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Courtesy of Joseph Fuqua




You can also find Joseph on Facebook HERE!!!
And you can find Joseph on YouTube




Fuddy Meers (3/13/19 - 3/31/19)
Rubicon Theatre Company
South Pacific (12/5/18 - 12/23/18)
Cmdr. Harbison
Rubicon Theatre Company
Julius Caesar (7/20/17 - 7/22/18)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program
King Lear (3/17/18 - 4/1/18)
The Duke of Cornwall
Rubicon Theatre Company
All Sales Final (2/6 & 13/17)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Free Plays-In-Progress Reading Series
A Christmas Carol (12/6 - 23/17)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Incognito (9/13/17 - 10/1/17)
Actor One
Rubicon Theatre Company
Much Ado About Nothing (7/21/17 - 7/23/17)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program
Sylvia (4/19/17 - 5/7/17)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Twelfth Night (7/29/16 - 7/31/16)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program
Fallen Angels (6/9/16 - 6/26/16)
Fred Sterroll
Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (3/2/16 - 3/26/16)
Marshall Johnson
Rubicon Theatre Company
(Run extended from original 3/20/16 closing date)
My Fair Lady (10/21/15 - 11/15/15)
Henry Higgins
Rubicon Theatre Company
Hamlet (7/24/15 - 7/26/15)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program
Conviction (23.5 Hours) (9/3 - 9/28/14)
Bruce Wagner
Rubicon Theatre Company
King Lear (7/11/14 - 7/13/14)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program
A Moon For The Misbegotten (3/12 - 4/6/14)
James Tyrone, Jr.
Rubicon Theatre Company
Romeo and Juliet (7/8/13 - 8/4/13)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program
23.5 Hours (4/1/13 & 4/7/13)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Rubicon Theatre Company Plays in Progress Series)
Our Town (3/6 - 3/31/13)
Simon Stimson
Rubicon Theatre Company
An American Tango (10/27 - 10/28/12)
Auggie - Character Witness
Lobero Theatre
Private Lives (9/8 - 9/30/12)
Elyot Chase
Rubicon Theatre Company / Laguna Playhouse
Co-Production (Laguna Dates: March 15 - April 10, 2011)
As You Like It ((7/19 - 7/22/12)

Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program

The Mystery of Irma Vep* (10/15 - 11/6/11) 
Jane, Lord Edgar, Irma Vep
Rubicon Theatre Company / Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara
Co-Production (Ensemble Dates: December 2 - 26, 2010)
The Life and Death of King John ((7/15 - 17/11)

Rubicon Theatre Company
Rubicon Youth Acting Intensive Production

The Tempest - Phase One (10/13 - 24/10)
Rubicon Theatre Company (Staged Reading)
Macbeth* (7/15 - 18/10) 
Rubicon Theatre Company
Rubicon Youth Acting Intensive Production
Doubt (1/30 - 2/21/10)
Father Flynn
Rubicon Theatre Company
Bard On A Wire (7/27 - 28/09)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Rubicon Youth Acting Intensive Production
Fiddler On The Roof (3/21 - 4/26/09)
The Constable
Rubicon Theatre Company
(Run extended from original 4/12/09 closing date)
I Loved Lucy (2/9/09) 
Lee Tannen
Rubicon Theatre Company (Plays in Progress Series)
Fabuloso (8/14 - 9/6/08) 
Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre
A Midsummer Night's Dream (2008)
Rubicon Theatre Company
RTC Youth Summer Production
Picasso at the Lapin Agile (2008)
Charles Dabernow Schmendiman
Rubicon Theatre Company
You Can't Take It With You (2008)
Ed Carmichael
Rubicon Theatre Company
(Run extended from original closing date)
Hamlet (2007)
Rubicon Theatre Company
(WINNER: 2007 Santa Barbara Independent Award for Leading Actor, and the 2007 Leading Actor Indy Award)

Man of La Mancha (2005-6)
The Duke/Dr. Carrasco

Rubicon Theatre Company
(Run extended from original 10/29/06 closing date)

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks (2006)
Michael Minetti
Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (2005-6)
Dale Harding
Rubicon Theatre Company
Tuesdays With Morrie  (2005) 
Mitch Albom
Rubicon Theatre Company
Twelve Angry Jurors (2005)

Rubicon Theatre Company (Show of Justice)

The Night of the Iguana (2004)
Jake Latta
Rubicon Theatre Company/Manitoba Theatre Centre
Co-Production (Manitoba Dates:
11/18 - 12/11/04)
BeckettFest  (RTC) (2004)
Rubicon Theatre Company
(originally cast as Lucky in "Waiting For Godot," withdrew due to illness)
This is Our Youth
Rubicon Theatre Company (RTC Intern Production)
The Importance of Being Earnest (2004)
Rubicon Theatre Company
All My Sons (2004)
George Dever
Rubicon Theatre Company
(WINNER: 2004 Ovation Award Featured Actor in a Play for this performance)
Art (2003)
Rubicon Theatre Company
Of Time and Tide (2003) 
Rubicon Theatre Company
(NOTE: Part of Rubicon's "Plays-in-Progress" program for 2003 - one of 3 readings being offered on the program for RTC's June plays in development.)
A Streetcar Named Desire (2003) 
Steve Hubbell

Rubicon Theatre Company
(Run extended from original 5/25/03 closing date)

Dancing At Lughnasa (2003)
Gerry Evans

Rubicon Theatre Company
(Run extended from original 3/30/03 closing date)

Old Wicked Songs (2002)
Stephen Hoffman

Rubicon Theatre Company
(NOTE: Production traveled to Santa Fe Stages in New Mexico (SFS Dates: June 21 - July 14, 2002)

J for J (2002) 
Rubicon Theatre Company/11th Hour Productions - Court Theatre (CT Dates: 3/14-4/21/02)
The Rainmaker (2002/2000) 
Rubicon Theatre Company
The Boys Next Door (2001) 
Barry Klemper
Rubicon Theatre Company
The Glass Menagerie (2001) 
Tom Wingfield
Rubicon Theatre Company
Henry Davidson
Rubicon Theatre Company
The Little Foxes (1999) 
Rubicon Theatre Company
On The Jump (1999) 
Albert Wheatcroft III
South Coast Rep
The Cat's Meow (1997)
Charlie Chaplin

Coast Playhouse
(WINNER: 1997 Dramalogue Award for this performance)

Angels In America Part II
Dallas Theatre Center
Dallas Shakespeare Festival
Angels In America Part I (1995)

Dallas Theatre Center

Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet (1993)
New Jersey Shakespeare Festival
A Month in the Country
Arena Stage - Washington D.C.
110 In The Shade  (1990)
Lincoln Center - NYC (WINNER: 1990 Oliver Thorndike Award)
Antony and Cleopatra
Octavius Caesar
Actors' Theatre of Louisville
Substance of Fire 

Raft of The Medusa
Lindbergh (1992)
Charles 2

Yale Repertory/Portland Stage

Listen To Me (1991) 
Ohio Theatre, Off-Broadway, NY
Hansel and Gretel
A Flea In Her Ear (1991)
Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo, NY
Troilus and Cressida (1991)
Phaedra and Hippolytus
Summer and Smoke
Daylight in Exile
Solid Gold Cadillac (1990) 
Underground Soap (1990)
Cuccaracha Theatre Company (New York City)
Two Gentlemen of Verona
Cuccaracha Theatre Company (New York City)
The Size of the World and Other Plays (1989)
A Doll's House
Yake School of Drama
Yale School of Drama - Yale Cabaret
Alan Strang
Yale School of Drama
The Shadow Box
Yale School of Drama
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui 
Yale School of Drama
Intermezzo (1988)
Prince Sigismund

Yale Repertory

Ah, Wilderness
Brighton Beach Memoirs 
Lincoln Center - NYC
Yours, Anne
Amadeus (1985)
Salieri's Valet, Blue Liveried Servant and u/s for Mozart
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Very Truly Yours
All My Sons 
International City Theatre of Long Beach
Empress of China (1983)
Julius Casear
Sweet Bird of Youth (1983)
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
The Legend of Daniel Boone
Old Fort Harrod
Bad Habits (1981)
The Mikado
Camp Tecumseh (1977)
Dames At Sea (1977)





Joseph is The Rubicon Theatre Company's first Company Member. Below are highlights of all his shows at Rubicon and elsewhere, that I was able to locate online and through Joseph himself. I have posted them in reverse order, to make it easier for those familiar with this site, and Joseph's work, to find his latest appearance information, however, for those who have not had a look here before, I recommend scrolling through all that is below. It is WELL WORTH the time to look:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~







3/13 - 31/2019








12/5 - 23/2018


















7/20 - 22/2018





3/17 - 4/1/2018






2/6 & 2/13/2018





2/6 - 23/2017

Joseph, as Fred, is in the center of the 2ns row from the top.









9/13 - 10/1/2017

Incognito marks Joseph's 30TH APPEARANCE on the RTC Stage!!! Joseph appears as Actor One in this mysterious and beautiful new play about the intersection between memory and identity. He will play six roles:

Thomas Stoltz Harvey, a pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Einstein’s brain in 1955. His obsession with discovering the secrets of Einstein’s brain has unintended disruptive consequences.

Victor Milner- an early 20th century Brit. Henry Maison’s pre and post-operative consultant. Patient and gentle.

Anthony- a contemporary British former historian, and a patient of Martha Murphy, grappling with a brain disorder known as confabulation.

Richard Walsh- a contemporary British married to Brenda Walsh- deeply troubled.

Jon Williams- an early 20th century British professor eager to study the brain of Henry Maison.

Otto Nathan- a mid-20th century German executor of Einstein’s will, dedicated and loyal.













7/21 - 23/2017









4/19 - 5/7/2017








7/29 - 31/2016








6/9 - 26/2016

(Top, L-R) Matthew Floyd Miller, J_ Paul Boehmer, Joseph Fuqua, Mary-Pat Green_ (Bottom L-R) Julie Granata, Paige Lindsey White

(Broadway World 6/10/16 Preview







3/2 - 3/26/2016












10/21 - 11/15/2015

Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

With Michael Forrest, Jesse Graham, Christopher Carothers, Jahmaul Abiodun Bakare, Kimberly Ann, Jenaha Marie and Carolanne Marano!!!

This very accomplished young woman, Kimberly Hessler, is playing the title role in Rubicon's "My Fair Lady" and we think she is a total revelation! We discovered her talents in auditions and are thrilled that she will become a member of Actors Equity Association in this show! Kimberly graduated from USC with a major in Vocal Arts and a minor in Musical Theatre and was a Finalist of LA’s Next Great Stage Star 2014. Recent credits include: "Pride and Prejudice" (Mary Bennet), "Les Misérables" (Cosette) and "Spelling Bee (Olive)." According to Producing Artistic Director Karyl Lynn Burns, "Kimberly is a vulnerable, versatile actress with one of the finest voices we have ever heard – a pure, true, soprano who makes it seem effortless. Come see her transformation from a "Cockney flower-seller" to a proper lady. We're all going to say we knew her when! For tickets, go to or call (805) 667-2900. Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

With Jesse Graham, Michael Forrest, Jenaha Marie, Carolanne Marano, Christopher Carothers, Kimberly Ann and Jahmaul Abiodun Bakare.!!!

With Jesse Graham, Michael Forrest, Jenaha Marie, Carolanne Marano, Christopher Carothers, Kimberly Ann and Jahmaul Abiodun Bakare!!!

With Jacqueline Elyse Rosenthal, Amber Petty, Jenaha Marie, Lila Bassior and Carolanne Marano!

A few publicity photos from "My Fair Lady," with Joseph Fuqua, Kimberly Hessler and Rudolph Willrich. Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

A few publicity photos from "My Fair Lady," with Joseph Fuqua, Kimberly Hessler and Rudolph Willrich. Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

A few publicity photos from "My Fair Lady," with Joseph Fuqua and Kimberly Hessler. Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

A few publicity photos from "My Fair Lady," with Kimberly Hessler. Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

A few publicity photos from "My Fair Lady," with Kimberly Hessler. Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

A few publicity photos from "My Fair Lady," with Joseph Fuqua and Kimberly Hessler. Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

A few publicity photos from "My Fair Lady," with Joseph Fuqua and Kimberly Hessler. Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

A few publicity photos from "My Fair Lady," with Joseph Fuqua, Kimberly Hessler and Rudolph Willrich. Photos by Jeanne Tanner!!!

Our production of My Fair Lady is performed with two pianists, who are onstage during the show. And we are fortunate to have two brilliant musicians deftly bringing this score to life every night- Lloyd Cooper, our Musical Director (who also plays 1st piano) and Chris Kimbler, playing 2nd piano. Here they are during a tech rehearsal last weekend!!!

The set for "My Fair Lady" is loading in and it's going to be loverly! Check out the pattern and painting on the floor. Set designer Thomas Giamario does it again. Tickets going fast and many dates are sold out. Call (805) 667-2900 or go to!!!









7/24 - 26/2015






9/3/2014 - 9/28/2014


23.5 hrs

23.5 hrs













7/11 - 13/2014







3/12/2014 - 4/6/2014








7/8 - 8/4/13





Joseph's Summer, 2013 RTC
Fearless Shakespeare Class






23.5 HRS

4/1/2013 and 4/7/2013





3/6/2013 - 3/31/2013

Our Town Your Theatre

March 6–31, 2013
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic
Our Town

Written by Thornton Wilder
Directed by Jenny Sullivan

Set in Grover's Corners, a quintessentially American town at the turn-of-the-last-century, Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a powerful and poetic reminder of the precious nature of everyday existence. As the Stage Manager in Rubicon's production, Artistic Director James O'Neil narrates Wilder's immortal tale of birth, love, marriage, death and daily life. "Oh earth, you're too wonderful for anyone to ever realize you," says Emily, played in our production by Lauren Patten (Rubicon's Anne Frank). Actors Dillon Francis, Joseph Fuqua and Rod Lathim also play pivotal roles in this Great American classic. Peter Hunt, who lit a production with Wilder himself as Stage Manager before becoming a Tony Award-winning director, joins the creative team as lighting designer.


Rubicon's spring offering is Thornton Wilder's Tony and Pulitzer Prize Award-winning classic Our Town, to run March 5-31, 2013. Rubicon Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan will direct. In Rubicon's production, Ventura resident and Artistic Director James O'Neil narrates Wilder's immortal tale of birth, love, marriage, death and daily life. Lauren Patten will play Emily, Dillon Francis will play George, Joseph Fuqua will play Simon, and Rod Lathim plays Howie Newsome. Tony Award-winner Peter Hunt will be the lighting designer.





Set in Grover’s Corners, a quintessentially American town at the turn-of-the-last-century, Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a powerful and poetic reminder of the precious nature of everyday existence. As the Stage Manager in Rubicon’s production, Artistic Director James O’Neil narrates Wilder’s immortal tale of birth, love, marriage, death and daily life. “Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anyone to realize you,” says Emily, played in our production by Lauren Patten (Rubicon’s Anne Frank). Local actors Dillon Francis and Joseph Fuqua also play pivotal roles in this Great American classic.

March 6 – 31, 2013

Our Town

Written by Thornton Wilder
Directed by Jenny Sullivan
Scenic design by Thomas S. Giamario
Sound design by Jonathan Burke

presented in association with:
Sandra & Jordan Labby
Loretta & Mike Merewether
co-sponsored with
Shelly & Rick Bayer


Life, so precious, is probed in Ventura production of 'Our Town' this month

Thornton Wilder's enduring words grace 'Our Town,' onstage now at Ventura's Rubicon Theatre

  • 805-437-0242
  • Posted March 7, 2013 at 10:38 p.m.

Someone still needs to hear those words, James O’Neil was saying in a tiny room just off the stage at the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura one evening last week right before a rehearsal.

Those words are from Thornton Wilder’s timeless “Our Town,” which the Rubicon ushers in the door with the last of three previews tonight, an opening gala Saturday night and shows through the end of the month. Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1938 play speaks to life, death, love, marriage, community and so much more as set in small-town America around the turn of the last century.

Last month marked the 75th anniversary of its Broadway debut and, as Wilder biographer Penelope Niven noted recently in The Wall Street Journal, celebratory stagings will be held across the country and around the world — including the recent “national” run at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., the same venue where Abraham Lincoln was shot.

“Our Town,” Niven wrote, “still speaks across cultures, across time zones, across languages.” It is by some accounts, she continued, “the most produced American play ever.”

“It is incredibly relevant,” said O’Neil, the Rubicon co-founder and artistic director who is pulling double duty on this one by playing one of the crucial “Our Town” roles, that of the stage manager.

Then-New York Times critic Frank Rich argued in an essay a few years ago that the true American faith still endures in “Our Town.” Rich contrasted its words with the greed of the financial crisis that lingers over our collective heads and wrote that the play’s distillation of life and death is “desperately needed” now so Americans “can remember who we are — and how we got lost in the boom before our bust.”

“It’s who we want to be,” O’Neil said, picking up the theme, “and we continually have to work at it.”

Every generation, he added, has to recommit to those ethics — honesty, straightforwardness, care for others, thoughtfulness.

“Every generation has to earn it,” O’Neil continued, “and that’s the usefulness of this play. Someone needs to hear it.”

That hasn’t been lost on the younger generation, at least cast-wise. Lauren Patten, 20, and Ventura native Dillon Francis, 22, play Emily Webb and George Gibbs, respectively, and their characters’ marriage is at the play’s heart.

Patten spoke of the play’s universality, adding, “I just think it’s some of the most beautiful words you can say in the canon of American theater.”

Francis loves the way it’s written and observed, “It’s a wonderful monument to how people can relate to everyone.”

Big thoughts on life

The Ventura production marks a homecoming of sorts for the Wisconsin-born Wilder. Right around 100 years ago, Wilder was a student at Thacher School in Ojai, in his midteens. There, he wrote what is thought to be his first produced play, “Russian Princess.”

It was the start of an American icon. Wilder, who died in 1975, would go on to teach at the University of Chicago and Harvard, write a screenplay for director Alfred Hitchcock and grace the cover of Time magazine. He won three Pulitzer Prizes — for the novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” the play “Skin of Our Teeth” and of course, “Our Town.”

Playwright Edward Albee, no slouch himself with three Pulitzers, picked “Our Town” as the finest serious American play — and not, he wrote, for “its giant Americanness.”

“It is a superbly written, gloriously observed, tough and breathtaking statement of what it is to be alive, the wonder and hopeless loss of the space between birth and the grave,” Albee said.

The play’s central theme, as Wilder once wrote, is the relation between the countless “unimportant” details of our daily life and the great perspectives of time, history and other matters.

In the end, main character Emily learns that each life is “inestimably precious” — though the realization of that is seldom present to us. Or as Emily asks in the final act, “Do any human beings realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?”

The play, set in the fictional town of Grover’s Corners, N.H., in a 1901-13 time frame, is presented in three acts — titled simply “Daily Life,” “Love and Marriage” and “Death and Eternity.”

“It’s a marvel,” O’Neil said, “how you think of it as having this country homespun wisdom and humor in it, but in the end, it’s pretty hard-hitting, what it says about death and marriage. By the time of the third act, you realize how deep the thoughts are, and how universal they are. And it’s not going to change in 100 years, or 5,000 years.”

Patten agreed, saying, “People think it’s this old-time play about life in 1900, but it’s not.” The play, she said, speaks to everyone.

“It’s not just Emily; it’s every girl,” Patten said of her character. “It’s not George, it’s every boy. You recognize the same feelings you’ve had, and what you went through. The feelings are so similar.”

Shades of intimacy

The play fits right in with Rubicon’s 2012-13 season. After a few lean years economically, O’Neil and others felt that the Rubicon had become too insular and needed to reconnect with the community and remind them that it’s there.

Similarly, he noted, “Our Town” speaks to what community means.

The Rubicon isn’t just bringing the play to the community, it’s putting the community in the play. This will be a “theater-in-the-round” feel, with seats on the stage and above the stage for intimate and unusual views of the action.

The theater built a ramp leading down from center stage and into the crowd, where characters will run or walk as they speak lines, adding to the close feel. This “total environment” production is not a first for the Rubicon — the theater has used it for productions such as “Fiddler on the Roof” — but it’s pretty eye-catching, even in a rehearsal.

Audiences will notice a couple other peculiarities. Per Wilder’s desires, the play is done with little scenery, no real set to speak of and minimal props. Other than period costumes, O’Neil noted, it’s pretty much all tables, ladders and chairs.

Many of the props, he added, are mimed. O’Neil offered a vivid demonstration of how, in the soda fountain scene where he makes strawberry ice cream sodas, he has to mimic pulling the soda jerk forward and then pushing it back, because that’s how it squirts out the confection.

Francis, who did a youth production of “Our Town” at Rubicon several years back, spoke of how he had to learn to convey the weight of a prop, such as a milk glass, through mime.

The other rarity involves O’Neil’s stage manager character. In “Our Town,” the stage manager is the guide to Grover’s Corners and offers worldly perspective. As such, he’s out of time and moves back and forth in time; O’Neil will be wearing contemporary clothes rather than a period costume.

The stage manager also breaks down the so-called “fourth wall” and speaks directly to the audience. This, said O’Neil — who could think of maybe a handful of well-known plays that do so — will be “very tricky,” because the audience isn’t used to it and could feel the need to react or respond. If so, he might just throw in an ad-lib.

He’ll also avoid looking directly into people’s eyes and look between the seats in an attempt to make them feel more comfortable.

In character

Over the years, in various adaptations, O’Neil’s stage manager character has been played by such greats as Paul Newman, Hal Holbrook and Frank Sinatra. O’ Neil thinks he knows why.

“You get to say a lot of cool things,” he said. “The stage manager is a folksy philosopher. He’s a likable guy. There’s a certain part of any actor that wants to be liked. We try to train ourselves away from that, but at the same time it’s ingrained in any actor. You want to be liked; it’s part of why you are an actor.”

The stage manager, he added, also lacks a proclivity for judgment, another attractive quality. Said O’Neil: “As soon as I started speaking the words and started getting inside the role, I realized, ‘Oh yeah, oh yeah, this is a pretty cool role.’”

Elsewhere, Patten and Francis also talked acting shop.

Patten said her Emily character is “going through the firsts of everything in her life — first love, her first wedding. She has this innate curiosity. She wants to find the truth. She’s always seeking, to the very end.”

Patten is a Chicagoan who called out of the blue a few years ago and wanted to be in Rubicon’s production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Or as O’Neil remembered it, “She was convinced she should be in that play, and so were we after we saw her do her thing.”

She has since moved to Los Angeles to pursue the acting thing. “Our Town” marks her fifth Rubicon production. Said Patten: “I feel very at home here.”

Francis can beat that; he grew up in Ventura, has been a Rubicon regular since he was 9, and has done more than 20 shows there. He now splits time between Ventura and Goleta, where he’s getting an acting degree at UC Santa Barbara.

He said his George character in “Our Town” likes baseball “and probably likes sports too much. But he’s a decent guy. He cares about the things around him, though he doesn’t act like it. By the end, you find out how much he cares.”

Francis said his toughest challenge might be the final act, by which his George character has endured major tragedies in his life. He has no lines there.

“It’s very emotional,” Francis said. “He can’t bring himself to speak at all. That’s difficult. To try to relate that is very trying.”

It was typical theater chitchat that likely has echoed across the ages, to the plays the Greeks and Romans put on in ancient times — the same ancients the stage manager character references in “Our Town.”

It could play in Grover’s Corners, in Washington, in Ventura, anywhere. It is our town.

‘Our Town’

Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play runs through March 31 at the Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. There is a preview at 8 tonight and an opening-night gala at 7 p.m. Saturday. Regular performances are at 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25 for tonight’s preview and $150 for Saturday’s gala (includes a party and post-show reception at City Hall). Regular tickets are $39-$49, including five rows of special seating on the stage. Call 667-2900 or visit

© 2013 Ventura County Star.

(View the Our Town slide show.)









This is a fabulous multi-media performance, a true American love story, and a beautiful blend of dance, theater, and music. Per Joseph, himself: "Um...I am in this. Ok, yes, I am in a Ballet. I narrate and kinda have to dance. A little. No 'walk of the cat' (pas de chat?) or 'neck of the foot' stuff (can't spell that in french)...but ANYHOO. I am in a Ballet."


State Street Ballet’s launches its 2012-2013 season with the World Premiere of AN AMERICAN TANGO, an original full-length ballet conceived and Written by Guy Veloz, directed and choreographed by William Soleau, and produced by Michael Roush and Rodney Gustafson. The full-length ballet is based on the life and true love story of Frank and Yolanda Veloz, considered the greatest ballroom dance duo of the 1930s and 40s. Their passionate romance and notorious friends catapulted them from the steamy clubs of Havana and Miami, to Broadway, and finally, Beverly Hills, and the world of Hollywood film. Mr. Soleau has created a touching tribute to Frank and Yolanda’s love affair with their art, their many colorful friends, including Dutch Schultz, Walter Winchell, and Florenz Ziegfeld, and most importantly, each other. He has created over 80 original dance works in the course of his career, including several for State Street Ballet. Mr. Soleau’s STARRY NIGHT based on the life of Vincent van Gogh, was seen in Santa Barbara last year, and made use of a spoken character role to help the audience understand the historical narrative. Mr. Soleau’s new work, AN AMERICAN TANGO, will feature the versatile theater and film actor JOSEPH FUQUA as a character witness, literally, to Frank and Yolanda Veloz’ passionate marriage and exciting circle of friends, which included legendary Broadway producers, Hollywood filmmakers, and notorious Las Vegas mob dons.







9/8 - 30/2012




Private Lives
September 8 - September 30, 2012

by Noël Coward
starring Winslow Corbett, Joseph Fuqua, Julie Granata & Matthew Floyd Miller

Private Lives

Our final production of the season is “gorgeous, dazzling and fantastically funny,”
according to the New York Times. Elyot and Amanda, once married, meet by
chance at a hotel where they are honeymooning with their new spouses. Despite
their perpetually stormy relationship, sparks fly and they cannot resist their own feelings.
They impulsively elope in the middle of the night, only to be caught days later by their
jilted spouses in a most compromising situation. Filled with the kind of witty repartee
that could only come from the pen of the mighty Noël Coward, this play has had
numerous successful productions in Broadway and the West End, boasting stars ranging
from Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton and Alan Rickman to Gertrude Lawrence,
Maggie Smith and Kim Catrall. Don’t miss this stylish, savvy story about the people we
can't live with—or without.


$25 –$54

Buy Tickets Now

September 5 –7

More information to come.

Rubicon Theatre Logo

PRIVATE LIVES by Sir Noël Coward

Previews this week and opens

Saturday, September 8, 2012 at Rubicon Theatre!

Private Lives 9

Photo Caption: Joseph Fuqua, Alyson Lindsay, Matthew Floyd Miller and Julie Granata in Rubicon Theatre's Private Lives. The cast also includes Eileen Desandre.

Photo Credit: Ed Krieger

The elegant and sophisticated comedy by Sir Noël Coward, produced in association with Laguna Playhouse, begins previews this Wednesday, September 5th and opens Saturday, September 8th!


Passion, anger, love, laughter and romance all shaped by Noël Coward's wit and comic genius sets the stage for perpetually dueling lovers Amanda and Elyot. In Coward's most celebrated comedy, the two divorcees unwittingly book adjoining rooms while honeymooning with their new spouses, and quickly realize the folly of their new marriages. Impulsively and in the dead of night, they flee only to be caught days later by their jilted spouses while in a most compromising situation. Don't miss Noël Coward's stylish, savvy comedy about modern romance and the people we can't live with-or without.  

Private Lives Highlights Video
"CRITICS PICK!" - Backstage West
"Sumptuously staged, smartly cast, a no-cutting-corners evening of enjoyable theater." - OC Register
"A treat to watch...bravo's all around" -
"Fuqua's debonair!"  -
"Granata's unbridled, hot-as-fire characterization" -
"Granata is cool, elegant and feral, as Amanda"-
"Fuqua wields his vocabulary as a hunter would brandish a gun.""
"Matthew Floyd Miller excellently transcends the average fuddy-duddy with an explosive center!" -
"Barnicle is an experienced director who's equally adept at character-based comedy, farce and taut drama. 'Private Lives' is typical of his assured style." - OC Register


Or call (805)667-2900


The Community Sponsor for PRIVATE LIVES is Santa Barbara Bank & Trust and the Hotel Sponsor for the production is the historic Pierpont Inn, which offers a 15% discount on accommodations, food and beverages when Rubicon is mentioned.

Private Lives Actor Biographies

Eileen DeSandre
was a member of the company at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for sixteen seasons. Roles there included Bessie Berger in Awake and Sing, Maria in Twelfth Night, Brighella in The Servant of Two Masters, Bertha Katz in Paradise Lost, Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Juliana Tesman in Hedda Gabler, Maddalena Guarneri in The Magic Fire (also at the Kennedy Center), Monica Reed in Present Laughter, Speed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Holofernes in Love's Labour's Lost, Mme. Pernelle in Tartuffe, Madanika in The Clay Cart, Gertrud in On the Razzle, The Maid in Blood Wedding, and many others. Recent roles include the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet at Riverside Theatre in New York City, Mom in The Spin Cycle  at Innovation Theatre Works, and the title role in Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher in French at the Oregon Bach Festival (Marin Alsop, conductor; James Robinson, director). Work at other theatres includes Intar, Theatre for the New City, and The Promenade in New York; and regional productions at Fulton Opera House, Milwaukee Rep, St. Vincent Theatre and Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.

Joseph Fuqua
is a Yale School of Drama graduate who appeared on and off-Broadway in Brighton Beach Memoirs and 110 in the Shade (Lincoln Center). Joseph’s regional creditsinclude Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alexei in A Month in the Country at Arena Stage, Iago in Othello for Shakespeare Festival of Dallas, Louis in Angels in America at Dallas Theater Center and Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opposite Mary Jo Catlett at Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara. On television, Joseph guest-starred in “The X Files,”“The Profiler,”“Brooklyn South,”“The Pretender,”“Chicago Hope,”“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,”“Becker”and the pilot “SecondNature.”Film credits include “Ed’s Next Move,”“David Searching,”“Heyday”and J.E.B. Stuart in “Gettysburg,”a role he reprised in the film “Gods and Generals”with Robert Duvall. In 2000,Joseph joined Rubicon Theatre as their first company member. He has appeared in over 25 productions with Rubicon, including Hamlet (title role - Indy Award), The Boys Next Door (Indy Award), The Rainmaker (Robby Award and Rep Award), All My Sons (Ovation Award), Doubt (directed by his dear friend Jenny Sullivan), Sebastian in Jim O’Neil’s The Tempest, and he most recently starred in The Mystery of Irma Vep at Rubicon. Joseph is overjoyed to be working again at the magic theatre that Jim and Karyl Lynn built!

Julie Granata
is thrilled to make her Rubicon debut, reprising the role of Amanda with this wonderful cast. An Ohio native, Julie began her career in Chicago after receiving her B.F.A. in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Some of her favorite Chicago roles include Girl in Edward Albee's The Play about the Baby and Dawn in Lobby Hero (both at the Goodman Theatre), Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train (Steppenwolf Theatre), Don't Drink the Water, Meet John Doe, Streeterville, Whale Music, The Women, Present Laughter, Stage Door, Balm in Gilead, Merchant of Venice, Our Town, and Merrily We Roll Along. Recent West Coast theatre credits include The 39 Steps (Ensemble Theatre Company), Sally in I Am a Camera (B-Street Theatre), Boston Court’s World Premiere production of Futura, Hedda in Hedda Gabler, the Restoration comedy London Cuckolds (Ark Theatre), and Bright Ideas at the Avery Scriber Theatre. Julie has appeared in feature films, television, commercials, the live radio broadcast performance series “Stories on Stage”for NPR, and is a proud member of AEA. She would like to thank her husband Eric for 10 years of inspiration.

Alyson Lindsay
holds a B.A. from UCLA and an M.F.A. from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. She recently returned from New York where she played Wendy in the developmental reading of David Zippel’s modern-day adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest (set in the Hamptons) at theRoundabout Theatre. Previous Rubicon credits include Miranda in The Tempest, The Countess in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Ophelia in Hamlet (opposite Joseph Fuqua), Cherie in Bus Stop and Understudy in Maltby and Shire's World Premiere musical A Time for Love. Other favorite theatre appearances include What the Butler Saw (Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham), Rocket Science (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, World Premiere and winner of Richard Rodgers Best New Musical Award) and Jerry Springer: the Opera (George IV, Edinburgh Fringe Festival). Alyson appeared in “That's English” for Spanish TV, participated in Chipping Norton Theatre Sonnet Walks and Didcot Living Word Walks for Scary Little Girls Productions, performed her self-devised cabaret More Than High School Musical at The Arches in Glasgow,and had roles in commercials for 1% for the Planet and Yardi (with some very good-looking canine co-stars). Endless thanks and love go to all at Rubicon, the little theatre that COULD, her ever-supportive and beloved family, and her precious fiancé, with whom she very much enjoys fighting.

Matthew Floyd Miller
has appeared on Broadway in Not about Nightingales (Circle in the Square) and The Invention of Love (Lincoln Center Theatre). Off-Broadway credits include Another Part of the Forest (Peccadillo Theatre Company), Of Mice and Men (Urban Stages) and Letters from Cuba (Signature Theatre Company). Matthew’s regional credits include Tom Stoppard’s Rock‘n Roll, The Pillowman and The Underpants (ACT Theatre in Seattle),  Hysteria (Wilma Theatre), Around the World in Eighty Days and Desire Under the Elms at San Jose Rep (Dean Goodman Choice Award for the latter), The Bald Soprano (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey), This Wonderful Life (Portland Center Stage), The Tempest and the U.S. premiere of A Prayer For Owen Meany (Playmaker’s Rep), the World Premiere of Theophilus North (Arena Stage and Geva), The Violet Hour (Dallas Theatre Center), The Matchmaker with Andrea Martin (Ford’s Theatre), Enchanted April (Arizona Theatre Company), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Old Globe), The Lady of the Camellias and The Mousetrap (Pioneer Theatre Company), Two Rooms (Chester Theatre Company), Romeo and Juliet (Portland Stage), and Quills and Wilder, Wilder (Berkshire Theatre Festival). TV and Film credits include “Law & Order,”“Pop Rocks”(Audience Award - Best Short, Breckenridge Film Festival), “All Good Things,”“End of the Line”and “Telegenic.”Matthew trained at the NYU Graduate Acting Program.

Photo Flash: Rubicon Theatre Opens PRIVATE LIVES Tonight, 9/8

The Royal Wedding. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The Olympic Games and Ceremonies. Rubicon Theatre Company celebrates our “love affair”with all things British with Private Lives, an elegant and sophisticated comedy by Sir Noël Cowar, opening tonight, Saturday, September 8 at the theatre’s intimate home in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District. A co-production of Rubicon and Laguna Playhouse, Private Lives runs Wednesdays through Sundays through September 30. Get a first look at the cast onstage below!

Full of Coward’s signature snappy repartee and razor-sharp wit, Private Lives is a fantastically funny farce that follows two self-absorbed divorcees, Elyot and Amanda, who unwittingly book adjoining hotel rooms while on honeymoon with their new spouses. Despite their perpetually stormy relationship, sparks fly and they find they are still irresistibly, magnetically and dangerously drawn to each other. Impulsively, Elyot and Amanda elope in the middle of the night, only to be caught days later by their jilted spouses in a most compromising situation.

Private Lives remains one of the most successful and popular British comedies ever written. The show opened in Edinburgh and toured the U.K. before it debuted at London’s Phoenix Theatre in 1930, with the author himself in the role of Elyot Chase opposite Gertrude Lawrence’s Amanda. The show made its Broadway bow with Coward and Lawrence (and Laurence Olivier as Victor) a year later at the Times Square Theatre in New York (with Times drama critic calling the play “a remarkable tour de force.”) Other actors who have appeared in Broadway and West End productions range from Richard Burton, Alan Rickman and Paul Gross to Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith and Kim Cattrall.

Fuqua (Rubicon’s first company member and a Ventura resident) recently appeared at Rubicon in many guises in the hilarious satire The Mystery of Irma Vep. Other Rubicon appearances include the title role in Hamlet (for which he won an Indy Award), Doubt, The Tempest, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Man of La Mancha, The Rainmaker (Robby Award and Rep Award) and All My Sons (Ovation Award).

A Yale School of Drama graduate, Fuqua has also appeared on and off-Broadway in Brighton Beach Memoirs and 110 in the Shade at Lincoln Center. Regional credits include Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alexei in A Month in the Country at Arena Stage, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opposite Mary Jo Catlett at Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara, Iago in Othello for Shakespeare Festival of Dallas and Louis in Angels in America at Dallas Theater Center.

Granata, an Ohio native, began her career in Chicago after receiving her BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Favorite roles include Girl in Edward Albee's The Play about the Baby and Dawn in Lobby Hero, both at the Goodman Theatre. Other Chicago credits include Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train at Steppenwolf Theatre, Don't Drink the Water, Meet John Doe, Streeterville, Whale Music, The Women, Present Laughter, Stage Door, Balm in Gilead, Merchant of Venice, Our Town and Merrily We Roll Along.

Granata’s recent West Coast theatre credits include The 39 Steps for Ensemble Theatre Company, Santa Barbara, Sally in I Am a Camera (B-Street Theatre), Boston Court’s World Premiere production of Futura, Hedda in Hedda Gabler, the Restoration comedy London Cuckolds (Ark Theatre), and Bright Ideas at the Avery Scriber Theater.

Matthew Floyd Miller, assaying the role of Amanda’s second husband Victor (originated by Olivier) also received critical acclaim during the Laguna leg of the run.

Miller appeared on Broadway in Not About Nightingales directed by Trevor Nunn at Circle in the Square, and Lincoln Center Theatre’s The Invention of Love. Miller’s Off-Broadway credits include Another Part of the Forest, Of Mice and Men, and Letters from Cuba. Regional credits include Tom Stoppard’s Rock‘n Roll, The Pillowman, The Underpants (ACT Theatre in Seattle); Hysteria (Wilma Theatre); Around the World In Eighty Days and Desire Under The Elms (San Jose Rep –Dean Goodman Choice Award for the latter); The Bald Soprano (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); This Wonderful Life (Portland Center Stage); the U.S. Premiere of A Prayer For Owen Meany; Arena Stage and Geva’s World Premiere production of Theophilus North; The Violet Hour (Dallas Theatre Center); The Matchmaker with Andrea Martin at Ford’s Theatre; Enchanted April (Arizona Theatre Company); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Old Globe); The Lady of the Camellias and The Mousetrap (Pioneer Theatre Company); The Tempest (Playmaker’s Rep);Two Rooms (Chester Theatre Company); Romeo & Juliet (Portland Stage); and Quills, Wilder, and Wilder (Berkshire Theatre Festival).

Ventura native Alyson Lindsay (Schuster) joins the Rubicon cast of PRIVATE LIVES as the put-upon, petulant Sybil. A graduate of UCLA and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Lindsay recently returned from New York, where she played fashionista Wendy in the staged reading of David Zippel’s contemporary adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest at theRoundabout Theatre. Previous Rubicon credits include Miranda in The Tempest, The Countess in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Ophelia in Hamlet (opposite Fuqua) and Cherie in Bus Stop. Other favorite theatre appearances include What the Butler Saw (Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham), Rocket Science (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, World Premiere and winner of Richard Rodgers Best New Musical Award), and Jerry Springer: the Opera (George IV, Edinburgh Fringe Festival).

Another newcomer to the group is Eileen Desandre as the dour French maid Louise. DeSandre is an Oregon Shakespeare Festival veteran of sixteen seasons. Roles include Bessie Berger in Awake and Sing, Maria in Twelfth Night, Brighella in The Servant of Two Masters, Bertha Katz in Paradise Lost, Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Juliana Tesman in Hedda Gabler, Maddalena Guarneri in The Magic Fire (also Kennedy Center production), Monica Reed in Present Laughter, Speed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Holofernes in Love's Labour's Lost, Mme. Pernelle in Tartuffe, Madanika in The Clay Cart, Gertrud in On the Razzle, and The Maid in Blood Wedding.

Most recently, DeSandre played the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet (Riverside Theatre), Mom in The Spin Cycle (Innovation Theatre Works), and the title role in Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher performed in French for the Oregon Bach Festival. Other theatre credits include performances at New York venues Intar, Theatre for the New City and Promenade; and regionally at Fulton Opera House, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, St. Vincent Theatre and Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.

PRIVATE LIVES is directed by Andrew Barnicle, whose extensive credits include more than 100 productions at North Coast Repertory Theatre, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, San Diego’s Theatre at Old Town, Michigan’s Meadow Brook Theatre, The Colony Theatre in Burbank, San Jose Rep, the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, and The Laguna Playhouse, where Barnicleserved as artistic director for nearly two decades.

Barnicle’s favorite projects at Laguna include Shirley Valentine, Moonlight and Magnolias, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf, Red Herring, Art; World Premieres and U.S. Premieres of multiple works by Bernard Farrell, Richard Dresser’s The Pursuit of Happiness and Rounding Third; Steve Martin’s The Underpants, and Somerset Maugham’s The Constant Wife, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, An Enemy of the People, and the World Premiere adapta­tion of his wife Sara’s translation of Carlo Goldoni’s The Liar.

The creative team for PRIVATE LIVES also includes Bruce Goodrich (Set Designer), Paulie Jenkins and ILYA MINDLIN (Lighting Design), JULIE KEEN (Costume Designer), CORY CARILLO (Sound Designer), and T. THERESA SCARANO (Prop Designer). LINDA M. TROSS serves as Production Stage Manager.

The comedy continues through September 30, 2012 at Rubicon’s home in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, Calif. For more information, visit

Photo credit: Ed Krieger

Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata
Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata

Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata
Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata

Julie Granata and Matthew Floyd Miller
Julie Granata and Matthew Floyd Miller

Julie Granata and Matthew Floyd Miller
Julie Granata and Matthew Floyd Miller

Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua
Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua

Foreground: Director Andrew Barnicle. Background: Julie Granata and Joseph
Foreground: Director Andrew Barnicle. Background: Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua.

VC Star

Rubicon Theatre to present Noël Coward's 'Private Lives'

Stormy normal

  • Posted September 5, 2012 at 5:12 p.m.

Prvate Lives

Photo by Ed Krieger, Contributed photo

Julia Granata plays Amanda and Joseph Fuqua portrays Elyot in Rubicon Theatre's production of "Private Lives."

'Private Lives' in Ventura"I think very few people are completely normal, really, deep down in their private lives."

English playwright Noël Coward wrote that piece of dialogue, spoken by the character Amanda in his comedic play "Private Lives," around 1930, long before everyone used Facebook to turn their private lives into public fodder. The line still rings true, because despite all the shared details, social media merely brushes the rough surface of who we really are.

All the wisdom and wit of Coward's "comedy of manners," which has been revived numerous times on Broadway and London's West End, will be onstage through Sept. 30 at the Rubicon Theatre Company in Ventura.

In the play, an urbane divorced couple, Elyot and Amanda, end up in hotel rooms next to each other while on honeymoons in France with their new spouses, Sybil and Victor. Elyot and Amanda's passionate sparring and sharp back-and-forth are revived, and of course they are still attracted to each other.

Coproduced by the Laguna Playhouse, the show is directed by Andrew Barnicle and stars Joseph Fuqua as Elyot, Julia Granata as Amanda, Alyson Lindsay as Sybil and Matthew Floyd Miller as Victor.

The show continues in previews at 8 tonight and will open at 7 p.m. Saturday. Regular showtimes are 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Sept. 30, at 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Preview: $25. Opening night: $150 (includes a preshow reception and post-show party). Regular shows: $25-$54. Call 667-2900 or visit

© 2012 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Love, and bon mots, are in the air as Rubicon delves into 'Private Lives'

  • By Rita Moran
  • Posted September 12, 2012 at 3:51 p.m.
Photo by Ed Krieger, Contributed photo

Photo by Ed Krieger, Contributed photo

Elyot (Joseph Fuqua, from left), Sybil (Alyson Lindsay), Victor (Matthew Floyd Miller) and Amanda (Julie Granata) try to sort out their romantic entanglements in "Private Lives."

Noël Coward, swift to find bon moments for his sophisticated bon mots, reveled in the setup for his ultra-British comedy "Private Lives." Two just-married couples find themselves on the first day of their honeymoons happily ensconced in adjoining balcony apartments at a sumptuous French resort.

Elyot is starting a new life with the young Sybil, a pretty and proper girl, five years after he and his previous wife, Amanda, divorced over what sounds like irreconcilable differences. Amanda, on the other hand, and other balcony, has wed the staid Victor, whose self-satisfied spirit she hopes will soothe her battle-worn one.

If there was a mismatch before between Elyot and Amanda, who fought verbally and physically in their emotional time together, there is at least a different balance between each of the new couples. Very quickly, Amanda and Elyot discover their proximity and ponder a new world of possibilities: Should they remain in their new, stifling situations, or break loose? After all, muses Elyot, "Honeymooning is a hugely overrated amusement." All of the fun, of course, is in the second option, so after witty and sophisticated interchanges, Elyot and Amanda bolt for Paris, leaving their new partners totally confused, but quickly united in their decision to confront the scandalous pair.

Naturally, Elyot and Amanda are ecstatic at first in their elegant Parisian digs, but they are who they are, and neither is going to be a doormat, despite all of the high-flying repartee. A battle royal ensues, Sybil and Victor arrive at just the worst moment, and the sorting out begins.

Highly skilled farceurs are required for the play, and the Rubicon has them. Joseph Fuqua and Julia Granata, reprising roles they played in the previous Rubicon-Laguna Playhouse co-production, are quirky, combative and deliver the Cowardisms with élan. Coward, who played Elyot when the comedy debuted in the 1930s, scattered memorable throwaway lines throughout his works, and conversation, like glittering stars in a night sky. When his characters say "Let's be superficial," it's a very amusing line, but it's also a sideways comment on an element of British society, one Coward learned to float through like a champ.
Victor (Matthew Floyd Miller)
                and Sybil (Alyson Lindsay)

Photo by Ed Krieger

Victor (Matthew Floyd Miller) and Sybil (Alyson Lindsay) are left behind by their spouses in "Private Lives."

'Private Lives'

Rubicon Theatre Company, in collaboration with Laguna Playhouse, presents the Noël Coward comedy through Sept. 30 at 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Performances are at 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25-$54. Call 667-2900 or visit

Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua are quirky and combative as a divorced couple who abandon their new spouses and run off together in 'Private Lives.'

Photo by Ed Krieger

Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua are quirky and combative as a divorced couple who abandon their new spouses and run off together in "Private Lives."

Fuqua colors his lines with a slack-jawed British delivery, squeezing the comic juice out of each. Granata also is a wizard at nuance, and of course both rise to the battle. Ultimately, Coward's underpinning for the characters is their yearning to be challenged, not to settle for drab when drama makes them feel so much more alive.

Matthew Floyd Miller as Victor and Alyson Lindsay as Sybil accomplish the challenging task of bringing the more practical pair to life. Miller is rigidly proper, with a touch of fire beneath his facade, and Lindsay, a Ventura native with a rising theatrical career, braces Sybil's charming bewilderment with a jolt of deep-down determination. Eileen DeSandre, in her brief scene as the disdainful French maid, draws her own share of laughs.

The men are garbed in carefully correct but slightly eccentric British style while the women wear a stunning series of boudoir, evening and travel wear, with costume design by Julie Keen.

The experienced hand guiding the production is that of director Andrew Barnicle, who served as artistic director of the Laguna Playhouse for nearly two decades and includes among his projects plays at North Coast Repertory Theatre, Colony Theatre, San Jose Rep and the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles.

Email Rita Moran at

© 2012 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

LA Times Culture Monster

Critic's Choice

Theater review: 'Private Lives' at Rubicon Theatre

Julie Granata,
            Matthew Floyd Miller, Alyson Lindsay and Joseph Fuqua attempt an
            awkward stab

Julie Granata, Matthew Floyd Miller, Alyson Lindsay and Joseph Fuqua attempt an awkward stab at civility amid infidelities in "Private Lives." (Ed Krieger)

By Philip Brandes

September 11, 2012, 4:42 p.m.

Dazzling repartee between the pair of divorced sophisticates at the center of “Private Lives”is one reason Noël Coward’s 1930 comedy of bad manners never goes out of style —though not the only one. Among frequent revivals, the Rubicon Theatre/Laguna Playhouse co-production stands out in capturing the profound and sometimes painful emotional currents that seethe beneath the witty bon mots lobbed with impeccable panache by ex-spouses Elyot (Joseph Fuqua) and Amanda (Julie Granata), for whom no daylight exists between feuding and reconciliation.

Remounted in Ventura with most of the cast intact from last year’s Laguna Beach run, Andrew Barnicle’s staging deftly balances situational hilarity with the poignancy of romantic illusion —starting with honeymooning Elyot’s wishful thinking that “Love is no use unless it’s wise and kind and undramatic.”

Fat chance —even in this opening scene any tenderness that Fuqua’s Elyot can muster for his naive, much younger bride (Alyson Lindsay) is laced with just enough acid from previous marital wounds to put the lie to this ideal. When Granata’s engagingly free-spirited Amanda coincidentally arrives at the same resort with a pompously conventional new husband (Matthew Floyd Miller) in tow, it’s clear her second marriage is a futile  attempt to escape her own impetuous nature.

The unstable chemistry that drives Elyot and Amanda back into each other’s arms is convincingly visceral, and their second-act flight to her Paris apartment is a masterpiece of tonal orchestration; there’s near-musical precision in the way these fine performers can pivot from lovebirds to mortal combatants in a single emotional beat.

Director Barnicle’s comic flair extends to lulls in the warfare, particularly with the arrival of the abandoned spouses in the final act when the two couples, perched on a cramped settee, make a deliciously awkward attempt at small talk. Even Elyot and Amanda’s two-minute silent truces are filled with expressive physicality in their doomed attempts to keep from lapsing into old patterns. As timeless as human nature, “Private Lives”remains a wickedly insightful portrait of change we can’t believe in.

Private Lives,” Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays,  8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8  p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Sept. 30. $25-$54. (805) 667-2900 or Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

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Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata
Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata have at it in Private Lives as Alyson Lindsay and Matthew Floyd Miller look on.

Private Lives Reviewed

Noël Coward at Rubicon Theatre in Ventura

Tuesday, September 11, 2012
By Charles Donelan

In Private Lives, playwright Noël Coward tackles what is perhaps the biggest problem that modern couples face: how to manage each other. When two newlywed, upper-class British couples take adjacent honeymoon suites at a luxurious French seaside resort, the last thing that Elyot (Joseph Fuqua) and Amanda (Julie Granata), who have been divorced for five years, expect is that they and their new spouses —Sybil (Alyson Lindsay) and Victor (Matthew Floyd Miller) —will be sharing a balcony.

From this delirious premise onward, it’s all very symmetrical. The formerly married characters discover that they are still in love and run away together to Paris, leaving the freshly jilted newlyweds to team up and track down their wayward mates. In the hands of a less-gifted writer, this could get cutesy, but as done by the prince of sophistication, it’s anything but cute. In fact, even though it is now more than 80 years since Private Lives debuted on a London stage, this powerful play still retains the capacity to shock.

As Elyot Chase, the Noël Coward character who gets many of the play’s best lines, Fuqua is dazzling. He has great timing, his expressions and gestures are consistently original and well-thought-out, and he clearly relishes this chance to run wild with witty repartee. Granata’s fluid, alluring, and at times threatening turn as Amanda is also a tour de force, and together they carry the action forward with seemingly effortless momentum. Rather than being punished for regressing by getting back together, Elyot and Amanda are eventually rewarded for making the unconventional decision to follow their sophisticated intuition about one another rather than submit to the weight of convention and circumstance.

The actions that constitute the scandal at the play’s core are a series of arguments that begin playfully enough but, in a couple of instances, wind up resulting in actual violence. Perhaps standards have changed, and today we are more cognizant of the unfunny reality of domestic abuse, but I suspect that all the audiences who have seen this play over the decades have reacted with some dread to the stunning slaps that punctuate Coward’s punch lines.

When Victor and Sybil discover Elyot and Amanda at the apartment in Paris, they are flailing about on the floor in a full-blown free-for-all. Later, after a hilarious breakfast sequence that puts all four characters together on the same sofa, we learn of the burgeoning affection between Victor and Sybil when they, too, succumb to the seemingly irresistible pull of the lover’s spat. The reactions of Elyot and Amanda, who draw closer to one another as they watch the other two descend to their animalistic level, could stand for the point of view of the audience —appalled, certainly, but too fascinated to look away.

As the French maid Louise, Eileen DeSandre lightens the final act, but there’s still little in the way of consolation for those who would prefer to see a less savage and desperate version of how couples manage one another. When the curtain rings down on this outstanding production, there’s a distinct sense of relief that these people have finished their incessant and destructive bickering —at least for that night.


BEST BETS Private Lives

Private Lives

Noel Coward's decidedly British take on the absurdities of love (and divorce).

Private Lives

When: Thursday, Sept. 20, 8 p.m.

Where: Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura, CA

Cost: $25 - $54

Age limit: Not available

Categories: Theater


Full of Coward’s signature snappy repartee and razor-sharp wit, Private Lives is a fantastically funny farce that follows two self-absorbed divorcees, Elyot and Amanda, who unwittingly book adjoining hotel rooms while on honeymoon with their new spouses. Despite their perpetuallystormy relationship, sparks fly and they find they are still irresistibly, magnetically and dangerously drawn to each other. Impulsively, Elyot and Amanda elope in the middle of the night, only to be caught days later by their jilted spouses in a most compromising situation.

The opening gala for Private Lives is Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. (black-tie optional). The $150 ticket price includes a pre-show champagne reception (beginning at 6:15 p.m., the show, a post-show party with the cast, director and special guests, and a tax-deductible donation to Rubicon.
The comedy continues through September 30

Phone: 805-667-2900

Event posted Aug. 29, 2012
Last updated Aug. 29, 2012


Ed Krieger

Ed Krieger

Rubicon Theatre in Ventura is presenting one of Noël Coward’s most perfectly constructed comedies, Private Lives.

Classic Plays Revived at PCPA, Rubicon

Works by Noel Coward and Anton Chekhov to Be Performed

Thursday, September 6, 2012
By Tom Jacobs

Thwarted desire. Misplaced passion. The ecstasy, and misery, of romantic love.

It sounds like the stuff of high tragedy —or high comedy. In fact, it is both, as area theatergoers will discover this weekend.

To the north, PCPA Theaterfest in Santa Maria is opening a rare production of a Chekhov masterpiece, The Three Sisters. To the south, the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura is presenting one of Noël Coward’s most perfectly constructed comedies, Private Lives.

On one level, these plays represent the yin and yang of 20th-century theater. The first is despair-filled, while the second is dazzlingly witty. But dig under their surfaces, and you’ll find surprising similarities.

Both feature passionate people whose romantic longings lead to pain at least as often as they lead to pleasure. What’s more, the central characters of each are members of a dying aristocracy. “These are aimless, scared people,”said Andrew Barnicle, director of Private Lives.

It’s a comment that could easily have come from Roger DeLaurier, director of The Three Sisters. That drama focuses on —you guessed it —three sisters who find themselves stuck living in a stultifying, dull, provincial Russian city. Unsure how to make their way back to Moscow, they watch passively as their brother’s predatory wife gradually takes over the household.

In contrast, the confused characters at the center of Private Lives, Amanda and Elyot, do take action to end their misery: They get divorced and subsequently marry other people. But after a chance encounter at a hotel, their incendiary love-hate relationship catches fire once again, leaving them as intoxicated and irritated as ever.

“I feel that people have a misguided sense of who Noël Coward was, and what kinds of plays he wrote,”said Barnicle, former artistic director of the Laguna Playhouse, where this production originated last year. “The mythology is his plays consist of skinny people walking around in tuxedos with martini glasses in their hands, throwing out quips.

“In fact, his characters, while eccentric, to be sure, are very real; they couch their wants in sardonic humor. What I tell the actors is, find a real reason why they feel the need to behave artificially.”

For The Three Sisters, the actors must convey a sense of why their characters can’t escape from their self-imposed prisons. But don’t confuse a lack of action with a lack of drama. “The stakes for these characters are so high,”DeLaurier said, “and their striving is so intense. [Through their stories] Chekhov tackles some of life’s big questions. What is meaningful in life? What keeps us from living the life we dream of? What gets in the way?”

In Chekhov, a sad surface is interrupted by moments of pseudo-absurdist humor. In Coward, an undercurrent of sadness and worry informs an amusing surface.

“I’ve always appreciated the quality of an audience’s laughter more than the quantity,”said Barnicle. “If the audience is really listening, and living along with these characters, there are probably five major ‘identification laughs’along the way. Those are the ones you want. That means the audience is following the story and understanding who these people are.”

Another similarity between the plays is the youth of the major characters, virtually all of whom are under 35.

“When Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton did Private Lives (in the 1980s), they created the notion that it was a play for an older couple,”Barnicle said. “I think that’s wrongheaded. You see these characters in the twilight of their adolescence. When somebody is acting this way in their sixties, it’s much harder to sympathize.”

Besides, he added, the physical fight between the two leads isn’t especially amusing when it looks like one or the other may end up breaking a hip.

“We’ve got an Amanda who is just as strong physically as Elyot,”Barnicle said. “When they start throwing each other over couches, you’re more worried for him than you are for her. It’s certainly spousal abuse, but it’s even-handed, and you realize these people live for this. They want to fight! It is funny, but it’s a little horrific at the same time.”

This production is Barnicle’s first attempt at Coward, just as The Three Sisters is DeLaurier’s first Chekhov.

“I’ve been waiting my whole career to do it,”DeLaurier said, noting that while Chekhov is an integral part of the academic curriculum, his plays seldom receive full productions. This is PCPA’s first since The Seagull in 1980.

In a sense, it’s a perfect time to get reacquainted with the Russian master. Like his characters, many of us find ourselves dazed and confused as we navigate a world that is changing at a ridiculously rapid rate. DeLaurier understands that feeling of dislocation, and sees it reflected in one of his favorite Chekhov quotes: “Any idiot can survive a crisis. It’s the day-to-day living that wears you out.”


The Three Sisters previews September 6-7 and runs September 8-30 at Severson Theatre (Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria). Call 922-8313 or see Private Lives previews September 5-7 and runs September 8-30 at Rubicon Theatre (1006 E. Main St., Ventura). Call 667-2900 or see

LA Stage Times

Private Lives in Ventura —Why Noel Coward Lives On

Features by Tom Provenzano  |  September 12, 2012
Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua in 'Private
Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua in "Private Lives"

Bright young sophisticates Amanda and Elyot divorced five years ago. Now they are each on honeymoon with new (and rather dull) spouses Victor and Sybil. Happily for theater audiences, both new couples have chosen the same sumptuous French hotel to celebrate their nuptials. After serious rows with their new mates, Amanda and Elyot accidentally converge on adjoining balconies and an evening of effervescent wit and charming cruelty is set in motion.

Private Lives is the epitome of the comedy of bad manners, perfected by Noel Coward between the world wars in London’s West End and on Broadway. By all critical accounts of the period, this thin, brittle piece of gossamer fluff was considered little more than a naughty audience teaser and pleaser. In his sharp essays, Coward the Playwright, biographer John Lahr quotes noted 1930s journalist Ivor Brown’s response to the play: “Within a few years the student of drama will be sitting in complete bewilderment before the text of Private Lives, wondering what on earth these fellows in 1930 saw in so flimsy a trifle.

Lenny Von Dohlen
Lenny Von Dohlen & Stasha Surdyke in GTC Burbank's production of "Private Lives." Photo by Christopher Trela:ArtsPR

Brown was not alone in his estimation of Coward’s comedy. Theater history texts often relegate Coward to a single paragraph about British Theater. But this has not stopped his works from being constantly revived, from Broadway (most recently the 2011 production of Private Lives with Kim Cattrall) to other professional theaters (GTC Burbank produced a Private Lives, staged by Jules Aaron,earlier this year) to seemingly every community theater in the English-speaking world. In 1931 more than 200 plays and musicals opened on Broadway. Among the new plays in that group, Private Lives is the only one to have a serious afterlife, with frequent revivals into the 21st century.

So why does this play —and so many other Coward pieces —continue to thrive as their contemporaries withered? This is the question put to actors Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata, who brought Elyot and Amanda to critically acclaimed life in last year’s Laguna Playhouse production, under the direction of Andrew Barnicle. A retooled version has now moved to the Rubicon Theater in Ventura. In separate phone interviews, both stars wax enthusiastic about the play, production, Barnicle and each other. It turns out one of the great reasons for the long life of the play is that artists don’t find it thin, brittle or fluffy. Instead they find it filled with real life and love within its sophisticated demeanor.

Joseph Fuqua
Twelve years ago Joseph Fuqua was the first actor to join the Rubicon Theater Company, and he thinks of it as his artistic home, where he has performed in nearly 30 productions, including the title role in Hamlet and varied characters in last year’s Irma Vep. The camp and overwrought caricatures of Irma Vep define much of Fuqua’s professional work, but he insists even the craziest characters must be played in truth. “I am a character actor in somewhat of a guise of a leading man.  I have always been able to be a leading man to friends and people who know me, but the general theater world at large does not see me that way. Mostly I do chameleon-like roles —oddballs. I enjoy sinking my teeth in those roles.”

Fuqua’s take on Elyot begins with the light touch of Coward’s signature arch personality, but adds a strong strain of the real depth in love and anger that runs through Elyot’s relationship with Amanda. “People say I am born to be Noel Coward;  he’s known for that urbane, detached wit —flippant and sophisticated without responsibility, always sort of surface. But the relationships are real. Their fight has got to be muscular.  We have to hurt each other.”

Fuqua says that director Barnicle understands. “I am such a big fan of Andy’s because he goes there. Maybe because of the [general influence of the] Actors Studio, the heart and meat of any play has to be discovered. Things are funnier where there is heart. The Three Stooges don’t make me laugh, but Laurel and Hardy do because I know they care about each other.  Charlie Chaplin makes me laugh because there is always some heart in there. You can see the course of human events in the humor. That is what we have tried to do and I think accomplished in the production.”

He is however, quick to point out that in order for the heart to work in a Coward play, the style must be in place. From correct dialect to perfect sets and clothing (even something as small as a cigarette case), everything needs to be right. With the outer world created, the inner characters can shine through.

Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata

In this case the characters’incredibly selfish and undeniable emotional attachment is both horrible and horribly funny. Fuqua recalls the director helping him discover the way into both aspects of the play. “In his director’s notes, Andy tells us to delight and savor in the moment.  Elyot is purely in the moment. All he wants is to pull Amanda into the moment with him. She has more of a moral compass, an outside eye of society. This might all be vapid in itself, but if you really allow the two characters to be really in love in that moment and let fly, then you are set up to attack the ugliness that also comes with relationships.

“But there’s nothing wrong with the moment if you can make it work. The humor is there in the surface things that are delightful, but the message about the complexity of love and being allowed to be yourself is powerful for a modern audience. Even if it is old, a good play can speak to a modern audience. A good play exposes the humanity in a way that people can relate to.”

Granata, who is enthralled with her role of Amanda, has no patience with those who dismiss Coward and, particularly, Private Lives.  “I believe that an audience will go with you if you take them there with conviction. In entertainment across the board, modern sentiment is to play for the lowest common denominator —dumb things down and make things easy to absorb. I hate that! I think audiences are desperate for complicated story and complicated people. If you take something that has stood the test of time as Noel Coward has, and approach it with as much truth and humanity as you have within you, then people are going to recognize that truth at the end.  That seems to me to be universal throughout all art. The more we just illuminate truth, the more people in the audience will recognize a piece of themselves. Then it doesn’t matter if they get some archaic reference.”

Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua in "Private Lives"

One specific reference is a line from Amanda: “I haven’t any peculiar craving for Chinamen or old boots!”  In fact, Granata was so horrified by the racism of the line that she asked that it be stricken, but Barnicle insisted on keeping the script intact. The line does shock audiences out of their comfort zone for a moment and gives some interesting, if unpleasant, dimension to Amanda. Later Elyot has an equally questionable line for today’s sensibilities:

Amanda: I was brought up to believe it was beyond the pale for a man to strike a woman.

Elyot: A very poor tradition. Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.

As upsetting as the sentiment may be, it strikes a chord of relationship reality with Granata.  “To be too illuminating about my own marriage, that is absolutely something my husband would say, to be funny in private.  He’d

never say it publicly, but to me he finds it absolutely hilarious.”That husband is Chicago improvisational comedian Eric Hunicutt. "He is very smart, very well read, and likes to say things purposely to rile me up. That is what Elyot is doing —trying to get Amanda’s pre-feminist feminism sentiments up. He’s trying to say something to irritate her. They want to get under each other’s skin.”

Granata is a self-confessed Anglophile. Her love of all things English began with an annual family TV evening of Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. Her understanding of what it meant to be an actor came from realizing Andrews could be both Maria and Mary Poppins. Then she fell in love with Coward upon seeing an “adventurous”production of Present Laughter in a community theater in her childhood home of Toledo. She then got to act in the same play in Chicago as her first job after graduating with a theater degree from DePaul.

She recalls that first production. “They sound so sophisticated and fancy and everything I was not at 12. I don’t remember much about the production other than thinking if I could just wear more hats in my life, I would be a better person. That’s what I took away from that first production. Hats make you more sophisticated!”

Julie Granata

Throughout her 20s Granata longed to play Amanda, but she was too young and found herself auditioning for Sybil some dozen times.  “I am a horrible Sybil,”she claims.  So why is she better for Amanda?  “I want to say because I am mature, but I am going to guess it is because I am jaded.  When I was younger I was always the person they made be the old lady or the mom. I was so angry about this at 15. Slowly, I realized this is the person I am going to be —I am a leading lady, but I am not an ingenue. My personality suits that better. I feel much more comfortable and feel like the last five years I have just been waiting and waiting.

“When I got the call for Amanda, it was the biggest, brightest day. I feel this is a beginning of a great part of my career. I have never been the person who bemoaned not playing Juliet.

I didn’t do naive well at 14, and I don’t think I would have played her well in my 20s when most women play the part. 

But I am really looking forward to Lady Macbeth and after Amanda comes Martha. I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Albee and he is such an observer. I have had this fantasy of him sitting and watching a production of Private Lives and translating that to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.”

Even her favorite line from Virginia Woolf helps color her view of Coward’s lovers: “‘George and Martha, Martha and George.  Sad, sad, sad.’  I think about that sentiment in the second act of Private Lives in that Amanda and Elyot are tragic and train wrecks, but wow, do we love watching that tragedy. Thank goodness they found each other in this beautiful world that Noel Coward created for us.  The enduring line in Act 2 is ‘How long will it last, this ludicrous, overbearing love of ours?’I think everyone in a relationship asks those questions.”

Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata
Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata

Another iconic line from Private Lives encapsulates the couple’s relationship —“That was the trouble with Elyot and me, we were like two violent acids bubbling about in a nasty little matrimonial bottle.”With her longstanding desire to play Amanda finally met, the real test of the production would be her chemistry with Elyot —could they find that violent acid? At the first reading, sitting opposite Fuqua, any fears were abated. They fell into a rhythm instantly. “He is so clearly Elyot, and we are so meant to do this play together. Every moment we’ve spent in rehearsal and on stage is just a joy. I don’t know how that occurred, but the trust we had on day one —I can tell you with certainty that is rare. You get good at building that trust through tricks and skills, but it is magical when that trust and chemistry exists immediately.

They were so in sync with each other and the “violent acids”that they would forget they were in a play telling a story. Fortunately, Barnicle was able to reel them in.

Both Fuqua and Granata are grateful for Barnicle’s ability to know just when to step in. “You have this outside voice turning you back toward center if you get off the path —shining a light if you are not illuminating a particular piece of the story. In the best scenario, that is how theater works. The relationship between actor and director.”

Private Lives, Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E Main St., Ventura.  Wed 2 pm and 7 pm, Thu-Fri  8 pm; Sat 2 pm and 8 pm; Sun 2 pm. Through September 30. Tickets $25 –$ 805-667-2900.

***All Private Lives production photos by Ed Krieger


Picks of the Week

Picks of the Week

By Shane Cohn and Michel Miller 09/06/2012


PRIVATE LIVES Through Sept. 30. Rubicon Theatre Company closes its season with Noel Coward’s elegant and sophisticated comedy that follows two self-absorbed divorcees who unwittingly book adjoining hotel rooms while on honeymoon with their new spouses. $25-$54. Call 667-2900 or visit


Coloring outside the lines

Fall plays challenge convention

By Jenny Lower 09/13/2012

This fall, Ventura County theaters wrap up their 2012 seasons and look ahead to 2013 with a collection of shows about transgressors, rule breakers and envelope pushers. An apparently innocent little girl plots wrongdoing. Teens yield to the siren call of their bodies. Adults violate political and racial barriers, and siblings and parents torment each other with psychological warfare. Even Death and the Devil shirk their professional responsibilities.

What’s more, all this is deeply American, with plays and musicals rooted in the identity of our country. Sure, there are Grease, Damn Yankees and 1776, with their souped-up cars, baseball gloves and feather quills. But even plays from our broader artistic family speak to our passion for justice and independent thought, as in the South African drama Hello and Goodbye and the German roots of Spring Awakening. If our art is any indication, Americans admire boundary breakers. Test the limits, and see one for yourself.

Private Lives

Private Lives, Rubicon Theatre Company (through Sept. 30)
Rubicon closes out its 2012 season with Noel Coward’s stylish 1920s comedy about a pair of exes who run into each other while on their honeymoons —with other people. When sparks fly, the old flames ditch their other halves and elope. Featuring slinky dresses, martini glasses and plenty of witty banter, the show is being co-produced by the Laguna Playhouse and directed by Andrew Barnicle. Starring Eileen DeSandre, Joseph Fuqua, Julie Granata, Alyson Lindsay and Matthew Floyd Miller. 1006 E. Main St., Ventura, 667-2900,



Private Lives

Private Lives


Private Lives Art


(Joseph and Winslow starred in RTC's You Can't Take It With You as Ed Carmichael and Alice Sycamore respectively in 2008.)

This will be a co-production with Laguna Playhouse - schedule is as follows: 

Laguna Playhouse:  March 15 - April 10, 2011
Rubicon Theatre Company: September 8 - 30, 2012

Passion, anger, love, laughter and romance all shaped by Noël Coward’s wit and comic genius sets the stage for perpetually dueling lovers Amanda and Elyot. In Coward’s most celebrated comedy, the two divorcees unwittingly book adjoining rooms while honeymooning with their new spouses, and quickly realize the folly of their new marriages. Impulsively and in the dead of night, they flee only to be caught days later by their jilted spouses while in a most compromising situation. Don’t miss Noël Coward’s stylish, savvy comedy about modern romance and the people we can't live with—or without.

Videos from Laguna Playhouse for Private Lives! The first is from the first read-through, the second shows clips from a performance of the show:






Private Lives

Private Lives

Private Lives

at Laguna Playhouse

Reviewed by Melinda Schupmann

March 31, 2011

First performed in 1930 by Gertrude Lawrence, Laurence Olivier, Adrianne Allen, and Noël Coward, this Coward play epitomizes a genre from a period that owed its appeal to upper-class sophistication and quick wit. This production, directed by Andrew Barnicle, is a wonderful homage to Coward's facility for humor and rapid repartee.

An elegant terrace on the French Riviera provides the setting for two couples to begin their honeymoons. In adjoining suites are Elyot Chase (Joseph Fuqua) and his new bride, Sybil (Winslow Corbett), and Victor Prynne (Matthew Floyd Miller) and his bride, Amanda (Julie Granata). The complication is that Elyot and Amanda were previously wed in a tempestuous and quarrelsome marriage. When these two realize their dilemma, they urge their new spouses to leave immediately before disaster strikes. Of course there wouldn't be any fun if that happened, so the worst occurs, and Elyot and Amanda rekindle their love affair and run away together.

Granata is a standout as the worldly-wise sophisticate who has married this time for stability but may be realizing as early as the honeymoon that her stolid partner might be a bit dull. Miller plays the upper-crust Brit with just the right amount of determination and conventionality.Corbett is likewise delightful as the ebullient Sybil, girly and romantic, opposite Fuqua's indifferent and understated cynicism.

Coward's second act is slight, and it depends on strong characterizations to arrive at his amusing ending. Barnicle lightly underplays its latent sexuality and focuses more on a mixture of the characters' ennui and requisite physicality when needed. Its dry one-liners add texture to the simple storyline.

Bruce Goodrich's fine set establishes the elegant mood well, and Paulie Jenkins' beautifully lighted second-act apartment adds an artistic backdrop to the production. Costumes by Julie Keen likewise capture the glamour of the '30s.
Coward's views on marriage were mixed: "I've sometimes thought of marrying...then I've thought again." In this play, he cleverly sets forth the clashes of romance and mayhem that make up these marital relationships. Barnicle nails the delivery.

Presented by and at the Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach. Mar. 19–Apr. 10. Tue.–Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 2 & 8 p.m., Sun. 2 p.m. (Also Thu., 2 p.m. Mar. 17 & 31; Sun., 7 p.m., Mar. 27.) (949) 497-2787.

Theater Review: PRIVATE LIVES

Theater Review: PRIVATE LIVES by Noel Coward (Laguna Beach)

by Tony Frankel on March 29, 2011

in Theater-Los Angeles
Private Lives by Noel Coward at the Laguna Playhouse

Private Lives Title CardNoël Coward’s oft-produced classic Private Lives is indeed, as one of his characters states, jagged with sophistication. The story is of a divorced, fiercely contentious, and veddy British couple who, having reconnected on the honeymoon night of their new marriages, run off with each other to Paris, abandoning their respective spouses. Once they rekindle their stormy association, it becomes clear that their litigious love is intrinsic – indeed, necessary – to their relationship. The subject matter – affairs, abusive love – is still somewhat shocking, but the story is as thin as a tea biscuit. It is the sophisticated, droll, and entertaining language which is the meat of the play. Coward once wrote, “The critics [of the original 1930 production] described Private Lives variously as ‘tenuous, thin, brittle, gossamer, iridescent, and delightfully daring’. All of which connoted in the public mind cocktails, repartee and irreverent allusions to copulation, thereby causing a gratifying number of respectable people to queue up at the box office.” Without actors who capture the Cowardesque witticisms with nuances that drip in irony, all of the jagged sophistication can be deadly dull.

Beach Private LivesFortunately, Andrew Barnicle’s tight direction and nifty casting at the Laguna Playhouse create a most entertaining evening. The aforementioned volatile couple is Elyot and Amanda. Joseph Fuqua’s take on Elyot is unadulterated neocolonialist – unlike the British Imperialists who would take political control of a country, Fuqua is intent on cultural control; he wields his vocabulary as a hunter would brandish a gun on the African plains – it’s almost as if Mr. Fuqua is thinking, “Point. Aim. Shoot.” Julie Granada is cool, elegant and feral as Amanda; she is the lioness who enjoys outwitting the hunter. Matthew Floyd Miller portrays Victor, Amanda’s new husband, with an overstuffed bravado, a perfect choice for one who is threatened by the hold that Amanda’s previous paramour has on her. Winslow Corbett infuses Sybil, Elyot’s bride, with a flagrant and whiny neediness, born of her inability to control her groom; Corbett’s choice to portray her character with an immature youthfulness validates that her character has yet to develop the prowling game-playing technique that Elyot finds so fascinating in Amanda.

Beach Private LivesSet designer Bruce Goodrich opted for the look of a chic Parisian hotel for Amanda’s flat, a relief from the over-decorated Bohemian set designs seen in previous productions. Likewise, Julie Keen’s costume design treats us to the style of the everyday sophisticate, versus the Hollywood glamour look. Paulie Jenkins full-stage lighting is serviceable, but lacks nuance – the lights on the actors seem to be above the action, instead of emanating from the windows or the many lamps on stage. On the other hand, Corinne Carillo’s sound is astute and directional; music does indeed seem to be coming from a radio or a party down below the terrace that the honeymooners share.

Beach Private LivesThere is a reason that Private Lives is given life on the boards world-wide, with over a dozen revivals on the West End and Broadway alone: audiences are starved for literate dialogue. As the modern age threatens to destroy the art of communication, Noël Coward’s work reminds us that sophisticated language, which some may see as hoity-toity, actually nourishes our soul.

tonyfrankel @

Private Lives
scheduled to close April 10 at time of publication
for tickets, visit



Broadway World Review: 

Lush Private Lives

Lush Private Lives @ Laguna Playhouse

Tuesday, March 22, 2011; Posted: 10:03 AM - by Don Grigware

Lush Private LivesPrivate Lives
by Noel Coward
directed by Andrew Barnicle
Laguna Playhouse, Laguna Beach
through April 10

Noel Coward's timeless wit is as pleasing as watercrest sandwiches or scones and butter. It's irresistible, especially in his now classic Private Lives and works to perfection when properly cast. In the new revival at Laguna Playhouse, Andrew Barnicle has assembled a glorious ensemble, one that knows how to bring out Coward's subtleties with panache, a somewhat rare quality for an American troupe.

In the 1930s Coward was quite courageous to put forth such wildly flambuoyant characters as Elyot (Joseph Fuqua) and Amanda (Julie Granata). His frivolous attitude toward divorce and adultery as told through their eyes was hardly commonplace, a far cry from the loose morality of today. Cowardesque wit and flair helped audience digest character flaws and accept Elyot and Amanda more readily. In any case, Coward himself as a homosexual took a rather perverted view of the marriage ame, exposing spousal abuse openly and frankly. Either accept the possible negative aspects of what you are getting yourself into, or stay clear of it altogether...and that, he did. On the other hand, it is wise to see that being together is not a consistent bed of roses, and many diehard happily marrieds applaud the naughty diversions as a natural part of the bargain. The fights certainly highten the sexual entanglements that follow.

Laguna's ensemble is divine, with Fuqua and Granata sublime in every way. Fuqua was always meant to play this role of Elyot, the man/child flippant egocentric who must have things as he pleases or not at all. "Some women should be struck regularly like gongs" is one of my favorite lines, and uttered by Fuqua in character it sounds as natural as rain. Granata is also deliciously wicked and undependable as Amanda. Both actors play off each other superbly. On opening night Fuqua slipped and fell, picking himself up beautifully with "I only had one!" It was a great cover that only a consummate pro could carry off. His Elyot never left him. Matthew Floyd Miller as Victor and Winslow Corbett as Sybil are wonderfully and annoyingly loyal - just the opposite of Elyot and Amanda - and fit their parts to a tee. Julia Etedi is utterly hilarious in her brief appearance in Act III as the disgusted maid. Barnicle's pacing is just right throughout and the action never drags for a split second. The Act II verbal sparring builds to a crescendo and the ensuing physical fights are tightly choreographed.

Bruce Goodrich has designed an elegant set of Amanda's flat in Paris, and the first act adjoining hotel room balconies on the French Riviera offer a nice tease to the plush interior to come. Julie Keen's costumes are wonderfully luscious particularly Amanda's stunning black evening gown in Act I.

If you like your wit lyrical and lilting, look no further than to this elegant production of Private Lives. It's a treat on every level. Hopefully, it will play at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, but not until the end of next season, so take the scenic drive to Laguna and see it now!

Read more:

p align="left" class="style3">A Review and a Feature Story from the Orange County Register:

Published: March 16, 2011
Updated: 6:42 p.m.

Andrew Barnicle returns to Laguna to direct 'Private Lives'


Story Highlights: Former Laguna Playhouse director relishes the violence in Noël Coward’s comic masterpiece.

Amanda and Elyot are having one of their famous battles, and she seems to be winning. At one point she smashes a record over his head – the old 78 rpm kind, heavy and brittle; he winces. Before long, their elegant apartment is a shambles and the warring lovers are red-faced and breathless with rage.

Noël Coward's "Private Lives" is a masterpiece of 20th-century comedy. It is not, however, politically correct. That's one reason why it's so enjoyable to modern audiences, says Andrew Barnicle, who is directing an upcoming production of "Private Lives" at the Laguna Playhouse.
"It was a different time – that's what you have to remember," Barnicle said before a rehearsal last week at the playhouse, during which actors Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua, playing Amanda and Elyot, worked through the fighting sequence of the second act with physicality and precision (and a few loud curses when things went wrong).

"They hit each other, and they mean it," Barnicle said of the play's famously bickering couple. "They break things over each other's heads. They try to hurt each other. The trick is to make it seem like a fight between equals. And to be honest, she starts it – at least the physical part of the fight."

Julie Granata as Amanda, Matthew Floyd Miller as Victor, Winslow Corbett
as Sybil, and Joseph Fuqua as Elyot in the Laguna Playhouse production of
" Private Lives," which opens on March 20. Former Laguna Playhouse artistic
director Andrew Barnicle has returned to direct this show, his first at the
playhouse since leaving last year.

It's important not to shy away from Amanda and Elyot's conflict. Their violence toward each other is an integral part of their relationship. "To somehow apologize for that would be terribly dishonest," Barnicle said.

That pursuit of honesty also led Barnicle to cast younger actors than those who usually play the roles.

"What's happened to this play over the decades is that the roles are so good that older, experienced actors have demanded to play them. I wanted to go back to the age the script says they are, which is a couple in their 30s." Barnicle pointed out that in the original 1931 production of "Private Lives," the playwright himself played Elyot opposite Gertrude Lawrence as Amanda. He was only 31; she was two years older.

Younger performers allow audiences to understand the fighting in its proper context, Barnicle believes.

"I think the roles of Amanda and Elyot manifest themselves in different ways if the actors playing them are in their 60s rather than their 30s. If these people are still wandering aimlessly around the world and having these kinds of fights in their 60s, somehow that doesn't make sense to me. They should know better."


For those who don't know the story, Amanda and Elyot used to be an item, but their passion was accompanied by huge clashes; they're equally flirtatious and headstrong. They are divorced, but meet again at the beginning of "Private Lives" when each re-marries in France at the same moment and the two couples, by chance, end up in adjoining honeymoon suites at the same hotel. The spark of romance is rekindled, and Amanda and Elyot run off together, abandoning their new spouses.

But this is a Noël Coward play, and Britain's master of cynicism would never dream of giving a pair of bounders like Amanda and Elyot a happily ever after. A second-act donnybrook is much truer to form for them.

Like the fighting, the cruel abandonment of a bride or groom – on the honeymoon, no less – works only if those behaving badly are still young, Barnicle insists.

"Look, 30-year-olds have life lessons they desperately need to learn, and this couple is going to learn them in the course of this play. If you're 60 you either learned those life lessons long ago or you're a complete idiot. And an audience has very little sympathy for an older person who's acting that stupidly."

Barnicle had several criteria in mind when he was casting the play.

"I wanted actors who were really good with British accents because I didn't want to spend money on a dialect coach. And I wanted performers who could fly over furniture and break and wreck stuff. They had to be physical."

Now a busy freelance director, Barnicle was artistic director of the Laguna Playhouse from 1991 until he left last year. One of the agreements he made before his departure, Barnicle said, was that he would return to direct "Private Lives."

"We programmed it when I was still here and I always wanted to do this play. I've never directed Coward before. And I realized it's been a while since there was a local professional production of 'Private Lives.'"

Asked if he would ever again run a theater company, Barnicle paused. "I would never say never. But I've got a full plate right now."

Barnicle directed "Moonlight and Magnolias" in February at L.A.'s Colony Theatre; he recently did a reading of "The Merchant of Venice" in San Diego and will direct "The Lion in Winter" at North Coast Repertory in Solana Beach. Barnicle is even thinking about acting again, something he hasn't done since 2008.

"I'm having a lot of fun right now," Barnicle said during a break as he watched his actors rehearse a scene on the playhouse's patio. "I wouldn't want that to change."

Contact the writer: 714-796-7979 or


'Private Lives'

Where: Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach

When: Previews end March 18. Opening night gala March 19. Regular performances March 20-April 10. 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Also March 17 and 31 at 2 p.m., March 27 at 7 p.m.

How much: $30-$65

Tickets: 949-497-2787



Published: March 20, 2011
Updated: March 21, 2011 11:03 a.m.

Barnicle makes assured return to Laguna with 'Private Lives'


Story Highlights: Former Laguna Playhouse artistic director Andrew Barnicle delivers a lively Noel Coward comedy.

There was a bittersweet quality to Saturday's opening-night performance of "Private Lives" at the Laguna Playhouse.

The show was preceded by a ceremony honoring former playhouse boss Douglas Rowe, who ran it for many years when it was a lively community theater. Rowe spoke warmly of the good old days before being presented with a gift from current playhouse managing director Karen Wood.
Wood also asked "Private Lives" director Andrew Barnicle to take a bow.

Barnicle, the former artistic director of the playhouse, left last year amid downsizing and a change in programming philosophy at the 90-year-old theater. Barnicle and his colleague, former playhouse executive director Richard Stein, spearheaded a two-decade push into full professionalism and self-produced seasons. "Private Lives" epitomizes that era: sumptuously staged, smartly cast, a no-cutting-corners evening of enjoyable theater.

Julie Granata as Amanda, Matthew Floyd Miller as Victor, Winslow Corbett
as Sybil, and Joseph Fuqua as Elyot in the Laguna Playhouse production of
" Private Lives," which opened on March 19. Former Laguna Playhouse artistic
director Andrew Barnicle has returned to direct this show, his first at the
playhouse since leaving last year.

Under Wood's direction, the playhouse has been leaning towards the cheaper and less risky route of presenting pre-existing shows rather than producing them itself. We'll see if that trend continues when the new season is announced. I'm hoping a happy medium can be struck.

Barnicle is an experienced director who's equally adept at character-based comedy, farce and taut drama. "Private Lives" is typical of his assured style.

There are several directorial pitfalls that can bedevil this tart comedy of bad manners.

One is casting actors who are simply too old to play Amanda and Elyot, the pampered, preening and perpetually warring lovers at the center of the action.

Barnicle has cast wisely. Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata are just the right age for Elyot and Amanda. When the previously married couple meet by chance during parallel honeymoons with new spouses (yes, the first act requires a very willing suspension of disbelief), we can immediately feel the sexual heat that still sparks between them.

As they talk on the side-by-side balconies of their swanky French hotel, we can't help but notice that the only barrier between them is a line of tiny shrubs, easily ignored.

Barnicle choreographs the scene meticulously. The tiny wall of shrubs is respected for a long time. When Elyot finally steals through to Amanda's side, you sense he's broken a much bigger yet invisible barrier: the line of morality.

Giving in to their mutual attraction, Elyot and Amanda sneak away from their spouses to her Paris apartment – a stylish Art Deco hideaway that speaks of inherited wealth and the idleness it affords.

You know what happens next. Their connubial bliss is short-lived. Pillows are thrown. China is smashed. Amanda gives as good as she gets. (Suffice to say she knows how to fight dirty.)

The battle is another reason for casting youthful actors. If Amanda and Elyot seem too old, their combat looks ridiculous, even dangerous. And a young, athletic Amanda who's Elyot's physical equal takes some of the squeamishness out of a scene that, handled incorrectly, can look awkward and very un-P.C.

The other mistake often committed with "Private Lives" is preciousness. Noel Coward's laugh lines are so deliciously, wickedly funny that many directors treat them as mini-events, making too much of the moment. Coward's words become stylized and artificial, like an evening of witticisms encumbered by a play. "Private Lives," despite its puckish humor, is deeper and darker than that, and Barnicle doesn't let us forget it.

Fuqua and Granata find just the right tone. They make their characters' humor seem as natural as it is cruel. Amanda and Elyot are creatures of privilege who are seldom forced to deal with the consequences of their selfishness. Their lofty station allows them to breeze easily through life. In this production, you're left with the feeling that their destructive relationship is the only thing that makes them feel alive.

Matthew Floyd Miller and Winslow Corbett provide an enjoyable counterbalance as the spurned spouses, Victor and Sibyl. He's starchy and combative, full of upper-class outrage and propriety; she's weepy and uncomprehending (Sibyl, a decade younger than Amanda and Elyot, simply doesn't understand the casual barbarism of their world).

Scenic designer Bruce Goodrich and costumer designer Julie Keen are on the mark. Amanda and Elyot live in a world of taste and refinement, which they take for granted. Such surroundings were a luxury indeed in the 1930s, yet this heedless couple treats them as badly as they treat other people.

Barnicle has been busy as a director since he left the playhouse. I hope his schedule doesn't get too crowded to include future work in Laguna. He knows how to stage a crowd-pleasing play – and these days commercial success is more important than ever.

Contact the writer: 714-796-7979 or

'Private Lives'

* Where: Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Rd., Laguna Beach
* When: Through April 10. 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Also March 31 at 2 p.m., March 27 at 7 p.m.
* How much: $30-$65
* Length: 2 hours
* Suitability: Teens and adults
* Tickets: 949-497-2787
* Online:




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July 19 - 22, 2012


As You Like It


Shakespeare's As You Like It

A Rubicon Youth Production
Presented by The "No Fear Shakespeare" Company

Sponsored by The Jack Oakie and Victoria Horne Oakie Charitable Foundation
Co-Sponsored by Loretta and Mike Merewether • Kiwanis Club of Ventura
Smith-Hobson Foundation • Sheeler Moving and Storage

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Joseph Fuqua

As You Like It is one of the great comedy plays by William Shakespeare. The heroine, Rosalind, is one of his most inspiring characters and has more lines than any of Shakespeare's female characters. Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke falls in love with Orlando the disinherited son of one of the duke's friends. When she is banished from the court by her usurping uncle, Duke Frederick , Rosalind takes on the appearance of a boy calling herself Ganymede. She travels with her cousin Celia and the jester Touchstone to the Forest of Arden, where her father and his friends live in exile. Themes about life and love, including aging, the natural world, and death are included in the play. New friends are made and families are reunited. By the end of the play Ganymede, once again Rosalind, marries Orlando. Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, Silvius and Phebe, and Touchstone and Audrey all are married in the final scene. Oliver becomes a gentler, kinder young man so the Duke  changes his ways and turns to religion and so that the exiled Duke, father of Rosalind, can rule once again. Act II, Scene 7 features a great soliloquy by William Shakespeare which begins:

"All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages..." 


Sponsored by The Jack Oakie &
Victoria Horne Oakie Charitable

Read more about Jack Oakie.


July 19 • 8 pm
July 20 • 8 pm
July 21 • 8 pm
July 22 • 2 pm & 7 pm

Adults: $15 | $20 at door
Kids: 12 & under: $10 | $15 at door

Save money and guarantee your seat by purchasing in advance.


Fearless Shakespeare

Ages: 14–22
Acceptance is by Audition Only
Tuition: $750
Program Dates:  June 25 - July 22
Days of the Week: Monday–Saturday; Sunday off
Time: 10 am–5 pm / Lunch 1–2 pm
Production: As You Like It
Performances: July 19, 20, 21 and 22
DIrector: Joseph Fuqua

This four-week program is also by audition, interview and invitation only. As with the Musical Theatre Camp, students work six-hours-a-day, six-days-a-week, learning about Shakespeare’s world, script analysis, scansion and verse, dialect, vocal production and character development. Building on the strength from one another and the leadership of professional theatre artists they form a tight company of actors. Clarity of story is the focus of these productions allowing the actor to bring one of the Bard’s masterpieces to life. This year, students will tackle As You Like It, directed by Yale School of Drama graduate Joseph Fuqua.

Request Audition Appointment!
The deadline to apply for a scholarship is May 28, 2012 (Limited available).
Find out more about financial assistance.







December 2 - 26, 2012


Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini photos: David Bazemore


December 2 - 26, 2010  AND

October 15 - November 6, 2011


(Joseph and Jamie starred in RTC's Man of La Mancha as The Duke/Dr. Carrasco and Sancho, respectively in 2006.)

This will be a co-production with The Ensemble Theater Company of Santa Barbara - schedule is as follows: 

Ensemble Theatre Company:  December 2 - 26, 2010:

Rubicon Theatre Company: October 15 - November 6, 2011

Time Magazine and The New York Times both named The Mystery of Irma Vep one of the Best Plays of the Year—and you will too! There's drama, passion, outrageous costumes, a set with nice draperies, and great big belly laughs in this send-up of Victorian melodrama and Gothic romance. You’ll never watch “Wuthering Heights,” “The Mummy’s Curse” or Alfred Hitchcock's “Rebecca” in the same way again. Complete with werewolves, vampires and damsels in distress, this ridiculous romp has witty literary allusions, subversive political jabs and a “penny dreadful tale” that may just bring a tear to your eye. The story begins on a dark and stormy night (naturally), when the lady of the house arrives at an estate with her new husband, who is under the spell of his deceased first wife and haunted by something that’s prowling the grounds. Strange things begin to happen and Lady Enid soon discovers the mystery of Irma Vep. The Mystery of Irma Vep is the most fun you can have indoors without having to go to confession!












The Mystery of Irma Vep Opening Oct. 15th

Time Magazine and The New York Times both named The Mystery of Irma Vep one of the Best Plays of the Year—and you will too!

Complete with werewolves, vampires and damsels in distress, Irma Vep offers a ridiculous romp with witty literary allusions, subversive political jabs and a healthy dose of the macabre, just in time for the spooky season. Charles Ludlam’s two-act play, styled as a “penny dreadful,” is a satire of several theatrical and film genres, including Victorian melodrama, farce and the Alfred Hitchcock film "Rebecca" (1940). It’s a “quick-change” production, with the story’s six characters played by an energetic cast of two - RTC alumni Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini.


The story begins on a dark and stormy night (naturally), when the lady of the house arrives at an estate with her new husband, who is under the spell of his deceased first wife and haunted by something that’s prowling the grounds. Strange things begin to happen and Lady Enid soon discovers the mystery of Irma Vep. There's drama, passion, outrageous costumes, a set with nice draperies, and big belly laughs in this send-up of Victorian melodrama and Gothic romance.

First produced by Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company in a 1984 off-off Broadway run in Greenwich Village, the show enjoyed an award-winning off-Broadway revivial at the Westside Theatre. By 1991 Irma Vep had become the most-produced play in the United States.


“The Mystery of Irma Vep,” by Charles Ludlam, stars Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini. Tickets are available online at or in person at the RTC Box Office at 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura. To charge by phone, call (805) 667-2900.



Save $5 on tickets for performances October 12-19.* Purchase online using Coupon Code: 3331.

*Discount does not apply to previously purchased tickets and may not be combined with other offers.


BroadwayWorld (BWW) 10/21/11 Review:


Broadway World LA

BWW Reviews: Rubicon's Irma Vep is a Ghoulish Treat

Tuesday, November 1, 2011; Posted: 02:11 PM - by Don Grigware

VEPThe Mystery of Irma Vep
by Charles Ludlam
directed by Jenny Sullivan
Rubicon Theatre Company, Ventura
through November 6 only

The Mystery of Irma Vep, written by Charles Ludlam in 1984 and a sensation off Broadway and beyond into the 90s, certainly lives up to its subtitle A Penny Dreadful. That's actually a good thing! A Penny Dreadul was a 19th century British fictional publication, usually printed in papers and magazines as a serial (in consecutive installments), aimed at cheap sensationalism. In all its campy style and ludicrousness, Irma Vep aims to thrill, even overkill, tickling one's fancy with its heavy emphasis on vampires, ghosts and werewolves. This perfect for Halloween treat, directed in brilliant, resourceful style by Jenny Sullivan will play on at the Rubicon in Ventura through Sunday November 6 only.

Two actors, Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini, in an astounding act of courage or lunacy, maybe both, essay eight characters in telling a story that parodies the Victorian era as well as several theatrical pieces and films, with a heavy concentration on Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca. It is a requirement that the two actors in this cross-dressing piece be of the same sex. Lady Enid (Torcellini), an aging actress of the stage is the new second wife of Lord Edgar (Fuqua) of Mandacrest Manor. The first wife Irma, whose portrait hangs over the mantelpiece, met a strange and violent death as did her son Victor, and loyal servant Jane (Fuqua) finds her own creepy, sordid way to pull the rug out from under Enid, who so longs for acceptance as the new lady of the manor. How did Irma die? How much does Jane really know? And what about Nicodemus (Torcellini), the vulnerable nitwit male servant, who must also put up with Jane and her evil ways? Remember Judith Anderson, who was evil personified as Mrs. Danvers in she deviously plotted to undermine poor Joan Fontaine in her attempt to fit in as Laurence Olivier's second wife? Well, Jane follows in her footsteps, but with many, many more issues and complications. Act II switches scenes from the moors of England to Egypt - what could be more exotic, where we are faced with mummies, ghouls and other elements of darkness?

Fuqua and Torcellini are nothing short of amazing in their portrayal of all the characters. How they make the costume changes so quickly is an astounding feat, not to mention the different accents they utilize and the overall tremendous physicality that the execution of the play demands from them. I still cannot figure out how Torcellini as Nicodemus makes such a fast exit lying face down on the floor; he's literally whisked backwards off the stage as in a gust of wind. Sullivan keeps the pacing up and moving at lightning speed and the entire silly, over-the-top show is sheer heaven, maybe hell....that is the absolute trick or treat! Don't fuss over plot or try to make sense out of something that baffles you; it doesn't matter. Pay close attention to every sight and sound; if you blink your eyes you might miss a devilishly delicious moment.

Don Grigware Don Grigware is an Ovation nominated actor and writer whose contributions to theatre through the years have included 6 years as theatre editor of NoHoLA, a contributor to LA Stage magazine and currently on his own website:


Ventura County Star 11/1/11 Review:

VCS Logo

There's mystery, and comic mayhem, afoot in 'Irma Vep'

'Irma Vep' actors play everything from Lords to werewolves in madcap mystery

  • By Rita Moran
  • Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:03 a.m.

Photo by David Bazemore

Photo by David Bazemore, Photo credit must run: David Bazemore Photo

Jamie Torcellini (left) and Joseph Fuqua change costumes, and characters, with stunning precision in Rubicon Theatre Company's production of "The Mystery of Irma Vep." David Bazemore/Contributed photo

"The Mystery of Irma Vep" is just the ticket for the theatrical skills of Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini. Rubicon Theatre Company is presenting the two-man farce with the split-second, mind-boggling costume changes under the quick-witted direction of Jenny Sullivan, returning from her last Rubicon triumph, "Steel Magnolias."

It's basically a win-win-win all around. The three cohorts coaxed chortles from the audience with the same Charles Ludlum play last season at Santa Barbara's Ensemble Theatre Company. Little has changed, with the possible exception of bolder innuendo throughout the tongue-in-cheek romp. And there's no question that the thunder is louder and the lightning startlingly brighter this time around, and the pounding rain resonating throughout the pitch dark theater as the play opens is enough to send members of the audience ducking for cover. The music track, too, is programmed by someone with a wicked sense of the absurd, segueing from ominous themes during mock-tragic scenes to cheery "Little Drummer Boy" thrums in head-turning changes of pace.

The potboiler plot centers on the second Lady (Enid) Hillcrest settling into the country home where wolves, and worse, prowl the grounds. The first Lady (Irma Vep) Hillcrest died mysteriously, shades of Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca," causing the loyal housekeeper, Jane Twisden, and groundskeeper, Nicodemus Underwood, to see trouble in every corner.

The uninitiated could be conned by the play's cast list, unless they read the names carefully. Playing the key roles are Benjamin Dover, Abu Dhabi Du, Jacqueline Hyde, Warren Pease, Mary A. Richman and Sara Tonin. Behind those monikers are the ultra-versatile Torcellini and Fuqua, who it seems can become anybody, or anything, with ease. It's nonstop parody, wrapped in an enigma.

Fuqua is stellar as the conflicted Lord Hillcrest, with a stiff (mustachioed) upper-lip and delivery that signals an equally constricted mind. His workaday Jane is an ominous presence, with a thick British country accent that is sometimes difficult to decipher. The agile Torcellini tackles a wider range of roles, from the simpleton Nicodemus, to the beguiling Lady Enid, an Egyptian guide and a buxom mummy. Most startling of all is his amazing transformation into a werewolf while standing in the mansion's garden doorway. Needless to say, some of the "stars" of this production are the avid behind-scenes crew assisting with the whipping off or throwing on of wigs, costumes and props.

"The Mystery of Irma Vep" is probably not for the kiddies, but for a burst of bawdy humor and unchained mystery, it fills the bill.

Email Rita Moran at


Charles Ludlum's comic mystery will be performed through Nov. 6 at Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Performances are at 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $25-$54 for general admission, $25 for full-time students with ID. Call 667-2900 or visit

© 2011 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Ventura County Star


Ventura County Star 10/15/11 Article:

Rubicon opens its season

Rubicon opens its season with campy 'Mystery of Irma Vep'

  • Posted October 13, 2011 at 3:26 p.m.


David Bazemore

David Bazemore / Contributed photo
Joseph Fuqua (left) and Jamie Torcellini star in "The Mystery of Irma Vep" at Ventura's Rubicon Theatre.

Your first clue that "The Mystery of Irma Vep" is more satirical than spooky is this: It was first created by playwright Charles Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company.

The Rubicon Theatre Company opens its 2011-12 season with Ludlam's campy play, a satire of Victorian melodrama, Gothic romance, farce and macabre movies. Directed by Jenny Sullivan, the two-man show stars Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini, who between them play eight characters and make 35 costume changes. You'll encounter lords, ladies, servants, mummies, vampires, werewolves and overall manic mayhem on a creepy moor under the mist.

The show will preview at 8 p.m. today and open at 7 p.m. Saturday. Regular shows continue at 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 6. The Rubicon Theatre is at 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Tickets for regular shows cost $25-$54. Tickets for opening night, which includes a post-show party, are $90. Call 667-2900 or visit

© 2011 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Broadway World Coverage - 10/10/11 Article:

Rubicon Theatre Presents The Mystery of Irma Vep

Rubicon Theatre Presents The Mystery of Irma Vep, Previews 10/12

Monday, October 10, 2011; Posted: 04:10 PM - by BWW News Desk

VEPWhen the night is dark and stormy, or the mist is rising on the moors under a full moon; when there are macabre stirrings in the tomb, or the unearthly howling of laughter from audience members - it must be the season for THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP, Charles Ludlam's ribald sendup of gothic romance and horror that begins preview next Wednesday, October 12, opens October 15, and continues through November 6 at Rubicon Theatre Company.

Rubicon veterans JOSEPH FUQUA and Jamie Torcellini return to RTC in Ludlam's madcap pas de deux, penny dreadful, quick change farce, directed by Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan. Between them, they take on such characters as Lord and Lady Hillcrest, the servants Nicodemus Underwood and Jane Twisden, Irma Vep (the late Lady Hillcrest), Alcazar the Egyptian guide, Princess Pev Amri (an Egyptian mummy), a vampiric intruder, a werewolf, a specter, and perhaps even more before the curtain falls. Ludlam's two-act play is a satire of several theatrical and film genres, including Victorian melodrama, Gothic romance, farce and the Alfred Hitchcock film "Rebecca" (1940).

First produced by Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company in a 1984 off-off Broadway run in Greenwich Village, the show enjoyed an award-winning off-Broadway revival at The Westside Theatre. There's drama, passion, outrageous costumes, a set with nice draperies, and big belly laughs in this hilarious Halloween show.


Things aren't going so well for Lady Enid Hillcrest, recently wed to Lord Edgar Hillcrest of Mandacrest Manor. Something is amiss in the remote manor on the heath; between a rogue wolf that's on the loose attacking hapless folk, and visitations in the dark of night by strange specters, to say nothing of the looming presence of the late - but very present - Lady Hillcrest, aka Irma Vep, Lady Enid is stressed out, and if truth be told, isn't quite feeling herself. To make matters worse, the maid is utterly devoted to the memory of her former mistress - as seems to be Lord Edgar - and finally, Nicodemus, the swineherd and grounds man, has a pesky and recurring problem with the moon.

Lord Edgar has an idea that Egyptology could help shed light, and subsequently dallies with a mummi?ed princess; he dare not mention the word vampire, even as he can't dismiss the dark and bloody evidence that plagues his manse. All in all, Ludlam's "penny dreadful" tale pokes fun at gothic horror, gothic romance and stage melodrama in a fell swoop sendup in which nothing is sacred and two actors blaze through a dizzying array of costume changes, hell-bent on solving the Mystery of Irma Vep!

Playwright Charles Ludlam termed the play a "penny dreadful," taking his cue from a type of fiction publication in 19th century Britain that usually featured lurid serial stories appearing in parts over a number of weeks, each part retailed for a penny. Printed on cheap stock, the tales were intended as a common-man's alternative to the pricey fare of the likes of Dickens, whose publications ran upwards of a shilling.


Charles Ludlam (1943-1987) was a New York actor, director and playwright, once described by The New Yorker as " of our nation's most prolific artists, whose inspiration for his productions-precursors of some of today's performance art-
came from B movies, penny dreadfuls, opera, and his own sense of glee when it came to making manic spectacles."

Ludlam worked out of the Ridiculous Theatre Company, which he founded in 1967, penning dozens of plays from a perspective sharply skewed to the irreverent. With IRMA VEP, he had his first runaway hit, which he took on the road and for which he found an enthusiastic audience. Asked to explain the intent behind the Ridiculous in a 1978 interview, Ludlam explained, "It has to do with humor and unhinging the pretensions of serious art. It takes what is worthless and transforms it to high art." He also noted, "I sometimes think that the Ridiculous is the only serious theatre. After all, everywhere you look in this world there's something that's ridiculous. It's important to help people see that. I often think all theatre is ridiculous, but we're not always willing to admit it."

Ludlam stipulated in his rights agreement that THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP must be performed by two same-sex actors, intending that cross-dressing underscore the melodrama's farcical tone. The piece includes upwards of thirty-five breakneck costume changes, and a dizzying array of entrances, exits and plot twists not for the faint-hearted stage manager.

By 1991, THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP had become the most-produced play in the United States, solidifying Ludlam's place in the international repertoire, though the playwright would not live to see it, felled at the age of 44 by complications related to AIDS.



BENJAMIN DOVER (Lord Edgar Hillcrest) - call him Ben! - is pleased once again to be working in a town with a wonderful Marriott Hotel. "Ah, threadcount!" says he. BD (as he is referred to in the biz) is known on sight the world round. Having landed the role of Detective Marvin Mirth in the hit TV series, "Streets of Mirth" (Fox 2003-2010) two days after graduating from The Roarke Actor's and Singer's Academy of Baton Rouge (Go Muskrats!), BD's life became FABULOUS. Wealth, prestige, and a career that spans three quarters of a decade ... now the ability to take a tiny job in a small theater a scant year after his history-making TV series ended! "Well it is time to try the Stage," says he. Ventura audiences are in for a treat. Mr. Dover is sometimes inaudible but always ... mirthfull (word and spelling registered trademark)! Visit BD at www.he' Agent: Wilhelm at The Porterhouse Agency.

ABU DHABI DU (Alcazar) is a graduate of the Bombay University of Language & Literature (BULL), Doo earned a degree in Special Hirsute Indian Teachings. Following his move to California, Due began his acting career as an extra in many films including "Bolly Who Dunnit?" and "Sari, Wrong Number." But he is almost recognizable as the smiling cadaver in "The Comedy Killer." Discovered at the Buffet and Boards Dinner theatre, Douh was asked to step in for The King of Siam in The King and I. Popular food critic Lawrence LaHarr wrote, "Mr. Dhabi Du's performance was as buttery as the Creamed Corn, bringing to the role the same emollience as the portage au gelee."

JACQUELINE HYDE (Pev Amri) grew up on a small pig farm outside of Macon, Georgia. With 12 Brothers and Sisters, the "Bakers' Dozen," as the town calls them, were soon forced to perform shows to raise money for the family business. Their "Hootenannies" helped to keep the bill payers at bay, and the family business can proudly say they're "Macon Bacon!" Ms. Dowd has a degree in geophysics, is a graduate from MIT (Macon Institute for Theatre), and is a full figured model for bathing suits. "I'm so blessed to have this opportunity, my cups runneth over!"
WARREN PEASE (Nicodemus Underwood) was up for the title role in The Creature, got a callback for Gravedigger #2 in Hamlet, and was down to the END for the career-making role of Detective Marvin Mirth in the TV Series "Streets of Mirth," which he lost to his colleague Benjamin Dover. Congrats, Ben. He is overjoyed to be stealing the stage opposite his friend BD. Thanks to his Agent and Cousin, Kip, for standing by him and giving him a couch to call his own. Warren is single and registered at

MARY A. RICHMAN (Lady Enid Hillcrest) is thrilled to be back in Ventura where she met her 5th husband, Iggy, who encouraged her to try her hand at a clothing line for dogs. Her canine creations, the hand knitted Barkula ArfGyle, and Sherlock Bones costumes have been a sensation! Her latest tour de force was starring in "The Trouble with Eve," a play of biblical proportions, where audiences and critics alike said "She Glowed." Apologies to the lighting designer (A lawsuit against the lighting designer was settled out of court). Mary is single once again, but enjoys the company of her greatest love, "Petit," her prize-winning Bichon Frise and, at last count, 23 cats.

SARA TONIN (Jane Twisden) is savoring this return to Ventura. County audiences may remember her local cable access cooking show from 1987 called "Poke it, Cook it, Eat it!" which utilized her love of potatoes, attention and ovens! (Check out the cookbook with the same name available in the Rubicon Gift Barn - proceeds benefit Sara!) Sara is a proud member of the Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre. Regional credits are limited to productions of The Children's Hour and her one woman show Eleanor Roosevelt: It's Not Funny! Sara wishes to tHank Rossie and Ellen for their continued inspiration. (Commercial Resume available by request.)

JOSEPH FUQUA (Understudy) A Yale School of Drama graduate, his Broadway and off-Broadway credits include Brighton Beach Memoirs and 110 in the Shade (Lincoln Center). Joseph's regional credits include Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alexei in A Month in the Country at Arena Stage, Iago in Othello for Shakespeare Festival of Dallas, Louis in Angels in America at Dallas Theater Center and Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opposite Mary Jo Catlett at Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara. On television, Joseph guest-starred in "The X Files," "The Profiler," "Brooklyn South," "The Pretender," "Chicago Hope," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Becker," and the pilot, "Second Nature." Film credits include "Ed's Next Move," "David Searching," "Heyday" and J.E.B. Stuart in "Gettysburg," a role he reprised in the film "Gods and Generals" with Robert Duvall. In 2000 Joseph joined Rubicon's Theatre as its first company member. He has appeared in over 25 productions with Rubicon, including Hamlet (Title role-Indy Award), The Boys Next Door (Indy Award), The Rainmaker (Robby Award and Rep Award), All My Sons (Ovation Award), Doubt (directed by his dear friend Jenny Sullivan) and most recently he played Sebastian in Jim O'Neil's The Tempest with the Rubicon.

Jamie Torcellini (Understudy) has recently completed 2 years of performing Billy Elliot in both the Broadway and Chicago companies. Other Broadway credits include, Little Johnny Jonesas standby to Donny Osmond, Mr. Mistoffelees in Cats, standby for Jim Dale in Me and My Girl, Jerome Robbins' Broadway, the Barber in Man of La Mancha, and Lefou in Beauty and the Beast.TV and Film credits include "Law and Order," "ER," "Aladdin," "Pocahontas," "Stuart Little," "The Jamie Foxx Show" and "Mrs. Santa Claus." Rubicon Theatre Productions include Man of La Mancha, Hamlet, You Can't Take it With You, and Picasso at Lapin Agile.


Jenny Sullivan recently directed Rubicon's Steel Magnolias, Trying, Spit Like a Big Girl, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, You Can't Take It With You (Indie Award), Hamlet (Indie award), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Tuesdays with Morrie. Other Rubicon credits include Happy Days with Robin Pearson Rose; Defying Gravity with Harold Gould and Stephanie Zimbalist; Art (Indie Award) with Cliff DeYoung, Joseph Fuqua and Bruce Weitz; Dancing at Lughnasa (Indie Award) with Susan Clark, Bonnie

Franklin and Stephanie Zimbalist; The Rainmaker with Stephanie Zimbalist and John Bennett Perry; The Little Foxes with Linda Purl; two casts of Ancestral Voices; Love Letters with Jack Lemmon and Felicia Farr; and Old Wicked Songs with Harold Gould and Joseph Fuqua. Other theatres: The Dresser with Len Cariou and Granville Van Dusen at Manitoba Theatre Centre in Canada; The Clean House (Indie Award), A Dublin Carol and The Memory of Water for Ensemble Theatre of Santa Barbara; the West Coast Premiere of Jane Martin's Flags; Death of a Salesman with Stuart Margolin and Wendy Phillips in Montgomery, Alabama; The Falcon Theatre production of The Memoirs of Abraham Lincoln with Granville Van Dusen; and the premiere of Tom Dugan's Nazi Hunter - Simon Wiesenthal. Jenny was Associate Director for the L.A. production of The Vagina Monologues and also directed premieres of Ad Wars with David Dukes and Stephanie Zimbalist; The Cat's Meow with Joseph Fuqua; The Awful Grace of God: A Portrait of RFK; and Bicoastal Woman. Her World Premiere production of The Baby Dance began at Pasadena Playhouse and then moved to Williamstown Theatre Festival, Long Wharf Theatre (CT Critics' Directing Award) and the Lucille Lortel Theatre Off-Broadway. In six seasons at Williamstown, Jenny directed MACS (A Macaroni Requiem), Defying Gravity, Hotel Oubliette, Dirt and The Ferry Back. Other regional credits include The Elephant Man for San Jose Rep, Listen for Wings at Access Theatre, and Mother Earth/Father Sky and The Shadow Box at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. Jenny's film credits include "Access All Areas" and "The Next Best Thing" (in which she had the good fortune to direct her father Barry). Rubicon produced the World Premiere of Jenny's play J for J with Jeff Kober and the late great John Ritter. The production subsequently played at the Court Theatre in L.A. Jenny was appointed Rubicon's first Artistic Associate in 2003.


Set Design for THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP is by Ovation Award-winner Thomas S. Giamario, who recently designed Rubicon productions of Steel Magnolias and Lonesome Traveler. Costumes are by Alex Jaeger, whose credits include the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and South Coast Rep. Theresa Scarano returns to Rubicon as prop designer, and lighting design is by Lap Chi Chu. The production is produced in association with Ensemble Theatre of Santa Barbara.


THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP opens Rubicon Theatre Company's 2011-2012 Season, entitled "Magic, Music and Mystery." The season is sponsored by Barbara Meister ~ Barber Ford • Volkswagen • Subaru • RV, Janet and Mark L. Goldenson, Sandra and Jordan Laby ~ San Buenaventura Foundation for the Arts, Loretta and Mike Merewether
And Micheline Sakharoff. Show co-sponsors for THE MSYTERY OF IRMA VEP are Hilford Moving & Storage and E. J. Harrison & Sons/Harrison Industries.

Dates, Prices and Special Performances

THE MYSERY OF IRMA VEP opens at Rubicon Theatre on Wednesday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m. Performances continue through November 6, Wednesdays at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $39 to $59, depending on the day of the week. Tickets for students are $25.

Tickets for THE MYSERY OF IRMA VEP may be purchased in person through the Rubicon Theatre Company BOX OFFICE, located at 1006 E. Main Street (Laurel entrance).

To charge by phone, call (805) 667-2900. Or visit Rubicon online at Twenty-four-hour-a-day ticketing is available online, thanks to a grant from the IRVINE FOUNDATION's Regional Arts Initiative.

LAStage Times - 10/19/11 Jenny Sullivan - VEP Article

Across the Rubicon

Jenny Sullivan Leads Irma Vep Across the Rubicon

Features by Tom Provenzano  |  October 19, 2011
Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini

Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini in "Irma Vep"

Inhabiting an historic church building from the 1920s on the eastern edge of Ventura’s downtown, the Rubicon Theatre Company is opening its 14th season with Charles Ludlam’s popular farce The Mystery of Irma Vep.

Two actors create eight caricatures spoofing Victorian melodrama, Gothic romance and a host of classic horror films. Set in the moors of England, the Mandacrest Estate is the home of Lord Edgar and Lady Enid, who experience a host of odd events surrounding the mystery of Edgar’s late wife Irma Vep — the name being an anagram for…well, figure it out.

This production is the dream child of stars Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini along with director Jenny Sullivan, all members of the Rubicon’s inner circle of artists. Sullivan traces the trio’s journey toward this moment.

Jenny Sullivan

“Joe played Hamlet for me and Jamie was the Grave Digger and Rosencrantz – or was it Guildenstern? They started talking about the idea of doing Irma Vep. They are both fabulously funny.  I had seen the play in LA and loved it.  So we just started telling anybody who’d listen to us that we wanted to do it.  The Rubicon was very interested. Then one day the Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara asked if I would do it.” Sullivan, a regular director for both theaters,  brokered a deal for associated productions. “It’s not actually a co-production, but we ended up doing it in Santa Barbara first [last December], in collaboration with the Rubicon.”

Though the principal production team remains the same at the Rubicon, this second version benefits from both hindsight and new insights.  Sullivan continues, “In this production it has grown a lot. It’s a difficult play to figure out in the first place, but the actors and design team have gone the next step further in this production.  The

Jenny Sullivan

actors and I have had a chance to dissect the play even more; now we’re really luxuriating in the story.  Also the Rubicon is a bigger space, and the set of Mandacrest is housed beautifully here like it was made for this theater.  So I have been telling the actors to just think of the whole theater as the Mandacrest estate.”

As much as she loves the performances and the set design, it is the sound design by David Beaudry that excites her senses the most. “There are references to Gaslight and Rebecca and Wuthering Heights.  We had done a whole soundscape of music from old movies of suspense, horror and high drama.  But because so many of those films are so old, we’ve added more current references that are recognizable.  I won’t tell you all of them because you have to come see it and hear this incredible sound design, but one is the theme from Jaws, which is really fun.”

Jenny Sullivan

Jenny Sullivan is the Rubicon’s only “Artistic Associate,” a ceremonious title awarded her by the Rubicon’s founders James O’Neil and Karyl Lynn Burns because of the director’s contributions to the theater through its 14-year history. O’Neil says he can’t imagine the company without her presence. “Karyl Lynn and I knew Jenny in Santa Barbara in the ’80s and ’90s. In our first season we did a production of Romeo and Juliet which we took to schools. We also ended up doing it in an Italianate courtyard restaurant in Ventura as a fundraiser.  Jenny came and brought Stephanie Zimbalist — a great friend of hers.

Jamie Torcellini and Joseph Fuqua in "Irma Vep"

They loved the show and we got to know them.  I thought Stephanie would be perfect for The Rainmaker. We did it a year and a half later with Jenny directing it.  It was just such a perfect connection there.”

Sullivan also recalls that fundraiser, which began her habit of happily working at the Rubicon, where she can combine excellence in the art with the chance to work with her best friends. “I took Stephanie to the benefit because she’s always taking me to great Hollywood gatherings.  We got here and the first thing she did was donate a load of money, bidding in a silent auction.  She met everybody and they came up with the idea of doing The Rainmaker.  Later I introduced them all to Joseph Fuqua, who I had directed in LA, and he has since done some 26 shows at the Rubicon and directs in the kids program.  So I have brought a lot of people into the organization – now they have their own relationships.” Among the A-list actors she has brought into the company is another close friend, Linda Purl. Sullivan directed her Regina in the Rubicon’s The Little Foxes in 2000 (which also featured Burns and Fuqua).

O’Neil has no qualms about crediting Sullivan with much of the theater’s growth. “Her dad was Barry Sullivan, so she grew up in that world and knew so many people in Hollywood and she began to introduce us to a lot of them. Through Jenny we ended up doing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with Joe Spano.  So much started with Jenny — she has been so instrumental in bringing wonderful actors and even designers and people we didn’t know.”

For her part, Sullivan refuses to take so much credit. “Jim and Karyl Lynn make all the artistic choices.  We all have the opportunity to bring things to the table.  I have always wanted to do Virginia Woolf.  They made that happen.  It was thrilling directing Joe as George and Karyl Lynn as Martha.  It was terrifying and exciting.  Joe is a great guy and a genius actor. I was really lucky to get to work with him.  At the Rubicon I get to work with fabulous new people and a lot of old friends.  I did three plays with [the late] Harold Gould and feel so blessed to have that friendship Jamie Torcellini

and working relationship with him.  He was a magnificent person I loved him dearly. People always ask what plays I want to direct, but the first thing I think about is who I want to work with – then we decide on the play.”

While it is the chance to work with choice colleagues that brings such high-profile actors and directors to the Rubicon, there are also some geographical benefits in Ventura. As she speaks from the oceanside hotel where Rubicon artists often stay, Sullivan laughs,  “Well, number one, I am sitting here looking at the ocean. It is close to LA and that makes it easier for us to get people to come see the work.”

David Bozeman

O’Neil agrees and adds, “We are close to LA but far enough that people consider it a getaway – but not so far that they can’t stay in touch.  It is difficult for people who make a living in LA to go away for an extended period to do theater in Chicago or Denver or Seattle.  Once you make that commitment, you are done and you can’t do anything else.  I hope artists would say they appreciate our commitment to quality. Also we always have an eye toward putting artists in roles and positions where they can succeed.   People don’t really talk about that specifically, but I think they know it underneath.  They feel taken care of.  They have a great time and feel like they were in something worthwhile.”

The personal ties and professional respect among the parties at the Rubicon also allows artists to pursue projects deeply important to their lives. Sullivan was given the opportunity to work on a play she

Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini

had been writing about her family that continues to grow in her artistic soul. She recounts her story:

“A year after my dad died, I found a journal he began in the 1940s.  The cover said J for J. This is the title of the play I have written.  This ‘Journal for Johnny’ included letters to his son, my brother John. As a few years went by, it started becoming clear there was something wrong with my brother – he was mentally retarded.  He lived for many years at home, then they put him in a developmental system in California that is a really great one.  After my parents died, I moved him into a group home situation, which turned out to be an incredible thing for him.  My brother and I were extremely close. He was very funny in his own idiosyncrasies.  I started to write a play based on the journal.  Really it was about my dad and my brother and me.  It is about teaching me how to take care of my brother, then coming to terms with my brother and my dad.

Jamie Torcellini and Joseph Fugua

“We did two years of readings around the country.  I sent it to John Ritter who was a dear old, old friend of mine – we met in the early ’70s and we had acted together a lot. I needed someone with a great sense of humor to play my brother.  John Ritter flipped for it.  He spent a lot of time with my brother. Ultimately the Rubicon produced the world premiere of it [in 2001].  I acted in it and someone else directed it. John Ritter and I were working on a screenplay because he really wanted to do a film of it.  He had just started his [TV] series [8 Simple Rules]. Then, a year into that, he died.

“The play is kind of languishing.  It has gotten a bit more difficult because my brother passed away a year ago.  He and John Ritter had a great bond between them.  It was a big deal and I am determined to get back to it.” And she knows her Rubicon friends and colleagues will be there for her when she does.

Jamie Torcellini and Joseph Fuqua

The Mystery of Irma Vep, Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E Main St., Ventura. Wed 2 and 7 p.m., Thur and Fri, 8 pm, Sat 2 and 8 pm, Sun, 2 p.m. Through Nov. 6. Tickets: $25–$54.  805-667-2900.

***All The Mystery of Irma Vep production photos by David Bozeman



Ventura Arts Online - 10/15/11 Article:


VA Online


VA Hot News


VA IrmaWhen the night is dark and stormy, or the mist is rising on the moors under a full moon; when there are macabre stirrings in the tomb, or the unearthly howling of laughter from audience members - it must be the season for THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP, Charles Ludlam’s ribald sendup of gothic romance and horror that begins preview next Wednesday, October 12, opens October 15, and continues through November 6 at RUBICON THEATRE COMPANY.

Rubicon veterans JOSEPH FUQUA and JAMIE TORCELLINI return to RTC in Ludlam’s madcap pas de deux, penny dreadful, quick change farce, directed by Artistic Associate JENNY SULLIVAN. Between them, they take on such characters as Lord and Lady Hillcrest, the servants Nicodemus Underwood and Jane Twisden, Irma Vep (the late Lady Hillcrest), Alcazar the Egyptian guide, Princess Pev Amri (an Egyptian mummy), a vampiric intruder, a werewolf, a specter, and perhaps even more before the curtain falls. Ludlam’s two-act play is a satire of several theatrical and film genres, including Victorian melodrama, Gothic romance, farce and the Alfred Hitchcock film “Rebecca” (1940).

First produced by Ludlam's Ridiculous Theatrical Company in a 1984 off-off Broadway run in Greenwich Village, the show enjoyed an award-winning off-Broadway revival at the Westside Theatre. There's drama, passion, outrageous costumes, a set with nice draperies, and big belly laughs in this hilarious Halloween show.

THE DREADFUL TALE: Things aren’t going so well for Lady Enid Hillcrest, recently wed to Lord Edgar Hillcrest of Mandacrest Manor. Something is amiss in the remote manor on the heath; between a rogue wolf that’s on the loose attacking hapless folk, and visitations in the dark of night by strange specters, to say nothing of the looming presence of the late - but very present - Lady Hillcrest, aka Irma Vep, Lady Enid is stressed out, and if truth be told, isn’t quite feeling herself. To make matters worse, the maid is utterly devoted to the memory of her former mistress - as seems to be Lord Edgar - and finally, Nicodemus, the swineherd and grounds man, has a pesky and recurring problem with the moon.

Lord Edgar has an idea that Egyptology could help shed light, and subsequently dallies with a mummied princess; he dare not mention the word vampire, even as he can’t dismiss the dark and bloody evidence that plagues his manse. All in all, Ludlam’s “penny dreadful” tale pokes fun at gothic horror, gothic romance and stage melodrama in a fell swoop sendup in which nothing is sacred and two actors blaze through a dizzying array of costume changes, hell-bent on solving the Mystery of Irma Vep!

Playwright Charles Ludlam termed the play a “penny dreadful,” taking his cue from a type of fiction publication in 19th century Britain that usually featured lurid serial stories appearing in parts over a number of weeks, each part retailed for a penny. Printed on cheap stock, the tales were intended as a common-man’s alternative to the pricey fare of the likes of Dickens, whose publications ran upwards of a shilling.

THE MYSTERY OF IRMA VEP opens Rubicon Theatre Company’s 2011-2012 Season, entitled “Magic, Music and Mystery.” THE MYSERY OF IRMA VEP opens at Rubicon Theatre on Wednesday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m. Performances continue through November 6, Wednesdays at 2:00 and 7:00 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Ticket prices are $39 to $59, depending on the day of the week. Tickets for students are $25.

Tickets for THE MYSERY OF IRMA VEP may be purchased in person through the RUBICON THEATRE COMPANY BOX OFFICE, located at 1006 E. Main Street (Laurel entrance). To charge by phone, call (805) 667-2900. Or visit Rubicon online at Twenty-four-hour-a-day ticketing is available online, thanks to a grant from the IRVINE FOUNDATION’s Regional Arts Initiative.




Charles Ludlam's hilarious double tour de force romp takes place at Mandacrest Estate, the home of Lord Edgar and Lady Enid. Lady Enid is Lord Edgar's second wife, though he has yet to recover entirely from the passing of his first wife, Irma, who keeps a watchful eye. The house staff, a maid named Jane Twisden and a swineherd named Nicodemus Underwood, have their own opinions of Lady Enid. Two actors play a dozen roles in this campy, cross-dressing mash-up of Victorian melodrama, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, and The Mummy’s Curse, including references to (and appearances by) vampires, ghosts, mummies and werewolves! A penny dreadful, Irma Vep is a satire of several theatrical and film genre, including Victorian melodrama, melodrama, farce and the Alfred Hitchcock film Rebecca. The name Irma Vep is an anagram for "vampire". A comic treat for the holidays!

Ensemble Theatre Company of Santa Barbara (contact info)

914 Santa Barbara Street

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(805) 965-5400

Stay tuned for more information on this Joseph-upcoming slated appearance at RTC!

From the Ensemble Theatre of Santa Barbara Website:

there was IRMA VEP!


In collaboration with Rubicon Theatre Company, Ventura.

December 2–26, 2010.

Madly entertaining ..."
—CASA Magazine

A rip-roaring non-stop romp..."
—Montecito Journal

Outstanding production … clever and wickedly entertaining."
—Santa Barbara Independent (read the review)

IrmaOn Mandacrest Estate, strange goings-on occur under the watchful eye of the portrait of Lord Edgar’s deceased wife, Irma Vep. There’s passion, comedy and plenty of costume surprises in this cross-dressing mash-up of Victorian melodrama, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, Wuthering Heights and The Mummy’s Curse. This outrageously funny tour-de-force will feature Jamie Torcellini and Joseph Fuqua as the two versatile actors who play the half-dozen characters who make up the non-stop action of the show.

The Mystery of Irma Vep was named one of the ‘Best Plays’ of [the year] by both Time Magazine and The New York Times. A zany side-splitting gothic spoof, complete with vampires, werewolves and damsels in distress, is a treat for the holiday season.

The Mystery of Irma Vep was first produced, in 1984, by Ludlam’s infamous Ridiculous Theatrical Company in an off-off-Broadway theatre in Greenwich Village. It played to sold-out houses for over two years. Having won numerous awards, including the Drama Desk and Obie, The Mystery of Irma Vep went on to delight audience throughout the country, becoming an international hit.

“Like the recent Broadway hit, The 39 Steps, Irma Vep is all in the magic inventiveness of the performers and creative team,” said ETC's Executive Artistic Director, Jonathan Fox. “With such wonderfully comic talents on board, I am sure this production will amaze and delight.” Mr. Fox is pleased to welcome back director Jenny Sullivan, who helmed ETC’s critically-acclaimed productions of The Clean House and Tea at Five. Ms. Sullivan is an award-winning regional director who has worked at Geffen Playhouse, Rubicon Theatre, Pasadena Playhouse, San Jose Rep, Odyssey Theatre and Access Theatre.

Jamie Torcellini has just completed his second straight year in the hit musical, Billy Elliot, in New York and Chicago. His other Broadway credits include Man of La Mancha, Beauty and the Beast and Cats. Regional theatre includes productions at The Old Globe, Rubicon Theatre, Music Theatre West, American Musical Theatre and Walnut Street Theatre, in such prestigious shows as Fiddler on the Roof, Crazy for You, Damn Yankees, La Cage Aux Follies, A Funny Thing Happened…, George M!, and How to Succeed. Television performances include Law & Order, The Jamie Foxx Show, Port Charles and General Hospital.

Joseph Fuqua has been a professional actor for over twenty years and is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. Ensemble audiences will remember him as the beloved dance instructor in the hit show, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks. He has worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theatres, including Yale Rep, South Coast Repertory Theatre, Dallas Shakespeare, Arena Stage, Rubicon Theatre and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. His guest starring appearances on television include The X-Files, The Profiler, Brooklyn South, The Pretender, Chicago Hope, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Becker. He is an acting teacher and directed the premiere of J for J, featuring Jenny Sullivan and the late John Ritter.

Photo: Jamie Torcellini and Joseph Fuqua Photo credit: David Bazemore


Santa Barbara Independent Feature Article: 


                                                                                                  David Bazemore

Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini

ETC Presents The Mystery of Irma Vep

Jamie Torcellini and Joseph Fuqua Star in a Ridiculous Farce/Satire

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

By Tom Jacobs

Back in the mid 1980s, Jamie Torcellini paid a visit to New York City’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company to see its new hit show, The Mystery of Irma Vep. The fast-moving farce featured two men—writer/director Charles Ludlam and Everett Quinton—who played a variety of roles as they parodied a string of old movies, including Wuthering Heights, The Wolf Man, and Rebecca.

At regular intervals, one of the actors would exit the stage, only to return almost instantly, playing a different character and wearing a different costume.

“I don’t remember a lot,” Torcellini said, “but I remember spending intermission thinking, ‘How are they doing that? I don’t understand how this is humanly possible.’”

The Broadway veteran, who is just off a two-year stint in Billy Elliot, discovered how it’s done four years ago when he starred in and directed a Philadelphia production of the now-classic comedy. Torcellini is delighted to be returning to the material in an Ensemble Theatre Company staging, which opens Thursday, December 2, at the Alhecama Theatre.

Jenny Sullivan’s production will also feature Joseph Fuqua, who has shared the stage with Torcellini in such Rubicon Theatre Company gems as Man of La Mancha and You Can’t Take It With You. “We’re like brothers,” Torcellini said of his costar. “It’s been impossible to not laugh during rehearsals.”

Ludlam, who died of AIDS in 1987, was a major figure on the off-Broadway scene in the 1970s and 1980s. (His film roles include a memorable portrayal of a sleazy Southern lawyer in The Big Easy with Dennis Quaid.) The New York Times called him “a highly praised and deeply cherished Renaissance man of the theater,” one who developed a cult following before ultimately finding mainstream success.

Of his 29 plays (most of which he directed and starred in), Irma Vep is the one that has both stood the test of time and demonstrated cross-cultural appeal. It has been a huge hit in Japan, Brazil, and numerous American cities.

To quote from the press release for the original 1984 production: “The play is cast in the mold of the penny dreadful [a 19th-century form of popular fiction, forerunner of the modern pulp fiction] and draws on the Grand Guignol and other forms of low theater, using stage illusions and quick changes to create a comic, Gothic evening including vampires, werewolves and an Egyptian mummy.”

What more could one ask for?

Torcellini, whose Broadway credits include the musicals Cats, Beauty and the Beast, and Man of La Mancha, called the play a mystery and a melodrama. But he also pointed to another crucial element: satire.

“It’s a takeoff on Wuthering Heights, and some of the acting choices they made in those black-and-white films back then,” he said. “There’s a lot of hand to the mouth, backwards, as a way of signaling fear.”

The story centers on Lady Enid Hillcrest, the new wife of wealthy aristocrat Lord Edgar Hillcrest. As she soon discovers, Edgar is still in love with his late wife, Irma Vep, who died under mysterious circumstances. Other characters include Nicodemus Underwood, a butler who is transformed into a werewolf, and Jane Twisden, a disgruntled housekeeper with a secret or two.

Torcellini is playing the four roles Ludlam himself portrayed in the original production—two of which are women. “You have dialogue with yourself offstage while you’re changing,” he noted.

The show is something of a departure for Jenny Sullivan, who directed The Clean House and Tea at Five with Ensemble, the current Love, Loss, and What I Wore at the Geffen Playhouse, and too many shows to mention with Rubicon. She is known for her subtle character work—and not for farce.

“At first, she thought, ‘How am I going to attack this?’ But the way she has attacked it is, for my money, dead on,” Torcellini said. That approach involves clearly telling the story and delineating the characters, and letting the laughs flow naturally from there.

“You start from a real place, and then heighten it,” Torcellini said. “There’s a lot of story to get out, and if we’re not listening to the story, it’s just a bunch of nonsense. A lot of the comedy comes from real emotions. There are some things written in the script that can be interpreted as the actor commenting on what’s going on—lines like, ‘Where’s Lady Enid?’ ‘She’s changing. You know how long women take’—when the change literally takes four seconds,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s necessary to do any nodding or winking [to point such moments out]. I’ve seen it done in an extremely campy way—very over-the-top. I don’t think it works as well that way. It needs to be more real.”

That said, this ain’t Ibsen. (However, the dour dramatist is represented later in Ensemble’s 2010-2011 season.)

“It’s a good time at the theater—no tears, just laughter,” Torcellini said. “At first, I thought it was more appropriate for Halloween than Christmas, but we’ve added some holiday decorations. It’s good, clean fun—well, mostly clean.”


The Mystery of Irma Vep previews December 2 and 3 and shows December 4-26 at the Alhecama Theatre (914 Santa Barbara St.). Tickets are $30-$50, with discounts available for students, seniors, and anyone younger than 27. Call 965-5400 or see

Santa Barbara Independent Review:

The Mystery of Irma Vep

"The Mystery of Irma Vep
at Ensemble Theatre Company

Charles Ludlam’s Ridiculous Melodrama Gets Outstanding Production

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Informed that the gown she is wearing once belonged to Irma Vep (the mysterious first wife of Lord Edgar Hillcrest), the second Lady Hillcrest, Lady Enid (Jamie Torcellini), looks shocked. When the servant Jane Twisden (Joseph Fuqua) goes on to add that Lord Edgar has himself worn the garment when he’s been in a particularly frisky mood, Lady Enid’s response comes as something a bit more unexpected. “Well,” she reflects, “any man who dresses as a woman can’t be all bad.”

In the clever and wickedly entertaining world according to Charles Ludlam, the playwright responsible for The Mystery of Irma Vep, this observation comes as close as one gets to a serious message. As staged by director Jenny Sullivan and marvelously played by the two actors, Torcellini and Fuqua, Irma Vep brings topsy-turvy, cliché-saturated make-believe roaring to life through dozens of lightning-fast costume changes, double entendres, zany gestures, and over-the-top facial expressions. Yet at the core of this delightful show, for all its goofy props and hackneyed situations, there’s a beating heart and a yearning soul—and they belong to a man in a dress. For Ludlam, and for those like Fuqua and Torcellini, who dare follow in his dainty footsteps, the art of drag is much more than a titillating stunt designed to elicit laughter—which is not to say there’s nothing funny about it—it’s also a door opening onto the entire history of film and theater, only remade as an imaginary playground for some delirious scrambling about.

David Bazemore
David Bazemore
Joseph Fuqua as Jane Twisden (left) and Jamie Torcellini as Lady Enid Hillcrest, just two of the roles they play in The Mystery of Irma Vep.


The story reaches a critical mass of absurd complexity early in the first act, and the reversals, curses, surprises, and twists scarcely ever let up. Lord Edgar has secrets associated with his adventures as an Egyptian tomb raider, and his mansion is the locus of any number of horror-movie staples, from werewolves to vampires. But through it all, the action remains centered on the characters’ needs—for love, for attention, and even possibly for blood. Torcellini has abundant fun portraying Nicodemus, the loyal retainer with a wooden leg, as well as playing Enid, the ingénue who flitters about the room in the most hysterically contrived manner imaginable. Fuqua’s turns as Lord Edgar and Twisden galvanize the already comic into the truly hilarious. Both actors also portray other characters during an Egyptian sequence at the beginning of the second act, but meeting them before their time might spoil some of the fun. Special mention should also be made of the technical wizardry required to make this fast-paced show happen.

CASA Magazine Review:

CASA  Magazine Review




Joseph Joseph
Joseph Joseph
Joseph Joseph






July 15 - 17, 2011




As the curtain rises on King John

by Rubicon Theatre Company on Friday, July 15, 2011 at 8:34am

The Life & Death of King John

An Interview with Director and award-winning actor Joseph Fuqua

Murder, betrayal, war, political intrigue -- not the summer blockbuster, no - it’s the continuation of Rubicon’s Summer Outreach Acting Intensive, as King John comes to the main stage under the direction of RTC alum Joseph Fuqua. Perhaps Shakespeare’s least produced play, King John bows Friday night in what could well be its Ventura County premiere.

Director Joseph Fuqua shared some thoughts about the production before a late rehearsal this week:

RTC: You’re sinking your teeth into pretty ambitious material again this summer, ambitious not only for small theatre, but as a youth production.

JF: Shakespeare is a hard sell for many audiences, so making it accessible is very important - at graduate school at Yale it was important that we learned to adapt Shakespeare - we loved doing it pure, but a lot of times it was necessary to cut it, making it, as they say, “too short to suck;” cut out the fat, keep the lean, and honor the beautiful verse while making it audience friendly is what it’s about.

RTC: Too short to suck, huh? That’s catchy.

JF: Most of the plays, without cuts, are between two and three hours. So I come to it as an adaptation, preserving the iambic pentameter, combining some characters, beefing up some. We only have thirteen kids, where in the full cast there are twenty-five parts. As we adapt, we make the story a bit denser.

RTC: I understand you’re getting creative with period and costuming...

JF: For years people have been doing Julius Caesar in a banana-republic style, with Castro and his cigar - other people say “oh no, I prefer my Caesar with togas.” Well, in Shakespeare’s day - he did Julius Caesar in Elizabethan garb, so for them it was present day. All of his plays, even if in imagination it required togas, he did it in modern dress, and it was completely acceptable. So now we’re doing modern dress for this - it’s a little bit more iconic royal, but they’re not in long velvet robes, they’re in modern dress.

RTC: I covered a play a few years ago, with ordinary Gold Coast actors in ancient samurai garb - and they looked ridiculous. In some ways it felt like it bankrupted what could have been a splendid play. I thought, how cool would it have been to take a bit of creative license...

JF: Absolutely. What they did with La Boheme, the wonderful production by Baz Luhrmann, that took it and made it in 1950’s Paris, with leather jackets and fur coats. That wonderful post-war ebullience. It worked great; starving artists in every century. What I don’t like is the “school of cool,” where decisions are made simply because they seem cool, but can’t really be supported.

So we’re making some little changes, and calling it an adaptation. We’re presenting Shakespeare’s King John, and it’s adapted by me. It’s all about the story, and the story makes sense. I was drawn to this, though some people said, "oh wow, big story, big history, blah de blah" --- there was some concern about “will the audience like it, it’s not a famous one." But you know? The same number of people came to Macbeth as came to A Midsummer Night’s Dream; not a huge audience but good support, so I thought, "I don’t know that the famous plays are going to fill the house anyway. And this play has some great roles for women; not just two, but four great roles for women."

In a nutshell, it’s a soap opera; it turns into a mess -- it’s a story of dysfunctional royals, a story Americans are familiar with. So that’s where I was coming from, why not?

RTC: Last year it was bloody Macbeth, before that Bard On a Wire (Shakespeare Without a Net), before that, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Quite a repertoire you’re building with the Bard...

JF: This is part of the acting intensive and Brian (McDonald, Rubicon's Director of Education) wanted to do something that incorporated some pretty intensive training for four weeks, culminating in a performance. Since I had some chops with Shakespeare, it made sense to bring them together.

RTC: You have part of your Macbeth troupe back, yes?

JF: Many of these kids have been with me since the beginning -- this is our fourth year together with Shakespeare.

RTC: It’s a heady challenge, adapting one of the greatest writers ever.

JF: We’re making sure to really honor the text. The images are so important, because if they’re done right, even if the audience doesn’t know exactly what you’re saying, Shakespeare was such a genius, the image goes “bang” in your heart. You know what it means, even if you don’t follow all the words. For example: “Grief fills up the room of my absent child.” Right? You don’t need to say “My son has been kidnapped, and I’m sad.”

The poetry of the language is all-important, and it’s something (Rubicon founders) Karyl Lynn (Burns) and Jim (O'Neil) have committed to; they love Shakespeare, they think it’s important, so it’s work that we’re going to do. We have a following, and if there are people who are unsure, we hope they’ll come and maybe their minds will be changed about it. Being intimidated by it - I know I was, when I was younger I was intimidated by it; when you get familiar with it, and you get down to the story, there’s nothing like it.

RTC: What a great opportunity for young actors.

JF: With our Summer Outreach we’re giving kids a shot at musicals, straight drama, some Shakespeare -- did you see The Jungle Book Kids? It was wonderful. What Rubicon is offering to local youth is really important, and I know it’s part of Karyl Lynn and Jim’s mission with Rubicon.

My belief with theatre, the threatre arts, whether in high school, or a summer program; even if a kid doesn’t want to go on to a career in performing arts, to become an actor, drama and the art of acting, with voice, with diction, with appreciation of language, can give a kid a chance to explore their voice, their courage, even if nothing else, if they’re able to, for the rest of their lives, to be able to give a speech, or to sit still and have a strong voice in a job interview - to be able to stand and deliver, and speak from their heart, then that’s what it’s about too.

It’s also teaching them a sense of community; the develop into a troupe, a family; they make friendships, they bond; there really is something that a kid who might feel like an outsider can join and belong. I’m trying to instill in them the sense that acting is not necessarily about fame and fortune; it’s like painting, and if you love it you can do it for the rest of your life.

King John Sponsors:

Sponsored by The Jack Oakie and Victoria Horne Oakie Charitable Foundation • Co-Sponsored by Loretta and Mike Merewether • Kiwanis Club of Ventura • Smith-Hobson Foundation • Sheeler Moving and Storage • Santa Barbara Bank & Trust


Akira Dann, Devin Dornbos, Dillon Francis, Franklin Hansen, Dara Holder, Dylan Horwitz, Rebecca Lawson, Tyler McLean, William Peterson, Jennifer Ridgway, Katherine Rollins, Joe Sartee and Toby Tropper.


* July 15 at 8pm
*July 16 at 8pm
*July 17 at 2pm

Reserved Seating

Save money and guarantee your seats by purchasing in advance.


Adults: $15 ($20 at door)
Kids 12 & under: $10 ($15 at door)

Tickets available online or through the Rubicon box office at (805) 667-2900.



October 13 - 24, 2010 

NOTE:  This production was postponed and rescheduled in 2009-2010, due to funding.


will rogersOctober 13 - 24, 2010

Directed by James O'Neil

Featuring George Backman, Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini


“We are such stuff as dreams are made on.” Lyrical, enchanting, full of grace and grandeur, Shakespeare’s final romance is regarded by many to be his finest. Years before the play begins, Prospero, the Duke of Milan, and his daughter Miranda, were stranded on a fantastical island inhabited by sprites, fairies and monsters. There, Prospero develops magical powers which he now uses to shipwreck a boat and separate its regal voyagers, among them the King of Naples and his son Ferdinand. Miranda, now a teenager, is naïve to the ways of the world and has never beheld a young man – until she sees the handsome Ferdinand. “O brave new world that has such people in’t!” she cries. Don’t miss this exquisitely told tale of transgression and redemption, exile and return.



October 13 - 24, 2010

[ Reserve Tickets l Calendar l Study Guide ]

Directed by James O'Neil
Featuring George Backman, Joseph Fuqua and Jamie Torcellini

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on." Lyrical, enchanting, full of grace and grandeur, Shakespeare's final romance is regarded by many to be his finest. Years before the play begins, Prospero, the Duke of Milan, and his daughter Miranda, were stranded on a fantastical island inhabited by sprites, fairies and monsters. There, Prospero develops magical powers which he now uses to shipwreck a boat and separate its regal voyagers, among them the King of Naples and his son Ferdinand. Miranda, now a teenager, is naïve to the ways of the world and has never beheld a young man - until she sees the handsome Ferdinand. "O brave new world that has such people in't!" she cries. Don't miss this exquisitely told tale of transgression and redemption, exile and return.

For tickets, please call the box office at 805.667.2900.






July 15 - 18, 2010

Here is a listing in an article on

art predator

(art predator )'( seek to engage the whole soul)

Ventura’s Rubicon Theater Does Macbeth This Weekend

July 13, 2010
by art predator


This summer, a group of teens explored a classic play and the results will hit the boards this weekend.
Veteran actor Joseph Fuqua directs this year’s Rubicon Acting Intensive class of 17 young actors in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth and they promise to illuminate this classic tragedy in a modern context. The show runs this weekend  Thursday July 15- Saturday July 17 at 8pm plus Sunday, July 18 at 2:00pm.

Pre-sale Tickets are $10 and it’s $15 at the door. If you can afford to give more, they would sure appreciate it as they are going through some difficulties financially.

For more information about the Rubicon, this program, and its upcoming shows, go to You can also reserve your tickets there or call The Rubicon Box Office: the phone number is 805-667-2900.

Photos of Director Joseph Fuqua and his crew by Jeanne Tanner.

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  1. Ventura’s Rubicon Theater Does Macbeth This Weekend (via art predator) « whisper down the write alley

whisper down the write alley

gwendolyn alley, writing coach & college teacher

Ventura’s Rubicon Theater Does Macbeth This Weekend (via art predator)

July 17, 2010 in assignments, cultural events, theater

There’s lots of Shakespeare going on this summer under the stars and in theaters. This performance is in the old church on Laurel street. Check it out and support the young thespians–you might even know some of them! This weekend only! (PS For my Ventura College students, this definitely counts as a cultural or literary event!)




When: June 21, 2010 – July 18, 2010     Cost: $750

This four-week program runs June 21 thru July 18, Monday thru Saturday from 10am-5pm, and culminates with five public performances of Shakespeare's Macbeth.  Under the direction of award-winning Yale actor Joseph Fuqua, students focus on developing the actor's voice and body, comprehension and expression of the language, building a character, playing actions and overall performance skills.  Perfect for serious students with little or no previous experience with Shakespeare, this nurturing program is designed to challenge each participant to reach their greatest individual potential under the tutelage of professional theatre artists.  The cost of the program is $750.  There are limited scholarships available.  The deadline to apply for a scholarship is May 14, 2010.  **Acceptance into the program is by audition only.  You may register online for this class only after you have been accepted into the program from your audition.  Please call Amber Griswold at 805.667.2912 ext. 230 to schedule an audition appointment.

Composed in late 1606 or early 1607, Macbeth is the last of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies, the others being Hamlet, King Lear and Othello. It is a relatively short play but is considered by many scholars to be Shakespeare's darkest work.  Shakespeare's Scottish tragedy is about Macbeth's bloody rise to power, including the murder of the Scottish king, Duncan, and the guilt-ridden pathology of evil deeds generating still more evil deeds. As an integral part of this thematic web is the play's most memorable character, Lady Macbeth. Like her husband, Lady Macbeth's ambition for power leads her into an unnatural, phantasmagoric realm of witchcraft, insomnia and madness. But while Macbeth responds to the prophecies of the play's famous trio of witches, Lady Macbeth goes even further by figuratively transforming herself into an unnatural, desexualized evil spirit. The current trend of critical opinion is toward an upward reevaluation of Lady Macbeth, who is said to be rehumanized by her insanity and her suicide. Much of this reappraisal of Lady Macbeth has taken place in discussions of her ironically strong marriage to Macbeth, a union that rests on loving bonds but undergoes disintegration as the tragedy unfolds.


    •    Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 8:00pm
    •    Friday, July 16, 2010 at 8:00pm
    •    Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 8:00pm
    •    Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 2:00pm



January 30 - February 21, 2010


Written By John Patrick Shanley

Directed by Jenny Sullivan

Set at a Catholic school in the Bronx in 1964, this Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play concerns a strict headmistress with exacting standards who believes that in order for students to be prepared for the harsh world, her teachers must use discipline rather than compassion. She comes to suspect a new priest of sexually abusing a student, but some doubt remains, and she cannot prove her allegations. If she charges him, she will certainly destroy his career, and perhaps her own. She questions an idealistic young nun and the mother of the accused boy, the first black student ever admitted to the school.

This thought-provoking story leaves us with questions about what has—and should have—happened, who is right or wrong, and the nature of faith and love. Audiences will debate the issues of the play long after it has ended. Rubicon Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan directs company member Joseph Fuqua* (Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Hamlet) and Robin Pearson Rose (All My Sons, You Can't Take It With You) in this searing drama.

*Mr. Fuqua's appearance is generously underwritten by Dr. Norma Beck 

Here's Joseph as Father Flynn and Lauren Patten as Sister James - during rehearsals.

And here are some beautiful shots of Joseph (one with Lauren and one with Robin) from the show posted on Facebook by Ruby Burnon:

Here is a listing in an article on the Ventura Country Star website:

“Doubt,” John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about the clash between a stern nun and a priest who may be abusing boys (adapted into a Meryl Streep movie last year), will run Jan. 30 through Feb. 21. Jenny Sullivan directs a cast headed by Robin Pearson Rose and Joseph Fuqua, who played the title role in Rubicon’s “Hamlet.”

and one in the Santa Barbara Independent: 

and one on Los Angeles Broadway

Rubicon Theatre Company Presents DOUBT, A PARABLE

Wednesday, January 27, 2010; Posted: 04:01 PM - by BWW News Desk

Rubicon Theatre Company continues the 2009-2010 Season, "Defying Expectations," with DOUBT: A PARABLE by John Patrick Shanley.

Set in a Catholic Church school in the Bronx in the fall of 1964, DOUBT: A PARABLE is a Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama about Sister Aloysius, a rigid and conservative principal with exacting standards, who believes that in order for students to be properly prepared for the world, teachers must offer discipline over compassion. She suspects that a gregarious priest, Father Flynn, newly arrived to the parish, is too friendly with the students, and that he is paying too much attention to young Donald Muller, the first Negro student ever to be admitted to the school. Through conversation with an innocent, hopeful young nun (Sister James), Sister Aloysius becomes certain that Father Flynn has, or is capable of, an improper relationship with Donald; but she cannot prove her allegations. If she charges him, she will destroy his career, and perhaps her own. She further questions Sister James, as well as Donald's mother. The story leaves us with questions about what has - and should have - happened, who is right or wrong, and the nature of faith and love.

Says Rubicon Artistic Director James O'Neil, "DOUBT: A PARABLE is a thinking-person's play. It asks us to think about important moral dilemmas for which there are no easy answers. It is an intelligent, powerful, provocative piece that we know will stimulate spirited discussion and debate amongst our audience members."

Directed by Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan, the play features a cast of returning Rubicon veterans, among them company member Joseph Fuqua (RTC's Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Hamlet), Robin Pearson Rose (All My Sons, Samuel Beckett's Happy Days), Chicago-based Lauren Patten (The Diary of Anne Frank, Fiddler on the Roof), and Collette Porteous (You Can't Take It With You).

DOUBT: A PARABLE opens this Saturday, January 30 at 7:00 p.m. at Rubicon's home at Laurel and Main in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001. Low-cost previews begin Wednesday, January 27 at 7:00 p.m. and continued Thursday, January 28 and Friday, January 29 at 8:00 p.m. The regular performance schedule is Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., Thursdays at 8:00 p.m., Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. For tickets, call (805) 667-2900 or go to

History of the Production
DOUBT opened on Broadway in 2005 at the Walter Kerr Theatre, directed by Doug Hughes. The original cast included Cherry Jones and Brian F. O'Byrne, who were followed by Eileen Atkins and Ron Eldard in 2006. The show ran in New York for 525 performances. DOUBT swept the 2005 awards ceremonies, winning four Tony Awards, five Drama Desk Awards, the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Jones toured with the production, which won the 2007 Touring Broadway Award. The West Coast premiere with Linda Hunt took place at Pasadena Playhouse. The production has since played in more than 25 countries and has been directed by Nicolas Ken and Roman Polanski, among others.

The film version of DOUBT premiered in 2008 with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis. Shanley directed. DOUBT is also featured in "The Fourth Wall," a book of photographs by Amy Arbus for which Shanley wrote the forward.
The idea for the story of DOUBT was inspired by characters Shanley knew as a young man. "I went to a church in the Bronx," says Shanley, "in 1964."

"It was such a specific world that has now vanished," he continues, "a world involving the Sisters of Charity, who dressed in black robes and black bonnets. More recently, the world around me started to remind me in certain key ways of this time - of people of conviction and people who weren't certain, at odds with each other and their power struggle."

Shanley dedicated the film version of DOUBT to Sister Margaret McEntee, a Sister of Charity nun who was the basis for the character of Sister James, the role played by Lauren Patten at Rubicon. (Sister McEntee was Shanley's first-grade teacher and served as a technical adviser for the film.)

Just a year after the play opened, a story with some parallels to DOUBT hit national news' headlines. A priest in Chicago was convicted of abusing African-American boys at St. Agatha parish in Chicago's North Lawndale area. Like Father Flynn, the character in DOUBT, the arrested priest Father McCormack had been a basketball coach.

Despite any similarities, however, Shanley is quick to say that he did not create the play from his own past or from actual circumstances. He points to the words "A PARABLE" (added as part of the title when the script was published after the opening on Broadway.)

Says Shanley, "I wasn't interested particularly in writing about the church scandals, and I wasn't really interested in writing a whodunit. I'm more interested in people becoming more accepting and comfortable with living with doubt because I think that's one of the big problems we've had in this country in the last decade."

Continues Shanley, "There has been this evaporation of doubt as a hallmark of wisdom. Everyone is very entrenched. True discourse is nowhere to be found. And we're desperate for it."

More about the Playwright
John Patrick Shanley is an American playwright, screenwriter and director. He was born in New York in 1950 to blue-collar parents. His mother was a telephone operator and his father a meatpacker. A rebel at an early age, he was thrown out of Catholic School in kindergarten and sent to a private school (Thomas Moore Prep) in New Hampshire. He attended New York University, but left to enlist in the U.S. Marine Core before completing his degree. After his service, he returned to NYU on the G.I. Bill and graduated in 1977 as class valedictorian. Sometimes dubbed "the Bard of the Bronx," several of Shanley's scripts (including his first Five Corners, and DOUBT) are set in that part of New York where he grew up. He has written more than twenty works for the stage, including Savage in Limbo, Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Italian-American Reconciliation, Four Dogs and a Bone and Defiance. He has also had ten produced screenplays. For the script for the 1987 film "Moonstruck," which starred Cher and Nicholas Cage, Shanley won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. In 1990 he directed his own script of "Joe Versus the Volcano" with Tom Hanks. (He also wrote two songs for the movie: "Marooned Without You" and "The Cowboy Song"). Shanley was inducted into the Bronx Walk of Fame in 2004. For DOUBT, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Drama Desk Award and the Tony Award for Best Play. He directed the film version as well. He is a member of the Ensemble Studio Theatre.

Cast Members
ROBIN PEARSON ROSE plays the tenacious and stern Sister Aloysius. An Associate Artist of The Old Globe in San Diego, Rose has appeared in the Broadway productions of Holiday and The Visit (directed by Hal Prince), and the Off-Broadway production of Summer and Smoke (Roundabout Theatre Company). For Rubicon, she has previously appeared in Samuel Beckett's Happy Days, All My Sons (Ovation for Best Production, Larger Theatre) and You Can't Take it With You. Other major regional credits include work at the Huntington, American Conservatory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, South Coast Rep and Yale Rep (she received her MFA from the Yale School of Drama). Rose has numerous television and film credits, including "Something's Gotta Give," "What Women Want," "Speechless," "Fearless" (Peter Weir, director), "Last Resort" opposite Charles Grodin, and "An Enemy of the People" opposite Steve McQueen.

In the production, the role of Father Flynn is assayed by Rubicon Theatre's first company member JOSEPH FUQUA, who has made chameleon-like appearances in 17 classic and contemporary productions with the company over 12 seasons. Also a Yale graduate, Fuqua's Broadway and Off-Broadway credits include Brighton Beach Memoirs and 110 in the Shade (Lincoln Center), Raft of the Medusa and Yours, Anne. Regionally, he has worked with Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Arena Stage, Dallas Shakespeare Festival, Dallas Theatre Center and Ensemble Theatre. On television Fuqua has guest-starred on "The X-Files", "The Profiler," "Brooklyn South," "The Pretender," "Chicago Hope," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," "Becker" and the pilot "Second Nature." Film credits include "Ed's Next Move," "David Searching," "Heyday" and J.E.B. Stuart in the Warner Brothers film "Gods and Generals" with Robert Duvall.

Chicago-native LAUREN PATTEN made her Rubicon debut as the title role in The Diary of Anne Frank with Bruce Weitz and Linda Purl. She returned to Rubicon and was nominated for the 2008 Ovation Award for her role as Elma in Bus Stop, and played Chava in last year's environmental production of Fiddler on the Roof. Other credits include work with the Goodman Theatre, Chicago Children's Theatre, Chicago Dramatists and the Summer Play Festival of New York City.

As Mrs. Muller, COLLETTE PORTEOUS makes her second appearance with Rubicon, having played Rheba in the company's production of You Can't Take it With You. New York theatre credits include Bedlam (The Producers Club), The Ballad of Baxter Street (Theater for the New City), Twelfth Night (Great Egress Theater Company), and the solo performance of Can I Be Me (NYU Africa House).
Rounding out the company are Production Stage Manager KATHLEEN J. PARSONS, whose credits include work with the National Theatre of the Deaf and Access Theatre, and LINDA LIVINGSTON (a favorite on Ventura stages) as understudy for Sister Aloysius.

Director and Designers
Director JENNY SULLIVAN helmed productions of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Indie Award) with Joe Spano and Karyl Lynn Burns and the premiere of Spit Like A Big Girl written by and starring Clarinda Ross during Rubicon's 2008-2009 Season. Most recently, Jenny directed Tea at Five starring Stephanie Zimbalist for Ensemble Theatre. Other Rubicon credits include You Can't Take It With You (Indie Award); Hamlet with Joseph Fuqua (Indie Award); One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; Tuesdays with Morrie; Happy Days with Robin Pearson Rose; Defying Gravity; Art (Indie Award); Dancing at Lughnasa (Indie Award); The Rainmaker; The Little Foxes; two casts of Ancestral Voices; Love Letters with Jack Lemmon and Felicia Farr; and Old Wicked Songs with Harold Gould and Joseph Fuqua. Jenny has also directed for Manitoba Theatre Centre in Canada, The Long Wharf, Pasadena Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival (six seasons) and Off-Broadway.

DOUBT Set Designer ALAN E. MURAOKA has been honored with two Emmy nominations and three Art Directors' Guild Award nominations. Alan began his career as an assistant set designer in New York on Broadway productions of On Your Toes, The Tap Dance Kid, The Three Musketeers, Smile, Jerry's Girls, and the ballets Bounenville Variations and Ives Songs for New York City. Now an L.A. resident, he has served as Art Director on "Ace Ventura-Pet Detective," "The Specialist," "Washington Square," "Liberty Heights"; the television series "NYPD Blue"; and most recently, the miniseries "The Company" and film "Little Miss Sunshine". Theatrical projects have included the critically acclaimed productions for the Long Beach Opera of Ricky Ian Gordon's Orpheus and Euridice staged in an Olympic swimming pool, an opera adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank staged in an underground parking garage, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Trying, and Vincent in Brixton at the Old Globe theatre in San Diego. Alan earned his BA in Music and Art History at Yale University and his MFA in Theatrical Design from New York University. Alan has also been an adjunct lecturer at USC School of Cinematic Arts.

JEREMY PIVNICK, Lighting Designer, returns to the Rubicon after designing A Rubicon Family Christmas (2008 and 2009), Man of La Mancha, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Hamlet, A Delicate Balance and Waiting for Godot, among others. Off-Broadway, Jeremy designed The Marvelous Wonderettes (Westside Theatre). Other New York credits include Good Bobby (59E59 Theatre), Corpus Christi (Rattlestick Theatre) and Moscow (Connelly Theatre). Regionally, Jeremy has designed over 200 productions and won numerous awards, including two L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Awards (17 nominations), four Backstage West Garland Awards and the L.A. Drama Critics' Circle Angstrom Award for Career Achievement.

Costume Designer PAMELA SHAW returns to Rubicon, having previously designed The Little Foxes, The Rainmaker, Art and Defying Gravity. Recent design work includes The Oresteia (Ghost Road Ensemble); Hamlet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Christmas Carol and Tom Sawyer (Will and Co.); The Elephant Man, Children's Hour, The Rocky Horror Show and Lope de Vega's Lo vingido ferdadero (Loyola Marymount University).

KENNY HOBBS serves as Sound Designer, having been nominated for an Ovation for his design for Rubicon's Fools. He also created the sound effects for All in The Timing, Little Women, Our Town, and many other shows and special event on the Rubicon stage.

In addition to her work as Prop Designer, T. THERESA SCARANO is currently director of Premier Sets and also Production Manager with Cabrillo Music Theatre.

DOUBT is generously sponsored by JANET AND MARK GOLDENSON. Mr. Fuqua's appearance is underwritten by DR. NORMA BECK. Artist accommodations are provided by the MARRIOTT VENTURA BEACH.

Dates, Show Times and Ticket Information
DOUBT runs ninety minutes without intermission. The Press Premiere and Opening Gala for DOUBT takes place this Saturday, January 30 at 7:00 p.m. at Rubicon Theatre Company, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, CA 93001. Champagne and truffles will be served in the lobby beginning at 6:15 p.m. First-night attendees are invited to join the cast and VIP's for an after-party hosted by the FOUR POINTS SHERATON. The evening is sponsored by SANTA BARBARA BANK & TRUST. Tickets for the Premiere are $95 and include the show, pre and post-show parties and a tax-deductible donation to Rubicon. Low-priced previews of DOUBT are Wednesday, January 27 at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, January 28 at 8:00 p.m. and Friday, January 29 at 8:00 p.m. The production continues for a limited run through Sunday, February 21. Performances are Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m., Thursdays at 8 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Some Sunday evenings may be scheduled. Prices range from $39 to $59, depending on the day of the week.

Special Performances
Talkbacks are scheduled after the 7:00 p.m. performances on the first two Wednesdays of the run, February 3 and 10. There is also one Sunday matinee audio-described performance for individuals who are blind or hearing-impaired (call for details.) Assistive listening devices are available at all performances at the concession stand. Tickets may be purchased in person through the box office, located at 1006 E. Main Street (Laurel entrance). To charge by phone, call (805) 667-2900. To select dates and seats online, go to

Ventura County Star's 2/5/10 Review:

Rubicon's 'Doubt' will leave audiences pondering the many shades of uncertainty

Gray matter

  • By Rita Moran
    Arts writer
  • Posted February 5, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.

Photo Courtesy of Jeanne Tanner
Sister Aloysius (Robin Pearson Rose) is certain Father Flynn (Joseph Fuqua) has overstepped the bounds of propriety in "Doubt."

There’s no doubt that John Patrick Shanley has created a minefield for actors daring to perform his Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Doubt.”

Despite the playwright’s protestations and program notes for each of the three productions I’ve now seen of the challenging show, it’s difficult for even the finest actors — and Rubicon Theatre Company has attracted four exceptional performers — to walk the verbal and emotional tightrope of where the truth lies in the tense plot. Even though “doubt” is the last word spoken in the play, Shanley scatters enough moments throughout to satisfy audiences who want to see the situation totally in black and white, from either side. The play’s subtitle, “A Parable,” was appended when the play was published after its opening in 2005, in Shanley’s effort to distance it from any specific factual episode.


John Patrick Shanley's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama will run through Feb. 21 at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Performances are at 
2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 
2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 
2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $39-$59. Call 667-2900 or visit

Courtesy of Jeanne Tanner
As accusations fly and tempers flare in "Doubt," young Sister James (Lauren Patten) begins to lose her exuberance and optimism.

Assembled to ferret out the levels of doubt and certainty under the direction of Jenny Sullivan are Robin Pearson Rose as school principal Sister Aloysius; Joseph Fuqua as Father Flynn, the parish priest; Lauren Patten as young Sister James; and Collette Porteous, mother of a schoolboy entangled in the plot. The action takes place in 1964 at St. Nicholas parish school in New York’s Bronx borough.

Sister Aloysius is certain Father Flynn has overstepped the bounds of propriety in dealing with young boys in his care. After she urges Sister James to be less open and optimistic about her students and teaching, and more on the lookout for deviance, the younger nun responds with a concern about the only black boy in the school after he returns from a meeting with Father Flynn with what she sniffs as alcohol on his breath. With that impetus, Sister Aloysius confronts Father Flynn, speaks to the boy’s mother and moves to get the priest out of his post. Father Flynn, who has advocated more openness to the students and parishioners in the wake of the church’s changes in ritual and attitude to support a more communal spirit, is the antithesis of Sister Aloysius’ hard-line approach.

There’s much to ponder on the theoretical side of “Doubt”: whether ends justify dishonest means, whether “truth” should be made of sterner stuff, where the boundaries form between compassion and permissiveness, whether rigidity fosters change or simply compliance. These and other discussions are likely to follow “Doubt” as experienced by thoughtful people.

It may be impossible to view Shanley’s script dispassionately, and easy to see it as favoring one side or the other of the conflict. As much as Sister Aloysius’ approach may seem regrettable, Father Flynn’s lines leave lots of room for speculation that he has a crucial flaw. On the other hand, he embodies a forward-looking church, a breath of fresh air; Shanley wants us to consider that in this case the air could be putrid.

Rose gives us a down-to-earth Sister Aloysius, one with the straight-up, bracing assurance that she must be right. She finds the bits of self-acknowledging humor in the nun, and adds just enough of a New York accent to establish the place. Fuqua has the more difficult role of being what Father Flynn seems, and yet possibly what Sister Aloysius assumes. An intelligent, nuanced actor, he blends the contradictions well until his passionate reaction to the principal’s overt attempt to have him removed. Could that be an admission of guilt, or is it the deep resentment of the falsely accused?

Patten’s Sister James tellingly goes from youthful exuberance and optimism to a wary, worried novice teacher who can no longer find joy in her vocation, and Porteous is joltingly real as a mother who protects her son in her own powerful way.

“Doubt” may leave you with certainty, but Shanley insists he is more interested in “people becoming more accepting and comfortable with living with doubt,” which he finds “a hallmark of wisdom.”

— E-mail Rita Moran at

The Daily Bruin 2/10/10 Review:

Theater Review: "Doubt: A Parable"

By Daniel Boden

Feb. 9, 2010 at 11:44 p.m.

I have a confession to make. I was reluctant to brave the 101 in packed traffic and a torrential downpour just to see a play. What merit could there possibly be in driving all the way out to Ventura to see a regional theater company interpret “Doubt,” a show that has already earned its stripes as much on the New York stage as in the Hollywood box office? To put it simply, I had my doubts.

However, the Rubicon Theatre Company lives up to its self-given billing as “The Region’s Professional Theatre Company.” From sets to costumes to acting, “Doubt” was a riveting show. The production’s success is proof that John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning script is a winning formula for thoughtful, relevant drama – and not just on the silver screen.

Father Flynn is the progressive and newly arrived parish priest at St. Nicholas Church in the Bronx. The play starts as the church school begins in the fall of 1964, under the reign of Sister Aloysius, the school principal and severely disciplinarian nun. The drama unfolds as Sister Aloysius suspects Father Flynn of sexual improprieties with Donald Mueller – the school’s first black student. The ensuing struggle between priest and nun and between doubt and truth is what moves audiences to take sides – and ultimately feel pain, outrage or empathy based on their own uncertainties.

Rubicon Theatre Company
Directed By Jenny Sullivan

“Doubt,” which received its subtitle, “A Parable,” shortly after its theatrical release on Broadway in 2005, is more an exploration of faith and uncertainty, innocence and guilt, and compassion and justice than a story about sexual scandal in the Catholic Church. The themes and precise language of Shanley’s script are nurtured and magnified in the Rubicon Theatre Company’s careful hands.

The set is simple and requires no scenery changes for the 90-minute show. The priest’s pulpit neighbors Aloysius’ office. Gravel covers a quarter of the stage and creates an outside garden at the stage’s front. A small strip of undecorated stage serves as an intermediate space between these three locales. Limited to these settings, the play creates a sense of a cloistered community, one that is almost too small to permit both Flynn and Aloysius (and their conflicting ideals) to be at the same place at the same time.

The costumes are spartan. Aloysius and the more naive Sister James are always seen in their long, black habits. Mrs. Mueller, Donald’s mother, only appears in one scene and dons nothing but a simple, albeit attractive, dress with some basic accoutrements: gloves, purse and winter hat. And although Flynn is mostly seen wearing his dark robes, he is the only actor who ever changes costumes. His beautiful green cassock worn during sermons and his plain sweat suit used for his coaching responsibilities hold no apparent symbolism in and of themselves. Rather, it is the mere fact that he changes costumes that is important, as it implies increased liberty over the play’s female characters. The theme of doubt arises once again as Flynn’s freedom can be interpreted as an extension of his progressive policies or as a chameleon-like ability to cover up his tracks.

The acting is spot-on and intensely engaging. With a cast of only four actors, any fault is hard to hide and can easily lead to the play’s failure. Fortunately, Robin Pearson Rose as Sister Aloysius and Joseph Fuqua as Father Flynn deliver strong, believable performances as mutual antagonists. Collette Porteous as Mrs. Mueller and Lauren Patten as the innocent Sister James perform well, but their acting was slightly marred by too precise a representation of emotion. A properly timed line and the artifice of feeling is not the same thing as actual feeling.

I left the playhouse, which interestingly enough is a remodeled chapel, with the same questions and feelings as when I saw the movie version in 2008. I repeated and mulled over the same lines, trying to connect the dots, only realizing that they form a perfect circle: doubt, faith and certainty supplant each other as the need arises, but it is hard to tell if there is any truth to any one of them at all.

Was the play good? Yes. Was it worth the drive? Probably. Was the play’s strength due to the Rubicon Theatre Company’s production end, or thanks to Shanley’s tight script? If the show was good, I guess it doesn’t really matter, but I still have my doubts.

– Daniel Boden

E-mail Boden at




July 27 - 28, 2009


The Rubicon Youth Acting Intensive presents

Directed by Joseph Fuqua
Acting Instruction by Joe Peracchio
Master Class Instructors: Amy Leiberman, Paul Provenza, Jenny Sullivan and Joel Goldes
Production Stage Manager: Aly Bennett

Send in the clowns! Come see daring feats of Shakespearian mayhem and mirth as the young thespians of Rubicon’s Acting Intensive Troupe serve up delicious Elizabethan fare that is sure to fill your theatre going gullet. Classic, contemporary and zany interpretations of the bard’s most popular and well known sonnets, scenes and soliloquies.

Make haste! Ordereth thy Tickets now! (Lest ye be branded a whey faced, bunch-back’d pigeon liver’d, clay brain’d greasy tallow catch’d toad!)

Performances on Monday July 27 at 7:00 pm
and Tuesday July 28 at 7:00 pm
Tickets: $10 General Admission




March 21 - April 26, 2009


March 19 - April 12, 2009

[ Reserve Tickets l Calendar l Study Guide ]

Directed by James O'Neil
Book by Joseph Stein
Music by Jerry Bock
Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick

Presented in Association with the Ventura Music Festival


Fiddler on the Roof stands as an unparalleled achievement in the world of theatre. This towering musical has touched and transformed audiences since its Broadway bow more than forty years ago. The timeless story, set in a village in Tsarist Russia, follows the travails of Tevye the dairyman, who struggles, with humor and humanity, to raise five daughters and maintain the traditions of his forefathers as change swirls around him. Winner of nine Tony Awards, this captivating and heartfelt show was also an Academy Award-winning film. The unforgettable score includes "Matchmaker," "Sunrise, Sunset," and "If I Were a Rich Man." This production features a spectacular new set by Tom Giamario which will surround the audience. You will never experience a production of Fiddler on the Roof presented in such an intimate, engaging way!

For tickets, please call the box office at 805.667.2900.


photos: David Cooper Photography



Ventura County Star Review:

This 'Fiddler' reaches out Rubicon show envelops the audience in the action

By Rita Moran (Contact)
Friday, March 27, 2009

Fiddler on the Roof
In “Fiddler on the Roof,” Jay Brazeau stars as Tevye, a dairy farmer frustrated by his daughters’ tiny steps toward independence.

Some traditions pass gently away when realization of new circumstances arises; others are shaken loose by upheaval. In “Fiddler on the Roof,” both circumstances meet at a critical time that speeds the changes. In the classic musical, life is hard in Anatevka, a tiny Russian village held together by the sinew of tradition that binds its Jewish population. It is 1905 and the revolution is on the horizon. Rumblings have already started as the powers that be and the insurgents who would be are plotting their uncertain futures.

Rubicon Theatre Company embraces the brave sentiments and strength of spirit of the poor villagers with a “Fiddler” that physically reaches out into the audience and surrounds it with the throbbing life and underlying humor of its characters. The theater has been transformed into a “set” that covers walls with evocative images of Anatevka life and thrusts into the center of the audience with a stage that brings the action into close focus. Among other innovative ways to expand the small playing area, director James O’Neil and his technical experts create memorable scenes by multiplying such moments as the solemn “Sabbath Prayer” with various village families gathered around their candles engrossed in devotions. Subtly lighted in spots behind delicate scrims, the rituals gain impact through unifying prayer.

Capitalizing on the close-knit aura, the acting and singing go less for bravura and more for simplicity and basic human emotion. Leading the 36-member cast is Canadian Jay Brazeau as Tevye, a dairy farmer whose fatherly frustrations over his daughters’ tiny steps toward independence are mostly displayed in shrugs and murmurs, though his anger bursts through when he realizes how far the family is straying from tradition.

Most of his heartfelt “conversations” are with God as he alternately reasons, rants and cajoles in an all-out pursuit of solutions to his ever-growing concerns. The biggest problem, he belatedly realizes, is not that his daughters are choosing futures outside of the confines of a matchmaker, but that the whole town is being capsized by the turmoil in his country.

Brazeau’s performance is ably bolstered by other men in the village, most notably by George Ball as Lazar Wolf, the butcher, a well-off widower who wants to marry Tevye’s daughter Tzeitel. Ball is in fine voice and makes the character’s loneliness palpable.

The vagaries of change mark a shattering dilemma familiar to the Jewish people and, through the works of Sholem Aleichem on which the musical is based, to the world. The stories are laced with humor, even though the conditions are tragic.

Tevye’s marriageable daughters, Tzeitel (Amy Hillner), Hodel (Leslie Henstock) and Chava (Lauren Patten), begin timidly but quickly display their determination to make their own choices even if it means ultimately severing family bonds, as painful as that may be. Tzeitel loves the poor local tailor, Motel (Chad Borden), in preference to the butcher; Hodel (Leslie Henstock) is entranced by Perchik, the revolutionary student (Robert Adelman Hancock); and Chava (Lauren Patten) makes the most alienating choice of all in her devotion to a local government enforcer, Fyedka (Josh Jenkins).

Some of the indelible comic scenes include the perfectly pitched “nightmare” fable in which Tevye, in bed with his long-suffering wife Golde (Eileen Barnett), breaks the news of Tzeitel’s decision by summoning up ghosts of Grandma Tzeitel (Betsy Randle) and then Fruma-Sarah (Natalie Nucci), Lazar Wolf’s first wife. Both spirits sing, cackle and crow their way through rousing resistance to a Tzeitel-Lazar alliance, to hear Tevye tell it. Another well-wrought ensemble piece is “The Rumor,” in which the tale grows taller as villagers spread the word.

In a very effective move, the show’s Fiddler, most often seen sparingly and miming the playing, is given prominence by the choice for the role of violinist Nuvi Mehta, artistic director of the Ventura Music Festival and a man with considerable stage presence. His Fiddler reappears significantly throughout the show, blending musically with the well-honed off-stage klezmer-style band led by Lloyd Cooper. Mehta’s fiddling and silent acting add polish and a thread of soulful continuity to the popular musical, and may even start a new tradition — if other troupes can find an equally talented soloist.

“Fiddler on the Roof” extols tradition, but also understands change. After all is said and done, it allows, “The old traditions were new once.”

— E-mail Rita Moran at


LA Times Review:

Review: 'Fiddler on the Roof' at Rubicon Theatre

3:00 PM, April 1, 2009

Tradition! It's safe to say that the famous refrain from "Fiddler on the Roof" has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The Tony-winning 1964 musical is now one of theater's most reliable staples -- a chestnut revived so frequently that most productions give the impression that they're just going through the motions.    

Same time, same shtetl. Sometimes, however, tradition can be a good thing. The Rubicon Theatre's current production doesn't rewrite the book in terms of "Fiddler" revivals, but director James O'Neil's lucid and efficient staging gives this theatrical war horse dramatic breadth and a sturdy set of running legs.

Who doesn't know the story by now? Tevye (Jay Brazeau), a dairy farmer toiling away in czarist Russia, lives with his henpecking wife (Eileen Barnett) and his five increasingly rebellious daughters. His impoverished but peaceful existence gradually crumbles under the weight of a changing world -- first, when his daughters decide to marry out of love, and then when war threatens his way of life.

The performances are uniformly engaging and energetic, though seldom exceptional. It's difficult to labor in the shadow of Zero Mostel and Topol, but Brazeau's Tevye manages a few memorable moments, including his rendition of "If I Were a Rich Man" and his drunken scenes at the local tavern.

Even better are the younger ensemble members who bring dewy innocence and good looks to their parts. As the budding Bolshevik who woos one of Tevye's daughters, Robert Adelman Hancock finds the right combination of intellectual earnestness and emotional naivete. Equally effective is Lauren Patten, who makes the most of her limited stage time as the most headstrong of the daughters.

Using a series of scrims, set designer Thomas Giamario conjures a convincing village out of few materials. The walls of the theater have been painted in a style suggesting Marc Chagall, and a thrust stage adds even more square footage to the performance area.

The songs by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick are so well-known by now that any production will have hard time shaking a greatest-hits feeling. Some of the ensemble singing in the Rubicon's revival could use some fine-tuning, but mostly, the musical numbers are executed with conviction and style.

O'Neil's direction keeps things moving at a comfortable gallop. The scenes flow together briskly without ever feeling rushed. Instead of devising new choreography, the producers have wisely opted to reproduce Jerome Robbins' original direction, including the famous bottle dance that tops off an elaborate wedding scene.

What makes Joseph Stein's book eternally relevant is the way it evokes a changing world. Once Tevye sees that he can no longer cling to his old ways, he has little choice but to accept his daughters' choices in marriage. You can't fight time. So long as the world keeps changing, "Fiddler" will always have something meaningful to say.

In fact, the theater world could pick up a thing or two from the good peasants of Anatevka. It’s always nice to see a polished revival, but audiences may end up wishing that producers could be more like Tevye and learn to embrace the new, the different and the unexpected.

--David Ng

"Fiddler on the Roof," Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 7 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays. Ends April 26. $49-$69. (805) 667-2900. Running time: 3 hours.

Photo: the cast of Rubicon Theatre production of "Fiddler on the Roof." Credit Rod Lathim

Ventura County Star Feature Article:


Raising the 'Roof'

Rubicon Theatre had to pull strings — lots of them — to stage 'Fiddler on the Roof,' its most ambitious show yet

Courtesy of David Cooper Jay Brazeau will star as Tevye in Rubicon Theatre Company’s “Fiddler on the Roof,” for which the Ventura production company had to lobby hard to obtain the rights.

‘Fiddler on the Roof’

The Rubicon Theatre Company will present the Tony Award-winning musical, with previews at 8 p.m. Thursday and March 20, and an opening night gala at 7 p.m. March 21. Regular shows, through April 26, are at 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays. The Rubicon is at 1006 E. Main St., Ventura. Tickets cost $49-$69 ($125 for opening night), with discounts for seniors and students. Call 667-2900 or visit


Chuck Kirman / Star staff Violinist Nuvi Mehta, who also is director of the Ventura Music Festival in May, will play the Fiddler in the award-winning musical that will open March 21 at the Rubicon Theatre.

Jamie Thompson and other cast members rehearse a dance for “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Chuck Kirman / Star staff Tom Beyer, left, and Jay Brazeau are part of the large cast in the Rubicon Theatre production, which necessitated some big temporary changes to the theater space.

Photos by Chuck Kirman / Star staff Actors run through a “Fiddler” rehearsal in the Rubicon Theatre. Set designer Thomas S. Giamario created a space to make audience members feel as though they were part of the village, but that entailed removing a dozen seats and building a circular dias reached from a ramp onstage.

Rubicon Theatre Company’s “Fiddler on the Roof” was toppling to the ground.

The milkman wouldn’t cometh.

His daughters wouldn’t meet their matchmaker.

Actually, Tevye the Jewish dairyman, his family and the rest of the Anatevka Village entourage from “Fiddler” were coming — but to Hollywood, not Ventura.

And that was the problem: not enough room in the village of Southern California for two productions of the Tony Award-winning musical.

When a Broadway show is on a national tour, which is the case with “Fiddler,” starring Chaim Topol, famed for his Oscar-nominated role as Tevye in the Oscar-winning 1971 film version, regional community theaters generally aren’t granted legal rights to stage that production. The thinking is, if you just heard Tevye belt out “If I Were a Rich Man” at your local playhouse, you won’t want to become a poor person by paying again, or doling out more, to see the touring version.

The playwrights, lyricists and composers who hold the rights to these shows deserve to get the best return on their creative investment. So they have lawyers.

But they also have hearts, and recognize the power of a small-town “little theater that could” story.

Yes, Rubicon is that little theater. “Fiddler” opens March 21 in Ventura, even though the touring version will play at the Pantages Theatre in July and August.

All it took was a few trips to New York, a six-page heartfelt letter, a creative set design, and connections, connections, connections — bolstered by one woman’s powers of persuasion and Rubicon’s reputation as a small theater doing great things.

Here’s the story of how the Ventura company became the only professional regional theater in the U.S. granted the rights to stage “Fiddler on the Roof” until 2011.

“Fiddler” is billed as “the biggest production ever on Rubicon’s stage.” “Big” refers to cast members (31 people, plus a band), budget ($450,000, versus $150,000 for a typical Rubicon show) and ambition (difficult to quantify).

Cue the violin, please.

Small theaters aren’t supposed to do “Fiddler on the Roof.” Even if the roles are doubled and the orchestra trimmed down, the musical still requires a large cast. You’ve got Teyve, his wife Golde, their five offspring and the girls’ various suitors, plus an entire Russian village to cram onstage.

House size matters, too. A professional Equity theater like Rubicon must pay union actors, so more seats mean more box-office receipts to cover expenses. The Rubicon has 190 seats; the Pantages contains about 2,700.

Rubicon hadn’t let size constraints limit its ambitions in the past, however.

Until “Fiddler,” “Man of La Mancha” in 2006 was the largest show Rubicon had done, with a cast of 19. Planning and fundraising took three years.

The production was a hit. Audiences, said Rubicon artistic director Karyl Lynn Burns, “really liked a musical of that scope. It packed an emotional wallop and had a great impact on people, who might have seen it otherwise in an 1,800- or 3,000-seat theater where they wouldn’t have seen the actors’ faces.”

After enjoying “Man of La Mancha,” Rubicon patron Bernie Novatt planted the “Fiddler” seed, asking director Jim O’Neil (Burns’ husband) when the company was planning to stage one of his favorite musicals, “Fiddler on the Roof.”

O’Neil just laughed and said “never” — “Fiddler” was too monumental, and too expensive. The persistent Novatt, who said he “loves the musical because it really gives me the feeling of a true story,” offered a sizable donation, and started mentioning the “Fiddler” idea to other community and Rubicon board members.

Then, about 18 months ago, Manitoba Theatre Centre in Canada, which often does co-productions with Rubicon, invited O’Neil to perform in its production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” O’Neil decided to take the role and absorb how the 900-seat Manitoba put its production together.

While in Canada, O’Neil called Rubicon set designer Thomas S. Giamario and asked him to mock up a model for a dream 360-degree “Fiddler” set — one that would make the audience feel as if they were part of the village.

O’Neil told him not to worry about money or logistics.

To accommodate a larger cast, Giamario devised a center ramp leading from the stage to a circular dais, which meant about 12 seats would have to be removed. The stage scenery was minimal. Instead, theatergoers would be surrounded by Marc Chagall-inspired murals on the rear and side walls (in the original Broadway production, the set pieces were painted in the style of the Russian-born painter).

“I’d surround them in the Chagall world — not a realistic world of turn-of-the-century Russia, but Chagall’s symbolized inspiration of that,” Giamario said. The final touch: platforms in the upper corners of the theater, with scrims in front, that would be backlit to show families during the Sabbath prayer scenes in “Fiddler.”

Meanwhile, as a bonus, Burns and O’Neil persuaded Ventura Music Festival Director Nuvi Mehta, an acclaimed violinist, to play the Fiddler in the production. The focus of the 2009 festival is Russian music, so “Fiddler,” they figured, would be a logical lead-in to the May event.

So far, so good — but expensive.

“It was a huge stretch to even consider this financially,” Burns said. To drum up support from potential donors, the theater planned a dinner event where they would share Giamario’s set model and the overall vision for “Fiddler.”

Along with Novatt and his wife, Dottie, other donors who made large contributions included Venturans Janet and Mark Goldenson. Janet, who is from Malaysia, said the musical was “close to her heart” because her late brother, James, had been the musical director and pianist for a production of “Fiddler” in India, and her late husband, Leslie, played Tevye in the same production.

Plus, Mark said, “I’m Jewish, and my grandparents immigrated to the U.S. after World War I in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, which is foreshadowed in ‘Fiddler.’”

According to Burns, Rubicon raised a record number of sponsorships that night.

As financial support rolled in, the show was becoming a reality. Securing legal permission to stage the production, Burns figured, would be easy. The rights weren’t available, however, because the national tour, although it hadn’t been announced yet, was in the planning stages.

Burns’ formidable connections to people in the theater world kicked in.

She learned that the producer for the national tour was Nick Howey, who’s also produced “Jesus Christ Superstar,” starring Ted Neeley, a close friend of Burns and O’Neil. Neeley put in a good word for Rubicon.

Howey, who had toured the Rubicon Theatre and knew its reputation as a strong regional theater, was willing to make an exception.

He wrote a supportive letter to Music Theatre International, which controlled the rights. But MTI still said “no” on behalf of the “Fiddler” creators.

“It was for a good reason; they were afraid of setting a precedent,” Burns said, adding that the only exception would be theater companies that had already obtained “Fiddler” rights before the national tour was announced.

Carol Edelson, MTI senior vice president, said the rights house also made exceptions for small community theaters and high schools, and some universities, but “when we got requests from professional theaters like Rubicon, we said no.”

So Burns went straight to the sources: Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick. They wrote, respectively, the book, music and lyrics for “Fiddler,” which is based on stories by Sholem Aleichem.

Burns started with Harnick because singer-actress Amanda McBroom, a frequent Rubicon performer, knew the lyricist and asked if he would be willing to talk with Burns about the rights issue.

Burns flew to New York several times over four months to meet with Harnick.

“I told him, ‘This has become so important to our community, it sort of takes a village,’” she said. “I said it had become an idea that was greater than the sum of its parts.”

Harnick was surprised that Burns wanted to meet with him. “Usually people don’t contact me in person,” he said. But he didn’t need much convincing. Harnick trusted McBroom’s praise of Rubicon — including its production of his musical “She Loves Me” — and figured that if the national tour director was OK with letting Rubicon have the rights, then so was he.

One down, two to go.

Stein needed little swaying after Harnick spoke to him.

Bock, however, who was not feeling well at the time, Burns said, declined through his attorney, Dick Ticktin.

Yet the decision had to be unanimous.

Burns wrote Bock and his attorney a six-page, mostly single-spaced letter telling them the whole story. She sent them pictures of Bernie and Dottie Novatt, the Goldensons and other donors, and photos of the ambitious set. She said if the creators still had concerns about the national tour, and if Rubicon’s production was first, the theater would run an ad in the musical’s program that said, “You’ve seen it here, now see it with Topal.”

She met with attorney Dick Ticktin at his intimidating Avenue of the Americas law firm — and headed back to MTI with a triumphant trio of OKs.

Still MTI had to discuss the matter internally and give the final OK.

“They (Rubicon) were so fantastic,” MTI’s Edelson recalled. “They came up with an interesting concept. It’s a huge show for such a small theater. It seemed like such a great idea; everybody wanted it to happen.”

So it will.

And the fiddler didn’t fall after all, instead climbing up stronger than ever.


Broadway World Coverage:

Rubicon Theatre Presents FIDDLER ON THE ROOF 3/21-4/26


Friday, February 27, 2009; Posted: 05:02 PM - by BWW News Desk

Rubicon Theatre Company continues its "Brave New World" Season with FIDDLER ON THE ROOF. The musical begins previews Thursday, March 19, open on Saturday, March 21 at 7pm and run through Sunday, April 26, 2009 at Rubicon Theatre, 1006 E. Main Street in Ventura.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF is the Tony Award® winning musical that captured the hearts of people all over the world with its universal appeal. The play tells the story of Tevye, a Jewish milkman coping with day-to-day "shtetl" life, Jewish traditions and the women in his life in pre-Revolutionary Russia.

Rubicon is the only regional theatre with permission to stage FIDDLER ON THE ROOF until the year 2011, and is presented through special arrangement with Music Theate International (MTI). This large-scale musical is the biggest production ever on Rubicon's stage. Director James O'Neil directs FIDDLER as a play with music, bringing forward the timeless nature of the story and its resonance for today's world. Songs include "Sunrise, Sunset," "Matchmaker" and "If I Were a Rich Man."

The cast features actors from the stages of Canada and New York and includes George Ball, Eileen Barnett, Robert Barry, Tom Beyer, Heidi Bjorndahl, Chad Borden, Jay Brazeau, Joseph Fuqua, Helen Geller, Jessica Gordon, Rob Hancock, Leslie Henstock, Amy Hillner, Josh Jenkins, Jeff Johnston, Larry Lederman, Chad Michael, Lauren Patten, Steve Perren, Betsy Randle, Oskar Rodriguez, and Jamie Thompson.

The show is presented in association with the Ventura Music Festival, and also features Artistic Director Nuvi Mehta as The Fiddler.

JIM O'NEIL (Director) co-founded Rubicon Theatre Company in 1998 with his wife Karyl Lynn Burns. Jim's Rubicon directing credits include the World Premiere of The Spin Cycle by David Rambo, Will Rogers America, A Delicate Balance, The Diary of Anne Frank, Man of La Mancha, The Night of the Iguana, A Streetcar Named Desire (Indie Award), Driving Miss Daisy (NAACP Award), All My Sons (2004 Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play), Sylvia, The Glass Menagerie, Jesus Christ Superstar, Love Letters and Romeo and Juliet. Regional directing credits include The Lion in Winter, The Petrified Forest, Inherit the Wind and area premieres of John Ford Noonan's A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking and Rupert Holmes' Drood! Prior to starting Rubicon, Jim worked for more than 25 years as a producer, director and actor. He received his BFA from California Institute of the Arts. While on staff at Landmark Entertainment Group, Jim directed a multi-million dollar animatronics/special effects show in Japan, supervising all aspects of production and creative direction for themed attractions in Sanrio's Harmonyland. As Associate Producer/Artistic Associate for Santa Barbara Repertory Theatre, Jim helmed a new works program. As an actor, he received rave reviews in the role of Pontius Pilate in the National Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar starring Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson and Irene Cara. Other roles include Dr. Prospero in the American regional premiere of Return to the Forbidden Planet at the American Heartland Theatre in Kansas City, John Adams in 1776, John in Oleanna, John in Lips Together, Teeth Apart, The Duke/Dr. Carrasco in Man of La Mancha, and Adam in the first reading of Dale Wasserman's Western Star. For Rubicon he has appeared in Love Letters, The Rainmaker, The Devil's Disciple, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Turn of the Screw and most recently as Claudius in Hamlet (Indie Award). This season at Rubicon Jim, directs Fiddler on the Roof. He is the recipient of an "Outstanding Contribution to the Theatre" REP Award and a "Friend of Education" Award from the California State Board of Education (for Rubicon's outreach programs).

LLOYD COOPER (Musical Director) has won three Drama-Logue Awards for best musical direction and received awards for Plan-B Entertainment's production of Beauty and the Beast. He was recently the musical director for Happy Days - A Family Musical! written by Garry Marshall and Paul Williams. Lloyd has worked as composer, arranger and/or conductor in such television shows as Father Dowling, Matlock and Perry Mason and the films The Prince of Tides, Godzilla and The Holiday. He worked with Barbra Streisand and Stephen Sondheim in rehearsing and choosing music for her Back To Broadway album. Lloyd and his wife, Barbara Matteson Cooper, have a successful night club career and have recorded four albums of original music which have reached audiences all over the world.

LEE MARTINO (Choreographer) choreographed Rubicon's Lies and Legends and Side By Side By Sondheim. She is the resident choreographer for The Reprise Theatre Company under the Artistic Direction of Jason Alexander. Choreography for Reprise Theatre Company includes Li'l Abner starring Cathy Rigby, On Your Toes, Damn Yankees, On The Town, Brigadoon, I Love My Wife and several of the summer events at The John Anson Ford Amphitheatre. Most recent credits include: directing this year's Alzheimer's Benefit, directing and staging American Stars In Concert starring Kimberly Locke and Diana Degarmo, choreography for the soon to be released animated feature Alpha Omega, the World Premiere of Silk Stockings at Musical Theatre West, directing and choreographing What a Pair, a benefit for the John Wayne Cancer Institute starring some of the biggest female stars of TV, film and theatre, and the Bravo series Step It Up and Dance. Other credits include: Beehive at the El Portal Theatre; the Full Monty and All Shook Up for Musical Theatre West; I Do I Do and Side By Side By Sondheim for The Pasadena Playhouse; Lies and Legend for the Rubicon Theatre, direction and choreography for several large-scale shows for Harley-Davidson throughout the country; Warner Bros. animated feature The King and I; Universal Studios' New York Rascal Show; Disney's Santa Clause 3 Stage Show at the El Capitan Theatre; Disney International's Latin American Stage Tour A Dream Is A Wish; the Opening Gala for Theatre Under the Stars, TUTS,' Hobby Performing Arts Center honoring Jerry Herman; the Opening of Ford Field, the Detroit Lions football stadium, starring Gladys Knight; the opening of the Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs starring Ruben Stoddard. Lee's work has been seen in many S.T.A.G.E. (Los Angeles' longest running AIDS benefit), Actor's Fund, and Alzheimer's benefits as well as the CHOC Follies, an annual event for Children's Hospital of Orange County. Lee's choreography has won her two Los Angeles Drama Critic's Awards, two Ovation Awards, Garland awards, and many nominations for these awards. Her On Your Toes for Reprise won her the 2007 Ovation, LADCC and Garland awards. Upcoming projects include The Fantastiks for Reprise.

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF features Scenic Design by Thomas Giamario (2008 Ovation Award for Set Design, Larger Theatre), Lighting Design by Ward Carlisle, Costume Design by Shon Le Blanc, Sound Design by Jonathan Burke, Prop Design by T. Theresa Scarano, Hair and Make-up Design by Spanky Reynoso with Production Stage Management by Linda M. Tross.


JAY BRAZEAU (Tevye): Some highlights of Brazeau's career include: singing and dancing in a dress and fat suit on stage playing Edna Turnblad in the musical Hairspray for Mirvish Productions in Toronto; and singing and dancing in the production of The Producer's and as The Man in the Chair for The Drowsy Chaperone. Brazeau was recently awarded a Jessie Award for his work in Edward Albee's The Goat. He will soon be seen on the big screen in the feature film, "The Watchmen," based on the graphic novel of the same name. Other credits include work on the features; Ratko, Far Cry, Blonde and Blonder and Christmas Cottage. Recent Movie of the Week work includes "The Competition," "Murder on Spec," "Just a Girl" and "Presumed Dead" as well as the mini-series "Masters of Horror." He appeared in A Guy Thing, starring Jason Lee and Julia Stiles and also appeared in Steven Spielberg's mini-series Taken and the feature film Insomnia starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams.

Brazeau was in three seasons with the CTV hit series "Cold Squad" as the coroner. He was nominated for a Gemini Award for his work on the series "Stargate SG-1." He has also received six Jessie Richardson Theatre Awards, plus a Pittsburgh Press Critic's Award for Best Actor of the Year in 1988. Work on stage includes Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman , the hit musical Urinetown and the 1,000 year-old man in 999, A Saga. He has impressive feature film credits including Head Over Heels as the lead bad guy opposite Freddie Prinze Jr. and Monica Potter and Double Jeopardy in which he worked opposite Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones. He played a studio head in Murder at the Cannes Film Festival. Other leading roles include the critically acclaimed feature Kissed which was chosen for the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes, The Prisoner of Zelda, the pilot for Dead Man's Gun, as well as co-starring roles in the features Kitchen Party, We're No Angels with Robert DeNiro and Sean Penn, Snow Falling on Cedars with Ethan Hawke and Scott Hicks (Director of Shine), Middlemen plus the award winning Movie of the Week The Diary of Evelyn Lau, the feature Slam Dunk Ernest as well as roles in the features Gold Diggers, Little Women and Andre.

Numerous television credits include guest starring roles on The West Wing, Reaper, Blood Ties, Psych, Supernatural, Falcon Beach, Whistler, Stargate Atlantis, Dead Man's Gun, Young Person's Guide To Be A Rockstar, Mysterious Ways, DaVinci's Inquest, U.C. Undercover, Outer Limits, So Weird, 7 Days, Millenium, Outer Limits, Poltergeist, The Sentinel, The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, North of Sixty, Jake and the Kid, My Life as a Dog, The Marshall, The X-Files, The Odyssey and Lonesome Dove. Jay also voices animated projects such as The Playroom, The Big Snit and numerous radio dramas and commercials.

He just wrapped a guest starring role in the series Eureka and was recurring in the series Harper's Island.

EILEEN BARNETT (Golde) was last seen on the Rubicon stage in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well. Her recent television credits include guest starring roles on "ER," "Brothers and Sisters" and "The Ex-List." Some other guest starring roles include "Gilmore Girls," "Strong Medicine," " Fraiser" and "Still Standing." Eileen also played the very wicked Stephanie Woodruff on "Days Of Our Lives" and did a stint on "Knots Landing" opposite Michael York.

In addition to Golde, Eileen's repertoire includes many long-suffering wives and mothers. On Broadway she starred in Tommy Tune's Tony Award ®winning musical Nine as Luisa Contini; in the National tour of Footloose, she was Vi Moore; and most recently she was the mother of a son who was in a South American prison, in the acclaimed Havok Theatre Company's production of Kiss Of The Spider Woman.

Some Los Angeles appearances also include Putting It Together (LA Premiere) at the Colony Theatre, Radio Gals and LOVE AND SHRIMP at the Pasadena Playhouse, Billy Barnes' Movie Star, The Most Happy Fella at Reprise!, Wild Party at The Blank Theatre and The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas for which she won a Dramalogue Award. Some regional theatre credits include roles in Man Of La Mancha, Showboat and No, No, Nanette.

As a member of The Musical Theatre Guild, Eileen has appeared in Stephen Sondheim's Passion (LA Premiere), Lady In The Dark, Street Scene and A Man Of No Importance as well as producing several of their concerts.

AMY HILLNER (Tzeitel) was last seen in Footloose in New York where she played the role of Rusty. She also understudied and performed the role of Tracy Turnblad on the National Tour of Hairspray. Other credits include Shelley in Hairspray, Little Red in Into the Woods, Nikki in Sweet Charity, Judy in A Chorus Line, and Hot Box Girl/Dance Captain in Guys & Dolls. She has danced throughout the US, Canada, & Europe and has performed in workshops with Richard Adler and Ann Reinking. Amy has a BA in Theatre Performance from Wagner College as well as several choreography credits.

CHAD BORDEN (Motel) recently received an L.A. Drama Critics' Circle nomination for his performance as Molina in Kiss of the Spider Woman (Havok Theatre Company). Chad's other favorite credits include Andy Paris (et. al) in The Laramie Project (Ovation & Garland Awards, Laguna Playhouse & Colony Theatre), Bobby in A Chorus Line (McCoy-Rigby & AMT of San Jose), Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz (South Bay CLO & Sacramento Music Circus), Will Parker in Oklahoma! (Cabrillo Music Theatre), Simon in Only A Kingdom (Pasadena Playhouse), Frank in Showboat (Musical Theatre West), Frank in Mack & Mabel opposite Jane Krakowski (Reprise), Larry in Burn This (Elephant Theatre), and Bud Frump in How to Succeed in Business (Ovation nom., Colony Theatre). His National Tour credits include Mordred in Camelot and The Duke Ellington Songbook as a featured soloist with Marilyn McCoo. His TV credits include "General Hospital", "Bold and the Beautiful", and "Girls Behaving Badly". Last year, Chad started the Havok Theatre Company with Artistic Director Nick DeGruccio. Their first three productions received critical acclaim, including an Ovation nomination for Best Musical (L.A. Premiere of Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story), and nominations for the GLAAD Media Award and LADCC Best Production (L.A. Premiere of Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead).

LESLIE HENSTOCK (Hodel) was recently Amalia in Rubicon's She Loves Me and this past summer's workshop of Daddy Long Legs (as Jerusha Abbott with Rob Hancock as Jervis). In 2007, she made her Off Broadway debut in Frankenstein and also appears on the Original Cast Recording. Prior to that she completed the tour of The Light in the Piazza as Clara, receiving wonderful reviews for her performances. And for almost five years, she toured with Les Miserables (Cosette). She is currently forming a cabaret repertory company called Anthologies Untold that will be performing in NYC sometime soon. Other credits include Manhattan Theatre Club and Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera. She is a University of Michigan Musical Theatre graduate.

JOSH JENKINS (Fyedka) absolutely thrilled to be performing in his first full production at the Rubicon. He was most recently seen in the reading of Cheri Steinkellner's Hello! My Baby, playing the part of Junior Tierney. Other recent shows he has done include The World Goes Round, Omnium Gatherum, and All In The Timing. He is currently a theatre student at Santa Barbara City College, and is very involved with the theatre group there. He hopes to transfer to a four year university in the near future to continue his theatre training and education. This is Josh's first professional show, and he can think of no better place than the Rubicon to make his debut

LAUREN PATTON (Chava) is thrilled to be back at the Rubicon after appearing last year as Elma in "Bus Stop," (Ovation Award Nomination for Featured Actress) and as Anne in "Diary of Anne Frank" in 2007. In the past year, Lauren originated the role of Sadie in "Ten Cent Night," a world premiere play at Chicago Dramatists, and appeared in the short film "Geography Bee." Past credits include "A Christmas Carol" at the Goodman Theatre, and "Training Wisteria" at the Summer Play Festival of New York City. An independent-study high school junior, Lauren's most recent project was taking the SATs.

GEORGE BALL (Lazar Wolf) has appeared on and off Broadway in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. He also had the pleasure of starring in the San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston and Dutch productions of Jaques Brel. George starred in the pre-Broadway production of the new musical Cowboy in New York. He played the irascible sheriff Ed Earle Dodd in the Pittsburgh and San Jose CLO productions of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and the leading role of Ben Rumson in the Goodspeed Opera House revival of Paint Your Wagon. His other stage credits include leads in Brecht, Sacred and Profane at the Mark Taper Forum, Vincent at the Las Palmas Theatre and Merry-Go-Round at the El Rey Theatre, all in L.A. He originated the role of the husband Steve in the musical Heartbeats at The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and starred in subsequent productions at The Pasadena Playhouse, Sacramento Music Circus and the Morris Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore. He originated the role of Man One in Lies and Legends: The Musical Stories of Harry Chapin at the Apollo Theatre in Chicago, and won both the Drama-Logue and L.A. Drama Critics' Circle Award for his recreation of that role at The Pasadena Playhouse and the Canon Theatre in L.A. His stock credits include leading roles in Camelot, Man of La Mancha, Oliver, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and I Do! I Do! .Television appearances include "Cheers," "General Hospital," "The Young and the Restless," and most recently as Peter Lund, the singing President of CBS on "Late Night with David Letterman." Additional credits include Damn Yankees at Sacramento Music Circus and Tony in Most Happy Fella for Reprise! at UCLA's Freud Theatre. He co-starred with his wife Amanda McBroom in Gold Coast Plays' production of Sondheim's A Little Night Music; played the role of John Hancock in 1776 for Santa Barbara Civic Light Opera, and starred in the title role of Sweeney Todd for Gold Coast Plays, which was named one of the ten best theatrical events of the year 2000 by the Los Angeles Times and for which he received a Robby Award for Best Actor in a Musical. George returns to Rubicon for a third time, having previously directed the award-winning anniversary production of Lies and Legends: The Musical Stories of Harry Chapin, and having starred in the award-winning production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.

HELLEN GELLER (Yente) makes her Rubicon Theater debut in a role that is near and dear to her heart. When first cast as Yente, years ago, she was a bit young for the part, but now, years later, Yente is quite a comfortable fit.

Helen began her career in theater as a "Meglin Kiddee" toddler where she was trained in every aspect of a performing actor - singing, dancing, pantomime, etc, and grew up appearing on radio, television, cinema, stage, as well as touring with the USO.

She has participated in National Tours of musicals and plays, including most recently The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, the hilarious Ovation Award Musical, Radio Gals, The Sound of Music, to name a few. You have also seen her in recent sit-coms such as "Scrubs," "Will & Grace," dramas, including "ER," "The Practice," etc.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF previews March 19 and March 20, 2009. Opening is Saturday, March 21 at 7PM. Opening Night tickets are $125 and include a pre-show champagne reception, the opening performance, an after-party with cast and VIP's hosted by the Jewish Federation of Ventura County, and a tax-deductible donation to Rubicon.

Regular performances of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF continue through April 26 on Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. ($49) and 7:00 p.m. ($59), Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. ($59), Fridays at 8:00 p.m. ($64), Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. ($59) and 8:00 p.m. ($69) and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. ($59). Seniors ages 65+ save $5 per ticket. Student and Equity tickets are available for $30 with ID. There is a $5 discount for tickets purchased for shows March 19 - 28 when purchased by March 14.

Discounts of up to 30% are available for groups of 12 or more, and group organizers receive one free ticket. To purchase single tickets or discounted group tickets, call the Rubicon box office at (805) 667-2900. To purchase tickets online, go to

Special performances include Talk Back Wednesdays: a chance to talk with the director and cast immediately after the 7pm performance on Wednesdays, March 25 and April 1.

All performances are at Rubicon Theatre, an intimate former church built in the 1920s. The theatre is located at 1006 E. Main Street (the corner of Main and Laurel) in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District.

Ticket prices $49 to $85. Please call Rubicon Theatre Company's box office at (805) 667-2900 or visit



Theatremania Announcement

 Theater News  

Rubicon Theatre Company Announces Cast for Fiddler on the Roof

By: Dan Bacalzo · Feb 26, 2009  · Los Angeles


Jay Brazeau
Jay Brazeau
Rubicon Theatre Company has announced casting for its production of the Joseph Stein-Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick musical, Fiddler on the Roof, to play March 19-April 26, with an opening set for March 21. James O'Neil directs, with musical direction by Lloyd Cooper and original choreography reproduced by Lee Martino.

Based on Sholem Aleichem stories, the musical tells the story of Tevye, a Jewish milkman coping with day-to-day "shtetl" life, Jewish traditions and the women in his life in pre-Revolutionary Russia.

The cast includes George Ball (Lazar Wolf), Eileen Barnett (Golde), Robert Barry, Tom Beyer, Heidi Bjorndahl, Chad Borden (Motel), Jay Brazeau (Tevye), Joseph Fuqua, Helen Geller (Yente), Jessica Gordon, Rob Hancock, Leslie Henstock (Hodel), Amy Hillner (Tzeitel), Josh Jenkins (Fyedka), Jeff Johnston, Larry Lederman, Chad Michael, Lauren Patten (Chava), Steve Perren, Betsy Randle, Oskar Rodriguez, and Jamie Thompson. It also features artistic director Nuvi Mehta as The Fiddler.

The production will feature scenic design by Thomas Giamario, lighting design by Ward Carlisle, costume design by Shon Le Blanc, and sound design by Jonathan Burke.

For more information, visit



Written by Joseph and Lauren Patten (A.K.A.: The Constable and Chava), you can also find this on the RTC site (link just above). Here you go!


April 26th, 2009 | 8:52 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

It’s the last blog. The Constable was told to make it good (for once) by Lazar f*%#ing Wolf. So. Here it goes.

Today we had an honor that in this day and age few Fiddler casts have enjoyed. Sheldon Harnick came to our matinee, was first to stand at the curtain call, and then made a backstage appearance gushing praise and platitudes. Such a privilege. The Rubicon cabaret series of the Topa Tower Club honors Mr. Harnick tomorrow night. He is an unparalleled lyricist and the celebration and performance will mark his 85th birthday. An amazing day.

And tonight we have another bought out house. The Jewish Federation and Temple that bought out our opening night is bookending our run in a warm and loving way. They are a great house.

Backstage, there is a flurry of photographs, the signing of programs and posters, the exchanging of addresses, and assurances galore. The beautiful thing about theatre is that sooner or later, you meet up with your favorite actors again with stories to tell. Actors are a gregarious lot and always seem to pick up their friendships right where they left off, even years afterwards. It really is so.

We were unable to get a complete update from the futures of our merry band, but rest assured that if ever there is a place for them back at the Rubicon, all are welcome.

This was a historic achievement for the Rubicon theatre. The largest show ever done, the biggest orchestra, the most costly set. Many, many landmarks passed. We are all very proud and everyone in the front and in the back of our beloved stage should be grateful. Grateful to have taken a chance and, as they say, hit it out of the park. Heavy sigh, followed by another heavy sigh.

This also marks a 21st century landmark – the Rubicon’s first blog, made possible by the love and guidance of Cindy Frankey and Ken Wesler.

Chava (Lauren Patten) and the Constable (Joseph Fuqua) thank you for being faithful readers, gentle readers, and hopefully dear Rubicon patrons. Help keep the dream alive. Theatre in Ventura is made possible by your donations and enthusiastic attendance.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. May we all blog and read again.

Lauren and Joseph

April 25th, 2009 | 10:03 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Second show on Saturday. A ‘bought out’ house. The wonderful Kipps and their investment firm and clients are out front. Enjoyment abounds.

Nuvi has been out for these two shows. We miss him. Yeah, yeah, we know. Jamie’s a great fill-in. But we’ve been blogging about closing out this run with all of our fine components intact, so. There it is. We was bummed.

But we’ve bounced back. I’m sure every one of you gentle readers has heard the term “the show must go on”. Must it? Yes. Why? …We recommend you watch Shakespeare in Love. This is handled very artfully in the screenplay.

Okay. We know a couple of updates on what our castmates are moving on to after we close. Our Lazar Wolf (George Ball) is going abroad to Tuscany and Scotland. Fine food and travel! Bob Barry (the Rabbi) is going back to focusing on his photography. Check out! We know Chad Borden (Motel) is in a show at Universal Studios which will be stage managed by our own stage manager, Linda Tross! Amy Hillner (Tzietel) has a continuing gig doing industrial shows. Jay Brazeau (Tevye) is going to host his high school’s talent show in Winnipeg. He is also going to be filming an independent movie.

More on the future anon.

Well, that’s the round up for now. We’ve all got some bottled up emotions. The moving on…the pulling away…the hurt…the pain…the abandonment issues…the phone calls…the stalking…the furtive glances…the abandonment issues (oh…we said that)…this is how it goes until we meet again.

Bye for now!

Our final blog lies ahead tomorrow. Sunday. Ask for it by name.


Chava und The Constable

April 24th, 2009 | 10:14 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Friday night! Closing weekend has officially begun. We’ve got a great show going on. Nuvi is back. We’re ready to see this puppy out with dignity and grace. There’s a lot of food being promised. Our assistant stage manager Jenine is making monkey bread on Sunday. We know the closing night party is at My Florist Café and Bakery. FYI blog readers, this has been a late night haunt for the cast. They’re one of the few fine establishments open until midnight in the little town known as San Buenaventura.

Also, of great note, the lyricist of Fiddler, Sheldon Harnick, is coming to our show this weekend. It has not been disclosed which show, because some actors get psyched when they know a big wig is in the audience. On Monday night, the Rubicon is hosting a fundraiser at the Topa Tower Club in celebration of Sheldon’s 85th birthday. People from the cast will be performing songs from Fiddler, and others will be singing songs from his other shows like “The Apple Tree” and “She Loves Me”. A good time, and we hope it raises a lot of dough.

Chava’s real sister is in the audience tonight! She’s very excited for her to see the show. Also, Amy Hillner (Tzietel), has a lot of friends in the audience to cheer for her. So the audience tonight is very supportive, which us actors enjoy.

Some friends of the theatre, Robin Gammil and his new wife, the lovely Stephanie MacNamera – both Rubicon alumnus – are in the audience with the former’s daughter and the latter’s step-daughter, Winslow Corbett, another fine Rubicon alumnus. They were here earlier in the day to plan the Ventura celebration of their nuptials at the house of the Constable and his better half, B. McDonald. Big doins’.

Life WILL go on after Fiddler.

But sadly for awhile wethinks.

Chava und The Constable

April 23rd, 2009 | 10:07 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Thursday night. We don’t have Nuvi. We miss him when he’s gone. It’s only happened for a few shows a couple of weeks ago. We have our wonderful dance captain Jamie Thompson “miming” the violin – or the fiddle – and he’s terrific. But let’s face it: We’ve come to adore having a virtuoso on the roof. Ah well. Nuvi will be back soon, and we’ll have a closing weekend with all of our many components intact.

George Ball, our Lazar Wolf, is reading “The Making of a Musical: Fiddler on the Roof”. It tells the tale of our show from inception to the making of the movie. He often reads interesting bits to the many who assemble in Dressing Room 2. Evidently, Zero Mostel (the original Tevye) used to “chew on the scenery” once the show was open. In a previous blog, we have mentioned that after opening, some actors will change their performances. Maybe they’re bored, maybe they want to try new things, but it always is a mistake. You lose the show in favor of personal gain or glory. Never a good idea.

Chad Borden (Motel) has started rehearsal as of Monday for a show about the creature from the black lagoon at Universal Studios. Double duty for Chad! Most of us actors are wondering when the next job will come in. That’s the life of the actor. It’s nice when you have back-to-back work, but sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. The Constable, for instance, will go back on unemployment (a common feature of a working actor’s life is not working enough to qualify for unemployment). His father used to refer to this as his son “being on the dole” – a joke about the shame of a wayward son who didn’t “go far” but went “near”.

On a personal note, Chava is almost finished with her Sociology for high school! She is a homeschooled junior and she does one subject at a time until it’s finished! While finishing Sociology is good, that means she has to move on to Algebra 2. Not so good. Wish her luck.

In the next few blogs this closing weekend, we shall endeavor to supply you gentle readers with updates on the fate of our troupe. Where will they go? What will they do? Not even remotely close to the tragedy that befell the villagers from Anatevka, yet there is mild despair at our disbanding. It is the life of an actor. More on this on Sunday.

Friday is tomorrow. We’ll talk to you then.

Chava und The Constable

April 22nd, 2009 | 9:11 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Second show! We had a great matinee. It was a great audience – it was sizzling! I’m sure you’ve all heard the term “the blue hairs” – it’s an affectionate term for the matinee crowd…of a certain age. Seniors. Gray Panthers. They are always a terrific audience. They’ve lived long lives with theatre and are incredibly appreciative. This is a wonderful thing for an actor – a receptive audience. Totally receptive.

This evening’s show is, as they say, a “bought out house”. Ventura Memorial Hospital and our own Board President, Dr. Richard Reisman, and his gorgeous wife Lori are hosting the event. So we’ve got a house full of “medical professionals”. Backstage, many have been joking about having a heart attack onstage or some such thing and being able to say, “Is there a doctor in the house?” and having a bunch of doctors rush the stage and break into fist fights to attend the dying actor. Good times, y’all.

On a personal note, Chava was experiencing some nausea earlier today. She thinks she must have eaten something that didn’t sit right with her, so she was a little queasy for the matinee. Luckily, it didn’t get any worse and her lovely mama brought her saltines during the dinner break. All better!

The Constable would like to say something to the blog readers that have dirty minds. This is not a case of a teen pregnancy – this is just an upset stomach. I know, I know – when a young woman talks about feeling nauseous and needing saltines, it’s a little cliché. But don’t jump to conclusions, ya stupid heads. Chava would like to note that she was the butt of at least 10 jokes about being pregnant. So she’s had enough of that. (Backstage is full of dirty minds, obviously.)

We had a dancer lose his beard today during the wedding scene. It laid on the stage like a dead animal. Road kill. Someone suggested that when the Constable entered, he should’ve stepped on it like he was killing a small rodent. It didn’t happen.

Short and sweet tonight. We’re inching towards the closing weekend. It’s all good. Talk to you tomorrow!

Blog tidings, gentle readers!

Chava und The Constable

April 21st, 2009 | 9:12 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Great audience tonight! They want to be here! This is an added show, so they obviously couldn’t get tickets to one of the scheduled shows, so this added show is filled with enthusiastic theatre goers. And so, we’re eating it up (appropriate yummy noises to be made my reader – perhaps nummy num nummer?).

It’s our final week (We’re not going to use “last” anymore. Let’s use final. Better yet, let’s use “closing week”. Final is so…final.) So, it’s the closing week. So there.

Jay went to the Laugh Factory in LA last night. Andrew Dice Clay was the featured comic, and Jay was singled out by Mr. Clay and they started conversing. Jay became part of the act! They talked for the benefit of the audience about Fiddler on the Roof and Mr. Clay had some…rather sordid things to say about Tevye’s daughters. We won’t go any further, but suffice (Dice!) that it was unsavory, but evidently funny. This blog is not a fan of his humor and Jay regretted being in the front row. But, there it is. He was. Maybe he should have gone to the Cheesecake Factory and not the Laugh Factory.

It’s been extremely hot out, which means that it is even hotter onstage. On a personal note, Chava finds it difficult to keep cool with bloomers, a petticoat, and a heavy skirt. With double the lights for this show, the lighting looks fabulous, but it gets hotter a lot faster.

Here’s some news! Someone thought someone “broke wind” during the wedding, but it’s been discovered that the bad smell was the Russians peasant shirts – all polyester – they came back from the dry cleaner smelling very skanky, evidently. Spanky’s Russian pants have a different style and color from everyone else – the fabric burned his skin as he perspired in the heat. So, no offense to the dry cleaner, but…sometimes actors prefer natural fiber and the gentle cycle with Woolite. Perhaps in a Kenmore? Or, even better, a Maytag? The Constable never has anything dry cleaned. He has his suits steamed and brushed – never dry cleaned. I mean, who wants burning skin and skanky smells?

We had a five layer dip from Diane Perren! Avocado, cheese, sour cream and maybe clams? Eileen Barnett brought in Trader Joe’s ginger snaps – Chava’s favorite! …Our ASM (asst. stage manager) Jenine’s Mom puts ginger snaps in the Cuisinart and saves the crumbs in the freezer—to be added to—believe it or not—stews and meatloaf—as well as to graham (sp?) cracker crusts. Might be a kicky

All for now kids.

Chava und The Constable

April 19th, 2009 | 9:13 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Second show! Last show of the week. Of a long 9 show week. Larry’s scratch on his face is healed, or healing. It was pretty angry looking last night, but today, his face just looked kind of…greasy. He had Neosporin all over that side of his face. The Constable told him (backstage, of course) to put Neosporin on the other side of his face so his whole face looked greasy, but he didn’t listen. Larry did, however, make a sort of “phantom mask”, so he’s the Phantom of Anatevka. Not quite as grand as Phantom of the Opera, but amusing nonetheless.

He had a delicious dinner between shows supplied by the Greek Restaurant of the Ventura Harbor. Chicken kabobs, sliced gyro, fantastic rice, fabulous hummus and wonderful soft, warm pita bread. AND a great Greek salad. We also had birthday cake for our end of April birthday boys and girl -- Rob Hancock, Jim O’Neil, Spanky Reynoso, and our wonderful house manager Anna! We love being fed well.

Crew spotlight on Linda Tross, our stage manager! She hails from Chicago (like Chava!), she cut her teeth in stage management at the Candelight Dinner Theatre. She’s stage managed many Rubicon shows, including Diary of Anne Frank, Bus Stop, and Night of the Iguana, and she assistant stage managed Hamlet. She’s a loyal and devoted Equity member and is a firm task master, as well as a fun-loving friend! Bless her.

Just like “The Rumor” in Fiddler, the rumor of the drunken couple last night has spread throughout the Rubicon community. Apparently, it has gotten blown out of proportion, just like the song! A few ushers came in today and excitedly commented on how the drunken couple climbed under the stage, and then set off firecrackers outside the theatre. We can assure you, gentle readers, this did NOT happen. But everyone backstage is getting a kick out of how similar the situation is to the song, even so far as suggesting that perhaps the drunken couple gave our smaller cast members the mumps!

The folks in Dressing Room 2 were talking earlier about how the Rubicon is an “art factory” and their product happens to be art. The cast and crew are the factory workers, cogs in the machine that make a widget called theatre. We are proud of it! We make a great product here at the Rubicon.


That’s it! The closing of our second to last week. We’re poised to begin the last roundup. As stated previously, we’ll all get through this together…or not. Have a great Monday! Remember, that is the traditional actors’ day off. A sacred time. We must go. Buh-bye!

Chava and the Constable

April 18th, 2009 | 10:13 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Oh boy! A big night! We had a couple of drunks in the front row that were very loud during all the scenes – commented on every funny line and sang along to all the songs. The actors were getting very annoyed. At first it seemed that they were drunk, and then people wondered if they were developmentally challenged. But, George Ball was right – they were just a couple of drunks. I guess you could say that they were “sobriety challenged”. During intermission, due to some unacceptable belligerence, they were kicked out. And, evidently, the cops had to be called. Exciting! An interesting note: George Ball slurred that he knows a drunk when he sees one. He further slurred that he found it interesting that the women in the cast were adamant about them being challenged. Why is that, do you suppose? Chava thinks that it is quite an “accomplishment” to be so drunk that you appear to be mentally challenged. That is a first for her. She thought you blacked out before that point. The Constable remembers a time when he was so drunk people thought he was a carnie. (A carnie, of course, is one of those unsavory workers at a carnival that always makes girls like Chava uncomfortable, but other girls, like Tzietel (Amy Hillner) excited, what with their tattoos, sinewy arms, and tobacco stained teeth…)

Oh! And another thing. We had another causality tonight. This time, an accidental scratch. One character’s thumbnail hit another character’s face – there will be blood. And there was.

Tonight, we presented Jim O’Neil with the faux violin that was signed by the cast and crew and had a wonderful commemorative plaque on the base. A wonderful memento for Herr Director.

Oh! Diane Perren made some killer brownies and chocolate chip cookies, as well as more guacamole for all of us. And, of course, before the matinee today, the Constable brought in his “soup duo”, chicken and a miso for the vegetarians.

The Constable has a special guest from Ohio! His friend Cindi Verbelun (who just played Fruma Sarah for her local theatre – receiving wonderful reviews) is here to see two shows! Thanks Cindi for all your support!

Two more shows tomorrow, a day off, and then our final week. *sob* *sniff* We promise to be strong. We’ll get through this closing together, gentle readers. Hopefully without further mishap. We’ll blog you tomorrow!

Chava and the Constable

April 17th, 2009 | 10:06 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Hey everyone! Guess what? It’s Jim O’Neil’s birthday! He’s another unsung hero – well, sung on opening, but hasn’t really been sung since. He’s our fearless leader, and fearless is right. To do the shows that he’s done here at the Rubicon…he’s a brave artist. We love him and wish him many more happy birthdays.

Friday night! We have an audience of major laughers. Not your typical Friday night audience. (We may have stated previously that sometimes the Friday night has the energy of the husband being dragged by the wife to see a darn show.) But tonight, there’s some…laugh track laughter. You remember, those distinct laughs you’d hear during a sitcom? It’s really nice. Laughter is like a wave that hits an actor and bathes him or her in reassurance that he or she is “on the right track”. Remember that, gentle readers. And none of your fake laughter, please. We can smell that a mile away. Also, please no “golf claps”. Golf claps are timid claps that can hardly be heard. We say, let’s hear it baby! All or nothing. Hurt your hands clapping, darnit!

We had some wonderful pizza from Rusty’s last night at the photo call, and a couple of the gals came to Dressing Room 2 for some bourbon. Oh yeah. It’s nice to see some old timey lady-like drinking. We heard that one of Tevye’s daughters threw up in the parking lot of an In-n-Out on her day off. We won’t say which one, but it wasn’t Chava (as she is underage and abstemious by nature). Chava had a Dr. Pepper explode on her. Luckily, she jumped out of the way before the soda could ruin her costume for the photo call. It only got on her apron a little.

Oh! Here’s another recipe! Leslie Henstock (Hodel) brought in some delicious snacks – they could be hors d’oeurves. Take a small dill pickle, wrap it in a large, thin slice of salami that’s been spread with cream cheese, and use a nice toothpick to secure it. Salty and yummy. (Chava’s gagging right now. You should see the look on her face. She hates cream cheese, and doesn’t eat meat. But she is fond of pickles…and toothpicks – who isn’t? Toothpicks are great!) Hats off to Leslie.

Four show weekend coming up! We’re ready. We’re in the groove. Check us out tomorrow night. Same blog time, same blog site. Bloggins’ on you!

Blogva and the Blogstable

April 16th, 2009 | 10:14 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Thursday night. Our show is back to normal. The difficult part of tonight is that we have what is known as a “photo call” after the show. It is sanctioned by the union, but is deeply annoying to the cast that remembers already having photographs taken. We know, we know…this is a thorough documentation of the show. Heavy sigh. Well, they are supplying us with some pizza. And we hope some soft drinks…and some beer! We’ll see. Chava would express her distaste. Icky. The Constable wishes to express that he wishes we could all do shots of Jeigermeister (a lethal liquor favored by frat boys, Scandahuvians, and constables alike). Let’s party!!

Rod Latham is the photographer of choice. Rod directed the Constable in “The Boys Next Door” and was a replacement Sancho in “Man of La Mancha”. He’s multi-talented and a big friend of the Rubicon.

Staff spotlight on Greg Johnson, our wonderful concessions host! He has a marvelous array of ever-changing snacks available in both the upper and the lower lobbies. He now has ginger mints, a Russian favorite! And they’re kosher!

We’re gearing up for a big weekend. Lots of family and friends getting in their last licks before we close next week. It’s sad to think that this time next week, we’ll really be…close to the end. We thank you for being our ever faithful readers. Both Chava and the Constable are getting emotional. We don’t want it to end. So, we’ll pretend that it’s not ending. (Let’s get a grip here. We’ve got more than a week! The Constable does have a tendency towards being maudlin. George Ball chimes in slurringly, “He’s a drama queen.” It’s all good.

Chad Borden seems to have chronic fatigue syndrome. He’s listless…backstage. But ever the powerhouse onstage. FYI, he was recently elected the President of Dressing Room #2. It was unanimous.

Well, that’s all for now. We leave you with this: Blogging is fun. Put that in your bubble pipe


Chava and the Constable

April 14th, 2009 | 9:09 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Here we are doing a show on a Tuesday. Great GREAT audience. Seems to be filled with lots o’ theatre folk. Pals of the cast who couldn’t get tickets—until our first ADDED show. The Constable was said hello to as he crossed the stage in “Tradition”. He didn’t recognize the voice, but it might have been one of those “blast from the past” audience members that always freak an actor out.

Oh! By the way, if you want to freak an actor out, send a note backstage that just says, “I’m here! Guess who?” Visions of ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, people an actor might owe money to or perhaps even an old elementary school teacher. Anyhoo, wondering who said hello to you, or who might be in the audience in a shroud of mystery…is freak.

On a personal note, Chava is experiencing some unwelcome congestion. She didn't realize she had congestion until she began singing “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”. It was an unpleasant surprise. Luckily, she got through the number without any major mishaps.

There was a little argument going on earlier…in the company lounge about nakedness on the cover of a “Vanity Fair”. George Ball asks, “What’s wrong with that? I read the magazine for the articles.” Chava wonders if that is true. George Ball thinks the distaste Chava exhibited reflects a prudish Chicago upbringing. The Constable suggests that maybe she just isn’t a fan of “Vanity Fair”. Maybe she thinks it should be called “Vanity Unfair”.

In any case, Mr. Ball does not cotton to sixteen year olds being judgmental towards him. To the phrase “cotton to”, the Constable says to George Ball, “Twenty-three skeedoo,” or, “Last time I heard that, I fell off my dinosaur,” or, “I kicked a dodo bird.

After a day off most of us feel good about getting back in the Fiddler groove again. We are off on our second to last week with a bang. Two shows tomorrow y’all.


Chava and the Constable

April 12th, 2009 | 9:08 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Easter Sunday. Also, the Titanic anniversary. The ship, not just a mention of “size”. You wouldn’t believe the two Stooges routine that Chava and the Constable just went through to plug in the charger for Chava’s computer under the “camp bed” under the Constable’s dressing table. It took five minutes. It’s dark and messy. George Ball had a good laugh. All for the sake of the blog. It’s worth it, but we’re all out of breath.

Second show of the last day of the week. Great audience today at the matinee, and then another FANTASTIC dinner provided through the generosity of Jordan and Sandra Laby. They are very thoughtful. Oh! We’ve also had quite a “buffet” backstage. Our wonderful wardrobe lady Sheryl Jo brought hard-boiled eggs and made cupcakes. Eileen Barnett (Golde) made yummy brownies. The Constable brought his cream cheese and “pepper jelly” (Remember the recipe from the previous blog?) Three pounds of cream cheese and a goodly amount of pepper jelly…GONE. Grazin’ actors just walking around.

Evidently, a study was done years ago that talked about the expending of calories in various occupations. The actor expends as many calories as a jackhammer operator or a bricklayer – who schleps a lot of bricks. This may have to do with the “stress” of performance. Anyways, we like to eat and kid ourselves that acting burns a lot of calories. (George Ball chuckled at this statement and commented, “Ain’t that the truth.”)

Big family day! At the matinee, Chava’s real papa (who isn’t a milkman) was at the show. She can report that he enjoyed very much. Tonight, Jay’s family is the audience. They’ve seen him play Tevye three other times, so we have a lot to live up to. Hopefully, we’ll be the best Fiddler so far.

This is a comment that we’ve heard a lot of – people who saw the original production and have seen various other “respectable” productions think we’re the best. It’s the wonderful Rubicon Theatre. It’s…cozy, accessible, and gives up a great “product”.

Another big shout-out to the tireless wardrobe people, who are keeping the clothes mended and clean! We love them.

FYI, Sunday night is a big night for beard cleaning. Most beards (the fake ones) have to be soaked in rubbing alcohol to get rid of all the built up “spirit gum”, which is the adhesive we use. It’s nasty and sticky. One wonders if it is made from horses’ hooves, like old-timey glue. God forbid.

Well, we only have one day off this week – remember the added Tuesday show? We can’t forget. We’ve got to get in a lot of day-offin’ all in one day. Another FYI, the union (Actor’s Equity) chose Monday to be a day off because in the old days, actors to accomplish banking, going to the tailor and grocer and such. If the day off was on a weekend, most of these fine establishments were closed. So the rule is Monday is “dark” so an actor can do…stuff.

Blog at you later!

Chava and the Constable

April 11th, 2009 | 10:02 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Okay. Second show of a two show day. We had a great matinee, and then…AN INCREDIBLE DINNER supplied by Mary’s Secret Garden AND through the generosity of Sandra Laby! A big hit! People could not get enough of it. Chava had two heaping plates…I think everyone had at least two plates. The hummus was a poem.

Crew spotlight on Jenine MacDonald, who is Kathleen Parsons’ replacement. She “trailed” Kathleen for a couple of days, learning her duties, and now she is taking over! Jenine is a wonderful stage manager – she staged managed the Rubicon’s production of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. Good times. And her she is again! We stated earlier, if you’re good to work with, you’ll be coming back to the Rubicon. Word to the wise.

Cast spotlight on Rob Adelman Hancock, who told a fascinating story of his youth tonight. It seems that we was a deckhand on a tug boat on the Mississippi one summer, which was dangerous…and quite Tom Sawyer-ish. He had fun, and it’s always interesting to hear the things that actors have done as “survival work”. (In actor speak, a “survival job” is waiting tables, working in an office…the Constable, for instance, was once a personal shopper at Saks Fifth Avenue. All things to pay for “the art”.) FYI readers, you can always ask an actor what their most interesting survival job was, and probably get a pretty interesting answer. We bet most people have had interesting jobs. Let’s endeavor to ask anyone we meet what their most interesting job has been.

It’s been the Constable’s experience that the youth of today has not been taught how to “bounce the ball”, meaning when you’re conversing, the clever way to endear yourself to whomever you’re talking to – to ask them about THEM – get them to talk about themselves. They’ll remember you as making them feel special. In the old days, we used to call that “charm” and it’s an important lesson for the youngins to learn. Chava thinks the Constable should write his own Chicken Soup for the Soul. The Constable thinks it should be more like Finger Bowls for the Brain. Oh! Remember that definition of what a “lady” or a “gentleman” was? The answer was someone who made ANYONE feel comfortable, be they high born or low born. Whether you’re Christian or Jewish, the teachings of the guy named Christ seem relevant at times. It’s just about being “good”, right? Come to think of it, you don’t need Christ to be good. But, if it helps – why not?

Much apologies if this has seemed preachy or unsavory. It’s a blog, remember. Chava and the Constable are just shooting from the hip, fast and loose. What’s wrong with that? If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it…but we hope you do.

We realize that next week begins a NINE show week. We’ve added the Tuesday show, remember? Only one day off. Some people have a case of the grumps RE this matter. But we’ll survive. It means that you like the show, which makes everyone here at the Rubicon very happy, and the theatre hopefully more solvent.

Blog readers, we hope you’ve heard of the “It Takes A Village” campaign. THE ARTS are hurting all across America. Any little bit helps. Don’t let the arts down! We hope that that DID sound preachy.

Okay, gentle readers. Blog at you tomorrow! Happy Easter!

Chava and the Constable

April 10th, 2009 | 10:07 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Friday night. The weekend begins. Right before intermission, we heard tell of a dancer having “cracked” his toe. We have visions of another put-in rehearsal, but the dance captain came around and said that he’ll be okay. So far, so good. In a similar vein, the Constable got an email today from Linda Levitz, who has heard of all of mishaps, and has suggested that we should refer to Fiddler on the Roof as the “Jewish play”. (For those of you who don’t know, Macbeth is referred to as the “Scottish play” backstage, because the legend is that if you speak the title or quote any of the lines backstage, you’re in for “the witches’ curse”. Shakespeare evidently used real incantations in the witch scenes – therefore, any syllable from the play delves into their world.

On the brighter side, Jessica Gordon is back doing most of her “track”, meaning her injury has healed enough to return to her village duties – for the most part. This is good news!

Crew spotlight – our assistant stage manager, Kathleen Parsons, is entering her third trimester. As she says, she’s having either a kitten or a puppy – she doesn’t care which. But sadly, for the sake of the baby, she’ll be leaving the show. Kathleen has stage managed MANY Rubicon shows, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Boys Next Door, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – to name a few. She’ll be missed, but we’ll see her again as a working mother. Love to Kathleen and her wonderful husband, Fred – and their puppy or kitten.

Jay Brazeau squired his family around Santa Barbara, Ojai, and the Camarillo Outlet Mall -- the poor guy. He is enthusiastic, if not willing. Most of us get to meet them on Sunday when they shall attend the show.

The gorgeous Sandra Laby is evidently in the house tonight! She is a patron of great renown, and we are all very grateful for her support of the Rubicon. We love you Sandra! (And Jordan!!!)

This was something I didn’t know (I don’t mean to tattle on Judge Steve Perren…but I will). Evidently, pasta is not considered kosher for Passover! The Constable found this out after the Judge had a big plate of his macaroni and cheese at the party on Wednesday. This was news, so we hope it won’t cost Steve his place in Heaven. Who knew that pasta wasn’t kosher for Passover?! Go figure.

Well, that’s it for now, gentle readers. The blog continues tomorrow evening. Buh-bye!

Chava and the Constable

April 9th, 2009 | 10:02 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

A party last night. Most came. Cast ‘n’ Crew. Some …….sleeping it off during the day (apparently!)

Good show thus far this Thursday eve. Lots of nibbles have been appearing backstage. Some amazing gourmet popcorn (courtesy of Chava) as well as some leftover fare from the Constable’s par-tay. As frequently noted, actors love to graze. There are theories about certain foods being bad for the singing voice. It doesn’t seem like many of the singers shy away from chocolate. Actors don’t have to worry except for, perhaps…WEIGHT GAIN! You often hear it around the snack table – comments like, “I’ve gained five pounds since I’ve started this show,” or, “Do I look fat with this chocolate in my hand?” It’s all fun.

Cast spotlight on Steve Perren -- he’s a judge! A governor Jerry Brown appointee. And he’s a really good villager. Excellent as Avram. Chava remembers the time in rehearsal when Spanky wasn’t around to sing his Russian tenor part, so Steve spontaneously took over for him. Wow! He’s got one heck of a voice. We may have mentioned before that he also has avocado trees, so we constantly have his wife Diane’s fantastic guacamole backstage.

Jay’s family is in town! The milkman missed the party last night and went to meet his family in L.A. They shacked up in a nice Marriott near LAX. They’ll see the show on Sunday. Meanwhile, our Tevye is showing his lovely wife and two sons the wonders of the South Land. Speaking of family, Chava’s real papa is arriving in town this weekend! She hasn’t seen him in a month and a half, so she’s very happy that he’s coming to visit.

Oh! As promised, here’s a quick and easy recipe! The WASPS call it Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly. It’s from the Amy Vanderbilt cookbook. (Decidedly un-Jewish, but delicious. Served at the Constable’s house frequently.) Take a block of cream cheese and put a big dent in the center. Let it get to room temperature. Meanwhile, you take half a cup of seedless blackberry jam and add two tablespoons of hot chili sauce or Tabasco. Mix thoroughly and let it chill. Right before your guests arrive, but it on top of the softened cream cheese. Garnish with parsley and serve with a plain water cracker. Delicious! It only tastes complicated. (Sometimes you can find hot pepper jelly. This works, but the sweet and hot of the blackberry and hot sauce is better. So there.)

The band is on fire tonight! We’re all in a nice groove getting ready for the big weekend. All is well here in Rubi-tevka. Mazeltov! Happy Passover. To life!

Chava and the Constable

April 8th, 2009 | 9:05 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Here we go again! The second show of a two show day after two-ish days off. Remember, Tuesday we had a couple of hours where we had to “put in” our new villager/dancer Jeff Parsons. Man, what a pro! He had rehearsal on Monday with the choreographer and our director, Jim O’Neil, as well as our stage manager, Linda Tross. They showed him the ropes, and by the time we came on Tuesday, he knew everything. Literally, everything. (No, he didn’t speak Greek. I mean, everything in the show. You know, Fiddler on the Roof.)

Tuesday night after the put in, we were hosted by George Ball and the lovely Amanda McBroom at their charming house in Ojai – a catered affair. Fantastic food. The shrimp dish – divine. Sweet and sour chicken, exceptional wines, pastries. Yum! Chava enjoyed the vegetarian cous cous. A good time was had by all. As we’ve stated previously, it’s really nice to sit down with these people that you’re dancin’ with, pogromin’ with and sharin’ a stage with. So having some convivial times with either a soda in your hand or a drinky-poo…it’s nice. We’re a bunch of interesting people. I just read in Vanity Fair that Jane Fonda (love her or hate her) answered the question, “What is your motto?” with, “It is better to be interested than interesting.” And that’s what we seem like. We’re all interested in each other, and that makes us all feel interesting – isn’t that nice? It’s like a warm hug.

I hope none of you threw up just now, gentle readers. Sometimes we get a little warm and fuzzy here at the Rubicon, and also in this blog. FYI, the young Chava has softened the Constable’s hard heart.

Today, during the Chavaleh ballet, there was a little mishap. While being twirled a little too enthusiastically by the intimidating Russian Fyedka (Josh Jenkins), Chava dramatically collapsed to the ground. She endeavored to make it look planned by looking up with a, “How could you do this to me?” look in her eyes and a dramatic leap to her feet – we made it all seem plausible. Chava actually thinks it worked in her favor, because the audience had more compassion for her in the next emotional scene. Nonetheless, Josh got the Gay Ranchero (and the Constable thinks Chava is kidding herself. Maybe he still has a bit of a hard heart after all.)

PARTY TONIGHT AT THE CONSTABLE’S HOUSE! (which he shares with the talented and dedicated Brian McDonald – and a cute little Dachsund named Ozzy.) Three kinds of mac n’ cheese – regular, gluten-free and vegan! All served with a vegan, gluten-free dish called stewed toMAHtoes, (it’s a Philadelphia Main Line thing) and other delectables. A vodka punch and a non-alkie punch. Lots of candles, too. It’ll be nice.

So far, it’s been a nice two shows this Wednesday. Most of us will get to sleep in tomorrow and recover from these back-to-back parties. Life is good. The show is popular, the cast is cozy…blah blah blah.

Hope we’re not too boring being all full of light and hope. But in this day and age………it’s better than the alternative.

Blessing and blogs,

Chava and the Constable

April 5th, 2009 | 9:04 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Mayday, mayday! So today, we have another castmate who has hurt themselves. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Jessica Gordon has sprained her ankle. So, we’ve had to “modify” some things once again. There’s a dangerous ledge on a side street near the theatre, and Jessica was at its mercy today. We are all wishing her a speedy recovery!

We met our new dancer, Jeffrey Parsons, today. He’s currently watching the show so he can see what he’s in for. A few of the people in the cast have worked with him before, and we’ve heard nothing but good things. But, the day is bittersweet because it’s Jeff Johnston’s last show. He’ll still be around during the run, though, so it isn’t really goodbye.

Chava currently has “The Gay Ranchero” because she said the wrong line during the intro of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”. The Constable got it the day before yesterday for saying, “Trubbermakers” rather than troublemakers. He didn’t think anyone noticed, but there was “The Gay Ranchero” on his dressing room table upon his arrival. This is Chava’s first time having the Ranchero. Remember, she is practically perfect in every way.

After our put-in rehearsal on Tuesday, the cast has been invited to George Ball and his lovely wife Amanda’s beautiful home in Ojai. They are marvelous hosts, and we’re very lucky.

On Wednesday, the Constable is hosting the cast after the second show. George and Joseph have agreed that if anyone can’t come, as hosts we owe them $8. This is approximately what a host spends on each guest for a mildly elegant evening. Of course, sometimes it’s a $12 evening. But those nights are rare.

Nuvi found his way into “Dressing Room 2” (what now constitutes as “The Members’ Lounge”, as it is the home to company members Joseph Fuqua and George Ball – they have special chairs…and other finery to intimidate and belittle anyone who is NOT…in dressing room 2 – there is also a ‘camp bed’ underneath the dressing room table – Joseph has it during the show and George has it between shows – it’s the company way). Nuvi was impressed. Hopefully, not too belittled.

Last show of a long week. We’ll blog at you on Wednesday. Stay tuned. Bye for now gentle readers!

Chava and the Constable

April 4th, 2009 | 10:04 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Second show on Saturday. We had a few adjustments given to us by stage management regarding reactions, crowd murmurs, enthusiasm levels, and it seems to have done the trick. The scenes have the “life” that they had when we opened. There’s always an ebb and flow in the run of a show. So that’s why actors continue to get “notes”. It’s all good.

Tonight marks the official “halfway” mark of run. (George Ball – Lazar Wolf – says tomorrow. He’s right, like always.) Anyhoo, we’re halfway-ish.

Cast spotlight on Spanky! Spanky did a terrific job with the beards and scary makeup in “The Dream” scene. He’s also terrific as the Russian tenor! He also gave George Ball a nice haircut. He gives a good haircut! We’re lucky to have him and it’s nice that he’s making a strong showing on stage, as well. Hats off to the Spank!

Betsy Randle’s skirt almost came down during “Tradition” this afternoon. Fortunately, the wardrobe added another snap. Now she is secure, though it would’ve been funny to see that! The unsung heroes of the show are the fine people working in wardrobe. They are constantly sewing on buttons, snaps, hooks, and eyes, as well as fixing hats and broken laces, washing, ironing – actors are pretty particular about the stuff they put on their bodies. We all try not to be imperious, but sometimes when you’re two minutes away from the “places” call, it’s hard to stop yourself from screaming, “WARDROBE!” when a button falls off in your hand.

Attitude is a very crucial thing. So often, actors forget about that. Even if you’re a terrific actor, if anyone can say backstage that you weren’t great to work with, next time around you could lose out on the job. It’s especially true for younger actors, “coming up through the ranks”. We’re really lucky our group seems to have everything going for them.

It’s interesting – there’s no more food or candy backstage, but the actors still keep going back to the area where there should be snacks. Even though there wasn’t anything there fifteen minutes ago, we still keep going back to see if any chocolate has magically appeared.

So that’s it folks! Remember that it’s okay for boys to dance with girls. We’ve come a long way!

Blogfully yours,

Chava and the Constable

April 3rd, 2009 | 9:58 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

The Constable is under his dressing table in his dressing room—on his ‘camp bed’ commencing to blog. Chava is downstairs in the lil’ girls’ room. Perhaps she stopped in the giftshop.

We should have some FIDDLER t shirts made up. They could be popular. Maybe some “Constable dolls” Or…like a …Chava “Barbie”. (Chava and the Constable went up to Santa Barbara and purchased a Pilgrim Barbie at a local “thrift” establishment. Don’t tell the Rabbi, but the thrift store supports Catholic charities.)

We have bad news in the company. Our young dancer, Jeff Johnston, needs to be replaced because of his snowboarding accident. He can’t risk causing irreparable damage to his shoulder and our production needs someone with full movement capacity. We’ll miss him and we’ll fill you in on his replacement on Tuesday. Evidently, he’s talented and apparently…perhaps formally Mormon. Go figure.

On a personal note, there is a gigantic insect that has taken up residence in the women’s dressing room, and it is really grossing Chava out. FYI, Chava HATES bugs. According to the rest of the cast, it is a harmless mosquito eater and doesn’t bite humans. Chava still wants it gone. A note from Lazar Wolf and the Constable – Chava needs to go camping in a Florida swamp. That’ll fix her. Can you say palmetto bug? Chava responds with, “When hell freezes over.”

Anyhoo, we’re gearing up for a big weekend. We’ve got a couple of parties next week, a put-in rehearsal that’s none too popular, and of course, more sell-out crowds! Our added Tuesday shows don’t begin until the following week. Meanwhile, we all endeavor to keep the show “fresh”. This requires some reminders from stage management to keep the ad-libs crackin’ and the energy UP!

There’s the strange smell of wood smoke in the air. It’s kind of nice. We imagine Anatevka would have this kind of smell. Outside, it’s cool and a little windy. We’ve all been enjoying some beautiful weather and we’re in a beautiful play. Life is good for most.

Blessings to all our blog readers! Talk to you tomorrow.

Chava and the Constable

P.B. Lazar Wolf mumbles something about life being a deep, dark pit from which we can never escape. Go figure.

April 2nd, 2009 | 10:08 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

There was a party last night at Jessica Gordon’s parents’ house - Diane and Allan. It was great! It was so nice to unwind, to talk to people you haven’t talked to yet and, yes blog readers, to drink. Chava was not in attendance, so the blog readers do not have to worry about any unsavory actions on her part. She is, after all, underage. Anyhoo, there was some drinks, but no drunk driving. So no worries!

On a personal note, the Constable just saw some boobage in the ladies’ dressing room. I won’t say who, but they were nice.

I hope no one’s offended, but come on. Actors are constantly having to change clothes in awkward situations, and as we’ve explained, there’s not much room backstage. So privacy is at a premium.

Evidently, there was an audience member who was allergic to goose feathers and didn’t appreciate the pogrom. There is a pillow that is cut open to great dramatic effect. Apologies to people with allergies. Go figure.

It’s short and sweet tonight. We don’t have the fiddler (Nuvi Mehta). Actually, the virtuoso on the roof. So we’ve had to re-arrange some stuff. The Constable looked upstage to say, “Go on, play!” during the pogrom…but Nuvi wasn’t there. There was a moment of “what do I say next?”…but the Constable quickly recovered and said the next logical line. Our dance captain Jamie Thompson is miming “the fiddler” – this is how it’s usually done – how it was originally done – a dancer playing the fiddler, miming the fiddle. We’ve been lucky having the gifted Maestro Mehta.

We’ll blog at you tomorrow!


Chava and the Constable

April 1st, 2009 | 9:10 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

We’ve had two days off. Feels good. We had a good matinee today. The “blue-haired crowd”, as we say, leapt to their feet this afternoon at the curtain call. As noted in an earlier blog, actors LOVE a standing ovation. This show seems to be going well. We had a snowboarding accident on the days off. One of our dancers has his arm in a sling. The dance captain (Jamie Thompson) had to re-assign a few moments, scene changes, and a chair lift – but it’s all gone smoothly. Tom Beyer missed an entrance today, along with Jeff Johnston – the boy in the sling. So, poor Jessica Gordon had to deliver a wee monologue, rather than be part of a wee scene, all regarding that Tzietel isn’t going to marry Lazar Wolf, but the tailor Motel Kamzoil. All was handled well. The audience was none the wiser.

This is what we meant in an earlier blog – that actors constantly have to think on their feet. In a big show, MANY things can happen.

Cast spotlight on Amy Hillner! SHE WAS TRACY TURNBLAD IN THE NATIONAL TOUR OF HAIRSPRAY! She’s got a killer singing voice. We all have to turn down the monitor when she hits that big money note in “Matchmaker, Matchmaker”.

Oh! We’re adding two Tuesdays! The 14th and the 21st at 7 P.M. The actors get additional money$$$, which we like! It’s quite a feat to have to add shows. We really are selling out!

Besty Randle (Grandma Tzietel) made zucchini bread today (delicious – with coconut and butterscotch bits). Steve Perren’s wife, Diane, made some incredible guacamole with their homegrown avocados. As noted earlier, actors love free food. I mean, REALLY love free food. And the Easter candy is finding its way backstage – nice!

Party tonight after the talkback at Jessica Gordon’s parents’ house! We’ll let you know. We’re hoping for a piñata filled with driedles (sp?) and chopped liver. We’re still having fun, y’all! That’s all for now, kids!

Talk to you tomorrow. Same blog time, same blog channel.


Chava and the Constable

March 27th, 2009 | 10:06 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Friday. Good audience tonight – and sometimes Fridays are gruesome. The sometime energy is husbands are being dragged after work by their wives to the “theatre”, and they don’t want to be there. That’s just an actor’s impression, but strangely apt sometimes…but not tonight. Tonight, we’re killin’ it!

We had a great audience last night, but we didn’t get a standing ovation. FYI, actors love standing ovations. You can’t just give them away, but come on. This show is pretty damn good.

There is also something called “the leaving ovation” where the actors think that the audience is standing, but they’re clapping and moving towards the exits to get to their cars first. This doesn’t count. But it does raise the actors’ hopes.

Speaking of hopes, Chava is hoping that she did well on her most recent Sociology test (Chava is homeschooled). She had to take it backstage during a two show day. The Constable wonders how she will ever survive adulthood never having gone to a prom. Chava reminds him that she still has a year left. Plus she’s been to two homecomings.

Great tip for sinus trouble – local honey. George Ball (Lazar Wolf) had some local Ojai honey (he’s an Ojaian) and he has no sinus troubles today, and we’ve all been suffering – go figure.

Oh – cast spotlight on…Jay Brazeau. He was in “Bye Bye Birdie” with Jason Alexander! We think that’s cool. We’re going to try and give you little tidbits about the rest of the cast. We realize it’s been the Constable and Chava, and Lazar Wolf centric, but we may move the writing of the blog to other dressing rooms to get other tidbits. Not to worry, we’re going to think things peppy – and fascinating. Don’t give up hope on us. Keep reading! Perhaps recipes? Advice to the lovelorn? We do know some nice Jewish boys. So wish us well for the weekend! Four shows! We’ll keep you posted.

Blogfully yours,

Chava and the Constable

P.S. Do you know how to remove mascara stains from chiffon? Stay tuned.

March 26th, 2009 | 10:09 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Talkback last night. Short and sweet. Many, many comments about how wonderful it is to see such a large scale musical in an intimate setting. It really is a marvel. Theatres just don’t do that. But the Rubicon does. Hats off to Jim O’Neil and Karyl Lynn Burns and all of the people who believe in what they do. And may the people who don’t believe in what they do…may they itch in places they can’t reach. (Kidding – it’s a line from Fiddler on the Roof…come and see it! It’s terrific!)

Speaking of believing, we believe in chocolate…did we mention those cookies from Wednesday? Rice krispies, oatmeal, AND chocolate chips…I mean, come on!

Tonight’s audience is really “getting it”. Laughter in all the right places, oohs and ahs. George made a good comment (George Ball – Lazar Wolf) that sometimes when one of the bottles falls off of one of the bottle dancers’ heads, it’s a good thing – cause then they know the bottle isn’t glued on. It’s “real”

Most of us are finding that we know all the words to all of the songs. The Constable often wakes up singing “daidle deedle daidle deedle daidle dum!” Chava (to the annoyance of many) likes to sing along – quietly – during the show.

There’s wi-fi at the Rubicon and a lot of the cast are…wi-fi-ing a lot during the show. Perhaps this will cause them to be awarded The Gay Ranchero. Time will tell.

That’s all, gentle readers. It’s all going well. Lazar Wolf slurs a happy goodnight to you all. (He smells like cow spleen again.) We’re hoping for a scandal soon. Keep on reading the blog!

Bloggily yours,

Chava and the Constable

March 25th, 2009 | 9:10 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

So….We had a day off on Monday. Usually we would have Tuesday off as well. NOT this week …why? We had a put-in rehearsal for the roles of Hodel, Perchik, Bielke, and the Fiddler. We killed four birds with one stone! The main event was the put-in for Hodel and Perchik. Daniel Tatar and Jessica Gordon are on stage right now knocking it out of the park! They had a good show this afternoon as well. If they weren’t as good as they were, the rest of the cast would have resented the sh*# out of them. It was time well spent; they are terrific! Of course, we miss…what’s their names? (Kidding - Robert Adelman Hancock and Leslie Henstock – they’re in New York City with Karyl Lynn Burns raising money for “Daddy Long Legs”, a future Rubicon production.) So it’s all in the family. The understudies got to have two performances. They’re respective parents came up to see them – so it’s nice.

Today, Freddie, K and Dottie – Grand Dames – made poached salmon with a dill sauce, rice pilaf, and a kick-butt salad (with bleu cheese!). It was delicious. Oh! And the cookies were out of this world. Oatmeal, rice krispies, chocolate chips – not too sweet, perfect density. Many of us will dream of those cookies for weeks to come. Tonight is our first adult talkback! Actors hate the question, “How did you learn all of those lines?” The Constable’s standard answer is, “The lines are nothing. It’s learning all those faces that is hard!” Chava likes when the audience gets very philosophical with their questions, digging deep down into their souls to understand the meaning of the show. (The Constable told Chava to stop making his flesh crawl. Her pie in the sky idealism can make an adult retch – kidding!)

Oh! There’s an award that goes around from dressing table to dressing table and it is bestowed upon an actor who makes a noticeable mistake. The award is called “The Gay Ranchero”. It is a little statuette of a Latin farmer who looks anything BUT gay – gay in the happy sense, not the…well, you get the picture. The tradition started after “Man of La Mancha”. It was a gift for Jaime Torcellini – he left “La Mancha” and everyone hated him for it, so we cursed him with the Gay Ranchero. He gave it back to Joseph – the Constable –and thus it has ever since –from show to show been given to actors who have…..messed up. “The Gay Ranchero” can float from dressing room to dressing room 5 or 6 times a show. Folks cannot wait to give it to someone! Great fun and a good way to shame people in a destructive way!!!!

Secrets y’all. Later Bloglovers!!!!

Chava and the Constable

March 22nd, 2009 | 9:14 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Last show of a very long week. Opening last night (Wow! People loved it!). Matinee earlier this afternoon, and now, we’re all a little tired. Towards the end of the home stretch. A time to reflect and be grateful.

Last night’s opening night party (the matza ball soup was divine). George Ball (Lazar Wolf) was made the second Rubicon Theatre company member. Fiddler marks George’s eighth show with Rubicon and now, Joseph Fuqua (first company member and the Constable) won’t be alone in the membership lounge. George and I are thinking of going in on a Coca-Cola machine and getting matching letter sweaters – (R!!!)

We have gotten closer as a company-an important thing. Not much room for not getting along backstage. Having conversations with folks you haven’t really had time with…meeting spouses… Hearing about children. All good. It feels (based on this weekend) like we are in a hit. A HIT!!!!!!!

Brian McDonald has made a terrific ad for ‘Fiddler…’ Taped 20 or so interviews with audience members after the Opening last night. Rave reviews all around. A wonderful feeling. This is one of those shows that is an honor to be a part of. It says important things gently….powerfully

One day off—rehearsal on Tuesday—will tell all on Wednesday, Gentle Readers.


Chava and the Constable

March 21st, 2009 | 9:23 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Opening night! Merde (it’s French for break a leg)! We’re kicking a*@! We started late – lots of speeches. The actors are having a good show, and the audience seems to be enjoying it. What more can you ask for? An interesting observation George Ball made is usually actors exchange opening act cards, small gifts, mementos to be cherished (or thrown away after the show closes). It’s a tradition that beguiles some and annoys others. George pointed out that this show, no one got or gave nothin’ (There are too many people, it would break the bank. We’re actors, not idiots!). Also, we’ve been really busy. Who has had time to shop? We even had rehearsal today. We refined the curtain call and implemented “Jim’s Notes”. Just some fine-tuning. And here we are.

Party tonight! Hosted by Jewish Federation of Ventura County. We are sticking to the theme and having the party at the Temple Beth Torah. The food is right out of the shtetl – food that Golde or Tevye, or God forbid Fruma Sarah, would make for their guests. Avram (Steve Perren), a nice Jewish Boy, informed the goys to expect a blend of dough, innards, and flavor. We’re all looking forward to it.

Here’s some grit about the show. The dancers play Russians and Jews, fiddlers, thugs, and they’re constantly changing from one to the other – in the beard, out of the beard, prayer shawl, Russian peasant blouse, bottle dance coat, back to Russian peasant blouse, and so on. Management thanks their lucky stars that they aren’t paid per costume change. Some more grity grit. There is absolutely no room backstage for anyone to be changing clothes. The traffic patterns of tables , benches, milk cans, butter churns, dancers, villagers, Russians, egos – it’s a mess! But two weeks from now, it’ll be a poetic ballet. But now, we’re still working out the kinks. For instance, the Constable got an elbow and a ladle in his neck earlier. He used the frustration in the pogrom. Chava is always bumping arms with her dressing room neighbors, Golde (Eileen Barnett) and Yente (Helen Geller). Hence, she spends much her time in dressing room #2 with George Ball (Lazar Wolf). Speaking of innards, Lazar Wolf often smells of cow spleen. We mean that in a good way!

Two shows tomorrow. Some party then to bed. Talk to you soon. Wish us ‘good reviews ‘ and great ‘word o’ mouth’.

Good blogs and warm regards,

Chava and the Constable

March 20th, 2009 | 10:06 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

It's our second show today. We had a 10 A.M. student matinee. Repeat, 10 A.M. (that's in the morning) show. We were packed to the rafters. The cast was greeted with a big pan of the Constable's cheesy grits. Incidentally, someone brought some marvelous donuts; they served as a great dessert. We were a little grumpy in the A of M, but well fed. Chava seemed to be the only cheery one. The Constable thinks that speaks to her youth. Chava thinks that the Constable needs to get in touch with his inner child.

The matinee went very well. The students really enjoyed it...well, they didn't boo. And actually, they asked terrific questions at the talkback. Our fiddler (Nuvi Mehta) has a new biggest fan: an adorable little boy who thought his music was "beautiful". The moment gave many a toothache. We received gasps of admiration when we said that we only had three and a half weeks to rehearse.

Tomorrow is opening! We're all excited. It'll be good to get this thing up! Right now, we're in the second act of the evening show. The audience was a little quiet during the first act, but they warmed up by "Miracle of Miracles". That number's got pep! Even if some of us do not (Chava excluded). Right now, the Constable is lying under his dressing room table co-writing this blog (what's the Russian word for ennui?). Chava is writing this blog with pen and paper - real old-timey (what is she, Amish?) Big party tomorrow after the show. Sold out house. We hope the reviewers from "The Recycler" and "Auto Trader Magazine" come! Wish us broken legs. We'll report anon.

With blog and warm regards,

Chava and the Constable

March 19th, 2009 | 10:12 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

It’s after the intermission of our first preview. A PAYING audience. A large and enthusiastic crowd! Guffaws. Old-timey knee slapping. Gasps. Sad sighs and snorts of recognition. And that was just in the restrooms (kidding!)! We’ve needed an audience, and we’ve got a good one. Our joy of the show going well thus far is tempered by the fact that we have a 10 A.M. student matinee. Chava would like to say that she thinks the 9:30 A.M. call is incidental compared to the unique opportunity that a student audience provides. They are an inspiring audience and she loves them. The Constable, not so much. He anticipates adolescent booing and perhaps the hisses of teachers and guidance counselors alike. If there were high school lunch ladies in the audience, perhaps only they can understand where the Constable is coming from. Oh, on a personal note, the Constable is bringing an old serf recipe called cheesy grits (now with vodka!). Kidding. Rib-stickin’ peasant food for Jews and Ruskies, designers and technicians…and anyone else who has to brave the smell of Clearasil and stale hall passes. Chava thinks the Constable is being a little grumpy. He loves student matinees…inside (WAY deep inside).

Actually, as much as anyone would complain – the Rubicon schedule of preview student matinee and preview that night, and then the opening on Saturday – is the perfect storm to get a cast ready in such a short time. Lazar Wolf (George Ball) just came into the dressing room. He is an avid fan of the blog. He may have said he’s a fan of grog. We don’t know – he’s always slurring his words. But we love him anyway. Golde just came in – she couldn’t understand a word George Ball said, so she left.

The show is coming to a close, so we must bid adieu. No one is going out after the show tonight…we’ll need our sleep for the matinee. You can’t get away with anything when there are kids in the audience. Goodnight gentle readers!

Blogs and kisses,

Chava and the Constable

March 18th, 2009 | 9:14 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

On a personal note, I tried to do the blog by myself. The computer was wrenched out of my hands because I type so slowly. The Constable is technically Amish, whereas Chava is a wiz-kid. Her middle name should be Gateway.

Final Dress! We have a small audience. Small, but hostile. They seem to like all the Jewish folk. The Russians (Constable), not so much. Oh sure, the ones that dance. But who doesn’t like Russian dancers? Oh, on another personal note, our stage manager Linda Tross said I looked like the Lord of the Dance in my costume. I hate Linda Tross (just kidding, we love Linda Tross).

Earlier today, we did “clean-up” and “Jim’s List”. We all had to sit in the theatre and not leave the theatre and wait…for the next guilty verdict who had to have a “note”. The Constable got several notes, and Chava got very few (The phrase practically perfect in every way comes to mind. The actress Lauren Patten will play Mary Poppins one day.).

Oh! The Rabbi came in today – Rabbi Sherman. He made sure that the wedding was “kosher”. We also found out that all the Jewish traditions save for the ring and two Jewish witnesses are extraneous . Go figure.

First preview tomorrow. A PAYING audience! So we’d better be good. Cross your fingers, gentle readers. Please note that in the time it would’ve taken the Constable to write this blog, Chava could’ve written War and Peace…or Doctor Chicago. One of the two. Put that in your blog and smoke it. We did.

Talk to you soon!

Chava and the Constable

March 17th, 2009 | 11:27 P.M.

Anatevka, Chava’s house.

Evening, readers! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It’s a bit of a belated greeting, considering the time, but it’s better than nothing. Most of you are probably out having a few green beers, but I’m staying at home. There aren’t any fake I.D.s in Anatevka. So enjoy your green-colored drinks, but beware of green vomit…I hear it can be pretty nasty. May the luck of the Irish be with you on that one!

Today’s rehearsal started with a sitz probe. Sitz probe is German for “seated rehearsal”. It specifically refers to the process of incorporating the orchestra into the show. We didn’t really have a sitz probe, because we weren’t seated; we did the choreography along with the songs. It was so great to hear the songs with a full orchestra. The percussion and clarinet and such really add to the music. The difference between a keyboard and an orchestra is striking. Hearing the orchestra really boosted our spirits. We’re in the home stretch!

After dinner break, we had another tech dress rehearsal. We still have a few little kinks to work out, but altogether it’s looking really wonderful! We’re all extremely excited/nervous/anxious/edgy/eager/keen to have a small audience tomorrow for our invited dress rehearsal. It’ll be very nice to have some audience reactions to respond to, but it’s also intimidating to have people watching already! It’s hard to believe that we had our first rehearsal only three weeks ago. We’re all very proud of how well this show has come together. We have an amazing crew that has been working around the clock for weeks to build the world of Anatevka, and the members of our creative team have been valiant leaders.

The Constable sends his love. All of his pogromin’ has left him feeling a little under the weather. Wish him well!

Goodnight gentle readers!


March 14th, 2009 | 8:45 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

We’re in the second five-hour session of our first 10 out of 12. Yiddish word of the day—shpilkes. Nervous energy. We’re all feeling it. Everyone’s got their costumes. Most are happy, they look beautiful. The Constable is in a poly-cotton blend. It smells funny. Chava had to get her skirt fixed during dinner break because the audience could see some of her petticoat (gasp!). The fake beards and mustaches look fantastic, but they itch. So far they are staying in place, but no one’s really sweating yet.

We had dinner between shows. Chinese chicken salad! Thanks to those Grande Dames. They had to cook for 55, counting crew and visitors. Above and beyond. On the dinner break (2 hours, a la 10 out of 12), some people napped. Some people went to the gym (we hate them—showoffs). Chava went to Mary’s Secret Garden across from the post office—she doesn’t eat chicken, but she had some lovely vegan “chycken”! The Constable went home, fed and walked his Dachsund, and had leftover meatloaf.

We seem to be ahead of schedule. Jim O’Neil has prepared us well. Also, the hospitality counter has been erected! Hopefully the Constable will have time to make and bring soup tomorrow. Maybe then he’ll have the popularity that Chava enjoys. Cross your fingers, gentle readers. Talk to you tomorrow. Hope that this shpilkes has passed.

Chava and the Constable

March 13th, 2009 | 1:44 P.M

Friday. A day of creepiness.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre. We only have a four hour rehearsal today. Just as well. We’re all apprehensive about the “10 out of 12”s (for you non-theatre folk, it’s the two days towards the end of the rehearsal process where you work for 10 hours out of 12 hours and add the technical elements – sound, lights, costumes, makeup, fake beards, fake mustaches, sideburns, hair extensions, wigs, hats, prayer shawls, head scarfs [babushka sp?], smirks, raised eyebrows, and looks of astonishment). Most worry about their fake hair parts. It’s hard to act with them. Sometimes they become loose and your fellow actors are staring at your lip and then you can’t keep a straight face. But we digress.

It is Friday the 13th. So far, so good. Everyone was fitted for their microphones. The Constable doesn’t get one, which is another source of pain and frustration. Chava, however, does get a microphone, and the black dot on her forehead…today seems oddly creepy. In fact, there are black dots on everyone’s foreheads. But it means everyone’s going to sound good. There is a master technician who will “blend” the sound. Blending with the band and blending with the other voices. The Constable doesn’t need to blend, evidently.

There are cream cheese packets with the bagels on our hospitality table. They don’t require refrigeration, apparently. But it is Friday the 13th. So, we’ll see.

Talk to you soon,

Chava and the Constable

March 12th, 2009 | 6:45 P.M.

Anatevka, Chava’s house. Rehearsal started at noon today, which gave all of us a good chance to rest. Everyone works hard here in Anatevka! It’s not easy putting together such a large-scale show…I see lots of coffee in our future. It’s worth it, though…the show is going to be wonderful! By the time Act Two is over, there won’t be a dry eye in the house. Bring your tissues (but please unwrap them before the show begins, so as not to disturb the patrons)!

Part of our rehearsal process for now is fitting in our new Bielkes (Olivia Fleming and Sophia Montano). Bielke is the youngest of the five daughters, and we didn’t have anyone cast for the first two weeks of rehearsal. We had begun to think that our Shprintze (Heidi Bjorndahl) would be taking on two roles. And believe me, she could do it. But it doesn’t seem like Fiddler without five daughters, right? Of course right. We are so happy to have our Bielkes, and they are jumping right in. They make our job easy!

Someone added lemon chocolate mini scones to the hospitality table…they’re addicting! Chava has a sweet tooth…Starburst is her favorite. Just thought you might be interested. Everyone is looking forward to the next time Golde (Eileen Barnett) will bake for us. Mama knows how to cook! I may end up bringing a few yummy treats myself…

Most of us were released early again today, but I stayed later so I could watch the dancers rehearse the wedding bottle dance. Wait until you see what these guys can do while balancing champagne bottles on their heads! We aren’t using tape, glue, or anything other kinds of stagecraft-y tricks. This is the real thing! Our choreographer Lee Martino and her assistant, JJ Todd, have done an awesome job recreating Jerome Robbins’ original choreography. And our dancers aren’t half bad either!

Talk to you soon,


March 11th, 2009 | 7:40 P.M.

Anatevka, Constable's House. Was released early today. Chava stayed on--there's talk of a scandal....We had some visitors to the process of getting familiar with the set. Barbara Meister, Sandra Laby, Lois Fishman and Jenny Sullivan (patrons and Sponsors and Fiddler lovers all!) dropped by to love the villagers and hate the Constable. The 'Milkman' (as Tevye refers to himself) seems oddly beloved. A nice guy--sure--but smells of curd much of the time....anywhey...on it goes.

Yesterday we mentioned the tight quarters backstage---the lack of room for a proper snackfest table. WELL blog readers the kind konstable suggested a table/shelf be constructed by the water cooler-Stage Management and the Rubicon Tsar approved so soon.....THE BUFFET WILL BE OPEN!!

I make gruel (soup!) faithful readers. Nourishing and no charge. Golde (Eileen Barnett) has been known to bake. Actors (Jews and Russians alike) work up an appetite dancin' and ...pogromin'. My hope is that my gruel will win over the hearts of those that see the constable as...the establishment.

A special note of thanks to our designers. WOW. Wait'll you see. And the crew and EVERYONE at the Rubicon--so far so great. Jim O'Neil rocks. He has guided us towards what smells and feels like a potential hit (no jinx!) Fingers crossed. Blessings on all-- Chava joins in bidding you all joy.

'Till next time.

March 10th, 2009 | 8:18 P.M.

Anatevka, Rubicon Theatre.

Chava and the Constable (Lauren Patten and Joseph Fuqua) sit in Dressing Room #2 and commence the Fiddler “blog”. Our first day on stage! We are spacing the show (for you non-theatre folk, it means putting the show on stage as opposed to a rehearsal hall). We had a meet and greet at 5 P.M. (it was optional, but we all came because there was free food). We met the staff at Rubicon and heard Karyl Lynn Burns (the producing artistic director) describe the difficult process of attaining the rights to produce Fiddler. This was difficult because there is a national tour featuring Topol already traveling the country. We got the rights, and we are the only regional professional theatre allowed to produce Fiddler on the Roof through 2011! This is solely due to the community’s dedication and passion for this project. It’s been a long time in the making.

Everyone’s excited (free food!) Tight quarters – this is the biggest show the Rubicon has ever done, with 27 people in the cast and three times the usual budget. Wait until you see the set! Tom Giamario completely reconfigured the space to have the village of Anatevka surround you, the audience. Chagal paintings cover all four walls of the theatre, and the Rubicon has its first thrust – a Greek stage right in the middle of the audience. The audience will certainly be hit by sweat and spit (we’ll try and be good). A big musical in an intimate setting.

The one drawback to the tight quarters is that there isn’t enough room for a “hospitality” table where the company can enjoy snacks ‘n’ such. On a personal note, Chava enjoys great popularity, and the Constable, not so much. You’ll see why.

Close blog.

Talk to you soon, Chava and the Constable

Click here for Fiddler on the Roof show information


These first two beautiful shots are from the end of Act I, Tzeitel and Motel's wedding.

The Constable (Joseph) show's Tevye (Jay Brazeau) his orders.

The Constable (Joseph) leaves Tzeitel and Motel's wedding.

The Fiddler on the Roof company. Joseph is in the middle of the second row (7th from the left - black uniform top and gold buttons).

As you know from announcements at Rubicon’s recent acclaimed production of Fiddler on the Roof, our annual campaign this season is “It Takes a Village.”

With the current economy, now, more than ever, it really does take an entire village – villagers of every age and background and every walk of life to sustain a non-profit theatre company. We are trying to explore ways to think “out of the box” and create a new grass-roots model of support, but we need you!
If you care about Rubicon and the future of our region – please join us!
Come meet our “It Takes a Village” Chairs Sandra Laby and Doug Halter; visit with Rubicon founders Karyl Lynn Burns and James O’Neil; see friends, neighbors and associates; and say hello to adults and young people whose lives are positively impacted by Rubicon’s presence in our community.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at how a non-profit theatre functions, hear a status report on the finances of Rubicon, and ask any questions you may have. Then help us brainstorm about how to go forward in these challenging times.

  RSVP to Patrick O'Hara at or at 805.667.2912, extension 237.
We need you! Remember, even if you’ve never volunteered or served on a committee before, this is an inclusive, grass-roots effort! There are ways you can make a difference! Attendees are under no obligation-please come and learn more.

1006 E Main Street Ventura CA United States, 93001

A word from Ted on the "It Takes A Village Campaign," and RTC!

For more videos on "It Takes A Village, visit RTC's YouTube Channel, and/or my RTC page.

On May 13 & May 16, 2009, RTC held two rallies to start a grassroots campaign to save The Rubicon Theatre Company. Below, and on my RTC page, is information on those rallies, and the card you can print out and use to donate to this incredibly worthwhile and vital arts organization. In this horrible economy, the arts are suffering more than they ever have.  AND THEY NEED OUR HELP TO SURVIVE!!!

UPDATE 6/10/09:

I received the following campaign update from Karyl Lynn Burns today:


Honorary Chair
Harris Measures Management Consultants, Former Deputy Mayor, City of San Buenaventura

President of the Board of Directors
Ventura County Obstetric & Gynecologic Medical Group
Medical Director, Community Memorial Hospital Centers for Family Health

Partner Emeritus, Tolman & Wiker Insurance

Physician, Ventura, Thousand Oaks Secretary, Saticoy Country Club Board of Directors

Director, Martin V. Smith School of Business & Economics, California State University, Channel Islands

CEO, Via Alegre Educational & Counseling Services, Owner/Operator, Starbuck’s Ojai Valley Ranch

Founder & CEO, Fashion Forms

Community Volunteer


President, Ojai Film Society

Chair of English, Performing Arts and Communication
California State University, Channel Island

Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones
& Schneider, LL

President. Angel Heart Foundation

Immediate Past President

Managing Director

President, Grandes Dames

Legal Advisor

 April 2009


We cannot stress this enough. With the economy as it is, the individuals and companies who have supported us through large monetary gifts over the years have taken a serious financial hit and are presently unable to support us at the level they have given in the past.

Our ticket prices cover less than half of what our shows actually cost us to produce. If we charged full price, our $49 tickets would rise to cost over $100 each.

As in the musical Fiddler on the Roof, it is going to take our village of Ventura to solve this problem.

We know you have been hit too; we all have. That’s why we have launched a campaign to raise $1 million through a gift we all can afford:  $365. For just $1 a day, you can ensure that Rubicon Theatre Company will continue to produce the wonderful shows that you have enjoyed for the past eleven years.  

We need 2,400 gifts to achieve our goal, and we need them now. We can do this…together.

However, without your support, we will not be able to continue.

Please give today, and please ask your fellow villagers to join you in giving.

To make a contribution:
Please contact Patrick O’Hara at 805.667.2912 ext.237 (preferred)
Rubicon Theatre Company
1006 E. Main Street
Ventura, CA 93001

1006 E Main Street Ventura CA United States, 93001

From: Karyl Lynn Burns
Subject: Rubicon Theatre Village Campaign Update
Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2009, 4:41 AM

Dear Fellow Villagers:

Today we start our first formal e-mail update to those of you who expressed interest in receiving periodic updates about Rubicon’s It Takes a Village campaign.   

The good news: nearly 600 people (including some who wished to be anonymous) have given a total of $191,346. We have an additional $3,752 in pledges, with a grand total of $195,090 committed to the campaign. We are now about 19.5% of the way to our goal of $1 million!

The challenge:  We are still fighting cash flow needs and MUST raise an additional $200,000 towards the goal in the next two to three weeks.

Thank you to you whose names are listed at the bottom of this e-mail for being early believers in this new grass-roots way of raising support.  The idea is “many hands make light work.” Instead of 80% of the funds coming from 20% of the people, the goal is for everyone to participate to the extent of their ability. We are asking all who benefit from Rubicon's presence in our community to consider making a gift of at least $1 a day - or $365 a year. It's also possible to make a monthly pledge of $31 or more. If we all do what we can, we WILL achieve the goal. We will be the people who would not let our community’s non-profit professional theatre falter in these difficult times and who ensured it was here for the next decade and for future generations!

Examples and Ideas

·        Rubicon Board Member Marion Witte of the Angel Heart Foundation came up with the idea of Village Elders – the goal was to find 10 people to give $10,000 each once we reached the $100,000 mark. It’s the main reason we’ve seen significant growth in the past two weeks. We are thankful to those who have joined the Elders program so far: Marion (leading by example, thank you!), Lori and Richard Reisman, Barbara Meister and Barber Automotive Group (in memory of Larry Meister) and an Anonymous contributor who gave in honor and in memory of a recently departed friend Lillian Ludlam, who loved theatre. We are still looking for at least six more individuals to become Elders (Young Elders are welcome, too J). If you are able to join this group, please call us.

·        Stephen Kipp contributed $3,650 -- the recommended village donation amount of $365 for EACH person on his 10-member staff. Stephen announced this generous gift at a performance of Fiddler on the Roof  in which he hosted his clients for the show and a reception.

·        At a local salon, the hairdressers encouraged their customers to give and raised $365 in a day to donate to the cause.

·        One villager e-mailed friends and raised approximately $2,000. Would you like to do the same? Just cut and paste this address into your e-mail. Invite friends to join you and help us reach our goals. Here’s the hyperlink:

·        A supporter of Rubicon’s education programs has organized alums of the outreach programs to put on a benefit at the theatre in August. Look for details soon.

·        Gourmet chef Linda Hale and her husband Scott are going to prepare a primo meal in their home with a goal of raising $5,000 towards the campaign.


Rally Comments

Here’s a sampling of a few of the comments from attendees at the Town Hall Rallies.  We’ll send you a few with each e-mail so that we can remind each other of why we all care…


Why Rubicon Matters to Me…

“Great art!  Great family!  Great home to create in!” – Jenny Sullivan

“A place to belong and meet friends.” – Wanda Woessner

“Rubicon matters on many levels.  It is wonderful to have professional theatre in our community.  Most important is the Rubicon’s Education Outreach programs.  Serving our youth at a time when arts education is lacking in our schools is vital and timely.” – Tom and Debbie Golden

“Great art.  Local.” – Mike Merewether

“We love having quality theatre in our own town!!!  And we love the community feeling of having Rubicon in Ventura!” – Scott and Linda Hale

Why Rubicon Matters to the Community

“Exposes youth to theatre; brings people to Ventura.” – Carolyn Dolen

“Without the Rubicon and its great professionalism, rather than enriching our community it will begin the slow decline which we have so beautifully climbed out of with its growth.” – Karen Lee Hoffberg

“Our community needs local events of quality.” – Howard Brandwein

“A vibrant beat of artistic creation.” – Jeanne Scott

“The Rubicon offers quality entertainment close to home.  It’s Los Angeles-caliber performances in a community we all share and love.” – Nancy Kaye Swanson


It Takes a Village Contributors to Date – June 9, 2009

"Michita," Carol "Mike" Aalbers, Lynda and Rick Aldridge, Jean Archer, Christine Arenas-Magie and Paul Magie, Lila M. Atkisson, George Backman, George Ball and Amanda McBroom, Dr. and Mrs. Edward J. Banman, Rachel Bar, Phil and Sandy Bardos, Penny and Ray Barnds, Greta Bartsch, Donna and Jerry Beatty, Dr. Norma Beck,Victor and Natalia Berezovska, Sam Bern, Barbara and Bernard Bobitch, Henri and Therese Boisvert Tte, Jo Bowker, Barbara and Raymond Boyd, Marylee and Robert Bragulla, Bob and Mary Braitman, Howard J. Brandwein, Arlene Brooks, Earl R. Brooks, Shelly and Steve Brown, Peggy Bryant, Jenean Bugiada, Leo and Melinda Bunnin, Christina M. Burck, Diana and Robert Burdick, Donna and Jack Burger, Karyl Lynn Burns, Pat and Cathy Busch, Linda Carson, Patty and Gary Channer, K. Charnofsky and R. Sturgeon, Patti and Bill Chertok, Betsy and Dick Chess, Susan Clark, Ed Clark and Jane Delahoyde, Bijian Fan and Jerome Clifford, Victoria Coddy, Eloise and Chuck Cohen, Mary Ann Cohen, John and Jacqueline Cole, Doris and Ken Collin, Linda Collins, Frances A. Connelly, Al and Freddie Contarino, Ginny Costis, Alison B. Coutts-Jordan, Bill Crowe and Ann Gross, Mar lena Roberts Daly, Ronald and Deborah David, Lisa and Clay Davis, Nicholas Deitch, Bradford Dillman, Carolyn Dolen, Barbara and Gerald Donckels, Kathleen and Terry Dooley, Gun Dukes, John T. Dullam, John R. Edwards, Jack Ellison and Dixie D. Adeniran, H.E. and Frances Elson, David Elzer, Katherine Emerick, Ph.D., Jim and Kay Engel, David Engel, Mr. and Mrs. Garold Faber, Jodi and David Farrell, Warren and Ardelle Faue, Susan Ferguson, Norman Flam, Dr. Hany Fouad, Jonathan Fox, C.D. Franciscus, Cindy Frankey, Bonnie Franklin and Marvin Minoff, Arlene and Morrie Friedman, Harold and Harriet Friedman, Peter and Sandy Gaal, Mr. Michael D. Gainsborough, Mary and Jim Galbraith, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Galt, Jr., D. June and Gay Garabedian, Muriel Garcia, Bob and Brenda Garrison, Lynn and Al Geller, S. Lynne and Duane L. Georgeson, Mrs. Kin Gere, Sheldon Getzug, Kay Giles and Michael Mariani, Morty Glasgal, David and Maryellen Glyer, Debbie and Tom Golden, Diane and Peter Goldenring, Janet and Mark Goldenson, Bruce Goldenson and Tricia Keen, Leonard Goldman, Martie and Gary Golter, Mary Goodenough, Lea and Harold Gould, Richard Gould, MD, Judy and Art Goulet, David and Diane Grimes, Sol and Patty Grossman, Katherine and Dan Gunther, Louis and Melinda Haffner, Scott Hale Lighting, Pearl and Roy Hammerand, Margie and Ron Hanock, Whitney Hansen, Wm. and Diane Harkins, Jessica and Harvey Harris, Julie Heim, Linda Henderson and Ernie Scherb, Mr. Don Henninger, Phil and Carol Hershey, Thom as and Patricia Hester, Karen Lee Hoffberg, H.W. and C.S. Hoover, Doris Horton, Carol Howe and Lucien Lacour, Eric Hvolboll, Jon and Ann Ives, Michael Jackowitz, Phyllis Johnson, Dianne Johnson Selbrede, Dr. and Mrs. D. Gordon Johnston, Ed and Carol Jones, Dorothy and Robert Jones, Emily Jones, Marilyn Juday, Donna Kacerek, Kaila Kaden, Lydia and Marty Kaplan, Joanne and Monroe Kaplan, Alex Karras, George Kaub, Bill and Elise Kearney, Betty and Tom Kennedy, Kipp Financial Group, Ronald S. Kopp, Jasmine Kova, Lee and Linda La Frenz, Nicole and Phillip Laby, Haady Lashkari, Michael Learned and John Doherty, Harriet and Eric Leibovitch, Stanley and Barbara Leiken, Dr. Morris and Judy Leventhal, Linda Levitz, Jack and Ione Lollar, Tracy Long and Donald Taylor, Judge David W. Long and Shirley Critchfield, James Locher, Dalina Lowdermilk-Klan, Michael Lurie, John and Eleanor Lynn, Cynde and Steve Magidson, Louise M. Malcomb, James Malone, Margaret Martin, John and Pat Masterson, Stephen Maulhardt and Nancy Maulhardt Huff, Frank and Patricia McCallick, Gladys McDonald, Stephen McMorrow, Rosa Lee Measures and Al Harris, Barbara Meister/Barber Automotive Group, Elsie Mendelsohn, Loretta and Mike Merewether, Murray Meyers,  Carol Mickle and Jodi Sullivan, Marvin Miller and Kathlyn Roberts Miller, Margaret and Jerry Miller, Mr. and Mrs. M.20Miser, Lee and Peg Molesworth, Susan Molnar, Katherine Montes, Teddi and Jerry Morris, Ted and Dale Muegenburg, Julie and Jack Nadel, Ted Pounder and Paulita Neal, Beatrice Alicia Nichols, Henry and Bobbie Offen, Eileen Ogle, Patrick O'Hara, Cherie Olson, James O'Neil, Sandi and Greg Orloff, Frances Page, Barbara and Owen Patotzka, William and Celia Patterson, Catherine Penprase, Diane and Steve Perren, Helen Pidduck, Mrs. Pamela Pinkham, Gene Pitman, Wilma S. Poe, Theodore Polk, James and Stella Port, Amy Povah, Keith Powell, James and Susan Prosser, Sheila and Robert Rakestraw, H.D. Ranzenhofer, Lori and Richard Reisman, Ann and Rodney Resnick, Corinne J. Rhoads, Rita Richardson, Jon Lawrence Rivera, George Roberts and Janice Standing-Roberts, Patricia Robinson, Bob Robinson, Alyce and Robert Robinson, Duane O. Rodgers, Donal F. Rodrigues, Diane Ronneberg, Linda Roos, Sharon and George Rose, Margaret Rothschild and Richard Palmer, Nancy and Bill Russell, Micheline Sakharoff, Pat Salem, Sam and Mary Saputo, Roy and Sharon Schneider, Charles and Jane Schneider, Charles and Mary Schwabauer, Jeanne Scott, Catherine Scott Burris, Dr. Don and Millie Seidman, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Selfridge, Lyndon R. Shaftoe, Robert Shaw, Mrs. Susan Shields, Tamar Shulem, Joel Silberman, Dr. and Mrs. Leonard Skaist, Signe and Bruce Smale, Rebecca and Jeffrey Smith, Cynthia and Jim Snell, Gary and Maureen Soporito, Paula Spellman, Lane Stalbird, Lisa Stephens and Dennis Hopkins, Rich Stewart and Harriet Clune, Eric and Missy Stoen, Midge and Dave Stork, Kathy and Bill Strnad, Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Sullivan, Jenny Sullivan, Nancy Kay Swanson, Judith and Melvyn Swope, Lee Tannen, Shirley Thayer, Timothy Tice, Ed and Dee Tingstrom, Delorine and Reid Tompkins, Warren and Jane Totten, Margaret and Dennis Travlos, Ruth and Jim Uphold, Allen and Kay Urban, Suzanne and Edward Vadnais, Mary Ann and William Bang, Michael Velthoen, Cindi Verbelun, Les and Judy Vielbig, Vicki Vierra, Phil Ward, Roz Warner and Michael Hogan, Jan and Hal Wasserman, Jerry and Brenda Watkins, Bill Whitlock and Art Mendoza, Jim Whitney, Gary and Cheryl Wilde, Julia Wilkerson, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Willis, Marion Witte, Wanda Woessner, Gail and Ed Wohlenberg, Joanne Wolf, Eunice M. Wood, Robert and Kathleen Wulf, Keith York, The Young Family, Helen Yunker, Margaret M. Zangrilli, Alfred Zaske, Myrna and Sy Zimmerman and David Zippel.


RSVP to Donate at 805.667.2912.

or go here:

1006 E Main Street Ventura CA United States, 93001








February 9, 2009









August 14 - September 6, 2008

             The Barnstable Patriot             
             Aug 21 2008
Fabuloso summer fun on the Wellfleet stage E-mail
Written by Bethany Gibbons   
August 21, 2008


Clever script, fine acting in a world premiere

FLOORED –Kate (Elizabeth Atkeson), Arthur (Joseph Fuqua), and Teddy (Ramsey Faragallah) have a problem in WHAT’s Fabuloso

Move over, Clark Rockefeller. Your competition has hit the Julie Harris Stage in Wellfleet, boasting a similar taste for three-piece suits and expensive Italian loafers and an equally comparable loose relationship with the truth. While your shenanigans don’t strike one as being much fun, here is where your challenger seals the deal. You may have borrowed a fancy apartment and pretended it was your own for your engagement party, but our guy did all that and hired actors to play his family.

John Kolvenbach has written a lot of clever scenes and good characters into Fabuloso, which is making its world premiere at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater. While the scenes do not always jibe and there are some jarring and odd moments throughout, the show has been gifted with a caliber of acting that minimizes any flaws in the writing and helps to present a highly entertaining piece.

Kolvenbach spends extra ink on his depiction of the gadfly Arthur, an ostensible orphan who is actually more of a professional Trustafarian. Joseph Fuqua, a Yale Drama grad with some impressive credits, easily embodies the eternally childish party boy who would fit in well at any of the wilder cocktail parties on Cape Cod without raising any eyebrows. Arthur is a long-lost childhood chum and sort of adopted brother of the boring, Eeyore-like Teddy, a girls soccer coach living with his wife in a drab apartment that features unusually dingy yellow wallpaper, bringing to mind Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s eerie little book.

When Arthur comes to visit, he is being chased by his wildly dramatic and possibly homicidal girlfriend, Samantha, who has been shocked by discovering the deceit of the aforementioned engagement party. Winslow Corbett’s Sam is a treasure to behold, and she channels early Bernadette Peters with her Shirley Temple curls, though she is certainly not mixing virgin drinks, and can be found at one point yelling at a bottle of vermouth, “No one knows what you taste like, anyway!”She is the perfect playmate for the incorrigible Arthur, and the two take the stage by storm, just as they take Teddy and Kate’s apartment.

Kolvenbach’s pen is not as strong in drawing Teddy or his wife Kate. Ramsey Faragallah does a gallant job navigating Teddy’s scenes, which ask him to range between apathy, incompetence, depression and tender hopefulness, all while participating in choreographed dance scenes, all-night drinking binges and a mission involving a bag of cow dung and a bridge.

Teddy is trying to figure out his uselessness, Kate is wondering why she loves him, Sam is trying to avoid ruining the true love she has with Arthur by keeping things hopping with knife fights and unpredictability, and Arthur is hard at work trying to create a sense of family and live like a 15-year-old.

The way that Kolvenbach drops conversations featuring deep emotional honesty and vulnerability into an otherwise crazy party atmosphere is abrupt, and it doesn’t always work. In fact, he opens with a bizarre scene in which Teddy sits staring at a cordless phone while his wife flips through a magazine and repeatedly scolds, “You’re driving me nuts.”The moment is fraught with tension, but without any known source. Elizabeth Atkeson’s delivery contains enough frustration and rage for a DeNiro performance, and when we learn that Teddy is expecting a phone call from an angry “soccer dad,”it doesn’t help to explain the heaviness of the scene. When Kate smoothly “borrows”the cordless and drops it out the fourth floor window, twice, there is even less motivation to empathize with. While theatrical logic would hold that this should foreshadow the emergence of Kate as a highly unpredictable, angry and violent character, Kolvenbach instead goes on to develop her as the responsible one, who holds down a banking job and tires most quickly, though diplomatically, of the nutty houseguests’extended stay. If he wanted to demonstrate the bland housewife’s potential as someone eventually willing to let loose her inner children, there may have been a less convoluted and funnier way of doing so.

The writing in Fabuloso is very rich, so momentary unnaturalness is soon forgotten, as the show rips on like a little comic microburst. Kolvenbach doesn’t seem to know if he wants to be absurd or realistic, funny or dead serious, and it’s possible the audience doesn’t care. He fills the room with laughs, which seems to soothe any misgivings about the work. He describes a conversion of sorts from a life adrift in mediocrity to one that embraces passion. The devices he uses to materialize that shift are overt and, at times, strange, but he gets his message across and makes it funny. With the fabulous acting to boot, Fabuloso is well worth the drive to WHAT’s Julie Harris stage.

Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater presents the world premier of John Kolvenbach’s Fabuloso on the Julie Harris Stage on Route 6 in Wellfleet Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. through Sept. 6. For tickets ($32), call 508-349-9428 or go to

Shows & Tickets > Fabuloso


Written & directed by John Kolvenbach                          

Aug 14 - Sept 6
Julie Harris Stage

left buy tickets right

Show Sponsor




Kate and Teddy are trapped in a soggy, lifeless marriage. Then Teddy's old friend Arthur arrives, bearing chaos, knives, songs and his fiance. Fabuloso is a comedy about the pleasure in bedlam and a working metaphor for bringing up babies. Once again John Kolvenbach (Gizmo Love; Love Song; On An Average Day) brings his spot-on humor and zinging dialogue to the WHAT stage –this time with a world premiere.

"Wild Guests Animate Fabuloso" Boston Globe (full review)
WELLFLEET - What would we do without the oversize personalities of the world - the Auntie Mames (of either sex) who shake things up and stir the blood?

In "Fabuloso," John Kolvenbach's new play premiering at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, that role is filled by an irrepressible eternal boy named Arthur (the bouncy Joseph Fuqua), a former childhood friend who descends upon a stagnantly married urban couple - bank-drone Kate and glum soccer coach Teddy - and restores their joie de vivre.

"'FABULOSO' Lives Up To Its Name - In its world premiere at Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, the four-hander comedy is a gem —a love story, a relationship study and a look at family that is sweet, zany and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. You'll leave smiling, and probably still chuckling about that perfectly timed, infectiously winning dance sequence that's a highlight of Act 1." Cape Cod Times (full review)

...Into their lives blows a hurricane named Arthur, a foster brother of sorts to Teddy who, in Joseph Fuqua's hands, is a force of nature, with boundless energy, enthusiasm and ideas.

“Kolvenbach, who used to make his living doing voiceovers for TV commercials, scored an unexpected West End success four years ago with On an Average Day, a Sam Shepard-like saga about two troubled brothers, starring Woody Harrelson and Kyle MacLachlan. I predicted at the time that we would be hearing more from this American dramatist, and Love Song, by turns funny, touching and profound, consolidates all the promise of that earlier piece.”
- Telegraph

*Opening night is the 2008 WHAT Award event honoring John Kolvenbach. Regular tickets: $50; Premium Tickets: $125 (includes show and post-show reception.)

Kate: Elizabeth Atkeson*
Samantha: Winslow Corbett*
Teddy: Ramsey Faragallah*
Arthur: Joseph Fuqua*

Production Team
Director: John Kolvenbach
Set Design: Dustin O'Neill
Lighting Design: John Malinowski
Sound Design: Nathan Leigh
Costume Design: TBA
Props Design: Sarah Beals
Dramaturg: Daniel Lombardo
Stage Manager: Victoria S Coady*
Casting Director: Norman Meranus

*Members of Actors Equity Association

Box Office

WHAT Box Office
(508) 349-9428
2357 Start HWY Rt 6
(Next to Post Office)
Wellfleet, MA 02667
Mon-Sat 10am-8pm
Sun. Noon-8pm

Winslow Corbett & Ramsey Faragallah

Joseph Fuqua

Elizabeth Atkeson & Ramsey Faragallah

Joseph Fuqua and Winslow Corbett in Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater's ''Fabuloso.'' (JIM DALGLISH)






July 9 - 13, 2008

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Directed by Joseph Fuqua

Sponsored by

Kipp, Brant, Drummond and Associates

Armstrong Realty Advisors, LLC

The Downtown Ventura Organization

Schaf Photo

Shakespeare's delightful comic fantasy is presented by the members of Rubicon's Youth Education program and directed by Joseph Fuqua. Set in modern day Ventura, this production will feature surfers, skateboards and a barbeque. Come and see The Old Lodge room of Ventura's own Elk's Club transformed into Oberon and Titania's lair! Traditional Shakespeare this is not! Call and get tickets today!!!

Buy Tickets Online!


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Wed. Jul. 9 8:00 p.m.
Thu. Jul. 10 8:00 p.m.
Fri. Jul. 11 8:00 p.m.
Sat. Jul. 12 8:00 p.m.
Sun. Jul. 13 8:00 p.m.

All Performances for this production will be held at:

The Elks Club Theatre

11 South Ash St.

Ventura, CA 93001

At the corner of Ash and E. Main St.

Map It!



Here is the Brown Paper Tickets listing:



A Midsummer Night's Dream

The Elks Club
Ventura, CA

Shakespeare's delightful comedy/fantasy is presented by the members of Rubicon's Youth Education program and directed by Joseph Fugua. Midsummer is a complex contraption that involves two sets of couples (Hermia and Lysander, and Helena and Demetrius) whose romantic cross-purposes are complicated still further by their entrance into the play's fairyland woods where the King and Queen of the Fairies (Oberon and Titania) preside and the impish folk character of Puck or Robin Goodfellow plies his trade. Less subplot than a brilliant satirical device, another set of charactersBottom the weaver and his bumptious band of "rudemechanicals"stumble into the main doings when they go into the same enchanted woods to rehearse a play that is very loosely (and comically) based on the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe, their hilarious home-spun piece taking up Act V of Shakespeare's comedy. A Midsummer Night's Dream contains some wonderfully lyrical expressions of lighter Shakespearean themes, most notably those of love, dreams, and the stuff of both, the creative imagination itself. Indeed, close scrutiny of the text by twentieth-century critics has led to a significant upward revision in the play's status, one that overlooks the silliness of its story and concentrates upon its unique lyrical qualities. Staged in the Elks Club theatre this wonderful classic is perfect for the entire family and runs approximately 2 hours with an intermission.

Note: Street parking is available on Main Street and the surrounding area.

Minimum Age: 5
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


Event Details
First: Wednesday Jul 09, 2008 8:00 PM
Last: Sunday Jul 13, 2008 8:00 PM

  $10.00 - $15.00

  The Elks Club
1430 E. Main St
Ventura, CA 93001
United States




April 3-27, 2008<.strong>p>


Great Minds Think Alike...

And they are all celebrating Rubicon's Picasso at the Lapin Agile, running now through April 27! Steve Martin's madcap comedy featuring an imaginary meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein opened last weekend, charming reviewers who called it:

photo by: Tiffany Israel, Brooks
Institute of Photography
photo by: Tiffany Israel, Brooks
Institute of Photography  

NOTE: That's Joseph on the left,
           as Schmendiman.

"Excellent...superbly funny."
- Ventura County Star

"Recommended... smart, spirited revival of Martin's giddy comic salute to the 20th century." - Los Angeles Times

"Rubicon's beloved regulars are on hand, and their performances, along with that of Paul Provenza, are fabulous." - Santa Barbara Independent


Tickets for this magical comedy are flying as fast as the jokes!

Snatch yours today by calling Rubicon's box office at (805) 667-2900 or clicking here.



Rubicon Theatre Company's Picasso at the Lapin Agile

So, these two guys (who happen to be Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso) walk into a bar...

And the rest is an Obie Award-winning, deliciously ridiculous, intellectually stimulating, humanity-inspiring dance through the minds of genius...not least that of comedian, actor and Picasso playwright, Steve Martin.

Join us for this fantastical cupcake of a show with Paul Provenza ("The Aristocrats," Rubicon's All in the Timing), Jamie Torcellini (Broadway's Cats, Man of La Mancha, and Beauty and the Beast), as well as Rubicon favorites Nancy Nufer (Rubicon's Hamlet, All in the Timing), and Rubicon Company member Joseph Fuqua!!

Picasso previews April 3rd and 4th, celebrates its gala opening April 5th and runs through April 27th. Get tickets now before this sure-fire hit sells out!

For tickets, go to, or call Rubicon's box office at (805) 667-2900.




April 3 - 27, 2008

Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Written by Steve Martin
Directed by William Keeler

Performers include Joseph Fuqua, Nancy Nufer and Paul Provenza

From the merry madcap mind of comedian, actor and writer Steve Martin comes an imaginary meeting between painter Pablo Picasso and scientist Albert Einstein at a bar in Paris in the early 1900s. On the verge of major breakthroughs, the two talents share a rarefied sense of beauty and debate the nature of genius. Paul Provenza returns to Rubicon’s stage, reprising the role he made famous off-Broadway.

April in Paris

Picasso at Lapin Agile, Obie Award winner, written by Steve Martin, directed by William Keeler, April 3 – 27, 2008, starring Joseph Fuqua, Nancy Nufer and Paul Provenza

From the merry madcap mind of comedian, actor and writer Steve Martin comes an imaginary meeting between painter Pablo Picasso and scientist Albert Einstein at a bar in Paris in the early 1900s.  On the verge of major breakthroughs, the two talents share a rarefied sense of beauty and debate the nature of genius. They are then joined by a mysterious visitor from the future who shakes, rattles and rolls in his blue suede shoes!  Paul Provenza returns to Rubicon's stage, reprising the role he made famous off-Broadway.”

The Picasso cast. Joseph is kneeling on the floor in the cape.


Joseph Fuqua as Charles Dabernow Schmendiman

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