Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Very Irish Evening

Richard Doyle and James Lancaster in The Weir.
On Friday, March 18, First Night subscribers and their guests were quietly mesmerized throughout Conor McPherson’s The Weir, directed by Warner Shook.  But as the final words were spoken, thunderous applause rang out for the cast of extraordinary actors, who had settled so comfortably (and believably) into the warmth of an Irish tavern on a stormy night to tell tall tales—as only the Irish can.

After the show, everyone gathered at the Center Club to celebrate the production.  Their glowing reviews were later echoed by the critics:
“Superb revival…one of the best Irish plays!” – LAStageTimes   
“A toast to our ghosts … a true ensemble affair!” – Los Angeles Times
“The establishment’s customers … are as genuine as their surroundings in the hands of the cast.” –   
 “Director Warner Shook and his cast transport you to a small Irish country pub, where the liquor flows as smoothly as the stories of ghosts and fairies and lost loves.” – Long Beach Press-Telegram
See photos and read more about the Cast Party and the five actors who bring The Weir to life.

Friday, March 18, 2011

SCR Gets into the Irish Spirit with "The Weir"

Before taking your seat for an evening of ghostly stories and tale-telling in The Weir, playwright Conor McPherson’s critically acclaimed play set in a remote Irish pub, stop by SCR’s lobby bar for bit o’ booze. We’ve got three Irish-themed specials to choose from:

Harp and Guinness in the Bottle
Choose Harp, the crowd-pleasing pale lager that will have you chanting, “Harp stays sharp!” or Guinness, a beer so thick it’s practically a meal. The only downside? SCR does not have a dartboard.

Irish Coffee
Initially concocted to keep travelers warm on a bitterly cold winter’s evening in Ireland, our Irish Coffee combines one ounce of Irish whiskey with coffee and a dollop of whipped cream. Keeps the chill out, so to speak, which might be just the thing for this goosebump-raising play.

The bar opens one hour before showtime. We’ll also stay open after the show on Friday, March 25, and Friday, April 1, for Curtain Call, a chance to drink and discuss the show with your friends. Members of the cast and crew are usually on hand if you have any burning questions.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Get Ready for a Magical Evening

Elaine Weinberg and Nancy Dahan
It’s going to be black and white…mother and daughter…all about magic!

SCR’s 2011 Gala Ball, THEATRE MAGIC: The Black and White Ball, will be chaired by Elaine Weinberg and her daughter, Nancy Dahan, on September 10, 2011 at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel.

According to Elaine, “I’ve always wanted to chair a sophisticated black and white event—and adding the element of magic is wonderful because theatre is such a magical art form.”

This is Elaine’s second time around as a gala chair.  She and Teri Kennady chaired “Play On” in 1999.   “We had a fabulous time working together on that event,” Elaine said.  “It’s so much fun having a sidekick, and I’m looking forward to Nancy’s input—and her creative energy.  It’ll be a special treat for us both.”

Nancy and her four brothers attended SCR with their mother and late father, Martin, from the earliest days of the theatre, when they remember sitting on bleachers.  “I have enjoyed this theater for so many years,” Nancy said, “and now so do my children and their cousins, so the legacy continues. I am so excited to work side by side with my mother on this event with our creative committee of theater lovers."

Background on the Chairs:

Elaine and her late husband, Martin, were among the theatre’s most enthusiastic and stalwart supports.  They both served as SCR Trustees and were major donors to all of SCR’s fundraising campaigns.  Over the years, they were Honorary Producers of seven plays.  More recently, Elaine underwrote The Importance of Being Earnest in 2008 and You, Nero in 2009.  For the past five seasons, she has underwritten the NewSCRipts series of staged readings.

Like her parents, Nancy is an attorney.  She has been active in family law since 1988 and partner in Dahan and Brown since 2000.  She and her husband, Victor, are members of SCR’s Golden Circle of donors and subscribers to the Segerstrom Stage, and Nancy joins her mother in enthusiastic support for NewSCRipts.

News from the first Gala meeting:
On March 9, Elaine and Nancy welcomed the Committee members to a luncheon held in the SCR lobby and introduced Managing Director Paula Tomei, who talked about the increased artistic activity all around the theatre, with two season productions in rehearsal, the Pacific Playwrights Festival coming up and the on-going Studio Series, a new initiative that includes seven local performances over eight weekends.  “That’s why we’re having lunch in the lobby!” she explained.

She brought the Committee up to date on SCR’s new Artistic Director Marc Masterson, who will join the theater fulltime in September.   “It’s going to be a particularly exciting season, the beginning of a new era at SCR,” she said.  “The Gala launches our season and provides the largest gift to the Annual Fund.  I’m especially happy—at this auspicious time—that our Gala will be led by Elaine and Nancy.”

Committee members introduced themselves and talked about their Gala experiences over the years and the excitement surrounding the 2011 Gala.  Serving on the Committee this season are six new members, three of them Weinbergs—Bailey, Eva and Marci Maietta, wives of Elaine’s sons (and Nancy’s brothers) Paul, David and Bill.  Joining them are Carolina Prichard, Gayle Widyolar and Carolyn Zainer.

By all accounts, THEATRE MAGIC: The Black and White Ball will be a elegant event, held in an especially elegant setting, the newly renovated Ritz Carlton.  “It’s going to be gorgeous,” Nancy said, adding that they hoped the black and white theme would carry through in the gowns, and possibly even masks.  The meeting ended on a high note, with the news that J.T. and the California Dreamin’ would return to provide the music for dancing the night away on September 10.  For more information, please contact Director of Development Susan Reeder at (714) 708-5518.

Gala Committee members, to date—and growing:
Ashleigh Aitken, Bette Aitken, Julianne Argyros, Randy Morrison Baird, Susan Bowman, Dede Brink, Donna Cohn, Sophie Cripe, Gail Doe, Susan Ehrlich, Patricia Ellis, Valerie Fearns, Kathryn Glassmyer, Nadine Hall, Marlene Hamontree, Dee Higby, Mimi Holcombe, Linda Hovee, Betty Eu Huang, Olivia Johnson, Joan Kaloustian, Teri Kennady, Elaine Krajanowski, Linda Maggard, Diana Martin, Sue Murphy, Pam Muzzy, Pat Neisser, Stacey Nicholas, Beth Phelps, Carolina Prichard, Barbara Roberts, Jan Seitz Jashinski, Ardelle St. George, Laurie Smits Staude, Jane Taylor, Kathy Taylor, Julia Ann Ulcickas, Socorro Vasquez, Bailey Weinberg, Eva Weinberg, Marci Maietta Weinberg, Gayle Widyolar, Carolyn Zainer

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Don’t Be a Muggins: Learn Some Irish Slang

James Lancaster, Tony Ward and Kirsten Potter in The Weir.
It’s March, and St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner. And even if you can’t do an Irish accent, you can still sound like an Irishman with a little help from our guide to Irish slang, filled with expressions found in The Weir, which begins previews March 13.

Written by Conor McPherson, The Weir is set entirely in a tiny Irish pub, where four men and a lone woman toss back beer and whiskey as they tell ghost stories from their pasts. Listen carefully, and not only will you hear the words and phrases listed below, but echoes of spirits long gone.

Acting the mess: Playing the fool. “Don’t be acting the mess; come in out of the rain.”

Cod: Trick. (Can be a noun or a verb.) “Oh, that story’s only an old cod,” or “Are you codding me?”

Crack:  Fun. “Last night’s party was crack.” Also used as part of a greeting: “How’s the crack?” (What’s up?)

Culchie: A city dweller’s name for a country person. “All of us culchies took a bus into Dublin for the wedding.”

Dote: Softie. “Oh, don’t let his bad mood fool you. He’s a dote.”

Eye for the gap: An ability to see opportunity. Often used to describe rugby players who can spot the weakness in their opponent’s defense. “Bought up the whole town years ago, I did, for nothing, ´cause I’ve got an eye for the gap.”

Figary: Whim. “He’d be the fella who’d have a figary and drink nothing but bottled beer from now on.”

Gas: Fun, or amusing. “It’s gas,” or “She’s a gas young one.” 

Give out: Criticize, scold. “Quit your giving out and join us for a drink.”

Header/Headbanger: Lunatic. “You all think I’m a headbanger, I can tell.” (Another synonym is “loolah.”)

Holliers: Vacation. “Families on their holliers like to pitch tents around these parts.”

Janey: An exclamation akin to “jeepers!” or “jiminy!”—something that sounds like “Jesus!” without the blasphemy. “Ah, Janey! I won’t be able to sleep after all these ghost stories.”

Muggins: A fool. “There’s obviously something wrong with him, the muggins.”

Peel a banana in his pocket: Tight-fisted, cheap. Often the phrase is “peel an orange in his pocket.” The idea is that someone is so cheap, he will peel a piece of fruit inside his pocket so no one will see it and ask for a bite. “That fella’d peel a banana in his pocket.”

Poitin: Irish moonshine. “He pulled out a bottle of poitin he bought off Old Man Flanagan, and we passed it around.”

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

‘Charlie,’ with a Twist

Like all talented directors, Mercy Vasquez sees the play onstage before it’s actually there.  And when she saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, she saw Charlie as a girl.

Jamie Ostmann
“I wasn’t thinking of a way to make the play different; I was just thinking of a way to make it work well.”  Vasquez said.  And she had the girl in mind: Jamie Ostmann.

“When I was casting the show, I saw in Jamie just the quality I had imagined, and I said to myself, ‘That’s Charlie.’”

Right before the first group reading of the play, Vasquez announced the cast (every member of the Players has a role, some multiple roles), and she did so in no particular order.

“When she said I was Charlie, I wasn’t the only one who was surprised,” Jamie said.  “I think we all were.  But after about ten seconds of surprise, I got so excited—I wanted to jump up and scream.”

Like all the Players—who received copies of the script at the beginning of their winter session in the Theatre Conservatory—Jamie had read the play several times; in fact, as a huge Roald Dahl fan, she had read most of his books.  But her take on Charlie will be her own.  “Mercy wants us to figure out how our characters look and act, so I won’t watch the movie during the rehearsal process,” she said.

The cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in rehearsal.
Jamie’s take on being Charlie:  “I’ve been trying to stay open and vulnerable, which has definitely been a challenge,” she said, “especially the sadder monologues.  Charles isn’t really a sad person.  She tries to make the best of her circumstances.  When she finds the ticket and goes to the factory, she’s the only one who is grateful to Willy Wonka—she admires him so much.”

Her take on being a member of SCR’s Junior Players ensemble group:  “It’s a fun challenge.  You have to be really focused and open to new ideas.  But it’s definitely worth it.  You have so much fun, you learn a ton, and you get to be with your friends.  How much better could it get?”