Noho Arts Presents DEPARTURES, Opens June 10


The multi-award-winning NoHo Arts Center Ensemble (NoHo ACE) presents a newly revised version of the play developed by the company, DEPARTURES, written by Michael Catlin, Effie Hortis, Jim Lunsford, James J. Mellon, Duane Poole, Penelope Richards, Jed Schlanger and Mark Wyrick, and directed by James J. Mellon. DEPARTURES will open on Friday, June 10 at 8pm and will run through Saturday, July 23 at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. (at Lankershim) in North Hollywood.

In DEPARTURES, fifteen travelers find their life stories entwined in this humorous and touching story. From a runaway bride in her wedding dress with an extraordinary case of cold feet to a grandfather determined to bring his young grandson home from Iraq; these characters share their dreams, their fears and their secrets with each other as each one takes the defining journey of their life. At turns comical and moving, hopeful and nostalgic, DEPARTURES blends the voices of an eclectic group of eight writers into a tapestry of lives at their most daring moment - the moment of leaping into thin air, and letting Faith give you wings.


James J. Mellon (Director/ Co-Author) is proud to be the Artistic Director of The NoHo Arts Center Ensemble (NoHo ACE), the resident theatre company of The NoHo Arts Center. His extensive background in the entertainment industry covers theatre, television, film recording and dance.

As an actor he made his Broadway debut as Riff in WEST SIDE STORY, directed by Jerome Robbins, and performed in many plays and musicals including, A CHORUS LINE, 42ND STREET, THE FIFTH OF JULY and Jesus in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. He has worked at such theatres as The Goodspeed Opera House, The New York Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, The Kennedy Center, The Folger Theatre in Washington DC, as well as The Williamstown Theatre Festival.

For NoHo ACE, Mr. Mellon directed JERUSELEM, A BOY CALLED LIZARD (Ovation nomination - Original Musical), FEED (LA Weekly nomination - Direction), THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (Ovation nomination, LA Weekly nomination - Original Musical), BUSH IS BAD (LA Weekly Award - Acting Ensemble, nomination - Best Musical) and PEST CONTROL (LA Weekly Nomination - Best Musical). He is also the director/writer/co-composer of ACE's seasonal yuletide hit, YO HO HO! A PIRATE'S CHRISTMAS.

As a writer, Mr. Mellon adapted Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" into the World Premiere Musical, DORIAN, which premiered at The Denver Center's Buell Theatre in the fall of 2004. It subsequently opened The NoHo Arts Center's first season in 2005 and went on to receive Ovation, LA Weekly, Backstage and Drama Critics nominations. James adapted THE GHOST AND MRS MUIR from the novel of the same name as well as A BOY CALLED LIZARD from the Dennis Covington novel, "Lizard." His original musical, AN UNFINISHED SONG, was nominated for numerous awards and has been produced in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Maine and Sydney, Australia.

Two of Mr. Mellon's original musicals have recently been published by Samuel French: YO HO HO! A PIRATE'S CHRISTMAS and A BOY CALLED LIZARD.


The cast of DEPARTURES features (in alphabetical order): Nancy B. Berggren, Daisy Bishop, Brad Blaisdell, Bonnie Cahoon, Allen Cutler, Curtis C., Paul Denniston, Norman P. Dixon, Mary Evans, Janet Fontaine, Nora James, Jo Jordan, Yvette Lawrence, Andrea Lockhart, KJ Lodge, Merilee Magnuson, J.R. Mangels, Darcy Martin, Karesa McElheny, Zephyr Miller, Bob Morrisey, A.J. Nowak, Annabeth Rickley, Teal Sherer, Melanie Thompson and Jonathan Zenz.

The production has assembled an award-winning design team. The Set Design is by Stephen Gifford. The Lighting Design is by Ovation Award-winner Luke Moyer (Dracula, Elizabeth Rex). The Costume Design is by Curtis C. The Sound Design is by Jonathan Zenz, The Property Design is by Janet Fontaine.

DEPARTURES will open on Friday, June 10 at and will run through Saturday, July 23. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm at the NoHo Arts Center, 11136 Magnolia Blvd. (at Lankershim) in the heart of North Hollywood. Ticket prices are $25.00 for all performances. Student & Senior Tickets are $20. For tickets, please call 818-508-7101 x 7 or visit

THE NOHO ARTS CENTER and THE NOHO ARTS CENTER ENSEMBLE (formerly Open At The Top Productions) were created in 2004, when theatre veterans James J. Mellon and Kevin Bailey partnered with Doug Hutchinson and purchased the American Renegade Theatre. Following extensive renovations, the newly christened The NoHo Arts Center opened its doors in September of 2004. The Center's resident company - the multiple award-winning NoHo Arts Center Ensemble (NoHo ACE) - is comprised of actors, directors and writers, galvanized into a passionate ensemble that creates new plays and musicals, adopting as their vision statement "Theatre for Its Own Sake."

In its first season, producing as OPEN AT THE TOP, the company mounted two World Premiere musicals: THE GHOST & MRS. MUIR, and the West Coast Premiere of the musical DORIAN. The season also boasted both parts of Tony Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERICA, the Los Angeles Premiere of Seth Greenland's JERUSALEM and four evenings of 24 HOURS OF MADNESS-where six 15-minute original plays are written, fully produced and performed off-book within a 24-hour period. Their second season brought the hit, re-imagined production of the musical BARNUM, the critically acclaimed ELIZABETH REX and the World Premiere musical A BOY CALLED LIZARD.

Seasons three and four brought the company even greater acclaim as it presented the world premiere play, FEED, written by company member Jim Lunsford; the West Coast Premiere of the hit New York musical revue, BUSH IS BAD; and the award winning play, PALACE OF THE END. The fourth season brought three world premieres, the musicals YO HO HO! A PIRATE'S CHRISTMAS, and PEST CONTROL - THE MUSICAL, and the first mounting of DEPARTURES. The fifth season brought the updated BUSH IS BAD- Alaskan Beauty Queen Edition and the just concluded long-running hit revival of DRACULA, the American premiere of EAST OF BERLIN and the world premiere musical from the team of James Mellon and Scott DeTurk, INSANITY. THE NOHO ARTS CENTER has garnered three Ovation Awards and 19 nominations; two Garland Awards, along with 10 nominations; eight ADA Awards (including Best Director and Choreography for LIZARD) and 24 nominations; three LA Weekly Awards and five LA WEEKLY nominations; and three LADCC Award nominations.

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