• Party Play: “Places, Please!” 2018 Gala – A Dazzling, Theatrical Soiree!

    Beth Fhaner
     | Sep 21, 2018

    On the evening of Saturday, Sept. 15, SCR’s “Places, Please!” 2018 Gala got underway at The Westin South Coast Plaza, as guests arrived through the ​private valet entrance and climbed the carpeted steps to the East Galleria. Designer Angela Balogh Calin’s red carpet-inspired theatrical vision awaited attendees, with dramatic red drapery and theatrical lighting fixtures lining both sides of the entrance, setting the tone for the excitement to come.

    As guests entered the cocktail reception, their attention went to the many eye-catching posters hanging overhead that featured various SCR archival photos. Cocktail tables draped with ​garnet linens and beautiful floral arrangements by Floral Creations by Enzo also helped to set the stylish ambience. Guests enjoyed champagne sponsored by Le Grand Courtâge. The Signature Cocktail was the “Backstage Blackberry Bliss”—the blackberry martini was a hit with partygoers and featured official vodka sponsor Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Guests also indulged in tempting, tray-passed hors d’oeuvres such as ahi tuna tartare with avocado and toasted sesame seeds on a wonton crisp, petite grilled lamb chops with balsamic glaze, chilled gazpacho soup shooters and vegan risotto balls with sundried tomato.

    During the cocktail reception, a “backstage” experience was on display, where actors and technicians appeared at four different stations including a Dressing Room, Costume Shop, Prop Shop and Wig Shop. Partygoers could watch the actors as they prepared for a special performance held later in the evening. The actors featured in the “backstage” experience are graduates of SCR’s Acting Intensive Program: Arthur Brueggeman, Ashley Langton, Kelsey Kato, Aaron McGee, Jonathan Murrietta and Camille Thornton-Alson. Technicians and stage management included Jyll Christolini, Denise Kha, Marcus Beebe, Sarah Timm, Allison Lowery, Ramzi Jneid and Mike Ritchey. 

    Following the cocktail reception, guests then entered the Plaza Ballroom, which featured gorgeous drapery, along with an array of SCR costumes, props and photos surrounding the space, as well as a white dance floor located in the center of the room. Tables were draped with Katherine Gold linens from Wildflower Linen, with silver and champagne starburst chargers and pops of fuchsia and purple napkins—all to a stunning effect. Attendees also enjoyed gift boxes, sponsored by B. Toffee, at their tables. Additionally, the stage backdrop depicted the actual Segerstrom Stage house, so it was as if guests in the ballroom were onstage and viewing the audience from the stage, which was another unique design element.

    Executive Chef Paul Gregory delighted the crowd with his tantalizing cuisine, including a deconstructed Boston wedge salad with Fourme d’Ambert ​wedge, toasted walnuts, red and golden beets, grape tomatoes and rainbow microgreens with a citrus vinaigrette dressing, as well as a duet of peppercorn-crusted tenderloin with Harveys Bristol Cream sauce and rosemary-skewered shrimp with potato dauphinoise and roasted seasonal vegetables. For a sweet finish, a flourless chocolate cake with a berry-filled white chocolate ruffle cup was a delectable treat that few partygoers could resist.

    During the festive event, the approximately 200 theatre enthusiasts dined, dance and cheered greetings from Board President Sam Tang, Managing Director Paula Tomei and returning Gala Chairs Tayla Nevo-Hacohen and Bill Schenker, who announced that the event was projected to net approximately $250,000 for SCR’s artistic and education programs.

    Following the dessert course, partygoers were entertained by a performance of a special preview of SCR’s 2018-19 season. Directed by Acting Intensive Program Director Matthew Arkin, the shows represented included Sense and Sensibility, Kings, M. Butterfly, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and Sweeney Todd. The performance ended on a high point with the Stephen Sondheim classic, “Putting it Together” from Sunday in the Park with George. Tom Shelton was the accompanist.

    After the special performance, the raffle drawing was held onstage, and with all of the prize winners in attendance, it added an exciting element to the evening. Prize winners included Susan and Sam Anderson, who won the Inside the “Actors Studio” private acting lesson at SCR; Leslie Sullivan, who won the $1,500 South Coast Plaza gift certificate; Joanne and Andy Terner, who won the $1,000 Chloé shopping voucher and handmade leather accessory; and Lea and Harmon Kong, who won the Van Cleef & Arpels Parisian Experience.

    The celebration continued as Dallas & Doll, a 5-piece dance band, performed an extended set for partygoers and guests drifted to and from the dance floor to the East Galleria, which was transformed into an intimate lounge and featured a gourmet coffee station, a sweets table donated by Gala Gift Sponsor B. Toffee and a gelato cart donated by Mangiamo Gelato Caffe. All in all, everyone agreed that it was a wonderfully successful evening—a dazzling, theatrical soiree in celebration of the theatre they supported so generously.

    “I was so impressed with the detail to everything,” said Sarah McElroy. “From the table number cards, the displays in the foyer, the costumes, the decor and flowers and photos and on and on…”

    “We had a fabulous time!” exclaimed Sophie Cripe. “Good food, fun and friends.”

    Deirdre Kelly noted, “It was a wonderful night and a huge success!”

    Olivia Johnson added, “We danced ‘til they folded up the dance floor under our feet!”

    Gala Sponsor, Van Cleef & Arpels, South Coast Plaza Store Director Christine Hitz also commented, “What a spectacular event last evening! We were so happy to be a part of the occasion!”

    Gala Chairs Talya Nevo-Hacohen and Bill Schenker agreed with their fellow theatre enthusiasts. “Last night was the best SCR Gala!” they said. “We had such a good time, and the Westin ballroom was transformed into an elegant venue that was uniquely SCR.”

    We’d like to extend a heartfelt “Thank You” to everyone who joined us at the Gala. All proceeds will support the theatre’s award-winning core education and outreach programs that bring the magic of live professional theatre to more than 28,000 underserved students, teachers and families throughout Orange County each year.

    It’s not too late to support SCR. Donate Now.

  • David Ivers Named Artistic Director at South Coast Repertory

    Tania Thompson
     | Sep 20, 2018
    David Ivers

    David Ivers

    One Man Two Guvnors

    One Man, Two Guvnors (actors William Connell and Dan Donohue)

    A Familiar Face

    David Ivers directed the wildly popular 2015 production of One Man, Two Guv’nors at South Coast Repertory. And in 2017, he was in the Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of SHREW! by Amy Freed.


    SHREW! (David Ivers, center, with Assaf Cohen and Tracey A. Leigh)

    Acclaimed director, educator and actor David Ivers is South Coast Repertory’s new artistic director. Board of Trustees President Samuel Tang made the announcement on Sept. 20, 2018.

    Ivers has a proven track record of theatrical excellence, dynamic leadership and creating meaningful connections with audiences. Prior to his appointment as artistic director at South Coast Repertory, he served as artistic director for Arizona Theater Company. Before that, he served more than 20 years as an actor and director at Utah Shakespeare Festival, with the last six as artistic director. He was a resident artist at Denver Center Theatre Company for a decade, acting in and/or directing more than 40 plays and has helmed productions at many of the nation’s leading regional theatres including the Guthrie Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Berkeley Repertory Theatre and South Coast Repertory (One Man, Two Guv’nors, 2015). He taught at the University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Southern Utah University and Southern Oregon University. A Southern California native, he grew up in the San Fernando Valley area. He and his wife, Stephanie, have two sons, Jack and Elliot.

    “I am profoundly grateful and deeply humbled to be SCR’s next artistic director,” says the Southern California-raised Ivers. “Returning home to California, to the organization that helped inspire my early desire to pursue a life in the theatre, is a dream come true. I’m grateful to founders David Emmes and Martin Benson and the trustees who have all guided this institution for more than half a century. I’m inspired by Managing Director Paula Tomei, the playwrights, artists and staff members who create great theatre, and in awe of the roster of new plays that have been developed at SCR. I look forward to the months ahead as my family and I make our way back ‘home.’”

    He joins Paula Tomei, managing director, as co-chief executive officer of the 55-year-old Tony Award-winning theatre, and takes up the position fulltime in March 2019. Until then, he will be wrapping up prior projects and commitments, while working collaboratively to program SCR’s 2019-20 season.

    “Among the pool of distinguished and diverse candidates, David immediately stood out,” said Samuel Tang, president of SCR’s Board of Trustees and chair of the search committee, when he announced the appointment. “He’s a dynamic visionary—one who will lead us into the future. We sought someone who could build on SCR’s foundation of stellar theatre artistry and strong financial position. His commitment to the classics, contemporary works and new plays align perfectly with SCR’s mission. David is a special and collaborative individual.”

    “New work, classics and modern masterpieces will remain at the center of the SCR experience,” says Ivers. “I’m eager to elevate our national profile as we continue developing world premieres, supporting a wide range of emerging voices, and enhancing the complete theatre-going experience. We’ll move forward with programming that not only engages and entertains, but also allows every citizen to see themselves in our work. I’m dedicated to serving and engaging with our community—especially when attending my boys’ soccer games—while creating innovative, entertaining and surprising theatre that reflects the vibrant diversity of our region and nation.”

    “I’m delighted that David will be joining SCR,” says Tomei. “He is both passionate and discerning when it comes to the art onstage and is committed to extending our work in the community. His positive energy, keen sense of humor and joyful spirit are infectious and I look forward with excitement to our partnership.”

    For more on David Ivers, go here.

  • Meet the Cast: "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike"

    Tania Thompson
     | Sep 17, 2018
    The Cast of Vanya and Sonya

    THE CAST: Top row, Jose Moreno Brooks, Svetlana Efremova and Jenna Cole; bottom row, Lorena Martinez, Pamela J. Gray and Tim Bagley.

    The cast for Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike includes new faces and SCR veterans. In rehearsal, they’re discovering all about the characters’ personalities and eccentricities, unpacking the story of sibling rivalry and more. Here’s what some of them have to say about the play, the playwright, their own (and their characters') offbeat traits and what their characters are like.


    Tim Bagley portrays Vanya.
    Last at SCR: He is making his SCR debut, but has worked before with director Bart DeLorenzo.
    His other credits include “Grace and Frankie,” “Grimm,” “One Day at a Time,” “Will and Grace,” Finding Bliss. Read Bagley’s full bio here.
    What draws him to Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: “I like the darkness and pathos and sadness about the play. I always enjoy exploring familial relationships, and the natural humor that comes out of the pain of a shared family experience. I like that Vanya is stuck​—and has a sense of resignation about his life and his situation—and how inspiration and hope can come from the most unexpected places. I love the journey this play takes us on with this whack-a-do family.”
    Pet peeve: “I’m a dog owner, but I have a pet peeve: when pet owners put their dogs in the child seat part of the grocery cart—the part where I put my blueberries and grapes and bananas and what-nots. They always look concerned when I snap their photos and post them to Facebook.”


    Jose Moreno Brooks portrays Spike.
    At SCR: He is making his debut.
    His other credits include “Telenovela,” “Jane the Virgin,” West Side Story. Read Brooks’ full bio here.
    What about the play makes him laugh: “Honestly, I laugh out loud throughout the play; most of the comedy, for me, comes out of the relationships between the brother and sisters. When you have known someone for that long, and that intimately, there is no hiding or pulling punches.”
    About Spike: “I get the sense that he believes once the right people meet him, his success as a movie star will be undeniable. This is humorous and tragic all at once. But who knows—just look at ‘Jersey Shore.’ ”
    Something offbeat: “Traveling to a farm in rural Illinois with my mother, aunt and cousin to attend a Brazilian shamanic ceremony.”


    Jenna Cole portrays Sonia.
    Last at SCR: The Wind in the Willlows (2004). She teaches in the Theatre Conservatory.
    Her other credits include performances at Pasadena Playhouse, Mark Taper Forum, Shakespeare Orange County, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Playhouse. Read Cole’s full bio here.
    What makes her laugh about the play: “It surprises me how much I laugh during rehearsal—it’s because the cast is so good at finding the truth in the humor or the humor in the truth. And I understand how challenging and frustrating it is for adult children to navigate their relationships within a family, especially once the parents are gone.”
    Something offbeat: “For my best friend’s birthday, because she absolutely adores The Sound of Music, we traveled to Salzburg and took a private tour dressed in nun attire. My friend was, of course, the Mother Superior and we followed her everywhere around the city. After a while, it was really fun. No one asked us directions to the nearest church, but other Sound of Music tours wanted selfies with us!


    Svetlana Efremova portrays Cassandra.
    At SCR: her credits include Tartuffe (1999), References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot (2000), The Countess (2000) and numerous readings in the Hispanic Playwrights Project and NewSCRipts series.
    Her other credits include White Oleander, Phone Booth, “House of Cards,” “OA,” “Blacklist,” “The Closer.” Read Efremova’s full bio here.


    Pamela Gray portrays Masha.
    Last at SCR: The Real Thing (1986).
    Her other credits include Present Laughter and Butley (Broadway); performances at Manhattan Theatre Club, Pasadena Playhouse, The Old Globe; Michael Clayton, The Devil’s Advocate, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Law & Order” franchise; “Bones,” “The Closer.” Read Gray’s full bio here.
    The draw of Christopher Durang’s writing: “I love how you can always rely on his plays to take something seemingly normal—even mundane—and put an eccentric twist on it. Getting inside of characters like that is a special challenge in understanding the true, daily eccentricity of human nature.”
    Something offbeat: “I call my husband every time I hear a radio report about a traffic accident anywhere in the vicinity of LA to make sure it's not him.”


    Lorena Martinez portrays Nina.
    Last at SCR in the world premiere of Yoga Play (2017).
    Her other credits include Up Here, Mr. Burns, Spelling Bee, Into the Woods, Anchor Babies, Hotel Pennsylvania, Landing in Mumbai. Read Martinez’s full bio here.
    What about the play makes her laugh: “I'm cackling all throughout rehearsal. It's in the language and behaviors, how unique each character is and how blunt they are with each other. It's just a brilliant recipe and combination of personalities. And these actors? My mind is blown!”
    Why her character, Nina, makes her laugh: “I love how authentic she is and how disconnected she is from her time, she insists on seeing the best in people and that level of genuine hope mixed in with this group of people just lends itself to hilarious moments. Hopefully I'll get it together and stop breaking character laughing. It's not professional! (smiles)”
    Something offbeat: “Oh, man—in 2000, I got a horse. He was the best thing to ever happen to me; and, with help from the guy who sold him, I taught him how to dance! His name is Zapateado (in Spanish, zapatear means to dance with your feet) and he just loves music.”
    Which traditional Chekhov character she identifies with: “I've always felt a connection to Lubov Andreyevna in The Cherry Orchard in the way she loves. Especially in the tragedy that is falling for the wrong person and owning you love them even though they are the worst. There's courage in not looking to ‘win’ or caring about your pride and admitting someone has your heart whether they deserve it or not.”

    Learn more about Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and buy tickets.

  • Party Play: "Sense and Sensibility"

    Beth Fhaner
     | Sep 11, 2018

    From the opening lines, Sense and Sensibility captured the attention of the First Night audience and never let up, delivering two-plus hours of delightful performances, sparkling dialogue, colorful period costumes, dancing and much more.

    The First Night audience showed their appreciation with generous laughter and enthusiastic applause. Theatregoers greatly enjoyed Jessica Swale’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s popular novel and the performances of the talented cast of 11 actors. Led by Rebecca Mozo as Marianne Dashwood and Hilary Ward as Elinor Dashwood, the entire ensemble delivered extraordinary performances while transporting the audience to the Regency era of early 1800s England. The stunning set design by François-Pierre Couture and multiple visual projections by David Murakami also evoked the ambience of Britain during the Regency period.

    Honorary Producer and First Night attendee Sandy Segerstrom Daniels found the play to be thoroughly entertaining. “SCR’s artistry never disappoints, and I was amazed and swept along by the creative staging and use of scenic projections,” she said. “But most of all, I fell under the spell of the irresistible Dashwood sisters and their search for love. I loved it!”

    A special pre-show dinner at The Westin, sponsored by South Coast Plaza, welcomed nearly 100 guests including 15 members of the Segerstrom family in thanks for their generous support of SCR through the years and, in particular, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Segerstrom Stage. The event was beautifully adorned with red roses, the color that symbolizes a 40th anniversary. Attendees dined on barramundi sea bass sautéed with rosemary and served with garlic-mashed potatoes, haricot verts, baby carrots and spaghetti squash, which was followed by a decadent Opera cake with fresh berries for dessert. While guests indulged in the delectable cuisine, they also enjoyed a slideshow featuring iconic moments from the last four decades of Segerstrom Stage productions.

    Guests who attended the post-show cast party, which was held on SCR’s Ela's Terrace, were welcomed to an inviting, romantic backdrop, as tabletops were covered with gold silk linens and elegant red roses with greenery were displayed throughout the space in small round vases. While songs by The Beatles played in the background, the enchanting evening continued as partygoers enjoyed sampling an array of savory bites and chatting with their fellow theatregoers.

    With a menu inspired by British cuisine, the celebratory soirée was catered by Crème de la Crème and featured passed hors d’oeuvres such as sausage rolls with spicy mustard dip, mini ​chicken Wellington with cognac reduction sauce and potted shrimp salad on country toast with fresh dill. Other scrumptious appetizers included petite beef shepherd pie with a mashed potato top, ​hunter’s vegetable stew in mini casseroles, cheese and crisp veggie platters, in addition to sliced breads, crostinis, crackers and crisps.

    For a sweet finish, partygoers were tempted by an ​autumn apple cobbler with vanilla whipped cream—a delicious dessert that few could resist!  

    The evening’s signature cocktail was a “Gin Austen,” which was comprised of Gordon’s Dry Gin with ginger ale and lime, a fitting ​beverage to honor one of England’s most popular and enduring novelists.

    First Night guests were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and mingle with director Casey Stangl and the entire cast at the after-party. All the while, lively conversation and laughter continued to swirl around Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen’s beloved story about the Dashwood sisters, who chase their dreams from Devonshire to London and back in this charming romantic classic.

    Learn more and buy tickets.

  • From Sketch to Stage with "Sense and Sensibility" Costume Designer Maggie Morgan

    Danielle Bliss
     | Sep 10, 2018
    Sense & Sensibility Costumes

    Preston Butler III, Desireé Mee Jung, Rebecca Mozo, Hilary Ward and Dileep Rao in ​Sense and Sensibility. Photo by Jordan Kubat/SCR.

    Costume designer Maggie Morgan is drawn to the Regency era of Jane Austen. Read on to learn what it's like to research and design costumes for Sense and Sensibility (Sept. 1-29, 2018) and about her creative process.

    What was your design inspiration for the Sense and Sensibility costumes?Elinor

    The contemporary approach of our director, Casey Stangl, inspired me to give a fresh look to the story and the period costumes. The wonderful fashion of the time (1811 or so) was very colorful and sexy—it felt very modern to us. Last year, I had the pleasure of visiting the Fashion Museum in Bath, England, where Austen lived for a time, so I got to use some of my research from that trip on this show, as well.

    What’s the best part—and the biggest challenges—about working on period costumes?

    This adaptation is very swift storytelling and it presented me with a big challenge about how to take the audience along on the journey with the use of costumes to help define the characters and to indicate when and where we are.  Over the course of just a few minutes, the seasons change, we travel through England, go shopping in London, attend a ball and have a picnic by the seaside. So, I needed to keep our costume changes lean, swift and practical without slowing us downMarianne or losing the romance.  This is really my favorite kind of piece to design because I love researching the clothes of other times and I love working with beautiful fabrics—perfect combo for me! The fantastic thing is the opportunity ​to work on a big, pretty, period show with the support and talents of the SCR costume department. I always relish the weeks spent in the costume shop, working on the details and helping the actors bring their characters to life.

    What inspired you to delve into costume design?

    As a young person, I loved art, textiles, music, dance, going to the theatre, vintage clothes, writing, history—all the things I get​ to use in this job every day.  My parents took me to shows and when I saw the original production of Pippin on Broadway, with costumes designed by Patricia Zipprodt, the bug really bit me! Later, I was encouraged by my college teachers and especially my
    mother to pursue a design career.

    What do you enjoy most about costume design?

    In theatre and film, I get to explore all those things that interest me and I especially enjoy figuring out how to take dramatic literature and combine it with fashion historyEdward and the story of our characters. I love collaborating with many very creative, talented and interesting people—including costume makers, actors and the creative team.

    What are some favorite productions that you’ve designed costumes for (at SCR or elsewhere)?

    Here at SCR, The Countess was a highlight for me. ​SCR's costume shop staff and I ​visited the costume department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to do research; since the play was about the painter, Sir John Everett Millais, we looked at his wonderful art as part of our research. The period comedy, Bach at Leipzig, was another really fun one to design. I loved doing the world premiere musical The Haunting of Winchester about the Winchester Mystery House at San Jose Repertory Theatre. Being able to design the first production of any show is a wonderful challenge and a privilege.

    Learn more about Sense and Sensibility and buy tickets.