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La Jolla Playhouse Blog » 2010/2011 Season http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:48:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.18 A Midsummer Night’s Dream – By the Numbers http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/a-midsummer-night%e2%80%99s-dream-%e2%80%93-by-the-numbers http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/a-midsummer-night%e2%80%99s-dream-%e2%80%93-by-the-numbers#comments Tue, 06 Jul 2010 20:34:40 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=470 bythenumbers_banner

10 – Shakespeare productions that have now been mounted at La Jolla Playhouse. This production is also the second time Midsummer has been produced. The first time was in 1995 and starred Malcolm Jamal-Warner as Lysander, the handsome Athenian in love with Hermia.

414 – Years since the play was first performed in England in 1596. There is some debate, however, whether is was first performed in 1596 for aristocratic weddings, or whether it was written for the Queen’s feast day celebration of St. John two years earlier.

25 – Cast members in the show (including three acrobats on the ground and in the air). This doesn’t even count the onstage orchestra, which is an integral part of this production.

2.5 – Minutes that actress Charlayne Woodard has to change costumes and hair from Hippolyta to Titania before needing to be back on stage. Talk about a quick change!

1,400 – Square feet of the Midsummer set (an impressive number even by Playhouse standards). Add 700 square feet onto that if you count the backstage area.

2,670 – Man-hours spent building the costumes for the production. This doesn’t even include time spent renting costumes, performing alterations, doing fittings and keeping them clean and in repair.

14 – Days until previews of the show begin in the Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre, which start on July 20.

31 – Starting price of tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Get them while they last! Call the Box Office at (858) 550-1010, or hop over here

We’ll see you there!

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The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 7 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-7 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-7#comments Fri, 02 Jul 2010 17:03:45 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=468 artistsjourney_banner

Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Zoë Chao is an actress in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is co-starring in Surf Report. This is her first professional production.

Zoë Chao

Zoë Chao

This is my final blog for the Playhouse and I’m going to continue to be honest with you – several teardrops have fallen onto my laptop keyboard. Not quite the equivalent of a glass of water yet, but nearing. I probably should turn my computer upside down and dry it off if ever I have dreams of blogging again. Here is a review of this past week’s ponderings and adventures.

I managed to fall victim to strep throat, which made me post the question, “Really?” It did not, however, hold me back from enjoying Surf Report’s opening night party, equipped with open bar, surf board regalia, music and dancing.

Doing a five-show weekend is exhausting! And the chance to work on a play that runs longer than just eight performances brings up a whole new gauntlet of challenges. I liken this less extreme experience to the Rolling Stones playing “No Satisfaction” live for the 15,786,223rd time as if they had never played it before.

There were several performances in which some of the audience members located near the stage actually talked to me while I was performing. That has never happened to me before. My favorite feedback was, “I know exactly who you are,” whispered audibly by an elderly woman stage right, wearing a white t-shirt with gold anchors on it. I had to steal a peak.

It’s bizarre to me that the whole design team and director leave the show after the official opening. And it’s entirely up to the stage management, actors and crew to keep the show going. No more notes or feedback? WHERE WAS THE WEANING PROCESS? Did I happen to miss it? It’s a scary freedom, critical to the whole process – a play needs the ability to finally be turned over to the actors, to let it breathe and play – but still, all of this is new to me. The learning curve is steep. As long as I have some Gatorade by me, it’s manageable.

Thank you La Jolla Playhouse, Lisa, Annie and the Surf Report cast and crew for an unforgettable foray into the professional theatre world. I’m hooked now more than ever. Come see SURF REPORT before we close on July 11!

Please go see Christopher Ashley’s A Midsummer Nights Dream! My lovely classmates of 2011 are tearing it up. There is sure to be swinging, rolling, waxing, reeling and loving.

Vive LJP!

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The Artist’s Journey: Anthony Luciano – Week 3 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-anthony-luciano-%e2%80%93-week-3 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-anthony-luciano-%e2%80%93-week-3#comments Tue, 29 Jun 2010 13:36:32 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=466 artistsjourney_banner

Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Anthony Luciano is an M.F.A. Directing student in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is Assistant Director on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Anthony Luciano

Anthony Luciano

We have finished staging the first draft of the play. Yup, round one, in the can.

We’ve revisited many scenes several times; we’ve opted to use another of our acrobatic silks in an unexpected place (one we weren’t sure if we were going to use at all); and we’ve written and refined some rules of the world. We’ve got a few things we still need to figure out (little things like “How does this chair get here?” or “Are we still thinking of using this cool thing?”), but mostly now I think we’ve got a big ol’ thing and I’m guessing we’re gonna start making some tweaks and trying to see what it is we’ve made.

AND we’ve got a full orchestra that’s beginning to show up as our day is ending—that’s amazing. We’re going to spend some time with them in just over a week I think.

AND we’re going to begin our understudy rehearsals this week. Which is totally terrifying to me (it’s a big part of my job). The first chunk is going to be easy: book work and making sure everybody knows what they’re saying—no problem (I mean, I think I know what everybody’s saying). The staging is where it gets a little scary: like, do I know where everybody goes? Do I know what it is that we have made? Holy Moly I hope so. I certainly have made enough charts; I hope I know where everybody is going.

That’s the news from here: a big change from last week. We’ve got a lot of time before we head off to the theatre, and a lot of time to make fixes before we preview, and a lot of time to fix during previews, but it feels like we’ve hit the moment when the real tough work begins: polish and change, jettison and rebuild.

And keep up so when the covers aren’t in the room to see the change, they know the change. Oy.

One bright bit of gossip: one of my fellow Grads—who is doing some pretty heavy understudying—has already advertised himself as a great nurse. He has firmly chosen which side of the understudy divide he is on. The divides usually follow like this: 1) “So when do you take a night off and I go on and make you look bad.” Or, as my friend has chosen, 2) “Don’t you DARE get sick!” And the teasing begins. I’ll keep you updated, but I’m guessing there’s going to be a lot of “Oh wow I am feeling really ILL” or “I think I may have twisted my ankle and can’t go on, you know the lines right?” This may seem like fun and games—and it is, mostly—but it’s also damn terrifying if you’re the understudy.

“This falls out better than I could devise…”

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The Artist’s Journey: Anthony Luciano – Week 2 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-anthony-luciano-%e2%80%93-week-2 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-anthony-luciano-%e2%80%93-week-2#comments Tue, 22 Jun 2010 17:10:23 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=463 artistsjourney_banner

Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Anthony Luciano is an M.F.A. Directing student in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is Assistant Director on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Anthony Luciano

Anthony Luciano

Unbelievable.

Well we’re in it now. We’ve crossed over; somewhere along this week, as is customary, the beginning has faded and now we’re into the body of the thing. This can be the most fun of it all: everybody’s settled in and together we’re settling in as a company; the play is still somewhat new but known enough for the first pass at things to fade and the remarkable scents to emerge; and not yet at the struggle place where what was once sketched needs shading; or the reckoning where moments once alive are now tired—or belong to an older draft—and must be callously jettisoned like old loves. Nope, none of that: now fun and making scenes and the poking around at what this play might be.

And maybe this is what is so remarkable about being involved in the directing of a play. Ultimately the play leaves the director’s hands, but even in the making of the play there is a series of hand-offs. Though it seems as though every moment is built before stepping into rehearsal, it’s all brand new in rehearsal. And so there is the great moment after the read-through when the tables go away and everyone is on their feet and you know everyone is wondering: What is this play going to be? What are we going to make? Sure there will be acrobats (there are) and silks (there are) and we know the time period (Victorian) and we know the words are written and what they mean, but what is this thing we are making? I mean, does Demetrius love Helena throughout? Uh, I guess we’ll find out on Thursday. But that could change on Saturday. And so it’s impossible to know. There’s a great void in front of everyone with a few shady outcroppings in the distance: Bottom gets a funny face, there are songs, some fighting, people fall in love and then a super funny play and blessing. But how will we all get there? And the only way to know is to run right into it. And do it with a bunch of strangers.

So this is where we are right now, and its kinda totally great. We’ve made it through the first part, dabbled slightly into the second half and that’s where we pick up on Tuesday (Monday is the day off).

Unfortunately no gossip so far. I think that may be the case on this one: I don’t think anybody’s making out with anybody else in the cast. Ah well. I’ll stir up trouble as best I can and report next week. So, “Out of this wood do not desire to go.”

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The Artist’s Journey: Anthony Luciano – Week 1 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-anthony-luciano-%e2%80%93-week-1 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-anthony-luciano-%e2%80%93-week-1#comments Tue, 15 Jun 2010 17:17:27 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=452 artistsjourney_banner

Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Anthony Luciano is an M.F.A. Directing student in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is Assistant Director on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Anthony Luciano

Anthony Luciano

Holy moly, loyal readers, I’m brand new! Day 1: Bagels, coffee and a blog request? A blog? I don’t think I’ve ever even read a blog. This is my first time, so blogophiles, be gentle.

And now a beginning into the beginning: I’m Anthony, the Assistant Director on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Hannah Ryan (the Second Assistant) and I make up the directing support team for this big ol’ thing. And yes it’s a big guy (more on this later). I’ve just finished my first year as an M.F.A. Directing student at UCSD and am still pretty new to San Diego. I moved here from New York (where I’d been living for 7 years) to attend school, and until getting off the plane in August had never once set foot on California soil. It’s been a big change: I think I might be the only one who loves the June Gloom (I grew up in Vermont).

I’ve done a lot of work on Shakespeare and have wanted to spend time with Chris, so when I heard that Midsummer was happening at the Playhouse I did my best to pester my way aboard.

And so far so very good. We’ve got a pretty amazing team (including UCSD alumni Maritxell Carrero, Anjee Nero, Jenny Slattery and Neil Patel — maybe others?); some really amazing moments planned; and Mendelssohn mixed with original compositions by Mark Bennett. A lot of fellow current UCSDers also: Rebecca Salzer, Samantha Watson and nearly the entire second year acting company are all with us.

I don’t want to give away too many secrets right off, but we currently have 4 rehearsal rooms running (and vocal work in the dressing rooms makes 5) at the same time, and already some pretty amazing stuff has been made. So stay tuned: I’m thrilled to be working on the thing and I’ll make sure to tell you all the stuff I’m not allowed to say.

Farewell sweet playfellows…

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The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 5 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-5 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-5#comments Fri, 11 Jun 2010 17:56:23 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=438 artistsjourney_banner

Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Zoë Chao is an actress in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is co-starring in Surf Report. This is her first professional production.

Zoë Chao

Zoë Chao

It is currently my 5-7 pm break during a 10-out-of-12-hour tech day.

A quick definition of the theatre process known as “tech”: it is the several days prior to previews dedicated to cueing lights, sound, scenic design adjustments, props, etc. It’s the first time actors are in their costumes. Transitions are hammered out. Innate to the beast is that it’s all very stop and go. Painfully specific but painfully necessary.

In the end, tech is what makes a show, a show. It seems like magic but it’s really the hard, focused blood, sweat and tears of the crew, designers, stage managers, directors, producers and staff that transform an empty space into a world of possibility. They give us the ultimate playground to play in. By the time we actors step onto the stage, acting is no longer that difficult.

Here are the Top Ten Things that inevitably happen to me during Tech:

1.) Chipping off all my nail polish
2.) Forgetting that I’m NOT supposed to eat in my costume without a robe on
3.) Eating the props (ie: sour Altoids or Bubbilicious gum)
4.) Singing middle school R&B jams (ie: Next’s “Too Close”)
5.) TMJ from supposed stress while sleeping
6.) Nightmares
7.) Fits of manic laughter. Fatigue. Grumpiness.
8.) Fits of fear
9.) Fits in general
10.) Acne breakout

With that said: We have a show, ladies and gentlemen! Please come see SURF REPORT. We preview this Tuesday, June 15th and run until July 11th. It’s gnarly…

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The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 4 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-4 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-4#comments Fri, 04 Jun 2010 18:40:26 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=419 artistsjourney_banner

Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Zoë Chao is an actress in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is co-starring in Surf Report. This is her first professional production.

Zoë Chao

Zoë Chao

The list of pros that accompany participating in Surf Report could go on for much longer than I’m supposed to blog here. However, the only drawback to having my residency take place mid-quarter is that I had to give up teaching. My students have made it abundantly clear that I have neglected and abandoned them. So, in a meager attempt to show that I haven’t forgotten the Fiercest Public Speaking Section in the World, a shout out: They are in the midst of writing their Speeches to Persuade and I can’t imagine a more persuasive, feisty motley crew. Wish I could be there. Break legs Alex (Andrew) Young, Andrew Elefant, Andrew Lien, Hana, Lana Nassoura, Lana Dongses, Vishnu, Saagar, Ish, Erin, Dyanna, Phu, Stefanie, Jasmin, Yoon Bae, Chris, Hunkyu! Luckily you are now under the tutelage of the stellar Anne Stella. This is, however, my official “I miss you…and you have to come see Surf Report or your grade will suffer.”

In other news: week 4 of rehearsal is on a roll. This past weekend we completed four full run-throughs off-book and we’re now in the process of going over each act with a fine-toothed comb. Our patient PAs and stage managers give us line notes if we mess up. I realize that I’m really going to have to warm up my articulators before running this show. Annie’s writing is so quick-witted that there’s no time to stall in delivery. Warming up used to seem arduous and chore-like, but it has now become an essential, calming part of my pre-show ritual. That, and blasting music while dancing spastically.

Liv Rooth (Jena) and I will be taking a surfing lesson with our surfing sage in the cast, Gregory Harrison. Growing up in Rhode Island, I often fantasized about being one of those California Roxy Quicksilver Beach Babes, blessed with consistently sun kissed skin. A few years ago when all of this actually mattered to me, I had my uncle take me out into the ocean for a surfing lesson. I was sure I could pick it up in a day – “I’m nimble enough.” Looking good up their on the board was the LEAST of my concerns. I got a photo alright. I went back to the East Coast with a picture of me in my wet suit standing out of the water, in the sand. Never quite made it to standing but this time around, I have a feeling the surf deities will be looking out for me.

All this recent surf talk reminds me of my uncle and two cousins who live in Santa Monica and are quite surf-minded. Several years ago, we took a family trip to Rincon, Puerto Rico, which is considered a surfing Mecca. There we got to witness little boys ages seven and eight whip through the water, maneuvering with such ease and poise. There was no sense of weight. It must be like flying. In a sense these boys were bilingual: fluent both in land and in ocean.

I can feel in my bones these first days of summer…

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Free Surf Lessons for Playhouse Fans! http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/free-surf-lessons-for-playhouse-fans http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/free-surf-lessons-for-playhouse-fans#comments Thu, 03 Jun 2010 20:56:53 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=407

 

Now that the SoCal-centric dramedy Surf Report is kicking off at the Playhouse in a couple of weeks, the Playhouse has a really exciting way for you to kick off the summer. Surf Divas, the local surf school just down the street, is offering a free surf lesson to a lucky Playhouse audience member and five of his or her friends! If you’ve been meaning to learn how to surf, now’s your chance to finally do it.

The only way to get entered into this contest is to come see Surf Report, which plays June 15 – July 11. If you buy a ticket to the show by June 19, you are automatically entered into the contest, no extra work required. Follow this link to buy tickets; in less than two minutes you can start dreaming of being a surf rock star: http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/the-season/plays/surf-report

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The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 3 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-3 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-3#comments Fri, 28 May 2010 17:11:34 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=376 artistsjourney_banner

Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Zoë Chao is an actress in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is co-starring in Surf Report. This is her first professional production.

Surf Report cast and creatives

Me and Director Lisa Peterson.


A lot of non-actors ask the question: “How do you ever learn all those lines?” When I’m musing on the topic of acting in the wee small hours of the morning, my questions are more along the lines of “What am I doing with my life?” or “Please, God, let me land a successful HBO series as soon as I graduate so I can pay off my loans!” I seldom reflect on the act of memorizing lines – it’s the least glamorous part of the profession. However, no matter what the project is, I find myself consistently unprepared for the challenge. It always feels like I’m starting at zero.

These past two years at school have taught me many things, but mostly it’s changed the way I pay attention to the writing, the words and punctuation. There is so much to be discovered in studying a character’s rhythm. Do they speak in run-ons (like Bethany in Surf Report) or short sentences? Do they rarely finish their thoughts (like Bruce) or pepper their conversation with pauses? At UCSD, we’ve studied Shakespeare, Mamet, Pinter, Beckett, Odets, Chekhov and Williams and the key to unlocking these master playwrights’ intricate stories all lies in the language. Perhaps that seems obvious, but I certainly had to relearn this. You’ve got to trust the language and be specific.

The same goes with doing a new play. It’s our job as actors to stay true to the text. Word perfect. This week we’ve incorporated last minute rewrites that have tightened up some dialogue. Annie comes in to hear how it sounds and flows. If something isn’t working in rehearsal, she goes back to the drawing board. Her revisions, no matter how slight, always seem to streamline and clarify.

Back to the dreaded task: the hardest part about memorizing lines is just getting yourself to do it. Find someone who’s patient and generous enough to run lines with you. My mom has been running lines with me since my debut in Peter Pan. She’s taken me through musicals and was there pounding Naomi Iizuka’s words into me for my first straight play, 36 Views, my sophomore year at Brown University. Here in San Diego, I’ve had to lean on my West Coast family; budding sociologist Stephen Meyers and stage manager extraordinaire Lauren Juengel have been pulling me through Surf Report. Dipping graham crackers in soy vanilla milk while agonizing over the text also helps.

Today, I noticed several dubious glares in my direction during a shuttle ride into rehearsal. While the engineers and historians across from me read their books, my last minute studying looked like I was talking to myself.

All this does pay off, however. That moment when the words tumble out of your mouth effortlessly…it’s like flying. Memorizing is actually a really physical process. Once the words are in your body, it’s magic. It’s like that moment when doing all those drills in soccer practice starts to pay off, or when your fingers take off on the piano, and all of sudden you’re not just plunking Chopin, you’re playing him.

Only when you’ve truly memorized your lines inside and out, up and down, page numbers and all, does the real work begin. Wishing and hoping and thinking and praying this will happen soon for me in Surf Report.

I’m also including some pictures from our trip to Pizza Port. Maybe we’ll see you guys there next time!

Surf Report cast and creatives

Kevin Fitzpatrick (assistant stage manager), Liv Rooth (Jena), Annie Weisman (playwright) and Linda Gehringer (Judith).


Surf Report cast and creatives

SURF REPORT cast and creatives enjoying some pizza!

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The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 2 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-2 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/the-artist%e2%80%99s-journey-zoe-chao-%e2%80%93-week-2#comments Fri, 21 May 2010 21:02:49 +0000 http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/blog/?p=367 artistsjourney_banner

Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Zoë Chao is an actress in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is co-starring in Surf Report. This is her first professional production.

Zoë Chao

Zoë Chao

My Nana (who is about to turn 80) read my first blog and wrote back, “I was happy to read your blog, but it doesn’t sound nearly as lively and vivacious as YOU…but good photo!” So for blog #2, I will try to be a bit more “real.”

Week 2 of Surf Report rehearsal is going swimmingly (wince). We are learning all this new surf jargon from our hefty information packet graciously supplied by our team of dramaturgs, but also from our resident surf expert, Gregory Harrison, who plays Bruce in the play, a wealthy surfing entrepreneur.

Fact: Did you know that the first surfboards in Hawaii were made using Wili Wili or Koa trees, and were extremely heavy, ranging from 10 to 16 feet long depending on social class? With this knowledge, now all I need is a Pontiac Woodie to be on my way to Surf Bunny status. Instead I have a not-so-cool black PT Cruiser.

Bethany the blowfish

Bethany the blowfish

In likening the characters from Surf Report to underwater creatures, Bruce is the shark; Bethany’s mother Judith (Linda Gehringer) a trout, always swimming upstream; Bethany’s father Hal (Matthew Arkin) seems to draw from the bottom-feeding Demersals; and Jena (Liv Rooth), an Ugg-wearing high school classmate of Bethany’s who is desperate for friendship, seems to be the human equivalent of the colorful Cortez Rainbow Wrasse. My Bethany would have to be the blowfish – always puffing up and full of hot air but easily deflated by her mother.

Last night, the cast met at Pizza Port, a hub for local surfers in Solana Beach and an inspiration from Annie Weisman’s childhood. It was an evening of “research” and bonding. Pictures will be included in Blog #3. Drinking with my onstage parents…there’s something surreal about that.

Lastly, there is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind – I have yet to find the fish tacos in town…please, oh, please let it be soon. What do you think, where are the best fish tacos around here?

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