting a workout from one end of Hollywood to another.  Flying beneath the radar, though, I discovered one excellent one-act quite by accident. The Obit turns out to be an even-handed, engrossing debate about the passing of old forms and our obligations to treat one another with honor despite the turmoil caused in their wake.

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Rigoletto

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LA Opera chose to end its mainstage 2017- 2018 Season with a revival of Rigoletto, Giuseppe Verdi’s cynical vision of moral corruption. The production hails from the San Francisco Opera and was last seen in Los Angeles in 2010. As I was unable to attend the opening, I caught the opera late in its run with three new principals.

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Shakespeare is Bustin' Out All Over

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Every summer, the Southland is studded with productions of the Bard’s 37 plays. They can be seen from Griffith Park’s Independent Theatre Company to Shakespeare by the Sea’s tour from Pasadena, down to Mission Viejo and from Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon to the Shakespeare Festival in Santa Clarita. I guarantee you, you will have a great time watching some great performances, from seasoned veterans to budding artists. In my book, this summer you will not find a better, more intelligent production than Shakespeare By The Sea’s The Winter’s Tale.

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The Humans

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The Humans is, quite remarkably, a surprising theatrical achievement in this era of escalating spectacle. There are no special effects, no dazzling lights, no soaring music, nor any explosions (unless you count loud thumping from an apartment above Richard (Nick Mills) and Brigid’s (Sarah Steele) New York two-story flat). The play concerns simply the interactions among an Irish-Catholic family from Scranton who have come to spend Thanksgiving together in the couples’s new apartment. It is so new, in fact, that they are not fully unpacked and are missing some necessities. Lights go off and on, and no light bulbs are in evidence foreshadowing things to come.

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Cabaret

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From the first potent image of the Emcee (Alex Nee) rising out of a smoky, Stygian darkness, director Michael Matthews announces his intention of challenging our thoughts about Kander and Ebb’s classic musical Cabaret. This does not mean that Matthews is disrespectful of the material. He’s too good a director to make arbitrary or perverse decisions just to be different. It means that he has studied the script and score in such detail that he is able to find a concept that is personal, provocative, and original.

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Go Ahead: Plunge Into Tom Jacobson's Talented Tryptich.

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Tom Jacobson’s latest venture has become one of the theatrical highpoints of the year, bringing three smaller theatres together to produce his tryptich, The Ballad of Bimini Baths. Echoing the same approach given to Quiara Alegria Hudes’ Elliot plays earlier, three theatres portray overlapping characters seen at different stages of a prophetic story of early Los Angeles in each production.

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Violet

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Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley’s Violet is a musical with a large heart and very little of the flash and spectacle that characterizes too many Broadway productions these days. The show had a successful Off-Broadway run in 1997, winning numerous awards. Violet had had a limited run on Broadway in 2014 with a starry cast headed by Sutton Foster, but it remains a small-scale and subtle property best suited to an intimate theatre production.

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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.