The Royal Wedding. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The Olympic Games and Ceremonies. Rubicon Theatre Company celebrates our "love affair" with all things British with Private Lives, an elegant and sophisticated comedy by Sir Noël Coward which previews September 5 and opens Saturday, September 8 at the theatre's intimate home in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District. A co-production of Rubicon and Laguna Playhouse, Private Lives runs Wednesdays through Sundays through September 30. Get a first look at the cast onstage below!
Full of Coward's signature snappy repartee and razor-sharp wit, Private Lives is a fantastically funny farce that follows two self-absorbed divorcees, Elyot and Amanda, who unwittingly book adjoining hotel rooms while on honeymoon with their new spouses. Despite their perpetually stormy relationship, sparks fly and they find they are still irresistibly, magnetically and dangerously drawn to each other. Impulsively, Elyot and Amanda elope in the middle of the night, only to be caught days later by their jilted spouses in a most compromising situation.
Private Lives remains one of the most successful and popular British comedies ever written. The show opened in Edinburgh and toured the U.K. before it debuted at London's Phoenix Theatre in 1930, with the author himself in the role of Elyot Chase opposite Gertrude Lawrence's Amanda. The show made its Broadway bow with Coward and Lawrence (and Laurence Olivier as Victor) a year later at the Times Square Theatre in New York (with Times drama critic calling the play "a remarkable tour de force.") Other actors who have appeared in Broadway and West End productions range from Richard Burton, Alan Rickman and Paul Gross to Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith and Kim Cattrall.
Fuqua (Rubicon's first company member and a Ventura resident) recently appeared at Rubicon in many guises in the hilarious satire The Mystery of Irma Vep. Other Rubicon appearances include the title role in Hamlet (for which he won an Indy Award), Doubt, The Tempest, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Man of La Mancha, The Rainmaker (Robby Award and Rep Award) and All My Sons (Ovation Award).
A Yale School of Drama graduate, Fuqua has also appeared on and off-Broadway in Brighton Beach Memoirs and 110 in the Shade at Lincoln Center. Regional credits include Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Alexei in A Month in the Country at Arena Stage, Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks opposite Mary Jo Catlett at Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara, Iago in Othello for Shakespeare Festival of Dallas and Louis in Angels in America at Dallas Theater Center.
Granata, an Ohio native, began her career in Chicago after receiving her BFA in Acting from The Theatre School at DePaul University. Favorite roles include Girl in Edward Albee's The Play about the Baby and Dawn in Lobby Hero, both at the Goodman Theatre. Other Chicago credits include Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train at Steppenwolf Theatre, Don't Drink the Water, Meet John Doe, Streeterville, Whale Music, The Women, Present Laughter, Stage Door, Balm in Gilead, Merchant of Venice, Our Town and Merrily We Roll Along.
Granata's recent West Coast theatre credits include The 39 Steps for Ensemble Theatre Company, Santa Barbara, Sally in I Am a Camera (B-Street Theatre), Boston Court's World Premiere production of Futura, Hedda in Hedda Gabler, the Restoration comedy London Cuckolds (Ark Theatre), and Bright Ideas at the Avery Scriber Theater.
Matthew Floyd Miller, assaying the role of Amanda's second husband Victor (originated by Olivier) also received critical acclaim during the Laguna leg of the run.
Miller appeared on Broadway in Not About Nightingales directed by Trevor Nunn at Circle in the Square, and Lincoln Center Theatre's The Invention of Love. Miller's Off-Broadway credits include Another Part of the Forest, Of Mice and Men, and Letters from Cuba. Regional credits include Tom Stoppard's Rock'n Roll, The Pillowman, The Underpants (ACT Theatre in Seattle); Hysteria (Wilma Theatre); Around the World In Eighty Days and Desire Under The Elms (San Jose Rep – Dean Goodman Choice Award for the latter); The Bald Soprano (Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey); This Wonderful Life (Portland Center Stage); the U.S. Premiere of A Prayer For Owen Meany; Arena Stage and Geva's World Premiere production of Theophilus North; The Violet Hour (Dallas Theatre Center); The Matchmaker with Andrea Martin at Ford's Theatre; Enchanted April (Arizona Theatre Company); A Midsummer Night's Dream (The Old Globe); The Lady of the Camellias and The Mousetrap (Pioneer Theatre Company); The Tempest (Playmaker's Rep);Two Rooms (Chester Theatre Company); Romeo & Juliet (Portland Stage); and Quills, Wilder, and Wilder (Berkshire Theatre Festival).
Ventura native Alyson Lindsay (Schuster) joins the Rubicon cast of PRIVATE LIVES as the put-upon, petulant Sybil. A graduate of UCLA and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Lindsay recently returned from New York, where she played fashionista Wendy in the staged reading of David Zippel's contemporary adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest at theRoundabout Theatre. Previous Rubicon credits include Miranda in The Tempest, The Countess in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Ophelia in Hamlet (opposite Fuqua) and Cherie in Bus Stop. Other favorite theatre appearances include What the Butler Saw (Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham), Rocket Science (Edinburgh Fringe Festival, World Premiere and winner of Richard Rodgers Best New Musical Award), and Jerry Springer: the Opera (George IV, Edinburgh Fringe Festival).
Another newcomer to the group is Eileen Desandre as the dour French maid Louise. DeSandre is an Oregon Shakespeare Festival veteran of sixteen seasons. Roles include Bessie Berger in Awake and Sing, Maria in Twelfth Night, Brighella in The Servant of Two Masters, Bertha Katz in Paradise Lost, Flute in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Juliana Tesman in Hedda Gabler, Maddalena Guarneri in The Magic Fire (also Kennedy Center production), Monica Reed in Present Laughter, Speed in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Holofernes in Love's Labour's Lost, Mme. Pernelle in Tartuffe, Madanika in The Clay Cart, Gertrud in On the Razzle, and The Maid in Blood Wedding.
Most recently, DeSandre played the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet (Riverside Theatre), Mom in The Spin Cycle (Innovation Theatre Works), and the title role in Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher performed in French for the Oregon Bach Festival. Other theatre credits include performances at New York venues Intar, Theatre for the New City and Promenade; and regionally at Fulton Opera House, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, St. Vincent Theatre and Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.
PRIVATE LIVES is directed by Andrew Barnicle, whose extensive credits include more than 100 productions at North Coast Repertory Theatre, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, San Diego's Theatre at Old Town, Michigan's Meadow Brook Theatre, The Colony Theatre in Burbank, San Jose Rep, the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, and The Laguna Playhouse, where Barnicleserved as artistic director for nearly two decades.
Barnicle's favorite projects at Laguna include Shirley Valentine, Moonlight and Magnolias, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf, Red Herring, Art; World Premieres and U.S. Premieres of multiple works by Bernard Farrell, Richard Dresser's The Pursuit of Happiness and Rounding Third; Steve Martin's The Underpants, and Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, An Enemy of the People, and the World Premiere adaptation of his wife Sara's translation of Carlo Goldoni's The Liar.
The creative team for PRIVATE LIVES also includes Bruce Goodrich (Set Designer), Paulie Jenkins and ILYA MINDLIN (Lighting Design), JULIE KEEN (Costume Designer), CORY CARILLO (Sound Designer), and T. THERESA SCARANO (Prop Designer). LINDA M. TROSS serves as Production Stage Manager.
The comedy continues through September 30, 2012 at Rubicon's home in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District, 1006 E. Main Street, Ventura, Calif. For more information, visit www.rubicontheatre.org.
Photo credit: Ed Krieger
Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata
Joseph Fuqua and Julie Granata
Julie Granata and Matthew Floyd Miller
Julie Granata and Matthew Floyd Miller
Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua
Foreground: Director Andrew Barnicle. Background: Julie Granata and Joseph Fuqua.