Backstage Blog


From the talented cast and crew to Pasek & Paul’s catchy score, Dogfight gave audiences every reason to enjoy every minute of this extraordinary production. It is almost time for final bows and here is what the cast said about their Dogfight experience.

Patrick Osteen becomes Eddie Birdlace

Patrick Osteen becomes Eddie Birdlace

What has been your favorite part of working on Dogfight? It’s evolved throughout. Each chapter of the process has its own perks. When it comes to working on things after opening, I find it especially enjoyable to continue to explore smaller and more intricate moments that weren’t able to be addressed as deeply in the earlier parts of the rehearsals.

What will you miss the most? least? This has been such a remarkable theatre community to get to work with. I’m going to miss that big time. Rare to find such a supportive and excellent team all around. Least? Maybe putting on my black eye at intermission because I seem to forget to do it constantly. Or shaving everyday!

Do you have a favorite number? moment? Not specifically. Lots of things I look forward to.

Is there a behind the scenes ritual/superstition you’d like to share? I find it very helpful to exercise before the show. I usually jump rope for 20-30 minutes.

If you could keep one costume item, what would it be? My dog tags. One of the cast members got custom tags made for everyone playing Marines. Thought that was very special.

What’s up next for you? I have a workshop of a new musical coming up right after I get back to NYC. I’m very excited about it – it’s a stellar creative team that has been working on this project for years.


Sarah Errington becomes Marcy

Sarah Errington becomes Marcy

What has been your favorite part of working on Dogfight? Honestly, the incredible cast and crew. Dogfight has been an interestingly difficult journey for all of those involved, and everyone has handled the story with such a delicate hand. So much heart. I’m very thankful.

What will you miss the most? least? I will miss Sarah Marion, our dresser…but not the amount of costume changes.

Do you have a favorite number? moment? I have the absolute pleasure of sharing the title number with the powerhouse Caitie Grady. I look forward to a specific moment toward the end of the song where we finally lock eyes and our characters connect. The only full scene where the women take over. I love it!

Is there a behind the scenes ritual/superstition you’d like to share? This is a silly little thing, but Alex and I are silly people and I adore it. Before we head out to the Nite Lite, he always does a goofy offering of his arm.

If you could keep one costume item, what would it be? My teeth. They are so gross and it’s perfect. I foresee some awesome practical jokes.


Scott Nickley becomes Bernstein

What has been your favorite part of working on Dogfight? I’ve loved working with the cast and crew throughout the entire process. Everybody seems to be able to find the perfect balance of work and play to make this show an awesome experience.

What will you miss the most? least? Dogfight is a show that I’m very attached to, and being able to take part in a production of it has meant so much. Getting on stage and telling this story is what I’ll miss the most.

Do you have a favorite number? moment? My favorite number is probably “That Face.” It’s the closest we get to a big group number but it also is sort of the antithesis to a big group number because everyone in the scene has different motivations and understandings of why they are at the party. It’s a really cool paradox.

Is there a behind the scenes ritual/superstition you’d like to share? The consistent pre-show ritual in the guys dressing room has been singing along/coming up with new lyrics to the songs played as the audience finds their seats before the show.

If you could keep one costume item, what would it be? My birth control glasses.

What’s up next for you? After we close, I’m headed to NYC to fulfill a long time dream and to continue to pursue a career in the arts.


Debra Wanger becomes Mama

Debra Wanger becomes Mama

What has been your favorite part of working on Dogfight? Working with new people. Most of this cast is new to Cygnet, a great group of musical theatre actors in San Diego.

What will you miss the most? least? I will miss the people. I’ve made some great friends on this show. I won’t miss the ugly colors I have to wear! I have about four different ugly shades of green to wear.

Do you have a favorite number? moment? I could listen to Sarah and Caitie sing the title song all night. They absolutely kill it every time.

Is there a behind the scenes ritual/superstition you’d like to share? Patrick (Birdlace) and some of us pat our heads right before we go to places in act two. It’s a weird good luck gesture we share. Also, we’ve added some new dance moves to First Date/Last Night backstage.

If you could keep one costume item, what would it be? Suzette’s glasses. She’s been a lot of fun. Oh…and my green hooker dress. It’s my one flattering costume in the show and I wear it for about 7 seconds in act two.

What’s up next for you? La Cage aux Folles and White Christmas at San Diego Musical Theatre. Two shows my kids can see!

Catch Dogfight before it closes on August 23rd.

From Box Office to Backstage – Cygnet’s Newest Costume Designer Talks Shop

On stage…and off…Cygnet knows talent when we see it.  Jacinda Johnston-Fischer started with Cygnet Theatre in the box office, but knew early on that costume design was her passion.  She helps Cygnet kick off Season 13 with the hit musical Dogfight. 

Jacinda Johnston-Fischer

Jacinda Johnston-Fischer

How does it feel to make the transition from box office to the creative team?  It’s exciting to get to explore a new facet of the company. I started working with Cygnet because I am inspired by the work that they do and the stories they tell. So, I can’t help but be thrilled to finally be a part of the process.

What resources/research did you use to develop the look of the costumes? Books, magazine, Dogfight movie, other films?  I’ve studied fashion history in depth, which gives me a great foundation to start the process. I build on that foundation with books, and any other resources I may find helpful. It also helps having discussions with the creative team and director, which may help focus me on a certain color pallet or silhouette.

With Dogfight, how would you describe the “look” you are going for?  This show comes with a lot of predetermined necessities. For example, our Marines’ uniforms are very specific and need to be as accurate as possible, seeing as our audience will know what to look for. It’s also a large plot point in the story that the women these men meet are eccentric and uncoordinated, which informs the decisions I make in costumes. So, I would say the “look” I am going for is “informed” and “real” but with moments of musical theatre glamour.

Dogfight Marines -1963

Dogfight Marines -1963

What are some signature design and wardrobe elements of the era?  The bulk of this show takes place in the early nineteen sixties which is an interesting transition period. During this time we see a mixture of silhouettes, which is great for designing purposes. Also, we see a shift in color and patterns that give defining characteristics between the nineteen fifties and the nineteen sixties. The shift in men’s wear is more subtle but the use of more synthetic fibers during this time opens up a lot more color options and styles.

 Where do you shop/gather the costumes, or do you make them?  It depends on the show. For this show we rented our uniforms, because they needed to be accurate. The rest of the costumes were either bought, pulled from our own stock, or built. The costumes for our guys were mostly purchased because the style has changed so little that I was able to find pieces that were similar to the time. The women, on the other hand, were a bit more challenging. We ended up building a few of the dresses for multiple reasons: 1) they are a very specific style which isn’t easily available or affordable, 2) we didn’t want vintage pieces because they would not be able to withstand the rigorous nature of the show, and 3) they needed to be tailored to each girl to bring out certain qualities. So it’s been a balance of shop/gather/build.

Jacinda measures actor Scott Nickley for costumes

Jacinda measures actor Scott Nickley for costumes

What excites you about this production?  It’s a beautiful story with some unique problems and solutions. I relish that it challenges me to redefine the way I design to suit the needs of the production. I find delight in being able to tell a very specific story through the characters’ visual appearance. This show in particular needs the costumes to say a lot about these characters before they ever get the chance to speak, and I love that. I really enjoy getting to create alongside the performers as we develop the characters together.

Dogfight Cast Members

Dogfight Cast Members

What are some unique challenges, if any?  Normally, when designing costumes for a show you want to represent the character in the best way possible by dressing them to reflect their virtues. Dogfight, however, is a different kind of beast. Instead of flattering the characters, we’re doing the opposite, particularly for the women. These women are awkward and eccentric and in order to communicate that through the things they wear, I have to break out of my comfort zone of wanting everything to be pretty. I have definitely struggled to push past my perfectionist nature to present something true to the story. Some of my fabric choices were actually painful to make because they are just so uncomfortable, but it suits the character and thus the show. It’s even more challenging when all of your actresses are actually beautiful, so it’s my job to downplay that beauty to help communicate the story. The ladies have been such good sports about it and have used their costumes to help inform their character.

sara and mel

Mel Domingo (L) and Sara Errington (R) become “Ruth Two Bears” and “Marcy”

What is your background in costume design?  I started sewing and making costumes for myself back in high school, but I never really considered making a career out of it until I went to college. My introduction to costume design in particular happened while I was attending the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts. It was a part of my general education but within two months I knew it was for me. After completing the conservatory program, I transferred to the University of Arizona where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Costume Design. During my five years of schooling, I focused on my craft and pursued experiences outside of academia to further my ability as a designer. Since graduating I’ve been fortunate to be able to design at wonderful theatres all around San Diego.

Who are your influences? I would say my influence comes from two exceptional women: my lovely Grandmother, and Edith Head. My grandmother was a seamstress during World War II and continued to sew on and off throughout the rest of her life. Like me, she was very artistically minded and I love having that connection with her. And, well Edith Head. One of the best, if not the greatest costume designers of all time. Her work, values, and creativity inspire me. I respect and cherish the influence these women have on me.

Catch Jacinda’s work in Dogfight, which closes August 23rd.

Next up she’ll be designing for both shows in Cygnet’s Noël Coward Rep – Hay Fever set in 1920′s English Countryside & The Vortex set in 1960′s London.

Hay Fever and Vortex

Hay Fever (R) and The Vortex (L)

“The Whale Social Media Night” Top Tweets

Social Media Night allows audience members to  tweet during the performance. It’s an exciting way to share your thoughts on the show and get backstage information from cast and crew, live as it’s happening.  Check out below to see what Twitter loving audience and cast said about The Whale.  Don’t miss the next one on July 24 during Dogfight…it also happens to be combined with a pre-show Tequila Tasting event!


Getting into character TweetElder Thomas before TweetElder Thomas after TweetPhil Johnson Tweet


Shana Wride TweetThe Whale set TweetAbout Ellie TweetCygnet Elder Thomas TweetPadded suit TweetCharlie TweetThe Whale Stage Tweet


Most happening place TweetGirlBoy Tweet


Meet Charlie, Ellie, Liz, Elder Thomas, and Mary

We can all agree that the actor’s job is to bring a scripted character to life. To fully embody their role, they need to understand what makes that person tick.  We asked the actors of this smart and subversive drama to fill out a profile on their character, as well as for themselves. Let’s get to know them and see how it compares!

The Whale Charlie character profile


Character Name: Charlie
Age: 47
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: Online English Teacher/ Tutor
Hobbies: Eating, working, eating, reading
Favorite Saying: “I’m Sorry”
Greatest Fear: Having not done a single thing right in his life

Andrew Oswald head-shot

Andrew Oswald

Actor Name: Andrew Oswald
Age: Come on, you never ask an actor their age
Hometown: Palos Verdes, CA
Occupation: Actor/ Director
Hobbies: Painting, drawing, gardening
Favorite Saying: “Seriously?”
Greatest Fear: Drowning



Character Name: Ellie
Age: 17
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: High School Student
Hobbies: Hate blogging, getting high, playing hooky
Favorite Saying: Sayings are for idiots
Greatest Fear: None of your f**king business

Erin McIntosh

Erin McIntosh

Actor Name: Erin McIntosh
Age: –
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: Actress
Hobbies: Reading poetry, laughing
Favorite Saying: “Think less, swim more.”
Greatest Fear: …I’m not actually sure




Character Name: Liz
Age: –
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: Postoperative Nurse at Gritman Medical Center
Hobbies: Playing Lotto Heaven and Angry Birds Epic on my Blackberry
Favorite Saying: “Everyone is bald underneath their hair.”

Judy Bauerlein

Judy Bauerlein

Actor Name: Judy Bauerlein
Age: –
Hometown: Ambler, PA
Occupation: Associate Professor of Theatre at CSUSM/Theatre Maker
Hobbies: All things 6 year old (Pokemon, Minecraft, Nerf, etc.)
Favorite Saying: “You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” -Pema Chodron

Elder Thomas

Elder Thomas

Character Name: Elder Thomas
Age: 19
Hometown: Waterloo, IA
Occupation: Missionary
Hobbies: Spending time w/family & friends, community service, reading the Good Word!
Favorite Saying: “If you want to give light to others, you have to glow yourself.”
Greatest Fear: Failure

Craig Jorczak

Craig Jorczak

Actor Name: Craig Jorczak
Age: Not 19!
Hometown: Houston, TX
Occupation: Actor right now!
Hobbies: Going to the movies, visiting baseball stadiums (been to 29 out of 30!), general malaise
Favorite Saying: “Congratulations!”
Greatest Fear: Failure (I knew Elder and I had something in common!)



Character Name: Mary
Age: 42
Hometown: Moscow, ID
Occupation: Unemployed, single mother of Satan incarnate
Hobbies: Drinking, smoking
Favorite Saying: “Shut up, Ellie!”
Greatest Fear: Ellie and prohibition

Melissa Fernandes

Melissa Fernandes

Actor Name: Melissa Fernandes
Age: of a certain…..
Hometown: Carson City, NV
Occupation: Actor by night/ Recruiter by day- like Batman but without the gadgets
Hobbies: TV & movie addict, reading, music
Favorite Saying: “Go to bed!”  Oh wait, you said favorite, not the one I say the most. I’ll get back to you on that one.
Greatest Fear: Being alone and spiders. Being alone with spiders.

Catch The Whale now through June 14th!  Click here to buy tickets. 

Diving Beneath the Surface with Playwright Samuel D. Hunter

Samuel D. Hunter

Samuel D. Hunter

Cygnet Theatre literally ends Season 12 in a BIG way with the San Diego premiere of The Whale. Emerging playwright Samuel D. Hunter’s (The Few) big hearted and humorously touching play features a six hundred pound recluse whose issues from his past have brought him to a crisis in the present. This smart and subversive tale features sharp, provocative language and finds heart in challenging situations.  We had a chance to chat with Sam Hunter, one of the nation’s hottest new playwrights, about the play he thought no one would want to produce and his need to write “better.”

Have you had a chance to see any regional theatre productions of this show? What are your impressions?

I actually worked on the first four productions of the play, and it premiered regionally (at the Denver Center) before it came to New York.  So I saw it in Denver, Chicago, and Los Angeles.  It’s been amazing to me that this play has had the life that it’s had, when I first wrote it I remember thinking that no one would produce it at all.  The fact that it’s become my most produced play is astonishing to me.  I think the thing that’s been common to all the productions I’ve seen is probably something that’s true of all of my plays, that any value you get from it is the result of coming to the theater with an open mind and an open heart.  The play is very naked in a certain way. It’s not sexy or full of plot twists or stylistic gestures.  It’s really just about this man and the people surrounding him during the last days of his life in this unremarkable little one-bedroom apartment.

What are you working on these days?

I’m working on these two plays that are loosely interconnected, LEWISTON and CLARKSTON.  They’re set to premiere next season in two different theaters, and my thought is maybe someday a theater would be willing to do them both together, either in a single evening, or in rep.  I’m also working on a first draft of a new play tentatively called THE HARVEST about a group of young missionaries preparing to go on a mission in the Middle East.

You were one of the 2014 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant Award Winners, recognizing “exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future” and comes with an unrestricted stipend of $625,000.  How has your life and work been affected by the “genius” thing?

Ha, well, that sort of remains to be seen I guess.  I mean financially it’s just sort of hugely liberating, so much of being an artist up to this point for me was balancing my art with my economy, figuring out how to delicately monetize something without compromising it at all.  But now, at least for the next five years, I don’t have to think like that anymore.  And like many artists I imagine, I’ve dealt with a lot of self-doubt over the years, so something like this makes you think, “well maybe I’m not a total fraud…”

The other part, though, is suddenly you feel this different kind of pressure replacing the financial one.  I feel like I need to live up to something, what I’m not entirely sure. But, I will say that I feel the need to write better.  I need to really push myself to at least try to live up to this impossible expectation.

thewhale_email_cast_r Obviously, the play addresses challenging themes. How do you describe it? Have you heard a tagline you think really captures the show?

I mean when I sit down to write a play I’m never thinking about marketing, so it’s always interesting to discover later on what particular challenges a play presents.  I mean for my own part I don’t really think of the play as particularly challenging–essentially it’s just the simple story of a man trying to reconnect with a daughter.  It’s about a man who has an undying faith in his daughter’s capacity for empathy, and he has to reach her before his time runs out.

What would you want audiences to know about the show?

The only thing I’d say is that this is not a play about obesity.

San Diego audiences may be familiar with your work from the Old Globe production of  The Few. Were you here for that run? If so, what were some of your favorite things about San Diego?

I was!  I spent a good four weeks out there, the entire rehearsal process.  I had a great time.  Going to work every day in Balboa Park was a real gift.  So much good food, and I’m a big craft beer fan so it was great to visit some breweries.  And going to the beach on our days off in Coronado was pretty amazing.

The Whale begins previews on May 14. It opens on May 23 and runs through June 14. Buy your tickets today!

My Fair Lady: The Myth, The Play, The Musical (Part 3)

Part 3 – The Musical

As we learned in last week’s blog, in the mid-1930’s, film producer Gabriel Pascal persuaded George Bernard Shaw for the rights to produce film versions of several of his plays, Pygmalion among them. And though audiences clamored for it, Shaw remained adamant that it not be adapted into a musical (after having had a bad experience with The Chocolate Soldier, a Viennese operetta based on his play Arms and the Man).

After Shaw’s death in 1950, Pascal revisited the idea and solicited lyricist Alan Jay Lerner’s expertise. Lerner agreed, and he and his composer partner Fritz Loewe began work. The team quickly realized that the play violated several key rules for constructing a musical: 1) as Shaw maintained, the main story was not a love story, 2) there was no subplot or secondary love story, and 3) there was no place for an ensemble. After some six months on the project, Lerner and Loewe decided it was impossible (like Rodgers and Hammerstein before them), gave up and parted ways.

The artwork on the original Playbill (and sleeve of the cast recording) is by Al Hirschfeld, who drew the playwright Shaw as a heavenly puppetmaster pulling the strings on the Henry Higgins character, while Higgins in turn attempts to control Eliza Doolittle.

The artwork on the original Playbill is by Al Hirschfeld, who drew the playwright Shaw as a heavenly puppetmaster pulling the strings on the Henry Higgins character, while Higgins in turn attempts to control Eliza Doolittle.

In the years following, Gabriel Pascal died. Whilst trying to musicalize Lil’ Abner, Lerner read Pascal’s obituary and found himself once again preoccupied with the idea of a musical version of Pygmalion. When he and Loewe reunited, everything seemingly fell into place. The insurmountable obstacles that previously stood in their way disappeared and they excitedly began writing the show. They soon learned however that they were not the only ones seeking the musical rights to Pygmalion; MGM studios was also interested in the idea of adapting Shaw’s work and didn’t hesitate to exercise their influence when their lead executives called Lerner to discourage him from challenging the studio. Loewe said, “We will write the show without the rights, and when the time comes for them to decide who is to get them, we will be so far ahead of everyone else that they will be forced to give them to us.” For the next five months, the duo wrote, hired technical designers, and made casting decisions. When the time came to make a decision, Chase Manhattan Bank, who was in charge of Pascal’s estate and owned the rights to Pygmalion, awarded the musical rights to Lerner and Loewe.

The musical premiered on Broadway as My Fair Lady on March 15, 1956 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York City with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews in the leading roles. Originally announced as My Lady Liza, the name was changed when Harrison objected to a title based on the name of the female lead- Eliza Doolittle. (The new title was taken from the last line of the nursery rhyme, “London Bridge Is Falling Down” and appears nowhere in the musical.) It transferred to the Broadhurst Theatre and then The Broadway Theatre, where it closed on September 29, 1962 after 2,717 performances.

Haven’t seen My Fair Lady at Cygnet Theatre yet?  It must close April 26th and shows are still selling out so hurry!

Click here to buy tickets.

My Fair Lady: The Myth, The Play, The Musical (Part 2)

Part 2 -  The Play

As we learned in last week’s blog, in ancient Greek mythology, Pygmalion fell in love with one of his sculptures, which then came to life. The general idea of that myth was actually quite a popular subject for Victorian era English playwrights. In fact, one of Shaw’s influences, W.S. Gilbert, wrote a rather successful play based on the story called Pygmalion and Galatea. This blank verse play, which was presented in three acts, premiered at the Haymarket Theatre in London on December 9, 1871 and ran for a very successful 184 performances. Gilbert’s Pygmalion was so popular that other versions of the play were rushed to the stage, including Ganymede and Galatea in January of 1872, William Brough’s Pygmalion; or, The Statue Fair in March of 1872, and in May of that same year a visiting French company produced VictorMassé’s Galathée. And not too long after in 1883, Galatea, or Pygmalion Re-Versed, a musical burlesque that parodies the Pygmalion myth and specifically Gilbert’s 1871 play, premiered at the Gaiety Theatre in London.

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, however, is easily the most well-known stage play of any similar title. It both delighted and scandalized its first audiences in 1914. A brilliantly witty reworking of the Ovid tale of a sculptor who falls in love with his perfect female statue, it is also a barbed attack on the British class system and a statement of Shaw’s feminist views. In Shaw’s hands, the phoneticist Henry Higgins is the Pygmalion figure who believes he can transform Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl, into a duchess at ease in polite society. The one thing he overlooks is that his ‘creation’ has a mind of her own. Pygmalion nevertheless probes important questions about social class, human behavior, and relations between the sexes.


Illustration from the cover of the 1913 Playbill

Hoping to circumvent what he felt was the tendency of the London press to criticize his plays unfairly, Shaw chose to produce a German translation of Pygmalion in Vienna and Berlin before bringing the play to London. The London critics appreciated the acclaim the play had received overseas, and, after it opened at His Majesty’s Theatre on April 11, 1914, it enjoyed success, firmly establishing Shaw’s reputation as a popular playwright.

The popularity of the play caused its leap from stage to screen. Shaw was always reluctant to have his plays filmed because he would not tolerate any tampering with his dialogue, but he was persuaded by Gabriel Pascal to allow a film version of Pygmalion. Writing the screenplay for the film version of 1938 helped Shaw to become the first and only man ever to win both the Nobel Prize for literature and an Academy Award.

Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Eliza Doolittle

Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Eliza Doolittle

However, concessions were extracted from Shaw by the film’s producers, who changed the ending and watered down some of the supporting characters. Before the film came out, Shaw in fact wrote a ‘sequel’ to his first publication of the play. This was to solidify his ending and rebut any possible public demand for a more conventionally romantic ending.

Check back next week to learn how this play turned into one of the most popular musicals of all time. 

My Fair Lady: The Myth, The Play, The Musical (Part 1)

Part One:The Myth

In this three part series, our resident dramaturge Taylor Wycoff, walks us through the history of how My Fair Lady came to be. Before it became one of the most popular musicals of the century, it was a play.  And before it was a play, it was a myth…

As a dramaturge, when you’re tasked with a beloved classic like My Fair Lady, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details. Things like Covent Garden in early 20th century London, or English currency PRE-decimalization. But one thing I found absolutely delightful about working on this show was revisiting its roots. It’s common knowledge that the critically acclaimed musical is based on George Bernard Shaw’s famous play-turned-Academy-Award-winning movie, Pygmalion. What’s lesser known is that the roots of Shaw’s play actually date all the way back to ancient Greece with the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea.

Étienne Maurice Falconet: Pygmalion et Galatée

Étienne Maurice Falconet: Pygmalion et Galatée

So who was Pygmalion? And how did his story end up inspiring such a female-centric narrative? He is most familiar from Ovid’s narrative poem Metamorphoses as the legendary sculptor from Cyprus (Pygmalion is the Greek version of the Phoenician royal name Pumayyaton), who fell in love with a statue he carved. As the story goes, Pygmalion was so sick of the imperfections of women that he sculpted the perfect woman out of ivory and fell in love with her. At the festival of Aphrodite, when it came time to play his part in the processional, Pygmalion stood before the altar and timidly said, “Ye If you gods can give all things, may I have as my wife, I pray”- he dared not say “the ivory maiden,” but said instead-“one like the ivory maiden.” Aphrodite, who was present at the festival, heard him and knew the thought he would have uttered.

Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786

Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault, 1786

Showing her favor, she caused the altar’s flame to flare up three times, shooting a long flame of fire into the still air. After the day’s festivities, when Pygmalion returned home and kissed his Galatea, as was his custom, he was startled by the warmth of her kiss, for Aphrodite had answered his prayers. Aphrodite further blessed the happiness and union of this couple with a child. Pygmalion and Galatea named the child Paphos, for which the city is still known until this day.

Check back next week to learn about George Bernard Shaw and how he adapted this myth into the more well known play of the same title!

A Marriage Made in Theatre Heaven

At Cygnet Theatre, we like to think of ourselves as one big happy family, but two of our My Fair Lady cast members took it a bit more seriously! Featured in multiple roles in the show are married couple Bryan Banville (Assassins) and Katie Whalley Banville (Company, Man of La Mancha). This is not the first time a married couple has taken the stage. The Norman Conquests featured Sandy & Danny Campbell, Bed and Sofa featured Lance Arthur Smith & Colleen Kollar Smith and Assassins included Manny & Melissa Fernandes.

We love Bryan and Katie’s “meet cute” theatre love story and wanted to share it – including the roles fellow cast members Ralph Johnson and Linda Libby played in their romance. A little late for Valentines Day, but very romantic nonetheless! Bryan tells us the tale….

How did you two meet?

I saw Katie in ion theatre’s production of Gypsy. In awe of her performance – and her legs – I asked Ralph Johnson, who was also in the production with her, and Justin Tuazon-Martin, who was in Cygnet’s production of Man of La Mancha with Katie and I, to be introduced. Ralph gave Katie my information, and we connected MONTHS later – due to my shyness – and finally had our first date where I showed up 45 minutes early and waited at the restaurant while Katie showed up 30 minutes early and waited in her car. Although it took a while for the second date to happen, delayed by car troubles, injuries, and plain old scheduling, we both showed up to our second date in the same, identical rental car… And the rest is theatre history.

Katie and Byran backstage in Man of La Mancha

Katie and Byran backstage in Man of La Mancha


When and where did you get married?

We were married at the beautiful and historical Lafayette Hotel in 2014. We had an amazing celebration marked with the love and support of our family, friends, and the wonderful members of the San Diego theater community. Sunny Haines (who often works backstage as a dresser at Cygnet) was our wedding planner, Kurt Norby provided all the music, David Brannen (choreographer of My Fair Lady) choreographed our first dance, Jen Wheeler-Khan (Stage Manager at the Playhouse and Old Globe) provided the wonderful decorations, Linda Libby read a beautiful passage during the ceremony, and the wonderful Ralph Johnson got ordained and married us!

The wedding ceremony performed by friend and Cygnet artist Ralph Johnson

The wedding ceremony performed by friend and Cygnet artist Ralph Johnson

What happens when two talented performers get married and share a first dance? Take a look here.

How many times have you worked together?

My Fair Lady will be our 7th production together since we met! Our first production as a couple was at Cygnet when we did Man of La Mancha together. We went on to perform in Mixtape for Lamb’s Players Theatre where we got to go to the 80’s prom every night together. Since we have been married we have done a total of 5 shows including My Fair Lady. Right after our wedding we started rehearsals for Passion at ion theatre and then spent the summer at Moonlight Theatre in Vista performing in Spamalot, Mary Poppins, and Catch Me If You Can - the last two, we got to be dance partners which was super fun!

Share your dream roles as a couple.

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The Newlyweds

This is an interesting question! We have discussed this a few times and have included some of them below:

1.) Jamie & Kathy in The Last Five Years. The music is so beautiful, and the story would be so challenging to tackle as a married couple!

2.) Millie & Jimmy in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Wonderful show, and fun roles for us to play on our strengths!

3.) Baker & Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods. This would be for when we are a bit older, but it would be an absolute pleasure getting to dive into two characters that reflect our personalities so well!

4.) Edward & Sandra Bloom in Big Fish. Again this would be for when we are older, but it’s one of the most real and loving stories to be told about a couple, and the music is GREAT!

Catch them now through April 26th in My Fair Lady at Cygnet Theatre!

Katie, Bryan, and the cast of My Fair Lady, including Ralph Johnson and Linda Libby.

Katie, Bryan, and the cast of My Fair Lady, including Ralph Johnson and Linda Libby.

Announcing Season Thirteen

 From a fish falling out of the sky in the year 2039, to a “sweet transvestite”, to one stupid f**king bird…our next season will take you to seven different times and places filled with humanity, laughter, destruction and compassion. And we’re excited to share it with you now.  Without further antici…pation, here’s our 2015-2016 season!

Music and Lyrics by BENJ PASEK & JUSTIN PAUL
Based on the Warner Bros. Film and Screenplay by BOB COMFORT
Directed by SEAN MURRAY
July 16th – August 23rd, 2015. Opening July 25th, 2015.

It’s November 21, 1963. On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying and maybe a little trouble. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of compassion. Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and praised by countless critics, Dogfight takes audiences on a romantic and heartbreaking theatrical journey that stays with you long after the performance. Featuring Dave Thomas Brown (Shakespeare’s R&J, Spring Awakening)  “Superbly crafted, gratifyingly intelligent, richly observant, and immensely enjoyable. This is musical theatre at its finest.” – Backstage

Dave Thomas Brown in Spring Awakening

Dave Thomas Brown in Spring Awakening

HAY FEVER (Performed in Rep with The Vortex)
Directed by ROB LUTFY
Semptember 23rd – November 8th, 2015. Opening October 3rd, 2015.

Retired stage star Judith Bliss, her novelist husband and their two bohemian adult children have each invited houseguests for the weekend. But as the Blisses indulge their artistic eccentricities in a hilarious whirlwind of flirtation and histrionics, the guests begin to wonder if they’ve landed in a madhouse – and if they can survive with their own wits intact. Set in an English country house in the 1920’s, Noël Coward’s hilarious comedy of bad manners has been a favorite amongst theatregoers ever since it first dazzled London’s West End in 1925.  “An evening of intoxicating escape” – The New York Times

THE VORTEX (Performed in Rep with Hay Fever)
Directed by SEAN MURRAY
September 24th – November 8th, 2015. Opening October 3rd, 2015.

Nicky Lancaster brings his elegant fiancée, Bunty, home to introduce her to his famous mother, stage actress Florence Lancaster. Nicky is shocked to discover that Florence has taken a much younger lover, and when Bunty ditches Nicky to run off with his mother’s boy-toy, both are forced to confront the truth about themselves. Noël Coward’s first commercially successful hit, The Vortex premiered in 1924 in London, and its scandalous subject matter of drug abuse, repressed homosexuality, nymphomania and Oedipal jealousy made Coward an overnight sensation. Hay Fever and The Vortex will feature Rosina Reynolds (The Glass Menagerie, Noises Off)  The Vortex (1924) is the play that turned Noël Coward into a star….Almost nine decades later, it still packs a powerful punch.” -The Telegraph

Rosina Reynolds in The Glass Menagerie

Rosina Reynolds in The Glass Menagerie

Adaptation and Lyrics by SEAN MURRAY
Directed by SEAN MURRAY
November 27th – December 27th, 2015. Opening December 5th, 2015.

Cygnet Theatre invites you to start your own family tradition with one of ours. This season welcomes the return of theholiday classic adapted from Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of hope and redemption. This re-imagined, fully staged production features original new music, creative stagecraft and puppetry, and live sound effects. Step into a Victorian Christmas card for a unique storytelling experience that is sure to delight the entire family!  “Critics Choice” in 2014 – UT San Diego

A Christmas Carol 2014

A Christmas Carol 2014

Directed by ROB LUTFY
January 14th – February 14th, 2016. Opening January 23rd, 2016.

Alice Springs in the year 2039. A fish falls from the sky and lands at the feet of Gabriel York. And it still smells of the sea. It’s been raining for days, and Gabriel knows something is wrong. Fifty years earlier, his grandfather, Henry Law, predicts that fish will fall from the sky heralding a great flood which will end life on earth as we know it. In an intricate, multi-layered story that spans four generations and two continents, When the Rain Stops Falling explores patterns of betrayal, abandonment, destruction, forgiveness and love. This powerful drama unfolds with humanity, surprising humor and hope, as the past plays out into the future.  “The Best New Play of Year” in 2010 – Time Magazine

Book, Music and Lyrics by RICHARD O’BRIEN
Directed by SEAN MURRAY
March 10th – May 1st, 2016. Opening March 19th, 2016.

A satirical tribute to the science fiction and B-list horror movies of the 20th century, the show centers around two naïve lovers, Brad and Janet. Seeking shelter from a thunderstorm in an old castle, they find themselves thrust into the laboratory of the cross-dressing mad scientist Dr. Frank ‘N’ Furter and his motley crew. Stripped of inhibitions — and their clothes — Brad and Janet embark on a wild, unforgettable journey of pleasure and self-discovery. Reality, fiction, and camp collide in this mash-up of comics, rock and roll, and late-night horror flicks.  “A musical that deals with mutating identity and time warps becomes one of the most mutated, time warped phenomena in show business.” – The New York Times

Directed by ROB LUTFY
May 19th – June 19th, 2016. Opening May 28th, 2016.

In this irreverent, contemporary, and very funny remix of Chekhov’s The Seagull, award-winning playwright Aaron Posner wages a timeless battle between young and old, past and present, in search of the true meaning of it all. An aspiring young director rampages against the art created by his mother’s generation. A nubile young actress wrestles with an aging Hollywood star for the affections of a renowned novelist. And everyone discovers just how disappointing love, art, and growing up can be. With music, meta-theatricality, and mad humor, playwright Aaron Posner beats The Seagull to a bloody pulp.  “Bitterly sardonic…Ferociously funny” – Stage and Cinema

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