THEATRE
THEATRE





 

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headshot
Courtesy of Joseph Fuqua

JOSEPH'S NEXT 2019 RTC MAINSTAGE APPEARANCE IS AS RICHARD IN "FUDDY MEERS", WHICH PLAYS MARCH 13-31, 2019 AT RTC. SEE MY JOSEPH THEATRE PAGE FOR DETAILS AND PERFORMANCE DATES!!!

 

JOSEPH ALSO HAS HIS OWN PERSONAL, OFFICIAL WEBSITE. YOU CAN FIND IT HERE!!!

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

 

 

NOTABLE STAGE APPEARANCES/DIRECTORIAL CREDITS

PRODUCTION
ROLE
VENUE
The Tempest (7/12/19 - 7/14/19)
DIRECTOR
Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program
Fuddy Meers (3/13/19 - 3/31/19)
Richard
Rubicon Theatre Company
South Pacific (12/5/18 - 12/23/18)
Cmdr. Harbison
Rubicon Theatre Company
Julius Caesar (7/20/18 - 7/22/18)
DIRECTOR
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)
DIRECTOR
Rubicon Theatre Company
Free Plays-In-Progress Reading Series
A Christmas Carol (12/6 - 23/17)
Fred
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)
DIRECTOR
Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program
Sylvia (4/19/17 - 5/7/17)
Tom
Rubicon Theatre Company
Twelfth Night (7/29/16 - 7/31/16)
DIRECTOR
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)
DIRECTOR
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)
DIRECTOR
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)
DIRECTOR
Rubicon Theatre Company
Fearless Shakespeare - The Jack Oakie Summer Youth Theatre Program
23.5 Hours (4/1/13 & 4/7/13)
Bruce
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)
DIRECTOR

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)
DIRECTOR

Rubicon Theatre Company
Rubicon Youth Acting Intensive Production

The Tempest - Phase One (10/13 - 24/10)
Sebastian
Rubicon Theatre Company (Staged Reading)
Macbeth* (7/15 - 18/10) 
DIRECTOR
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)
DIRECTOR
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) 
Arthur
Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre
A Midsummer Night's Dream (2008)
DIRECTOR
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)
Hamlet
Rubicon Theatre Company
(WINNER: 2007 Santa Barbara Independent Award for Leading Actor, and the 2007 Leading Actor Indy Award)

Valledemosa 
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)
DIRECTOR

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)
MODERATOR
Rubicon Theatre Company
(originally cast as Lucky in "Waiting For Godot," withdrew due to illness)
This is Our Youth
DIRECTOR
Rubicon Theatre Company (RTC Intern Production)
The Importance of Being Earnest (2004)
Jack
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)
Serge
Rubicon Theatre Company
Of Time and Tide (2003) 
DIRECTOR
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) 
DIRECTOR
Rubicon Theatre Company/11th Hour Productions - Court Theatre (CT Dates: 3/14-4/21/02)
The Rainmaker (2002/2000) 
Jim
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) 
Leo
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
Louis
Dallas Theatre Center
Othello  
Iago
Dallas Shakespeare Festival
Angels In America Part I (1995)
Louis

Dallas Theatre Center

Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet (1993)
Romeo
New Jersey Shakespeare Festival
A Month in the Country
Alexei
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
Regional
Lindbergh (1992)
Charles 2

Yale Repertory/Portland Stagehttp://www.inch.com/~kteneyck/lindbergh.html

Listen To Me (1991) 
Ohio Theatre, Off-Broadway, NY
Hansel and Gretel
A Flea In Her Ear (1991)
Camille
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
Torvald
Yake School of Drama
Grease
Roger/Doody
Yale School of Drama - Yale Cabaret
Equus
Alan Strang
Yale School of Drama
The Shadow Box
Mark
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 
DIRECTOR
Lincoln Center - NYC
Yours, Anne
Regional
Amadeus (1985)
Salieri's Valet, Blue Liveried Servant and u/s for Mozart
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Very Truly Yours
Tiffany
All My Sons 
International City Theatre of Long Beach
Have
Empress of China (1983)
Julius Casear
Sweet Bird of Youth (1983)
Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
The Legend of Daniel Boone
Flanders
Old Fort Harrod
Bad Habits (1981)
The Mikado
Camp Tecumseh (1977)
Dames At Sea (1977)
Dick
C.C.H.S.

 

 

 





STAGE APPEARANCE HIGHLIGHTS


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:

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THE TEMPEST

7/12 - 14/2019







 

 

 


 

 

FUDDY MEERS

3/13 - 31/2019




 








































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SOUTH PACIFIC

12/5 - 23/2018


 







 















 

 













 





 
















 






 



























 









































































 


 


 

























 

 


 

 

JULIUS CAESAR

7/20 - 22/2018





















 


 

 

KING LEAR

3/17 - 4/1/2018








































































































 

 


 

 

ALL SALES fINAL

2/6 & 2/13/2018















 


 

 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL

2/6 - 23/2017


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















 





























 







 

 

 


 

 

INCOGNITO

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.








THE REVIEWS ARE IN!!!

















 




























































 











 








































































 

 

 

 

 


 

 

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING

7/21 - 23/2017






 









 


 

 

 


 

 

SYLVIA

4/19 - 5/7/2017














 


 

 

 


 

 

TWELFTH NIGHT

7/29 - 31/2016





















 


 

 

 


 

 

FALLEN ANGELS

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
























 

 

 


 

 

THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE

3/2 - 3/26/2016










 



 






 












 



 





 

















































































 

































































 


 

 

MY FAIR LADY

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 www.rubicontheatre.org 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 www.rubicontheatre.org.!!!


Reviews:



 

http://society805.com/arts-culture/performing-arts/item/574-my-fair-lady-at-rubicon
   



http://www.vcstar.com/entertainment/arts-and-culture/rubicon-offers-fresh-take-on-my-fair-lady_27343035



http://www.independent.com/news/2015/oct/29/all-rubicons-my-fair-lady-wants-larger-stage/


http://issuu.com/casamagazine/docs/10.30.15.casa?e=6215299/31025333


http://www.stagescenela.com/2015/11/my-fair-lady-4/






http://www.broadwayworld.com/thousand-oaks/article/BWW-Reviews-MY-FAIR-LADY-at-Rubicon-Theatre-Company-20151101







 

 

 


 

 

HAMLET

7/24 - 26/2015

















 

 


 

 




CONVICTION (23.5 HRS)

9/3/2014 - 9/28/2014









 

23.5 hrs

23.5 hrs


























OPENING NIGHT GALA AT FOX FINE JEWELRY AND ALOHA STEAKHOUSE

 



 



























 







 











































 

 

 


 

 

KING LEAR

7/11 - 13/2014





 

 


 


 

 

A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN

3/12/2014 - 4/6/2014

































 






































http://www.barkerductions.com/Barkerductions/News/Entries/2014/3/15_A_Moon_for_the_Misbegotten_-_RTC.html








VCR 3/7/14 TIME OUT ARTICLE :LINK HERE - SEE ONLINE VERSION POSTED BELOW THIS PAPER VERSION.


































AN INTERVIEW WITH REBEKKAH TRIPP




























































 

 

 




ROMEO AND JULIET

7/8 - 8/4/13

 

 

 

 

Joseph's Summer, 2013 RTC
Fearless Shakespeare Class

 

PJ






















 

 

 




23.5 HRS

4/1/2013 and 4/7/2013

 

 

 





OUR TOWN


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.

AND FROM THEATREMANIA:

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.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE NEWS ON THIS PRODUCTION AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE!!!

 

 

 


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







VENTURA COUNTY STAR 3/7/13 FEATURE ARTICLE

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/mar/07/life-so-precious-is-probed-in-ventura-production/



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

  • bjohnson@vcstar.com 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 http://rubicontheatre.org.

© 2013 Ventura County Star.

(View the Our Town slide show.)











Taken from RTC's 20TH Anniversary Video. You can see Joseph stage left between the umbrellas.

 

 


 

 

 




AN AMERICAN TANGO

10/27-28/2012



">


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."

EVENT LINK HERE

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.

HERE ARE SOME PICTURES OF JOSEPH TAKEN DURING THE DRESS REHEARSAL OF AN AMERICAN TANGO

 

 

 



 

PRIVATE LIVES


9/8 - 30/2012

Press

 

 

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.

Information

TICKETS
$25 –$54

Buy Tickets Now

PREVIEWS
September 5 –7

OPENING NIGHT GALA
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" - Broadwayworld.com
 
"Fuqua's debonair!"  - Broadwayworld.com
 
"Granata's unbridled, hot-as-fire characterization" - Broadwayworld.com
 
"Granata is cool, elegant and feral, as Amanda"- StageandCinema.com
 
"Fuqua wields his vocabulary as a hunter would brandish a gun." -StageandCinema.com"
 
"Matthew Floyd Miller excellently transcends the average fuddy-duddy with an explosive center!" - Broadwayworld.com
 
"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
 

 CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS

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
EILEEN DESANDRE
(Louise)
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
JOSEPH FUQUA
(Elyot)
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
JULIE GRANATA
(Amanda)
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
ALYSON LINDSAY
(Sybil)
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
MATTHEW FLOYD MILLER
(Victor)
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.

http://losangeles.broadwayworld.com/article/Photo-Flash-First-Look-at-Rubicon-Theatres-PRIVATE-LIVES-Opening-98-20120907

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 www.rubicontheatre.org.

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

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/sep/05/rubicon-theatre-to-present-no235l-cowards-lives/

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 rubicontheatre.org.

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

 

http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/sep/12/love-and-bon-mots-are-in-the-air-as-rubicon-into/

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 rubicontheatre.org.


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 ritamoran@earthlink.net.

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

 

 

 

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-theater-review-private-lives-at-rubicon-theatre-20120911,0,6325626.story

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 www.rubicontheatre.org. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

 

http://www.independent.com/news/2012/sep/11/private-lives-reviewed/

Santa Barbara Independent Logo

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.

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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

Description:

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

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http://www.independent.com/news/2012/sep/06/classic-plays-revived-pcpa-rubicon/

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.”

4•1•1

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 pcpa.org. Private Lives previews September 5-7 and runs September 8-30 at Rubicon Theatre (1006 E. Main St., Ventura). Call 667-2900 or see rubicontheatre.org.

 

http://www.lastagetimes.com/2012/09/private-lives-in-ventura-why-noel-coward-lives-on/

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
          Lives'
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 –$54.www.rubicontheatre.org. 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

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 www.rubicontheatre.org.

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http://www.vcreporter.com/cms/story/detail/?id=10172

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, rubicontheatre.org

 

 

Private Lives

Private Lives

 

Private Lives Art


STARRING JOSEPH FUQUA AND WINSLOW CORBETT

(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:


 

From Backstage.com:

http://www.backstage.com/bso/reviews-la-theatre/private-lives-1005106172.story

 

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. www.lagunaplayhouse.com.

 

 

http://www.stageandcinema.com/2011/03/29/private-lives/

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
COWARD ON THE BEACH

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 @ stageandcinema.com

Private Lives
scheduled to close April 10 at time of publication
for tickets, visit http://lagunaplayhouse.com/onstage/2011/private/

 

 

Broadway World Review:

http://losangeles.broadwayworld.com/article/Lush_Private_Lives_Laguna_Playhouse_20010101 


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: http://losangeles.broadwayworld.com/article/Lush_Private_Lives_Laguna_Playhouse_20010101#ixzz1IRTLEu1t


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

http://www.ocregister.com/entertainment/barnicle-292441-play-elyot.html



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

Andrew Barnicle returns to Laguna to direct 'Private Lives'

By PAUL HODGINS
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

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.
TEXT BY PAUL HODGINS, PHOTO COURTESY LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE
MORE PHOTOS

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."

NO 'HAPPILY EVER AFTER' TO THIS STORY

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 phodgins@ocregister.com

 

'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

Online: www.lagunaplayhouse.com

_____________________________________________________________________________________________


http://www.ocregister.com/entertainment/amanda-292903-elyot-barnicle.html

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


Barnicle makes assured return to Laguna with 'Private Lives'

By PAUL HODGINS
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER


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.
TEXT BY PAUL HODGINS, PHOTO COURTESY LAGUNA PLAYHOUSE
MORE PHOTOS

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 phodgins@ocregister.com


'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: www.lagunaplayhouse.com

 

 

 

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