Become A Little Fish Honorary Producer Or Designer

Little Fish doesn’t have a lot of performances on our schedule during the month of April. We have closing weekend of Chapter Two on April 4-6, and we have opening weekend of Looking on the April 26-27. If you think that means it’s a quiet time at Little Fish, you’re mistaken. The time in between shows is probably the busiest time of all. So, what exactly goes on during those three weeks?

By the time we get to closing night for our Series A shows, the next pair of shows have already been in rehearsal for three weeks and the sets have been designed. Rehearsals usually start about six weeks before a show opens, although that can vary wildly since rehearsals have to fit around the actors’ schedules.

The actors don’t get paid. (Yes, it’s true, they do it “for love.”) They all have day jobs that we have to schedule around. Rehearsals are held in our upper lobby and on the set of the current show while that show is still running. Props and costumes for the new show are all stored in the upper lobby and office until the new set is complete.

On closing night, the actors all stay late and help strike the old set and clean out the dressing room. The costume designer retrieves any costumes that were rented or borrowed, and our prop inventory guru puts away all the props. The next day, the set designer demos whatever is left of the set, sorts out what gets stored, what gets reused, and what gets trashed, and starts building the new set. Walls get put up, lights get taken down and moved around, things get painted. The entire process of building, painting, adding trim, hanging curtains, etc., takes a couple of weeks.

Once the Series A set is complete, the designer then has to figure out how to incorporate the Series B set, which is sometimes quite a challenge. In the meantime, the Series B show moves into the upper lobby for rehearsals and prop/set/costume storage; we are a busy little theater where the fun never stops.

The rehearsals move to the stage as soon as it’s no longer a hardhat zone, but still without most of the props and costumes. The actors and director won’t see the entire show with lights, sound, costumes and props until tech rehearsals, which happen only a few days before opening night. Light and sound cues and any special effects get adjusted at that time. On the final rehearsal day, the costumes go on, requiring last minute changes that only become obvious once you see the actress in high heels about to climb onto the couch and punch holes in the cushions with her stiletto heels. Oops! When you attend our shows and see the amazing final product, you would never guess how chaotic the final days before opening can be.

Does all this sound intriguing to you? Then I have good news. We now offer the opportunity to be an Honorary Producer or Designer. For a $600 donation (for Honorary Set Designer) or a $400 donation (for Honorary Costume, Props or Sound Designer), you’ll dialogue with a designer and see their selections before the show opens, spend the day as they pull items from our stock or accompany them shopping, and get sneak peeks of the play in production.

You’ll also receive invitations to attend the first reading with the cast and the Cast/Crew Party. Or for a more intense experience and a $2,000 donation, you can be the Honorary Producer of one of our 2013 shows. You’ll get to spend time with the producer and all the designers during the production, do all the things the Honorary Designers get to do, and you’ll also be part of the production team during the Talk Back Sundays, letting audience members in on the inside scoop – from your perspective.

If you’re interested, you can donate on our website (www.littlefishtheatre.org) or call us at (310) 512-6030 for more details. spt

The Liar Is Out, Chapter Two Is In


We have a new show opening at Little Fish this month.

Well, it’s certainly not a new show; it’s a classic of American theatre. That’s one of the things we do at Little Fish, “New, Classic & Contemporary Works.” For those of you who have now pulled out your season brochures to see exactly what play I’m talking about, we apologize.

The second show in our 2013 season will not be The Liar. Some of you may be disappointed, and we’re sorry. It’s one of those, “Play titles subject to change based upon licensing availability” moments. Instead, we’re doing Chapter Two by Neil Simon. Some of you will be ecstatically happy because you love Neil Simon, and we haven’t produced any of his plays since 2003.

Why don’t we do more Neil Simon shows, you ask? After all, he is the world’s most successful playwright (Google it). And, really, that’s the reason right there. We feel his plays get a lot of stage time in the Los Angeles market, and we try to provide something different here in San Pedro. But we can’t always do the lesser-known and unknown shows. Our goal is to present a variety of pieces representing the spectrum of work that’s out there, including what we consider to be modern classics. Sometimes it’s easier to sell tickets to a show that people recognize. Our regulars may trust us when we produce those unknown titles, but it may be easier for them to convince friends who have never been to Little Fish to come see a show they recognize.

We’re hoping Chapter Two will bring in some new faces as well as all our regular folks. It’s a touching story about a second chance at romance. Who wouldn’t want to see that? We selected Chapter Two for the lovely story, and also because it has a small cast, an important consideration for us because even with the expanded stage area we gained with our latest renovation. We just don’t have room for 12 or more actors (our dressing room is tiny!). But we did take on the challenge of conveying multiple locations in this play, another difficulty in our limited space. You’ll have to come see the show to find out how we do it.

But in case you aren’t in the mood for Neil Simon and would prefer to see a lesser-known work, our first Series B (the series formerly known as Mid-week) show of the 2013 season also opens in March. See Rock City is the sequel to Last Train to Nibroc, our hit mid-week show from the fall of 2012. This year, you can also see Series B shows on the weekend (hence the name change from Mid-week Series) including one Sunday matinee performance. So no excuses not to see this charming love story.

And in the spirit of both “Classic” and “Lesser-Known,” did I mention we’re doing King John at Point Fermin this summer? You’re going to love it! spt

The Year Of Difference

Don Schlossman and Rodney Rincon in The Divine Visitation of Joe Pikelsimer, directed by James Rice. (photo by Mickey Elliot)

Looking for something different to do this month? We have just the ticket! Here at Little Fish we’re in the middle of our annual Pick of the Vine frenzy.

This is, by far, our most popular show, because it’s so different. Instead of enjoying one delightful play, when you buy a ticket to Pick of the Vine, you get eight plays. You can laugh, and cry, and ponder the human condition, in 15-minute (or less) vignettes.

Wondering if you would like the short play experience? It was something our Managing Director, Stephanie Coltrin, wondered as well. This is her first year working on Pick of the Vine. She hadn’t directed one-acts since her college days, and she wasn’t quite sure what it would be like. But, guess what? It turned out to be fun. Everything is fun at Little Fish, Stephanie. You shouldn’t have worried.

And why was it fun? Instead of one set of characters, there were many, many different characters in different situations, saying different things in different ways. There was the same rehearsal time, but it was possible to focus more on all the little details, something that our crazy schedule doesn’t always allow.

We’re presenting 11 shows in 2013. That’s unheard of in a theater of our size. We’re crazy, but in a good way.

Having the extra time actually brought on a different danger – the danger of over-rehearsing; the danger of changing things just because you have the time to do it. There was one more difference: there were other directors to collaborate with and bring things back to sanity. Stephanie says it was fun not being the only person in charge.

So this is our year of differences at Little Fish; different seating configurations, different restroom facilities. And we hope to achieve a different temperature in the theatre this summer. And speaking of different, have you heard about Shakespeare by the Sea’s 2013 season? We’re doing two plays that we’ve never done before, and one of them is King John.

I love King John, and so will you. And so does Stephanie, who will be directing the production. Even if you’re a Shakespeare buff, you might not have seen this play, as it’s not performed very often. Why not, you may wonder. I don’t know. It’s a great story. Do not be afraid of the history plays, they are not dry, boring or confusing. They have fantastic characters and soaring language and will make you laugh, cry and ponder the human condition.

King John is often referred to as the least historical of his history plays. See? You’re starting to like it already. You don’t need to know any history to follow the story. It’s a play about power – who has power, who doesn’t have power, and who wants to make sure someone else doesn’t get power.

In February (but only through the 16th), we offer you eight plays you’ve never seen before for the price of one. This summer, we offer you one play you’ve [probably] never seen before, for free.

Mark your calendars and join us at the park this summer. It’s going to be amazing. spt

Sunday Matinees Come To Little Fish

Little Fish Theatre has expanded its playing space and installed newly remodeled restrooms. (photo provided by Little Fish Theatre)

It’s a Happy New Year at Little Fish! This is our 12th year providing magical theatrical experiences in downtown San Pedro. But we’re not just doing the same thing in 2013. We have big plans!

We have new ticket prices. Some prices went up, but others went down. And we added new ways to save. If you’re looking for a bargain, look no further. We have “First Look” tickets for the first two performances of every show for $5 off the regular admission price.

And we mixed up our schedule a bit, too. We know some of you can only come on the weekends, and some of you can only come during the week, and some of you just want a bit of variety. So all of our shows in 2013 will have at least two weekend and two midweek performances. And all of them will have Sunday matinees. That means we’ll have 11 matinees for all you Sunday afternoon theatre-goers, and you’ll finally be able to see all of our shows.

But the biggest changes are in the theatre itself. We repaired and remodeled our restrooms. Some of you who attended the last few performances of Present Laughter got a sneak peak. And some of you who attended not quite the last performances got to run across the alley and use the restrooms at The Whale & Ale because we ran into a few issues during the remodel (and a HUGE SHOUTOUT to Andrew Silber and The Whale & Ale for rescuing our patrons in their intermission of need). All the issues have been resolved now, and we have two fabulous new restrooms for you in 2013. Worth the price of admission just to see them.

We’re also expanding the space in the theatre itself. We moved a wall, reducing our shop space but giving us six-feet more for stage and seating. And we’re exploring our options for making that space more comfortable for everyone during the summer.

But not everything is changing. We’re still starting 2013 the same way we’ve started each season for the last 11 years – with Pick of the Vine.

This short play festival is an audience favorite. This year there is a visit from the divine being, a discussion about a name, some literary love, a view of Paris, a little bad karma, and more. A lot of folks worked really hard to select the country’s best short plays, just for you. So come on down to the theatre and see what’s new for 2013. We’re ready for you. spt

Costume Designer Brings The Gift To ‘Laughter’

Kimberly Patterson as Joanna Lyppiatt in Present Laughter (photo by Mickey Elliot)

As our gift from Little Fish Theatre to you this holiday season, we’re presenting a classic Noel Coward farce, Present Laughter, and it’s getting great reviews.

The actors are getting lots of kudos, and they deserve them. Some folks behind the scenes are also getting kudos, such as the costume designer, Adriana Lambarri. Adriana is fairly new to Little Fish, having started with Beyond Therapy at the end of last summer. She’s designed for every show since but she sure didn’t expect it to turn out that way. In fact, she didn’t even start her career as a costume designer.

Adriana has a degree in fashion design and worked in the fashion industry for more than six years, but she felt a need to push her creativity a bit more. So when some friends decided to produce a small independent horror film, she begged them to let her design the costumes. The costumes turned out fine – and she liked it – so she designed for some more independent films. Through that work she met some people who also did theatre, so she started designing for the stage, as well.

She ended up at Little Fish when her friend Drew Shirley (you’ve seen him in Shakespeare by the Sea and Bach at Leipzig) asked her to design the costumes for No Exit, which he was directing for our mid-week series. (Fun fact about Drew: he was the assistant director of that first independent horror film that started Adriana in costume design.)

She showed up on audition day at the theatre to help Drew, where she met Stephanie Coltrin, managing director of Little Fish, who talked her into doing the costumes for Beyond Therapy, as well. (Fun fact: she borrowed a lot of the costumes for Beyond Therapy from her parents.) That’s how it works at Little Fish. You get so much more than what you sign up for. I guess we didn’t scare her off, because she went on to design for Twisted, Spooky, Creepy, and finally, Present Laughter.

Present Laughter presented quite a challenge. There are 11 characters in period costumes that need to reflect the upper-class status of those characters, with multiple costume changes for each. Adriana had to buy lots of expensive looking period clothing, cheap. Exactly how did she do it?

First, she went to director Jim Rice for his vision. His vision was The Thin Man. She did some research to get ideas then went shopping. Thrift stores are always the first stop, but in this case even some of the thrift shops were too pricey for her budget. And not everything could be acquired for a couple of dollars at a thrift store.

For some special items, she went shopping with the actors to make sure everything fit and also fit with the director’s vision. In particular, the character of Joanna Lyppiatt (played by Kimberly Patterson) makes a grand entrance wearing a stunning evening gown. Adriana looked at the remaining budget, and thought, How am I going to make this work? She and Kimberly scoured the vintage clothing stores in Hollywood and Burbank, and finally, late in the afternoon of a long Sunday of shopping, the heavens parted, angels sang, and the perfect dress descended into her hands. To be honest, it’s not an evening gown, so, as Adriana puts it, she had to be a bit of a MacGyver to make it the glamorous statement the script required.

Present Laughter runs through December 15. It’s funny, the clothes are beautiful, and it’s the perfect antidote to all that holiday stress. And if you like Adriana’s costume designs, you’ll get to see some more when Pick of the Vine opens in January. Tickets for both are available on our website, www.littlefishtheatre.org. spt

The Play’s The Thing

While the citizens of this country are pondering who will get their vote in the Big Election of 2012, here at Little Fish we’re pondering what plays will win a place on our 2013 schedule.

Just as in politics, the selection process is not an easy one. Will it be the popular choice or the nominee who can change the world (even if no one wants the world changed)? Ultimately, the buck stops at the desk of Lisa Coffi, Producing Artistic Director of Little Fish. She makes the final decisions. And she would like you to know it’s not easy.

It starts with, well, nothing. Lisa has to come up with a list of candidates. Some comedies. Some dramas. It’s always good to have some familiar titles, including a classic piece with instant name recognition. (In 2013, you’ll recognize one whose initials are S.M., and that’s all I’m gonna say.) It’s also good to include some shows that no one has ever heard of to bring some new ideas into the mix.

She has to find plays that are well written, and that she thinks our patrons will enjoy. She doesn’t have professional pollsters to help; she has to try to read the minds of her constituency to know what they will vote for with their theater-going dollars. Are they tired of Southern accents yet? Do they want to see plays with aliens in them? But she also has to pick plays that spark the creativity of our company members so they don’t defect and change their affiliation. And no one wants to hear the same old thing over and over again, so she has to consider if the work as been done recently in the Los Angeles area.

Our political parties have primaries and conventions to give folks a chance to express their opinions. Lisa gets suggestions and comments and a whole lot of opinions from other Little Fish company members. Sometimes the only solution is to get everyone in the same room and fight it out.

Then there’s what you would expect to be the boring part of securing the rights to produce the plays. Let’s just say it’s a bit more complicated than “pay to play.” Some handlers just don’t want their candidate on our slate. We usually need to publish our season before we get the rights to everything on our schedule, and that’s why sometimes there are changes after the season starts (think of them as broken campaign promises “beyond our control”).

If you want to find out which candidates made the cut and won a place in our 2013 season, you’ll need to come to our Annual Season Unveiling and Fundraising Party. This year’s party will be held at Little Fish Theatre on Saturday, November 3 from 5-9 p.m. In the past, we’ve held the party offsite, but by inviting folks to our special little space, we can offer treats like backstage tours.

And, of course, you’ll have a chance to give us your vote of confidence and purchase season tickets for our 2013 season! It’s going to be great – we would never lie to you. And if you’re reading this after November 3, you can just go to our website at littlefishtheatre.org to read about our 2013 season and buy tickets. spt

Bach is Back at Little Fish

The cast of Bach at Leipzig

For your theater-going pleasure this month, we are running three shows in our little space. We have two mid-week shows in October because it’s time for Twisted, Spooky, Creepy (one-acts in the spirit of Halloween). Only $20, there are only six performances (including Saturday 10/20 at 11 p.m. for some late night heebie-jeebies) that start the week after our other mid-week show, Last Train to Nibroc(a love story for all you lovers out there), closes. I’m sure we’ll have no trouble convincing you to go see those two shows.

To all of you who think Bach at Leipzig, our mainstage show, sounds like something you can miss, let’s talk about that. First of all, it’s a comedy, and you know you need a laugh. Second, it’s an all-male cast, and who doesn’t love to see a bunch of good-looking guys dressed in velvet (let’s hope for cooler weather). And third, it’s got Dave Graham! And you know Dave! He’s been acting and directing for Shakespeare by the Sea since 2003, and he’s been seen earlier this year at Little Fish in The Love List with Bert Pigg (who is also in Bach at Leipzig) and in several other Little Fish shows. We count on Dave for a lot of things besides his creative talents; he maintains our computer network and fixes the little things that break around the theater. He’s not exactly a San Pedro native (he’s from Georgia) and he doesn’t live in San Pedro, but he should probably move here considering how much time he puts in at SBTS and LFT (he’s a Little Fish company member, volunteers as house manager, and is on the Board of Directors for SBTS).

Why does he keep doing it? He says it’s all about the personal relationships he’s formed with the people. When you find a bunch of people who are committed to producing quality work and, besides that, are just fun to be with, you go out of your way to work with them. Plus, he likes the pieces we choose to produce at Little Fish. He comes to all the shows, even if he’s not involved in the production, not only to show support, but because he wants to see them. Bach at Leipzig, he assures us, is not mindless entertainment but will really engage the audience. That doesn’t mean it’s serious. It’s a comedy. It just means that your brain will be as tickled as your funny bone. You don’t need to be a fan of Bach. You don’t even need to know who Bach is. You just need to come down to the theater and let Dave entertain you for a couple of hours.

The rest of the cast members may be recognizable to you, too. Drew Shirley, Garrett Replogle and Cylan Brown have done SBTS shows, and Drew just finished directing No Exit at LFT. Don Schlossman has acted and directed at Little Fish, most recently directing Beyond Therapy. Bert Pigg has done a couple of shows with Dave at LFT. What’s it like working with this cast of big personalities and testosterone? According to director Stephanie Coltrin, “Chaos in the best possible way.” Their personalities work onstage and off, and the show really zings with their great rapport.

By the way, Stephanie recently won a Scenie award (www.stagescenela.com) for directing Panache earlier this year, and Bert won a Scenie for directing Loot in 2011. Both of the casts won Scenies, too. What, you say you didn’t see those shows? Well, now, those were missed opportunities, weren’t they? Here at Little Fish, we’re doing award-winning work, and if Bach at Leipzig wins an award and you miss it, too, you’ll be thinking, “There’s another award-winning show at Little Fish that I could have seen but didn’t.” Don’t let that happen to you. spt

Complete schedule and tickets available at www.littlefishtheatre.org.