Berkeley Rep Blog

July 2009

Berkeley Rep in the news: kudos and casting

posted by Bert Reptile on Mon, Jul 27

Vibrator We are delighted to report that in the East Bay Express Best of 2009, Berkeley Rep scored Best Theatrical Production for The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

Director Les Waters and his cast, designers and crew were lauded for doing an "amazing job with the hefty challenges of tech, timing, and tone that the play presents: thick Irish dialect, more than thirty gallons of blood flowing in each performance, incredibly realistic gunshots and blood spatters, an actor performing an entire scene while hanging from his feet, the grisly sight and sound of sawing body parts, and, most of all, making the whole thing funny."

Bloody good. Read the entire citation here.

Speaking of Les Waters, last season he also directed the world premiere of Sarah Ruhl's In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play), which will be re-mounted on Broadway in October. A recent New York Times story revealed the cast of this Lincoln Center Theater production.

Maria Dizzia, who played the doctor's chief patient in the Berkeley Rep production, will reprise that role. The doctor will be played by Michael Cerveris (Sweeney Todd, The Who's Tommy) and his wife will be played by Tony-winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy).The cast will also include Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Wendy Rich Stetson, Chandler Williams, and Thomas Jay Ryan, who appeared at Berkeley Rep in Will Eno's TRAGEDY: a tragedy.

Read the entire story here.

Pictured above: Maria Dizzia (left)
and Hannah Cabell in
In the Next Room.
photo courtesy of

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Box Office Olympics

posted by Elana McKernan on Wed, Jul 22

Summers at Berkeley Rep are traditionally a time for the organization to take a collective breath, to finish up tasks from the previous season, and to prepare ourselves for the season to come. In the box office, we are grateful for the extra time to process subscriptions, clean up our database, and tackle ongoing projects that fell by the wayside during the previous months. Last summer, there were days when we received more "wrong number" calls than we did legitimate ones.

Well, in case you hadn't noticed, things are a little different around here this summer. Our dear friend Carrie Fisher decided to pay us a visit. We're thrilled to have her, but she's definitely spiced up our summer phone lives.

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Squeaky Clean

posted by Megan Wygant on Fri, Jul 17

While it might feel like midsummer to all of you out there, to us at Berkeley Rep, the scent of autumn is in the air. See, work on our first show of the season, Green Day’s American Idiot, began in earnest a few weeks ago. The prop shop is searching for trash, sets are being constructed, actors have been cast, costumes are being rendered...and all eyes are trained on the prize: getting to the first week of September and the start of previews.

Well, almost all eyes. I recognize that my main focus right now should be on the logistics of bringing more than 30 actors, designers, and associated artists to Berkeley in the coming weeks; thinking about flights, contracts, housing, and all the tiny details that you would never consider when thinking about how theatre artists get from point A to point B. This isn't just an ordinary business trip -- any actors coming to Berkeley from out of town are effectively moving here for four months. And a major part of my job is to accomplish that move smoothly, so that they can do their job as best they can, once they're here.

And yet, that's not what I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about the fellows.

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Trash = Treasure

posted by prop shop on Wed, Jul 15

Food packaging

Timing is everything. Someone else's trash is our treasure. We're a week into the process of finding props for American Idiot and already are hitting a small wall. There's no place to buy what we are looking for. (Yes, I've tried Craigslist, Ebay, Freecycle...and lots of driving around looking on the street...!)

We've made a good start, but I'm hoping some of our avid blog readers might be interested in helping us out. I can even provide an incentive...

Read the entire post

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Even Eddie Fisher Gets Carried Away

posted by Robert Sweibel on Mon, Jul 13

Well, we've survived the first weekend of Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking. The Roda was close to sold out for the first six performances.

Carrie attracts the most fun audiences -- fans of her best-selling books, the recovery movement, the celebrity seekers, a big LGBT following, and yes, Star Wars fanatics. And of course the general theatre-going communities. They're all having so much fun. They love the extraordinary photos of Carrie taken by Rebecca Martinez that decorate the lobby. They love the specialty drinks -- Princess Leia's Pleasure, Rum & Coke Zero, and my personal favorite, Darth Vodka. They love Carrie.

I saw the show on Thursday night. Rapturous ovation at the end. No surprise -- we're going to have a great run. On Friday night, well, big surprise. Turns out Carrie's dad Eddie Fisher was in the house. A natural star himself, Eddie joined Carrie on stage and they sang a duet of "If I Loved You" from Carousel. The audience was very moved. Rapturous ovation.

Rapturous ovations nightly!

Just nine performances left. Tickets are flying out the door. Reserve your seats now.

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Bond, James Bond and Wolverine to hit Broadway?

posted by Elissa Dunn on Thu, Jul 9

Apparently so! While Broadway is no stranger to the occasional mega-watt movie star hitting the stage, this is a whole lot of star-power for one production! It's also being directed by John Crowley of the 2003 London production of The Pillowman. Will Craig and Jackman soon make their way to the Bay Area? One can dream! A Steady Rain by Keith opens at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre in New York City in September 2009.

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Carrie Fisher remembers Michael Jackson

posted by Bert Reptile on Tue, Jul 7

Carrie-Michael Ever since Carrie Fisher brought her solo show Wishful Drinking to Berkeley Rep, we've been following her fabulous blog.

Before heading back to Berkeley for one last prior to opening her show on Broadway, Carrie took the time to write about her interaction with Michael Jackson.

Here's Carrie writing about Michael as a parent:

"I saw Michael multiple times with his children and thought that
he was a very good father. Not only based on seeing him with his children, but also based on his children themselves. They are very well behaved, respectful children, who seemed content in Michael’s company.
I mean, I doubt if Michael cooked for them or parented them in ways that might be considered conventional, but you could see how much he loved them and how much they loved him."

Read the entire entry here.

It's interesting to note that when one celebrity writes about another in this digital age, bloggers, Tweeters, and Facebookers all post like made. Just after posting her entry, Carrie found her recollections all over

To experience Carrie in three dimensions or for more information about her show, click here.

Photo courtesy of

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Finding Nero's six degrees of separation

posted by Sarah Moser on Mon, Jul 6

Connections, connections, connections. I loved hearing about who in the cast and crew of You, Nero had worked together before.  There's something kind of magical about how closely linked everyone seems to be.

YN six degrees

Danny Scheie (Nero) taught Susannah Schulman (Poppaea) how to act when she was studying at U.C. Santa Cruz. He cast her and directed her in plays like Hedda Gabler and Phaedre, because he knew she was really, really good. They have since performed together many times over at Cal Shakes and other theatres in the bay area.

Susannah Schulman, Mike McShane (Batheticus/Beppo/Burrus), and Richard Doyle (Zippo/Seneca/Patheticus) were all in a production of Cyrano at South Coast Repertory a few years ago. Susannah played Roxanne, Mike played Ragueneau, and Richard played Lingniere/Carbon de Castel-Jaloux. Susannah and Richard Doyle have performed together at that very theater many times, including various productions of A Christmas Carol.

Julie Haber, stage manager extraordinaire, has worked on a "million" shows with Richard Doyle, who has been an actor at South Coast Rep for nearly 40 years now. She stage managed a production of Six Degrees of Separation, which featured Susannah Schulman She worked with Kasey Mahaffy (Fabiolo) on Taking Steps at South Coast Rep and with Jeff McCarthy (Scribonius) on The Front Page at the Long Wharf Theatre. Lori Larson (Agrippina) was in a production ofBlithe Spirit at A.C.T. that Julie stage managed, and the two also worked together on Time of Your Life in Seattle.

Julie has also worked with Sharon Ott (director) several times, at Berkeley Rep and at Seattle Rep. Julie worked with Sound Designer Steve LeGrand (Sharon Ott's husband) a lot as well. She and Lighting Designer Peter Maradudin have done dozens of shows together, taking two to Singapore with South Coast Rep.

Maggie Mason (Ensemble) and I (Ensemble) played Rosalind and Celia together in As You Like It at Stanford, and Donnie Hill (Ensemble) and I were both in production of Restoration Comedy that our playwright, Amy Freed, directed for the Stanford Summer Theater. I took my first acting class from Amy Freed.

On the last Thursday of our run, there was a nice reunion when my aunt came to see the show.She and Jeff McCarthy trained and acted at A.C.T. together in numerous productions way back in the day, including a production of Buried Child. She and Lori Larson also had worked together in Seattle.

So many connections! And I know I'm missing a ton. Now that You, Nero has closed and everyone has scattered to the four corners, it's nice to know paths might cross again.

Above: Susannah Schulman, Danny Scheie
and Jeff McCarthy (behind the chaise) in You, Nero.
Photo by Kevin Berne

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What's in Tony's fridge? (and other thoughts from the artistic director)

posted by Bert Reptile on Thu, Jul 2

The answer to the above question is: "Pickles, Italian salami, wheat germ, which is really strange, and all kinds of hot sauces."

TonyTaccone1 That's Artistic Director Tony Taccone answering one of many interesting questions from his interview with San Francisco Chronicle theatre critic Rob Hurwitt.

The interview is in today's Datebook section, and the Q&A topics range from what it's like to work with Carrie Fisher to the people Tony would most like to invite to dinner. Be sure to note his thoughts on cats.

It's a fun read. Check it out here.

Photo by Kevin Berne

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