Backstage Blog

Actor Q&A: Jacque Wilke

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same four questions about themselves and their characters. Here is what actor Jacque Wilke said about herself, and her character, Mash.

Jacque Wilke

Jacque Wilke

About Jacque:
Occupation: Pilates and Cycling instructor
Hobbies: Hiking, Photography, Poetry
Favorite Saying: “Don’t stop, get it get it.” -Ice Cube
Things I love: Family, Craft Beer, Nature, Live Music, Theater



About Mash:
Occupation: Part Time Cook
Hobbies: Drinking, long walks, writing, playing the ukulele, baking
Favorite Saying: “If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed” -Sylvia Plath.Things I love: Con. That is it, that is all.

Stay tuned for the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th.

Jacque Wilke (Mash) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Jacque Wilke (Mash) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Actor Q&A: Brian Rickel

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same four questions about themselves and their characters.  Here is what actor Brian Rickel said about himself, and his character, Dev.

Brian Rickel

Brian Rickel

About Brian:
Occupation: Professor, Actor, Property Manager
Hobbies: Local breweries, photography, smoking meat, traveling
Favorite Saying: “We’re all just seeking beauty in this messy-ass world.”
Things I love: Mandi, local craft beer, BBQ (the southern meaning….not grilling outdoors in nice weather), the theatre, teaching, performing, the sun going down in my backyard, cooking for friends, my niece’s and nephew’s laughter, did I mention local beer?



About Dev:
Occupation: Tutor
Hobbies: Walking by the lake, reading, bird watching, relationship counseling, making beer
Favorite Saying: “Just get to know her. You’ll get it.”
Things I love: Mash, beer, teaching, the moon reflecting off of our lake, reading, Con, hearing my kids play, pie.

Stay tuned for the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th.


Brian Rickel (Dev) and Ro Boddie (Con)

Actor Q&A: Karole Foreman

We asked the cast of Stupid F**king Bird to answer the same questions about themselves and their characters.  Here’s what Karole said about herself, and her character, Emma.

Karole Forman

Karole Forman

About Karole:
Occupation: Actor, Singer, Writer
Hobbies: Gardening, Knitting, Sewing, DIY Home projects
Favorite Saying: “You can hide inside a character, but acting is about exposing who you are. And I’m never sure if I’ve done a good job.”–Don Cheadle, actor
Things I love: My amazing husband, guinea pigs and other small animals, traveling, good food, dancing, my family, my close friends, my profession



About Emma:
Occupation: Famous Actress
Hobbies: Shopping, shoe collecting, badminton, pilates
Favorite Saying: “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”—Winston Churchill and
“Don’t give away your art for free.”— Herself
Things I love: ART & ARTISTS, Doyle Trigorin, my profession, a good massage, my personal trainer, my hairdresser, Sterling Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Cannes

Karole Foreman (Emma) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Karole Foreman (Emma) and Fran Gercke (Trig)

Stay tuned for profiles on the rest of the cast and see Stupid F**king Bird before it closes on June 19th!  Get tickets HERE.


Stupid F**king Bird Vs. The Seagull


“The original work is just a jumping off place or an inciting incident for my own personal explorations.” Aaron Posner

If you think you need to know anything about Chekhov’s The Seagull before seeing our production, we’re happy to say that’s bulls#!t. If you have, fantastic. You’ll pick up on connections with the original work.

We asked director Rob Lutfy to share some thoughts on how to understand Aaron Posner’s Stupid F**king Bird through the lens of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull.

Chekhov was radical, revolutionary and exciting…100 years ago: Imagine sitting in the audience at the Moscow Art Theatre at the turn of

Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov

the 20th century and seeing The Seagull for the first time. You would have seen actors actually feel the emotions they are expressing and seen a production with an actual rehearsal process. Today this seems like a standard, but Chekhov created a paradigm shift in drama (theatre and film/TV) that it still pertinent today.

Read between the lines: His characters often think what they do not say, their unspoken thoughts have come to be called “subtext.” His relationships are unvarnished, his characters (as in real life) say less and mean more. What covers our embarrassment? Our Fear? Our excitement? He is representing people as they really are–examining eternal questions about love, death and of life in the space of a raindrop.

Our pain is f**king hilarious: Chekhov considered The Seagull to be a comedy because he had an amused view of human weakness. When the play opened it felt like a trick to most audiences. People didn’t know what was meant to be taken seriously and what was funny; Chekhov redefined those terms. In doing so, his plays often provoke “laughter through tears.”

Chekhov reads The Seagull with the Moscow Art Theatre company

Chekhov reads The Seagull with the Moscow Art Theatre company

Chekhov puts offstage the obvious moments of crises: He writes about the epic moments in our domestic lives. How important our day to day is to the inertia of our life. It is the build up to the big moments that define us. The famous director Stanislavsky, who worked with Chekhov, calls this “inner action.”

Chekhov fan or not, we think you’re going to enjoy Stupid F**king bird!  The show runs May 19 – June 19, 2016.  Buy tickets HERE. 



Great Scott! It’s a costume contest!

Get ready for a campy, crazy good time…dress up as your favorite Rocky Horror Show character and join us before select performances. And of course, we encourage you to dress up every night!

How it works:

Lips guest judge Landa Plenty

Lips guest judge Landa Plenty

Our hostess-with-the-mostest (and a little extra) Landa Plenty, along with her team of girls from Lips San Diego will be the contest judges and will be mingling with the contestants before final judging. Thirty minutes before the evening’s performance they will narrow the contestants down to their TOP SIX. Then, the audience will select the 1st,2nd, and 3rd place winners by applause.Last year, one of the top runners wore a rave outfit with these LED shades that were so amazing! This is such a cheerful event, and the applauses matter. So bring lots of friends to cheer for you!

  • 1 hour before performance – Check in and first round of judging
  • 30 minutes before performance – Lips judges narrow down to six contestants, audience applause for top three!
  • During performance – special recognition from actors on the stage

Contest Dates:

  • Wednesday, March 23 from 6:30 – 7:30 PM
  • Friday April 15 from 9:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Friday, April 22nd from 9:00 – 10:00 PM (added bonus, it’s Tequila Tasting night!)
  • Friday, April 29 from 9:00 – 10:00 PM

Just two rules:
1. No nudity – keep your naughty bits covered
2. Must be dressed as a character

Instagram contestIt’s the #CygnetRocky Instagram contest!
Even if you don’t attend on a costume contest night, or don’t want to get all dressed up, you still have a chance to win a prize!  Post a photo on Instagram and tag away! The top 3 photos with the most likes will win a voucher for 2 tickets to see a future Cygnet show! Winners will be contacted via Instagram the week of May 2nd.

You MUST use the hashtag #CygnetRocky to enter. Make sure you tag @CygnetTheatre.

Here are some hashtag ideas to encourage likes!
#SanDiego                   #SanDiegoLife        #SanDiegoTheatre
#SweetTransvestite    #OldTownSanDiego  #RockyHorror

You’re lucky, I’m lucky, we’re all lucky!
We’re all winners tonight. Show your Instagram or Facebook post at concessions before the show or at intermission post for a free glow stick!

show us your selfie

Your Guide to Rocky Horror!

Rocky Guide Image

Whether you’re a Rocky Virgin or you’ve been around the block a time or two, you’ll need to know a few things before coming to our production. We only ask that you have two things with you to see The Rocky Horror Show – A sense of humor and money for your ticket. Everything else is up to you.

Audience Participation:

  • No throwing of anything onto the stage. Period.
  • If you’re going to yell out – don’t be offensive.  If you’re vulgar Frank will throw you out.
  • That being said, there will be swearing.
  • Dress up…or don’t. Just make sure your naughty bits are covered. And don’t be an a**hole like Brad by blocking anyone’s view with a huge hat.
  • Costume Contests will take place before the late night shows on April 15, 22, and 29 as well as Out @ Cygnet on March 23.

“Performance Enhancers” aka Props:
Cygnet will have prop kits available for purchase for $5 at concessions. Please see a doctor if your props last longer than 4 hours.

What is absolutely forbidden:

  • Food of any kind: Toast, rice, hotdogs, prunes – Can anyone say ants?
  • Noisemakers/Bell – Nope.
  • Toilet paper – Great Scott! TP is hard to clean.
  • Water guns – Just no.
  • Lighters and matches – We’d have to put out the fires with water guns but they aren’t allowed.
  • Confetti – Known as the herpes of art supplies, confetti is hard to get rid of so we’re not allowing it.

Cygnet Theatre reserves the right to determine what is allowed into the venue. All persons and property are subject to search upon entry…hey, you might even like it! Anything that is not allowed will be confiscated.

Give yourself over to absolute pleasure:
Again, our goal is to provide a safe, enjoyable and authentic “Rocky Horror” experience. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated, dammit!


5 helpful hints before the rain stops falling…

When the Rain Stops Falling follows four generations of family over the span of 80 years and on two continents. The interconnected stories of these fathers, sons, mothers and lovers circle back over each other. You, as an audience member, will begin to make connections as the stories unfold. To make sure you get the most out of your theatre experience, Director Rob Lutfy put together these five helpful hints.

  1. WHAT’S IN A NAME? Make sure you look at the genealogy chart below (and in your program) before the show starts. It will help you understand the older/younger versions of characters, and those with the same name, of which there are three!
  1. SAME ACTOR, DIFFERENT CHARACTERS. Two actors play different characters. Gabriel York/Henry Law are played by Adrian Alita and Gabriel Law/Andrew Price are played by Josh Odsess-Rubin.

    Josh Odsess-Rubin & Adrian Alita

    Josh Odsess-Rubin & Adrian Alita

  1. SAME CHARACTER, DIFFERENT ACTORS. Elizabeth Law and Gabrielle Law (pronounced Gabriel) are played by two sets of actors.

    Younger/Older Gabrielle & Younger/Older Elizabeth

    Younger/Older Gabrielle & Younger/Older Elizabeth

  1. WATCH THE BACKDROP BETWEEN SCENES. It may be raining, but we won’t leave you high and dry. Watch for the projections on the backdrop for titles of where the scene takes place and in what year.
  1. GO WITH THE FLOW. The critics say it best…

“It’s hard to figure out who’s who and how they intersect, but all becomes clear by the end of the play, which runs an intermission-less yet gripping 110 minutes.” -Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune

“It’s best to just sit back and let the saga wash over you.” –Pat Launer, Center Stage

“[It’s] a lot to swallow, but worthy of the effort to chew because Cygnet has a tremendous four-course meal in store for you. –Milo Shapiro, Stage and Cinema


Photo Credit :


Theatre is by its nature, a very collaborative art form. Writers, designers, actors, choreographers, costume, sounds and lighting designers all work together to create a single, final product. For the production of When the Rain Stops Falling, Cygnet Associate Artistic Director Rob Lutfy is especially excited be collaborating with set designer, Jungah Han. A former Cygnet Theatre Lipinsky Foundation design fellow at SDSU, she is now based in New York. The recent Yale School of Drama graduate studied extensively with Ming Cho Lee, the noted theatre artist who designed over 30 productions for Joseph Papp at The Public Theater, including the original Off-Broadway production of Hair. She brings a sparse sensibility to the set design. Robby took some time away from the show to share some of his thoughts with us.

Jungah Han & Rob Lutfy

Jungah Han & Rob Lutfy

Set of When the Rain Stops Falling

Set of When the Rain Stops Falling

This play takes place over the course of 80 years and includes ever changing settings; from the intimacy of a domestic room to the grandeur of a vast natural environment. Jungah and I both wanted a vast space for the actors to play in. We wanted a space that felt like an art installation, using lots of natural elements and was flexible enough to go from intimacy of a dining room to the vastness of a the night sky. And of course, it had to have a big rock!

We exist in relation to one another, not as individuals each caught up in our own narrative, but as a part of a great interconnected web of human experience. Bovell shows this in his layering and nonlinear narrative. Bovell writes, “But only on the stage can the past, the present and the future be revealed in the same moment. It is a wonderful medium in which to play with time and the shed light on the human condition.”

Pina Baush, Vollmond

Pina Baush, Vollmond

We needed to create set that would allow our actors to play with these variations in time and place. Jungah and I both were drawn to Pina Bausch’s Vollmond, a production we saw in NYC. Bausch was a German performer of modern dance, choreographer, dance teacher and ballet director known for her unique style, a blend of movement, sound, and stark, prominent stage sets. She created what we now know as Dance Theater (Tanztheater). She became a leading influence in the field of modern dance, cinema and art influencing everyone from David Bowie to the creators of American Horror Story.Follow the blog if you want to learn more.


I didn’t want literal or “designed” space but something poetic to match the complexity of the narrative. Jungah and I are a perfect match in that way. I wanted “epic theatre” in a way.

I wanted the actors to be ghosts for one another, always present, always layered on top of the current scene. Things move fast in the play and we have a set that allows for that to happen. It is anchored by the fragile water and the solid rock.

Set of When the Rain Stops Falling

Set of When the Rain Stops Falling

It is also a beautiful moment for me to be working with Jungah. Her mentor, Ming Cho Lee and my mentor, Gerald Freedman, met early on in their careers and collaborated for over a decade. Gerald calls Ming, “the greatest collaborator of his life.” Ming designed almost every play Gerald directed. According to The New York Times, “It is hard to overstate the impact Ming Cho Lee has had on the world of theater design.”

I feel proud to continue the tradition of creative collaboration.

Catch When the Rain Stops Falling through Feb. 14, 2016.

Season 14 Announced!

From classic musicals to shocking contemporary works, Season 2016-17 promises to be a true “Cygnet” Season

Every season must reflect the mission of the company and for the past 13 years, Artistic Director Sean Murray has crafted uniquely Cygnet seasons that reflect the commitment to “startle the soul, embrace diversity and ignite debate.” This year is no exception. The seven productions in Season 14 range from the traditional to the avant- garde and include two musical theatre classics, a two-show repertory by a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, the return of a holiday favorite and two contemporary works sure to shock and amaze.

“I’m really proud of the diversity and quality of this season,” says Murray. “Leave it to us to go from a stripper, to an ex-con, to one naughty little boy in just one season. That’s exciting. That’s Cygnet!”

SEASON XIV: 2016-2017
List of Plays

July 14th – Sept 4th
Music by Jule Styne and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by Arthur Laurents
Directed by Sean Murray
Choreography by David Brannen
Music Direction by Terry O’Donnell

Indomitable stage mother Rose chases vicarious success and stardom as she pushes her daughters through the vaudeville circuit. When Dainty June flees the act to elope, Rose vows to make introverted Louise into a star. Boasting one show-stopping song after another—like “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and “Let Me Entertain You”—this classic musical was inspired by the memoirs of the legendary burlesque dancer Gypsy Rose Lee. Featuring Linda Libby as Mama Rose, Allison Spratt Pearce as Louise, Katie Whalley-Banville as Dainty June, and Manny Fernandes as Herbie.

“The quintessential American musical” – Hollywood Reporter

Gypsy cast members: Manny Fernandes, Allison Spratt-Pearce, Linda Libby, Katie Whalley-Banville

Gypsy cast members: Manny Fernandes, Allison Spratt-Pearce, Linda Libby, Katie Whalley-Banville

Sept 28th – Nov 6th
By August Wilson
San Diego Premiere

In the backyard of a Pittsburgh tenement in 1948, friends gather to mourn for a blues guitarist and singer who died just as his career was on the verge of taking off. The action that follows is a flashback to the busy week leading up to Floyd’s sudden and unnatural death. Seven Guitars is part bawdy comedy, part dark elegy and part mystery. This lyrical play is the sixth in August Wilson’s ten-play cycle which charts the African-American experience through each decade of the 20th century and is performed in rep with King Hedley II.

“Rich, music-drenched drama” – New York Times

Sep. 29th
– Nov. 6th
By August Wilson
San Diego Premiere

King Hedley II shares the story of King –a man recently released from prison, attempting to rebuild his 
life amid changing times and a backdrop of the crime and drug struggles in the community he exists in. King dreams of a life 
of stability and self-reliance beyond incarceration, gangs and broken family. The play dares to ask what it takes to transcend 
the limitations of life and personal circumstance, and if pure will is enough to change a man’s destiny. King Hedley II is the eighth play in August Wilson’s ten-play cycle that, decade by decade, examines African American life in the United States during the twentieth century.

“Mesmerizing…. Full of powerful images that convey the darkly comic dialogue between hope and hopelessness in African American life.” – N.Y. Daily News

Nov 22nd – Dec 24th
Adaptation & Lyrics by Sean Murray
Original Score by Billy Thompson
Directed by Sean Murray
Musical Direction by Patrick Marion

Cygnet Theatre invites you to start your own family tradition with one of ours. This season welcomes the return of the holiday 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 Pick” in 2014 – San Diego Union Tribune

A Christmas Carol (2015)

A Christmas Carol (2015)

Jan 12th – Feb 12th
By Joshua Harmon
Directed by Rob Lutfy
San Diego Premiere

The night after their grandfather’s funeral, three cousins engage in a verbal battle royale over a family heirloom. In one corner is the unstoppable and self-assured force of “Super Jew” Daphna. In the other, the immovable and entitled object of her secular cousin Liam. And in the middle is Liam’s brother Jonah, trying to stay out of the fray. Bad Jews is a savage comedy about family, faith, and legacy.

“The funniest play of the year.”-The Washington Post
“Delectably savage humor” – The New York Times

March 9th – April 30th
San Diego Premiere
Book and Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Music by Cy Coleman
Directed by Sean Murray

Its nonstop laughs aboard the Twentieth Century, a luxury train traveling from Chicago to New York City. Luck, love and mischief collide when the bankrupt theater producer Oscar Jaffee embarks on a madcap mission to cajole glamorous Hollywood starlet Lily Garland into playing the lead in his new, non-existent epic drama. But is the train ride long enough to reignite the spark between these former lovers, create a play from scratch, and find the money to get it all the way to Broadway? Featuring Eileen Bowman as Lily Garland and Melinda Gilb as Letitia Primrose.

“Old-fashioned musical comedy magic”– USA Today
“The show is a nonstop delight.” – The New York Post

On the Twentieth Century cast members: Melinda Gilb & Eileen Bowmann

On the Twentieth Century cast members: Melinda Gilb & Eileen Bowmann

May 18th – June 18th
West Coast Regional Premiere
Music by Adrian Huge, Martyn Jacques, Adrian Stout
Lyrics by Martyn Jacques
Book by Julian Bleach, Anthony Cairns, Graeme Gilmour, Tamzin Griffen
Based on Struwwelpeter by Heinrich Hoffmann
Directed by Rob Lutfy

Fall into the world of Victorian Steam-punk nightmares as a manic music-box spins stories of naughty children and misguided parents. Silly and sinister, Shockheaded Peter dares us to ask what’s beneath the floorboards. Don’t miss the most damning tale ever told on stage!

“A vile and repulsive story told by reprehensible characters in a thoroughly degenerate fashion – Absolute Bliss” – David Bowie
“A wryly seedy cabaret-punk musical” -Variety

 Come join us for this wild ride! Tickets and new subscriptions will be available for purchase on March 1st.  

Michael Mizerany – Choreographing a Drama

Michael Mizerany, a noted dancer and choreographer, is thrilled to be returning to Cygnet Theatre! Audiences might remember Michael’s powerful choreography from our 2013 production of Spring Awakening.

Spring Awakening - Craig Noel Award Nominee

Spring Awakening – Craig Noel Award Nominee Photo by Darren Scott

We’re thrilled to have him back as a choreographer for our upcoming production of When the Rain Stops Falling. Michael has been working closely with director Rob Lutfy, and we chatted with him about his role with this show and how movement can reflect intention, character and time.

What is your role in this show as there is no dance?

This is a beautifully written play with many surprises and “Aha!” moments. It spans four generations over two continents and manipulates time in a very interesting way. That being said, I will try to give you a glimpse inside the process without divulging any secrets.

There is no traditional dance in the show per se, but if we think of dance in the broader sense of movement and not codified technique, I would say that dance/movement is an integral part of the telling this story.

When the Rain Stops Falling Rehearsal

When the Rain Stops Falling Rehearsal

One pivotal scene is ROOMS. There is no dialogue, so the challenge is to convey character through gesture/movement. In this scene particularly, where, when and how the actors move is very important.

The play also manipulates time. It jumps back and forth from 1968 to 2039. This is reflected in the choreography for ROOMS as well. As this scene begins, the actors initiate movement in a counter-clockwise fashion. As the movement shifts to a table center stage, the actors sit at the table; sequentially arriving in a clockwise direction.

This gives the scene a kaleidoscope effect that mirrors the many emotions and situations the audience will experience viewing the play.

Do you enjoy working in theatre? What are some recent highlights?

Though I am a contemporary choreographer, I really enjoy working in theatre. I majored in acting when I was in college (until I took a dance class), so I really love actors. Recent highlights include Spring Awakening at Cygnet; Thrill Me, Bare: A Pop Opera and A New Brain at Diversionary; Ass, Or A Midsummer Night’s Fever and Chicago: A Speakeasy Cabaret at Ion theatre; and Scrooge in Rouge at Desert Rose Playhouse in Palm Springs.

Michael in Malashock Dance: Chagall & Tribe (2010)  Photo by Manuel Rotenberg

Michael in Malashock Dance: Chagall & Tribe (2010)
Photo by Manuel Rotenberg

Can you give some examples of how you are working directly with the cast?

In ROOMS, there is a sequence where each character enters the stage space, looks out a window, looks in a mirror and then pauses in thought. I discussed with each actor: “Who are you looking for?”, “Why are you staring in the mirror?”, “What are you thinking about when you pause in thought?” Based on their answers, I built movements/gestures that reflected that intention.

These gestures will be repeated as the drama progresses, so we have specific, character movement/gesture threads that will be woven together throughout the course of the play.

This is an unusual show to stage. What is Rob looking for from you to help the audience/actors?

One of the wonderful things about When the Rain Stops Falling is that it gives the audience tidbits of information that, at the time, seem to have no relevance. But as the play progresses – those tidbits have great significance.

I think one of the aspects Rob was curious about was how the movement could have a similar impact. For example, in ROOMS, the characters have gestures at a window but the audience has yet to know their meaning. As the play unfolds, and the gestures are combined with those tidbits of information, the importance becomes very apparent.

For more information on Michael Mizerany and his work visit

Catch When the Rain Stops Falling, directed by Rob Lutfy, Jan. 14 – Feb. 14 at Cygnet Theatre.