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Rio Hondo

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Rio Hondo, Bill Robens’ witty parody of cinema horse-operas may not, at first glance, seem ideal holiday fare. Certainly not in the way his, A Mulholland Christmas Carol gave the Dickens’ perennial an invigorating Los Angeles slant.  But, for audiences who’ve had enough of Ebenezer and assorted naughty elves, Rio Hondo’s premiere at Theatre of NOTE may be just the ticket for a laugh-filled holiday entertainment.

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Prairie-Oke!

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A familiar family group poses before a quaintly sewn quilt depicting a prairie landscape. The strains of the theme music for The Waltons begins. The family breaks its freeze to shout at the control booth. The music stops. After all, these people aren’t the Waltons. They are another beloved TV family. A family who live in a little house. A little house on the prairie. They are… the Pringells.

 

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Viva La Mamma

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In 1827, Donizetti wrote a one-act operatic farce with the catchy title of Le convenienze ed inconvenienze teatrali. Several years later he expanded the piece into two acts. Like so many operas, it fell into obscurity after the composer’s death and was only re-discovered and revived in the 1960’s. As the original title lacked a certain punch, modern adaptations have invented alternate titles. However, it is most popularly known as Viva la Mamma, which is the title used by the Pacific Opera Project (POP) in their current production.

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Moby Dick

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Choosing Herman Melville’s epic novel Moby-Dick as the basis for an opera is a daring gamble. And not because its all-male shipboard setting offers few opportunities for the romantic duets most people associate with opera. After all, Benjamin Britten successfully adapted another Melville tale to the operatic stage with Billy Budd. But Melville’s Billy Budd is a compact novella. Moby-Dick is a sprawling, messy, deliriously written masterpiece of obsession, philosophy, latent desires, the sea, religion, fear, death, and the day-to-day routine of hunting whales. As several film and stage adaptations prove, a dramatic adaptation, in any medium, is likely to feel like a Classics Illustrated version of the novel.

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Bootycandy

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Celebration Theatre christens its new performance venue with a high-powered production of Robert O’Hara’s Bootycandy. Less a conventional play than a series of riotous and ribald sketches centered on growing up gay and black, O’Hara laces his provocative comedy with a generous dose of undiluted acid.

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Julia Migenes Sings Kurt Weill

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Julia Migenes returns to the Odyssey Theatre with her cabaret performance, Julia Migenes Sings Kurt Weill. I will confess to being a huge Weill fan, and, to be honest, would probably attend a performance of “Ariana Grande Sings Kurt Weill." But, knowing Migenes’ work in both opera and theatre, my expectations were high.

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The Oldest Boy

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Even before the child’s birth, most parents have dreams of the life their baby will lead. It will be an improvement over theirs, for sure. Parents wish for a childhood without deprivation, an education without limits, a family without want, and a career without boundaries.

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El Grande Circus de Coca-Cola

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Pepe Hernandez and his cut-rate troupe of “circus” performers have folded their shabby big top after a successful Los Feliz run and taken up residence at the Colony Theatre in the glamorous Burbank Media Center. I missed their run at the Skylight Theatre but assume that the Ikea jokes and a larger dumpster for their dressing room are the major additions to the comedy hi-jinx.

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Strange Eventful History

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The Independent Shakespeare Company’s new play, Strange Eventful History is based on the British dynastic struggles which led up to and comprised The Wars of the Roses. The text is mostly Shakespeare, with a touch of Marlowe and a framing device devised by the company. If this sounds dry and academic, Strange Eventful History will convince you otherwise.

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Sondheim on Sondheim

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The latest revue featuring the music of Stephen Sondheim, Sondehim on Sondheim, receives its local premiere courtesy of International City Theatre (ICT). Produced in New York in 2010, the show featured a gifted cast of actor/singers and, most notably, occasioned the long-awaited return of Barbara Cook to a Broadway stage.

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Page 25 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.