Friday, February 24, 2012

A Sight for Sore Eyes

Erin Anderson, Nancy Bell, Andrew Borba and Gregory Sims.
Sight Unseen, which premiered here 20 years ago, is coming home, and bringing with it both familiar faces and new friends to meet the SCR family.

Erin Anderson has done television stints as a nurse on “Strong Medicine”  and a hooker on “Criminal Minds,” and now she’ll make her SCR debut as journalist Grete, who gives Waxman the toughest interview of his life.

Though she plays Waxman’s muse and one-time lover Patricia this time around, last time SCR audiences saw Nancy Bell, she was hamming it up as Belinda Blair in Noises Off.

Andrew Borba hasn’t stayed away for too long—he graced the SCR stage last season as Dr. Givings in In the Next Room or the vibrator play. This season, he’ll appear as Patricia’s husband, Nick.

Gregory Sims will make his SCR debut as celebrity artist Jonathan Waxman, though moviegoers may recognize him from last year’s hit Real Steel, starring Hugh Jackman.

Meet Nancy Bell and Gregory Sims, along with director and SCR Founding Artistic Director David Emmes, at a free seminar Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m. on the Julianne Argyros Stage.

Sight Unseen runs March 11 – April 1.

Poor Dog Group Uses New Media to Tell Old News

Studio SCR turns serious this weekend when Poor Dog Group presents The Internationalists, a fascinating examination of the race to space through the eyes of a generation brought up with near endless access to up-to-the-minute information.

Creator Jesse Bonnell was first inspired to create the show in 2008, when an economic crisis once again threw America’s global position into question. “I was deeply taken by our country’s surge of nationalism and the growing interest in the future of our public good,” he says. “That national pride felt akin to the type of political power that established itself post-9/11, and, looking further back into our history, during the race to space during the Cold War. I wanted to make something about the difference between the actual history of the event and the way in which my generation interacts with that history.”

The multimedia performance, which utilizes vintage newsreels, NASA flight records and other historic data, began to take shape after Bonnell stumbled upon a 1959 YouTube clip of the press conference that introduced the Mercury 7, NASA’s first astronaut class. “I like the idea of celebrity and information-sharing as theatre,” says Bonnell. “This conference is the genesis for the show—it grounds the reality of the event.”

The Internationalists runs March 2-4.

Monday, February 13, 2012

These Clowns Want to Play

Raymond Lee as Angry Clown, Amir Levi as Nervous Clown, Alexis Jones as Sad Clown
and Kevin Klein as Mischievous Clown.
Angry, Mischievous, Sad and Nervous, the characters in Studio SCR’s Four Clowns, may not be fit for a kid’s birthday party, but they definitely will make you laugh. The show’s creator, Jeremy Aluma, gives us a sneak peek:

Alexis Jones as Sad Clown
Q: With which clown do you most identify?

A: I am the mischievous clown in my work as a director, but I use the angry clown to fuel my passions. I feel the sad clown when I am in need of a good cry, or as an audience member at a good play. And I am the nervous clown on the rare chance that I perform!

Q: Why clowns?

A: I have always been interested in the relationship between the audience and the actors. As we push towards watching our entertainment on smaller and smaller screens and in more isolated places, the need for a dialogue between audience and performer grows stronger. Clowns get to live completely in the moment, and they get to bring the audience into the moment with them.

Raymond Lee as Angry Clown
Q: What kind of audience interaction can we expect?

A: We like to play with the audience, and we will play with those who want to. Those who don’t are welcome to enjoy from afar. We take suggestions, we talk to the audience. We play with them, and we pursue their laughter.

Q: What if we have a clown phobia?

A: Well, I’ve learned to not try and talk coulrophobists into coming to the show. I think they would enjoy themselves but it’s not easy to shake a phobia. We’ve had many people who are “scared of clowns” come to the show and love it. Our pursuit is of laughter. The clowns are violent, vulgar and sexual, but they aren’t scary.

Four Clowns runs Feb. 17-19 in the Nicholas Studio.

Photos by Cameron McIntyre.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Trumpet Fanfare for "Elemeno Pea"

When the curtain fell on First Night of Elemeno Pea on February 3, the audience cheered and trumpets sounded!  That is, the audience clapped mightily during a standing ovation, and metaphorical trumpets sounded at the Cast Party, just across the way in the Wyndham Orange County’s new restaurant, The Silver Trumpet.

As they congratulated the playwright—Molly Smith Metzler, making her SCR debut—and all the Elemeno Pea artists, First Nighters enjoyed a clambake-themed party à la Martha’s Vineyard. Generously sponsored by the restaurant, the party was replete with sailboats, birds, shells and sand.  Strolling through the beach-y setting, guests sipped the signature drink, “Nantucket Red,” and feasted on lobster rolls, clam chowder, crab cakes and s’mores.

Honorary Producers Valerie and Geoff Fearns led the playgoers’ chorus of raves. “Molly is a phenomenal playwright and has such a gift for dialogue,” Geoff said.  Valerie added, “It was wonderfully written, directed and acted.  Tonight couldn’t have gone better, as displayed by the abundance of laughter and the standing ovation!

They were perfectly in sync with reviews, which followed in the days to come.  Leading the critics’ chorus was Backstage:  “Smart and sassy!  This splendid production represents an auspicious bow for (Marc) Masterson … SCR's new artistic director.”

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

MARNI Sets the Stage for “Setting The Stage!”

MARNI was the setting for the big announcement—SCR’s 2012 Gala Ball has a theme and a title:  “Setting the Stage!”

South Coast Plaza’s must-stop boutique hosted an elegant breakfast on Wednesday morning, February 8, for members of the Gala Committee, who discussed business first and shopped later, with 20% of proceeds donated by MARNI to SCR.

The meeting was led by Gala Chair Beth Phelps, who announced her goal—to make the first and largest contribution to SCR’s Annual Fund—and to have fun!  “When I accepted your invitation to chair this wonderful season-opening event, I was told it was all about having fun, and so that’s my plan.”  (Note:  Among those fun-loving advisers were former Gala Chairs Olivia Johnson and Sophie Cripe.)

According to committee members, “Setting the Stage!” is the perfect title for SCR because theatre is “who we are and what we do.”  The event will celebrate artists and artistry with all things theatrical—props, costumes, sets, lights, sound—starting behind the scenes and leading to the moment the curtain rises and actors take the stage.

“Setting the Stage” will be held at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa on Saturday, September 8, 2012.  For more information or to find out how to join the fun, call Lauren Hovey at (714) 708-5504.

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Going Pro

SCR Casting Director Joanne DeNaut has been watching Kalie Quiñones.  And for Kalie, that’s a good thing.

She first caught Joanne’s eye (and ear) as a student in the 2010 Professional Actor Training program.  “She was particularly good in cold readings, and that’s an important talent.”  In cold readings, an actor is handed an unfamiliar script and asked to read on the spot, and this talent has has won Kalie frequent jobs reading with actors during auditions.

“She’s also a very smart actor, who is growing in every role,” Joanne added.  So far, those roles have included the ensembles of A Christmas Carol and Pride and Prejudice.

And now, the big news is her latest role—a lead in The Borrowers, the second production in the 2011-12 Theatre for Young Audiences season. “We brought in 14 actors for the role of Arrietty,” Joanne said, “and both Shelley (Director Shelley Butler) and I agreed that  Kalie nailed it.”

What does being cast in The Borrowers mean for Kalie?  First, it’s a confirmation.  “I’m grateful to Shelley for seeing my talent and ability and to Joanne for believing in me from the beginning and helping me grow as an actor.”  Second, she is now eligible to join Actors Equity, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers, which means she can perform onstage anywhere in the country, including all major regional theatres and Broadway houses.  “I’m so excited about reaching that milestone,” Kalie said, “because now I can continue my career as a professional.”

Don’t miss Kalie’s first performance as a pro in The Borrowers, playing on the Argyros Stage February 10-26.