Tag Archives: Season Six

Connecting to Our Country’s Past: A Conversation With the Cast of Woody Guthrie’s American Song

L to R: Jack French, Megan Storti, Sean Yael-Cox

L to R: Jack French, Megan Storti, Sean Yael-Cox

“One thing I think about each night is, how am I going to tell this story,” says Jack French, who is making his Intrepid debut on the stage of the Horton Grand Theatre in the current production of Woody Guthrie’s American Song. “Woody Guthrie was a guy who embodied that, who was all about telling the story. To him, that was paramount. For us, that’s the thing for figuring out this production.”

The rest of the cast agrees. Putting in long hours rehearsing Woody’s now legendary music, performing a full run and now in the middle of the show’s extended run has given them an intense familiarity with not only the musician, but the roads he travelled and, yes, the stories he told.

L to R: Sean Yael-Cox, Leonard Patton

L to R: Sean Yael-Cox, Leonard Patton

“This isn’t a typical musical,” says Sean Yael-Cox, Intrepid’s Artistic Director who plays the role of the “Folk Singer,” an expression of Woody Guthrie in his mid-life years. “This story is about people who actually used music in their everyday lives. There’s something about when people used to use music to connect to each other and to celebrate and to express their frustration. It’s about what music can do for the human soul.”

While that may sound hyperbolic, the fact is that every audience who experiences Woody Guthrie’s American Song can attest to the connective nature of this music. There is rarely a performance that doesn’t end in a standing ovation and a theatre-wide sing along, complete with clapping and toe-tapping.

L to R: Megan Storti, Jack French

L to R: Megan Storti, Jack French

“The music is already in us,” adds Megan Storti, also an Intrepid newcomer, who lends the soprano lilt to the cast’s five-part harmonies and strums a mean ukulele. “Even if you don’t recognize the titles of the songs, you already know the music. You innately feel you should know it. It’s a cathartic experience to sing these songs every night.”

In the midst of a crazy political season and a celebration of our national holiday, both cast members and audiences agree that it is important to get in touch with the roots of our country, the shared history that is explored in these songs.

Wendy McGuire, USAR (Ret.) and her mother, Blossom Sanger

Wendy McGuire, USAR (Ret.) and her mother, Blossom Sanger

“The hope, the history, the rebellious spirit, the triumph of the little guy over the big guy, something about folk music that is uniquely American,” writes Wendy McGuire, USAR (Ret.), in a review of the show for the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park about her experience singing Guthrie’s songs with other musicians while deployed. “These are all things that make Woody Guthrie so important and so very relevant to active military and veterans today. Hearing those songs got me through some really dark moments.”

“Woody Guthrie wrote way before anyone tried to make songs to sell them,” says Leonard Patton, who is playing the “Writer,” an embodiment of Guthrie in his last years of life. “These songs come out of real experiences, hard experiences. But they are all about moving on and keeping on. We are all affected by they went through in this country many years ago. We are a product of these stories.”

Karen Ann Daniels

Karen Ann Daniels

“That’s what is really cool about telling these stories now,” agrees Karen Ann Daniels, who, among many characters in the show, portrays a jaw-dropping saloon songstress. “There really is no music out there now that talks about these kinds of experiences. We are really removed from that part of our heritage. Doing this show moves us closer to those stories.”

“This music is not about solos or the singular experience,” agrees Megan. “It’s about the human experience.”

Woody Guthrie’s American Song plays through July 17 at the Horton Grand Theatre, 444 Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego.  Performs Thurs 7:30 pm, Fri 8 pm, Sat 4 pm and 8 pm, Sun 2 pm.
–Production Photos Credit: Daren Scott–

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Taming the “Woolf”: A Conversation with Robert Smyth, Deborah Gilmour Smyth and Christy Yael-Cox

VW_ShowPage_Photo“This is a scary play to produce,” wrote Steppenwolf Artistic Director Martha Lavey when the Chicago-based theatre company added Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? to their 2010 Season, a production that would later go on to Broadway. “It is so well known and so respected and…etched in our cultural memory.”

The fact that this, one of playwright Edward Albee’s most famous stories, has attracted film and theatre giants from Uta Hagen to Elizabeth Taylor, Tracy Letts to Mercedes McCambridge, while also holding a somewhat notorious reputation as an angst-filled and alcohol-induced argument, would be enough to puzzle even the most daring of theatre directors. How does one unpack the gems that have built this play’s cornerstone status in the canon of American drama?

Director Christy Yael-Cox

Director Christy Yael-Cox

“This play is a fascinating psychological thriller,” says Intrepid Producing Artistic Director Christy Yael-Cox, who is directing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in guest residency at the Horton Grand Theatre beginning February 11. “It’s about figuring out where the truth lies, and to what extent people will go to hide it, manipulate it or destroy it altogether.”

The mystery of it slowly unravels during an evening at George and Martha’s house, where Nick and Honey – a young married couple new to the academic neighborhood of New Carthage – join the couple for drinks. George is an associate history professor at the nearby university where Martha’s father serves as president. Nick has recently been hired in the biology department.

As the couples get to know each other better, the fine line between social propriety and honest emotion becomes more and more blurry. Soon, Nick and Honey are part of the tangled web that George and Martha have been weaving long before their arrival that evening.

Deborah Gilmour Smyth as Martha

Deborah Gilmour Smyth as Martha

“These relationships can become caustically funny in a very human way,” says Christy. “George and Martha have been married for 23 years and much of that humor is uniquely specific to long-standing relationships. These characters push each other’s buttons in a very specific way. And we are right there, experiencing it moment for moment, along with the actors.”

In order to bring Albee’s riveting, real time tale of a casual nightcap gone awry, Christy knew she had to bring together a cast who could handle the tricky landscape of the brutally honest – both in what they bring to the stage and in the narratives of their characters.

Robert Smyth as George

Robert Smyth as George

Lamb’s Players Producing Artistic Director Robert Smyth and Associate Artistic Director Deborah Gilmour Smyth – longtime luminaries of the San Diego acting scene – will portray the lead characters of George and Martha. This show will mark the first time the married couple has been seen on stage together outside of the Lamb’s Players home. They will be joined onstage by Los Angeles-based actor Ross Hellwig as Nick and Intrepid Company Member Erin Petersen as Honey.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is one of the foundational pillars of the American theatre,” says Robert. “We have a fabulous director and a fabulous cast and we’re really excited about this.”

Which is not to say that the play doesn’t present a particular set of challenges, especially when a real husband and wife team portray an onstage couple.

“What I love about it, but is also very hard about it, is how painfully truthful George and Martha are together,” says Deborah. “It’s part of being human but you want to look at it from a distance. It’s very interesting to come at it from this direction, to say, I don’t choose to live this way personally because it would rip one apart, but I love being able to explore that side.”

Ross Hellwig as Nick

Ross Hellwig as Nick

“I’m so honored to be working with this incredibly talented company of actors,” says Christy. “They bring out the honesty of the characters, but they also find the levity, the fun and the raucous nature of their relationships. We root for them and hope they find what they are looking for, even as we watch them stumble and fall over and over again.”

Erin Petersen as Honey

Erin Petersen as Honey

While the dialogue of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? can captivate a crowd, it also challenges them to question – not only their own values and long-held beliefs – but also their own reactions to the narrative unfolding on stage. Is it okay to laugh? Is it okay to worry? Is it okay to identify with these characters? Can we afford not to?

“Ideally, a play should hold a mirror up to people,” Albee said once in an interview with Charlie Rose. “Maybe someone should be asking some questions about your values or the way you think about things. Maybe you should come out of a theatre with something having happened to you.”

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee. Directed by Christy Yael-Cox. Starring Robert Smyth and Deborah Gilmour Smyth. Featuring Ross Hellwig and Erin Petersen. Intrepid Theatre Company in Guest Residency at the Horton Grand Theatre. 444 Fourth Ave in downtown San Diego. February 11 – March 13. Tickets on sale now.

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Reigniting the Rainbow: A Dramaturgical Peek into Peter Quilter’s Play

Eileen Bowman as Judy Garland.  Photo credit: Daren Scott

Eileen Bowman as Judy Garland.
Photo credit: Daren Scott

“Immortality would be very nice.”

Eileen Bowman, as Judy Garland, muses about the possibility of living eternally through her music. Even as the words are spoken onstage, it is difficult to imagine a time when the world did not embrace Judy’s captivating stage presence or her significant contributions to the musical landscape of the Golden Age of Hollywood. It is difficult to imagine that there was ever a time when Judy Garland wasn’t immortal.

But this is the space of exploration in Peter Quilter’s raw and ruthless bio-inspired play, End of the Rainbow, which opens on November 6 for Intrepid Theatre Company at the Lyceum Theatre in Horton Plaza. A cross-section of Judy’s life when everything wasn’t quite rainbows and bluebirds, when she was struggling against all odds to define herself and her place in the world and turning in all of the wrong directions to do so.

Judy Garland c1940 - public domain

Judy Garland c 1940

Judy Garland was born into vaudeville. Her mother raised her and her sisters to be performers, brokered deals for stage time and created vehicles for their daughters to be stars. She signed with MGM at 13 and was soon catapulted to the heights of studio stardom after her turn as Dorothy.

Judy Garland c 1934

Judy Garland c 1934

The rigor of the studio system was unrelenting and, with her mother’s approval, Judy was given heavy doses of pills to keep her on schedule and to help her sleep. From a very early age, her physical features were analyzed and compared with her contemporaries – her weight was an issue, as was the shape of her nose. There was never a moment when someone close to her wasn’t trying to change something about her so that she would fit in, do well and be more successful.

But no one could lay a finger on her uncanny musical talent, which most described as innate genius. Save one singing lesson she took when she was 13, Judy Garland was entirely self-taught in her musicality and her colleagues could not praise her talent enough. Mort Lindsey, one of her most devoted music directors (and on whom the character of her pianist, Anthony, in “End of the Rainbow” could be loosely based) described their 1951 evening at Carnegie Hall in Vanity Fair and The New Jersey Record:

Judy Garland c 1957

Judy Garland c 1957

“I see her standing in the wings…she’s not doing anything, just looking across the stage. She’s looking at me and I’m looking at her. I look in the audience, and there’s Ethel Merman and Rock Hudson and Benny Goodman, all these big shots sitting down in the first row, waiting and waiting. Is she going to come out? Is she going to do it? But she knows what she’s doing. Finally she gives me a nod, and I start the overture…

“All you have to do is talk to people who went to that concert, and they will tell you it was the greatest night in show business. It was like a revival meeting. She really lived on the stage. I think that’s where she was happiest. I was never able to do a concert with her that I didn’t get goose bumps, and I did 150 of them with her.”

magazineWhile Judy’s early introduction to pills led her down a tumultuous road of addiction and depression and suicide attempts, it was some time before the darkness of her life would bleed into her stage time. But eventually, she could not keep her demons at bay. In 1950, she was released from her MGM contract because she had become unreliable and a roller coaster of downward spirals pinpointed by career highlights ensued.

In End of the Rainbow, Anthony (Cris O’Bryon) and Judy reference the Melbourne concert in 1964 as the “bloodbath” where she was an hour late, incoherent and unable to perform, and where she stormed off stage after taking an early intermission, never to return. Prior to that, her numerous comebacks came in the form of  concert tours, her television variety show and the hit movie A Star Is Born. As many times as she fell from grace, Judy was constantly able to reignite her stardom.

Mickey Deans and Judy Garland c 1969

Mickey Deans and Judy Garland c 1969

But here we are, opening this weekend in the world of Peter Quilter’s Judy Garland, the End of the Rainbow setting where Judy has just fallen in love with Mickey Deans (Jeffrey Jones), the handsome nightclub owner from New York who believes in her with a frighteningly fierce devotion. She has booked concerts at London’s Talk of the Town music hall for six weeks and even though she is on the emotional and financial fringes of survival, in this moment, Judy Garland also knows she has a chance at this – a chance to rise again to greatness. Even though we know the fire and ash is inevitable, we can’t help but willingly take the journey alongside of her.

We invite you to enjoy your time with our Judy as much as we have.

— Tiffany Tang, Dramaturg

End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter. Directed by Christy Yael-Cox. Starring Eileen Bowman as Judy Garland, Jeffrey Jones as Mickey Deans, Music Director Cris O’Bryon as Anthony and Marco Rios in multiple roles. Opens Friday November 6, 2015 at the Lyceum Space Theatre, located at 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego 92101. Free parking at Horton Plaza with Lyceum Theatre validation. Tickets available here

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‘End of the Rainbow’ is Richly Colored

 

Eileen Bowman stars as Judy Garland in "End of the Rainbow"

Eileen Bowman stars as Judy Garland in “End of the Rainbow”

End of the Rainbow is a magical sneak peak into the last few months of Judy Garland’s life.”

Christy Yael-Cox, producing artistic director of Intrepid Theatre Company and director of the latest Season Six offering, tries to capture her fascination with Peter Quilter’s tragically beautiful play.

“We get to really understand what happened to this child, iconic Hollywood star who was both raised and tormented by this industry,” she says.

Originally considered to be included in the monthly Staged Reading Series Intrepid produces at the Encinitas Library, Christy admits that because the story continued to haunt her long after she finished reading the play, she began to consider a full scale production.

“The play is a fascinating portrait of this woman who was so beloved and so misunderstood,” says Christy. “These behind-the-scenes, private moments of Judy Garland’s struggles unfold in a very, very intimate way. You can’t help but be invested in her story.”

Jeffrey Jones as Mickey Deans

Jeffrey Jones as Mickey Deans

The play chronicles Garland’s engagement at the Talk of the Town nightclub in London’s West End, where celebrities and pop stars would headline the evening’s musical entertainment lineup. The six-week run she was booked to perform was plagued with drama due to her constant drug and alcohol abuse and her stormy new romance with Mickey Deans.

While the real life events have been captured in the media, Peter Quilter’s story takes audiences beyond the stories that filled the papers and into the heart of who Judy Garland might have been in the eye of this hurricane.

Cris OBryon as musical director Anthony Chapman

Cris OBryon

Casting the show was both a challenge and a delight. Christy could think of no better actress to embody Garland than local musical theatre legend and Craig Noel-winner Eileen Bowman.

“Eileen has an uncanny ability to capture the humor, beauty and reckless nature of this infamous silver screen icon,” says Christy.

Marco Rios

Marco Rios

Craig Noel-winner Jeffrey Jones, last seen in Intrepid’s The Quality of Life, will be joining her as Garland’s fiance, Mickey Deans. Musical theatre maven Cris O’Bryon will portray Garland’s accompanist and kindred spirit, Anthony Chapman. Marco Rios, last seen in Intrepid’s The Winter’s Tale, rounds out the cast, playing key featured roles in the production.

“It’s a beautiful, fascinating glimpse into her life with some really stunning music and we are thrilled to be producing this show,” says Christy.

End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter plays November 1-29 at the Lyceum Space Theatre, located at 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego 92101. Free parking at Horton Plaza with Lyceum Theatre validation. Tickets available here

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Winter is Here: Final Week of Shakespeare Unplugged

carlsbad village night“This production just uses the words and little tiny props and the talent of those who are on the stage.”

Jacque Wilke, who plays Paulina (among other roles), in Intrepid Theatre Company’s upcoming production of The Winter’s Tale, talks about how intimacy and Shakespeare really do go hand in hand.

“It’s Shakespeare told in its most simple form,” she says. “The words are the main character here.”

Part of the ensemble of only seven actors playing over 20 roles, Jacque and her fellow performers will invoke the imaginative spirit of the audience as they bring this beloved yet complex story to life at the Carlsbad Village Theatre through August 2. The show, also the inaugural production of Intrepid’s “Shakespeare Unplugged” series, is running in repertory with Intrepid’s critically-acclaimed production of The Quality of Life.

(L-R) Jo Anne Glover, Marco Rios, Sean Yael-Cox  Photo: Daren Scott

(L-R) Jo Anne Glover, Marco Rios, Sean Yael-Cox
(Photo: Daren Scott)

“We started off as a Shakespeare company, so it’s really important to honor our roots,” says Intrepid Artistic Director and co-director of The Winter’s Tale, Sean Yael- Cox, who also plays Leontes (among other roles). “We wanted it to be very theatrical and have only a small ensemble of actors playing all of the roles with minimal props and costume changes. That way the focus is on the characters and the words.”

This “minimalizing” of the production elements actually serves to enhance the magic of Shakespeare’s storytelling, says Sean, by allowing the audience and the actors to focus solely on the beauty of the words to shape the narrative.

“This is what we wanted to do in the very beginning,” says Sean, “fill the text with our imaginations and our passion and use those tools to tell the story.”

Jacque Wilke (Photo: Daren Scott)

Jacque Wilke (Photo: Daren Scott)

The tale itself is seemingly simple, yet unfolds with the intricacy that only Shakespeare can master.

“To me, it’s a fairy tale,” says Sean. “It’s got everything in it. It’s incredibly tragic and then it makes a sharp turn and becomes fun and colorful and then, at the end, it is ultimately about forgiveness and second chances.”

Brian Rickel (L) and Danny Campbell (Photo: Daren Scott)

Brian Rickel (L) and Danny Campbell
(Photo: Daren Scott)

Knowing each actor would be responsible for three or four or five roles to make the staging of such an intricate tale successful, it is no surprise that Intrepid veteran actor Brian Rickel, last seen as Frank Lubey, part of the award-winning ensemble of All My Sons, and also a member of Intrepid’s Staged Reading Series Committee, was tapped to co-direct. Many may be familiar with Brian’s recent solo performance of Judevine – both as a special event for Intrepid and as part of the 2014 San Diego Fringe Festival – where he portrayed over 20 different characters within the one-hour narrative. Brian is no stranger to switching hats quickly and convincingly.

“I think the audience really loves seeing actors transform through small costume changes and physical shifts and vocal shifts,” says Brian, who also plays Polixenes (among other roles). “I hope the audience sees the magic in that as it pertains to the magic of the play.”

Marco Rios (L) and Erin Petersen (Photo: Daren Scott)

Marco Rios (L) and Erin Petersen
(Photo: Daren Scott)

Completing the cast of seven are Jo Anne Glover, Danny Campbell, Erin Petersen and Marco Rios.

At its heart, The Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing plays, mostly because it is so many things at once. The narrative is complex yet simple, full of darkness, and yet also containing the brightest, most hopeful storytelling arcs of the canon. It’s not a tragedy, yet it carries enough weight in the opening scenes necessary to create the emotional slingshot that propel us into the final scenes.

“You’ll feel sadness, you’ll feel joy, you’ll feel love,” says Jacque. “It’s got everything in it. It’s Shakespeare.”

THE WINTER’S TALE is running in repertory with THE QUALITY OF LIFE at the Carlsbad Village Theatre (2822 State Street) through August 2. Featuring Danny Campbell, Jo Anne Glover, Erin Petersen, Brian Rickel, Marco Rios, Jacque Wilke and Sean Yael-Cox. Directed by Brian Rickel and Sean Yael-Cox. Showtimes are Tuesdays at 7:30 pm, Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and Sundays at 7 pm. Purchase tickets here. 

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Continued Conversations: The Post-Show Talkback Schedule for “The Quality of Life”

“The Quality of Life” opens at the Carlsbad Village Theatre

Intrepid Theatre Company opened its first production of Season Six, “The Quality of Life,” on July 5 to a standing ovation and immediate rave reviews by audiences and critics alike. While the production – featuring the unforgettable Maggie Carney, DeAnna Driscoll, Jeffrey Jones and Tom Stephenson –  was praised for its “tour-de-force ensemble” (Bill Eadie) who ‘hold nothing back” (Jeff Smith), director Christy Yael-Cox is equally pleased by what is happening on State Street outside the theatre after the show: immediate conversation.

“This play deals with hard-hitting and contemporary issues in such a beautiful and graceful way,” says Christy. “It’s our goal to present all sides and perspectives without engaging one more than the other. We learn from experiencing each others’ reactions to the play as much as we learn from experiencing the characters’ viewpoints.”

Tom Stephenson (L); Maggie Carney (R )  (Photo by Daren Scott)

Tom Stephenson (L); Maggie Carney (R )
(Photo by Daren Scott)

In order to encourage this conversation even further, Intrepid is organizing a series of formal post-show talkbacks with experts in the fields touched upon in the play, most prominently the issue of end of life care and options. The first one will take place Thursday, July 9.

The roster of panelists include Certified Geriatric Nurse Case Manager Dori Salois Salerno, R.N., a hospice team from The San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care, representatives from the San Diego County Medical Society Bioethics Commission, Hospice of North Coast, Father Doran from St. Michael’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and a Buddhist teacher from the Dharma Bums Temple in downtown San Diego. See below for the complete talkback schedule.

DeAnna Driscoll (L); Jeffrey Jones (R ) (Photo by Daren Scott)

DeAnna Driscoll (L); Jeffrey Jones (R )
(Photo by Daren Scott)

“We are hoping that a diverse range of perspectives on this issue can help us see even further into the mindset of each of the characters in the play and engage their viewpoints on a level that is relevant to us in our everyday lives,” says Christy.

“From a relaxed, picnic-like beginning, The Quality of Life builds to an inexorable shedding of stereotypes…” Jeff Smith wrote this week in the San Diego Reader, and judging from the flock of patrons who lingered on the sidewalk to discuss the show after opening night, he was not the only one taken by the surprises this play has to offer. We hope you will join us for what we hope will be enlightening and educational post-show conversations.

“The Quality of Life” Post-Show Talkback Schedule

Thursday, July 9:
Dori Salois Salerno, R.N. – Certified Geriatric Nurse Case Manager with Innovative Health Care Consultants

Friday, July 10:
San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care featuring Dr. Margaret Elizondo (Sharp Hospice Physician), Barbara Bailey (Hospice Nurse Educator), Lydia Lombardi (Vitas Hospice social worker manager) and Chaplain Caroline Flanders

Saturday, July 11th:
San Diego County Medical Society Bioethics Commission featuring Paula Goodman-Crews, LCSW, Arnie Gass, M.D., Zoe Blaylock, M.Div. and Loren Lopata, M. Div.

Sunday, July 12:
Hospice of the North Coast, featuring Colleen O’Hara (Attorney / Professional Fiduciary), Rev. Doran Stambaugh, SSC (Clergy), Charles Hergesheimer, MD (Hospice Medical Director), Jim Reiser (Bereavement Coordinator), Sharon Lutz (RN, BSN, CHPN)

Thursday, July 16:
Rev. Doran Stambaugh, SSC, St. Michael’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church

Thursday, July 23:
San Diego County Coalition for Improving End of Life Care featuring Faye Girsh, president of the Hemlock Society of San Diego, Teressa Vaughn, MPT, MHA, Sharp Healthcare and Liz Sumner, RN, BSN, MA, Elizabeth Hospice

Friday, July 24:
Jeff Zlotnik, Co-Founder of The Dharma Bum Temple and Buddhist meditation teacher

“The Quality of Life” by Jane Anderson, through August 2 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre, 2822 State Street. Tickets available here. Talkbacks will begin a few minutes after the performance. All audience members welcome. 

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Layers of Life: “The Quality of Life” Controversies

quality script“…here’s to the magic of the stage and the beautiful impermanence of it all.” – Jane Anderson

Playwright Jane Anderson has lived many lives with her award-winning work, “The Quality of Life,” Intrepid Theatre Company’s Season Six opener which runs July 3 – Aug 2 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre. In addition to directing the play at the American Conservatory Theatre and the Geffen, she also helped mount a production at Arena Stage in Washington, DC, where she continued to “tear the second act apart and put it back together,” as she told Dramaturg Janine Sobeck. Why so much drama with this drama?

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Anderson’s writing digs deep into issues that most playwrights wouldn’t touch, while striking the perfect balance between the humanity and humor of it all. This is not an easy task to undertake, especially while navigating the specific tightropes that connect the characters in this play.

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“The Vision Fire” (Photo by Richard Blair)

“The Quality of Life” was written in 2007 and inspired by Anderson’s friends who were dealing with a potentially terminal illness in their relationship. Also influential in the telling of this story is the 1995 Mount Vision Fire in Northern California that burned over 12,000 acres. Intertwined in this narrative are these themes of loss and grief, but also of the necessity of survival.

The story follows Ohio couple Dinah and Bill who travel to Northern California to visit Dinah’s cousin, Jeannette, and her husband, Neil. Dinah and Bill are still grieving the tragic loss of their daughter and hope to provide comfort to Jeannette and Neil who have recently lost their home to fire. Additionally, Neil has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. No sooner do Dinah and Bill land on the doorstep of the yurt that Neil and Jeannette have constructed on the property of their burnt out home, that they all begin to realize how vastly different their perspectives are on a variety of issues, including religion, the afterlife and medical marijuana.

cross“In times of darkness, as humans, we tend to gravitate towards hope and towards humor,” says Christy Yael-Cox, Producing Artistic Director of Intrepid and director of this production. “Watching the characters manage those extremes are what makes this play so captivating, as well as completely relatable.”

Bringing these characters to life is a master class cast of actors: Tom Stephenson and Maggie Carney will portray Bill and Dinah and DeAnna Driscoll and Jeffrey Jones will portray Jeannette and Neil.

Medical-Cannabis1While the emotional landscape of the writing is captivating enough for audiences, also interesting is that the range of topical issues addressed in the story are still as relevant today as they were when the play was written eight years ago:

End of Life Options. In dealing with his terminal cancer, Neil shares that he plans to end his own life before the cancer becomes too painful. This is understandably uncomfortable for Bill and Dinah to grasp, and audiences might be familiar with the recent events around Brittany Maynard, a brain cancer victim and Californian who moved to Oregon in order to take the same action. Before her death, Brittany worked to bring legal change to our state, so that patients with aggressive cancers may choose to end their lives with dignity. SB 128, the End of Life Option Act, has recently been passed in the California Senate.

Medical Marijuana. With the recent legalization of marijuana in certain states, and the prevalence of medical marijuana facilities in California and San Diego, this topic can be highly charged, especially when addressing issues of cancer treatments. Bill and Neil have very different perspectives on this issue that are discussed during the course of the play.

Grief. There is no textbook to coping with loss. The post-traumatic stress of losing a child or a spouse and grappling with how to continue after such darkness can be both difficult to navigate as well as overcome. Bill and Dinah want to connect as much as they want to stay isolated. Jeannette fears the future without Neil. Is it possible for these characters to see each other through the darkest of moments and into the light?

Intrepid plans to invite speakers on both sides of many of these issues for talkbacks after select performances of “The Quality of Life.” More information will be available on the website.

“The Quality of Life” by Jane Anderson opens July 5 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre, 2822 State Street. Tickets available here

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A Revolutionary Affair

Gala WidgetLook up the word “revolution” in the dictionary and you will find strategies for inspiring change on a dramatic level. Historically and metaphorically, revolutions are fought for a cause and won because of the efforts of the many, not just the one.

That Intrepid Shakespeare Company chose “Revolution” as the central theme for the 2014 Annual Gala bash on December 7 is no coincidence.

“Intrepid is moving towards creating a space for theatre to be an instrument of transformation,” says Producing Artistic Director Christy Yael-Cox. “We have always believed that theatre can change lives. We are refining our mission statement and our goals as we look into the future to reflect that. This also involves tapping into the passions of our company members and creating a space for them to inspire change as well.”

In accordance with the theme of “Revolution,” the Gala Committee has selected the perfect venue for the evening’s festivities.

The Green Dragon Tavern and Museum in Carlsbad is a setting steeped in revolutionary history, which emulates its namesake in Boston, Massachusetts. The original East Coast building was the site where Sam Adams, Paul Revere and other founders met in secret and planned the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution. Deemed the “Headquarters of the Revolution,” the original tavern was demolished in 1854. The Carlsbad replica hosts a beautiful dining room and pub, a museum dedicated to the America’s early patriots as well as ballrooms fit for revolutionary celebrations.

Kathy Brombacher, Board of Trustees and Gala Committee Member, feels that the evening will be a perfect unification of Intrepid’s accomplishments to date as well as the goals for the future.

“Intrepid is really shaking things up,” says Kathy. “Five years is a milestone and they are making change happen as a very positive, explosive, exciting part of their ongoing history. This Gala will be a reflection of that.”

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Gala emcee Phil Johnson as Bottom

The evening’s festivities will be hosted by none other than theatrical bright light Phil Johnson, who is best known in the Intrepid camp for his dynamic portrayal of Bottom in Season Four’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the musical, a role which earned him a Craig Noel Award for Best Featured Performance in a Musical.

“The Gala is going to be an exciting look at what’s ahead,” says Phil, also a Gala Committee Member. “It’s going to be a look into the future at the big changes of an exciting theater company making its new mark.”

These big, exciting changes will be the Gala’s main event, as Intrepid reveals plans for a new home as well as the productions slated for the company’s sixth season of theatre-making.

Gala Committee 2014

Gala Committee Members (L-R) Phil Johnson, Kathy Brombacher, Julie Ustin, and Tom Andrew with Co-Artistic Director Christy Yael-Cox.

Along with Phil and Kathy, Gala Committee Members Julie Ustin, Lynne Thrope and Tom Andrew are working diligently to create an affair suitable for ushering in a new revolutionary era for Intrepid Shakespeare Company.

The Gala will begin at 7 pm with champagne and delicious passed hors d’ouevres. Both the live and silent auctions boast extravagant prizes. In addition to the talents of Phil Johnson, some of the city’s best musical theatre artists will entertain as guests partake in their own future forecasting with fortunetellers and tarot card readers. Requested attire is simply “fabulous.” Intrepid is grateful for the support of the evening’s lead sponsors, Marti and Adam Rosenberg and Sandra Zarcades.

“Everyone expects Intrepid to serve them a dish that is going to be very exciting,” says Kathy. “They will not be disappointed.”

Intrepid Shakespeare Company’s 2014 Annual Gala will be held Sunday December 7, 6-9 pm at The Green Dragon Tavern and Museum, located at 6115 Paseo del Norte in Carlsbad. 

Tickets are $125 each and are available online

gala website2