Spotlight Series: Meet Gina D'Acciaro, an L.A. Actress and Regular Performer at Rockwell Table & Stage


This Spotlight focuses on Gina D'Acciaro, an actress in Los Angeles for over 19 years who I first met when she was a member of the Actors Co-op Theatre Company in Hollywood and appeared in their production of the Kander and Ebb musical revue World Goes Round. Gina is now a regular performer at Rockwell Table & Stage in Los Feliz, as well as the creator of  many entertaining YouTube videos.


Shari Barrett (SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?

Gina D’Acciaro (Gina): I was fresh off a 2019 Broadway World win for “Best Cabaret - Female - Intimate Space.” I was actually set to remount my one woman show “Gina D’Acciaro is… Famous Adjacent” in NYC when the theater world closed down.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(Gina): We found a cabaret space that we liked best, and our creative team was juuusssst about to announce a performance date in late April 2020. So thankfully for myself, my director, Robert Marra, and my musical director, Andy Arena, no flights had been reserved yet!

(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent? 

(Gina): No way! The show must go on! As soon as cabaret spaces are open to the public again, we will pick up right where we left off.

(SB): That’s great news! But what other future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Gina): Mounting my show was mission number one while in NYC, but so was finally auditioning for Broadway. And as it turned out, Friday, March 13th was the last Equity audition I had scheduled, which was, sadly, cancelled. This is the first time in my life that I left LA to try to audition my face off and book a Broadway show. Guess I picked a fantastic time to give it a try, huh??

(SB): As they say, timing is everything!  So now that we are “safer at home,” how are you keeping the Arts alive while using social media or other online sites? 

(Gina): I spent the first month of quarantine in disbelief, shock, sadness, even depression. Then I decided to limit my news intake and created a virtual variety show with a group of actors in NYC. It’s called “The Corona Clubhouse” and is a weekly LIVE show featuring sketch comedy via Zoom calls. It’s a silly “kid show for adults” and it’s been great to have the chance to get the funny, creative juices flowing as a writer / performer. I’ve been writing/filming a script and a parody song every week with my writing-partner-in-comedy-crime, Jordan Goodsell, another LA actor / singer / friend finding himself in a Broadway-less NYC.

(SB): Here are links to Gina’s latest YouTube videos:

“Quarantine Dating Sucks [Love Is An Open Door Parody]”

“Nobody Wants This Subscription Service”

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon? 

(Gina): Friends! Feel all the feels. And keep hope alive. Don’t feel pressure to create. But don’t forget who you are. An ARTIST. Artists are always essential. And the Arts might be the last thing to come back, but that’s because they always save the best for last.


(SB): And with that wonderful tribute to the Arts to end the interview, I invite you to follow Gina on Instagram @duhchairoh for funny song parodies, sketches, and clips from Famous Adjacent when you need an escape from the daily news!


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Nan McNamara, an Award-Winning Actress, World Premiere Director, and Acting Instructor


This Spotlight focuses on Nan McNamara, an award-winning actress who I have seen in many productions at the Actors Co-op in Hollywood, perhaps most notably her performance in the 2017 Ovation Award-winning 33 Variations in which she played a journalist who was able to go back in time to interview Ludwig Von Beethoven (an outstanding performance by Bruce Ladd) about his work. That outstanding production was staged on a remarkably versatile small stage set designed by Nicholas Acciani (who also designed the accompanying amazing projections), enhanced by O'Leary's jaw-dropping, scene-changing choreography.


Here is the link to my review of that production in which that scenic description appears.

Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

Nan McNamara (Nan): I am an actor and director who recently directed the Ovation Recommended World Premiere of Lee Blessing’s A Body of Water at Actors Co-op. As an actor, my credits include the Ovation Award-winning 33 Variations (Los Angeles Drama Critics nomination-Lead Performance, StageRaw Award-Leading Female Performance, Robby Award-Best Actress), A Walk in the Woods (Ovation Recommended) and Wit (Los Angeles Drama Critics Award-Lead Performance, LA Weekly Award-Leading Female Performance).

Other theatre roles include Steel Magnolias (Truvy), Going to St. Ives (Cora), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (Mary), The Crucible (Elizabeth), Uncle Vanya (Yelena) and As You Like It (Rosalind).

TV/film roles include Hawaii Five-0, Major Crimes, Rosewood, Switched at Birth (recurring) and Criminal Minds. I also enjoy a vibrant career in voiceover and have recorded over 100 audiobooks, and have taught acting at The Imagined Life, Asuza Pacific University and Vanguard University.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?

(Nan): I directed the world premiere of Lee Blessing’s A Body of Water at Actors Co-op, and we were entering our final weekend of the run when the production was shut down due to Covid-19.  I was also understudying two roles in Marvin’s Room directed by Thomas James O’Leary which was slated to open March 20 at Actors Co-op.

(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?

(Nan): We found out through the Actors Co-op board and our production manager who had been keeping abreast of the Mayor and Governor’s orders as well as what other theatres were doing.  And for the safety of our patrons, actors and production team, they decided to shut down on March 13, which was a week prior to the mandatory “shelter at home” order.

(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?

(Nan): Unfortunately, I don’t think A Body of Water will be able to finish its run, but Actors Co-op is hoping Marvin’s Room will be able to open at some point over the summer. Of course, no one really knows the exact timing of when intimate theatres will be able to open their doors again.

(SB): What other future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

(Nan): The final production of Actors Co-op’s 28th season was slated to be the musical A Man of No Importance directed by Richard Israel. They were just completing casting with an opening scheduled for May 8, and now it’s not clear what the new opening date will be.

(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Nan): I’ve loved receiving regular email updates from various theatre companies around town as many of them have provided inspiration with links to free streaming of plays and readings as well as words of encouragement.  A Noise Within offered a couple of free Shakespeare classes that I really enjoyed, and there is a free Michael Chekhov class on Sunday mornings.  I also loved watching the Sondheim Birthday tribute.

(SB): So did I – what a magnificent evening of extraordinary talent offered to the public for free!

(Nan): It’s wonderful that there have been a lot of wonderful ways to keep engaged. But of course, I can’t wait to get back to the theatre - there is no substitute for the audience interaction of live theatre.

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Nan): I really appreciate the theatre community here in Los Angeles, and hope everyone is safe and well.  I really miss seeing shows and experiencing the amazing work from so many stellar companies, and the collaboration as an actor/director that is unique to the theatre. While this is certainly an extremely challenging time, it’s my hope that we can all come back stronger than ever and ready to share our stories.  And share some hugs.

(SB): For more information about Nan McNamara, please visit Nan's website at NanMcNamara.com, her Instagram page, and find all her film credits on IMDb.me/NanMcNamara.

 


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



Spotlight Series: Meet Selah Victor, Former Actors Co-op Theater Production Manager


This Spotlight focuses on Selah Victor, an actor and former Production Manager of Actors Co-op Theater Company in Hollywood whose next production, which is very personal, is due later this year. And while the “wait is on,” Selah is sharing her musical comedy talents by creating clever and very relevant “safe at home” videos on YouTube. So, with a toddler at home as well as a new addition to her family on the way, how is she fueling her creativity at home and sharing it with others?


Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

Selah Victor (Selah): I have been a performing in the theater since I was 10 years old and graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in Theater, which also included a year studying and performing in theater all over the UK.

Selah Victor with Floyd Van Buskirk in "Lend Me a Tenor" at the Actors Co-op

After college, I moved to Los Angeles where I continued to perform on the stage all over the city including Actors Co-op, The Garry Marshall Theater, Theater West, Pico Playhouse, and Second City. I became a member of Actors Co-op Theater Company in 2003, serving on the Production Committee and producing several shows before becoming the Production Manager from 2015-2019. I also co-founded an independent theater production company called Standing Room Only to bring shows from concept to creation.

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out it needed to immediately be either postponed or cancelled?

Selah Victor in "The World Goes Round"

(Selah): I wasn’t involved in any stage productions personally. But our two Spring shows at Actors Co-op, Marvin’s Room and A Man of No Importance, had to be postponed, and the closing weekend of A Body of Water (March 13-15) had to be cancelled.

(SB): Now that you find yourself at home, how are you keeping the Arts alive by using social media or other online sites?

(Selah): I have been having so much fun keeping the Arts alive while at home by producing sketch comedy with my toddler! And I am pregnant with our second child due later this year. As busy as I have been, it has truly helped to keep my spirits up and I have found it such a thrill to produce things at home, sharpening my skills as a performer, writer, and editor, as well as a Mom! It’s also been so rewarding to post my sketches on social media and YouTube and to get positive feedback from the internet audience.

(SB): My personal favorite, which I saw on Facebook, is your “Stay at Home Rap” which I watched over and over again, laughing myself silly over the cuteness of your son and your relevant lyrics with such important messages.

(Selah) Here are the links to my “quarantine” sketches:

Quarantine With Kids:

Stay at Home Rap:

 

(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the L.A. Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?

(Selah): It’s been so wonderful to see how the LA Theatre community has come together throughout all of this. I’ve seen online rehearsals, performances, play readings, and more, all of which have helped artists to keep their spark alive to keep creating. I do think we need to support our small theaters to help them keep the lights on through this difficult financial time, and so many people have been going the extra mile to make sure these theaters can stay open. 

Let’s stay in touch through my website, my instagram and my twitter accounts.


This article first appeared on Broadway World.



L.A. Venues and Events That Are Postponing, Updating, or Canceling To Help Deter Coronavirus Spread and Protect the Public

UPDATES: 11-14-20 5:30 p.m. PST

Better Lemons is currently in the process of updating our calendar with shows that have postponed, updated, or canceled due to coronavirus and concerns and actions towards the safety of theatre patrons.

The following is a list of venues and shows that we have updated and have been updating currently.

If you have a show that needs updating, please log in and update your show accordingly. If you are postponing, do not delete your event and feel free to email us via our contact form should you need assistance with updating.

UPDATE ONLY


The 29th Annual LA STAGE ALLIANCE OVATION AWARDS is Monday, January 28, 2019

The 29th Annual LA STAGE Alliance Ovation Awards is Monday, January 28, 2019. The black-tie ceremony will be held at DTLA at The Theatre at Ace Hotel on Broadway at 7:30 p.m.

The Ovation Awards, created to recognize excellence in theatrical performance, production, and design in the Greater Los Angeles area, is the only peer-judged theatre awards in Los Angeles where nominees, their peers, and all L.A. theatre-lovers will join in the much-anticipated annual celebration of a year of excellence in Los Angeles theatre, issuing a wide variety of awards in categories that recognize the plethora of theatrical talent in Los Angeles and their art.

The 33 categories, listed from Best Production of a Play (Large) to Lead Actor in a Play, to Lead Actress in a Play to Fight Direction, along with Ovations Honors Winners. The awards season is September through August and concludes with a tabulation to determine the nominees in each of the categories, with several award winners from last year returning this year as nominees.

Center Theatre Group, who won three Ovation Awards last year for their productions, has a total of 18 nominations this year–with “Soft Power” receiving 12 nominations–including a nomination for Best Production of a Musical (Large Theater) for both “Soft Power” and “Spamilton.” Center Theatre Group is also nominated for Best Presented Production for “The Red Shoes.”

The East West Players, who won Best Production of a Musical (Large Theatre) for “Next to Normal” last year, has a total 13 different nomination this year in various categories, including for Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theater) for “Kaidan Project: Walls Grow Thin” co-produced with Rogue Artists Ensemble, who also is nominated for 8 productions co-produced along with the East West Players.

The Actors Co-Op, who earned Best Production of a Play (Intimate Theatre) for “33 Variations” last year, is nominated this year for Best Season for “The 39 Steps,” “The Man Who Came To Dinner,” “A Walk in the Woods,” “A Man for All Seasons,” and “Violet.” Rubicon Theatre Company who won Best Production of a Play (Large Theatre) last year for “Gulf View Drive,” has two nominations this year both for Jane Anderson, who is nominated for Playwriting for an Original Play, and Krystle Simmons, who is nominated for Lead Actress in a Play, for “The Baby Dance: Mixed.”

Harry Groener who won last year for Lead Actor in a Play is nominated again this year for Featured Actor in a Play for his work in Antaeus Theatre Company's “Three Days in the Country.” Andrew Schmedake, who won last year for Lighting Design (Intimate Theatre) for “33 Variations,” Actors Co-op, is nominated this year for his work both on Antaeus Theatre Company's “Native Son” and After Hours Theatre Company's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.” Corwin Evans, who won Video/Projection Design (Intimate Theater) last year for SoulArt's “Plasticity,” is nominated again this year for Sacred Fools Theater Company's “The Art Couple” in the same category.

L-R: Bryan Bellomo, Clayton Farris & Brendan Hunt in “The Art Couple.” Photo by Darrett Sanders, courtesy of Sacred Fools Theater Company.

 

There are some very prolific individual nominees this year as well, including Multi-Ovation Award-winning Lighting Designer Jared Sayeg who is nominated once again, this year, for Lighting Design (Large Theater) for his work in “Our Town,” Pasadena Playhouse. Jeff Gardner, who won Sound Design (Large Theatre) last year for Center Theatre Group / The Echo Theatre Company's “Dry Land,” is nominated again this year for A Noise Within's “A Raisin in the Sun” and for Sound Design (Intimate Theater,) he is nominated this year both for Antaeus Theatre Company's “Native Son” and “The Hothouse.” Michael Mullen, who won Costume Design (Intimate Theatre) for Theatre Planners' “Siamese Sex Show” last year, is nominated once again this year for his work both in Celebration Theatre's “Cabaret” and Theatre of NOTE's “Year of the Rooster.”

The LA. Stage Alliance just recently moved into the new home on 514 Spring Street in the heart of DTLA, late last year, on the fourth floor of the historic building and theatre that is owned by the City of Los Angeles and operated by the Latino Theatre Company. The landmark Greek-Revival with its iconic columns was constructed in 1916 and designed by John Parkinson, along with and G. Edwin Bergstrom, the former who also designed many of the city's other landmark buildings in the area in the early 20th Century. The building later became the home to the Los Angeles Theatre Center in 1985, keeping the original 50-by-100-foot stained glass ceiling, ornamental bronze cornices, and marble walls featured in its lobby.

A stunning landmark itself, The Theatre at Ace Hotel is located at 929 South Broadway, in Downtown Los Angeles. Valet Parking is available 24/7 and there are pay lots in the surrounding area.

UPDATED 1/28/19

Ticket sales are now closed.

The Ovation Awards can be watched LIVE at 7:30 p.m. here:

YOUTUBE:

https://t.co/cdbKOWssVf

FACEBOOK:

https://t.co/akHCItb0g3

Red carpet arrivals will begin at 6:00 p.m. and the curtain will rise at 7:30 p.m.


It's A WALK IN THE WOODS for Ken Sawyer to Direct Uniquely & Honestly

A consistently, in-demand, creative force in the Los Angeles Theatre community, director Ken Sawyer will be directing his latest project A WALK IN THE WOODS beginning February 9, 2018 at the Actors Co-op Theatre Company's Crossley Theatre. Ken managed to carve out a few moments of his time between rehearsals of Lee Blessing's 1987 Pulitzer Prize finalist to answer a few of my inquisitive questions.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Ken! I have had the pleasure of seeing a number of your shows in the past.
Soooo, what cosmic forces brought you and A WALK IN THE WOODS together?
Several years ago, I did a three-person adaptation of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT for the Co-op. It was such a pleasure working with this supportive and dedicated company. In the years following, we toyed with other collaborations. Recently, I was in the middle of tech for an epic show called TROJAN BARBIE at USC. I adored it. But in the middle of a stressful moment I sighed, "Won't someone just offer me a two-person, linear, one-set play?" Two weeks later, The Co-op called with A WALK IN THE WOODS.
A WALK IN THE WOODS was originally produced in 1988. Do you find it ironic (or sad) that a play about arms limitation negotiators is relevant today in 2018?


I find it scary. And it gives me pride to be part of the Arts. There are smart, aware, and empathetic writers like Mr. Blessing who can tap into concerns of their time... and, also highlight what is deeply human and, therefore, timeless. There are passages in this play that seem to be ripped from today's headlines.
Your directorial resume includes musicals, drama, two-handers, in-the-round and more. Any preferences? Or do you like to mix it up from production to production?
I like telling stories. And I have been very lucky. I have been offered varied stories to tell. Whether it's the personal true-life journey of a trans man from Sri Lanka, or a futuristic modern telling of Trojan women with a cast of 17 - if the story is compelling, if I feel I can tell it in a way no one else has, I'm in.
What aspects of a theatrical project make it so enticing for you, you just have to get involved? (script? cast? message?)

Just a gut feeling. A few years ago, I was presented with HIT THE WALL. It is the true story of the night in 1969 a gay bar called Stonewall was raided and a riot ensued. This riot sparked the gay rights movement. I passed on the play. A year later, it came around again. For some reason, it felt right. I wondered why I did not see the potential the year before. By pure chance after saying yes, Jon Imparato and The LGBT center scheduled the opening a week after the much hyped and protested Stonewall movie. The LA Times did a huge article on this. Also, gay rights sadly started to reverse. By doing the show a year later, it was a call to arms, not a period piece. It is my biggest hit to date. That was luck. And I have been very lucky stumbling into projects that hit a nerve.

You're a Juilliard graduate and toured with John Housman's Acting Company. When did you have that "But what I want to do is direct!" revelation?
I grew up in Texas on movies, not theatre. My original desire was to direct movies. But oddly at an early age, I thought in order to direct actors I'd have to know how they feel. I auditioned for plays locally. I guess I was good at it. That led to studying at The Dallas Performing Arts High School, which led to Juilliard. I always thought I'll see this through, but "What I really want to do is direct!" The Road Theatre Company gave me my first chance to direct a play years later. And then, continued to give me opportunities to develop these skills. For that, I will be forever grateful.
Since you've been on both sides of the audition table, what advice would you give an anxious actor reading for you for their first time?
Do not try to second guess who I want you to be. Be you. Show me what YOU will bring that no one else will. I try to think out-of-the-box when I direct a play. I choose a play because I will direct it in a way no one else has. I like actors who come in with the same attitude. Show me what makes you unique.

Now that you are on the directing side of the audition table, what would you have changed in your younger self's audition process way back when?
I was sent on major auditions when I first arrived in L.A. with a Juilliard pedigree. Sexy, young leading man. I kept bombing auditions. My agent called me in. She said your feedback is, “You are handsome, you are smart, you are a good actor...” They can't put their finger on it, because you are not gay, but you have no sexuality. At the time, I was in the closet. I thought if it was discovered I was gay, my acting career would be over. It was the 80's. There was something I was not dealing with in my life that blocked my acting. I went to every audition wanting to please them, not confident in who I was and what I bring to the table. Ironic. I got pulled back into acting somewhat recently. Six months ago, I was pursued and signed by a commercial agent, and have been put on avail for three commercials so far. I go in. Show ‘em who I am, then go back to my life. If I'm who you want, great. If I'm not the right combo, fine. Be confident in who you are and what makes you unique and honest.

You've worked with theatre newbies, established working actors, as well as, marquee names. How do you balance the delicate egos of all these artistic personalities? Any secret to your success in handling fragile ids to get the results you want on stage?
Listen and watch. Good actors are collaborators whether they are students or stars. They want to be seen as unique with a voice (which is why I cast them). Inspire them. Give them an interesting box to play in. Then watch them play. Observe how they overcome challenges you set for them. Listen to what they say. Then steal the best of what you observe and hear. My job is to get the entire team excited about the story and the way I want to tell it. My vision becomes our vision.
Last year I worked with Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner in adapting THE SEARCH FOR SIGNS OF INTELLIGENT LIFE for a twelve-person cast. I was working with two artistic geniuses on a classic they were extremely close to. OMG! What an honor this was, but also what pressure. And, yet, they were so loving and giving. We would sit down and just be artists trying to figure out how to tell a story in a new way. As with any relationship, it's all about respect and communication.

As a founding member of the Road Theatre Company in 1991, you must now be familiar with the behind the scenes mechanics of starting/running a theatre company. What do you remember of that time in 1991?
Wow! The landscape of Los Angeles theatre has changed so much since I was on that artistic board. Theatre in the early days of The Road Theatre was a no-man's land. We started in an industrial complex deep in Van Nuys. But, in that complex, we made the rules. We would beg, borrow, and steal to put on new plays - plays we cared about that no one else had the guts to present. I have to hand it to Taylor Gilbert (artistic director of The Road Theatre). She was part of a movement who had a vision for a thriving theatre community. I remember when she arranged for the company to move to from Van Nuys to a creepy building on Lankershim. We thought, “What the hell are we doing?” Now that sketchy hood is the thriving NoHo Arts District. I wish I could take credit for that vision. But that was Taylor. I was just lucky she gave me a canvas to explore my artistic passions.Can you pinpoint the various elements of progress you have seen in the L.A. theatre community since you first became actively involved?

When I first arrived here, theatre was a showcase for actors to get into movies. Now that is no longer the case. We have directors, actors, designers, and producers who are true artists mounting projects because they are passionate about what they are creating, not because it is a means to another end.What questions/feelings/reactions would you like the Actors Co-op Crossley audience to leave with after experiencing your A WALK IN THE WOODS?

Last night a friend came to see a run-through. After we went out to dinner, he said, "You know the more I think about your show, the more I like it. It deals with so many things we are thinking about now as a nation, but through the eyes of two good people who are just trying to make sense of it all. We need a play like this right now. We need hope." If this is the reaction of most of the people seeing our show, I will once again be a very lucky man.
Thank you again, Ken! I look forward to seeing you work your directorial magic on Lee Blessing's piece.
For A WALK IN THE WOODS ticket availability through March 18, 2018; log onto ActorsCo-op.org