Rubicon Theatre Company Announces Plans For 'The Amanda McBroom and George Ball Rose Room'

McBroom and Ball are widely known for their concert performances and recordings, and McBroom for her songwriting.

By: Jul. 27, 2022

Rubicon Theatre Company Announces Plans For 'The Amanda McBroom and George Ball Rose Room'

At a gathering last week of local dignitaries, RUBICON THEATRE, Ventura's non-profit professional theatre company, shared progress and plans for a new community gathering space at the theatre. The new nightspot, which will be located at the company's 1006 East Main Street location will be called THE ROSE ROOM (Downstairs at the Rubicon), and is named in honor of Amanda McBroom and George Ball, acclaimed artists who have been an integral part of Rubicon's history and who are known internationally for their work as actors, musicians, writers and directors. (The Rose Room title also refers to McBroom's #1 hit song "The Rose," for which McBroom won a Golden Globe Award for Best Song, Motion Picture for the film of the same name starring Bette Midler.)

At a reception last week in the partially finished room, Rubicon Outreach Director Beverly Ward and company Co-Founder James O'Neil also unveiled a large canvas with the outline of what will be a colossal 32' wide mural by renowned international painter MICHAEL O'KELLY. The work, which will be fully completed later this year, will feature more than two dozen virtuoso musical performers who have shared their vocal prowess with Rubicon audiences, including, in addition to McBroom and Ball, Carl Anderson, Joel Grey, LIZA MINELLI, Ted Neeley, Lauren Patten, Andrew Samonsky, Noel Paul Stookey, Billy Stritch and Lillias White, to name just a few.

Said Ward, "With the completion of the Rose Room and mural later this year, Rubicon will move closer to becoming a local arts hub and an international destination theatre where fine art, music and food compliment the company's mainstage professional theatrical productions to create special experiences."

"We are so grateful to Amanda and George for allowing us to name this new performance space for them," says Rubicon Founding Artistic Director James O'Neil. "Rubicon began as an actors' and directors' company and throughout the years Karyl Lynn [Burns] and I have been inspired to select shows to share their extraordinary world-class skills and versatility. They are soulful, deep wells of talent and heart and we are honored that their names will forever be associated with the company."

McBroom has thrilled Rubicon audience in diverse productions including A Delicate Balance, her own Lady Macbeth Sings the Blues, Love, Loss and What I Wore, Other Desert Cities (Indy Award), Women Beyond Borders and Little Miss Scrooge. Ball's starring performances include the title role in King Lear and Joe Keller in All My Sons (which won the Ovation Award for Best Production of a Play, Larger Theatre), and wide-ranging roles in Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, Man of La Mancha and Fools. McBroom and Ball performed together at the theatre in Love Letters and Jacques Brel... and have created or appeared in numerous cabaret or special musical events at Rubicon. McBroom was an integral part of the Music for Changing Times Festival produced at the theatre by Music2Life, teaching master classes for singer/songwriters and serving as a judge for competitions. Ball directed the 20th anniversary production of Lies and Legends: The Musical Stories of Harry Chapin for Rubicon.

Outside of Rubicon, the pair performed together Off-Broadway and in National and International Tours of Jacques Brel... and starred opposite one another in critically hailed productions of A Little Night Music and Sweeney Todd. They have individually performed as actors at prestigious venues including the Mark Taper Forum, Pasadena Playhouse, The Old Globe, Goodspeed, The Mechanic in Boston, the Apollo in Chicago, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and others.

McBroom and Ball are widely known for their concert performances and recordings, and McBroom for her songwriting. McBroom received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 30th Anniversary MAC Awards and the Johnny Mercer Award for Songwriter of the Year and has been called "...the greatest cabaret performer of her generation, an urban poet who writes like an angel and has a voice to match" by the New York Times, and Broadway World describes her as "... one of the greatest night club performers of all time. Her lyrics are profound and express human emotions in glorious poetry. Her humor is so smart and she sings and acts it all brilliantly."

McBroom's songs have been recorded by a wide variety of artists including Amy Poehler and Jack Black, Barry Manilow, Judy Collins, Barbara Cook, LeAnn Rimes, Anne Murray, Harry Belafonte, Betty Buckley, THE MANHATTAN TRANSFER, KURT COBAIN, CONWAY TWITTY, the CHIPMUNKS and the Baby Dinosaurs in "Land Before Time" (she wrote all the songs for 19 Universal Cartoon videos with collaborator Michele Brourman).

For her own concerts, McBroom has graced concert halls from New York City (Carnegie Hall) to Sydney Australia (Angel Place Recital Hall).

In a statement released today, McBroom and Ball wrote, "The pre-christening of the Rose Room last night at Rubicon Theatre and the unveiling of that glorious mural by Michael O'Kelly was an astounding moment for both of us. We were amazed by the beauty of the mural and by the reality of such a splendid and intimate new space for art and music. We both love the Rubicon and our friends Karyl Lynn Burns, Jim O'Neil, and Bev and Kirby Ward. So much great theatre and music have appeared on that stage. It is our theatrical home and heartbeat.

Muralist Michael O'Kelly has a long and storied history in the art world. A prodigy, Michael sold his first work of art at the age of nine. By 13, he was studying with the infamous British forger THOMAS KEATING. Michael has exhibited in nearly fifty art galleries and museums on three continents, including the Commonwealth Institute, the Centro Iberoamericano in Madrid, and the Santa Barbara Museum. Michael spent a decade in Latin America, where he was mentored by Maestro RUFINO TAMAYO. He co-produced the Tamayo retrospective quincentennial exhibitions at the Hermitage (St. Petersburg), Plastic Arts Museum in Moscow, and the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo. Michael's personal collection of historical Mexican dance masks, his fine art, paintings, drawings and photography toured in the U.K., Europe and the U.S. in over forty museums and fine art galleries. Michael has curated significant collections of ethnographic art for the Museum of Mankind (British Museum), the Binche Museum in Belgium, and the Brighton Museum in England. In addition to creating and curating, O'Kelly has illustrated several history reference books. His exquisite handmade ceramic murals adorn the walls of Disneyland/World, along with many public buildings in Vegas, Nevada, and California. The 32' mural in The Rose Room is the largest scale oil painting he has ever created.

Ward expressed the company's deep gratitude to McBroom and Ball for a legacy gift that will enable Rubicon Theatre Company to complete the transformation of the room. "Thanks to Amanda and George's generosity, when the Rose Room opens later this year, the room will serve as a space for cabaret series and many other genres of music in-between mainstage shows and late night on weekends. It will also be a place for audiences to gather after a mainstage show for food and drink and to enjoy the mural."

The Rose Room is the second recent announcement of ways in which the company is trying to broaden its artistic reach. The company recently opened its fine art gallery space in SANDRA AND JORDAN LABY Hall and, according to Ward, Rubicon leadership is looking at further options to expand the organization's reach and impact.

On selected days, community members will have an opportunity to tour the Rose Room (Downstairs at The Rubicon) and to observe Kelly as he continues the process of painting the mural. Visitors to the theatre may also view a current solo show by Kelly in the downstairs hall during Guest Services hours, Noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Audience members may visit the exhibit pre-show or at intermission during performances. For more information, or a full schedule of Rubicon events, call (805) 667-2900. For information about naming opportunities or legacy gifts, contact Beverly Ward, Director of Outreach at (805) 667-2912, ext. 280.