Monday, January 27, 2014

A “Peachy”-Keen Cast

THE CAST:  Top row, Geoffrey Wade, Richard Doyle, Jennifer Parsons,
bottom row, Derek Manson, Wyatt Fenner and Ameila White.
James and the Giant Peach boasts a cast of South Coast Repertory veteran actors, who have decades of experience and a commitment to their craft. Richard Doyle, who portrays the Earthworm, has been part of SCR for most of the past 50 years. Jennifer Parsons is active with SCR and is married to Doyle. And to a person, the actors love great storytelling. For this production in particular, many in the cast cite Roald Dahl’s books as a childhood favorite. Learn more about the cast for James and the Giant Peach.

Richard Doyle (Earthworm)
Doyle has been acting since his teen years and has been with South Coast Repertory for the past five decades. He has portrayed hundreds of characters in all kinds of productions, but this is the first time he has portrayed an Earthworm. He is the Ghost of Christmas Past in SCR’s annual holiday classic, A Christmas Carol. Active in television and film, his credits include “Cheers,” Air Force One, “Ben 10,” “Justice League” “Lego: Clutch Powers.” He also has given voice to characters in CD ROM games, such as “Metal Gear Solid.” He also narrates the annual Pageant of the Masters each summer in Laguna Beach. He is married to Jennifer Parsons (Miss Spider).

Wyatt Fenner (James)
Fenner loves books by Roald Dahl; in fact, he has loved storytelling (and theatre) since he was a child, growing up in Washington, D.C. He has portrayed characters from many well-known, including the Sheriff of Nottingham, Mowgli, Linus and—one of his very first and favorite parts—the back end of the cow, who was sold for some magic beans. He also has performed in plays by William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen, Joe Orton, Ben Jonson and many more, and has appeared on two detective TV series: “Bones” and “Veronica Mars.” Here at SCR, he portrayed the spoiled Bentley Summerhays in Misalliance and Elder Thomas in The Whale. Fenner studied theatre at the University of Southern California.

Derek Manson (Centipede)
Manson returns to where he donned a tiger tail and rode a skateboard in the world premiere musical, Jane of the Jungle. As a child, one of Manson’s favorite authors was Roald Dahl. Manson grew up in Georgia—which is the “Peach State”—and now resides in Hollywood. He has an active career, with stage and television appearances in New York City, Chicago and Atlanta.

Jennifer Parsons (Miss Spider)
Parsons is a veteran actor in both Theatre for Young Audiences productions and other productions at SCR. In an earlier production of James and the Giant Peach, she portrayed the Ladybug. Her other SCR productions include Anastasia Krupnik, The Borrowers, Sideways Stories, Bunnicula, James and the Giant Peach, The Only Child, Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business, The BFG and The Brand New Kid. She also portrays Mrs. Cratchit in A Christmas Carol.  In addition, she has an active career in other theatre works, movies and television. She is married to actor Richard Doyle (Earthworm).

Geoffery Wade (Old-Green-Grasshopper)
Last season, Wade portrayed Anastasia Krupnik’s Dad, who was a teacher. In James and Giant Peach, he’ll bring the Old-Green-Grasshopper to life. Through his years in theatre, he has portrayed more than 100 different characters; Wade says that this is the first time he’s portrayed a bug. His television credits include “Scrubs,” “Num3ers,” “Law & Order” and “NCIS.”

Amelia White (Ladybird)
White was born in Nottingham, England. She been a stage actress since her teen years, went to college in Nottingham and then in London to learn all the different ways to enjoy being on stage. She previously was seen at SCR in a number of productions, including  The Importance of Being Earnest, The Heiress and Misalliance.

Costume Design: From Renderings to Reality

Take one look at what a character is wearing and you already have an idea of who they are. With just one glance—a designer has done their job. Costume design speaks to character, status, occupation and the very world in which the play resides. It informs playgoers and aids actors in developing their characters. It’s up to a designer, working with a costume shop, to craft this visual part of the production.

Costuming a production can be time-consuming and challenging, especially when factoring in the size of the cast and multiple costume changes. SCR’s production of The Light in the Piazza has more than 80 costumes for a cast of 13—all the work of one designer. It’s up to her to take the lead and create the aesthetic through costumes.

Leah Piehl, who designed costumes for last season’s hit The Motherf**ker with the Hat, returns to SCR for the Piazza challenge. She started her work early in the process by reading the play, meeting with the director and researching the play’s time period to find inspiration. Then she develops a design concept that works within the world of Piazza.

Piehl’s inspiration for The Light in the Piazza: 1950s European fashions and American fashions. She plays with the more fitted European silhouettes against the American “petticoat” and a-line shapes, creating a contrast between the characters. As the musical progresses, Margaret and Clara’s costumes parallel their growth, inspired by the European culture that surrounds them. Piehl also decided to focus on the relationship between Margaret and Clara by placing the two in subtly matching palettes—Clara in softer tones and Margaret in saturated tones.

With her final designs completed five to four weeks before first rehearsal, the next step is to actualize them. Piehl, her assistant, three costume shop staff members at South Coast Repertory and a group of over hires are the team that makes it happen. Using Piehl’s costume renderings as a “road map,” the team works together to get the costumes as close to the renderings as possible. Sometimes building—making the costumes in house—is the key, and SCR has a strong costume shop that builds a majority of the costumes for each production.

While building each costume would be ideal—it is not always feasible. With such a large number of costumes needed for this production, time becomes the biggest challenge. Costume Shop Head Amy Hutto is the solution. She coordinates the shop and determines how much time can be spent on each costume. And it can be quite a bit of time. A man’s suit takes 40 hours to build and a woman’s dress takes about 32. Shoes alone take at least an hour each to prepare for any production. For The Light in the Piazza, Hutto estimates that SCR’s Costume Shop will build one-third of the costumes. She decides which piece should be built and which can be pulled and adapted from previous productions.

Fittings, alterations and building all push the shop into an organized frenzy as the team assembles each costume. Once the production moves from the rehearsal room to the stage, certain looks may need adjustments as the production comes together. As the first previews approach, each design element of the production (costumes, scenery, sound, and lights) must work in harmony to create the world of The Light in the Piazza. The end product is another piece to the story unfolding on stage.

Learn more and buy tickets.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Night to Remember...

On Wednesday, Jan. 22, Paul Folino took the stage to speak eloquently about the two men who founded South Coast Repertory and for whom he had re-named The Folino Theatre Center. Paul was joined by Board President Damien Jordan, Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei, all of whom added their praise for the two men—Founding Artistic Directors David Emmes and Martin Benson.

Then, after responses that were very moving (and a little bit tearful), David and Martin pulled the cord to reveal the new name: the David Emmes/Martin Benson Theatre Center.

When the thunderous applause finally died down, everyone headed for the SCR lobby to celebrate. Among the guests were many who had been there in the early days, honorary trustees (Julianne Argyros and Paul Folino, who is also a past president), emeritus trustees (Olivia Johnson, Ann Mound, Carl Neisser, Barbara Roberts, Tom Rogers and Elaine Weinberg) and past presidents (Tom Britton, Kae Ewing, Tom Peckenpaugh, Tom Phelps, Hal Schultz, John Stahr and Stewart Woodard), men and women who led the community in helping David and Martin take SCR to the very top of regional theatres in America. Yes, it was a night they’ll all remember!

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Alfaro Returns to SCR with "St. Jude"

Photo credit: Craig Schwartz

Luis Alfaro is a writer/performer known for his work in poetry, theatre, short stories, performance and journalism. He is also a producer/director who spent 10 years at the Mark Taper Forum as associate producer, director of new play development and co-director of the Latino Theatre Initiative.

His plays and performances include Oedipus El Rey, Electricidad, Downtown, No Holds Barrio, Body of Faith, Straight As A Line, Bitter Homes and Gardens, Black Butterfly and Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

He is currently a professor at University of Southern California's School of Dramatic Arts and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence.

St. Jude marks the return to South Coast Repertory of playwright, performer and activist Luis Alfaro to South Coast Repertory. He previously had a handful of his plays developed in our Hispanic Playwrights Project (1986-2004) including Bitter Homes and Gardens (1992), Straight as a Line (1994), California Scenarios (2001) and Electricidad (2002). He also directed the Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of Lupe, Now! by Jonathan Ceniceroz in 1999.

His one-man show, St. Jude will be presented as a part of SCR’s Studio SCR series, Feb. 13-16.

St. Jude is—in Alfaro’s words—“going from ‘what I am’ to ‘who I was.’” The play confronts the subjects of grief and loss, with Alfaro coming to terms with his father’s illness and then death. The narrative of St. Jude derives from essays Alfaro wrote while his father was receiving treatment at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, Calif. The play is an emotional journey that travels from Highway 99 to Alfaro’s hometown in the central valley of California. Every stop is a conjured memory from his youth with the journey ending at St. Jude Hospital. The journey is funny, tragic and surprising.

In addition to bringing St. Jude to SCR, Alfaro is also one of SCR’s commissioned playwrights a part of the CrossRoads Commissioning Project, a community-based initiative that has eight playwrights, creating new plays inspired by the artistic and cultural diversity of Orange County.

Praise for St. Jude
St. Jude captivated Los Angeles audiences during its world premiere last fall at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. The play—which was a part of the Radar L.A. Festival—also received acclaim for Alfaro's performance:

"One of the most powerful voices in Latino theatre"—Neon Tommy

“Genius…a must see”—pLAywriting in the city

“[A] touching autobiographical memoir centering on [Alfaro’s] care for his dying immigrant father.”—The Hollywood Reporter

“[Alfaro is] gifted with a strong stage voice and a beautiful singing voice… [his] delivery is never
slack…”—L.A. Reviews

“A gifted storyteller...[an] excellent solo show…catch it.”—Colin Mitchell,

St. Jude will be performed as a part of Studio SCR, Feb. 13-16, 2014. Get your tickets here.

"The Light in the Piazza": A Summer of Love, A Caprice of Fate

The Tuscan city of Florence, in the heart of Italy, is considered the cradle of the Renaissance, the place where Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Galileo, Machiavelli and other artists and thinkers brought about the greatest cultural and scientific advances in Europe since classical antiquity. Renaissance means rebirth, a reference to that new flowering of art, science and political philosophy that signaled Europe’s emergence from the Middle Ages. But for Margaret Johnson and her 26-year-old daughter, Clara, the possibility of a different sort of rebirth greets them when they arrive in Florence in the early summer of 1953.

Erin Mackey is Clara and Patti Cohenour is her mother Margaret
The two women have come to Italy without Roy, Margaret’s husband and Clara’s father, who has stayed behind in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to tend to business. This will be a leisurely mother-daughter vacation, and Margaret looks forward to introducing Clara to the city of “statues and stories,” her favorite place on earth, where she honeymooned with Roy so many years earlier. They will visit the museums and churches, the palaces and piazzas. They will eat good food and drink good wine. They will escape the “corduroy” dreariness of their everyday lives and experience the excitement of a culture completely different from what they have left behind.

But Margaret hasn’t bargained for the caprice of fate, in the form of a gust of wind that blows a hat from Clara’s head into the waiting hands of a young Florentine named Fabrizio Naccarelli. Clara and Fabrizio fall for each other at first sight, and suddenly Fabrizio is everywhere in the city. He “seems to have the mysterious ability to know where we are going before we know!” Margaret observes. Fabrizio attributes that to destiny, but Margaret suspects there’s something more down-to-earth at work. In any case, she does everything she can to nip the romance in the bud. As far as she is concerned, it cannot be allowed to progress.

The reason for her resistance remains vague until halfway into The Light in the Piazza, the musical by Craig Lucas and Adam Guettel on South Coast Repertory’s Segerstrom Stage. Even when Margaret tries to explain her objections to Fabrizio’s family, she finds it impossible to say more than “Clara is…Clara…is a special child.” We will ultimately learn what she means by that, but there’s never any question that her opposition springs from a genuine concern for Clara’s well-being.

Erin Mackey is Clara and David Burnham is Fabrizio 
Two kinds of love provide the beating heart of The Light in the Piazza. That between the young innamorati, Clara and Fabrizio; and the love between parent and child, which inevitably must recede and transform when romance comes to the fore. Margaret’s bond with Clara is especially strong, her protective maternal instincts highly tuned. But she has always had a dream for her daughter, the dream of a full, normal life, and that dream now converges with Clara’s own dream, to love and be loved. Margaret begins to wonder if it might be possible for both of them to get what they want. Can the enchanting light of Florence offer up enough magic to let that happen?

“No one with a dream should come to Italy,” Margaret later observes, when hope has given way to disappointment. “No matter how dead and buried you think it is—Italy—this is where Italy will get you.”

But the story of Margaret and Clara, of Clara and Fabrizio, of the light in the piazza and all that it illuminates, is not yet over. The conclusion, when it arrives, will not offer up a simple happy ending. Real life is almost always more complicated than that—and every birth or rebirth contains seeds for future disappointment. But The Light in the Piazza ends with a mother’s wish, and the possibility that, against all odds, it will be granted.

Playwright Craig Lucas Comes Home

Craig Lucas at SCR:  Reckless (1985), Blue Window (1986), Three Postcards (1987), Marry Me a Little (1988) and Prelude to a Kiss (1988).
Thirty years ago a young playwright named Craig Lucas came to SCR for the first time, for the west coast premiere of his play, Reckless.  He returned less than a year later for the West Coast premiere of his Blue Window, whose SCR production eventually transferred to a commercial run in Los Angeles.

Building on those early successes and a simpatico relationship with the playwright, SCR went on to produce a total of five Lucas plays, including the world premieres of his Prelude to a Kiss (which went on to become a Broadway success and a movie with Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan), and his musical, Three Postcards (written with composer Craig Carnelia).  Lucas was named one of the first of SCR’s Associate Artists, an honor reserved for a handful of theatre artists who have made significant contributions to SCR’s work over the years.

Now, after a long absence, Lucas returns to SCR with The Light in the Piazza.  He wrote the book for the musical and also directed its premiere at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre in 2003.  Although music has always been important to Lucas’s work—Blue Window included a single, very surprising song sung by one of its characters, two-thirds of the way into the play—Piazza became his first big success with the musical theatre form.  It paved the way for many more such opportunities, and today Lucas is one of the most sought-after book writers in the American theatre.  His eclectic array of current projects includes new musicals of King Kong (with a giant mechanized ape puppet in the title role), Amelie (based on the French film), The Outsiders and a new stage version of An American in Paris, as well as an opera and a ballet.  “If you want to get something done, ask a busy man,” Lucas quipped in a recent email.

Lucas’s creative partner on The Light in the Piazza, composer/lyricist Adam Guettel, originated the project after reading Elizabeth Spencer’s novella of the same name.  As the grandson of one of the great 20th-century theatre composers, Richard Rodgers, and son of another, Mary Rodgers, Guettel has the art form in his blood.  His early work (most prominently Floyd Collins, about the death of a man trapped in a cave), tested the capacity of the form to engage serious subject matter set to complex music with a sharp contemporary edge.  The music in Piazza is similarly complex at times, but also shows Guettel’s ability to write a soaring melody and to capture the essence of intense emotions in pure musical form.  Piazza’s music is as rich and luminous as the Florentine light that has inspired it.

SCR’s production of The Light in the Piazza is directed by Kent Nicholson, who made his SCR debut with last season’s How to Write a New Book for the Bible.  Nicholson is currently director of musical theatre at Playwrights Horizons in New York, and has devoted much of his career to developing, directing and producing new musicals.

Nicholson has assembled a top-notch design team to create Piazza’s Florentine world, with Neil Patel (The Language Archive) for sets, Leah Piehl (The Motherf**ker with the Hat) for costumes, Lap Chi Chu (Trudy and Max in Love) for lighting and Michael K. Hooker (Becky Shaw) for sound design. The musical director is Dennis Castellano, who has served in that capacity for most of the musicals produced at SCR in the last 20 years—most recently The Fantasticks. Castellano is head of the music theatre program at UC Irvine. Rounding out the production team, Kelly Todd (Ivy + Bean) serves as choreographer.

About half the SCR cast has performed in other major productions of The Light in the Piazza. The cast includes several performers who will be familiar to SCR audiences: David Burnham (Fabrizio) was seen as Jason in Ordinary Days; Perry Ojeda (Signor Naccarelli) made his SCR debut last season as El Gallo in The Fantasticks; Martin Kildare (Roy) appeared in the 2006 production of The Real Thing; and John-David Keller (the Priest) has been a member of the SCR company since 1973, serving as both actor and director (most notably for all 34 years of A Christmas Carol). The rest of the cast comprises Patti Cohenour (Margaret), Christopher Newell (Giuseppe Naccarelli), Joseph Almohaya (ensemble), Erin Mackey (Clara), Madison Mitchell (ensemble), Julie Garnyé (ensemble), Mary Gutzi (Signora Naccarelli), Melina Kalomas (Franca Naccarelli) and Louis Pardo (ensemble). Further information on the entire cast can be found on SCR’s website.

For an informative look at the journey of The Light in the Piazza from novella to Broadway musical, follow this link to the transcript of a conversation conducted by Lincoln Center Theater with Craig Lucas, Adam Guettel and Elizabeth Spencer:

Photos: Richard Doyle, Jeffrey Allan Chandler, Joan McMurtrey and Michael Canavan in Reckless; Barbara Tarbuck and Jane Galloway in Blue Window; Karen Trott, Jane Galloway and Maureen Silliman in Three Postcards; Lisa Zane, Frank Hamilton and Mark Arnott in Prelude to a Kiss.

Read more about The Light in the Piazza.

The New Life of the American Musical

The Light in the Piazza—with its romantic score of memorable songs, elegant setting and delightful moments of humor—has everything that SCR audiences might expect from a classic American musical. Yet its mixture of subtlety and complexity makes it a noticeably modern addition to the canon. In Piazza, the famous razzle-dazzle of the genre gives way to modest elegance; songs erupt not just from extreme emotions, but also from complex ones; and extroversion gives way to introspection. In his 2004 review of the pre-Broadway production, John Lahr of The New Yorker remarked that The Light in the Piazza “doesn’t want to make theatergoers feel good; it wants to make them feel deeply.” The depth is realized through balance; in Piazza, audiences will find warm heart and humor accented by sophisticated music—and a complicated ending that reveals both happiness and challenges on the horizon.

The attempt to give audiences more than just an evening’s entertainment seems to be a growing trend in mainstream musical theatre. Recent Broadway productions of more meditative pieces—like 2004’s Caroline, or Change; 2006’s Grey Gardens; and 2012’s Once—are gaining significant followings and holding their own against their showier counterparts. In this growing number of contemporary musicals, style is no longer beholden to the conventions established during the art form’s “Golden Age” (the 1940s through the 1960s), like flashy production numbers dropped in as a means to mollify the more challenging content. Now, musicals like The Light in the Piazza are dispensing with extraneous convention-flexing to make room for something deeper.

This evolution, however, is not without reverence for what came before. The works of composer/lyricist teams like Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Lowe certainly aren’t lacking in substance, and musicals like 1945’s Carousel, with its troubled protagonist Billy Bigelow and its bittersweet ending, and My Fair Lady, a musical adaptation—albeit a sunny one—of Shaw’s Pygmalion, both legitimized and popularized the genre. They also inspired future composers and lyricists like Stephen Sondheim, who’s known for developing a more intellectually stimulating brand of musical theatre. Even Piazza’s book writer, Craig Lucas, looked to the musicals of the Golden Age for inspiration, saying, “To me, what distinguishes all of those shows…is that they’re about people and human yearning.”  These masters created a model for the American musical and paved the way for today’s artists to move the genre forward.

Amidst the revivals of classic musicals and the spectacular contemporary epics (like the long-running Phantom of the Opera and Wicked), these more delicate works find their staying power through thoughtful content. Instead of demanding attention with stories of monumental significance or tragic love affairs, they entice audiences with subtle and intricate relationships often ignored in the genre. In Jeanine Tesori and Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change, for example, Caroline Thibodeaux, a black maid in 1963 Louisiana, carries the musical on her weary shoulders; her story is one of everyday routines, but it’s thoroughly compelling nonetheless. And the quirky mother-daughter relationship in the musical Grey Gardens may bait audiences with elements of camp but ultimately satisfies them with subtle pathos.

Piazza’s story is also centered on a mother and daughter. The musical tells of their vacation abroad, and in doing so gets to the very heart of who they were and who they’re becoming. It trusts that audiences crave complex relationships on the stage, and that those should be the engine of the musical. In his New Yorker review, Lahr expressed concern that a commercial run of The Light in the Piazza might not come to fruition because its powerful delicacy lacks flash, but he asserted that, “[Composer/lyricist Adam] Guettel’s kind of talent cannot be denied. He shouldn’t change for Broadway; Broadway, if it is to survive as a creative theatrical force, should change for him.” When The Light in the Piazza went on to a Broadway run at the Lincoln Center Theater the next season (where it earned six Tony Awards), it only proved that the change was well underway.

Read more about The Light in the Piazza

Friday, January 17, 2014

First Nighters Love "Trudy and Max in Love"

There was lots of love to go around on January 10, as the First Nights crowd joined artists and underwriters at the Cast Party for Trudy and Max in Love.  Everyone was there: Playwright Zoe Kazan, Zoe’s parents Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord, Director Lila Neugebauer, the cast, designers and Honorary Producers—Pam and Jim Muzzy, celebrating their eighth outing as underwriters.

And what a great scene for sharing all that affection—Silver Trumpet Restaurant at Avenue of the Arts Wyndham Hotel, newly (and beautifully) decorated.  It was the perfect setting for a party right out of New York City—young and fresh (and swanky/glam!)—with refreshments to match, including a Chinese food station, hot dog cart, hand-made pretzels, Reuben sandwiches and, of course, a New York cheesecake bar.

As party-goers munched and sipped (including the signature cocktail, Manhattan Iced Tea) Pam Muzzy echoed the buzz in the room with her critique of Trudy and Max in Love: “A smartly written play with great actors!”

Having trouble viewing the slideshow? Try watching it here.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Piazzas of Florence

The Light in the Piazza is a glorious musical that dazzles.  So does the actual light in the piazzas of Italy—especially in Florence.  Take a walk around, beginning where the play begins, in Piazza della Signoria. The early morning light is soothing, but by midday it’s radiant.

Early morning light in Piazza della Signoria
Afternoon light

Clara and her mother are American tourists vacationing in Florence.  Margaret talks (and sings) with her daughter about the city’s history, which began here, in Piazza della Signora.  They stroll, passing a statue of David.  Suddenly, Clara’s straw hat catches in the breeze and lands at the feet of a dashing young Italian—Fabrizio.

A copy of Michelangelo’s David, in Piazza della Signora

Clara and Margaret tour the Ufizzi, one of Europe’s great museums—and Fabrizio appears.  Later, as they visit the Duomo (Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore, the majestic  cathederal of Florence), there is Fabrizio again.

The Ufizzi
The Ufizzi

The Duomo
The Duomo
Clara and Margaret join Fabrizio and his father at a cafe near Piazzale Michelangelo, high atop a hill, with its panoramic view of the city.  This is where the two young people take a walk around the spacious square—alone for the first time—and begin to fall in love.

David, in Piazzale Michelangelo
View of Florence from the hill

Fabrizio works in his father’s tie shop in the Piazza della Repubblica, just one of the city’s light-filled spaces where, surely, the characters in this charming musical must have strolled—and where tourists will always find delight.

Piazza della Repubblica
Piazza Santa Maria Novella
Piazza San Marco
Piazza San Spirito

Piazza della Santissima Annunziata

Learn more and buy tickets

Some Familiar, Some New: A Lively Mix of Cast Members For The Light in the Piazza

THE CAST:  top row, Martin Kildare, Patti Cohenour, Christopher Newell; bottom row, Joseph Almohaya, Erin Mackey, Madison Mitchell, Julie Garnyé, Mary Gutzi, Melina Kalmoas, Perry Ojeda, Louis Pardo, John-David Keller and David Burnham.
The cast for South Coast Repertory’s production of The Light in the Piazza is as dazzling as the musical itself. David Burnham and Pattie Cohenour, from Piazza’s Broadway, national tour are part of SCR’s cast, along several SCR veterans, and some new faces and voices. The actors bring a range of experience from stage, television film and more. Meet the cast for The Light in the Piazza.

Joseph Almohaya (Ensemble) makes his SCR debut in The Light in the Piazza. Recently he was seen at Welk Resorts Theatre in San Diego alongside Ava Barber, Arthur Duncan and Mary Lou Metzger of “The Lawrence Welk Show” in A Welk Family Christmas directed by Cheryl Baxter. His other notable credits include In the Heights (San Diego Repertory), South Pacific (Moonlight Amphitheatre), Man of La Mancha (Welk Resorts Theatre), The Who’s Tommy (San Diego Repertory), Kiss Me, Kate, (Reprise!), The Producers (Cabrillo Music Theatre), Rent in New York (Westchester Broadway Theatre) and Jesus Christ Superstar with Ted Neeley (North American tour). In addition to performing in Los Angeles, New York and around the country.

David Burnham (Fabrizio Naccarelli) was last seen at SCR as Jason in Ordinary Days, and most recently received an Ovation Award nomination for his portrayal of Joe Gillis in Musical Theater West’s Sunset Boulevard. He was last seen on Broadway in Wicked, playing Fiyero, a role that he originated in the workshops of the show. He was in the original Broadway cast of The Light In the Piazza, performing both on the Tony Awards and the PBS telecast “Live From Lincoln Center.” Burnham is the recipient of the Helen Hayes Award as well as the Garland Award for his portrayal of Fabrizio in the national tour of Piazza. He replaced Donny Osmond as Joseph in the national tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Drama-Logue Award), and also toured as Peter in Jesus Christ Superstar. In New York City, he starred in the off-Broadway musical The Best Is Yet to Come—The Music of Cy Coleman.

Patti Cohenour (Margaret Johnson) is reprising the role she portrayed as the alternate in the Lincoln Center production of The Light in the Piazza. She has originated numerous roles on Broadway including Signora Naccarelli in Piazza, Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music revival, Christine in Phantom of the Opera (also Canada), Rosabud in Drood (also London), and Mary Jane in Big River. Additional credits include Adeline in Sweet Adeline for NYC Encores!, Magnolia in Hal Prince’s Showboat, Mimi in La Boheme and Isabel/Mabel in Pirates of Penzance for the New York Shakespeare Festival, and Florence Foster Jenkins in Souvenir for Seattle’s A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) and San Jose Repertory Theatre. She recently won a Gregory Award for her portrayals of Edith and Little Edie in Seattle’s 5th Avenue/ACT Theatre co-production of Grey Gardens, and will be portraying Charlotte in the upcoming 5th Avenue production of A Room with a View. Cohenour is a recipient of a Tony nomination, two Drama Desk nominations, a Jeff Award nomination, the Clarence Derwent Award, and a Theatre World Award.

Julie Garnye (Ensemble) makes her SCR debut in The Light in the Piazza. Her recent credits include the 2013 Academy Awards telecast (in the Les Misérables segment), both Les Misérables and Chicago at the Hollywood Bowl, Lorna Luft’s Pink Party (with Liza Minnelli) and Open All Night: The Music of Lance Horne. She is the only person who performed in Chess in Concert and An Evening with Stephen Schwartz on both coasts. Her Broadway credits include Hair (Actor’s Fund), Chess (Actor’s Fund), Children of Eden and Broadway by the Year 1978. She toured nationally in Cats (Jennyanydots, Grizabella) and appeared in the London West End production of First Things Last (Garrick Theatre). On regional stages, she has performed in Bat Boy, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof and Bye Bye Birdie. Her film and television credits include Disney’s Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (Lyria), “The Closer” and The Little Richard Story.

Mary Gutzi (Signora Naccarelli) makes her SCR debut in a role that she also performed at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. She has a career as an actor/singer/director and educator that spans more than 40 years and has taken her to 49 of the 50 states, as well as Canada and Europe. She has been seen on Broadway and regional theatres in such productions as Les Misérables, Ragtime, Sunset Boulevard and Cats. Gutzi had a recurring role as Dodds in the ABC television series “Last Resort” and was recently seen in a pivotal role in “Hawaii 5-O.” She has taught musical theatre for three years at American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles and continues to provide performance coaching to her many students all over the U.S. including the Hawaiian Islands.

Melina Kalomas (Franca Naccarelli) is thrilled to make her SCR debut. Her theatre credits include the first national tour of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein; national tours of Les Misérables (as Madeleine) and Camelot (as Nimue); Mary Zimmerman’s Arabian Nights (Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Kansas City Repertory); A Man of No Importance (Lillian Theater, with Good People Theatre Company); The Light in the Piazza (South Bay Civic Light Opera); Zhivago (La Jolla Playhouse, directed by Des McAnuff); The Melody Lingers On, opposite Kathryn Crosby (El Portal Theatre); La Boheme (Opera Pacific); Shenandoah (West Virginia Public Theatre); Gypsy and Oklahoma (Moonlight Amphitheatre); and Desert Song (Fullerton Civic Light Opera, where she won a Drama-Logue Award for Best Supporting Actress). Her television credits include “As the World Turns” and NBC’s “Grimm.”

John-David Keller (Priest) is a member of SCR’s resident acting company. He has been with the company since 1973 as both an actor and director. He has directed A Christmas Carol for its entire 34-year history. Among his other SCR directing credits are Godspell, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, In Fashion, The Real Inspector Hound (SCR’s first Equity show), Peg O’ My Heart and Tomfoolery. He has also acted in more than 100 productions at SCR. He recently appeared in the production of Anton Chekov’s Ivanov at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles and in Mrs. Warren’s Profession at the The Antaeus Company. Keller is the concert host for the Orange County Philharmonic Society’s fifth grade concerts. He is a member of Actors’ Equity, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and The Antaeus Company.

Martin Kildare (Roy Johnson) previously appeared at SCR as Max in The Real Thing. He has appeared on Broadway in The Lion King, A Raisin in the Sun, Timon of Athens, The Government Inspector and The Herbal Bed; off-Broadway in Pride’s Crossing (Lincoln Center Theater), Honor and the River (Theatre Row), Candida (Pearl Theatre Company) and Labor Day (Manhattan Theatre Club); and as Bill Austin in the national tour of Mamma Mia!. Regionally he acted with more than 20 companies including the Mark Taper Forum, Dallas Theater Center, Portland Center Stage, Folger Theatre, Indiana Repertory, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, Studio Arena, and the California, Alabama and Utah Shakespeare festivals. His television credits include “Desperate Housewives,” “Enlightened,” “Big Love,” “Without a Trace,” “Law & Order,” “Las Vegas,” “Numb3rs,” “CSI: New York,” “Hit the Floor,” “Ed,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Journeyman,” “Law and Order: SVU,” “Deadline” and others.

Erin Mackey (Clara Johnson) is originally from Fullerton and makes her SCR debut in The Light in the Piazza. She was last seen on Broadway as Oona O’Neill in Chaplin: The Musical. Her other Broadway credits include Anything Goes (Hope), Sondheim on Sondheim and Wicked (Glinda). She also performed as Glinda in the Chicago and Los Angeles companies of Wicked. She recently appeared as Christine in Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera’s production of Phantom. Her film and television credits include “Blue Bloods,” “Gossip Girl,” “Family Affair,” “Do Over” and The Parent Trap. She has had the pleasure of performing with the Long Beach Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Pops and Florida Orchestra and can be heard on the original cast albums of Chaplin and Sondheim on Sondheim.

Madison Mitchell (Ensemble) makes her SCR debut in this production. Her theatre credits include the national tours of Cats (30th anniversary, Demeter) and regional productions of Oklahoma!, Monty Python’s Spamalot! (Musical Theatre West), Legally Blonde (3-D Theatricals), Jo March in Little Women and Luisa in The Fantasticks. Mitchell recently originated the role of Celeste in the world premiere of Higher Education, created by Tony Award-winning producers Tim and Pamela Kashani. She also had the pleasure of performing alongside Patrick Cassidy in the 29th annual Southland Theatre Artists Goodwill Event (S.T.A.G.E. LA) and with The Vixens at the 64th Annual Emmy’s Creative/Governor’s Ball.

Christopher Newell (Giuseppe Naccarelli) is honored to make his debut at SCR and explore his Italian heritage. His Los Angeles theatre credits include Part of the Plan (aka The Dan Fogelberg Musical), Oklahoma (Musical Theatre West) and 1940s Radio Hour (Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities). His New York credits include Moonlight and Magnolias (42nd Street, Studio), For Christ’s Sake (Dodger Stages), Henry V and The Tempest (American Globe) and Matthew Passion (St. John Theatre). Regional credits include Les Misérables (Arkansas Repertory), Biloxi Blues and The Pirates of Penzance (St. Michaels Playhouse) and Meet Me In St Louis (Westchester Broadway Theatre). He was in the Broadway production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Minskoff Theatre) and the first national tour of Oklahoma! His television and film credits include “All My Children,” “Guiding Light,” “A Girls Guide to Depravity,” Kill on Sight, War Bride and Vena Amoris.

Perry Ojeda (Signor Naccarelli) made his SCR debut last season in The Fantasticks. He has appeared on Broadway in On the Town, Blood Brothers and Imaginary Friends; in London’s West End in Dolly West’s Kitchen; and off-Broadway in Die, Mommie, Die! and Babes in Arms (New York City Center ENCORES!). He has performed at hundreds of regional theatres across the country including The Old Globe, Goodspeed Opera House, San Jose Repertory, Cleveland Play House, CenterTheatre Group, Arena Stage, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, St. Louis’ The Muny, GeVa Theatre Center and The Blank Theatre as well as in several national tours. On television and in film, Ojeda has been featured on“Imagination Movers,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Eli Stone,” “Days of our Lives,” “One Life to Live,” “All My Children,” “Guiding Light,” The Day Lincoln Was Shot and the award-winning short, Pride.

Louis Pardo (Ensemble) most recently was seen portraying animation icon Ub Iwerks in When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney. His other stage credits include West Side Story with the San Francisco Symphony (A-Rab) and the national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar (understudy for Simon and Judas). His other regional work includes the Southern California regional premiere of Avenue Q (Princeton, Rod); Pippin (Pippin), The Full Monty (Jerry); The Who’s Tommy (Cousin Kevin) and Evita (Che). He has also been in readings for Chess (Freddie), Bells are Ringing (Dr. Kitchell) and City of Angels (Munoz). Pardo also performs with the educational touring company of The Imagination Machine and in the spring will portray Iago in Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at Disney’s California Adventure.

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