From a fish falling out of the sky in the year 2039, to a “sweet transvestite”, to one stupid established men review : a terrible fake sugar daddy site. 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
Book by PETER DUCHAN
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
HAY FEVER (Performed in Rep with The Vortex)
By NOËL COWARD
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)
By NOËl COWARD
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,) “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
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Adaptation and Lyrics by SEAN MURRAY
Score by BILLY THOMPSON
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
WHEN THE RAIN STOPS FALLING
By ANDREW BOVELL
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
RICHARD O’BRIAN’S THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW
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
STUPID F**KING BIRD
By AARON POSNER
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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For every production at Cygnet Theatre, we hold special Designer Forums that take our patrons behind-the-scenes with the creative team. Listen to the director of each show talk about how they prepare for a show, and get a glimpse into the process of set design, costumes, sound, & lighting. Check out our latest forum for A Christmas Carol.
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Creating the Characters: Costumes & Wigs
The Stage: Set Design
The Magic of Mixing Live & Recorded Sound Effects
As part of our goal to help you understand the thought-provoking work of American playwright and icon Sam Shepard, we’ve put together 7 things you should know about Fool for Love and True West. If you don’t already, follow us on Facebook for daily “fun facts” about Sam Shepard, the plays, as well as behind-the-scenes info and pictures.
3 things worth knowing about Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love:
-First performed at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco on February 8th 1983 with Kathy Baker as May and Ed Harris as Eddie.
-It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1984.
-The play was turned into a movie in 1985, for which Sam Shepard also wrote the screenplay and starred as Eddie opposite Kim Basinger as May.
4 things worth knowing about Sam Shepard’s True West:
-First performed at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco on July 10, 1980.
-It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1983.
-It was nominated in 2000 for the Tony Award for Best Play.
-The play was turned into a made-for-TV-movie in 2002, which starred Bruce Willis and Chad Smith.
Cygnet’s current production is not one, but two plays, The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde and Travesties by Tom Stoppard, performed in rep by the same company of actors. We sat down with Jordan Miller to learn a little about performing in these two classic comedies.
Who are you playing in both shows? What are their similarities, and what are their differences?
I’m playing “Algernon” in The Importance of Being Earnest, and “Henry Carr” in Travesties. The character of “Henry Carr” is inspired from the real life Henry Carr who fought in WWI and who played “Algernon” in a production of Earnest that was produced by James Joyce. The duality of the role in the play is taken from this real-life experience and forms the basis for the nods to The Importance of Being Earnest by Tom Stoppard. Both characters exemplify the “dandy” and boast very elevated and witty language, but “Algernon” is everything “Carr” wishes he was! While “Algernon” is always debonair and relaxed, “Carr” is self important and haughty, “Algernon” always wins in the end, and “Carr” is always left holding the bag. “Algernon’s” opinions and platitudes are always lighthearted but true, and “Carr’s” are always deeply passionate but often one-sided and flawed.
What is the funnest part(s) of playing multiply characters in Rep?
I don’t know if “funny” is how I would describe it but something that has been a delightful frustration for everyone is when the dialogue from one show creeps into the other, especially when the lines are so similar! And what is a great reveal in one show is played upon in the other, often with the substitution of a single word, and when in the moment you forget which show and line it is, it can make for some panic moments inside your head and for your scene partners!
What are some of the challenges you are facing?
With “Algernon” the biggest challenge (as Sean warned!) is constantly eating all the cucumber sandwiches and muffins and still speaking your lines eloquently! The text of both plays is a huge part of what makes them so wonderful; however, the language in both, once it finally gets into your memory, has a tendency to run away with you because it is so musically structured, and while it may be fun for the actor to rip through the dialogue it can become far too fast and clipped to be comfortably followed. With “Henry Carr,” he is more demanding because in addition to his substantial and complex “Old Carr” stream of consciousness memory monologues (Stoppard’s nod to “Ulysses”), he has several heated and impassioned scenes which can, like the dialogue, engulf you in the emotion and suddenly the scene becomes too heated and real and loses its comedic elements. Both characters are delightful to play, and tackling both at once has been an artistically rewarding challenge!
Are their any Rules of Etiquette from the era of Earnest that you wish were still around today?
I think basic rules of etiquette and manners are things which could stand to be reinforced today! Oh, and modern fashion could take some lessons as well.
Katie Harroff sat down with director George Yé to talk about the his experience working on Shakespeare’s R&J.
What is your history with Cygnet Theatre?
I’ve been working with Cygnet ever since 2004, I think, way back when Sean and Bill opened the space in Rolando. I designed sound for a number of shows, directed a production of Copenhagen in 2006, and other staged readings. In 2005, I produced and directed an independent project in the Cygnet Theatre space called . . .and then he met a woodcutter. Around that time I was asked to join Cygnet as an Associate Artistic Director. It was an honor I could not pass up. I continued to design, and work on various productions, and helped develop the sound system for the Old Town Theatre. Some years back we produced Escanaba in da Moonlight; for which I won a Craig Noel Award for sound design. I’m deeply committed to the continued growth and development of the company and humbled and overjoyed to participate artistically as well on R&J.
What drew you to R&J?
I love working on Shakespeare. Though I don’t get to do it very often, I actually have some intensive training. Working on this production afforded me the chance get my feet wet with some classic text while at the same time working in a contemporary way. It tells a coming-of-age story fueled with teenage angst, hormones, sensations of first love, and lust. It’s gritty. I like how Calarco’s interpretation of the original text and the students’ story align perfectly and call on the audience to experience the play through a new optic making it seem quite fresh. I was attracted to the potential the play has to challenge and reveal assumptions people have about gender, identity, and also how we can and should interpret and stage classic texts in 2013. I also was very excited to work with some of the great designers who usually work with Cygnet.
What was the hardest part about staging this piece?
The end. The actors and myself deliberated on the ending a number of times. I suspect years from now, I’ll be sitting in a café with a friend and will yell out of nowhere, “Ah! That’s it! That’s what we should have done for the ending!” I waited till very late to set the ending of the play. I knew it was a sacred moment for the cast, and I didn’t want to shut down the creative process too early, yet at the same time, everyone was looking for the right way to end the play. I had to wait and see a few run-throughs with the cast fully committed to each moment before I could start to feel comfortable with a plausible ending.
Why should people come see this show?
It celebrates the medium of theatre on so many levels. The play calls on the audience to use their imagination. Peter Herman the costume designer found us a sturdy bolt of red silk that weaves it’s way through all the action of the play. This elegant prop transforms into many items that help tell the story; vial of poison, rapiers for fight scenes; a knife, a turban, and many more. It really has turned out to be the fifth performer on stage. It’s miraculous to see how the actors use it. It’s a great play for the thrust space in the Old Town Theatre, and it addresses contemporary issues of censorship, oppression of youth, filial love and friendship, the power of first love. It’s something not to be missed.
Here we are, halfway through our tenth anniversary season, and we are already getting fired up about our next season. Artistic Director Sean Murray and Executive Director Bill Schmidt have assembled a package of plays and musicals for the 2013-2014 season that we feel just may be our most exciting yet. Cygnet’s eleventh season will feature seven productions including two plays performed in a rotating repertory, two musicals, two San Diego premieres and a holiday revival. “The scripts that we have assembled all went through the ‘is-this-exciting?’ filter!” says Murray. “We feel that we have put together a line-up that continues to serve our eclectic, artistic-whiplash tastes here at Cygnet. All of the stories in next season’s list concern relationships, love and the challenges of making personal connections.”
Ok we admit it. We love Stephen Sondheim. A Little Night Music, Sweeney Todd, and the upcoming Assassins. Not to mention the concert readings we have done of A Little Night Music, Assassins (twice) and Passion. To launch our next season we present Company, with music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by George Furth. The Tony Award-winning musical is an exploration of marriage and commitment.
In the fall, we offer up a creative treat for theatre-philes: two very different comedies, linked together through a playful twist, playing opposite each other in a rotating repertory: Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy, the delicious The Importance of Being Earnest and Tom Stoppard’s wilde [sic!] take on it, Travesties. Earnest, a comedy of mistaken identities and surprising twists, is a mash up of Downton Abbey style and Oscar Wilde’s wit. Paired with the vaudeville-style of ideas, wit, revolution, politics and history that is Travesties, both plays will be performed on alternating nights throughout the run.
It wouldn’t be the holidays at Cygnet without a 1940’s style live radio program. This seven-year tradition continues with the return of the WCYG Playhouse of the Air production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, adapted by Sean Murray with an original score by Billy Thompson.
2014 kicks off with Southern California premiere! We have snagged the rights for Jordan Harrison’s Maple and Vine, a sensation last season Off-Broadway at New York’s Playwrights Horizons. This comedy focuses on a couple who have become allergic to their 21st century lives and decide to move into a closed-community of 1950s re-enactors who forsake their cellphones and sushi for poodle-skirts, milkmen and Tupperware parties. They are soon surprised by what their new neighbors––and themselves––are willing to sacrifice for happiness.
Cygnet loves to mount exciting musicals, and in the first local professional production, we bring Spring Awakening to the Old Town stage. The youth-inspired rock musical is an eight-time Tony Award-winner with an electrifying score by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steven Sater. The show is an intoxicating story of youth, sexuality and self-discovery that is sure to awaken passion in the heart. Contains mature themes, sexual situations and strong language.
And then there is the last show… without a doubt, the most provocative we have ever announced, possibly the most hilarious, and definitely one that we jumping up and down with excitement about. Our eleventh season will conclude with the San Diego premiere of The Motherf**ker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis (The Little Flower of East Orange). The “high-octane verbal cage match about love, fidelity and misplaced haberdashery,” is set smack in the center of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. A Broadway hit that is exhilarating, hilarious and totally irreverent, this comedy is also, surprisingly, an examination of acceptance, loyalty and above all, love. This play contains drugs, violence, sexual situations and, in case you haven’t figured it out, a lot of strong f**king language.
Current Subscribers can renew their subscriptions now by contacting the box office at 619-337-1525 or returning the renewal forms that are being sent out. Sales for New Subscribers will begin March 1st.
It’s going to be an exciting season, thought provoking season, one that we can’t wait to share with you.
I can’t get too comfy and cozy in anticipation of the winter holidays or settle in to doing the sound effects for Cygnet’s new live radio play, A Christmas Carol. Not yet. Not until after I help space aliens blow up New Jersey.
When I was hired to bring the soundscape of War of the Worlds to the stage, I had to ask myself some very odd questions: What does a hillside sound like when it’s set ablaze by a heat-ray? And, by the way, what does a heat-ray sound like?
We’re basing our staged-reading of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi novel off of a 1938 radio adaptation created and directed by Orson Welles before he rocketed to international fame with Citizen Kane. Most of you probably know the story of how the program’s fake news bulletin format freaked everybody out because they all thought it was real. That wasn’t an accident. Welles’ idea was to give everyone a good Halloween scare, and the only way to do that was to go for absolute realism. He had his company of actors to listen to the firsthand newscast of the Hindenburg disaster (only one year old) for inspiration. Oh, the humanity!
Ora Nichols, the first and only woman working in her field, was tasked to match the level of realism in her sound effects that the actors were bringing to their vocal performances. She completely lived up to the challenge and the product is a gloomy, creepy, legendary piece of radio history. I recommend listening to it on YouTube.
Nichols’ design was a major inspiration for my sound design, which you are all invited to come check out on Monday and Tuesday of this week (see showtimes for details). I borrowed a couple techniques directly from her, like putting a kitchen timer in a tin bucket to create the echo of a ticking clock inside a vast astronomical observatory. I even went to Lowe’s to see if I could re-create her technique of unscrewing a glass jar inside of a toilet bowl for the reverberation of a Martian cylinder being opened by aliens from the inside. Here’s a candid picture taken by a friend I bumped into at the store!
However, most of what I’ve created for Cygnet’s reading is a departure from Nichols’ original soundscape. I wanted to give audiences the sound of the gigantic tripods moving about like the destructive war-machines they were described as in the the book. I wanted to hear the Earth being crushed underfoot (Lowe’s and Toy ‘R Us both came in handy for this particular effect). Also, I wanted audiences to hear what the aliens would sound like emerging from their metal cylinders–sloshing a wet rag inside a mug of water was helpful to that end.
There are a number of other strange little tricks I have up my sleeve to treat you with (involving a warbling metal shingle and something called a standoff column base), and I can guarantee that should you come you won’t be disappointed. And, hopefully, you won’t be able to get to sleep either. After all, it is almost Halloween.
You Just Can’t Cheat!
What can I say about executing a set at the Theatre in Old Town? It’s not your everyday scene shop. As I pull up to the parking lot next to the theatre, I find myself peering over the rustic fence at the lumber racks, sawhorses, and various bits of flats from old productions. This is the shop, where the thermostat seems to vary as much as San Diego weather, and the paint takes eons to dry on a damp day, or dries too quickly in the hot sun. And the rain is a constant threat that can set us back days at a time!
The talented team of carpenters under Technical Director Andy Scrimger use the yard behind the theatre to pre-build our scenery in parts. It’s a tricky planning process, due to a few approaches we use on our sets, which I’ll get to in a moment.
Andy began working with Cygnet in 2009, and has consistently been one to balance the needs of the budget with the demands of quality. Any technical director would tell you this is not an easy task. These days, we work together to implement strategies towards putting up a set by being very frugal, and as a byproduct (and a constant goal) using green, sustainable methods of creating scenery. Continue reading
Cabaret as an Alcoholic Beverage
Last year, Sean Murray asked me to work with him on Sweeney Todd. It was our seventh production together. Working with Sean and co-director James Vasquez was
possibly the most freeing experience that can be asked of a designer for a musical theatre setting: we threw out all preconceived notions of the staging, we started from scratch and found our own voices in the piece.
And I discovered that doing a musical on a thrust stage means that, despite the amount of decorative flourishes I may apply to a setting, my eye always becomes inexorably riveted to the performer. Out there on that thrust surrounded on three sides by a rapt audience, and commanding a story. In one breathless moment, I can forget about everything I’ve been hired or trained to do as a designer, as I sit back and watch energy flow. Continue reading
(Updated Jan 25th)
We are excited to announce our 2011/2012 line-up. Cygnet’s ninth season will offer productions ranging from Shakespeare to Williams; and for Cygnet’s musical-lovers, two uniquely thrilling productions!
Cygnet’s season begins with LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, a rock musical based on the 1960s camp film, The Little Shop of Horrors, which follows the story of a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood. Cygnet’s production, featuring the amazing Audrey II puppets designed by Monkeyboys Designs, will be a B-movie, campy horror-fest staged in black and white film-noir style! This quirky dark comedy – with music composed by Alan Menken and written by Howard Ashman – received a long off-Broadway run, a subsequent Broadway production and was turned into a 1986 film of the same name. The LITTLE SHOP music features rock-n-roll, doo-wop and early Motown sounds with several well-known tunes including “Skid Row (Downtown)” and “Suddenly Seymour.” Cygnet Resident Artist David McBean (It’s a Wonderful Life, Fully Committed) will feed the horror and the hilarity as the human-hungry plant, Audrey II. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS will run July 28th through September 11th, 2011.
In early October, Cygnet Theatre will present it’s first Shakespearean main-stage production, RICHARD III. This play, which depicts the rise to power and subsequent short rein of Richard III, is widely considered to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest works. Regarded as an “antihero” of the medieval age, the deformed Richard III was known for being both frighteningly vicious and eerily funny. Shakespeare’s fascinating depiction of his murderous path to the English crown is one of his most beloved and oft performed plays. RICHARD III runs October 13th through November 13th, 2011.
The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE: A LIVE RADIO PLAY, adapted by Joe Landry. Each year, Cygnet audiences delight in this new-found wintertime tradition as Tom Andrew performs his San Diego Critics Circle Award-winning role of George Bailey, whose life alters for good upon meeting Clarence the Angel. Once again the 1940’s radio actors of “WCYG Theatre of the Air” will recreate the classic story in a “live” radio broadcast filled with music, sound effects and the beloved characters from the film. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE returns to the Cygnet stage from November 30th through December 31st, 2011.
The new year offers starts off with a bang with the Southern California Premiere of A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE by Martin McDonagh. The title is just the starting point to McDonagh’s black comedy, his first American-set play. Take a man searching for his missing hand, two con artists out to make a few hundred bucks, and an overly curious hotel clerk, and the rest is up for grabs. Strong, adult language. A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE will run January 19th through February 19th, 2012.
In the Spring, Cygnet Theatre will present PARADE, with book by Alfred Uhrey and music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown. The musical dramatizes the 1913 true story of the trial of Jewish factory superintendent, Leo Frank, accused of the murder of a thirteen-year-old employee, Mary Phagan, in Atlanta Georgia. The play, which won Tony Awards for best book and best score and six Drama Desk Awards, is both hauntingly beautiful and bitingly frank in its depiction of love in the midst of adversity and growing racial tensions. The show was Brown’s first Broadway production and his award-winning melodies drew from a variety of influences including pop-rock, folk, rhythm and blues and gospel. PARADE will run March 8th through April 22nd, 2012.
Cygnet Theatre will close its season with Tennessee William’s A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. The Pulitzer Prize winning drama is considered a landmark play. It has also been at the top of Artistic Director Sean Murray’s lists of dream projects for Cygnet Theatre since his award-winning production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 2005. The story deals with the culture clash of two iconic characters, Blanche DuBois, a fading relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski, a rising member of the industrial working class. The production received multiple runs on Broadway, was adapted into a film, an opera, a ballet and was even produced for television. The steamy drama comes to Cygnet Theatre May 17th through June 24th, 2012.
Current Subscribers can contact the box office starting Wednesday to renew. New Subscriptions for the 2011-2012 will be available soon.
We think this is going to be an exciting season, and certainly hope you will join us.