Monday, November 25, 2013

Taking a Literary Classic From Page to Stage

Keeping it Fun
Probably the hardest part of any actor’s job—to create the illusion of the first time.

John-David Keller and Karen Hensel as Mr. & Mrs. Fezziwig.
“We have fun every year because of the familiarity most of us have with each other,” says Director John-David Keller. “We have fun, but it’s up to me to make sure that we never make fun. This show represents my legacy to SCR, and my biggest responsibilities as director are to preserve its long and proud tradition and to make the show fun both for those who’ve never seen it, and for those who keep coming back.”

More than half of A Christmas Carol audience members are returning and they’re eager to see their old friends again on the stage, from Hal Landon, Jr. as Scrooge, on down the roster of familiar SCR performers.

But Keller believes the production gets an “extra spike” from all the new faces in the cast. “There are 16 children in the show and none of them have every done it before. Sometimes we have repeats, but because we have such a huge pool of Conservatory students to draw from, we try to spread the wealth around every year. Christmas for these lucky youngsters is one they’ll never forget. I watch their faces during rehearsal and I can see them grow with every passing day. It’s an intense learning process and they have more fun than anybody . . . well, maybe not more fun than me. That would be very difficult!”

A Christmas Carol probably is to theatre what The Nutcracker is to ballet.

 “This show is such an important part of who we are as a theatre company,” Keller says. “The fact is that audiences still look forward to it every year and we still have the same devotion to it now as we did back in 1980, so it really doesn’t matter how many productions we’ve got under our belts.”
Thirty-four years ago, Jerry Patch’s summer routine was waking up early—most mornings at 4:30 a.m. and working with Charles Dickens. Patch, South Coast Repertory’s then-resident dramaturg, had the sun blazing across his desk in Huntington Beach, as he tried to envision a stage setting for Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: December in Victorian London.

“It wasn’t that hard,” Patch recalls. “Dickens overpowered life at the beach almost every morning.”

Patch’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol, debuted on SCR’s stage in December 1980, and the universal qualities that Patch brought to the play have kept the production timeless. He concentrated on how the major themes of the story could most effectively be communicated on the stage.

“I wanted families to be able to come to the theatre together and share an experience. Everyone from grandparents to grandchildren could all be touched by the significant message of this classic story. Every year I waited in the lobby after performances and listened to families talking about what they’ve gotten out of the play.”

The story’s focus on humanity and regeneration continues to move audiences of all ages as they experience Scrooge’s transformation along with the character.

“This play is a celebration of family, peace and unity,” Patch explains. “It’s not just a British play, nor is it limited in scope to the nineteenth century. Scrooge’s didactic understanding of generosity, charity, and mercy are ideals to be embraced by all people in all times. His story embodies the very tenets of American culture—you can change yourself, you can succeed beyond your means and. after undergoing metaphorical death, you can come back and live a better life. In other words, it’s never too late. This isn’t a complicated message, but it’s an important one nonetheless, and it’s the means by which we hope to touch our audiences.”

John-David Keller has directed SCR’s A Christmas Carol each of its 34 years. He says he tries to read the novella every year—it keeps him honest.

“I ask the children in the cast to read it—that’s always their first assignment. Jerry’s script is very faithful to the original, but there are some elements he chose to eliminate because they’re peripheral to our primary focus, which is Scrooge’s through-line. Things such as the engagement and the fates of his fiancée and his sister are still there, but only to stimulate Scrooge and not to tell the other characters’ stories,” Keller says.

“Another change concerns the reconciliation between Cratchit and Scrooge, which in the book occurs at Scrooge’s office, but we didn’t want to have to go back to that set, so our Scrooge goes to the Cratchit home instead,” says Keller. “This is a Jerry Patch device that works wonderfully because you get to see the whole family reacting positively to this man who, in an earlier scene, was being called names and started a family fight.

“Another departure from Dickens is the exchange of gifts in that scene, which is not in Dickens. Every theatre adapts A Christmas Carol for their company, and certainly our script was written to suit the personalities and acting styles of our cast. But I believe that if you compare the Dickens book and the Patch play, you’ll see how very loyal Jerry was to his source. After all, it’s hard to improve on Charles Dickens.”

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Behind the Scenes With the Costume Shop

A Christmas Carol.
Part of the magic of theatre is what comes out of its costume shops. South Coast Repertory has a creative team of artisans who work to create the varied and beautiful costumes for characters in our plays. We sought out Amy Hutto, costume shop manager, with a few questions about the fabric arts.

How long have you been in theatre?
AH: I have been involved in theatre since 1978 and spent many of my early years at Monmouth College as faculty and as a designer/tech director. I have been making costumes since 1986 in Naples, Florida at a theatre that sadly doesn’t exist anymore. I’ve been at SCR for over 17 years.

What are costumes at SCR made from?

AH: Anything we can find. We primarily use natural fibers like cotton and wool. At some of the smaller theatres I’ve been at we had to use a lot of polyester which is not such a joy to work with.

How long to make a finished piece?
AH: That all depends of course on the show and what we are making. For a traditional gown that you would have seen in Pride and Prejudice it takes between 60 and 100 hours, but for a contemporary outfit like those in 4000 Miles it can only take between 20 and 40 hours. Between material and labor the gown probably costs around $1,200 to make. And whenever I meet our donors, I tell then that they are part of each dress or jacket we make because without their support the show would look very different.

How do you produce a costume?
AH: First there is the design process. Once the designs are finalized, we source the materials from what we have on stock and what needs to be ordered. I will say that sites such as Etsy online have made life easier when we don’t have the materials like antique handkerchiefs or the time to hand crotchet twenty pairs of gloves for example. Then of course there is construction and fittings and more construction and tweaking.

Tim Cummings and Carmela Corbett in Eurydice.
What’s your favorite piece?
AH: I really like the gowns for Fred’s party in A Christmas Carol. I think they are just beautiful.

What was the most difficult piece you’ve created?
AH: I think the 15-foot-tall costume in Eurydice. That was a tricky piece. There was a ton of structure and we had to coordinate between multiple departments to check to see if the doorway was big enough and the platform high enough so when it moves it won’t roll over itself. That piece took 80 yards of fabric. I also think that when there are a lot of pieces to be made like in Cyrano de Bergerac it can be scary for us. However, when we have time, even a project like Charlie’s padded suit in The Whale won’t cause heart palpitations. I think we started that one about a month earlier than we would normally start a project.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Colorful and Heartfelt Thank Yous For "Ivy+Bean"

Playgoers come in all sizes and are all ages. Some of the youngest recently attended free school-time matinees of Ivy+Bean, The Musical. They loved it! Within days, the thank-yous began arriving from the students. Here’s a sampling of their words and artwork.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eat, Drink and Be Merry—Holiday Food For Thought

Dinner with the Cratchit family.
Throughout his body of work, Dickens takes great delight in celebrating the culinary specialties of Victorian England. Drinking is also ubiquitous in his works, which accurately reflects the fact that in Dickens’ day, alcohol was considerably safer to drink than water.

Dickens himself was a moderate drinker, but he apparently had little patience with rabid teetotalers. To an irate advocate of abstinence, he once replied, “I have no doubt whatever that the warm stuff in the jug at Bob Cratchit’s Christmas dinner had a very pleasant effect on the simple party. I am certain that if I had been at Mr. Fezziwig’s ball, I should have taken a little negus—and possibly not a little beer—and been none the worse for it, in heart or in head. I am very sure that the working people of this country have not too many household enjoyments, and I could not, in my fancy or in actual deed, deprive them of this one when it is so innocently shared.”

BOB CRATCHIT: He’ll have a kidney pie and pudding at the Hound and Thorn.

Kidney Pie is a traditional British dish consisting of a cooked mixture of chopped beef, kidneys, mushrooms, onions and beef stock. This mixture is placed in a pie or casserole dish, covered with a pastry crust and baked until crisp and brown. Sometimes potatoes, hard-cooked eggs or oysters are also added to the dish. They are popular all year round, but at Christmas time, butchers all over England will make a pile of these delectable savoury pies for the Christmas Buffet, to be served with pickles and chutneys.

BOB CRATCHIT: On the way home, Tim and I smelled our goose cooking at the baker’s.
TINY TIM: Oh, Martha. Such a goose!

Goose was the main course of Winter Solstice feasts from the time of the ancient Egyptians. Henry VIII of England is credited with replacing goose with turkey—that exotic new bird from North America. Fruit from an exotic American plant called the cranberry was also added to English Christmas dinners.

Mrs. Cratchit with her prized plum pudding
PETER: Papa, why is Mama so worried about the pudding?
CRATCHIT: Well, Peter—and you, too, Tim—if ever you want to make some woman a good husband, you must not only not ask such questions, you also must learn how to receive the pudding. Just watch your father and learn. (Mrs. Cratchit returns with the pudding, walking slowly with it held in front of her. She sets it carefully
on the table. Mr. Cratchit leads the children in applause for the pudding.)
CRATCHIT: My dear, my joys with you have been many, but I can honestly say that I believe this pudding to be the greatest success, aside from our children, you have achieved since our marriage.

Christmas Plum Pudding was still made from meat in some parts of the British Isles as late as the early 1800s, and the so-called plums from which it drew its name were actually raisins, not the plump, juicy fruits the name suggests to us today. Pudding was an excellent dish for the poor because it didn’t require as much fat to prepare as other pastries require. An English Christmas dinner is not complete without a serving of this dense, moist, heavily-fruited steamed cake. There are many customs associated with Christmas Pudding: stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon and making a wish, placing charms in the mixture such as a sixpence or a ring (which meant marriage), a thimble (which meant spinsterhood for a girl), a button (bachelorhood for a man), and pouring
brandy over the pudding and lighting as it’s served.

FEZZIWIG: Get out of that hat and coat, Ebenezer, and we’ll warm you with a cup of punch.

Joe peddles his punch.
Punch was the preferred alternative to drinking water, which was avoided for fear of contamination. It came to the English colonies in America from the English colonies in India. To the Orientals we owe the word "punch," which comes either from the Hindu word panch, the Sanskrit word panchan, or the Persian word panj, all o fwhich mean "five." This refers to the number of ingredients originally used in the drink: tea, liquor, sugar, fruit, and water. Two popular punches called Purl (beer heated to near-boiling then flavored with gin, sugar, and ginger) and Bishop (heated red wine, oranges, sugar, and spices) were regularly consumed by Victorian partygoers of all ages. Using the word alone one expects it to be hot; if cold, the word is qualified by iced. Of all the spirits
that can be used to make a punchrum is the one that most quickly comes to mind, and of all fruits, the lime was the most popular.

MRS. FEZZIWIG: What about the shepherd’s pie, Mr. Fezziwig?
FEZZIWIG: Done, Mrs. Fezziwig.
MRS. FEZZIWIG: The gingerbread scones? Theholiday trifle?
FEZZIWIG: Done and done. It’s all done, my dear.
MRS. FEZZIWIG: The porter, Mr. Fezziwig?
FEZZIWIG: The porter and negus and cold roast and pies! Done!You must fortify yourself! The party begins!

Shepherd’s Pie dates back to King Henry VIII. Legend has it that the British ruler was livid when he found out that one of his abbots was building an elaborate and expensive kitchen. The wise abbot abated the King’s anger by sending him a delicious, warm pie. Two early examples were shepherd’s pie and cottage pie. Shepherd’s pie was made with lamb and vegetables, and cottage pie was made with beef and vegetables. Both are topped with potatoes and baked until the mixture is hot and the potato crust browns. Shepherd’s pie is also an economical way to use leftovers from the ubiquitous Sunday roast.

Gingerbread Scones derive from the Scottish bannock, which was a soft cake of barley meal baked on an iron plate known as a girdle—the forerunner to the hotplate. The Bannock was round and cut into four pieces, the individual triangles of which are called scones. Gingerbread products date back over eight centuries in the United Kingdom, and ginger had been used as a spice for many centuries before its appearance in Britain. Gingerbread evolved through the addition of ginger, honey and fat to coarse meal dough. Lightness of texture was achieved by natural fermentation of the dough. The Church helped the popularity of gingerbread by making figures of saints or other religious figures, which is perhaps where the first Gingerbread Men were born.

Holiday Trifle was once described by Oliver Wendell Holmes as “that most wonderful object of domestic art . . .with its charming confusion of cream and cake and almonds and jam and jelly and wine and cinnamon and froth.” The first trifles were very much like fools (old confections of pureed fruit mixed with cream), and indeed, the two terms were used almost interchangeably for many years. The very first known recipe from 1596 bears almost no resemblance to what we now call a trifle, which comes from the Old French “trufle,” and literally means something whimsical or of little consequence. Trifles are not just for Christmas; in Britain, the trifle is a popular year-round party dish, particularly with children who love all the layers of cake, fruit, custard and cream, and the bold pattern of the decoration on top.

Porter was introduced into England in 1720. It differs from beer because of the kind of malt used. At the time, it was common for a customer in a tavern to order a pint of “three threads,” which was equal portions of ale, beer, and twopenny (the strongest beer, costing twopence a quart). Because each one of these liquors had to be drawn from a separate vat, a brewer named Harwood devised a plan of brewing a drink that would yield the same flavor as these three combined ingredients. It was originally called “entire” or “entire butt” because it was taken from one butt or vat, but the drink was so often ordered by porters that it soon became known as “porter.” Porter that was extra strong was known as “Stout Porter” and eventually, “Stout.”

The “Turkey Boy” experiences some of
Scrooge’s early change of heart
Negus is a warm wine punch that was first concocted in Queen Anne’s day by Col. Frances Negus, who mixed sugar with water and a wine such as port or sherry. Apparently a popular drink for balls and dances, negus was also improved by a flavoring of nutmeg. In Victorian England, children were served small glasses of wine at the dinner table, and it was also added to their party punch cups. When served to children, the wine didn’t need to be very old or expensive, but it was always a sweet wine, such as port or sherry.

Roast Beef is the most popular traditional dinner associated with England, usually accompanied by two or three vegetables and Yorkshire Pudding. Variations on this theme include roast chicken, roast pork, and roast lamb. One sure sign that this is still one of the most revered traditional dishes is that in 2000, the National Gallery in London had an art exhibition dedicated to the mouth-watering subject, entitled “Roast Beef.

SCROOGE: I can’t understand how I managed it, but I purchased a turkey for Christmas and had already accepted an invitation to dinner. The bird won’t keep, of course, and you’d do me the greatest favor if you and your family could use it today.

Turkey was taken back to Europe by Sebastian Cabot upon his return from the New World and only began to appear on British Christmas menus around 1650. When the Pilgrims and other settlers arrived in America, they were already familiar with raising and eating turkey and naturally included it as part of their Thanksgiving feast. (Did you know that California raises more turkeys than any other state?) The big bird got its name after merchants from Turkey made it a popular dish. Prior to this, swan, goose, peacock and boar were part of the traditional Christmas feast. Although we associate Victorian Christmas festivities with roast goose, for those who could not afford it the meatier turkey was preferable.

A toast—with Wassail
SCROOGE: (toasting) To Christmas. Wassail!

Wassail is a drink made of hot ale, cream, spices, and beaten eggs that is served to enhance the merriment of the season. The word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon phrase waes hael, meaning “good health.” Like many ancient customs, wassailing has a legend to explain its origin. It seems that a beautiful Saxon maiden named Rowena presented Prince Vortigen with a bowl of wine while toasting him with the words Waes hael. Over the centuries a great deal of ceremony has developed around the custom of drinking wassail. The bowl is carried into a room with great fanfare, a traditional carol about the drink is sung, and finally, the steaming hot beverage is served. Wassailing is almost always accompanied by the song: “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” which is a Christmas classic loved by many but understood by few. It is often misinterpreted and likened to the act of singing... hence “Here We Come A-Caroling” is frequently substituted for the first line of this popular carol. Although wassailing is classically observed during the Christmas holiday season, it is also practiced at weddings and other such similar events where community and family are celebrated.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Six Questions with "4000 Miles'" Klarissa Mesee

As Amanda in 4000 Miles, Klarissa Mesee makes a memorable impression with her ditzy humor and hilarious portrayal of a hipster art student. A graduate of UCLA and also a current cast member at "The Happiest Place on Earth," Mesee answers our six questions for MyStage, SCR's discounted ticket program for those 15-to-25 years old.

Klarissa Mesee
Your character, Amanda, is a scene-stealer! Is humor difficult to do successfully?

Mesee: I think the key to doing humor successfully is to play honestly. 4000 Miles is so well written that the humor is already there. So all you have to do is say the lines as honestly as the character would in the moment. Timing is also gotta have good timing.

You graduated from The Ray Bolger Musical Theater program at UCLA. How different is it to be working on a play like 4000 Miles at SCR in comparison to a musical?
Mesee: The coolest thing about the program was that I had the opportunity to study and perform in plays as well as musicals. The biggest difference to me is how they're structured from conception, rehearsals and performing. A musical is really structured. You have notes to sing and marks you need to hit. Everything has to be consistent every night, just the energy changes. In a play, you have a lot more freedom to create your world. There’s a dialogue between actors and directors and it's more collaborative. We get to explore the scenes and discover new things every night.

What are some of your dream roles in the theatre?

Mesee: I have so many roles I'd love to play! But to name a few: any and all of the 6 Merry Murderesses in Chicago (the play or the musical). Kim in Miss Saigon, Marta in Company and just for fun, even though it'll never happen, Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Mesee and Matt Caplan in 4000 Miles
You're also currently performing in Mickey and the Magical Map at Disneyland. What is it like balancing work on that show and 4000 Miles at the same time?

Mesee: I was really lucky to have two projects that I loved so much and that couldn't have been more different! I enjoy keeping busy and when you're doing something you love as an actor and as a singer, you really don't mind not having a day off for a couple months.

Why do you love theatre?

Mesee: I love theater because it's live and it's real. You can't fake anything in the theater. There isn't an edit button or any do-overs and that’s what makes it exciting. Not only has an actor but as an audience member as well.

Why do you think our MyStage members will enjoy 4000 Miles?

Mesee: They will enjoy it because it's engaging and it flows. It's a great play about growing up, maturing and what that means to each character. I think everyone will find something in the play that they can identify with.

See Klarissa now in 4000 Miles, which closes this Sunday! Follow her on Instagram: @MissKlariss.

More About MyStage

MyStage is a special program designed for 15- to-25-year-olds. Members get a special discount, $10 tickets for shows at South Coast Repertory. It’s like student rush, but you can get great seats by purchasing tickets up to a month in advance! Members also get access to exclusive social events and behind-the-scenes updates.

Ready to join? It’s free and easy to sign up. Just e-mail the following to
  • Full Name:
  • Address:
  • Phone Number:
  • Birthday and Year:
  • Email (not your parents’):
  • School Attending (if applicable):

Buy tickets. MyStage members get $10 tickets to 4000 Miles using code 8875.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Community Voices Shape a New Play

Teaching artist Sylvia Blush teaching at Ensemble Dance Workshop
South Coast Repertory’s current Dialogue/Diálogos project continues the company’s commitment to working with new voices in the Latino community.  In 1985, playwright José Cruz González created the Hispanic Playwrights Project (HPP), an annual festival of new works that brought together original plays written by Latina/o playwrights. For nearly two decades, HPP provided a first professional theater development opportunity for many writers, launching the career of theatre artists including Octavio Solis, Karen Zacarías and Anne García-Romero among others.

Currently González is the playwright-in-residence for Dialogue/Diálogos project and is writing a community-based play with the participation of Santa Ana residents. Dialogue/Diálogos is a two-year bilingual community-based theatre initiative with Santa Ana’s Latino community, as part of SCR’s 50th Season programs. Diálogos has three phases: story-gathering days, play-making workshops and play development. The project is collecting the stories of Santa Ana residents.

Diálogos Engagement Director Sara Guerrero was influenced through González’ HPP in the 1980s, when her mother took her to witness the birth of the careers of Latina/o playwrights.

“It’s been wonderful watching our community throw themselves into the theatre, dance and other workshops and many have been returnees,” says Guerrero.

Since early 2013, more than 600 Santa Ana residents have  shared their stories, hopes for and dreams for their community and participated in theatre-making workshops, taught by SCR educators and guest artists. Many of these participants expressed themselves theatrically for the first time through their participation in Dialogue Days and workshops.

Marcela is a mother of four whose participation in the Diálogos story-telling sessions inspired her children to get involved.

“At first, Marcela’s kids were more interested in their electronic devices,” recalls Guerrero. “But as the minutes passed, each would put away whatever they were doing and get up to take part in the workshop. Seeing Marcela participating with her two kids reminded me of when my mom would take me to places and things. More often than not, I sat and read a book waiting to leave. But, when something really caught my interest, I would put my book down and join. And that’s what we see happening in Diálogos.”

SCR and its community partner, Latino Health Access, are hosting a series of meetings in November for past participants in Dialagos Dialogue Days and theatre workshops. It’s a chance to hear how the community’s stories may be woven into the new play and to learn more about Diálogos’ next steps.  Past participants are asked to RSVP to the session they wish to attend:

Escuela de Mariachi
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 6-9 p.m.
Delhi Center*

505 E. Central Ave.
Santa Ana, Calif. 92707
*A special performance featuring David Torres’ acclaimed Escuela de Mariachi will kick-off the Delhi Center session!

Friday, Nov. 22, 6-9 p.m.
Latino Health Access

450 W. 4th Street
Santa Ana, Calif. 92701

Monday, Nov. 25, 6-9 p.m.
South Coast Repertory

655 Town Center Drive
Costa Mesa, Calif. 92628

Learn more about Dialogue/Diálogos

Monday, November 4, 2013

Get Ready for "A Christmas Carol"

Meet Ebenezer Scrooge: A Clutching, Covetous Old Sinner

South Coast Repertory’s production of A Christmas Carol—starting this month—marks the 34th year that Hal Landon Jr. steps into a humbug frame of mind. Perhaps his character’s “humbuggedness” is best seen through the eyes of writer Charles Dickens, who describes Ebenezer Scrooge like this:

“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.

“External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often ‘Came down’ handsomely, and Scrooge never did.

“Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks ‘My dear Scrooge, how are you? When will you come to see me?’ No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o’clock, no man or woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blindmen’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!

“But what did Scrooge care! It was the very thing he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what the knowing ones call ‘nuts’ to Scrooge.”

Don’t miss Orange County’s favorite holiday tradition: SCR’s A Christmas Carol runs Nov. 29-Dec. 26. Don’t wait to buy tickets; they are going fast!

Buy tickets now

Friday, November 1, 2013

"4,000 Miles" Opens to Cheers and Thanks

On November 25, First Night of 4,000 Miles began with cheers for the production and continued at the Cast Party with thanks to Honorary Producer Barbara Roberts.  You name it, over the years Barbara and her late husband, Bill, got behind it.  Their history of support is legendary, but it includes something not everyone knows: way back when, SCR joined the computer age thanks in part to Bill, who helped train the staff and get everything up and running.

Barbara and Bill’s daughter Brooke Roberts-Webb, who partnered with her mother to help underwrite 4,000 Miles, was unable to attend First Night, as were first-time Honorary Producers SCR Trustee Steve Duncan and his wife, Laurie.  But there were many old timers sharing the warm glow provided by the show’s director David Emmes and cast, led by Jenny O’Hara as the 91-year-old Leftie, Vera Joseph; Matt Caplan as her neo-Hippie grandson, Leo; Rebecca Mozo; and Klarissa Mesee.

Throughout the 50th Season, First Nighters will share their special evenings with longtime SCR artists.  Joining the audience for 4,000 Miles were favorites Marnie Mosiman and John de Lancie, who appeared in a total of 14 productions.  In fact, they met here in 1981, when John was in Childe Byron on the Mainstage and Marnie in Ashes on the Second Stage.  A decade later, they appeared together in Man and Superman.

Anni Long and Jarion Monroe travelled down from their home in Mill Valley to join the fun.  A longtime SCR favorite, Anni appeared in more than 50 shows, plus many productions of A Christmas Carol.  Jarion has a dozen shows to his credit.  And, they also met at SCR!

Ayre Gross, who began his career at SCR in Educational Touring Productions, went on to perform in seven more shows, including Our Mother’s Brief Affair with, among others, Jenny O’Hara.

They were all there to sip cocktails, including the signature “Leftie,” nibble mini bagels and New York style cheesecake and congratulate the artists of 4,000 Miles, which the Los Angeles Times called “a dramatic journey across the generations.”

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.