Saturday, October 28, 2017

Interview - Marc Singer

Actor/director Marc Singer was a household name in the 80s with his big screen role as the Beastmaster in a series of theatrical films. He was also popular on the small screen in the series V, among others. Today he is still a working actor in demand and is a member of Group rep Theatre in NoHo where he is currently rehearsing their next production of A Midsummer Night's Dream to open November 17. Singer will play Oberon and also direct the piece. He took time out of his busy schedule to sit down and talk about his love of Shakespeare, Midsummer and some of his career highlights.

Is this your first direction?

No, this is not my first direcion at all. This is the first realization, however, of something that I've wanted to do since I was a very young actor. And that is to follow in the tradition of actors who mount their own productions of Shakespeare so that they can manage the storyline and the pace of the production and get the kind of slant or interpretation that they want to out of the entire production rather than just out of the single role that they play.

What role are you playing?

I'm playing the lead; I'm playing Oberon. It has been my experience that many productions appreciate the ensemble effect of Midsummer Night's Dream to such an extent that very often the piramital shape of the lead actor gets lost. The lead character in this case is Oberon. And Oberon drives the play and is an integral part of the mood of the play. So, this being a comedy. hopefully our Oberon will be contributing to the comedy.

I remember years ago playing Puck in a scene that was so much fun and you can get caught up in these guys and their stories but they all kind of meld together in getting out the main message.

I agree with you, and well said. The point is they can meld together to such an extent that we lose sight of who's driving the play forward. It's sort of like an avalanche that everything mixes together by the time it reaches the bottom of the hill, and it shoudn't be that way. There should be a through storyline which everything else revolves around. When that through storyline resolves itself, then the play is over. And that's the storyline of the argument between Titania and Oberon.

Are you reinventing the play in any way or are you doing a traditional mounting of it?

No, I don't favor and am not fond of  reinventions. I don't say that everything has to be done strictly to period. I like Hamlet in the style of the Napoleonic day wars. I think that's perfectly appropriate. I like it. So, not everything has to be true to period. But, what we're doing is rediscovering what I think is being overlooked in the main by most companies in the United States, according to what I'm sensing, feeling and experiencing in theatrical productions of Midsummer Night's Dream.  And that is that the original storyline which is the resolution of the struggle between Titania and Oberon and why it takes place in the first place is lost.

We're restoring a sense of it. Everybody in every literary endeavor has a very strong personal feeling about how Shakespeare should be done and what Shakespeare means, etc, etc, etc. I happen to think that Shakespeare is absolutely essentially foundational to Western culture. I believe that the loss of how to approach Shakespeare and understand Shakespeare and translate Shakespeare into action on a stage is being lost. I believe that it is a specific deal of study and endeavor, and although that sounds cold and academic, it is an imperative to me in my life that I accomplish what I can in illuminating plays by Shakespeare in my understanding of how to look at Shakespeare as a performer, before I leave this earth.

Where did you receive your training of the classics?

I was very father got me interested in Shakespeare when I was 10 years old, in the fifth grade. Through the years I discovered eventually that I really was interested in acting and that Shakespeare was foundational to my studies and to my whole life. It was the thing that made life make sense for me. I was fortunate enough eventually to be accepted into a conservatory program run by Mr. William Duncan Ross who had come I think from the National Theatre School of Canada. Later he became the head of the drama department at USC. He was an extraordinary Shakesperean scholar...and a director and an actor.

You were like a rep company?

Yes, 10 of us in the program were like a rep company. Under his direction we were significant in Seattle Washington where this conservatory was associated in developing Seattle's theatrical history.

What roles did you play?

Antonio and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice...Lear

Even though you were obviously too young for Lear or Shylock ... age makes no difference in Shakespeare.

I make zero apologies for it, asolutely not. I'm very proud of those performances, of that interpretation.
In fact it was William Duncan Ross's take on how to understand what Shakespeare really wrote, as opposed to what people are used to imagining that he wrote because they see the mistakes replicated production after production after production, so they begin to think, "Well, that must be what the play is about." It is his particular slant that I have hopefully expatiated on correctly in my own work and in my life.

Many deem it a daunting task to both act in a play and direct yourself at the same time. You seem to feel comfortable with the challenge.

As I mentioned up top, it's a tradition that many others have done before me, so I'm not the first. It's something that I've looked forward to do all my life...finally take charge of the whole production this way. (he pauses) I have moments of doubt and fear. But this I think is a tribute to the co-artistic directors of the Group repertory Larry Eisenberg and Chris Winfield. They have encouraged me. In fact, it was Larry who encouraged me first to put on a Shakespearean production way back when. He gave me the license, so this is a tribute to their stewardship of this company and this company. I'm fortunate to's an embarrassment of riches the talent and the ability of these actors. I'm pretending when I meet them that I can do what they do.

Let's break away from the play a bit. I've read that you have quite a musical background.

My father was a symphony conductor and my mother was a concertizing pianist and kind of a savant virtuoso, raised in the farmlands outside of Dallas, Texas. And yet, with perfect pitch, and could play the most profound pieces of orchestral and symphonic music. My father directed all over the world and played with all of the great musicians of his day Isaac Stern and Claudio Arrau and Andres Segovia...the list goes on and on. They loved to work under his baton. My uncle was a pianist, as well, and my aunt...

Has any of this rubbed off on you? Do you play an instrument?

No, I didn't want to spend my life indoors. I do play the piano ... and the guitar. I play it at a strictly dilettante fashion.

Mainly to entertain yourself. So you wouldn't want to direct a musical?

I've always wanted to perform in a musical, like one of those older ones such as Babes in the Wood from that era. The music is so uplifting. I'm not in any way qualified to direct one. No, no...

Let's talk a tad about your movie fame. Tell our readers about your involvement in Beastmaster.

The Beastmaster was an extraordinary kind of charmic event in my life. We were children back in Texas. Everything was cowboys in those days... Roy Rogers, Gene Autry...all those people were on television screens in black and white every weekend.

For me it was Superman.

Superman, yes...Hollywood is a dream machine. And it is, because one day an actor's walking down the street and the next day he's the Beastmaster. And from that day on, he has in his own small way a niche in Hollywood filming stand beside the Lone Ranger...and so it's like becoming the Lone Ranger. It was so fulfilling and so exciting when it was all over to think, to realize that people would now think of me as the Beastmaster.

Was being cast a surprise in any way?

It was. I got a call from my agent and he said they're sending you the script for a lead in a movie. That was the first time that had ever happened for me. When I went in to meet Don Coscarelli who was the auteur, he said it was my work as Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew that had prompted him to say "That's the guy that should be playing the Beastmaster". I made friends on the film that I have kept for life. And I also learned so much about filming. I worked with John Alcott the Academy Award winning cinematographer who did Barry Lyndon. I got to do what I had always wanted to do, working outside, and doing that thing that actors, that we all say that we do, "I do all my own stunts!" Of course, that's baloney. We do as many stunts as we're physically capable of without killing ourselves and jeopardizing the film. The producers don't care if you kill yourself; (he chuckles) they just don't want the film to be damaged. So I got to do a lot of that stuff and learn about directing and acting...

You also did V on TV to great acclaim. Is there any other poject that you're particularly proud of?

 I was lucky to do an episode of The Twilight Zone in its new incarnation in the 90s nd also Night Gallery. I'm proud of my performances in those enjoyable roles. I love immersing myself in a role. I love getting that character just right. Gripping for the audience and fun for me to play.

A role to play on your bucket list?

Oberon before it kills me. (we laugh) I want to play the role that brings out whatever is deepest in me that I want to express ...  that I never knew was there.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I had the opportunity to sit in on part of a rehearsal of Midsummer after the interview. It was a scene with the fairies, and there were four teenage actors playing the younger fairies. It is not easy to direct young actors; I know from my own experience as a middle school/high school teacher for many years. I had such fun watching, mainly because of Singer's ability as director to jump right in and show them what he wanted them to do. As he blocked the scene, he was very playful in his approach to guiding the 'kids' into having fun with their antics, which include singing a very silly ditty and moving as if in flight hither and thither around the stage. After a few practice sessions, they did produce what he gave them quite nicely. I truly believe from what I saw Singer accomplish as a director is that he is not only effective but really quite magical.

Here are rehearsal shots of other sessions showing Singer in action.


Plays at the Group rep from November 17 to December 31. For tickets, visit their website:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Interview - Linda Kerns

Linda Kerns has a made a name for herself as both an actress and director.  As an actress:  Broadway: NINE (Original Cast), Big River, National Tours: Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast (LA), Wicked (LA). The movie “TITANIC,”  LAWeekly Award  (Best Musical Performance) for Into the Woods at Actors Co-op. As a director:  World Premiere Matthew Goldsby’s Makin’ Hay, Pride and Prejudice, I Do, I Do!, And Then There Were None,  Going to St. Ives, among others.
She is currently directing the classic The Man Who Came to Dinner at Actors Co-op to open Friday November 3.

Written by Steve Peterson

When did you first get interested in considering acting as a career?

This question always makes me chuckle.  I was FIVE!  I was cast in the lead role in my kindergarten play The Little White Rabbit Who Wanted Red Wings.  All the laughs and applause and love just bit me right in the butt (and in the heart!) I knew from the moments of that curtain call that theater was going to be my life.

When did you delve into directing, and what did you learn from that first experience directing a play?

I had helped a friend direct/musical direct a few shows at a school at which he worked, but didn’t really think of directing as a “career”. Around 16-17 years ago the Artistic Director at a theater I had worked in, called to ask me if I wanted to direct a show there.  I was gob-smacked.  He said “I think you should direct, and this is the perfect place to start.”  I’ve done a fair amount of “on the job” training…and read lots of books!!

Did you have mentors along the way in regards to your directing?  And what ‘lessons’ or guidance do you still pay heed to when you direct?

In terms of mentors - really just the person who first asked me to direct,  I guess. He answered a lot of basic questions for me and I felt free to be lousy.  J There are some directors out there working that I would love to assist for the sake of learning.  Tina Landau, Diane Paulus, Frank Galati, Des McAnuff…  I have a few books that were influential, among them, the William Ball book A SENSE OF DIRECTION and Jon Jory’s TIPS, IDEAS FOR DIRECTORS.  I learned a lot about what to do, and what NOT to do, from directors I have worked with as an actress.
The lessons/tips:  1. When in doubt, keep your mouth shut.  Once you’ve said it, (to an actor) as the director, you can’t take it back.  2. Actors are sensitive, vulnerable people…honor them and their bravery. 3. The hardest and most important part of directing is the casting!

Tell us a bit about the play; and what intrigued you about directing this comedy classic?

Once again, Kaufman and Hart have created a story with a strong plot, full of crazy characters.  The play, while centered around a rather mean-spirited man, has a lot of heart, and if one follows the arc of many of the characters we do see in the end that “love conquers all”.  I was ready to direct something lighter, and more fun than some of the pieces I’ve directed in the recent past.

What do you want the audience to take away?

I want them to laugh!  I want an enjoyable evening in the theater, where one can leave outside the dark time the world seems to be experiencing at the moment, and get lost in a story that isn’t life and death, that isn’t political, that has no real darkness in it. Don’t get me wrong, I love that kind of thought-provoking theater, but just at this moment, I need joy!

In addition to directing, you are also a working actress and an Adjunct Professor in the Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program at UCLA.   Acting or directing, do you favor one or the other?

When I first started to direct I thought “Oh THIS is where I belong”, but acting is really my first love, and thank heavens I’ve gotten better at it over the years.  Some of us are late bloomers! J And I love teaching.  Seeing the ‘light bulb’ moment , or watching the growth and success of a student is glorious!

What’s up next for you in regards to directing and/or acting?

I don’t know! Got a job for me? (She laughs.)

Was there anything you wished we had asked or you’d like us to know about you or about the production?

I love these actors! AND theater (and the arts in general) can change lives in ways that nothing else can.

Actors Co-op Theatre Company presents Moss Hart and George F. Kaufman’s beloved comedy classic THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER, directed by Linda Kerns, produced by Thomas Chavira, about the nightmare holiday guest who never leaves – or so it seems. Opens November 3 at 8:00 pm.  Runs November 3 – December 17, 2017. Fridays and Saturdays at   8:00 pm, Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm. Dark November 24, 25 and 26.  Additional Saturday Matinees: November 11 and November 18 at 2:30 pm.  Tickets: $30.00.  Seniors (60+): $25.00.  Students: $20.00.  Group rates available for parties of 6 or more.  
To buy tickets or make reservations please visit or call (323) 462-8460.   Actors Co-op David Schall Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St. (on the campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood) in Hollywood.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Interview with Christine Dunford

CHRISTINE DUNFORD made her directorial debut with last year’s production of Good People at the Hudson Guild. She trained as an actor at Juilliard, making her debut in Joe Papp's Two Gentlemen of Verona. Broadway: Serious Money. Off-Broadway: Love's Labors Lost (Public Theater);Serious Money (Public Theater);Tamara; Infidelities (Primary Stages.) LA: I Carry Your Heart (BootlegTheater);The Cryptogram; Old Neighborhood (Geffen Playhouse);7Blow Jobs; Erotic Curtsies (Bottom’s Dream Theater Company);    Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike (Edgemar Theater.) Film: “Ulee's Gold” “Love & Basketball” “American Dream” “Bandit Hound” “Hello Herman” “August Creek” and award-winning shorts “Dos Corazones” and “Lost People of Mountain Village.” Ms. Dunford has appeared in over 100 episodes of television. Series Regular: “Good Sports” “Bob” “Hudson Street” “Something So Right” and “Secret Lives of Men”. Guest Star: “The Gifted,” “Longmire,” “The Mentalist,” “Bones: & many others. Solo Performance: HBO Aspen Comedy Festival. She is currently directing a production of Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories to open at the Dorie Theater at the Complex Friday October 13.

by Steve Peterson

You are known best for your work as an actress.  When did you know that you wanted to be an actress and what inspired to you become an actress?

Lee Grant. 1975. I saw a PBS broadcast of The Seagull, which had been mounted, I think, in Williamstown. We lived in the Bronx and I’d never seen a play outside of school, Catholic pageants, that kind of thing.  Lee Grant as Arkadina absolutely captivated me. She was so alive, so complex, full of contradictions…and so funny. I’ve loved her - and wanted to play Arkadina - ever since.

When did you start directing and what was the play? What are you able to draw from that experience that enhances your process of directing?

I directed Good People last year. It was my first directing experience. I had great actors and an absolutely outstanding design team. My take-away from that experience was that people who speak the same creative language as you are treasures: you put them in your pocket, appreciate them and bring them into every project that you can.  I’ve collaborated with Alessandra Manias (Set Design) David Medina (Sound) and Maggie Lima (Costumes) before and if I’m very lucky I’ll get to work with them all again. And again.

Were you familiar with COLLECTED STORIES before you were approached to direct the play?  What intrigued you about the material?

I wasn’t very familiar with Collected Stories before I was approached to direct it, outside of reading it and knowing that both Uta Hagen and Linda Lavin (two of my favorite actors) had played the part of Ruth Steiner. I liked, of course, that it’s a play with rich and complex roles for two women…And I like very much the challenge of telling a story in a way that doesn’t tilt the scale in the moral favor of either character. And it is a challenge, I can tell you that.

Tell us a bit about the play.

Well, on the face of it it’s a story about creative license, about ownership of the past, about loss, about the loneliness of old age and irrelevance…I think it’s also a play about mentors and protégés – and how ill-schooled we are, as Americans, in the nuance of that relationship.

What is up next for you in regards to acting and/or directing?

Oh, I wish I could say what was next for me as an actor or director! One never knows, it’s the bane of our existence. Once the play opens I’ll go back to auditioning, working as much as I can. I like the rhythm of going from one project to the next. One of my teachers at drama school told me “Darling, don’t ever walk away from momentum.”

Is there anything you wished we had asked or want us to know about the play, the production or about you?

I have very tender feelings toward both Ruth and Lisa. I’ve been the ambitious – even ruthless - young artist hungry for growth, for success...But I’m also at the point now where I look back and wish I’d been more appreciative of, and tendered more care for, the amazing artists at Juilliard who taught me, who gave me everything they had.

ShoWorks Entertainment presents Donald Margulies’ Collected Stories, directed by Christine Dunford.  Susan Fisher and Gretchen Goode star in this intense and often funny look at art and the process of creation.  October 13 – November 5.  Fridays and Saturdays 8:00 pm. Sundays 3:00 pm.  Admission: $30. Tickets/Information:
Dorie Theater at the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd. Los Angeles, CA.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Interview with Susan Sullivan

Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actress Susan Sullivan has been delighting audiences onstage and on television for many years. She is currently a part of LA Theatre Works production of Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine. In our chat she talks about her role and others that she has played in her varied career.

Tell us about your role in Watch on the Rhine. This character really makes a great sacrifice. Talk about that.

I play Fanny Farrelly in Lillian Hellman's classic, a timely play Watch On The Rhine. I feel as if I have slipped into Ms. Hellman's skin which is a prickly place to be because she uses so much of her own unique and difficult personality in creating this role. This is what an actor longs for in a character...detail, nuance and complexity. While the play takes place in 1940 it translates to our time because it is beyond time... Dealing with the privileged and isolated Farrelly family who must now recognize that their world is not the simple cozy place they assumed it was. When Fanny is forced to deal with the realities of a world and a family in crisis she comes to discover what she actually stands for and what she must sacrifice to survive. Now  you have the foundation for a drama that crosses into many of the dilemmas that inform our time. Perhaps all time.

Do you think people become as involved in foreign affairs as they should? Right now it seems that some people are not doing enough to help save our world.

I think people are more involved in both foreign and domestic affairs than they have ever been. We’re also more aware of hot spot crises around the world and the vulnerabilities of everything from madmen with guns to climate change science. I do think we are all obligated to be informed and to vote for those reflecting our values and priorities. What’s to be learned from this exquisite play is the necessity of finding the ground you can hold and the unique way you can contribute. But you have to see the whole picture to understand how you fit into it and where you might have something to offer and a sacrifice to make that is authentic and meaningful. 

What is your favorite recording for LATW to date? How much preparation do you do? As much as for a regular play?

My favorite play at L A Theatre Works was Assembled Parties. I played a Jewish mother from Long Island and found myself reconnecting with not only my New York roots but my New York and Long Island rhythms. I did grow up and went to school on Long Island so go figure. As for preparation ––  I love exploring a character and that takes time and interacting with your fellows so it is a bit short circuited by limited rehearsal. Learning the lines also deepens the character and, without that discipline, it can be tempting to skim the surface.  But when a play and a character are this interesting I have a hell of a good time working with myself in the bathroom mirror!

Do you have a favorite play that you have done? If so, which one? Why?

I have several favorite plays I have performed in: A Delicate Balance, The Glass Menagerie, and several of Mr. A. R. Gurney’s plays.  All of these have been interesting and challenging for different reasons. And now the glorious and talented and truthful Ms Hellman!

Is there a role you are yearning to play?

The part I am yearning to play at the moment is none other than Fanny. This play offers a world that enriches the actor and I trust, the audience that enters it's realm.

What about your favorite TV/film role? Do you have one?

I have been blessed to play several women who have informed my life by living through and in each of them. Each enhanced by playing for an extended run.  Maggie in Falcon Crest; the truly "good woman" Kitty Montgomery in Dharma and Greg. My first comedy allowed me to be arch but amusing. And finally my actress friend from Castle, Martha... an homage to my career and my mother... I have been one lucky girl.  And I bathe in the wisdom of gratitude daily!

What's up next for you?

Not sure what the road ahead holds which is sort of the good news/bad news part of being an actor.  But I continue my Twitter adventure giving unsolicited advice on a daily basis.  It keeps me centered and hopeful.  Because hope is an important ingredient in the mix that is our life... 

Anything you wish to add about Watch on the Rhine?

I think this is a special and dare I say important play for today and probably tomorrow since we appear to be slow learners. 

Watch on the Rhine
• Written by Lillian Hellman
• Directed by Rosalind Ayres
• Produced by Susan ALoewenberg
• Presented by L.A. Theatre works

• Thursday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m.
• Friday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m.
• Saturday, Oct. 14 at 3 p.m.
• Saturday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m.
• Sunday, Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.

James Bridges Theater
UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
235 Charles E. Young Drive
Los Angeles, CA
(enter UCLA from Hilgard just south of Sunset Blvd.; park in Lot 3 on the lower level)

310-827-0889 or
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• Follow us on Twitter @latheatreworks

Thursday, October 5, 2017

2017 Interview with Bobby Moresco

Bobby Moresco is an Academy Award-winning writer, director and producer, hailing from Hell’s Kitchen, New York. In 2007, Moresco received an Oscar for co-writing the feature film “CRASH”. Other features include, Academy Award-winner “MILLION DOLLAR BABY” and “10TH & WOLF”, starring James Marsden, which was his directorial debut. Moresco’s TV credits include “EZ Streets”, “Falcone”, and “The Black Donnellys”. He is currently producing WORKING at the Whitefire Theatre to play Thursdays October 12-November 9.

by Steve  Peterson                 

What was the genesis of this project? 

Like everybody else in the country in the last couple of years, I’ve been concerned about the disappearing middle class. In my opinion, it’s the heart and soul of who we are, what we are, the ability for a mother or father to work hard and in return receive some sort of economic stability in their lives. Some sort of security by virtue of the work put forth.

What inspired you to continue exploring workers’ lives in 2017?

 I felt some responsibility to speak to it. The idea of marrying what Studs Terkel did in the original “Working” and what Camus explored in The Myth Of Sisyphus, the idea that work is the essential question in one’s life. And it will either destroy you, or be your salvation. That’s intriguing in a very contemporary way for me. Camus suggests that one must imagine Sisyphus happy. It seems essential.

There was a musical based on Terkel’s book that ran for about a about month on Broadway?  Did you see it or have knowledge of it; and was there anything different you were wanting to achieve with a new piece inspired by his work?

Yes I did see it. And of course I read Terkel’s book. The new inspiration came simply from trying to marry Terkel’s ideas with Camus’.

How did you go about developing the concept in workshop?

I brought the idea into the Actor’s Gym Saturday afternoon sessions, presented it to the writers and actors in the group, and asked them to consider writing a character study that might explore the ideas outlined above. I gave them a structure to work with. And they went to work. It was about a two-year journey where everyone continued to put forth ideas, dialogue, characters, and then a reworking, until we wound up with what is now the play.

Tell us a bit about the play.

It’s everything we speak about above. Eleven characters commune with the audience and share their story of the expectation of who and what they are and how the idea and hope of work impact their lives.

What do you want the audience to take away or feel  from having seen WORKING 2017?

I’m hoping they’ll be emotionally involved with the lives of the people on the stage and they take away whatever they take away from it. It’s not about a message. It’s about the human condition, as the writers and actors performing these pieces, see that condition.

What’s  up next for you in regards to directing, writing and producing?

There’s a play I’m attached to direct by one of the Actor’s Gym members, William Hoffman. I’m tremendously excited about directing that.  I have a new movie called BENT that I’ve written and directed starring Sofia Vergara, Andy Garcia and Karl Urban, as well as about a dozen members of the Actor’s Gym. And I’m working on a couple of new television shows, one with legendary director William Friedkin, and one with legendary comedian Colin Quinn.

Is there anything else you care to mention that we didn't ask you?

Yes, I wish you had asked more about Bryan Rasmussen and the Whitefire Theater, and Bryan’s commitment to new and vital works. Without people like Bryan and the Whitefire, there would be no place to put up new pieces of theater. We’d be back on the street corner, which isn’t so bad, but a theater is better J

Also, I wish you had asked about the collaborative work of the crew. Not just the artists. The crew has been amazing, starting with my partner / live stream director Larry McLean, and our lighting crew Derek McDaniel and David Svengalis.  And of course my stage manager David Branson.

WORKING 2017 run Thursdays at 8:00 pm.  October 5 - November 9.  Appropriate for ages 18+. Tickets: $25.  For tickets and information: go to or call 800 838-3006.  Whitefire Theatre, 13500 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.