The Exuberant Theatre Company to Offer Summer Improv Drop-In Classes

From July 16th until August 15th at the PB Rec Center in Pacific Beach

Press Release  
People in San Diego can unleash their creativity and boost confidence with the Exuberant Theatre Company's Summer Improv Drop-In Classes hosted in partnership with the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department.

Whether you’re a newcomer eager to explore the world of improv comedy or a seasoned performer looking to hone your skills, this class is perfect for you. Running from July 16, 2024, to August 15, 2024, every Tuesday and Thursday from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. at the PB Rec Center in Pacific Beach. 

 Class includes: 
 • Warmup and Basics: Each session begins with a warmup and a refresher on the fundamentals of improv. 
 • Scene Work: Dive into scene work, the heart of improv. 
 • Short Sets: The class wraps up with short sets based on short or long-form concepts. 

Skills students will develop:
 • “Yes And”: Learn to support and build on your partner’s ideas.
 • Listening Skills: Enhance your ability to listen and respond in the moment. 
 • Effortless Creativity: Discover how to be interesting and entertaining effortlessly.
 • Comedic Voice: Recognize and refine your unique comedic style. 

 Benefits of Improv: 
 • Increased Confidence: Improve your ability to speak “on the spot.”
 • Reduced Anxiety: Experience the joy of spontaneous performance.
 • Laughter and Endorphins: Enjoy the health benefits of laughter and a positive environment. 

 Class Details: 
 • Ages: 18+
 • Dates: July 16, 2024 - August 15, 2024
 • Days: Every Tuesday and Thursday
 • Times: 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM 
 • Attendance: Drop-in format – attend one session or all!
 • Cost: $25 per single class or $120 for a 5-class punch card (save $5)

Pre-registration is required. Sign up at the links below: 

About the Instructor: 
Sean A. Mulvihill, Artistic Director of the Exuberant Theatre Company, brings years of experience and a wealth of knowledge to these classes. From his early days in musical theatre to founding Blue House Theatre Company with notable actors like Patrick J. Adams and Chris Pine, Sean’s journey has been rich and diverse. With a BFA in Acting from USC, extensive improv training from top institutions like UCB and the Magnet, and an MFA in Physical Theatre from Italy, Sean’s teaching style is both practical and fun. His impressive resume includes film, TV, and international stage performances, as well as a feature film starring Colin Mochrie. Sean’s positive and motivating approach ensures that every participant will leave the class feeling empowered and inspired. For more information about Sean and to read reviews of his work, visit Exuberant Theatre Company. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn, laugh, and make new friends. We look forward to seeing you at the PB Rec Center for a summer of improv fun! 

 Contact Information: Exuberant Theatre Co. Email: Phone: 917-907-2537  

Cygnet Theatre Offers an Artistic Echo to San Diego with their Latest Production of Jonathan Larson's

Tick, Tick...Boom! 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Emma Nossal, AJ Rafael, Leo Ebanks. Photo by Karli Cadel

Amongst the many milestones that come in life, I believe that turning 30 is meaningful. Yes, each birthday should and can be meaningful but 30 is 30, and I will elaborate on why. Bear with me dear reader, as I do my 360s to re-land and start once I have made my point. For my generation, (I consider a full-on X but the experts say I am on the cusp of being an "elder millennial") turning 30 in Mexico meant getting up there. Especially being single with no kids. I strongly thought it was cultural but no. As I started my theatre journey in San Diego at 31, I still felt ancient. It was the sign of the times, the turn of the times, whatever you want to call it. So, I can only imagine the crucifixions happening in the 80s and 90s to the then-30-year-olds. Because 30 is not old, it is just not 20 and you know, marketing, patriarchy, etc. But that is for another day. 

Cygnet Theatre continues its 20th season with a production of Jonathan Larson's autobiographical musical tick, tick…BOOM! which Larson himself performed and toured as a solo piece. After he died in 1996, the piece was revised and reimagined as a three-person show. 

Tick...tick, the internal clock. Tick...tick the societal clock. Tick,tick...the "you are running out of time" clock,  all telling you what should be, what should have been accomplished at a certain age, and what milestones should have been or should be reached.  That is what Jon (AJ Rafael) is internally hearing in 1990 right before turning 30. Living in New York, aiming to make it in the musical theatre business as a composer, while waiting tables to make rent and do workshops. He lives in SoHo with his friend Michael (Leo Ebanks), an actor turned marketer who decided to stop starving as an artist and surrender to the corporate world. Jon's girlfriend Susan (Emma Nosal) is a dancer who teaches ballet to rich, untalented kids. Jon has not made it -queue the song 30/90- and hopes that the musical SUPERBIA he has been working on for five years will be the next Hair or well, the 90s Hair. Jon's agent has not been in contact for over 6 months but she is getting interesting people ready to show up at the workshop and the composer is nervous and longing for Sondheim to show up, who (I heard) would support up-and-coming talent and really go to these things. The workshop takes place, people do show up, and it gets praised. Jon expects something else and starts viewing things through a different lens, and so do the people around him.

AJ Rafael. Photo by Karli Cadel

Larson truly hits all the marks on New York living and aspiring to be a star dynamic including inside jokes and, illustrating the struggle of a non-working artist. The show is a little over 90 minutes long with no intermission and Katie Banville's direction whips up the cast along with the three on-stage musicians and conductor who also plays the keyboard, to sync in a fast-paced, continuously in-movement performance. Banville's director's letter hits the mark as well, touching upon what it is like to not just work in theatre but to work in theatre in San Diego. I am sure many will find an echo in this letter just like I did. The cast of three worked a nice histrionic flow that combined strong harmonies in songs like Johnny Can't Decide, Sunday, and See Her Smile. AJ Rafael in his Cygnet debut showed some mean piano-playing skills and all three actors had their comedic moments. AJ presented Jon's cynicism/dark sense of humor well while Emma and Leo had a character swap a la Freaky Friday or Parent Trap that was definitely celebrated. 

Yi-Chien Lee's set design of mainly, Jon's apartment with all the details from the windows, to the bookshelf and the couch, gave that cramped yet cozy New York feel that was complimented by Jaeonnie Davis-Crawford's detailed props that marked scenery changes punctually along with Joshua Heming's lighting design which gave a perfect sunrise and pumped important moments. The songs in 'BOOM are great and Salvador Zamora made sure the sound and instruments went through as they should, however, in the opening night performance all three of the actor's microphones sounded like, yes, -I say it often- like they were inside a drawer. The dialogues had a bit of hollowness on the sound. Again, it was only the spoken word as the music came in well and the musicians did a great job in their audience right corner with Dr. Randi Rudolph on the keyboard as well as conducting, Danny Chavarin on drums/percussion, PJ Bovee on the guitar, and Christian Reeves on bass. In the song 30/90, Dr. Rudolph musically directs AJ Rafael and I just loved that visual as it was very artistically hands-on.

Emma Nossal, AJ Rafael. Photo by Karli Cadel
Regan A. McKay's costume design, *screams in 90s and no sound comes out*, what a flashback! From the sweater and jacket combo to Susan's mini skirts, the checkered shirts (all back in style btw), and that green, gorgeous, gorgeous mini dress with black tights, yes! I think it was more of a late 90s style than early, but still nostalgia-inducing. I see what Peter Herman did with Emma's wig and those red-ish waffle waves. I wish the side part was not as prominent because it took a bit from the overall shape of the wig. The make-up was clean and natural. 

The RENT hard-core fans will find notes and details here and there hinted in 'BOOM. After the release of the Netflix movie version, it is cool that Cygnet produced the show as it is one of those pieces with history. It is heartbreaking that Jonathan Larson did not see the reimagined tick, tick...BOOM! or RENT. Staging this show, in particular, honors his legacy but also his wishes and creative longing materialize. Like a sort of divine intervention. 

Currently playing in Old Town until August 4th. For performance days and times please click here

CCAE Theatricals Brings Poignant Reminder About the Simple Joys of Life with Latest Production

 "Every Brilliant Thing". Currently Playing Until July 21st

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Allison Spratt Pearce in "Every Brilliant Thing."    Photo by Michael Pearce 

It is funny how things come up with age or while growing into adulthood. The more theatre I see, -which is a lot-, the more nervous I get with interactive pieces lol. So, as I entered the theatre space at California Center for the Arts and was brought through the back to go to a smaller space in the round I thought: "What are we doing?". I was unaware that such a space lived over there. CCAE Theatricals's second production of the season goes to the round and intimate with Every Brilliant Thing, written by Duncan Macmillan and Jonny Donahoe. A one-person play with a big impact directed by artistic director J. Scott Lapp with assistant director Yoni Kruvi. As a side note, there was a production of this piece at the Geffen Playhouse last year and there's a documentary on HBO

Matthew Herman's stage design laid on the corners of the stage having a bench that would hold place for a car, and a couch. There was also a corner with a table that had a record player and books, where in the performance that I saw, Allison Spratt Pearce would take props courtesy of Holly Lapp that went from boxes with memories, to a full-on Casio digital piano. The show will alternate with three other actors as the narrator, Bethany Slomka, Deandre Simmons, and Steven Lone. 

Bethany Slomka, Allison Spratt Pearce, Deandre Simmons, and Steven Lone. Photo CCAE Theatricals

The 70-minute no-intermission piece takes audiences through the life of a person with a suicidal parent. When this person is seven years old and there is the first attempt, the child decides to create a list to help her mom cope with depression. The list entails the most wonderful and simplest things in life like having dessert for dinner, staying up past your bedtime, and watching TV. As years go by, the list reaches 1 million things. The show is interactive and audience members get numbers from the list to say out loud once Allison calls for the number. As she narrates her life, she also enlists audience members to play key roles like father, veterinarian, boyfriend, lecturer, etc. Prompting the lines in their ears to repeat with intention. This is a tricky move as audiences are "invited" to participate on the spot and, this can go in any direction... I would recommend some type of warning having audience members with anxiety or stage fright in mind as not everybody will be or feel confident enough to participate no matter how small the line. Allison handled it well improvising wittily with the histrionic response from her scene partners which made the experience dynamic and balanced the heavy subject matter. The piece also touches upon the domino effect with family members and the environment as mental health is "genetic" and depression can take different forms.

J. Scott Lapp's direction from Witnesses to Curious Incident, has shown a sensitive and delicate style that syncs with these types of works. Spratt Pearce performs the tone and intention in each moment whether it is sad, frustrating, or happy, and again, her playfulness with the audience as she invites them to the stage as with the seated audience, is fast and on the spot. I love me a good denim jumper and it suited the narration, as it works for illustrating the different age ranges. Allison also changes hairstyles to emphasize the ranges from pigtails, to ponytails, to a side pony, and hair down. These are the details that help round out the moment. Coleman Ray Clark's lighting design was bright and pertinent to the setting. Clark who was also responsible for the sound design, serenaded audiences with different classics like "At Last" and "Move on Up" (I am a Jeffersons fan) amongst others. There are moments with a hand-held microphone that went through smoothly as the volume was strong but did not overpower the small space.

As my colleague and fellow SD Theatre Critic, David Coddon mentioned in his piece, to fully review CCAE's production we would have to see all four actors as each performance will be completely different from the narrator to the participating audience members. This definitely makes for a rich and varied run with -shall I say-, a flavor for each taste?

Regardless, Every Brilliant Thing has a well-written script that touches upon something that sadly, is common in our present time. Having the play put out the reminder to just stop and smell the air, noticing all the wonderful things around is special. This piece is very fitting to CCAE and having a smaller intimate production after the elaborate works we have had these past two years, is special too. 

I consider it to be thing number 1,000,001 on the list. 

Currently playing until July 21 in Escondido. For performance days and times please click here

Actresses Reprise Mother-Daughter Roles in

Backyard Reinassance's Solid Production of: "The Beauty Queen of Leenane"

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Jessica John and Deborah Gilmour Smyth. Photo Daren Scott.

I can only imagine the conversations while planning a season and the shows that will make it. Backyard Renaissance continues bringing thought-provoking and gasp-inducing work. Following March's "How I Learned to Drive" their second production, "The Beauty Queen of Leenane", goes from rural Maryland into West Ireland, up the mountains of Connemara, a small town in Galway. For a San Diego Theatre context, this is the third Irish play of the year following LAMB'S "Outside Mullingar", and Scripps Ranch's "Chapatti". It is interesting to see how the geographic playwriting thread goes.

'Leenane, by British-Irish playwright Martin McDonagh, marks the first professional production of this play in San Diego in over two decades, directed by Francis Gercke and reuniting actresses Deborah Gilmour Smyth and Jessica John as mother and daughter, after winning the 2023 Craig Noel award for August: Osage County as Outstanding Production and John taking the Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play award. 

The story is set in 1995 with Mag (Deborah Gilmour Smyth) and Maureen Folan (Jessica John) living together in these remote mountains, which definitely take part in the many triggers of the already toxic and stale relationship between them. Maureen now 40 years old, is one of three sisters and unlike the other two, is still living at home and taking care of her decaying mother who is 70. The Dooley family has two brothers, Pato (MJ Sieber) and Ray the youngest (Nick Daugherty). Pato is working in London but comes back for a visit and has a party inviting the Folans in writing through his brother as the messenger. Maureen, after a heated conversation with her mother, goes to the party and has a wonderful time with Pato. When he returns to London, Pato writes another letter to Maureen. Between Ray being messenger again and Mag's plans, the future envisioned in the letter has its own look for each involved, provoking drastic actions with definitive consequences. 

Deborah Gilmour Smyth and Nick Daugherty. Photo Daren Scott

McDonagh's writing digs deep into the psychological rooted in the fear of loneliness, abandonment,  and selfishness. How the wheels turn when a parent needs care and how a child as an adult, resolves that need. There are also the topics of mental illness, cultural backgrounds, and stereotypes. Tony Cucuzzella's scenic design houses these feelings illustrating a neglected living space that senses a creepy vibe. Francis Gercke's direction along with Hannah Meade as associate director and intimacy coach created a -necessary- thick, fourth wall that felt like a Gesell Dome where audiences are acutely observing what is happening while emotions marinate and materialize. Curtis Mueller in lighting pared up tight and creatively with Logan Kaumuali’i in the sound design to deliver revealing moments whether it was fading or going abruptly to black along with the opposite, coming into a bright light synchronized to perfection with a tingling sound effect that rounded out the resolving, suspenseful feeling. The TV is usually on in Mag's house and the reflection effect of the moving images on the screen was well done too. Lots of movement and even wardrobe changes took place in the dark before revealing to the audience, and the mapping between sound, lighting, and actors was spot-on-pristine. I appreciated the dynamic with Mag's shawl that hung on a rocking chair. That shawl alone had its own blocking and stage direction having it be a central point that balanced the visual while everything was happening. 

Jessica John and MJ Sieber. Photo Daren Scott.
Deborah Gilmour Smyth's virtuoso portrayal is multilayered showing how obnoxious and selfish Mag is while strongly guarding her vulnerability. Not an easy task. Gilmour Smyth and Jessica John definitely took where they left off last year as the strong energy came back and they made the Tenth Avenue Arts venue shake as Jessica embodied Maureen's exhaustion and frustrations with their abrupt turns while also showing her wish for a life with a partner. Continuing with the Craig Noel Award winners over here, MJ Sieber gave a straightforward rendition of Pato, and even though Pato is a -total guy- and you cannot do much for him, Sieber delivered with intention and feeling. 

It is cool to witness an actor's evolution through the stages and seeing Nick Daugherty from the beginning of last year with The Ferryman and Public Enemy to this production now, Daugherty is coming into his own, debuting a new look, no longer involving those signature curls, with a more set stage work that showed a good balance between accent/dialect, comedy, and rapport. A company's choices when staging a production are truly its way of communicating to the audience. Nick was really funny as Ray and with hardly articulating a smile, he truly grasped the role reflecting the page-to-stage effort. Jessica John Gercke's costume choices showed a creative range choosing "mountain-like" pieces for Maureen like boots and heavy jackets along with a flirty party dress and nightgown, while playing with the options for the male roles where Pato is simpler than Ray who has more variety using different toned sneakers, pants and track like jackets. Mag is mostly sitting but still has her wardrobe variety that marked scene changes and made the rhythm flow accordingly. 

Backyard created a solid production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane with good casting that delivers a complex story with all its feelings creating space for interpretations. 

Currently playing until July 13th. For performance days and times please click here

Shakespeare Gets "Zombie-fied" by Loud Fridge Theatre Group with Their Production:

Twelfth Night of the Living Dead, or, What You Kill

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Kaylin Saur and Nick Kennedy. Photo by Daren Scott

Just from the title alone, you can grasp the creative wit this company put -to the stage- for their season opener, adapting Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, an endeavor by local playwright A.J. Schaar, directed by Kate Rose Reynolds, Director of Operations for Loud Fridge.

Yes, the title alludes to the sixties horror film Night of the Living Dead yet truly, the piece is -practically- all Shakespeare with some zombies here and there...with more to come in a pop makeover that was original, and very creative as well as entertaining. Without spoilers, there is a music video-like introduction to the characters that combined Taylor Jo Oxley's choreo moves contoured by Emily Johansson's lighting design which for that first moment, took advantage of the natural sunlight to mesh with the stage light in the venue, resulting in an extra cool effect that worked out and began strong. 

Robert Del Pino, Ruth Russell, William BJ Robinson. Photo by Daren Scott
The Twelfth Night plot starts with a shipwreck where twins Viola (Kaylin Saur), and Sebastian (Hayden St Clair), are separated. Orsino (Nick Kennedy), is in love with the Countess Olivia (Robert Del Pino), who is not interested and is in mourning due to her brother's passing. There is a mini stage to the house right where shadows and shadow-like puppetry take place, framing some scenes like the shipwreck. Props to Michael Amira Temple for the design, as I thought using these tools was very creative as it offered visual options to the audience. 
Malvolio (Ashley "Lee" Engelman), Olivia's house manager is also in love with the countess but, no one likes him so Maria (Donae Swanson), another house employee, decides to play a little joke on Malvolio along with Olivia's uncle, Sir Toby Belch (Danny Campbell). Sir Andrew Aguecheek (Julia Giolzetti) is Olivia's guest and another suitor, Feste (William BJ Robinson) is the house clown, and, Fabian (Liliana Talwatte) another house employee, along with a Lady-in-Waiting/Police Officer played by Ruth Russell. Antonio (Fredy Gomez Cruz) is friends with Sebastian who comes back from the wreck and makes things even messier as there are love triangles, people falling for who they supposedly should not fall in love with while being bitten and turning into zombies, escorted by a combative ending that takes arms and legs (literally).

OK! now that I've gotten that roster down, continuing with the performance, the physicality of the twins, especially Kaylin Saur's whose body movement steers from the unique lines of Viola's character as she is a zombie from the very beginning, is mastered, and flows through the stage in a butter like manner that echoes her circus artistry training. The siblings do twin as there were scenes where I could hardly tell them apart! it came to a point where I thought it was Kaylin, but it was Hayden. There is gender-bending, and things are happening at a twisted pace which sometimes, -common with Shakespeare-, there has to be a catch-up. Kate Rose Reynolds's direction reflects fun and freedom as the actors are playful with their stage personas but truly imprint the intention. Olivia, the popular lady in the story played by Robert Del Pino, is royal. From the attitude to the looks, to the lewk! Way to work that wardrobe by Heather K. Nunn and Kendall Stallworth that thoughtfully layered shorts with skirts, and pants with skirts, combining materials like lace, velvet, and pleather amongst others while capturing the feel of the time. Ashley "Lee" Engelman as the ego-charged yet tricked Malvolio, won over the audience by rocking that iambic pentameter with comedic flare and performing strong fight choreographies, courtesy of Nicolas A. Castillo and Kaivan Mohsenzadeh. 

Lee Engelman. Photo by Daren Scott
Donae Swanson's makeup was flawless while portraying the knotty Maria. Danny Campbell and Julia Giolzetti pair up nicely and gift some laughs, dad jokes included. I had yet to see William BJ Robinson on stage and I liked their smooth histrionic style of work as Feste, playing instruments and dodging zombies. Nick Kennedy's Orsino is a joy as the strong intonation is there, though modulated with mischief, having a combination that makes it engaging. There was a particular scene that made Estefania Ricalde's sound design shine, or should I say blast? with a playful songlist that was also signaled well. Fredy Gomez Cruz's interventions are short and sweet making it almost to all 90-ish minutes in one piece, unlike the characters of Ruth Rusell and Liliana Talwatte who were bitten into zombies having some frolicsome stage fun with their cast mates and the audience. 

There have been many experiments and creative takes while staging a Shakespeare piece. This is one of the most creative. And the reaction of an audience member after the performance that I saw, assuring "No more Old Globe for me!" I consider to be one of the best reviews you can get.
Good for Loud Fridge as they continue to take risks that fulfill their creative mission. The Bard can be intimidating and, with this production, the company offered an alternative to and for seeing Shakespeare.

There are three performances left free of charge, playing this weekend at the City Heights Performance Annex. For reservations and times please click here