Rubicon Theatre Co Continues 20th Anniversary Season with THE BABY DANCE: MIXED
Casting has been announced for the World Premiere of THE BABY DANCE: MIXED, a new adaptation by Emmy Award-winner Jane Anderson ("Olive Kitteridge") of her acclaimed 2004 play The Baby Dance. A drama delicately laced with comic overtones, THE BABY DANCE: MIXED is a compelling and urgent play about race, class, and wanting the perfect child. In the story, Regina and Richard, an affluent mixed-race couple in Los Angeles, have everything except a baby. Wanda and Al, an African-American couple living in an overcrowded trailer in modern-day Louisiana, are too poor to keep their soon-to-be-born child. Through an adoption attorney, the two couples broker a deal. However, circumstances arise that affect their decision and the situation spins out of control. The Wall Street Journal described The Baby Dance as "filled with emotional power and nimble humor." The L.A. Times called it "a stunner...funny as well as perceptive."
Anderson has had a remarkable career as a playwright and screenwriter. Her newest play Mother of the Maidis in pre-production for a fall premiere at the New York Public Theatre starring Glenn Close. Her feature film "The Wife," which stars Close, Jonathan Pryce and Christian Slater, is slated for August release by Sony Pictures.
In addition to The Baby Dance, Anderson's plays include Defying Gravity (also produced by Rubicon), Looking for Normal, The Quality of Life, and many others, which have received production Off-Broadway at The Geffen Playhouse, Arena Stage, Actors Theater of Louisville, and across the nation and world.
Anderson wrote the screenplay for the miniseries "Olive Kitteridge," which starred Frances McDormand. She wrote and directed the feature film "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio." In 2015, Anderson wrote a documentary "Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson" about her great aunt who was a lesbian and painter who was institutionalized in the 1920s.
Anderson has also written and directed critically acclaimed television movies, among them "Normal" starring Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom," "When Billie Beat Bobby," both starring Holly Hunter; and "If These Walls Could Talk 2" (segment "1961"), for which Vanessa Redgrave won an Emmy for her portrayal of a woman who was prevented from visiting her long-time companion in the hospital. She directed the television film "The Baby Dance" with Stockard Channing and Laura Dern. Anderson was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Dramatic Series for her work on the second season of the AMC Series "Mad Men."
THE BABY DANCE: MIXED is helmed by Anderson's longtime friend and collaborator, Rubicon Artistic Associate Jenny Sullivan (Liberty Valance/Tea at Five). Sullivan's numerous credits include the premiere of The Baby Dance at The Pasadena Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Long Wharf (CT Director's Award), and Off-Broadway; six seasons at Williamstown; and twenty seasons at Rubicon Theatre Company.
The role of adoptive mother Regina, a well-educated, mid-level Hollywood development executive, is played by Obie Award and NAACP Award-winner Tracey A. Leigh. Leigh's stage credits include the National Tour of The Vagina Monologuesand six shows Off-Broadway. Regionally, she has appeared in Death of a Salesmanat South Coast Rep; In the Next Room (Or the Vibrator Play)at Shakespeare Center LA; Safe in Helland Oak & NYat Arena Stage; and Blues for an Alabama Sky, Stone Wall Jackson's Houseand Fathers and Sonsat A Contemporary Theatre. Leigh has guest-starred on "Grey's Anatomy," "Criminal Minds, "Strong Medicine," and co-starred on "Charmed," "Modern Family" and "Jake in Progress." She holds an M.F.A. from UC San Diego and a B.A. from the College of William and Mary.
Brian Robert Burns plays Regina's husband Richard, who is also a successful industry executive. Liberal, Jewish and Caucasian, Richard wants to support his wife's wants and needs, and wants a child himself, but finds himself out of his comfort zone as the story unfolds. Burns, an M.F.A. graduate of Yale School of Drama, has appeared in the First National Tour of War Horseand The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. His work at Yale Rep includes Romeo and Julietand King Richard II. Other notable credits including Romeo and Juliet and Richard II at Yale Rep, Becky Shaw at S.F. Playhouse, and Young Larch in The Cider House Roles I/II.
Wanda, a vulnerable-but-fiercely determined mother of four desperately trying to take care of her husband and family, is portrayed by Krystle Rose Simmons. Although poor, Wanda is shrewd and proud. She is religious and does not believe in abortion. She struggles with giving up her next child, but she is overwhelmed emotionally and financially. Her love and her intense sexual attraction to her husband Al is complicated by her fear of his temper. Simmons' regional credits include The Christians at Center Theatre Group, Memphis at Musical Theatre West, California Dreaming at Springer Opera House National Tour), and Sophisticated Ladies(Atlanta Lyric Theatre). Simmons was nominated for an NAACP Theatre Award and is the recipient of an Inland Theatre Award.
Gabriel Lawrence, a New York-based actor, assays the role of Al, Wanda's charismatic and imposing husband, whose pride has been shattered by the fact that he can't provide for his family and must give up one of his own to a rich couple. It especially stings that the father of his future child is white. Al struggles to hold on to his self-worth make him manipulative and makes it difficult for him to hide his own prejudices. Lawrence's theatre credits include the title role in Julius Caesar and Macbeth, X or Betty Shabazz vs. The Nation, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court for The Acting Company; Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird at Cincinnati Playhouse, Dave Robinson in Lombardi at Human Race; and Reverend Knox in A Dram of Drummhicit at La Jolla Playhouse directed by Christopher Ashley. On television, Lawrence has appeared as a guest-star on "Mysteries of Laura," "Shades of Blue," "Alpha House," and "What Would You Do?" He is an M.F.A. graduate of UC San Diego.
Carl Palmer returns to the Rubicon stage in the role of Ron, the adoption attorney who prides himself on being good with fragile, childless couples, but who can be a ruthless negotiator for his clients when needed. He and Richard share common values and experiences. Palmer previously appeared as Caliban in The Tempest at Rubicon and Carl in Bus Stop. Film and TV credits include "LBJ" directed by Rob Reiner, "The Front Runner" for Jason Reitman, "NCIS New Orleans," "Bonnie & Clyde," "Memphis Beat" and "Treme." Palmer has appeared in nine Off-Broadway shows, and in regional productions with Southern Rep, Alabama Shakespeare, Milwaukee Rep, Hudson Valley Shakespeare, Barrington Stage and PCPA Theaterfest, among others. He received his M.F.A. from Cal Arts and graduated Mana Cum Laude with a B.A. from LSU.
Donna Simone Johnson and WREKLESS WATSON are understudies for the production. Johnson received the NAACP Theatre Award for Best Lead Actress for Broken Fences at The Road Theatre Company, and was an Ovation Best Ensemble nominee for John Gabriel Borkman. Other credits include The Lion King at the Pantages, and SCRATCH at Royal George. She is an M.F.A. graduate from Cal Arts and has an M.A. from NYU. Watson is a mainstay of the San Diego theatre scene, having recently received rave reviews in Father Comes Home from the Wars for Intrepid Theatre and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom for Aldridge Repertory Players.
Set design for THE BABY DANCE: MIXED is by multi-Ovation Award-winner and L.A. Drama Critics Circle Career Achievement Award-winner THOMAS BUDERWITZ, whose credits include South Coast Rep, Geffen Playhouse, The Pasadena Playhouse, and eight productions at Rubicon. Costume design is by Alex Jaeger, who has designed multiple productions at Rubicon, while also sharing his artistry with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Guthrie, Geffen Playhouse and ACT.
New to Rubicon, Derrick McDaniel is the lighting designer for THE BABY DANCE: MIXED. McDaniel is a resident designer at the Whitefire Theatre. He was nominated for the 2017 Ovation Award for Lighting Design, and has been dubbed Scenic Lighting Designer of the Year by Steven Stanley.
Sound Designer RANDALL ROBERT TICO is also new to Rubicon. Tico was a founding member (with director Nancy Keystone) of Critical Mass Performance Group and has received multiple Ovation nominations and a Garland Award. He has been a frequent collaborator with director Jessica Kubzansky, and recently worked with Sullivan on Baby Doll at Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara. Tico is the resident composer/sound designer for the Launch Pad program @ UCSB.
Set dressing and prop design is by T. THERESA SCARANO, who has worked on more than thirty shows at Rubicon and also works with Kingsman and Cabrillo in Ventura County.
THE BABY DANCE: MIXED is generously sponsored by DIANE AND PETER GOLDENRINGand Barbara Meister; co-sponsored by SHELLY AND RICHARD BAYER.
The World Premiere of THE BABY DANCE: MIXED by Jane Anderson opens on Saturday, May 5 (Cinco de Mayo) at 7:00 p.m., with a red carpet and champagne event prior to the show downstairs at the theatre and a post-show party with the playwright, directors, designers and cast hosted by an area restaurant. Low-priced previews begin on Wednesday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. Previews continue Thursday, May 3 at 7:00 p.m. and Friday, May 4 at 8:00 p.m. Regular performances are Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. (a new time this year), Fridays at 8:00 p.m. Saturdays at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Talkbacks take place after the show on all Wednesdays (except the previews).
Ticket prices for THE BABY DANCE: MIXED range from $30 to $55, with special discounts for military, students and groups. THE BABY DANCE: MIXEDis a part of Rubicon Theatre Company's 20thAnniversary Season, and may be purchased as a part of a 3- or 4-show subscription package at a 15% savings. Other shows in the season include the World Premiere concert I Dig Rock-and-Roll Music, the encore run of Return to the Forbidden Planet, and a large-cast, two-piano version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific.
For tickets or more information, call the Rubicon Theatre Company Box Office at (805) 667-2900. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the theatre at 1006 E. Main Street (corner of Main and Laurel) in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District. To order online, visit www.rubicontheatre.org.
Now in its 20th Anniversary Season, Rubicon Theatre is the region's premiere professional theatre company. Rubicon was founded in 1998 by Artistic Directors Karyl Lynn Burns and James O'Neil and a board of social and civic leaders. the company has since presented more than 135 productions to over 450,000 audience members in an intimate 180-seat historic former church. Rubicon creates a nurturing environment for artists where exploration and experimentation are encouraged and supported. As a result, luminaries including Alison Brie, Susan Clark, Dana Delany, Michael Learned, Jack Lemmon, Linda Purl, John Ritter, Joe Spano, Stephanie Zimbalist and others have graced the Rubicon stage. the company is committed to telling stories which illuminate our shared humanity. Rubicon presents bold, reimagined productions of classics; innovative productions of contemporary dramas, comedies and musicals; and develops and produces world premieres. Rubicon has been the recipient of the L.A. Drama Critics' Circle Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence, the NAACP Award, a New York Drama Desk Award, multiple Indy, Robby and Scenie Awards, and 18 Ovation Awards. the company recently won the Ovation for Best Production of a Play, Larger Theatre for Gulf View Drive. Rubicon offers extensive education and outreach programs under helmed by Kirby and Beverly Ward. the company is governed by a Board of Directors and further supported by a regional Board of Advisors and an active volunteer auxiliary. For more information, call 805.667.2900 or visit the website at www.rubicontheatre.org.