Party Play: "Sheepdog"

Beth Fhaner
 | Apr 23, 2019

Playwright Kevin Artigue’s Sheepdog, an SCR commission that is also part of the 2019 Pacific Playwrights Festival, opened to an appreciative and engaged audience at its world premiere on the Julianne Argyros Stage on Friday, April 19, 2019.

A complex and mysterious story about two ​police officers who are also romantic partners, Sheepdog captured the attention of the First Night audience right from the start and never let up, delivering 90 minutes of impressive performances, intense dialogue and deep emotion under the skillful direction of Leah C. Gardiner. Theatregoers immediately showed their admiration for Artigue’s riveting drama with generous applause and a standing ovation.

With Erika LaVonn as Amina and Lea Coco as Ryan, the two leads delivered extraordinary performances while giving audiences a glimpse into the complicated lives of two police officers in Cleveland. Voice actors Melody Butiu and Ricardo Salinas are also heard as unseen characters in the play.

The Playwrights Circle served as Honorary Producer for this production. The circle members include Sandy Segerstrom Daniels; Dr. Robert F. and Julia A. Davey; Patricia Ellis; David Emmes and Paula Tomei; Janet and Michael Hards; Tracy and Roger Kirwan; Carl Neisser; Michael Oppenheim; Carolina and John Prichard; Michael Ray; Susan Shieldkret and David Dull; Peter and Joy Sloan; Julia Voce; and Judy and Wes Whitmore.

Circle member John Prichard found the play to be thought-provoking and commented, “It was truly a treat to talk to the playwright, director and dramaturg amid the excitement of Sheepdog’s world premiere! Their insight made the play that much more intense and unforgettable.”

Guests who attended the cast party at the Costa Mesa Marriott, which was a co-sponsor of the event, were welcomed to the stylish space with the warm glow of candlelight and eye-catching floral arrangements consisting of blue hydrangeas, cornflowers and stock flowers.

The celebratory soirée featured a menu of Cleveland-inspired dishes including passed hors d’oeuvres such as potato and cheese pierogis with hollandaise aioli and kielbasa sausage in a puff pastry. Partygoers also enjoyed savory fare including gourmet pizza bagels and grilled corned beef sliders on marble rye bread. For a sweet finish, guests indulged in scrumptious treats including strawberry cassata cake and a gourmet donut display.

From the bar, the play-inspired signature cocktail was dubbed “Cleveland (on the) Rocks”—a delicious beverage that blended whiskey, ginger ale and lime juice over ice.

First Night theatregoers were delighted to have the opportunity to meet the director, playwright and the cast during the after-party. As guests mingled with fellow theatregoers into the evening, kudos continued for the cast and creative team of Sheepdog, Artigue’s important new work that will perhaps help to continue the conversation regarding police violence and the feeling that something needs to change.

Learn more about Sheepdog and buy tickets