Backstage Blog

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!

DOGFIGHT
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

Dave Thomas Brown in Spring Awakening

Dave Thomas Brown in Spring Awakening

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, 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

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

A Christmas Carol 2014

A Christmas Carol 2014

 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

Purchase single tickets here.

Purchase subscription packages here.

 

Playwright Insight: Diana Burbano

PiP logoPlaywrights in Process: New Play Festival is Cygnet Theatre’s annual festival of readings of new plays presented in collaboration with Playwrights Project. The festival introduces San Diego playgoers to new works by local artists and also offers a series of workshops designed to introduce curious audiences to the art of playwriting. In addition, the three-day festival at the Old Town Theatre includes opportunities for informal forums to meet the playwrights.

With the festival around the corner, we asked our playwrights to tell us how the process is going for them. Here’s playwright Diana Burbano talking about her play, Silueta, with playwrights Tom Shelton and Chris Shelton.

L to R:Diana Burbano, Tom Shelton, Christopher Shelton

L to R:Diana Burbano, Tom Shelton, Christopher Shelton

How has working with theatre artists from Cygnet Theatre and Playwrights Project helped your writing for Playwrights in Process?

They are generous and are deeply invested in helping our play grow. It is rather delicious to feel like we have a whole group of people who are “in” on the story. We are very grateful for the time and brainpower that Jessica Ordon, Katherine Harroff, Derek Charles Livingston, Veronica Burgess and Charles Maze have given to us. It feels hugely collaborative and energizing.

Diana on her inspiration for the play: I was and am dismayed at the lack of interesting roles for women of my age and ethnicity. 

About Silueta: Silueta is a two-person show based on the true story of Ana Mendieta, who fell 34 stories to her death in 1985. Almost three decades later her ghost returns to ask her husband a question for which she needs an answer: Did he push her.

Click here for more insight from Diana on her play and Playwrights in Process. 

See Silueta on Sunday, Nov 9 at 2:00pm.View complete information on workshops and plays:http://www.cygnettheatre.com/connect/playwrights.php

A huge thanks to Festival sponsors Bill and Judy Garrett.

In October We “Fall for Kids”

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Veronica Murphy, Director of Development

Director of Development, Veronica Murphy, talks about our educational focus for the month of October: Fall for Kids, and how you can help. 

Last Fall, through the generosity of Kamaya Jane and Diane Zeps in honor of their Mother Elaine Lipinsky, Cygnet launched a pilot educational program, Engage the Stage, that has proved so successful we are expanding it this year. We are providing opportunities for underserved students to experience live theatre, many for the first time. Programs include:

  • Free Student Matinees & post-show discussions
  • In-Class Theatre Workshops
  • Field Trips with performances, workshops & theatre tours
  • Performances of abridged Shakespeare and other classic literature
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Citrus Valley High School Tour

Developed and coordinated by Cygnet’s Director of Education & Outreach, Taylor Wycoff, these programs meet state and district education standards while allowing students to explore the world of live theatre.

“I had the great privilege to take my English students to see “Gem of the Ocean” WOW! It was a life-changing experience for them. Over 80% of my students experienced live theatre for the first time that day. This would not have been possible without the generous gift of free tickets.”  

-Teacher, Southwest High School

“It was really good, and the actors did an amazing job. This was the first play I’ve seen, and I’m determined to come back and watch another play.”  

-Student, Preuss School

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Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Make your donation today!

If you would like more information about engaging students you know, please contact taylor@cygnettheatre.com

If you would like to make a contribution to provide student tickets or otherwise support this important work, please contact veronica@cygnettheatre.com. We have a $15,000 matching gift opportunity for this program that will double the impact of your donation.

 

 

More Split Personalities with Maggie Carney

Maggie Carney in The Importance of Being Earnest (left) and Travesties (right)

Maggie Carney in The Importance of Being Earnest (left) and Travesties (right). Photos courtesy of Ken Jacques.

This week we sit down with another actor to talk about her roles in The Importance of Being Earnest and Travesties.

Who are you playing in both shows?  What are their similarities, and what are their differences?
I play Miss Prism in Earnest. Prism is Cecily’s governess and companion… she also harbors a deep dark secret.  In Travesties I play Nadya, a Russian revolutionary and the wife of Lenin. Nadya came from an upper-class but impoverished home, Prism is middle working class. Nadya and Prism are approximately the same age. Prism has a streak of Socialism and an interest in “causes” compared to the committed Marxism of Nadya, though they are both very passionate about their beliefs on all subjects.  They are approximately the same age.  Nadya is taller and slimmer than Prism and less fussy. Prism has accessories and tchotchkes that Nadya would never have. And finally, Nadya speaks with a slight Russian accent and Prism is British through and through. These are just some of the similarities and differences.

What is the funnest part(s) of playing multiply characters in Rep?
I love playing multiple characters in any situation, and in rep it’s even more fun. I get to play with the same creative team in 2 different plays!  We know each other very well, after rehearsing since the end of July. The real challenge will be remembering what show I’m doing on a given night.  I’ve done rep before and there’s nothing like getting dressed for Lady Percy in Henry 4, Part One and realizing at 15 minutes to the top of show I should be in Calphurnia for Julius Caesar! I’ve never gotten undressed and dressed faster in my life.

What are some of the challenges you are facing?
As a supporting actor in both shows, my greatest challenge is to keep my energy level up for my entrances. I must be fully present when I hit the stage to meet the energy level of my scene partners and increase the level with my presence and new information. I fill my down time backstage with crossword puzzles, crocheting and chatting with the other actors who are offstage. And Facebook, too!

If you are able to see both shows, I would highly recommend seeing Earnest first…there are so many echoes in Travesties it is fun to find them after seeing Earnest. Of course, these are stand-alone plays, so however it fits with your schedule, come and see us!

Split Personalities with Jordan Miller

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.

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Jordan Miller in The Importance of Being Earnest (left) and Travesties (right). Photos courtesy of Ken Jacques.

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.

Cygnet’s Eleventh Season

CygLogo_10thAnn_4cHere 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.

Sounds like an invasion

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.

Whatever it takes!

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.

Cygnet Announces 9th Season!

(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.

Cygnet’s 8th Season!

We are delighted to announce our 2010/2011 line-up. Our eighth season will offer productions ranging from a world renowned classic to a world premiere and kicking it all off will be something never before done at Cygnet Theatre – a trilogy of connected plays performed in repertory!

To start the season, we will revisit the works of Alan Ayckbourn, author of our immensely popular production of Communicating Doors. This time instead of traveling through time, we will visit the same time as seen in three different rooms, all of which get their own play! The Norman Conquests – which includes Table Manners, Round and Round the Garden and Living Together – revolve around Norman a charming library assistant, and the women in his life. Each play stands on its own, however, the fun is in seeing the entire trilogy as each play reveals unique secrets, surprising answers and loads of laughs. Directed by Artistic Director Sean Murray and Francis Gercke, The Norman Conquests will run in rep with the same six actors from July 28th through November 2nd, 2010.

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Cygnet Theatre

CygLogo_bug1. The Cygnet Theatre Name has a Cheeky Origin.

As most theatre buffs will tell you, the Globe Theatre in London has long-been considered one of the “most magnificent” theatres the city has every seen.  Shakespeare’s legendary theatre was built in the 16th century by carpenter Peter Smith and his workers, and most arts-lovers of the day felt that no other theatre would ever match its accomplishments or stature.  Nor did many dare try.  The Swan Theatre became the Globe’s one major rival, continually striving to reach new heights in theatrical achievements, despite its later eminence.  Artistic Director Sean Murray was inspired by this driven-and-able historical theatre, and has held in the highest regard Craig Noel, the founding director of San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre.   As cygnet is the name for a baby swan, Sean liked the tongue-and-cheek title for his theatre.   Cygnet Theatre may have begun as a fledgling playhouse in a strip-mall, but we’ve got some big ambitions and some real cheek.

2. There’s a swan in every Cygnet set.

We at Cygnet love our namesake.  For this reason, every Cygnet set pays tribute with a swan hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) within the scenery.  The very first Cygnet show – Hedwig and the Angry Inch – included a giant paper mache swan head made entirely of paper plates which guarded the band’s drummer.  Copenhagen’s swan was displayed on the multiple chalk-boards. Set designer, Sean Fanning hand-drew a swan, along with notes, phone numbers and doodles on the Mauritius set’s bulletin board.  Escanaba in da’ Moonlight featured crates with a company logo swan stamped on their sides and A Little Night Music continued the tradition with a swan carved into Frederick’s elaborate bed.   Although they’re sometimes challenging to spot, the Cygnet swan will make its appearance in each and every season’s show.  Just another reason to enjoy a look around your next Cygnet set.

3. There’s a Ghost in the House.

Sure we’re theatre people and drawn to the dramatic, but we can’t deny the feeling that we’re not alone in here.  Our move to Old Town not only provided us some new digs, it seems that it came with a complimentary company member.  Nothing to worry about, of course.  The Old Town ghost – or Charlie, as he’s been named – seems to appreciate the entertainment.  We assume it’s why he’s stuck around and made his presence known to other theatre companies who made their home at the Old Town Theatre before us.  But he also seems to love a practical joke or two.  While we’ve become accustomed to his slamming doors and bumps in the night, we do wish he’d return the various props and costume pieces that have gone missing from our latest Cygnet productions.

The artist formerly known as Thom with Marci Anne Wuebben in A Little Night Music

The artist formerly known as Thom with Marci Anne Wuebben in A Little Night Music

4. Sean Murray isn’t His Real Name.

Artistic Director Sean Murray isn’t who he says he is.  His real name is Thomas Murray, but you tell that to Equity.   In order to get his Equity card, he had to choose a name that wasn’t already in their system, and his middle name seemed to be the next best choice.  Plus, Mama Murray was all for it.  When he asked her what she thought his Equity name ought to be, she told him that although he was a fifth generation “Thomas Murray”, if she’d had her druthers, his name would have been Sean anyway.  Of course, we love him as “Sean” as much as we’d love him as “Thom” but we DO wonder what else he’s not telling us.

5. Cygnet Theatre’s Wonderful Life Includes Some Real Radio Royalty.

Lovers of Cygnet Theatre’s It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, have come to recognize actor Jonathan Dunn-Rankin as cantankerous, old “Mr. Potter.”   But listen closely and you’ll hear the golden pipes of real radio royalty in his between-scene radio announcements.

Jonathan Dunn-Rankin in It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

Jonathan Dunn-Rankin in It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play

At only 17 years old, Jonathan began working in radio in 1940s Florida.  He grew up to become one of the recognized, big-voiced 40s radio announcers of the era.  That broadcast history eventually brought Jonathan to San Diego where he spent many years as KFMB’s principle television newscaster. Artistic Director Sean Murray remembers watching him on Channel 8 regularly, never realizing they would one day work together.  Now Jonathan has become part of Cygnet’s annual holiday tradition.  This will be his third year of bringing his life experience to the stage.  As the station chimes play and he opens the show into the radio mike, don’t be surprised if you feel as though you’ve slipped back in time.