• Meet the Creative Team of "Tiger Style!"

    by 
    Brian Robin
     | May 09, 2022
    Tiger Style Logo

    Tiger Style! director Ralph B. Peña makes his SCR directorial debut—but that’s not to say SCR is new to him. No, that came when he was a boy growing up in Orange County. He bought his first SCR subscription with the proceeds from his Orange County Register paper route.

    Peña helms an experienced, talented creative team bringing Tiger Style! to life for theatregoers. Mike Lew’s play runs May 15-June 5 on the Julianne Argyros Stage.

    Peña is the Obie Award-winning artistic director of Ma-Yi Theater Company in New York City, one of the nation’s premier incubators for Asian American theatre. Among his numerous directing credits is the off-Broadway world premiere of Lew’s microcrisis. Peña directed The Chinese LadyFelix StarroAmong the Dead, Once Upon a (korean) Time and the short film Vancouver.

    Scenic Designer Se Oh is an SCR veteran of such performances as A Doll’s House, Part 2Cambodian Rock BandYoga Play and Office Hour. He’s worked as an associate designer on Broadway plays such as Dana H., Is This A Room (Lyceum Theater), Clyde’s (Helen Hayes Theater) and Cost of Living (Manhattan Theatre Club). His off-Broadway associate designer credits include For Colored Girls… and Office Hour (The Public Theater), Cambodian Rock Band (Signature Theatre) and The Great Leap (Atlantic Theatre Company). Oh lived in Orange County from 2003-2008.

    Hyun Sook Kim (Costume Design) has designed costumes around the world across a variety of genres for more than 30 years. Audiences have seen her designs at the National Theater of Korea, The National Dance Company of Korea, the National Ballet Company of Korea, the Seoul Arts Center, Lincoln Center, Toronto’s Hummingbird Center, London’s West End and Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, among others. Kim’s designs for the mega-musical The Last Empress involved creating costumes for more than 70 cast members. Her designs were selected and presented in "Costume at the Turn of the Century," 1990-2015 at the A.A. Bakrushin Theatre Museum in Moscow. She is a professor of theatre at Cal State Fullerton, where she mentors costume-design undergraduates and serves as the graduate advisor.

    Lighting Designer Tom Ontiveros returns to SCR after designing Culture Clash (Still) in AmericaA Doll’s House, Part 2, Going to a Place where you Already AreFast CompanyThe Motherf**ker with the Hat and The Long Road Today. His off-Broadway credits include The Exonerated (The Culture Project) and Tune in Festival (Park Avenue Armory). Ontiveros’ designs were seen at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, Geffen Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, the LA Opera and East West Players. He’s earned the Lucille Lortel Award, Unique Theatrical Experience for The Exonerated and the LA Drama Critics Best Lighting Design for My Barking Dog. Ontiveros is an assistant professor of design at the University of La Verne.

    Fabian Obispo (Sound Design) makes his SCR design debut after designing off-Broadway for the Ma-Yi Theater Company’s productions of The Chinese Lady and Lew’s Teenage Dick at the Public Theater. Obispo’s other off-Broadway credits include the Public Theater’s Sea Wall/A LifeOedipus El Rey, and the Ma-Yi Theater Company’s Felix Starro. Obispo’s designs were heard in regional theatres around the country, including Guthrie Theater, Kennedy Center, Folger Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Alliance Theater, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Huntington Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Pittsburgh’s City Theatre Company, Cincinnati Playhouse and Alabama Shakespeare Festival, among others. Obispo’s awards list includes the Barrymore Awards, Berkshire Theatre Critics Awards, International Motion Picture Awards and the LA Film Festival’s Indie Short Fest Award.

    Hanna S. Kim (Projection Design) returns to SCR after designing Little Black Shadows. She has designed off-Broadway at The Public Theater and the American Conservatory Theater. Kim’s designs were seen at the LA Opera, New York City Opera and Long Beach Opera, along with installations displayed at the Annenberg Space of Photography and New York City’s Baryshnikov Arts Center. She earned the Richard E. Sherwood Award, Princess Grace Award in Theater Design, Helen Hayes Award, San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle Award, StageScene LA Award and Stage Raw Award.

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  • Honorary Producers Explain How They Discovered "Our Town"

    by 
    Brian Robin
     | May 09, 2022
    Our Town Logo
    Larry & Sophie Cripe

    Honorary Producers Larry & Sophie Cripe

    Jolene & Mark Peterson

    Honorary Producers Jolene & Mark Peterson

    Rick Smetanka

    Honorary Producer Rick Smetanka, his wife Emily and daughter Cheri with SCR Managing Director Paula Tomei

    Sophie Cripe fell in love with Our Town in high school. Mark Peterson discovered Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic with some help from his wife, Jolene, along with fellow SCR board member Michael Ray—with an unexpected, but nice assist from Peterson’s twins, Luke and Delaney. They were reading Our Town in their high school English class.

    And Rick Smetanka? His path to Wilder’s fictional Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire began through his mentor at Haskell & White.

    Three different paths merged not only in 1901 New Hampshire, but 2022 Costa Mesa when Cripe, Peterson and Smetanka, through Haskell & White, signed on as honorary producers of SCR’s production of Our Town. The American classic runs May 7-June 4 on the Segerstrom Stage.

    Honorary producers are the unseen heroes behind SCR productions. They underwrite the shows, providing the funding support for the world-class talent you see on SCR stages. Their generosity merges with the talent on stage and back stage.

    The honorary producers for Our Town each arrived in Grover’s Corners from different directions. Cripe, who was a theatre major at the University of Illinois, grew up in Peoria, Ill. Yes, the proverbial line “Will it play in Peoria?” resonates with Cripe, who has been a theatre fan all of her life. When she and her husband, Larry, moved to Orange County, they met former board member Olivia Johnson, who gave them a tour.

    Cripe said the first place they went was SCR. That was 1979 and the Cripes have been involved ever since. From 2014-16, she was SCR’s Board President and she is in her second stint as a Trustee. Larry Cripe is a member of the Audience Development Committee. Supporting Our Town—the fifth play she and Larry honorary-produced—came naturally.

    “I remember when I first read it in high school. It really, really touched me,” Cripe said. “I identified with Emily and her lines toward the end of the play asking 'do people really appreciate life.' I also like the simplicity of the way it’s staged. Thornton Wilder had the brilliant idea to make the actors the focus. … The actors and the words are the most important thing to me. It’s the perfect play in that respect. I tend to like things that are more about the audience being able to use their own imaginations.”

    This isn’t a leap for Cripe, who calls herself “a Thornton Wilder groupie.” She can cite lines from Our Town and explain their significance to you with clarity and authority. The first book she “honestly read” was Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and she praised the fact Wilder “could do comedy. Really great comedy.”

    “The brilliance of this man is just beyond me,” Cripe said. “My favorite line from The Matchmaker—and I can hear Carol Channing saying it—is ‘Money is like manure. It needs to be spread around.’”

    For Peterson, supporting Our Town with his wife provides the next chapter in his theatre learning experience. In his own words, the Huntington Beach native “didn’t come from a family that spent a lot of time at the theatre.” Peterson grew up as a “typical Southern California kid who went to the beach and rode skateboards.”

    Then, the corporate attorney met SCR board member Michael Ray, who—along with Jolene and daughters Haley and Delaney—flipped a switch that ignited Peterson’s undiscovered love of the arts. Now, he’s not only a SCR board member, but takes trips to Broadway with his family for shows.

    “I’ve been a regular theatregoer at SCR ever since,” Peterson said, tipping his cap to Ray for the assist. “It’s sort of a passion that my wife and daughters have had and my son and I have learned to appreciate it. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the people at SCR. I have a lot of respect for (Managing Director) Paula (Tomei) and (Artistic Director) David (Ivers) and what they’re trying to do in Orange County to make sure we have high-quality theatre.”

    As for choosing Our Town to support, Peterson leaned on Ray again for a play he’d be comfortable supporting.

    “I wasn’t familiar with it, but it seemed like this would be a good show to get involved with,” Peterson said. “It happened that my younger kids were studying Our Town this year at school. It was kind of a unique circumstance where they’re reading it anyway and we could coordinate something with their school to see a quality production in their own backyard. …”

    “I had talked to Michael about supporting a play and he said, ‘this would be a great show for you guys to get behind,’ so we decided to do that.”

    Smetanka’s path started years ago, when he first joined the accounting and consulting firm Haskell & White. Firm founder Dave White, a longtime arts supporter, introduced him to Tomei and SCR Founding Artistic Director David Emmes. That turned into the first of 25 plays Haskell & White honorary-produced.

    “I give all the credit to Dave White,” said Smetanka, who is now one of Haskell & White’s partners. “When I was younger, Dave introduced me to a lot of the great arts organizations. … Dave was great about teaching me about how vital the arts are in this community. As I’ve grown older and become the father of three awesome daughters, I’ve seen how the arts have benefitted them in terms of creativity and making them well-rounded women.

    “As an employer, we want creative, proactive, forward-thinking individuals. As an owner of this firm, I want Orange County to attract other companies and I think having a thriving arts and ecosystem all contributes to that.”

    Smetanka contributes to that not only through his company’s active role at SCR and other arts organizations, but through his work at ArtsOC, where he chairs that organization’s board. Haskell & White has always been active in consulting for non-profits—including SCR—and Smetanka takes pride in his firm’s support of SCR’s productions.

    “One of the things we’re proud of was even last summer, when COVID hitting the world like it did, that we teamed up with the Mission San Juan Capistrano (on Outside SCR) for the first time. The business world was a bit tepid, things were touch and go, but we decided we’d step up as a firm and sponsor American Mariachi. … We’ve kind of been there through thick and thin for SCR.”

    Smetanka said one reason Haskell & White chose to be honorary producers for Our Town was because of COVID. The play’s message of focusing on the simple things in life resonated with him. To him, the American classic was the right play at the right time.

    “We’ve had such an interesting last two years dealing with the COVID economy, but there’s something about this,” he said. “It’s not nostalgic, but a longing for the simplicity of everyday lives. Nothing has felt routine over the last two years and maybe there’s something in that: the return and thinking about simplicity and everydayness. What a nice simple pleasure that everyone can experience, especially with what everyone has dealt with the last two years.”

    Learn more and buy tickets to Our Town.

  • Hal Landon Jr. Returns to the SCR Stage in "Our Town"

    by 
     | May 09, 2022
    Hal Landon

    Hal Landon Jr. didn’t understand why the term “American classic” seemingly came attached to Thornton Wilder’s 1938 masterpiece like it was part of the title. Yes, he thought it was a nice work when he played Professor Willard in SCR’s 1998 production. But it took 21 years and an invitation to play the Stage Manager in SCR’s current production from SCR Artistic Director David Ivers for Landon to understand why Our Town is the iconic work it is.

    “When we did the play (in 1998), I didn’t get it. I didn’t get what was so great about this play. I didn’t get it then,” Landon said.

    “But after David asked me to do it, I got this copy of the play with a forward by Donald Marguiles. He talked about when he was younger, he didn’t get it either. Then, he saw a production and all of a sudden, it hit him how great it was. This thing Wilder was trying to do with the small everyday things having a universal perspective. The characters, everything about it, all of a sudden, he realizes what was there and he considered it not only a good play, but one of the great plays. … When I re-read it, I got it. Marguiles’ forward really helped me. It really kind of opened up then.”

    Landon returns to the SCR stage for the first time in 2 ½ years for Our Town, which runs through June 4 on the Segerstrom Stage. It’s Landon’s first stage appearance since he ended his 40-year run as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

    And it’s fitting he returns for another signature role. Our Town’s Stage Manager is one of the iconic roles in theatre, in the discussion with Hamlet, Richard III, Medea, Lady Macbeth, John Proctor from The Crucible, Stanley Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire and even The Emcee from Cabaret, for which it bears comparison in terms of being the glue that keeps everything together.

    This is a role played in various productions, revivals and adaptations by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Spalding Gray, Paul Newman, Hal Holbrook, Henry Fonda and Wilder, himself. When it was first produced in 1938, Our Town transformed theatre through the character of the Stage Manager, who broke the fourth wall, addressing the audience and calling attention to the fact the audience is watching a drama.

    It’s a role that challenged Landon in ways he never anticipated. After Ivers’ invitation, Landon dived into reading everything Wilder. He read Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey, along with several Wilder plays, including The Skin of Our Teeth, which brought Wilder his third Pulitzer and second for Drama.

    “It’s a very different part than anything I’ve ever played,” he said. “An actor wants to build some kind of biography (in their character), a past life. With this person, what were they before? I tried to do that here and logic was not my friend. Every time I came up with some possible biography, based on what happened in the past, there would be something in the play that would throw that completely off.

    “The more I tried to do that, make up a bio for the Stage Manager, the more confusing it got. Wilder describes him on the one hand as a ‘cracker barrel philosopher.’ But as the play goes along, he becomes almost a spirit that pervades the play. I just kind of gave up on that. Maybe I’ll play the Stage Manager and forget about his past and play him moment to moment.”

    This opened Landon’s eyes wider. And for his fans, they’ll like what conclusion he arrived at—with the help of Our Town’s director, Beth Lopes.

    “It’s probably the least amount of characterization in terms of changing from me to another person. What I’m doing is pretty close to me,” he said. “What I realized after spending time with Beth is she actually introduced that possibility to me. I’m an actor. I want to create this completely different person, but every time I tried to do that, it didn’t seem to fit. It seemed that it had to be grounded in a real present moment. It seemed like I could do that best playing it more or less as myself.”

    See Our Town on the Segerstrom Stage May 7-June 4.

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  • Director James Moye Brings ‘Million Dollar’ Experience

    by 
     | May 05, 2022
    Million Dollar Quartet & James Moye

    When SCR Artistic Director David Ivers began searching for a director to helm Outside SCR’s production of Million Dollar Quartet, marking this summer’s return to the historic Mission San Juan Capistrano, the choice provided him one of the easiest executive decisions he’s faced in some time.

    All it took was one glimpse at James Moye’s considerable resume and experience with the book by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux, original concept and direction by Mutrux and Ivers knew he found the perfect fit.

    Moye’s “Million Dollar” experience began with playing music impresario Sam Phillips in the 2011-12 off-Broadway production. It segued into directing the 2016 Flat Rock Playhouse production at that North Carolina theatre. Last summer, Moye directed Million Dollar Quartet at the Mill Mountain Theatre in his native Virginia.

    Outside of Escott and Mutrux, there’s no one who knows their way around the fictional Sun Records better than Moye.

    “Jim has acted in 11 musicals on Broadway, including the off-Broadway production of Million Dollar Quartet,” Ivers said. “He is part of a small handful of collaborators who’ve directed Million Dollar Quartet across the country. In addition to being an exceptional multi-disciplinary artist, he especially knows his way around a musical. I am certain our audiences will find his production of Million Dollar Quartet at Mission San Juan Capistrano a complete delight.”

    Moye’s theatre acting credits also include the Broadway or off-Broadway productions of TootsieDear Evan HansenAladdinOn the 20th CenturyBullets Over BroadwayRagtimeA Tale of Two CitiesThe Full Monty and Urinetown.

    Casting continues for Million Dollar Quartet, which runs July 30-August 21 at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

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  • Meet the Cast of "Tiger Style!"

    by 
    Brian Robin
     | May 02, 2022
    Tiger Style Cast

    Actors Emily Kuroda, Derek Manson, Jon Norman Schneider, Amy Kim Waxhke and Ryun Yu.

    Tiger Style!, Mike Lew’s hilarious play about the effects of tiger parenting, runs May 15-June 5 on the Julianne Argyros Stage. Directed by Ralph B. Peña, the talented cast has a wealth of experience—both at SCR and elsewhere. Tiger Style! is the final Julianne Argyros Stage production of the 2021-22 season. 
    Emily Kuroda (Therapist/Mom/Cousin Chen) returns to SCR for the first time since 2013’s Fast Company. She also appeared in the 1996 production of Ballad of Yachiyo and as Mrs. Webb in SCR’s 1998 production of Our Town. She appeared in the Alliance Theatre’s world-premiere production of Tiger Style! and at theatres all over the country. Among her many television credits are as Mrs. Kim in “Gilmore Girls,” “All Rise,” “The Good Doctor,” “The Resident,” “Drop Dead Diva,” “Sequestered” and as Sister Veronica in the upcoming series “The Power.”
    Derek Manson (Russ the Bus/Reggie/Customs Guy) last appeared at SCR in the 2022 Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of A Million Tiny Pieces by Spenser Davis. Prior to that, Manson played Snoopy in the 2021 Outside SCR production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, and the Theatre for Young Audiences and Families productions of James and the Giant Peach and Jane of the Jungle. He has appeared in regional theatres all over California, including in the satirical news show Second City This Week at Second City Hollywood. His television and voice-over credits include “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “The Last Tycoon,” “UnREAL,” “Project Blue Book” and SNL’s “Best of TV Funhouse.”
    Jon Norman Schneider (Albert Chen) makes his SCR debut in Tiger Style! He has appeared at The Public Theater, Lincoln Center Theater, Signature Theatre, Clubbed Thumb in New York and regionally at Alliance Theatre, Alley Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and The Old Globe, among others. His television credits include “Succession,” “Jessica Jones,” “Veep,” “30 Rock” and “Law & Order, Criminal Intent.”
    Amy Kim Waschke (Jennifer Chen) returns to SCR after appearing with Manson in the Pacific Playwright’s Festival reading of A Million Tiny Pieces by Spenser Davis. She also read Coleman ’72 by Charlie Oh at the 2021 virtual PPF. Waschke appeared in five plays at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, including MacbethOthelloHannah and the Dread GazeboSnow in Midsummer and Vietgone. Her film and television credits include “Law & Order: SVU,” “Mythic Quest” and 18 Seconds.
    Ryun Yu (Tzi Chuan/Melvin/Dad/General Tso) last appeared at SCR in 2015 as Takeshi in tokyo fish story, a role he originated. He also originated the role of Gordon Hirabayashi in Hold These Truths, performing it at East West Players, Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Pasadena Playhouse and San Diego Rep, where he won a Craig Noel Award for best solo performance. Yu’s television credits include the recurring character of Pastor Daniel Kwon on the FX show “Baskets,” as Larry on “Fuller House,” and as DHH in David Henry Hwang’s Yellowface, the first adaptation of a major play for YouTube.

    Learn more and buy tickets to Tiger Style!.