Tag Archives: Emily Lehrer

3,500 technical cues in the play? No problem for this mighty pair of stage managers

emily-deena-4.jpg

Stage Managers Deena Tovar and Emily Lehrer, “Arrival & Departure,” Fountain Theatre

You may know that the Fountain Theatre’s smash hit world premiere, Arrival & Departure, is highlighted as Critic’s Choice in the Los Angeles Times, has earned rave reviews everywhere, and has been delighting audiences in sold-out houses since it opened in July. What you don’t know is that the magical mixture of lights, video, sound, music and open captioning is operated by only two stage managers in the booth — executing the play’s 3,500 technical cues in a fast-paced running time of 90 minutes. How do they do it?

Production Stage Manager Emily Lehrer and Assistant Stage Manager Deena Tovar make an excellent team.  They share years of professional experience between them but Arrival & Departure marks the first time they have worked together. It’s also the first time they’ve managed a cast of Deaf and hearing actors. 

There was a learning curve on the American Sign Language front, for sure,” admits Emily. “That being said, everyone has been so helpful and supportive as I fumbled my way through.”   

Deena echoes the same enthusiasm. “This has been an amazing experience. Everyone involved with the show are truly remarkable and supportive. Even with my signing skills — or rather the lack thereof — everyone made sure I was learning.”

“I really want to start studying ASL more seriously,” adds Emily. “It’s a gorgeous language, and as a Stage Manager, communication is at the heart of everything I do. So having that asset in my communication toolbox would be amazing.”

Emily Lehrer is from Los Angeles and has worked as Production Stage Manager on several plays at the Fountain Theatre. She has also stage managed for The Latino Theatre CompanyThe Garry Marshall TheatreThe Odyssey TheatreSacred Fools, and at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Deena grew up in Eagle Rock. She has worked as a Stage Manager all over Los Angeles at such companies as Circle X, Open Fist, Casa0101, Shakespeare Center of LA and many more.

“The Fountain is a great place to work,” Deena beams. “It really is like a family. Anything I need is almost always available. Everyone is here to support the art and you can really feel that when you walk in every day.”

They clearly enjoy working together and make a kick-ass team in the booth and in the rehearsal room. What makes them such a dynamic duo?

“Complimentary skill sets, ” says Emily. “Honestly, a lot of it comes from Deena also being a great PSM, and because she knows how to think like a PSM, she is able to anticipate needs and fill in the gaps beautifully. It also doesn’t hurt that we enjoy each other’s company as people. Having team members you genuinely enjoy working with is a gift, and it makes every aspect of the process go more smoothly and easily.” 

Deena agrees. “We both absolutely love our jobs as Stage Managers. We don’t come to work wishing we were doing something else, we walk in knowing we are working in our dream profession. It also helps that we both have very similar styles of stage managing and from that we are able to predict exactly what is needed before it’s said out loud.”

Emily Deena 5

When Deena first read Stephen Sachs‘ script for Arrival & Departure, and its blend of both Deaf and hearing actors in a production that mixes lights, sound, music, video and open captioning, she was unsure how it would all come together.

“I originally felt it would be difficult for the audience to keep up with everything going on,” she admits. “But during the rehearsal process my concerns were very quickly extinguished. I saw exactly how each word and each scene had to be portrayed to make sure no one was missing out on any moment.”  Emily agrees. “I am so thrilled with the way it turned out.”  

Both have been blown away by the audience reaction. 

“It has been such a balm to see how audiences have responded to the show, ” says Emily. “Especially our Deaf audiences, as they realized with utter joy that this is a production created with them in mind.”

“The audiences have loved it, ” exclaims Deena. “They really enjoy the way the show captures both the Deaf and hearing experiences. I love looking at the audience during intense moments and seeing their reactions. My personal favorite was the reaction of these two women sitting in the front row. Just as the characters Sam and Emily are about to kiss, the two women grabbed each other and shook their heads like they wanted to yell out, “don’t do it!”

Both Emily and Deena feel the play — how it was conceived and the way it is performed — serves a valuable purpose.  

“This production is truly important because it incorporates elements of sign language, captioning and spoken English, ” Deena explains. “This show isn’t only for one audience. It is open for everyone. Everyone can watch and relate. That kind of inclusion is sadly lacking in the entertainment industry.”

“We live in weird, difficult, and downright terrifying times,” states Emily. “Times where hatred, bigotry, and closed mindedness are becoming the new normal. In times like these, creating art is an act of resistance. Creating art that is, by design, inclusive, a celebration of a woman coming into her own, a love story —  is nothing short of revolutionary. “

And now that the celebrated run is soon reaching its final performance? 

“I got to meet some of the funniest, most energetic, and kind-hearted  people, ” Deena confesses. “It really has been an excellent experience.”

“It has been such a beautiful, hopeful reminder of what we can be when we open our arms and our hearts to those who may on the surface appear different than us,” states Emily. “I will cherish it.” 

Emily in booth

Arrival & Departure ends September 30. 

The magic glows to life at ‘Baby Doll’ tech rehearsal

1

Baby Doll tech rehearsal 

It happens so often at tech rehearsal. And yet, each time it happens, it feels like the first. That magic moment when the colored lights are turned on the first time, the sound is turned up, the costumes are put on, the props are placed in hand. Suddenly the weeks of hard work in the empty rehearsal room blossom to life as the design elements add their wonder. This happened, this week, in tech rehearsals for our upcoming West Coast Premiere of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll. It opens July 29.

The cast worked through their cues under the watchful eyes of lighting designer Ken Booth, set designer Jeff McLaughlin, sound designer/composer Peter Bayne, costume designer Terri A. Lewis and props designer Terri Roberts, all under the guidance of production stage manager Emily Lehrer and director Simon Levy.

The meticulous process of technical rehearsals — when light & sound cues are painstakingly timed and drilled — can be tedious. But the end result can be marvelous. As was the case this week with Baby Doll. It’s going to be a beautiful production.  

Enjoy these snapshots from tech rehearsal. You’ll be dazzled when you see the finished production.  

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More Info/Get Tickets

Fountain Theatre presents West Coast Coast Premiere of Tennessee Williams’ ‘Baby Doll’

BABY DOLL image final

Lindsay LaVanchy is Baby Doll at Fountain Theatre

This summer, L.A. audiences get to see a brand new play by Tennessee Williams. Simon Levy directs the West Coast premiere of Baby Doll, adapted by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann from the 1956 Academy Award-nominated film of the same name – the first-ever Williams Estate-approved adaptation of this Williams screenplay. Baby Doll opens at the Fountain Theatre on July 16, starring Daniel Bess, Karen Kondazian, Lindsay LaVanchy, John Prosky and George Roland.

John_Prosky

John Prosky

Darkly comic and crackling with sexual tension, Baby Doll is the story of 19-year-old married virgin “Baby Doll” Meighan (LaVanchy), who must consummate her marriage in two days, on her 20th birthday — as long as her middle-aged husband, Archie Lee (Prosky), upholds his end of the bargain to provide her with a comfortable life. When Archie Lee burns down his neighbor’s cotton gin to save his failing business, his rival, Sicilian immigrant Silva Vacarro (Bess), arrives to seek revenge. What ensues is a complex mix of desire and desperation, with Baby Doll as both player and pawn.

“The miracle of Tennessee Williams is that he can write these wonderful, wacky, wildly rich and complex characters and situations, yet underneath it all are timeless social and political themes,” says Levy. “It’s almost as if this play is a look at today’s America. It’s astonishing.”

 

Karen Kondazian

Karen Kondazian

The Fountain Theatre, Levy and Kondazian, who plays the role of dotty Aunt Rose Comfort, have a long combined history with Williams. Levy has previously directed five of his plays for the Fountain, including Orpheus Descending (1996); Summer and Smoke (1999); The Night of the Iguana (2001); The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Any More (2007); and A House Not Meant to Stand (2011), and the Fountain additionally produced Four X Tenn in 1996. By the time she appeared in Orpheus, Iguana and Milk Train for the Fountain, Kondazian had already starred in numerous Williams productions, including a 1979 production of The Rose Tattoo for which she received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award – and which led to a steadfast friendship with Williams until his death in 1983. 

 

Daniel Bess

Daniel Bess

Adapted for the screen by Williams from his one-act play 27 Wagons Full of Cotton,Baby Doll was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Karl Malden, Carroll Baker and newcomer Eli Wallach. It immediately caused a sensation, due in large part to the poster image depicting Baker in a crib sucking her thumb. It was labeled variously “notorious,” “salacious,” “revolting,” “steamy,” “lewd,” “suggestive,” “provocative” and “morally repellent,” and Cardinal Francis Spellman, the Archbishop of New York, personally denounced the film before it was even released, declaring that Catholics would be committing a sin if they saw it. Baby Doll premiered as a stage play at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ in 2015; the Fountain production is only its second.
 
“Adapting the screenplay of Baby Doll to the stage has been an exciting process,” Mann said. “Every word is Tennessee’s; my co-adaptor, Pierre Laville, and I simply freed the play within the screenplay to allow the four main characters to live on stage.”

Set design for Baby Doll is by Jeffrey McLaughlin; lighting design is by Ken Booth; sound design is by Peter Bayne; costume design is by Terri A. Lewis; props and set dressing are by Terri Roberts; fight director is Mike Mahaffey; dialect coach isTyler Seiple; production stage manager is Emily Lehrer; assistant stage manager isMiranda Stewart; associate producer is James Bennett; and Stephen Sachs andDeborah Lawlor produce for the Fountain Theatre.

 

TW 1956

Tennessee Williams, 1956.

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), born Thomas Lanier Williams III, explored passion with daring honesty and forged a poetic theater of raw psychological insight that shattered conventional proprieties and transformed the American stage. The autobiographical The Glass Menagerie (1945) brought what Mr. Williams called “the catastrophe of success.” He went on to win two Pulitzer Prizes, for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955. Among his many other masterpieces are Vieux Carre, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Rose Tattoo, Orpheus Descending, The Night of the Iguana and Camino Real.

The Fountain Theatre is one of the most successful intimate theaters in Los Angeles, providing a creative home for multi-ethnic theater and dance artists. The Fountain has won over 225 awards, and Fountain projects have been seen across the U.S. and internationally. Recent highlights include being honored for its acclaimed 25th Anniversary Season in 2015 by Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council; the 2014 Ovation Award for Best Season and the 2014 BEST Award for overall excellence from the Biller Foundation; the recent production of the Fountain’s Citizen: An American Lyric in Charleston, S.C. to commemorate the tragic shooting at Mother Emanuel Church; and the naming of seven Fountain productions in a row as “Critic’s Choice” in the Los Angeles Times.

More Info/Get Tickets

‘Baby Doll’ company gathers for thrilling first reading at Fountain Theatre

BABY DOLL first read 003

Sometimes you have a first reading of a play with a new cast and it doesn’t go so well. The script may be solid and the cast experienced and professional. But the magic may not happen immediately.

This was not the case yesterday at our first read-through of Tennessee Williams’ Baby Doll with this fabulous cast. The magic happened. Immediately.

It was one of those wondrous occasions when actors, director, production team and play all came together in a thrilling first read-through of a colorful and dynamic script. As the actors read the script together for the first time, the play soared off the page. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The gathering began in extraordinary fashion. Actress Karen Kondazian, playing Aunt Rose Comfort, has starred in many Williams plays and knew the playwright personally. Before rehearsal began yesterday, Karen displayed a small black box and slowly opened it. She carefully unwrapped the contents and held it up in the palm of her hand like a scared relic: a pair of Tennessee Williams’ glasses. It was passed around the table. Each company member examined the glasses, some put them on and had the unique experience of “seeing through the eyes” of one of America’s great playwrights.    

Fountain Co-Artistic director Stephen Sachs welcomed the company and guided them through the paperwork at hand. Director Simon Levy spoke briefly about the play. Then the cast — Daniel Bess, Karen Kondazian, Lindsay LaVanchy, John Prosky and George Roland — read the script. And the play immediately leapt to life.

Joined at the table were Co-Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor, associate producer James Bennett,  production stage manager Emily Lehrer, assistant stage manager Miranda Stewart, props designer Terri Roberts and publicist Lucy Pollak. 

MORE INFO/GET TICKETS  

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Opening Night Party for LA Premiere of ‘My Mañana Comes‬’

SS photos 011

Lawrence Stallings, Richard Azurdia, Jossara Jina, Pablo Castelblanco, Armando Molina, Emily Lehrer

The house was packed Saturday night for the opening night of our Los Angeles Premiere of Elizabeth Irwin’s fast, funny and powerful new play, My Mañana Comes‬

The thrilling performance was followed by a lively reception upstairs in our charming cafe. The delicious food was provided by Marouch, a local Lebanese and Armenian restaurant. Fountain Friends and audience members had a wonderful time meeting the cast and company.

Directed by Armando Molina,  My Mañana Comes‬  features Richard Azurdia, Pablo Castelblanco, Peter pasco and Lawrence Stallings. The play offers an inside look at four busboys in a fancy NY restaurant as they joke wildly with each other and struggle to better their lives and chase the American Dream.

Our Fountain LA Premiere is already earning rave reviews. “This production of My Mañana Comes is an exemplar of ensemble acting, ” hails Theatre Notes.”The players are extraordinary.”  

Enjoy these photos from the Opening Night Party! 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My Mañana Comes‬ Now playing to June 26 (323) 663-1525 MORE/Get Tickets  

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: the magic of donuts and tech weekend for ‘My Mañana Comes’

tech design crew

Design and production team at work during tech weekend.

There are no two ways about it. Tech rehearsals are a long, incremental process. Light cues are programmed into computers, sound levels are meticulously adjusted, set and prop elements are continuously added, costumes are inspected under actual lighting. Actors work out the timing of cues, all under the eye of the director. It can be a slow, repetitive and exacting undertaking.

 

donutsOver 26 years, we have found the key to a successful Tech Weekend: donuts. Lots of them. Actually, our three sacred virtues of Tech Weekend are Diligence, Patience and a Sense of Humor. The cast, design and production team for My Mañana Comes demonstrated all three last weekend as we began integrating the design elements into our upcoming LA Premiere.  

 

The play takes place in the kitchen of an upscale New York restaurant. Michael Navarro’s red brick and stainless steel set design creates the environment. The seating at the Fountain has been restored to its original configuration (we were in-the-round for Dream Catcher) and the audience is expected to feel like fine diners with theatre programs designed like restaurant menus.

My Mañana Comes is a funny and fast-paced new play about four busboys in a fancy bistro who juggle plates, their friendship and chase the American Dream. Written by Elizabeth Irwin and directed by Armando Molina, our LA premiere stars Richard Azurdia, Pablo Castelblanco, Peter Pasco and Lawrence Stallings.  It runs April 16 – June 26.

Enjoy these photos from Tech Weekend

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My Mañana Comes April 16 – June 26  MORE/Get Tickets

PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Fountain Family and friends enjoy closing party of ‘Dream Catcher’

cafe group

Fun time in our upstairs cafe.

Even the most vivid dreams come to an end. The Dream Catcher company awoke Monday night from their 2-month reverie and enjoyed their final performance followed by a lively reception in our upstairs cafe. Another magical evening at the Fountain.

Dream Catcher enjoyed an extended two-month run that earned rave reviews. Actors Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell gave a thrilling performance Monday night. They were joined at a fabulous party in our upstairs cafe by director Cameron Watson, playwright Stephen Sachs, stage manager Emily Lehrer, Co-Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor and producer Simon Levy, associate producer James Bennett and props designer Terri Roberts. Others attending were Jennifer Finch (“I and You”), Sabina Zuniga Varela (“El Nogalar”), Barbara Beckley (Colony Theatre), Michael Seel (Theatre@Boston Court), Dany Margolies, Sandy Baldonado, Kevork & Cecile Keshishian, and videographer Paolo Durazzo.     

This dream now ends. Another dream begins.

Enjoy these photos!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Busboys juggle plates, friendship and immigration in funny, powerful L.A. premiere of ‘My Mañana Comes’ at Fountain Theatre

FT MY MANANA Discover Hollywood ad copyJust beyond the elegant dining room of an Upper East Side restaurant, service workers angle for shifts, pray for tips and cling to dreams of life beyond their daily back-of-house grind. Armando Molina directs the Los Angeles premiere of My Mañana Comes by Elizabeth Irwin, opening April 16 at the Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.

The minimum wage crisis and rights for undocumented workers lie at the center of Irwin’s funny and powerful new play.

Starring as four busboys working in the kitchen of an upscale French restaurant in Manhattan are Richard Azurdia (Backyard at Echo Theater Company, Bill & Joan at Sacred Fools, one of 54 “fascinating Angelenos” profiled in LA Weekly’s 2015 People issue), Pablo Castelblanco (Sálvese quien pueda at the Leonardus Theatre in his native Bogotá, Colombia) Peter Pasco (Our Lady of 121st Street at the Victory, Seven Spots on the Sun at Theatre @ Boston Court) and Lawrence Stallings (original productions of Book of Mormon on Broadway, Hair and Passing Strange off-Broadway).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Expertly juggling delicate entrees and fussy customers, the young men face off with management and with each other when a sudden pay cut threatens their dignity, their dreams for a better life — and their friendship.

“This is exactly the kind of play we like to do at the Fountain,” suggests co-artistic director Stephen Sachs. “It’s fast-paced, hip and funny, but it also opens a window into a community we don’t often see, gives voice to a community that is usually not heard. You really get to know and care about these guys – the relationships, camaraderie and the sharing of dreams.”

According to Molina, “Irwin gets to the truth about who these guys are, the reality beneath the tropes. She shatters preconceptions.”

Irwin, who worked in the restaurant industry for many years, wanted to explore what undocumented immigration means to people who are directly affected by it — both those who are undocumented and those who work alongside and have relationships with them.

“This story explores the complications and nuances of their lives,” she said in an interview.

Set design for My Mañana Comes is by Michael Navarro; lighting design is by Jennifer Edwards; sound design is by Christopher Moscatiello; costume design is by Magdalena Guillen; props and set dressing are by Dillon Nelson; production stage manager is Emily Lehrer; associate producer is James Bennett; and Stephen Sachs, Simon Levy and Deborah Lawlor produce for the Fountain Theatre.

Join us! Your dining experience will be excellent. More Info/Get Tickets 

PHOTOS: First rehearsal for the funny fast-moving LA Premiere “My Manana Comes”

quarter cafe counter

The cast: Peter Pasco, Richard Azurdia, Pablo Castelblanco, Lawrence Stallings

Did we have a good time Friday night or what? The cast and Fountain production team gathered for the first rehearsal of our upcoming LA Premiere of Elizabeth Irwin’s My Manana Comes. Directed by Armando Molina, this funny, fast-moving and powerful new play stars Richard Azurdia, Pablo Castelblanco, Peter Pasco and Lawrence Stallings. It opens April 16th.

In My Manana Comes, four kitchen workers in an upscale restaurant learn the hard way how to deal with pay cuts that could jeopardize their dreams for a better life, their dignity and their friendship. Fast-paced, hip and funny, the play brings to colorful life the camaraderie, sharing of dreams, competition and traitorous backstabbing that climaxes with a powerful dramatic turn at the end. Immigration, the minimum wage crisis, rights for undocumented workers, and citizenship lie at the center of this fast-moving, funny and powerful new LA premiere that examines the true meaning of “home” and how far we’re willing to go to get there.

At Friday night’s first rehearsal, producer Stephen Sachs welcomed the group and guided them through production business. Director Armando Molina spoke about his vision for the play. Joining the actors were Producing Director Simon Levy, Associate Producer James Bennett, Director of Development Barbara Goodhill, publicist Lucy Pollak, costume designer Magdalena Guillen, and production stage manager Emily Lehrer.

After business and paperwork were finished, the four actors sat at the table and read the script together for the first time. The play instantly came alive from the first few pages. Funny, hip, heartfelt, with a strong dramatic turn at the end. Instant chemistry developed between these four talented actors, feeling like these four characters had worked together closely for years. It was hard to believe the cast had just met Friday night for the first time.

Audiences are going to love this funny new play and enjoy the four dudes in this chaotic kitchen. My Manana Comes opens April 16th. Join us! The service will be excellent!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More Info/Get Tickets

 

NEW VIDEO: A Rehearsal to Remember

acting 8a

Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell

A road trip rehearsal in the vast, open desert became an unforgettable experience for the company of Dream Catcher on Saturday.

Because the new play is set in the middle of the Mojave desert, director Cameron Watson led actors Elizabeth Frances and Brian Tichnell, playwright Stephen Sachs and stage manager Emily Lehrer to a desert spot 80 miles outside Los Angeles. They would rehearse the play there. Watson hoped the desert would offer the actors an authentic sense of place and the opportunity to soak up the sights, sounds, smells and heat of the landscape.

They experienced something much more.

  

Dream Catcher Jan 30 – March 14 (323) 663-1525 More Info/Get Tickets