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Stuart Ambrose and Teri Bibb Lead Rubicon Theatre's Concert Reading of THE SECRET GARDEN This Weekend

Rubicon's Broadway Musical Concert Series continues with three performances of a concert reading of THE SECRET GARDEN (based on the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett with Lyrics by MarSha Norman and Music by Lucy Simon.

THE SECRET GARDEN is a compelling tale of forgiveness and renewal. The story begins when eleven year-old Mary Lennox, orphaned in India, who returns to Yorkshire to live with her embittered, reclusive uncle Archibald and his invalid son Colin. The estate's many wonders include a magic garden which beckons the children with haunting melodies, and spirits from Mary's past who guide her through her new life.

Helmed by L.A. Drama Critic's Circle and Ovation award-winning director Richard Israel (whose directing credits include Floyd Collins for La Mirada which won Ovation Awards for Best Direction and Best Musical), 110 in the Shade (Ovation Award for Best Musical- Intimate Theatre and Ovation Nomination for Best Direction), Avenue Q, Kiss Me Kate, and Once Upon a Mattress. Musical Direction will be by Julie Lamoureux (who has served as Musical Director for numerous companies such as Musical Theatre Guild and Musical Theatre West).

The concert will feature Stuart Ambrose (National Tour of Camelot, and Little Miss Scrooge 2012 at Rubicon), Teri Bibb (over a thousand performances as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and National Tour), Neil Dale (whose London credits include Miss Saigon, and Starlight Express), Linda Kerns (original Broadway cast of Nine), Craig McEldowney (Sweeney Todd at Ensemble Studio Theatre, National Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar), Dino Nicandros (Mary Poppins with McCoy Rigby; Side Show at 3-D Theatricals), Afton Quast (The Spitfire Grill at Utah Shakespeare Festival), Mia Nicole Vavasseur (the voice of Little Fish in Nickelodeon's series "Bubble Guppies"), and Jace Febo (Carlos in the Nick Jr. series, "Paw Patrol").

Jeremy Pivnick is the lighting designer, Matthew Colleran is the Sound Designer, and Jessie Vacchiano is the stage manager.

Director Richard Israel says "What is so compelling about THE SECRET GARDEN is its incredibly lush score and its beautifully resonant storytelling. The themes of loss, resilience, and the gift of human connection are universal. This musical presents them in a gently powerful way that is both entertaining and heartwarming."

THE SECRET GARDEN concert is presented for three performances only: Saturday, August 22 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, August 23 at 2:00 p.m. All performances are at Rubicon Theatre in Ventura's Downtown Cultural District, located at 1006 E. Main Street (the corner of Main and Laurel), Ventura, CA 93001. Tickets may also be purchased in person through the Rubicon Theatre Company Box Office at the corner of Main and Laurel in Ventura (Laurel entrance and downstairs). The box office is open Noon to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Tickets are $49.50 for Rubicon subscribers, $69.50 for the general public. The final concert in the Janet and Mark L. Goldenson Broadway Concert Series is DADDY LONG LEGS, October 3 and 4, with a book by Paul Gordon and John Caird, Music by Paul Gordon, directed by Tony and Olivier Award-winner John Caird, (based on the classic novel by Jean Webster). For more information or to purchase tickets, call (805) 667-2900, or go to


Lucy Simon is the composer of the musical ZHIVAGO, which had its premiere at LaJolla Playhouse. She made her Broadway debut in 1991 as the composer of THE SECRET GARDEN, for which she received Tony and Drama Desk nominations, the DramaLogue Award and a Grammy nomination for the recording of the score. She received two Grammy Awards for her In Harmony albums, which she co-wrote and produced. Ms. Simon wrote songs for the film A Simple Wish and contributed songs for the long-running review A...My Name is Alice. She began her professional career at the age of 16 with her sister Carly as part of The Simon Sisters.

MarSha Norman is an award winning playwright who won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize, Blackburn Prize, Hull-Warriner, and Drama Desk Awards for her play 'Night, Mother. In 1992 she won a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for her book for the Broadway musical, THE SECRET GARDEN. She also wrote the book for the Broadway musical, The Color Purple, for which she also received a Tony nomination. The Color Purple is currently in the third year of its national first-class tour. Her play, the Master Butcher's Singing Club, premiered at the Guthrie Theatre in the fall of 2010. She won a Peabody Award for her writing on the HBO television series, In Treatment, starring Gabriel Byrne and Dianne Wiest. Her most recent work is the adaptation of The Trumpet of the Swan: A Novel Symphony for Actors and Orchestra, with music conducted and written by Jason Robert Brown. The CD has been released by TRW and PS Classics. Her other plays include Getting Out, for which she won the John Gassner Medallion and the American Theater Critics Association Citation; Third And Oak: The Laundromat, The Pool Hall, The Holdup, Traveler In The Dark, Sarah And Abraham, Loving Daniel Boone, Trudy Blue, and Last Dance. Her television and film credits include 'Night, Mother, starring Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft, The Laundromat, starring Carol Burnett and Amy Madigan; The Pool Hall ,starring James Earl Jones; Face of a Stranger starring Gena Rowlands and Tyne Daley; Cooler Climate, starring Sally Field and Judy Davis; Audrey Hepburn, Custody of the Heart, and most recently, Samantha, An American Girl. She spent one year as Co-Executive Producer of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, and wrote the Gina episodes of Season 2 of HBO's In Treatment. Her other published work includes Four Plays, Collected Works Of MarSha Norman, Vol 1, and a novel, The Fortune Teller. She has Grammy and Emmy nominations, as well as grants and awards from among others, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She has won the Margo Jones Award, and the Sidney Kingsley Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guild Hall Academy of Arts and Letters. Ms. Norman is Co-Chair, with Christopher Durang, of the Playwriting Department of The Juilliard School. She writes and lectures frequently on the theatre and has 18 honorary degrees from American colleges and universities. She was elected to membership in the Fellowship of Southern Writers and serves on the Governing Board of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She sat on the Board Trustees of Agnes Scott College from 2001-2011, and was the Chair of the Academic Affairs committee from 2008-2011. She is a former Vice-President of the Dramatists Guild of America. She is a native of Kentucky and currently lives in New York. Recently, she received the William Inge Distinguished Lifetime Achievement in Theatre Award.


Richard Israel (Director) is honored to be working with the Rubicon Theatre. Recent directing credits include the original Jeff Marx/Fat Mike musical Home Street Home, Spring Awakening, Floyd Collins (L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Awards for Directing and Outstanding Musical in a Large Venue), and 110 in the Shade (L.A. Stage Alliance Award for Outstanding Musical in an Intimate Venue). Other directing credits include Bronies: the Musical for Third Street Theatre, Kiss Me, Kate for Cabrillo Music Theatre, Glorious! for I.C.T., Avenue Q for DOMA Theatre, and the multiple-Ovation-nominated musical Having It All for the Laguna Playhouse. He has also directed critically acclaimed productions of The Burnt Part Boys, Falsettos, Gypsy, Assassins, Big, 1776, Big River, Merrily We Roll Along, and the West Coast Premiere of Anita Bryant Died For Your Sins. For the Musical Theatre Guild, Richard has directed Road Show, High Fidelity and Violet, among others. He is the recipient of the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Career Achievement Award for Directing and is a proud member of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC).

Julie Lamoureux (Musical Director) has worked throughout Southern California as a pianist and musical director for theatre companies including 3-D Theatricals, Musical Theatre West, Musical Theatre Guild (MTG), the Candlelight Pavilion, MainStreet Theatre Company, Broadway at the Gardens and Performance Riverside. Most recently, she musically directed Road Show for MTG, the West Coast premiere of Sondheim on Sondheim at the Lewis Family Playhouse, Ragtime for 3-D, and Brigadoon for MTW's Reiner Reading Series. Julie has also served as musical director for Shrek, A Chorus Line, Titanic, 110 in the Shade, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and The Most Happy Fella. Julie has played in pit orchestras and on stage for shows ranging from The Fantasticks to Parade to Spamalot, as well as in New York and Los Angeles for the Making it on Broadway intensive. As the mother of three young adult children, all active in musical theatre, Julie often enjoys the opportunity to collaborate with one or more of them on various projects.


Stuart Ambrose (Archibald) is delighted to return to the Rubicon stage after last appearing as Pip Nickleby in the holiday concert production of Little Miss Scrooge in 2012. Since then, Stuart has been touring North America and the world with The Company Men, "America's Favorite Mashup Group," singing the classic hits of the last six decades combined with today's Top 40. The group has shared the stage with artists such Kool and the Gang, Colbie Caillat, Chris Daughtry and Natalie Cole, to name a few. They have played venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, the iconic Key Club on the Sunset Strip, and most recently Club Nokia at LA Live. In 2014, they released their second full-length album #throwbackPOP to critical acclaim. Prior to joining The Company Men, Stuart worked extensively on stage, and in television and film. Previous theatre credits include the National Tour of Camelot starring Michael York (Lionel/Lancelot); Reprise Theatre's A Funny Thing Happened... (Miles Gloriosus); Cabrillo Music Theatre's Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Adam); The Ten Commandments at the Kodak Theatre, starring Val Kilmer; The Pasadena Playhouse's 110 in the Shade; and Annie Get Your Gun at Stages St. Louis. Stuart has made headline concert appearances with The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra alongside Dick Van Dyke and Alan Menken, The Atlanta Pops, and the Salt River Brass. Film and television credits include "Man of Steel, "Major Crimes," "The Closer," "I'm in the Band," "The Young and the Restless," "General Hospital," "As the World Turns" and "Guiding Light." Stuart is a former Marine and current officer in the Coast Guard Reserve. He is married to actress, writer and producer, Megan McNulty, and their greatest co-creation is their nearly four-year-old daughter Mackenzie.

Teri Bibb (Lily) is thrilled to be back at the Rubicon, where she has done all four productions of A Rubicon Family Christmas and this spring's Rodgers & Hart & Hammerstein. Teri played Christine in The Phantom of the Opera for more than 1,000 performances on Broadway and on National Tour, receiving a Helen Hayes Award nomination and the Carbonell Award. She also appeared as Amalia in She Loves Me (standby). Regional credits include Mother in the World Premiere of Songs from the Tall Grass (Ford's Theatre) and Margaret in The Light in the Piazza (Farmers Alley Theatre - Wilde Award nomination). Teri has been a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall, London's Royal Albert Hall, Belfast's Odyssey Arena, and Radio City Music Hall (duets with José Carreras). She has sung with orchestras across the U.S., and can be heard on the recordings "Unsung Irving Berlin" and "A Gala Concert for Hal Prince." She tours the country as one of the "Phantom's Leading Ladies," a trio of Christine's from Phantom, which she co-created. Teri received an Ovation Award nomination for her role as Ellen Terry in the World Premiere of Children of the Night at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. And last fall she toured as Marian in The Music Man in Concert with Shirley Jones and Patrick Cassidy. She has guest- starred on TV, been a supporting player on film, and has sung on several film scores, including "Ice Age" and "Polar Express." Teri was also a guest soloist on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars."

Neil Dale (Ben) was born in Liverpool, England, and moved to America in 2007 after meeting his beautiful wife Jennifer in the Cameron Macintosh U.K. tour of Miss Saigon. His London theatre credits include LES MISERABLES, Miss Saigon, Starlight Express, The Buddy Holly Story, and Ferry Cross The Mersey. His American theatre credits include Man of La Mancha, Evita, Phantom, Godspell, Bells Are Ringing, The Drowsy Chaperone, Titanic, All Shook Up, Geppetto's Dream, The Full Monty, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, Cats, LES MISERABLES, Billy Elliott, and, most recently, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Neil was very excited to add directing to his resume in 2012 when he helmed an award-winning production of Miss Saigon. Since then, he has had the pleasure of directing You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Sweet Charity, The King and I and Crazy For You. Neil is so excited to be joining the Rubicon family and tobe part of this production of THE SECRET GARDEN.

JACE FEBO (Colin) is eleven-years-old and has been acting professionally for about two years. He got his start in Bugsy Malone at the Canyon Lake Community Theatre, where he also performed in Annie, Seussical and The Nifty Fifties. Jace has appeared in an infomercial spoof on Cartoon Network, as well as commercials for Spinmaster Games, Pokemon Toys and Gillette. Some of his voiceover work includes the recurring character Izzy in the animated series "Lego Friends," and Carlos in the Nick Jr. series "Paw Patrol." He most recently appeared as Gavroche in Theatre Royale's production of LES MISERABLES and International City Theatre's production of Abigail 1702.

Linda Kerns (Mrs. Medlock) is delighted to return to Rubicon. Her Broadway and National Tour credits include Nine (Original Broadway Cast), Big River, LES MISERABLES, Beauty and the Beast (L.A.), Wicked (L.A.), and Smoke on the Mountain (Original Off-Broadway cast). Other credits include Spring Awakening (La Mirada - Ovation Nomination), Into the Woods (Actors Co-Op - L.A. Weekly Award), Rabbit Hole, and the Nibroc Trilogy (L.A. Weekly Award). Linda's film and television credits include "Titanic," "Mrs. Santa Claus," and many episodics and sitcoms. Her directing credits include Pride and Prejudice, And Then There Were None, The Traveling Lady, Guys and Dolls (UCLA). Linda is an Associate Professor in the Ray Bolger Musical Theatre Program at UCLA. She is a member of AEA and SDC. For Roger Rees (1944-2015).

Dino Nicandros (Dickon) earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre Arts, with an Emphasis in Acting from Pepperdine University. He was most recently seen this year in McCoy Rigby Entertainment's production of Mary Poppins (Robertson Ay); 3-D Theatricals' production of Side Show (Reptile Man); Musical Theatre West-Reiner Staged Reading Series' production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Bud Frump), and the Lewis Family Playhouse's production of Sondheim on Sondheim. During 2014, he performed in McCoy Rigby Entertainment's thirteen-city U.S. tour of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical (Boss Elf); 3-D Theatricals' production of Ragtime (Ensemble), and McCoy Rigby Entertainment's production of Les Miseréables (Ensemble), which was nominated for seven 2014 L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Awards.

Craig McEldowney (Neville) is thrilled to be making his Rubicon debut, and to be working with Richard Israel and Julie Lamoureux again, after playing Addison in MTG's production of Road Show earlier this summer. Craig will be playing Beadle in Sweeney Todd at Ensemble Theatre in Santa Barbara this fall. His recent credits include Serrano (Papa et al) at the Matrix, Ragtime (Father) with 3-D Theatricals, and Show Boat (Ravenal) with Opera San Luis Obispo. His tour credits include Jesus Christ Superstar (Judas Understudy) and Grease (Doody). Craig is a proud member of Actors Equity Association (AEA) and a graduate of the University of Michigan Department of Musical Theatre.

Afton Quast (Martha) originally from Southern California, is thrilled to be back performing on the West Coast after spending some time training and working in NYC. Her past theatre credits include Daisy in Side Show (3-D Theatricals), Suzanne in Don't Dress for Dinner (International City Theatre), Martha in Guys and Dolls (Ogunquit Playhouse), Third Witch in Macbeth and Shelby in The Spitfire Grill (Utah Shakespeare Festival), and Costanze in Amadeus (Neighborhood Playhouse), to name a few. You can also hear Afton as the voice of Jenna Darabond in the hit online series "MPG'S" and see her on stage doing sketch comedy at Second City Hollywood. Thanks to Steven at Connor Ankrum, as well as Mom, Dad and Jess.

MIA NICOLE VAVASSEUR (Mary Lennox) Mia is ten-years-old and will be entering middle school this fall. She has been a constant fixture at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center since she was a toddler and has participated in numerous Musical Theatre Workshops since she was six. Mia can be seen in malls across the country as the little "Princess Face" for Disney Stores, and is a voiceover actor who can be heard in the role of Little Fish in the animated Nickelodeon series "Bubble Guppies." But Mia's true passion is the stage, having performed as Young Cosette in LES MISERABLES and Young Fiona in Shrek Yhe Musical. She also studies dance, piano, ukulele and guitar, and is a brown belt in karate. This year, Mia was Elementary School Soloist in the Conejo Valley School District All Chorus Concert at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and received the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center Foundation Spotlight Award as Young Artist of the Year. She is represented commercially by the Osbrink Agency.

ABOUT Rubicon Theatre Company

Rubicon Theatre Company has been described as, "the rising star of the Southern California cultural constellation." A not-for-profit professional regional theatre with over 1,500 subscribers, Rubicon serves area residents and visitors with innovative productions of classic and contemporary plays, as well as a wide array of educational programs and events. Acclaimed by critics and industry professionals (the company has received the L.A. Drama Critics Margaret Harford Special Award for "Sustained Excellence," a Drama Desk Award for the Off-Broadway production of The Best is Yet To Come, and has won more than 20 Ovation Awards from the L.A. Stage Alliance. Rubicon has welcomed a steady stream of high-profile actors and directors. Ed Asner, David Birney, Susan Clark, Dana Delaney, Nancy Dussault, Conchata Ferrell, Bonnie Franklin, Harold Gould, Joel Grey, Larry Hagman, Bill Irwin, Stacy Keach, Jack Lemmon, Donna McKechnie, Amanda McBroom, Ted Neeley, Paul Provenza, Linda Purl, Rondi Reed, John Ritter, Joe Spano, Bruce Weitz, JoBeth Williams, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Stephanie Zimbalist and other luminaries have graced the Rubicon stage. Company members are George Ball, Joseph Fuqua and Jenny Sullivan. Based in Ventura's historic downtown cultural district, just blocks from the Pacific Ocean, Rubicon occupies a 190-seat former church built in the 1920s. In this renovated historic landmark, Audience members are never further than 10 rows from the stage on the main floor. (The balcony, which seats twenty, is an excellent setting for private parties or corporate groups.) True to the company's name and the vision of artistic directors Karyl Lynn Burns and James O'Neil, Rubicon has created an environment where commitment and risk are encouraged, and where artists are nurtured and respected. As a result, the company has gained a reputation for invigorating interpretations of the classics and for supporting the development of new works. Rubicon presents at least one World Premiere each season, as well as readings of works-in-progress. Deeply rooted in the region it serves, Rubicon offers extensive outreach programs, including daytime matinees for high school students, after-school and weekend programs for at-risk youth, and summer musical theatre, drama and technical camps. More than 40,000 students have benefited.

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