Category Archive for: ‘Flora Lynn Isaacson’

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A Meeting of Two Famous Actresses in The Ladies of the Camellias At RVP

Ladies of the Camellias poster

Ross Valley Players is delighted to present The Ladies of the Camellias written by Lillian Groag and under the direction of Bay Area theater veteran Director Julian López-Morillas. López-Morillas is a professional theater actor, teacher, and director and has either directed or performed in all the Shakespeare plays at California Shakespeare Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the Marin Shakespeare Company. RVP is very fortunate to have such a talented director.

 

Set in 19th Century Paris, the play describes a mythical meeting between two real-life-dramatic divas, Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse and asks whether or not they can share the same spotlight. From the start, the ingénue “A Girl” (Laine Flores), who plays a key role in Groag’s drama, first threatening the play-within-a-play by quitting because she has fallen in love, then helping save everyone’s skin by attracting the interest of a mad-Russian revolutionary and director who has hijacked Sarah and Eleonora. Later, we discover that the young actress is “Rejane,” who succeeded Bernhardt on the French stage.

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In 1897 Paris, the two biggest (and most-temperamental) stars of their day, Sarah Bernhardt (glamorous and commanding Michele Wolpe) and Eleonora Duse (Adrianna Dinihanian, in all black with a stern look about her), are each scheduled to perform back-to-back productions of the play The Ladies of the Camellias as written by Alexandre Dumas (Geoffrey Colton), the exasperated playwright. Both productions are to be performed in Bernhardt’s own Théâtre de la Renaissance, overseen by Benoit (Wood Lockhart, a fine character actor), the ancient Chief Prompter and caretaker of the theater.

The two actresses’ leading men Gustave Hippolite-Worms (Frederick Lein) and Flavio Andó (Francisco DSC_6570Arcila) expect huge fireworks between the two competitive Grande Dames and do what they can to stay out of the way. Into this comically-tense situation comes Ivan (Mohammad Shehata), a young Russian anarchist who, despite his ranting, turns out to be a new breed of theater person – someone whom the actors and playwrights ridicule as “a useless and passing fad”: a director.

Hoping to save the day is Benoit Constant Coquelin (Liam Robertson), playing Cyrano de Bergerac in the unnamed8theater next door, who sneaks in (in full costume) to challenge Ivan to a dual. A sword is no match for a gun and a bomb, so it is theatrical dialogue they must all use to try and convince Ivan to not hold them hostage.

 

The set design is cleverly realized by Set Designer Michael R. Cook, with set construction by Ian Swift and Eugene De Christopher, painted by Dhyanis, and Lighting Design by Frank Sarrubi. The beautiful costume designs were by Michael A. Berg, and the Sound Design of Billie Cox was very appropriate. Unless you’re a theater insider, you might miss all the references to names of people and playwrights of the day; however, the clever wit of The Ladies of the Camellias will charm everyone.

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The Ladies of the Camellias began its run November 20 and will continue through December 20, 2015. Regular performances are scheduled for Thursdays 7:30 p.m., Fridays 8:00 p.m., Saturdays 8:00 p.m., and Sunday Matinees are at 2:00 p.m.  For tickets, go online to www.rossvalleyplayers.com or call 415/456-9555, ext. 3. All performances take place at The Barn, home of the Ross Valley Players, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross.

 

Coming up next at RVP will be the Diary of Anne Frank by Wendy Kesselman and directed by James Dunn from January 15 through February 7, 2016.

Flora Lynn Isaacson

Photos by Robin Jackson