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24th Street Theatre's ICE Provides a Sobering Lesson for Gringos

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Every group of immigrants has experienced discrimination and alienation when first arriving in the United States, but none have been so systematically assaulted as our neighbors south of the border. 24th Street Theatre’s ICE is meant to provide a distanced view of the problem, setting the play in 1988, when Mexicans could still maintain somewhat of a low profile. Even at this 30-year perspective, though, Leon Martell’s portrait of two cousins who “jumped” the border learn disturbing lessons about Americans in their interactions with the home population.

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Don Giovanni

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Walking over uneven sidewalks in an as yet ungentrified downtown neighborhood, one wonders if the intrepid Pacific Opera Project (POP) might have asked too much of its audience with its choice of venue for Don Giovanni. Once inside The Vortex, however, any fears are dispelled. The company's faithful audience fills the tables, where wine and appetizer plates are offered, as well as the general seating area. All gathered to watch Don Giovanni’s swift journey from imperious autocrat and unapologetic libertine to a friendless man facing damnation.

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Nice Work If You Can Get It

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George and Ira Gershwin had one of their greatest successes with the 1926 musical, Oh, Kay!, built around the unique talents of the British star, Gertrude Lawrence. The zany plot concerned mistaken identity, a playboy millionaire, his fiancée who discovers he’s still married, and a gang of bootleggers using the millionaire’s Long Island mansion to store their hooch.

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Pigs and Chickens

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EST/LA brings to life Pigs and Chickens by Merek Glinski, a smart, detailed, and very funny play about the mysterious tech industry. As with almost everything nowadays, though, this play has an unpleasant after-taste. I hope you’ll stay with me as I try to explain!

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An Undivided Heart

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Walking into the Atwater Village Theatre for the world premiere of Yusuf Toropov’s An Undivided Heart, one is engulfed in Amanda Knehans eloquent hell-red set of leaning timbers and sparse furnishings. It is a perfect backdrop for this play about a broken town, broken dreams, and broken faith. It also prepares us for the opening visual of a Little Girl (Ann’ Jewel Lee) declaiming poetry while holding a dead rabbit and wielding a knife. And, because the play concerns the Catholic clergy, she offers a hint of stigmata.

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Nine Winning One-Acts

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In planning one-act festivals, companies generally choose either to ask playwrights to create works inspired by a particular theme or open their submissions to any play that fits their time parameters. In curating their second one-act festival, Nine Winning One-Acts, The Group Rep chose the latter, resulting in an eclectic array of pieces with far-reaching themes.

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Flying Solo

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Nathan Gunn’s beautiful voice and corn-fed good looks made him a natural for the operatic stage. But it was his sculpted chest and pecs, displayed in roles like Britten’s Billy Budd, that started a whole new category of vocalist – the barihunk. A blatant display of skin was rare for male singers when Gunn began his career. But today, gym-toned baritones and basses vie with each other to be chosen as Mr. September in the barihunk calendar.

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Wooster Group Takes on Tadeusz Kantor

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At REDCAT, The Wooster Group currently presents the result of its investigation in A Pink Chair; a melding, you might say.  In production, Kantor was always part and parcel of the mise-en-scene…. a puppet master. But Elizabeth LeCompte, The Wooster Group’s director since the 70s, is more Socratic. Working with her permanent ensemble, LeCompte questions, fusses, and cajoles her performers while they create the piece together.

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All's Well That Ends Well

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For centuries Shakespeare’s “problem plays” saw few productions. But the last quarter century has seen a rise in the production rate of hitherto rarely performed plays like Measure for Measure, Coriolanus, and The Winters Tale. And yet, All’s Well That Ends Well is rarely staged and remains chiefly known for its memorable title.

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Orpheus and Eurydice

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LA Opera’s new production of Gluck’s Orpheus & Eurydice is, in a word, breathtaking. A magical blending of song and dance that owes its power to the vision of director, choreographer, and designer, John Neumeier.

 

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Page 5 of 27

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.