• Party Play: "American Mariachi"

    by 
    Beth Fhaner
     | Sep 18, 2019

    Playwright José Cruz González’s American Mariachi, a big-hearted comedy with live music, opened to an enthusiastic and appreciative audience on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, on the Segerstrom Stage. American Mariachi kicks off SCR’s 2019-20 season.

    SCR’s production of American Mariachi marks a homecoming for González, as he launched the theatre’s Hispanic Playwrights Project in 1986 and led it for many years afterwards. As part of SCR’s Dialogue/Diálogos, he was commissioned to write The Long Road Today/El Largo Camindo de Hoy, a site-specific play performed in 2014 that featured stories and actors from the communities of Santa Ana. González has long been an advocate for Latinx voices, and we’re thrilled to have him back at SCR with American Mariachi.

    Under the expert direction of Christopher Acebo, the entire ensemble delivered extraordinary performances while transporting the audience to the mid-1970s. Led by Diana Burbano as Amalia Morales and Gabriela Carrillo as her daughter, Lucha, the talented cast also includes Alicia Coca, Sol Castillo, Satya Jnani Chavez, Mauricio Mendoza, Marlene Montes, Luzma Ortiz and Andrew Joseph Perez. The action is supported throughout by the outstanding ​music of the onstage mariachis: Esteban Montoya Dagnino (​trumpet), Sayra Michelle Haro (​violin/Tia Carmen), Antonio A. Pró (​guitarrón), Ali Pizarro (​vihuela) and Adam Ramirez (violin).

    American Mariachi was heartwarming and hilarious,” said Joseph C. Hensley, with Corporate Honorary Producer U.S. Bank. “Its story line dealt with progress and cultural change, family and dreaming big. I laughed ‘til I cried!”

    Guests who attended the cast party on Ela’s Terrace were welcomed to a bright and inviting scene. Linen-covered cocktail tables displayed a variety of hues ​and created a fun and festive vibe. Colorful floral arrangements also added to the cheerful ambiance. ​Mariachi group, Son de Kalavera, provided live entertainment for guests and even inspired some First Nighters to get out on the dance floor. 

    The Little Onion Mexican Restaurant provided the catering ​with a menu inspired by Mexican cuisine​. ​Partygoers feasted on an array of delectable hors d’oeuvres such as beef taquitos, ceviche and other small bites. Mouthwatering desserts such as coco flan and tres leches cake provided a sweet finish.

    From the bar, the signature cocktail was dubbed “Luchita Bonita Margarita”—a delicious beverage named for the main character’s nickname—and comprised of El Mexicano Blanco Tequila (our official First Night tequila sponsor/show sponsor), lime juice and triple sec.

    First Night theatregoers were thrilled to have the opportunity to meet the director, playwright, the entire cast and mariachis during the after-party. As guests mingled with fellow ​attendees into the evening, much appreciation and acclaim continued for the cast and creative team of American Mariachi, José Cruz González’s vibrant, spirited comedy about young women who dream big and embrace the transcendent power of music.

    Would you like to see a larger version of the slideshow? ​Watch it here.

    Learn more about American Mariachi and buy tickets.

  • Canadian Slang, Eh?

    by 
    Beth Fhaner
     | Sep 13, 2019

    Canadian Flag

    English and French are the two official languages spoken in the Great White North, but Canadians (lovingly known as "Canucks") also have an “unofficial” language—that of Canadian slang. Below are some common Canadian slang words that Americans might find amusing, but should definitely know, especially if planning to visit our friendly neighbors to the north. Additionally, it might be a good idea to brush up on your Canadian slang before attending a performance of The Canadians (Julianne Argyros Stage, Sept. 29-Oct. 20), a hilarious romp from the Great White North to the Caribbean, as Canadian Gordy and his pal, Brendan, are gifted two all-expenses-paid tickets on a gay cruise with a shipload of memorable characters.  

    Common Canadian slang words:

    • Eh? - This is the classic Canadian term used in everyday conversation. The word can be used to end a question, say “hello” to someone at a distance, to show surprise as in you are joking, or to get a person to respond. It’s similar to the words “huh”, “right?” and “what?” commonly found in U.S. vocabulary.
    • Double-double - A common phrase used to indicate a regular coffee with two creams and two sugars. It is a kind of coffee from Tim Horton, the most popular coffee shop in Canada.
    • Loonies and Toonies - A loonie is a Canadian $1 coin with an image of the Canadian bird, the loon, on one side of the coin. The Loonie replaced the Canadian $1 bill in 1987. The Canadian $2 coin was introduced in 1996, and the words “two” and “Loonie” became a single term, Toonie.
    • Toque - Pronounced “toohk” or “tuke,” a toque is a winter hat that others would commonly refer to as beanies or ski hats. It has its origins from a French word that has the same meaning, “cap”.
    • Poutine - Poutine is a popular dish made with French fries and cheese curds topped with brown gravy. It originated in the Canadian province of Quebec.
    • Pop – Refers to soda.
    • Washroom - The Canadian word for restroom.
    • Pencil Crayon - This slang is known as colored pencil in the U.S. Perhaps Canadians say ​pencil crayon because it’s related to the French’s ‘crayon de couleur’.
    • Icing Sugar - This is a kind of fine granulated sugar used while baking to make icings. The alternative word for this is powdered sugar.
    • Mickey - Mickey is a word referring to a flask-sized bottle of liquor such as rum or Canadian rye whiskey.
    • Timmies - Timmies refers to the popular Tim Horton’s fast-food coffee chain. It gets its name from a famous Canadian hockey player. And while you’re at Timmies, don’t forget the “Timbits”, which are commonly known as donut holes.
    • Homo milk - This is one of the Canadian slang words that refer to milk with 3.25% fat. However, it should not be confused with the Canadian whole milk. Usage of the word ‘Homo’ in the U.S. refers to homosexuality. But in Canada, it’s a word that is plastered on milk cartons to refer to a specific kind of milk. In the U.S., this milk is known as homogenized milk.
    • Hang a Larry - This slang term is used while driving and simply means to “Take a left” (see below for the term to “Take a right”).
    • Hang a Roger - This slang ​term means make a right turn while driving.
    • Runners - Runners are casual sport shoes such as sneakers or tennis shoes.
    • Chocolate Bar - In the U.S., this word means a candy bar. In Canada, it’s used for all bars that have any amount of chocolate in them.
    • Parkade - A Canadian slang word that refers to a multi-level parking structure. Americans call it the parking structure, parking garage or parking deck.
    • Kerfuffle - This word refers to a commotion or fuss caused by disagreement (most commonly found during, or after, sports games).
    • Two-four – Commonly used to refer to a case of 24 beers.
    • Chesterfield – Refers to a sofa or couch.
    • Snowbirds- Canadians who head south during the winter months to escape the cold.
    • Click – Refers to kilometers, the unit of length in the metric system equal to 1,000 meters. Some spell the word as ‘Klick’.

    For more Canadian slang, check out this fun video by Toronto-born actor Will Arnett.

    Learn more about The Canadians and buy tickets.

  • Party Play: “Play Your Part” 2019 Gala – A Spectacular, Theatrical Celebration!

    by 
    Beth Fhaner
     | Sep 12, 2019

    On the evening of Saturday, Sept. 7, SCR’s “Play Your Part” 2019 Gala got underway at The Westin South Coast Plaza, as guests arrived through the Private Valet entrance to the East Galleria. Designer Angela Balogh Calin’s theatrical vision awaited attendees, with dramatic red drapery and tables draped in black velvet linens lining both sides of the entrance, setting the tone for all of the excitement to come. 

    As guests entered the cocktail reception, they were delighted to have the chance to “play their part” with six “selfie stations” featuring large frames placed in front of some of SCR’s favorite past productions. Cocktail tables draped with Shimmer Thyme linens from La Tavola and exquisite arrangements by Floral Creations by Enzo also helped to set the chic ambience. Guests enjoyed champagne sponsored by Le Grand Courtâge ​and the Signature Cocktail was the “Curtain Call”—a refreshing cucumber soda cocktail featuring Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Guests also indulged in incredibly tempting tray-passed hors d’oeuvres such as vegan polenta with vegetable ratatouille, miso salmon on a crostini with edamame spread and brie cheese and raspberry in phyllo.

    Following the cocktail reception, guests entered the Plaza Ballroom, which featured elegant drapery along with an array of SCR costumes and draft renderings of past SCR productions. The stage, surrounded by truss and featuring the ​SCR logo, was surrounded by screens that showed images of past SCR productions. Tables were draped with laser-cut Toni Black linens from La Tavola ​that displayed white linens underneath—all to a stunning effect. The tables also featured Galaxy Black Glass Chargers from Signature Party Rentals and Dupionique​ Seaweed linens from La Tavola.

    Executive Chef Adrian Hernandez impressed the crowd with his delectable cuisine including chilled potato and leek soup and a selection of artisan breads, followed by a delicious duet of filet mignon with a peppercorn sauce and rosemary-skewered shrimp served with mashed potatoes and green beans. For a sweet finish, partygoers indulged in mini chocolate cakes garnished with a chocolate collar and raspberries.

    During the festive event, theatre enthusiasts cheered greetings from Board President Sam Tang, Managing Director Paula Tomei, Gala Chairs Laurie and Steve Duncan, and Artistic Director David Ivers. Immediately following Ivers’ remarks was a surprise two-song performance by American Mariachi musical director Cynthia Reifler Flores and her group, Mariachi Corzón de México.

    Following dessert, the raffle drawing was held onstage​ and it added an exciting element to the evening. Prize winners included Carla Furuno (and Jeff Pulchaski), who won the 18-karat yellow-gold diamond bangle from Lugano Diamonds; Diane (and Rodney) Sawyer, who won the South Coast Plaza Gift Certificate; and Wylie and Bette Aitken, who won the private Inside the Actors Studio Workshop at SCR. The winners of the two intimate dinner parties to be held at the homes of Artistic Director David Ivers and Managing Director Paula Tomei were Socorro and Ernesto Vasquez, who won ‘An Evening at Chez Ivers’ and Pattie and Jon Fasola, who won ‘An Evening at Chez Tomei/Emmes’.

    The celebration continued as The A-List, a 10-piece 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 wildly successful evening—a spectacular celebration of the theatre they supported so generously.

    Gala Chairs Laurie and Steve Duncan also shared their enthusiasm for the special evening. “The 2019 Gala was a huge success and a fantastic night because of the dedicated effort, passion for excellence and leadership of the Gala Committees and the SCR Staff,” said the Duncans.

    “From the beautiful graphics, logo, save the date and invitation, to the delicious food and wine, the beautiful flower arrangements, sparkling tables, amazing framed decor and fantastic band that got us all on the dance floor, all the Gala committees and SCR staff truly contributed and brought their very best abilities; they demonstrated the epitome of our 2019 GALA theme: Play Your Part,” they added. “It was an honor for us to be able to participate in this amazing annual SCR event, we got to see it transition from vision to successful reality, and we had fun!”

    We’d like to extend a heartfelt Thank You to everyone who joined us over the weekend 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 30,000 underserved students, teachers and families throughout Orange County each year.

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

  • Meet the Cast: "The Canadians"

    by 
    Tania Thompson
     | Sep 09, 2019
    The Cast of The Canadians

    THE CAST: Linda Gehringer, Corey Brill, Kyle T. Hester, Daniel Chung and Corey Dorris.

    To bring to life Adam Bock’s new comedy, The Canadians, the five cast members wear a lot of different hats. Literally. They portray more than 15 different characters and go through more than 40 costume changes during the show.

    ​​This hilarious romp from the Great White North to the Caribbean follows Canadian Gordy, who's more interested in The Magic ​Flute and pottery classes than he is in Thursday night hockey​ and beers in Winnipeg. ​When he embarks on an all-expenses paid gay cruise with his pal, Brendan, and a shipload of memorable characters, it's possible that small chances could lead to big changes if Gordy can step out of his comfort zone.

    To a person, the cast members love how award-winning Bock writes—colorful, funny, details and moments, true to life. Read below as the​ actors talk about The Canadians, the playwright and whether they could find a line from the Canadian national anthem, “O, Canada,” to use in everyday conversation.


    Brill,-Corey

    Corey Brill
    I portray
    Bobby, Trish, Andy, a White Rabbit and ​a Man on Deck Nine.
    My SCR credits include
    Shakespeare in Love, Office Hour, Of Good Stock, Five Mile Lake, Smokefall and Pride and Prejudice.
    My other credits include
    The Best Man and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (Broadway), Cabaret (national tour); performances at numerous theatres including The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Antaeus Theatre Company, The Old Globe, Hartford Stage and Williamstown Theatre Festival; and “The Walking Dead,” “Chicago P.D.,” “CSI: Miami” and The Normal Heart (HBO).
    Things in this play that make me laugh
    are the consonants. But also the vowels. No, seriously: try saying “F**king work instead of hockey? J***s Murphy” a few times and see if you don’t smile at the musicality of the experience.
    What I love about Adam’s [Bock] writing
    are the moments when his characters passionately discuss the small, but important, details of their lives. There’s something about these exchanges that feels very true-to-life—and, while they seem tiny, they add up to something much larger.
    I’ve never been on a cruise,
    but I was a canoe guide in Ontario for two summers in my youth—that must count for something in this world. In fact, I think my first beer was a Molson. Ah, the memories!
    Would I use a phrase from “O, Canada” in conversation?
    Hmmm. With all those references to defending the True North and standing guard, I guess I’d wait for “Game of Thrones” to come up as a topic!
    I don’t have a favorite cruise ship drink,
    but I’d love to research this!


    Chung,-Daniel

    Daniel Chung
    I portray
    Brendan.
    This is my SCR
    debut, although I was in the NewSCRipts and Pacific Playwrights Festival readings of The Canadians.
    My other credits
    include Office Hour at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Long Wharf Theatre.
    There’s always something new and different that makes me laugh about this play.
    Whether in Manitoba or on the cruise ship, the characters, if related or not, feel like they’re in a family; and these family members have a particular earnestness that just makes me laugh; it's even funnier because family is always funny.
    What I love about Adam’s [Bock] writing
    is that it’s an actor’s ideal playground. Ostensibly, the writing may seem simple at times, but we have found that there is so much to unearth for each character. I've truly enjoyed that exploration of these characters' lives.
    I haven’t been on a cruise ship,
    but I’ve been on a much smaller vessel. My favorite memory is lying under the sun, enjoying a beautiful breeze and viewing the blue, blue water.
    I’ll rephrase a line from “O, Canada”
    so it reads “From far and wide, O Ketchup Chips, we stand on guard for thee.”


    Dorris,-Corey

    Corey Dorris
    I portray
    Beth, Little Harry, Wally and ​a Man on Deck Nine.
    This is my SCR debut, although I was in a reading at the 2019 Pacific Playwrights Festival for Melissa Ross's Unlikable Heroine.
    My other credits include Dutch Masters (Rogue Machine Theatre); Trail to Oregon (off-Broadway); The Guy Who Didn’t Like Musicals; “Futureman,” “The Grinder” and “Stuck in the Middle.”
    The characters in the play make me laugh because they’re funny and they take up a lot of space—unabashedly so. Seeing them interact with each other, and especially the characters who don't take up as much space, is really fun.
    Adam writes the characters to have the potential to be extremely big, but he sprinkles in moments where they show us who they really are, deep down, and why they care. Those are gifts to us as actors because not only is it a challenge, where we get to play both sides, but it also helps us easily add dimension to the characters.
    I recently went on a party cruise for a few hours. I remember another cruise ship passed by ours and there was a black tie affair happening on board. I could see every single person on the other cruise ship stop what they were doing to look at us, with jaws dropped. I'm not sure what we were doing that was so interesting, but I hope to bring some of that to the play!
    Now, about a favorite cruise ship drink, those sound expensive. Can I sneak my own on board?!


    Gehringer,-Linda

    Linda Gehringer
    I portray
    Johnny, Mayor Claudette, Oliver, Indian Princess and a Man on Deck Nine.
    My SCR credits include 21 productions! Most recently The Roommate, Going to a Place where you Already Are and How to Write a New Book for the Bible.
    My other credits include Lady in Denmark (Goodman Theatre); Vicuña (Kirk Douglas Theatre); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Surf Report; The Women; “S.W.A.T.,” “Fear the Walking Dead,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Justified,” “The West Wing” and Into the Storm.
    What makes me laugh about this play is the fact that it’s so unique and original and surprising. This is comedy with heart and meaning—my favorite!
    I love Adam’s [Bock] writing because it is lean and so, so colorful. He creates a whole, beautiful world with very little.
    I have never been on a real cruise, but I have been out on a whale​-watching boat. We were sailing in huge waves and my whole family, including grandkids, ran to the front of the boat. I stayed back and prayed they would live (!) and they DID!!!
    How would I use a line from “O, Canada”? I think it would be “With glowing hearts we see thee rise, and hope The Canadians will rise with thee”!
    While I don’t really like fruity drinks that seem to be served on cruises, I do love how beautiful those drinks are. So, if I had to choose one, I’d pick a drink that had the most color!


    Hester,-Kyle
    Kyle T. Hester
    I portray
    Gordy.
    This is my SCR debut, although I was in the 2019 Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of The Canadians—as Gordy!
    My other credits include Wild Goose Dreams, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Death and Cockroaches.
    The deep investments in little moments in this play make me laugh. Like Brendan warning me, Gordy, not to use my cell phone in international waters—as though my life were in danger. Or Johnny and Bobby announcing the arrival of Nadine, with wild, ferocious relief. Even Wally losing his actual mind when he realizes there’s a shrimp bar at the party.
    What do I like most about how Adam [Bock] writes? Aside from the fact that he’s just plain hilarious? Adam knows how to create layers:  little words like "Huh" or "Okay" become miniature worlds of meaning that express a huge range of contradictory and immensely human emotions. A simple everyday phrase that we might have heard earlier in the play, without really taking note of it, is suddenly imbued with some new, beautiful meaning the second time we encounter it. Pain and joy push up against each other in really satisfying and unexpected ways, and there's always something new to discover the longer and deeper you look.
    How would I use a phrase from “O, Canada” in general conversation? Well, if I was at the gym and I saw a particularly beautiful man doing squats, I might murmur to myself, “O, Canada!” in a lusty whisper.
    I don’t have a favorite cruise ship memory because, unfortunately, I’ve never been on a cruise ship. Can you tell from my performance?!!
    But, with regard to cruise ship drinks, I would ensure that, no matter what time of day it was, I would constantly have a margarita in one hand and a piña colada in the other. ​This is why it's probably good I've never been on a cruise ship!

    Learn more about The Canadians and buy tickets.

  • Summer Vacation Update: Conservatory Instructor Emily Heebner

    by 
    Beth Fhaner
     | Sep 06, 2019
    Heebner_E

    ​Emily Heebner

    Adult Conservatory faculty member Emily Heebner, who teaches acting classes (Acts I, II and III) and had her young adult novel, Seneca Lake published by The Wild Rose Press over the summer. Her book is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

    “It was inspired by my mother’s youth,” Emily says. “She’d grown up in the rural Finger Lakes region of New York during WWII, but my father’s career took her far away from ‘home’ for many years. Eventually they found their way back to upstate NY, near her siblings and their extended families once again. My story is inspired by my mother’s deep connection to home, family and the natural beauty of that region. My mother died at age 59. Writing Seneca Lake was a way for me to spend time with her in my imagination.”

    About Seneca Lake: It’s 1944, and high school senior Meg Michaels has always obeyed her grandparents’ wishes, till now. They’re urging her to give up her dream of Cornell University and accept a ring from wealthy Hank Wickham before he deploys overseas. But Meg has studied hard and yearns for something better than life in the rural Finger Lakes. Plus, Meg’s suddenly fascinated with her childhood friend, Arthur Young, a handsome Seneca Indian farm worker. When Meg and Arthur nurse a sick puppy to health, their friendship transforms into love. But locals look down on “injuns” and resent the fact that Arthur’s farm job exempts him from military duty. While the war rages in Europe, Meg and Arthur must fight their own battles at home…

    About Emily Heebner

    Emily Heebner is a longtime SCR Theatre Conservatory member, writer and actor. She also teaches acting in Chapman University’s Theatre Department.

    Soon after receiving her Equity card at SCR in The Diviners, Heebner became a Broadway stand-by for Noises Off, then played Brooke on that show's first national tour with Carole Shelley. She has worked at other theatre companies including Berkeley Repertory, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Huntington, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Virginia Stage, Arizona Theatre Company and seven seasons at A Noise Within. She’s appeared on television in “The Equalizer,” “Picket Fences,” “Chicago Hope” and numerous commercials. In recent years, she has enjoyed directing productions of Our Town, The Diviners, Eleemosynary and A Wilde Holiday. And, of course, she loves teaching and coaching actors!

    After graduating from Cornell University as an English major, Heebner earned an MFA in acting at American Conservatory Theatre. Later she returned to school to earn an MA in English at CSUN, focusing on creative writing. While publishing essays and articles (The Christian Science Monitor, The Binnacle), she wrote her young adult novel, Seneca Lake. (emilyheebner.com)

    Learn more about SCR’s Adult Conservatory classes.