At the Actors Equity Association Centennial Celebration on the 17th of November David Ellenstein and North Coast Rep received a certificate of appreciation in honor of his many years of support and dedication to Actor’s Equity and the San Diego theatre community.
We have a nice certificate, a little gold medallion, and a fun book chronicling the last 100 years of AEA.
The Humbug code must be applied at time of purchase. May not be combined with any other offer. Discount offer on full price tickets only.
The Humbug Holiday Spectacular
December 11th – 28th
Starring Phil Johnson, Omri Schein, Debbie David
and Sarah Errington
If you loved PHIL JOHNSON and OMRI SCHEIN in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Leading Ladies, Don’t Dress For Dinner and Five Course Love, come see our fun loving actors in THE HUMBUG HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR.
Don’t miss this side-splitting hilarious show. Follow the wild and wacky adventures of Horatio the Humbug as he tries to create the perfect Musical Holiday Spectacular. Witty songs, vibrant dance numbers, and a little bit of everything to please even the grouchiest of holiday humbug-ers.
Authenticity comes from the hours the cast of local 9- to 19-year-olds are spending time watching documentaries about Anne Frank (a 13-year-old Dutch girl who recounted her family’s struggles as they hid from the Nazis for two years), visiting the San Diego Jewish Academy (SDJA) and hearing the stories of Holocaust survivors, some of whom will tell their stories at the performances. The production was made possible by the City of Solana Beach.
Remembrance comes through the production’s participation in The Butterfly Project, a hands-on art project created by SDJA in 2006 to memorialize the Jewish children killed in the Holocaust. The project involves making 1.5 million ceramic butterflies worldwide in honor of the children’s memory. Theatergoers will have the chance to paint ceramic butterflies for a permanent display at the Theatre School.
Resonance comes from the way Anne Frank’s words affect readers and audiences, especially children and teens.
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK’s director and the director of Theatre School Education & Outreach is Siobhan Sullivan. She noted that the book or play is on the required reading lists of most San Diego County eighth-graders. “Here is an actual person, their age, who never got to grow up. A group of people had so much hatred that they silenced 6 million people, but still her voice can be heard through the telling of her story, using her words. We have gone to great lengths to make sure all our cast understands that to tell this story is a great responsibility and should be handled with respect, but also show that this family is a normal family in unusual circumstances,” she added. “We want to make sure the audience feels a part of the experience – a part of the family, so to speak.”
After the performances, audiences will hear from Holocaust survivors such as Fanny Krasner Lebovits, who was born in Lithuania and was liberated after living in four concentration camps. The great-grandmother will speak after the Nov. 23 matinee at 2 p.m.
“By creating a safe place for the community to hear from people who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust, we can help them heal by sharing their stories and creating an action plan to stop the genocide of so many throughout the world,” Sullivan Crews said.
“Our production of Anne Frank is an honest look at her story. Abby DeSpain (who plays Anne), being only 9, brings an innocence and vulnerability to the show that is heartbreaking.”
DeSpain, from Del Mar, is joined by Andrea Bullar (Edith Frank, from Oceanside), Kayla Cruise (Margot Frank, from Encinitas), Sophia Dargie (Miep Gies), Christian Payne (Peter Van Daan, from San Marcos), Audrey Hebert (Mr. Kraler, from Encinitas), Maia Zelkind (Mrs. Van Daan), Phillip Magin (Mr. Van Daan, from Solana Beach), Geoff Geissinger (Mr. Dussel, from Carmel Valley), Bryan Dorman (SS Officer, from Lakeside), Sara Wolfkind (Anne Frank Understudy/Assistant Director, from University City), Elena Trask (Mrs. Frank Understudy/Assistant Director), and Anna Makris (Assistant Director/Butterfly Project, from Del Mar). Local actor John Tessmer plays Otto Frank and serves as the actor mentor for the production.
One way the cast of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK is preparing for the roles is with a Nov. 13 visit to the SDJA in San Diego. Academy students and staff will hold a mock Shabbat (rituals observed on the Jewish Sabbath) and the cast will perform an excerpt from the Anne Frank Chanukah scene, and hear from a Holocaust survivor. The group will also paint butterflies for the Butterfly Project and learn more about the project’s impact. For more information about the SDJA project, go to: http://www.sdja.com/jewish_life_butterfly.php
Theatergoers who want to participate in the Butterfly Project at Theatre School’s performances are encouraged to bring a $5 donation and come as early as an hour before the performance to allow time to paint.
The goal of the Butterfly Project — to empower participants to speak out against antisemitism, human suffering and genocide — fits well with Sullivan Crews’ hopes for the production.
“We hope to show the connection between the story of Anne Frank and all the atrocities that have happened worldwide since then. The reason not to forget is to make sure you take action to prevent it from happening again”, says Sullivan Crews.
David Ellenstein earned a proclamation for his outstanding work as artistic director of North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach presented by Supervisor Dave Roberts, while San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts received a sponsor of the year award from North Coast Rep!
“… BE IT PROCLAIMED by Chairman Greg Cox and all members of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on this 29th day of October 2013 that they commend DAVID ELLENSTEIN for 10 years of services to the North Coast Repertory Theatre, and do hereby declare that this day be “DAVID ELLENSTEIN DAY” throughout San Diego County.”
With his beautiful baritone, comic timing and commanding stage presence Randall has been an audience favorite of theatre’s all over San Diego county. Currently playing “The Lord” in Man With A Load of Mischief for us at North Coast Rep, it’s difficult to take your eyes off of him, and even more difficult not be smiling while doing so.
He’s a favorite around here too.
Favorite Play: Sweeney Todd Dream Role: “Javert” in Les Miserables Plays at NCRT: Story Theatre, No Way To Treat A Lady, The Fantastiks and Man With A Load Of Mischief Favorite performance: Bill Irwin in Fool Moon on Broadway in the 90′s. I have never laughed so hard or been so inspired. Favorite Book:The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Greatest indulgence: working in the garage on my Vespa… getting my hands dirty. What inspires me: generosity and simplicity of design. Secretly wishes: to be on a sit-com Favorite day: on the beach with my wife and kids. Free time: spent in the garage. I can work on polishing a single piece of metal for hours and not think about anything but that piece of metal. It’s very relaxing and freeing. It’s meditative. Dream vacation: Tour the Piaggio factory in Pontedera Italy and then ride vintage Vespa scooters across Tuscany with the love of my life, Brenda. Hometown: Long Beach California. Favorite quote or motto for life: Stagger onward rejoicing, WH Auden.
“I wish I were more patient, more generous, more loving, more attentive, more grateful, more caring, and more involved. ”
With Tatiana Mac in North Coast Repertory Theatre's Man With A Load Of Mischief
As the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at Moonlight Stage Productions.
As the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz at Moonlight Stage Productions.
As The Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas at Old Globe.
With wife, actress Brenda Dodge.
In Chicago at the Welk Resort.
In Beau Jest with Eric Poppick, Jill Drexler, Dana Fares and Cris O'Bryon at The Avo.
North Coast Rep is staging revival of obscure, once-popular 1960s piece
By James Hebert, San Diego Union Tribune
As a theater-obsessed kid in the late 1960s, Rick Simas just about wore out his vinyl copy of the rare cast album from a curious off-Broadway musical called “Man With a Load of Mischief.”
As a director and community-college professor in the early ’90s, Simas returned to the old favorite, this time directing a Bay Area production.
Two decades later, “Mischief” — a 1966 chamber piece by composer John Clifton and writer/co-lyricist Ben Tarver — remains about as obscure as ever. Yet the ever-loyal Simas is staging it once again, this time at North Coast Rep in Solana Beach.
“The strange thing is that nobody knows this musical — and I’m probably the only person in the nation, or the world, who has directed it twice,” says Simas, a frequent NCRT collaborator who also heads the MFA program in musical theater at San Diego State University.
Artistic director celebrates 10 years at Solana Beach theater
By Kristina Houck, Del Mar Times
The theater’s continued success is thanks in large part to David Ellenstein, who has been artistic director for a decade. From choosing plays and hiring directors, to meeting with donors and board members, Ellenstein is responsible for “setting the theater’s tone.”
“I like being the person who is responsible for making sure the experience of coming to North Coast Rep is a satisfying and fulfilling one,” Ellenstein said. “Seeing people have that experience makes me really happy that we’re doing a good job and a good thing.”
Committed to promoting theater arts, North Coast Repertory Theatre produces seven main stage productions each season. The nonprofit organization also offers a holiday show, off-night events and a theater school.
“I like to say we’re not a community theater; we’re a theater for the community,” Ellenstein said. “We create the best possible thing, drawing from the best local talent and the best national talent.”
As we head into our summer farce that will close a successful season 31, I wanted to share some thoughts with you about our recently closed production of BECOMING CUBA.
Unlike the usual fare we present, BECOMING CUBA was a commissioned world premiere. This means nothing existed before we began. Through generous donors, Jenie and Vin Altruda, we commissioned a playwright with a national reputation, Melinda Lopez, to create a work for us. We held a developmental workshop ten months prior to rehearsal and we nurtured the progress as the play took shape.
From start to finish, this journey was nearly two years. We were written up in the American Theatre Magazine and garnered national attention. I am happy to say it
is not over, as the play will now go forward to be produced at the prestigious Huntington Theatre in Boston. We have created a new work of theatrical art to add to the national canon. It has been an amazing experience.
The play and production was greatly challenging to North Coast Rep and to me personally as director. The script was changing as we rehearsed and the artists working on the piece had direct influence on the shape that it took. I am very proud of what we created and presented at North Coast Rep. Ms. Lopez learned so much from this initial production that will now be further refined and adjusted as it moves forward to another group of artists to interpret.
Though this is not our normal programming or process, this occasional departure into unknown territory is a healthy and wholly worthwhile path, as it inspires all of us to tackle new ideas and modes of achieving them. It is an intrinsic and important component of being a healthy and prosperous theatre arts organization that we hope to continue in the upcoming seasons.
I want to take this moment to thank each of you for supporting the journey of BECOMING CUBA. There is nothing more creative and exciting for a theatre company than to create something brand new. It is riskier, as there is no proven track record, and it is a leap of faith for the artists, the arts organization and the audience. Your participation and willingness to be part of this creative process is essential and much appreciated.
“Becoming Cuba” opened up at North Coast Rep last Saturday night amid lots of enthusiasm and warmth for this world premier. David Ellenstein directed Melissa Lopez’ show, combining a cast of some of San Diego’s finest actors (Richard Baird, Mark Pinter, UCSD grad Steven Lone and Catalina Maynard) a few transplants from NY and LA, (Eileen Faxas and Maritxell Carrero, ) and some fresh, local talent (Aaron Acosta and David Coffey).
The harsh realities that accompany every civil war are represented through rioting, looting and mistrust between warring factions. Perhaps the most distressing part of a civil war is the impact on families and children. “Becoming Cuba” vividly illustrates both of these traumatic side effects of a country seeking independence and one imposing power.
And so with children in mind, I interviewed the two young men portraying Chucho. I was enchanted with both of them immediately and knew why they had been selected for the challenging role. This character is a poor young guttersnipe who is a brutal side effect of revolution. He has lost his mother and his home to this war torn country. Chucho has learned to live by cunning and his wits. Sisters, Martina and Adela alternately take pity on him and shoo him away.
I met up with Aaron Acosta last week. I was exceedingly grateful for the time he’d carved out, because not only is this guy in “Becoming Cuba” but he’s filming a movie called “Slingers” which he described as “Bad News Bears without the alcohol or swearing.” Presently, Aaron attends Carmel Valley Middle School and is especially interested in genetics. When I asked if they played a role in his acting, he noted that he got his “stage presence from his dad”. He does have a sister who acts and that may have been what inoculated him with the bug. Aaron has starred in shows at the Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse and has been in the “Grinch” for four years running. He has been involved with ACT San Diego for a few years. Aaron has shared the stage with some big Broadway names such as Rob McClure and Jen Collela. In his spare time, Aaron enjoys basketball, paintball and video games, much to his mother’s chagrin. Aaron told me he’d love to star in a Broadway show and to this end he has been working with a vocal coach, and has actually unwittingly made a Youtube video of Justin Bieber’s “Baby”. Another music video “Betcha By Golly Wow” has been an entré for Aaron and subsequently he has done filming in Miami. He would love to be cast as Phantom or Marius one day.
This afternoon, I had the good fortune to catch up with David Coffey a few minutes before curtain. David had been acting with San Diego Junior Theater when he was recommended to audition for the role of Chucho at North Coast Rep. When David auditioned he described the event as “nerve wracking and fun”. He loved the idea of trying out for professional theater. He had previously acted in “A Little Princess” garnering a leading role, and was eager for more. He enjoyed the role of Pasko, the best friend of the Princess whom he eventually rescued. David told me that his parents and siblings have been “extremely supportive” and his adopted aunt, Bobbi Jordan, was fully behind his acting career. David realizes not all of his friends are on board when it comes to his acting interest, but some have come to his shows and find his choice “interesting” or “weird”. David enjoys the company of his peers and his fellow actors equally. He really delights in working with this cast, and felt he connected with Aaron immediately. He would love to play Simba in “Lion King” one day, as he has seen the show numerous times. Academically, David has maintained his A average, but since starting rehearsals and performances has had to work doubly hard to maintain that.
The role of Chucho is a complex one, requiring depth and range of emotion, expression and physical agility. These boys have proven themselves to be equal to the task and beyond. I wish them both great success and more importantly, great enjoyment for this time in the theater! May we see them on our local stages (and beyond) in the very near future!!!
In celebration of our World Premiere of Becoming Cuba, we spent a day at Andrés, an authentically Cuban eatery nestled along Morena Boulevard.
This unassuming window, that so charmingly reminds me of the quintessential American dream of a home with a white picket fence, launched a business that would grow into what it is today, a bustling, powerhouse of Cuban and Caribbean home cooking serving up to 200 tables a night on weekends.
On a sunny, San Diegan morning I sat down with Dan Mera, one of the owners of Andrés, to learn about what it means to be Cuban here in Southern California. “There are maybe 2000 Cubans in San Diego,” Dan tells me while multi-tasking seating a party of 15 and helping set out some fresh chips in salsa. Amidst chat about the differences between first and second generation Americans and how ropa vieja got its name (a salted, dried beef reminiscent of “old clothes” dried on a line) he told me about his father, Andres, who was born in Bayamo and raised in Havana. It was easy to see how the restaurant became a success story. “My grandfather was always a business man,” Dan lowers his voice, “he had the first movie theatre and bicycle in Bayamo and opened the first hostels in Havana.” And so Andres Mera grew up in a progressive city much like New York where he would late visit, fall in love with, and move to at the tender age of 16.
As we moved to the market, where the business began in 1982, the three Meras paused for a lightning-fast photo before shooting off in different directions. The tienda, houses everything from Hatuey malts, to ripening plantains, to galletas (cookies) from all parts of Central and South America, before coming to the last aisle filled with maté products. Maté is a tea drink prepared in a gourd and sipped through a bombilla or slotted straw that filters the tea leaves. It is known as “the drink of friendship” and is said to have the same effects as coffee without the subsequent “caffeine crash.” Andrés market is the #1 seller of mate in San Diego with over 20 brands available, the most popular brand: Rosamonte Especial. I was pleased to find that the market also carries a little known salsa that I thought couldn’t be found outside Costa Rica—Lizano Sauce. Pick some up, you won’t regret it!
Learning that the lunch was in full swing, we headed back inside the restaurant so Dan could tell me about some of his most popular items: Ropa Vieja, shredded beef simmered with onions, green peppers, tomatoes in a delicate sauce. Served with rice and black beans, Arroz con Pollo, yellow rice and savory half-chicken blended with paprika, olive oil, peas, Spanish pimentos, and other spices and Pernil de Puerco, roast Pork server with arroz con gandules (pigeon pea rice) and yuca con mojo.
We took a peek into the kitchen and I was surprised to see a diminutive Asian lady speaking in blistering-fast Spanish. “Grace is third-generation Cuban,” Dan said with a chuckle, “everyone knows when she’s not in the kitchen because the beans taste different.” And everyone knows that the mark of a good Cuban restaurant is their beans! Here at Andrés, I can imagine myself eating rice and beans everyday to great satisfaction.
In the end, it was an anecdote about a trip to Miami to eat at Gloria Estefan’s restaurant that resonated the most. While walking on the beach with his wife, a small boat with 13 or 14 Cubans came onshore and a little girl wept. To them, America represented not necessarily a land of riches, but a land of freedom; Freedom to be and do whatever they wished. Freedom to walk into a grocery store and know that they you are allowed to buy anything in its aisles. Freedom to chase whatever dreams their mind could imagine–be it a thriving restaurant business or a quiet life in the country tilling riches from the land. His story reminded me about what Melinda Lopez said about Becoming Cuba, “…it’s about running a business, grieving a loss, making ones own way, and the choices that fundamentally make or break the human spirit. I want every audience member to think, “that’s me.”