Thursday, January 28, 2016

Keeping the Jewel of Orange County Bright

Daniel Gil and Deborah Sassoon at First Nights of One Man, Two Guvnors.
Michael Weston and Aya Cash in South Coast Repertory's 2014 world premiere production of Trudy and Max in Love by Zoe Kazan. Photo by Debora Robinson.
Terrence Mann, Nancy Lemenager and John Todd in South Coast Repertory's 2006 production of The Studio.  Photo by Henry DiRocco./SCR
Teacher Sara Guererro, right, works with kids in the Conservatory.
“We’ve always wanted to support cultural arts in the area and South Coast Repertory is a hidden jewel in Orange County,” says Deborah Sassoon.

Sassoon, an obstetrician specializing in high-risk pregnancies, and her husband, Daniel Gil, a pharmaceutical company research vice president, discovered SCR when they moved to Orange County some 20 years ago. First, they fell in love with the range of plays the theatre offered and they became subscribers. Then, they became Friends of SCR, increased their support to Circle membership levels and, this season, became First Nights subscribers.

“We felt that, in our annual giving, we wanted to give back to the theatre where we have experienced so much pleasure,” Gil says.

“First Nights are great,” Sassoon says. “It was a special treat to sit at the table with Beth Henley after Abundance. Her career has been so amazing!”

The couple also enjoys hearing from special guests during First Nights, including exclusive access to the post-production Cast Party.

But their love for SCR goes deeper, since the whole family has connections to the theatre. Their son, Michael, now an MFA student at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, took the Summer Acting Workshop in SCR’s Theatre Conservatory.

“He told us that SCR was instrumental during his formative years,” Sassoon says, and adds that their son’s pursuit of the arts in graduate school has emphasized for the family how vital the arts are for people’s well-being.

“Michael said to me, ‘Mom, when someone comes into an emergency room, you try to do everything you can to save them. What about those whose souls are battered and bruised? The arts are what can save them.”

Gil has strong memories of seeing his first play—Al Pacino in Richard III—in Boston. Sassoon saw more musical theatre productions, like A Chorus Line. When the couple lived in New York City, they took advantage of student rush tickets to catch Broadway shows.

SCR has provided the couple with numerous favorite plays over the past 20 years. In their top three are Trudy and Max in Love by Zoe Kazan (2014), Zealot (2013) and The Studio (2006). They also enjoyed Kneehigh’s Tristan & Yseult (2015) and The Motherf**ker with the Hat (2013).

Find out more about becoming a First Nights subscriber.

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